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Nats nuggets: bench coach, Guzman, Flores, et al.

Just got done speaking to Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and meeting the majority of his new front-office hires -- the amassing of which Rizzo called "the most important part of our offseason." Suffice it to say there is a lot of optimism around the organization these days. The bulk of the new guys had been to Arizona this fall to see the team's prospects in the Arizona Fall League. (Jay Robertson, the newly hired special assistant to Rizzo, said this about Stephen Strasburg: "I told a scout from another organization, 'He's two grades better than anyone you've ever seen.'")

Here is a short-and-sweet summary of some news that came out of this afternoon:

*The Nationals have hired former Seattle Mariners manager John McLaren as Jim Riggleman's bench coach. (This was told to me by a source outside the organization and confirmed by a source within the organization.) This will be a reversal of the roles the men held in 2008, when Riggleman served as McLaren's bench coach, until McLaren was fired in June, with Riggleman taking over on an interim basis.

*Cristian Guzman has been told to prepare for spring training as a second baseman, not a shortstop. Guzman is coming off shoulder surgery, but has started to play catch and is expected to be ready by spring training. Rizzo called Ian Desmond "an option" at shortstop in 2010.

*The Nationals have reached an agreement to build a new academy in Boca Chica in the Dominican Republic, a crucial step in regaining the foothold the team had in the Dominican before the Esmailyn Gonzalez age scandal. The paperwork is being finalized now, and the academy should be running by next spring.

*First base prospect Chris Marrero has missed the past few AFL games with the flu, but is expected back any day now.

*Catcher Jesus Flores, who is rehabbing from shoulder surgery, also had arthroscopic surgery on his elbow to remove a bone chip. However, Rizzo said the elbow surgery will not impede Flores's progress and Flores is expected to be ready by spring training.

*Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (elbow ligament-replacement surgery) remains on his rehabilitation program, but has not started throwing yet and is still expected to miss the bulk of 2010.

*Center fielder Nyjer Morgan (broken wrist) is fully healed and swinging a bat in preparation for spring training.

*Lefty Scott Olsen (shoulder surgery) has begun throwing off a mound. His long-term prognosis, though, is unclear, and Rizzo acknowledged the difficult decision the team has as to whether to offer Olsen arbitration, or non-tender him.

By Dave Sheinin  |  November 17, 2009; 5:46 PM ET
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Next: Mandel, Baby Nats want that title



I'd respectfully disagree with your point. I enjoy reading Zimbalist's work (as well as JC Bradbury). Lord knows both present better statistical economic analysis than I can even imagine. But, Zimbalist does not take into account several variables which impact the advantage of a higher payroll.

First, who is responsible for allocating the money? Would current Twitterer Jim Bowden be able to spend $202 mil annually as effectively as Cashman? The salary total isnt as important as who spends the salary. Who spends the money has to be equal in order for the amount spent to matter either way.

Also, the baseball schedule has a great influence on winning percentage. Specifically, the unbalanced schedule and interleague play. Toronto, for instance, has to play PHI every year as a "natural rival" plus additional division games versus BOS & NYY. So TOR can spend $80 mil on salary, but wont win as many games as COL ($75 mil in salary) due to an unfair schedule or because they spent more?

I understand Zimbalist's lines dont move together on the same graph. But a team that can spend $80 mil more per year ($206 vs Bostons $122 mil) has an advantage. That team has the ability to spend $10 mil more on EACH starting player. Thats better players. Thats an advantage.

A team that can dole out $848.4 mil in contracts over the last two years for only EIGHT players has a greater likelihood of winning than a team with a smaller payroll. A huge salary total may not mean a 75% winning percentage or a 60% winning percentage, but it will mean a greater likelihood of having a higher winning percentage than a team with a smaller payroll. $848.4 mil, by the way, is $3.4 mil more than the Ricketts family paid for 95% interest in the Cubs...and Wrigley Field. So while Cashman and the Yanks could have bought the Cubs, they decided instead to buy a title.

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | November 17, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks much for all the tidbits. Hope that Marrero might be able to get into the game on Saturday.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 17, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

"I'm not overstating what the study says. It says there is no correlation between payroll and winning."

Section 309, asserting that the correlation between two things is not "very high" is not the same as asserting that there is "no correlation" between two things. In fact, there is a big difference between the two.

You keep stating that Zimbalist concluded that there is "no correlation" between payroll and winning %. He did not. He concluded that the correlation is not "very high." This is why you are overstating what Zimbalist said.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | November 17, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Winning percentage and playoff appearances are incorrect measures of a successful baseball team. The only thing that matters is CHAMPIONSHIPS. Looking at the last 15 World Series only two low payroll teams have won, the 1997 and 2003 Marlins.

A higher payroll means a much better chance at winning a championship. A low payroll means you have no chance unless you are the Marlins.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | November 17, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

While the correlation between high payroll and high winning percentage may not be high the correlation between low payroll and low winning percentage is likely very high.

Seriously. Its a different equation, but I'd be willing to bet on that one.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 17, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Dave,

When you hear that comment from Rizzo about his rebuilding of the front office being the most important thing they do this off season it makes my blood boil.

This is what Stan promised they did in 2006 and 2007. Now going into 2010 we are just really starting to rebuild the player development and frsont office staff. Mark Lerner and Stan have a lot of explaining to do.

Dave please do not let Stan off the hook so easily. The question is what the Hell was he doing while Jimbo was messing up the whole organization?

Posted by: JayBeee | November 17, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

I'll allow the High Sheriff's point, that winning a WS is the putative goal. But teams have mixed motives. How does payroll correlate with revenue? With being competitive, but not necessarily winning the division/making the playoffs? Does *organization* payroll, not just player payroll, correlate to anything--since it's all green?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | November 17, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

JayB: This was not a post about Stan. His name is not mentioned anywhere in this post. It is a post about Rizzo's management of the team and the hires meant to support the direction that he wants to take with the club.

Please take your invective against Stan to the proper forum (a Stan post or letter, perhaps?). At this point, asking Stan what he was doing in 2006 and 2007 will make us ZERO percent better in 2010. The baseball side of operations is under entirely different control now.

Posted by: faNATic | November 17, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

I can see a point in asking "Where have we heard *this* before?" But in fairness, I'm not sure how it makes a baseball team better. Mostly because I think they don't give a s*** what we say, and if the team wins win, we don't give a s*** what *they* say.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | November 17, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Read the Times write up of the same event....Stan was there today...... and for the last 4 years.

Stan should speak to what put us 4 years behind and why he allowed it to continue for so many years. We are just now hiring the people we were told he hired back in 2006/7. That is not something good organizations do and it is not something good reporters allow others to sweep under the rug.

Posted by: JayBeee | November 17, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Oh I agree with that....this team puts a respectable product on the field and i am a happy customer. I have had season tickets for going on 6 years....I love the Nats and I love Baseball.....I am tired of incompetence.

Posted by: JayBeee | November 17, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

No one said anything about sweeping it under the rug. Just seems like with arbitration decisions, winter meetings, and free agency coming up, there are places where the front office's attention would be better devoted.

But that's just my humble opinion.

No need to be happy with past decisions, as I'm unhappy with some past blunders too, just like everyone else. From what I can tell, everyone now agrees that the Bowden era was not productive and that bad contracts were taken on in lieu of money better spent elsewhere. That point remains the same whether or not Stan issues you and all the rest of us aggrieved ticketholders a personal apology or explanation. Congratulations, JayB, you don't like incompetence, and neither do I. My humble suggestion to the front office, however, would be: "Let's work on drawing attention to current opportunities instead of revisiting and rehashing well-known and costly mistakes in judgment."

Posted by: faNATic | November 17, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

*Cristian Guzman has been told to prepare for spring training as a second baseman, not a shortstop. Guzman is coming off shoulder surgery, but has started to play catch and is expected to be ready by spring training. Rizzo called Ian Desmond "an option" at shortstop in 2010.

Does anyone in the NatsTown think tank actually KNOW whether Guzman CAN play second base? On the DP pivot, for example, all of his career he's faced runners barreling into 2B but will now have his back to them taking and making throws.

Posted by: leetee1955 | November 17, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Also, leetee1955, Guzman's flaw was trouble fielding to his left, right? There's a lot of fielding to your left at second. And Dunn's not too good fielding to his right.

Posted by: jdsp2000 | November 17, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Let me see if I can phrase this observation in a way that will be pereceived as positive and forward looking, not backward looking or unfairly critical of Kasten or the Lerners: it would seem that, with all the recent hirings and comparatively few departures (Dana Brown and who else?), our FO is now almost twice as big as it was in the bad old days of 2006-07. If so, that's surely good news.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | November 17, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

@leetee: I've had similar thoughts regarding Guzman. He still has problems going to his left (an issue, unless he has a SS that allows him to 'cheat' toward 1B, like Belliard used to), but if he can get enough repetitions in ST making the turn, he might be OK.

That being said, I'm still queasy on the MI combo overall; SS has minimal ML depth (Guzman & Desmond), while 2B is currently scary (AGonz, with Guzman / Desmond basically untested) - Hoping to see something good (or at least better than Everett / Alex Gonz. / Uribe / etc.) to become available when the non-tenders are announced in early December.

Posted by: BinM | November 17, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse


i got no problem with rizz getting the front office in alignment before dealing with personnel issues. you gotta build a foundation before putting up the walls.

Posted by: surly_w | November 17, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

I just envision balls rolling through the right side of the infield as if there's an EZ Pass lane with Guzman and Dunn manning those posts. That's not the way to build confidence in an unproven pitching staff.

Posted by: leetee1955 | November 17, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Stop chatting with him ...

With regard to the injury recoveries, good news on balance. If the Flores news is not overly optimistic, that's one less starter they have to come up with before April. I hope they take the risk on Olson and retain him.

And, Thanks Boom Boom!!

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 17, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Dave. Thank you VERY much for the much, much needed round of tidbits.

Posted by: NatsNut | November 17, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

They could easily non tender Olson and sign Jason Marquis. I heard Marquies on XM-175 MLB Homeplate on Saturday telling Ed Randell that he would like to pitch for the an east coast team, he actually said if the Nats showed interest he would be willing to talk. Guy would bring 12-15 games on the plus side and that would help Lannen and Co big time.

I'm very pleased with the buidling of the FO, look we have to realize 05 was an anomoly, they had virtually nothing left in the tank in 06, 07 was just a tease and 08 and 09 were the nightmares. At this juncture who really cares about PT Bowdoin he is gone and replaced by a real Major League GM. Lets be honest StanK and the Lerners really were wrapped up in getting the stadium up and running, they really concentrated on the facility, since hind sight is 20-20 it was probably a bit short-sighted never the less I think they are all ready to move forward and we will be the benefactors.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | November 17, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

There might be a little over exaggeration in here about the lack of range Guzman may or may not exhibit as a second baseman. The balls off the right handers come slower, the positioning is usually a little deeper, the throws a little shorter. I'm more concerned about the double play pivot. The lack of range at 1B is a legitimate concern, but moving Guzman for another shortstop could actually improve defense at both positions.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 17, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Someone asked in the other post about why Olsen would negotiate for less than he'd get for arbitration.

I'll tell you why. Because it's probably better for him than being non-tendered.

He, and his agent, have to know that Rizzo might be just a liiiiiittle bit skittish about paying 3+million for a pitcher recoving from torn labrum surgery, and so might want to negotiate lower just so he can stay with the/a team.

Actually, now that I think about it, even if he did want to negotiate for a lower contract, I think they'd have to non-tender him anyway, as a technicality.

Posted by: NatsNut | November 17, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Ladson is reporting that the Nationals are interested in Lackey and not interested in Everett.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 17, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Lackey would be a fantastic coup, and could really anchor the rotation and give it some attitude. The competition to land him will be intense, however, and the pricetag won't come cheaply.

Netting things out, however, I think you still have to be pleased with pursuit of Lackey instead of Everett seven days a week. I'm still not convinced that the value Everett brings with his glove is outweighed by his non-existent bat, and the relative value of each is borne out by the advanced stats: 0.9 WAR for Everett v. 3.9 for Lackey last season.

Posted by: faNATic | November 17, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

I found the Chatter item to be better -

Posted by: ckstevenson | November 17, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

??? I'm rather confused. During the season, so many people here kept saying move CG to 2nd base. Now that they've actually done it, most of the people here say NOT to do it. (Gotta love the internet!)

"I'm not overstating what the study says. It says there is no correlation between payroll and winning."

I say you CAN buy a lot of championships if you spent 195 mill a year like the Yanks. So yes, there is a correlation!

Posted by: charley42 | November 18, 2009 4:27 AM | Report abuse

Guzman likely will be better much better at 2B than SS. You are correct he can and should be playing 5 steps back compared to SS and that should give him much more range.

Lackey is not going to sign with the Nats....this is Tex all over again. Glad to hear they want to try but do not get your hopes up. With luck it will serve as advertising like last year and maybe we can sign a flawed devalued Dunn type pitcher.

Posted by: JayBeee | November 18, 2009 5:24 AM | Report abuse

I like to hear Livo is less than 50-50 to return. I hope that is true. Livo should have been signed after 2006 season, not now. The type of innings he would bring, Matt Chico could provide. Livo also seemed to have problems getting on the same page with the signs at the plate. I do not think vet leadership role includes being a free spirit when the game is on the line and dropping down a none approved bunt and ending the inning on DB with a man on 3rd and one out.

Posted by: JayBeee | November 18, 2009 5:44 AM | Report abuse

Rizzo's empire is now complete...more special assistants and consultants. Lots of money spent on paper pushers.

Same crap on the mound. Zero money spent on free agents.

Same organization,same plan, same results in 2010.

Posted by: howjensen | November 18, 2009 6:08 AM | Report abuse

The money spent on the front office is likely less a year than Olson resigning. It is money well spent and a drop in the bucket compared to MLB salaries....We just wasted $10 Million on D Young people......The front office money should have been spend in 2006 but I guess better late than never.

Posted by: JayBeee | November 18, 2009 6:18 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, NJers. Just wanted to throw a comment on about Marrero. Talked to Jeff Mandel last night and asked about Chris. Here's what he said:

"He had a stomach virus, but he started practicing yesterday [Monday], and he's almost back to being fully ready to go. He’s taking it easy, just making sure he’s all right. He’s a quiet kid, you don’t get a lot of him anyway, but you could tell he was sick."

Mandel said he'll be ready to play Saturday. He also said the Baby Nats are very pumped to be playing for a championship. I'll have more from our interview later today but knew there were Marrero questions.

Posted by: traceeh | November 18, 2009 6:18 AM | Report abuse

Ok. We have an owner. We have a fully stocked front office. We've got enough injured players to fill a hospital.

Now, what I want to know is: when do we get major league baseball in Washington?

Posted by: MartinZook | November 18, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Tracee, and thanks for the digging on Marrero. You're swell!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 18, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse


Never said Guzman should be moved to 2B. I've advocated moving his $8 million salary to a team that could return a useful middle infield or pitching prospect to get the nats out from under the last onerous contract granted by James Gordon Bowden III. You're asking for trouble if your right side of your infield has two men of their statues playing first and second.

Posted by: leetee1955 | November 18, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

"We just wasted $10 Million on D Young people......The front office money should have been spend in 2006 but I guess better late than never."



the front office that spent $10 million for slightly more than one season of da meat loaf is outta here and won't be back. i think rizz wants to save himself from such impulses by having guys around him who'll say "whoa, wait a minute" before making such wasteful deals.

Posted by: surly_w | November 18, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

As painful as it might be to do - you have to ignore the screw ups of the past few years, the ownership on the cheap mentality and short sighted decision making of the now departed Trader Jim. It's a new day - judge what's being done now on its own merit - they signed SS to the biggest rookie deal ever, they re-upped the Zman, made a savvy investment in Dunn (who they need to extend), stole Morgan and Burnett from the Bucs and stabilized the bullpen.

Although it appears to have taken a long time, the stubborn owners are finally on board with the fact that they cannot have a successful franchise operating it like a real estate business. They hired a "baseball guy" as GM, have expanded the front office/personnel with talented, experienced people, and seem to be ready to just let Rizzo et al. run things while staying in the background.

While I think a certain "trust but verify" mentality must remain, the early signs are positive.

Posted by: terrapin31590us | November 18, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Well, if most of the action this off-season is going to be front-office hires (we need them!), is Rizzo trying to lower our expectations for some free agent signings and trades of players?

Glad to hear that Morgan is healed and taking swings.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | November 18, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse


Good lord? Is the honeymoon already over? How can you be so bleak about a team not improving themselves before the winter meetings have even begun? No one has made a decent trade yet except for the Hardy Gomez deal. Build from the top.

As to Guzman, I frankly think it's a terrible idea, and always have. Guzman and Dunn cannot, under any circumstances, be left to guard the whole right side of the infield by themselves. It would have more holes than an OJ Simpson defense case!

Posted by: soundbloke | November 18, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Rizzo lands Lackey. After all, he managed to unload Milledge and get good value in return when none of us would ever have expected it. Perhaps all he needs to do to secure Lackey is to guarantee that if ever he says to a manager "This one is mine", the answer will always be "Yes it is." Of course there would need to be a lot of greenbacks behind that guarantee as well.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | November 18, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Good morning indeed, Blogmom emeritus, and we'll be anxiously awaiting your update.

Posted by: greggwiggins | November 18, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Take the payroll standing each year this decade and on the average 5 of the 8 playoffs teams are in the top 10 in the payroll standings."

Flip this around and it says that only 5 of the top 10 payroll teams make the playoffs on average. That's only 50%, as random as a coin flip. Sure maybe you could call that a correlation of some sort, but does it really say all that much?

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | November 17, 2009 5:25 PM

I had to bring this forward because it, well, do I say this nicely, uh, any real serious thought process.

If 5 of 8 playoff teams each year, on average, come from the top 10 in payroll, then that means only 3 come from the remaining 20. And really my overall point was the top half of payroll which is usually 6 teams out of 8 in the top 15 and only 2 playoff teams for the bottom 15.

Seems like 5th grade math to me. 6 out of 15 is a higher (40%) than 2 out of 15 (13%).

Once again, spending more money on players doesn't guarantee you a playoff spot (see Mets, NY and Tigers, Detroit) however, it does increase your chances by a large percentage.

Posted by: Section505203 | November 18, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Yes yes yes...

Better payroll = better players.

But we have now been engaged in a two day long argument about an isolated statistic. High payroll gives you an edge but without depth and a farm it get you nothing. A farm and scouting gives you an edge but without the ability to hold on to guys it gets you nothing.

This stuff is so obvious it is amazing we have been bickering for so long about it. Roll on trade rumours I say. At least it will give us something to discuss.

Posted by: soundbloke | November 18, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Guzman moving to 2B is a GREAT idea (and I'm not just saying that because I've been advocating it since early last year). The complaints about his range are that he does not have the range of an exceptional SS, particularly to his left. But plays to one's left at SS are infinitely harder than plays to one's left at 2B. His UZR ranking last year, warts and all, was a respectable -2.3. At 2B, I'm positive he'll have a positive ranking. Guzzy has twice as much range as Belliard, and Belly did a decent job out there. He can learn the pivot in an afternoon (just like Desmond did) and he'll have much more time to get to balls to his left, and to his right for that matter.

The only thing I'm concerned about is signing a 2B and keeping Guzzy at SS. THAT, would be a disaster.

Posted by: sec307 | November 18, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Guzman and Dunn cannot, under any circumstances, be left to guard the whole right side of the infield by themselves. It would have more holes than an OJ Simpson defense case!


Okay. Listen. Guzman's range has decreased a little. That's all. He's not as awful as this. He made some awesome plays this year. He got some web gem points. He's NOT TERRIBLE. He'll be fine as a 2B.

Posted by: NatsNut | November 18, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

The thing is that a guy his size is going to decrease faster rather than slower. Add to that the fact that he has never played second in his life, added to that the increased production demanded from second as opposed to short and you have yourself a very very mediocre second baseman.

Next to Dunn.

However sec307 makes a very good point no matter who plays 2b, Guzman at short is worse than Guzman at second.

Posted by: soundbloke | November 18, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Rizzo acknowledged the difficult decision the team has as to whether to offer Olsen arbitration, or non-tender him.

Translation: Bobo non-tendered.

I agree with Natsnut about the Dunn-Guzman right side of infield. No Gold Gloves there, but perfectly adequate. Dunn at 1B was a pleasant surprise. Nick was losing range and defensive prowess at first. Dunn proved he could handle low throws and was surprisingly nimble. Not much range, but not terrible either. Remember, just two years ago, we were playing Paulie "I Can FedEx that Package to You, Overnight" LoDuca at first. Goozie will be adequate at second, I believe. Big question is shortstop: Desmond? Trade? FA?

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | November 18, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I just looked at Felipe Lopez's UZR rankings over the past few years and they break him down by position.

In '06 (the year he split between the Reds and Nats) Lopez had a UZR of -17.5 over 155 games after putting up a negative UZR every other year in Cincy. In '07 he had a -9.0 in 111 games at SS, but a +2.4 at 2B. He was terrible everywhere in '08 as we all remember, but last year he had a +7.8 over 144 games in his first full season as a 2B.

That's a pretty big turn-around by just switching positions and sticking to it. I think that evidence bodes well for Guzzy and he works on his pivots.

Posted by: sec307 | November 18, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Excellent post, terrapin31590us. Thank you.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 18, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Rizzo has one more position to fill in the front office and it's Frank "Hondo" Howard. I wans't even alive when Hondo played, but I want to establish a permanent connection to the Senators of the past and there is no better person than Hondo. Call him the "Nat's Ambassador" or something, just get him an office and put him out there in front of us fans. Can I get a witness!?

Posted by: reverendnat | November 18, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Dunn a pleasant surprise? You call a -25 UZR/150 a pleasant surpise? Granted it's better than the -39 he posted in left field but frankly he is an incompetent fielder. You need a gold glover next to Dunn in order to compensate, if you don't trade him that is. Hands up anyone who thinks Guz is going to be that. Go on.

Posted by: soundbloke | November 18, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Lopez played 43 games at 2B in '07, fyi.

Posted by: sec307 | November 18, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

The fallacy of payroll that section505203 and others keep espousing is that high payroll drives winning and/or playoffs, when really this is not the case. And of course the real reason behind their espousing of this is a polite way of saying the Lerners are cheap. We all know that.

Sure, you can say and even do some correlation that might indicate that teams with a higher payroll are more likely to be in the playoffs in any given year. Well, duh. That doesn't say that their high payrolls propelled them into the playoffs. Rather, it says the opposite. Being in the playoffs propelled their payrolls higher. Successful teams are filled with successful players who are going to demand more money as each year passes. Instant payroll bump there. And of course most if not all teams that make the playoffs and get the corresponding payroll bump are going to hover in playoff contention for several years. But that doesn't mean it's the payroll that caused the success. Success breeds success, nothing else.

If you want to prove that going from being a low payroll team to a high payroll team can increase your chances of success, don't just look at the raw numbers of which teams with what payroll are in the playoffs every year. That tells you nothing. Instead, look at the trends. Look at how increases in payroll correlate with increased playoff success. Instead of finding low-payroll teams that don't win (duh), find some low-payroll team that quickly and massively increased its payroll and enjoyed quick and sustained success. Find low payroll teams that built from within over the course of years, and see how their payrolls increased both while they were building and after they achieved success. Look at all this data and more, factor it in completely in a serious analysis, and then you'll know whether it's payroll that drives success, or success that drives payroll.

That would be a tough, difficult analysis to undertake. It's so much easier for folks like section505203 do I say this nicely, uh, forgo any real serious thought process and just say that spending money is going to buy success. And of course, we all know they're only saying that because it makes them look less petty than saying the Lerners are cheap.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | November 18, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Please get off the Guzman kick. Let the guy go to the American league and DH. And Desmond IS your Shortstop. Enough with that already. Get DeRosa for 2nd before my Phightins' get him. Get another starting Pitcher - Brett Myers ring a bell?? He's still got it but the Phils are bringing Kyle Drabek up so they're going with less money and a younger pitcher. You'd get 200 plus innings from him. C'mon for Godsakes NATS I want to watch a competitive team!!

Posted by: billm32 | November 18, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

lol at the person complaining about the nats not signing any FAs yet...

Posted by: sec231 | November 18, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Focus on your cheesesteaks, billm32.

Posted by: sec307 | November 18, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Myers, huh? I thought we were over the "Zimm and the Crims" phase.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | November 18, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Here's an analysis I haven't done: how about Front Office/ownership vis á vis winning (both games, and playoff spots)? Well run organizations succeed more often than those run by whack jobs, which you would think was a tautology, and yet, look around. Plenty of teams, and people, still trying the Whack Job Method--at least one sterling example in DC (well, nearby, anyway).

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | November 18, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Well-run organizations can still fail, because of bad luck, or some insurmountable competitive disadvantage, but they'll usually be interesting to watch, anyway. It'd be great to have the Albert Pujols of front offices, but the scrappy guy who leverages merely adequate natural gifts with focus and diligence* can work, too.

*which is not to imply Pujols isn't focused or diligent.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | November 18, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Nats hiring of Riggleman and Rizzo's comments are clear indicators that the team's short-term goals are just to get back to being a .500 team in the next year or two as prospects develop. Chances are we won't have Adam Dunn, Guzman, and possibly Willingham by the trade deadline next summer. I don't see the Nats front office willing to pay top $'s for a starting pitcher or two. It's more likely they sign a couple of journeyman, possibly Livo for next

Posted by: wizfan89 | November 18, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

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