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Capps, Nats agree to deal

At roughly 1 a.m., the Nationals got their man.

Making their clearest step yet to improve a bullpen and end their pained search for a closer, the Washington Nationals on Wednesday reached a deal with free agent reliever Matt Capps, according to agent Paul Kinzer.

Terms were not immediately disclosed, but the right-hander, who has saved 66 games in the last three seasons, will receive a one-year deal. In turn, he will likely inherit responsibility for the ninth-inning role -- a trouble spot in 2009.

Capps, non-tendered by the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this month, had attracted some dozen suitors, and this week narrowed his list to two, the Nationals and the Chicago Cubs. But Capps, Pittsburgh's closer since 2007, wanted a chance to close -- and Washington offered a clearer path toward that opportunity.

Though Capps was one of the National League's top relievers in 2007 (2.28 ERA) and 2008 (3.02 ERA), his performance last season prompted the Pirates to drop him from their roster rather than pay him some $3 million via arbitration in 2010. In 2009, Capps' ERA skyrocketed to 5.80. His walk totals and home runs allowed ballooned, too. Still, he saved 27 games in 32 opportunities.

If Capps, 26, can regain his earlier form, the Nationals will have found an answer, at last, in a role where many have failed before. In 2009, the Nationals had the worst save percentage in baseball. Particularly at the beginning of the season, a glut of late blown leads dealt the team adversity it could never overcome. The Nationals experimented with Joel Hanrahan, Kip Wells and Julian Tavarez for the closer's spot. Eventually, hard-throwing but erratic journeyman Mike MacDougal, a scrap-heap pick up from General Manager Mike Rizzo, settled things down a bit, saving 20 of 21 games down the stretch.

MacDougal's high walk and low strikeout totals, however, unnerved the Nationals. On the same day the Pirates non-tendered Capps, Washington let go of MacDougal.

The acquisition of Capps continues a busy offseason for the Nationals, coming off a 103-loss season. Needing short-term depth at catcher's spot, the Nationals earlier this month signed free agent and future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez. Needing to repair a bullpen with a league-worst 5.04 ERA last season, they traded for reliever Brian Bruney. And earlier this week, the Nationals signed two more free agents -- first, veteran starter Jason Marquis; then, 39-year-old reliever Eddie Guardado.

With all the signings, spring training competition for bullpen spots will be especially tight -- a welcome change from last year. Assuming Capps becomes the closer, Bruney will likely get first crack at the set-up job. Guardado will have to fight for a roster spot. Jason Bergmann, Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard -- all of whom pitched well last season -- also figure into the mix.

By Chico Harlan  |  December 24, 2009; 2:14 AM ET
 
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Next: Nats ink Guardado to minor league deal

Comments

Yes! A bobblehead prophesy!

Posted by: HenryStin | December 24, 2009 2:34 AM | Report abuse

Rizzo, you continue to impress...

From MLB.com:

"Capps, 26, picked the Nationals over the Cubs because general manager Mike Rizzo showed serious interest the moment Capps became a free agent.

"[I liked the Nationals because of] the way Mr. Rizzo has treated me throughout this whole process," Capps said. "The Nationals organization has been first class. They expressed their interest from Day One -- the moment I was non-tendered. They wanted me to become a Washington National. That means a lot."

Posted by: gwatpvcc | December 24, 2009 2:48 AM | Report abuse

Maybe we should all get one
http://tinyurl.com/ya4xhmk

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 24, 2009 3:02 AM | Report abuse

although his neck looked a lot bigger in the pictures

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 24, 2009 3:02 AM | Report abuse

@ Sec3

I love it...how fun would that be? It could become an NJ thing -- take pictures of your Pirates Matt Capps bobblehead in odd locations throughout the world haha...

Posted by: HenryStin | December 24, 2009 3:06 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Chico for your hard work on Christmas eve. Capps had us wait till 2 am on Christmas morning for his decision... Geesh... It's 5pm here in Asia, but what are all you guys doing up at 2:30 in the morning??

As a Nats fan half way around the world, I am glad to see so much progess this winter. Hopefully we can get Hudson here soon and have Ian and Guzman fight out for the SS spot.

Perhaps with just one more established starter, I'd say we'll soon be competing for the wild card... Wow...
Good job, Mr. Rizzo and the FO!

Posted by: gonats1 | December 24, 2009 3:11 AM | Report abuse

Chico, I haven't always been your biggest fan, but I do really appreciate your staying up late during the holidays to get this story down. And will miss your featured articles. Thanks and bon voyage.

Posted by: nomad2 | December 24, 2009 4:05 AM | Report abuse

Now let's grab Washburn or Garland!

Posted by: JamWhitt | December 24, 2009 5:36 AM | Report abuse

Rizzo continues to get 'er done. Cool!
And there was even an overnight appearance by Cap'n Bligh. Wow.

I think we can check this one off too, Scooter (and that other verse was Drew's, for the record - I'll cop to the Silver Slugger one):

Santa baby, just fill my stocking with strong biceps, and checks
Sign your 'X' on the line
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 24, 2009 6:12 AM | Report abuse

Now, about that defense. Just a little reminder... :-)

Santa honey, I want balls caught and really that's not a lot
I've been an angel all year
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 24, 2009 6:17 AM | Report abuse

I'll add my thanks to Chico for this posting, and at 2 a.m. no less. (Also can't believe that there was somebody up and busting on him at 1 a.m. NJ never sleeps.)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 24, 2009 6:22 AM | Report abuse

What 1a1 said.

I continue to be impressed by the way the front office identified its needs and has moved to fill them. With Capps' deal reported at $3.5 million, the Nats have committed to at least $24.5 million in contracts this offseason (Marquis, Pudge, Capps). No, that's not the Yankees. But, you know, it ain't half bad, particularly if they're not done.

Posted by: Section220 | December 24, 2009 6:30 AM | Report abuse

Keep in mind the money they got off the books when looking at the money they added. Kearns' departure saves &7M ($1M buyout), Dmitri Young and Nick Johnson both made $5M, Scott Olson signed for $2M less guaranteed. Even Ronnie Belliard was making more than $1M.

My point is that there is no reason for the Nats to be done. The $14M or so for the 2010 salary of the players you describe is more than made up for by the contracts the Nats shed. The team should absolutely go for another starting pitcher and a second baseman. I vote for Orlando Hudson and either Garland or one of the reclamation projects like Sheets.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | December 24, 2009 6:51 AM | Report abuse

So somebody has to be dropped from the 40-man roster now? Any guesses? English, Jaime, or Severino?

Posted by: SpashCity | December 24, 2009 7:04 AM | Report abuse

Hooray! We won! We won!

Now who is Matt Capps? LOL

Okay, just kidding. I'm very proud to hear such praise from him. Rizzo has done a 180 for this team in respectability.

Also, sofa, I'm a huge fan of Hax too. My comment was even on her chat yesterday. Guess which one? =)

Posted by: NatsNut | December 24, 2009 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Excellent! I'm starting to believe, thank you Santa!

BTW; StanK says they still have a few more moves to make, come on down Jon Garland and O-Dog your poppa's wait'en for ya!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | December 24, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Kevin,

I like your ambition but disagree with your targets. A reclamation project is the one thing the Nat's don't need with their injury history. Rizzo is trying to build a team that is consistent and stable (it would seem). Also Hudsons range is declining almost as fast as Guzmans. There is a reason Torre dropped him for Belliard.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 24, 2009 7:35 AM | Report abuse

I give us a C+ so far. Capps would need to return to his older form to be a great addition. I'd like to get a big time right fielder to replace Dukes (who I really was pulling for but didnt rise up). I'm ok with Guzman at second for an experiment but we should get a top prospect for that spot for the future. GO NATIONALS!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Gibbs4Pres | December 24, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

If they now get a solid defensive 2B, pretty much every area identified as a need will be addressed. Sure, we could use another SP but that would be icing on the off-season cake. The solid 2B is important however.

Some of these acquisition costs can be offset by not needing to bring up Strasburg or Storen before they pass super-two status. This lets the Nats allow both to refine their skills in the minors but still having the option of one or both pitching this season at Nats Park.

It's nice not to get multiple toolsy corner outfielders.

Posted by: mikeladd123 | December 24, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S !!!

To all of us, but especially to the Nationals starters and Manager. Your jobs just got easier (probably).

I've got it as Capps, Bruney, Clippard, Burnett, Bergmann, Guardado, and one of Stammen, Mock, Slatten, Spier, or Peralta.

That's a huge improvement over: Hanrahan (gasoline), Colome (Heinz ketchup on the mound), Rivera (whiplash), Taverez (fun guy, losusy pitcher), Wells (deep and dry), and the rest of last year's crew.

Now, let's get that middle infielder....

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 24, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Marco Estrada should drop off the 40 man then Matt Chico....I do not see anyone who would pick them up at this point and they both would quickly resign to Minor League Deals....not sure why either were on the 40 man anyway.

I like the Capps deal but without another 200 innings SP like Garland and a big upgrade at SS and 2B defense it mean little. Keep focused Rizzo you know what is needed which is such a breath of fresh air. Go Nats.

Posted by: JayBeee | December 24, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Santa Claus has a new name: Mike Rizzo!

Way to go, big guy! Keep up the great work. You've turned the tone of these posts around 180-degrees, and I can't be happier.

Now that the winter solstice is behind us, it's only 90 days until spring (and about 60 until spring training begins!)! Opening Day is just around the corner. GO NATS!

Posted by: luv2bikva | December 24, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

One more step to respectability! My New Yorker friends all but considered him signing a done deal since the Yanks expressed interest. Now I will rub it in a bit - yes talking smack about Matt Capps. You gotta enjoy those small victories when they happen. Lets Go Nats!

Posted by: mjwies11 | December 24, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I agree about Estrada, but disagree on Matt Chico. He was hurt. He was pitching respectably before he got hurt and I think they should see what he's got before they put him out there. I do think someone would pick him up if he was released. I think Estrada, Slatten, and English are all considerations. Slatten is a useful guy, but he might be convinced to downgrade to a minor league contract. We'd lose English for sure. Estrada? Not sure what happens there.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 24, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Rizzo gets an A+ for improving Nationals credibility.

What the last 4 signings have in common is strong leadership by and signing player respect for our GM.

Two more major moves needed: SP and middle infield.

Merry Xmas --- good work Chico.

Posted by: nattydread1 | December 24, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Soundbloke, are you saying Hudson's range is now comparable to (or worse than) Belliard's? Not having watched him much this past year I'm in no position to say but, sadly, 2Bs do tend to decline pretty quickly once they hit their early 30s (as Bill James documented) so the news wouldn't be so shocking. Wear and tear is much tougher on them than other IF positions. Carlos Baerga, anyone?

On Saul Rivera, yes, it was time for him to go but I'll always remember fondly his yeoman-like work out of the pen in 2006-08; things could have been even uglier without him.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | December 24, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I thought I knew baseball but every time one of our locals signs a player I'm scratching my head. I'm sure its a good signing but be honest, had anyone heard of Matt Caps or Gonzalez from Atlanta or Nyjer Morgan before we signed any of those guys?

Posted by: dovelevine | December 24, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

One more starter and a new middle infield isn't too much to ask now is it?

Poor old Mike Rizzo. He's done more for us in a year than Bowden managed in three, and he still needs a quality starter and two middle infielders. If he can turn this team around we are going to have to see about introducing sports based sainthoods!

Posted by: soundbloke | December 24, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Excellent job by the FO and Mr. Rizzo. You went after a specific player and you got him.

Natsbiscuits - Don't you see Drew Storen fitting into your mix?

My hope is to see Drew in situational relief in lower stress situations and then moved along as he is the closer of the future for this team.

So it appears the bullpen is overstocked and there will be competition for the last coveted spot.

The starting rotation currently is overstocked too and my hope is for Garland to be added to the mix. If not, Marquis, Olsen, Lannan, with spots 4 and 5 to be determined during Spring Training with Strasburg, Stammen, JD Martin, Martis, Detwiler, Balestar and others competing for the coveted last 2 spots.

Question marks are still the health of JFlores, who plays middle infield, and can Willingham improve his defense.

Role players like Mike Morse, Willie Harris, Bernadina, Pete Orr and JMax will also compete.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | December 24, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

This signing is a freaking joke. Matt Capps was horrible last year. This is NOT an upgrade by any means. Anyone that thinks this is a good signing should consult a couple Pirates fans.

The lowly Pirates didn't want this guy. The Pirates are TERRIBLE and we signed their trash they left on the curb. HORRIBLE signing Rizzo!

It will be more of the same with our bullpen with Capps closing for us.

Rizzo better have a plan B for a closer.

We still need at least another closer and another starting pitcher. Sheets anyone????

Posted by: dominic10464 | December 24, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

This Capps off my Christmas shopping!

Dominic, the Pirates non-tendered him because they are, to borrow from many on this journal's favorite word, cheap. He did have a poor year, but previously was fine and there is no reason he can't revert to his past performance. And he's better than MacDougal.

Posted by: jfromPG | December 24, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

very pleased with this addition. I too would like to see one more starter (Garland) and middle infield. If Hudson's too steep ($$$ and 2nd round pick) then Kelly Johnson would be nice. Nats haven't been linked to any of his rumors yet which I find a bit surprising considering their list of off-season needs.

Anyway... so much more reason to be happy so far this winter. Thank you Mr Rizzo!

Posted by: RicketyCricket | December 24, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Stop pooping on the party Dominic. Capps was solid in '07 and '08, and even with below-average '09 stats, he is an upgrade over Gascanrahan, who was last years opening day closer (what was it? 9 blown saves out of 11 opportunities). Capps has proven he can do it in the majors, and since you mention a plan B, Rizzo got Bruney, who also has some closing experience and Storen waiting in the wings. The nay-sayers can just shut up for a while let the rest of us enjoy this Christmas gift.

Posted by: SpashCity | December 24, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

I hope Capps saves 40 games this season, but I'm a little concerned about his 2009 season. Anyone can have an off year, but did the Pirates know something about him that they're not sharing? Did they have a good reason to non-tender him? If they thought 2009 was an aberration, and that he was going to bounce back, why didn't they re-sign him?

Posted by: gilbertbp | December 24, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Chico being older and hurt/inactive much of the past 2 years makes him a safe roster move at this point....I do think he may still prove to be a serviceable #5 or long BP guy but we have plenty of those in the pipeline if we lose him. Remember it is a trade off....if we need a roster spot we have upgraded MI or SP....that is what we need to do....not protect Estrada or Chico types.

Posted by: JayBeee | December 24, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

More pitching. Love it. The Nats will have some truly good pitchers competing for roster spots this spring, unlike last year. I believe the offense is in place especially if Desmond is a regular next season and Cruz moves to second. I like this kid Desmond a whole lot even though we have to see how he holds up for a whole season.

Posted by: chopin224 | December 24, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Dude, you are way off base on your criticism of Capps. There has been plenty of analysis, demonstrating that his numbers were skewed by a few blow ups, but that his day to day stats were stable. 27 of 32 on saves. He had bad games on May 4 and July 11 and two games in a arow in August. Otherwise he was pretty consistent. This is far from a "joke" signing. 16 teams reportedly had an interest in him. Exactly who would you have signed otherwise? Rodney for $11M? Gregg for $1M? Right player, right price!

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 24, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Duh. Another senior moment. I meant Guz moves to second.

Posted by: chopin224 | December 24, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Storen, this signing gives the Nats the legitimate option of starting 2010 with him in the minors. If he fights his way on the team great. He wiill likely be on the roster by September, but I think they would rather play him somewhere that they could ensure he does not get over used. If he's on the MLB roster and they need him 4-5 times a week, they will have to use him. In the minors they can use him more deliberately.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 24, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Excellent point natbiscuits. What I really like about the Nats off season is that players are seeking to come here. They perceive a program that is on the way up. As natbiscuits pointed out, several teams were pursuing Capps and the same is true of Marquis. The FO change is responsible for this. Promoting Rizzo was a good move.

Posted by: chopin224 | December 24, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Bruce Levine from espn chicago reports the figures at 3.5 mil with 425,000 in additional performance bonuses, for 1 year. He is arbitration elegible next year and becomes a free agent after the 2011 season.

Posted by: cokedispatch | December 24, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

On Hudson, I get the feeling that the team isn't that interested. The rumors on that front seem to be coming from the player (through Ladson, who seems to be working hard this winter).

I also think the team will now be less aggressive in the free agent market. They probably have their top shopping list items, and realize that they can sign some bargains in February, including another starter. I think they'd prefer a trade to fill the middle infield spot.

Posted by: jcj5y | December 24, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I am really pleased with the performance of Mike Rizzo so far. I was less pleased with the choice of Riggleman over Valentine, but maybe it'll all work out.

Now let's go out and get us a proper third base coach. We seem to have pretty well filled the rest of our holes (assuming Gooz can play a passable 2B).

Posted by: FergusonFoont | December 24, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Since the deal with Capps won't be official until after the 1st of the year, Rizzo & Co. have a little time to figure out who gets DFA's / waived. My best guess from earlier was either Estrada or Mattheus.
Estrada's a passable AAA starter, but at 27 & no options left, he has little left to offer to the big club. Mattheus (acquired from COL in the Beimel trade) is coming off a TJ proceedure & probably won't pitch in 2010.
Matt Chico has one thing going for him that the other two don't - He's left-handed.

Posted by: BinM | December 24, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

the nats actually signed a player who DOESN'T have to be a mentor?

Posted by: surly_w | December 24, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I must say that the bullpen looks much better right now than the mess the team started 2009 with. In fact, Bergmann is the only player remaining from that group; Wow.

Posted by: BinM | December 24, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Capps will be mentoring Storen.

I'm mentoring the other fans in section 110.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 24, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

BTW, I as a partial season ticket holder, I am also an important part of the inventory and a valued asset....

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 24, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Chico ... Pittsburgh guy writing about a Nats' aquisition from the Pirates. If the Steelers beat the Ravens, Chico will be in 7th heaven. Happy Holidays !!!

Posted by: mitlen | December 24, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Another nice move by Rizzo!

One thing I havent seen in the comments is the fact that we could potentially trade Capps if he has a solid first half and get some prospects back in return.

Just wanted to throw it out there.

GO NATS!

Posted by: DMoney28 | December 24, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

R!P George Michael,

You were my remembrance of a SportsCaster!!!

You'll be m!ssed

Posted by: Lipty | December 24, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

You beat me to it, Lipty (just heard the news on WTOP). My condolences to all the friends and family of Mr. Michael.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 24, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

@Bisquit: Based on the current 40-man (plus Capps), here's the bullpen battles going into Viera.

Long/Middle Relief - Chico(L), English(L).
Situational - Bergmann(R), Slaten(L), Garate(L), Mattheus(R-DL).
Setup - Burnett(L), Clippard(R), Severino(L).
Closer - Bruney(R), Capps(R).
Non-roster - Guardado(L), Peralta(R), Kensing(R), Speier(R), Storen(R), Wilkie(R), etc.
Figuring that the team brings seven relievers north, I'll go with Chico, Bergmann, Slaten, Burnett, Clippard, Bruney & Capps.

Posted by: BinM | December 24, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

George Michael was the only reason the watch local television sports. The King is dead. Long live the king.

Posted by: leetee1955 | December 24, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

The news from my Mets-fan daughter:

The Mets are such a hot mess. All the articles about them still say they're looking for a left fielder, a starting pitcher, a catcher, a first baseman.... people are really annoyed they aren't acquiring /anybody/.

Ho, ho, ho

Posted by: markfromark | December 24, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I watched Bull Durham last night with my son, home for Christmas. I enjoyed this blog post today and some of you might too -

http://bases.nbcsports.com/2009/12/annie-and-nuke-break-up.html.php

Best wishes for the season, go Rizzo!

Posted by: utec | December 24, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I was asked if I believed Hudsons range was comparable to Belliards. Of course it is not. John Goodman has better range than Belliard. However, his range is declining along much the same course as Guzmans. it has fallen off for the last two years, and his UZR is terrible. If we want a defensive middle infielder he is not the answer.

If we want (another) mentor and lead off man he is a decent solution.

But I think jcj5y is right. If Rizzo really wanted him there would have been an offer by now. If we do end up getting him it seems like it might be because there were no other viable choices. I count Guzman as a non viable choice.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 24, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Not really so much as to whether or not Hudson can field to an elite level anymore or not, but the UZR stat is really not a stand alone metric; it is not depositive as to whether a guy can defend.

It is compiled based upon certain types of plays made in different ranges of the field and on different levels of difficulty of balls in play and it relies on many people making judgment calls, and it works on relatively small data sets per individual player. I think it excludes line drives and fly balls for infielders as if those plays do not matter, and does not give much value to defensive positioning. And it has holes, turning the double play does not enter into the equation at all. A 1B's biggest value is his ability to receive a throw, picking a ball in the dirt, making the stretch, but that is not weighted.

UZR is a nice numeric way to value a guy's performance on some level, but does anyone really think that very slick fielding Mark Teixeira was the 7th best 1B in the AL last year?

Posted by: dfh21 | December 24, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Like the others let me say, thanks, Chico for working a story into the wee hours on what is for you a lame duck beat.

You really committed journalism on this.

Posted by: greggwiggins | December 24, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

@soundbloke: I think I'm in agreement with you that the MI situation leaves a bit to be desired. There's not much left on the FA table for this year, and the farm club options are still a year or more away. I'm beginning to believe that Rizzo might wait until spring training to see what the Guzman experiment looks like, then move on a trade. Thoughts, anyone?

Posted by: BinM | December 24, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

"Bruce Levine from espn chicago reports the figures at 3.5 mil with 425,000 in additional performance bonuses, for 1 year. He is arbitration elegible next year and becomes a free agent after the 2011 season."

What this means is that the Nats now own Capps for two years, not one as everyone is saying, even though he signed a one year deal. The second year salary will be determined next year by them coming to agreement or by arbitration. But either way Capps needs to be figured into the plans for both 2010 and 2011. On that account, doubtful that he'd be trade bait at the deadline this season.

Posted by: section309 | December 24, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

according to Boswell in his chat, Rizzo & co.'s MO is to stay under the radar, and not leak who they're talking to until they have to. (Not that the agents don't tell, but agents notoriously make that stuff up anyway, so that may not be so bad.) But Boz did say they told him they aren't done.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 24, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Thanks BinM for breaking down the relieve core - I like your group coming north and it is almost exciting to think that a weakness last year might be improved if not decent - have to hope Capps returns to his form of 07 & 08 - What a difference a year makes, look at what we were doing at this time last year - I realize we went after Texiera but except for Dunn who else did we sign? - Rizzo definitely had a plan, used his FO help for ideas and signed people who will help us.

Posted by: sjm3091 | December 24, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I think signing the mentors will prove to be a ghastly mistake. The postgame fireworks might be better, but the past few years have been such a soul-sucking experience already, I'm afraid they'll starve.
http://tinyurl.com/yehr393
Hey, maybe we could sell "De Mentor" bobbleheads...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 24, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

So maybe it's a step up, from Da Meat to De Mentors...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 24, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I can see it now -- a whole section of the upper deck in long, flowing, torn black hoodies ...

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 24, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

OOOO -- kites! we need to fly Dementor kites over the field.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 24, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to give impession I was using a single stat in isolation. I was more using it as a barometer. Hudson has not been an elite fielder for a while and although you can see it watching him play. The UZR is a decent indication simply because while it is not infalable, no elite fielde has a negative UZR.

I reiterate, if no other solution prsents itself he is an upgrade on the present. But, I would rather see a trade. A young 2nd baseman might be cheaper than a short stop and if we sign another free agent pitcher we might be able to turn one of our 4/5 starters for one.

But of course I am dreaming, and have never attended a negotiation in my life.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 24, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

sec3: What, you want an entire section to look like something from the Spanish Inquisition? That'll be fan-friendly.

Posted by: BinM | December 24, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 24, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Here's a little something from the raw numbers side. The returning bullpen arms combined for the following - a 1.436WHIP, .215BAA, and a 3.69ERA; on the down side, they had only 22 holds, no saves & 6 blown saves.

Posted by: BinM | December 24, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

It's really sad to see NJ'rs lamenting the mentor strategy. It is mind boggling to me that hiring 3 veteran players in Rodriquez, Marquis, and Guardado is seen as a weakness that will become a "ghastly mistake". Seriously? 103 losses last year and signing 3 veterans is going to be a ghastly mistake? That's snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory! At worst these are gambles lost. The upside is significant - a stable starter, a catcher who helps in the clubhouse and bats no worse than Bard/Nieves, and a reliever who provides some run-free innings between the 6th and 8th innings.

What ghastly mistake???

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 24, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I want some of the eggnog Sec 3 is drinking!

[wink]

Posted by: Section220 | December 24, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Bisquit: It believe sec3's comment was "toungue in cheek". The acquisitions have been positives in most of our minds, it's just that all the talk of mentoring can be a bit much.

Posted by: BinM | December 24, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Isn't he married? Where else has that tongue been?

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 24, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

1a1: There is some hilarity to be had in sec3's suggestion; If not the Spanish Inquisition, then call it the National(s) Inquisition, much like the "Black Hole" at Raiders games - They could send players to the rack ("adjustment" for bad starts, blown holds/saves), iron maiden (penance for fielding errors), put them to the whip (# of lashes based on hitting with men-on-base), or just send them to the dungeon (overall bad play). It's silly, but it could work; We've considered goofier things on this forum, I'm sure.

Posted by: BinM | December 24, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

BinM, check:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1iBbBL1040

:-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 24, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Also, there's already a Nationals Inquisition blog, so that phrasing's taken.

<- See blog roll at left.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 24, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

"Rizzo better have a plan B for a closer."

Hmmm, Now, the Pirate's fan word of caution hasn't fallen on deaf ears. Rizzo's #1 closer is likely going to be Drew Storen and not Matt Capps. However, its nice to have a backup ... a second closer type to come in ... I really can't see Storen not closing ... whatever?

Posted by: periculum | December 24, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

JHC/U
http://tinyurl.com/ycb8nro
that was the closest I could find.

It's *not* the Spanish Inquisition--that's just what they'll be expecting.

It's a joke, son, a joke!
They're "De Mentors"!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dementors#Dementors

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 24, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

sec3jokester,

Kind a like that one about "Tuva or Bust?" It ain't always funny dude.

Posted by: periculum | December 24, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

1a1: Smashing! So the capes/hoodies would need to be red (rather than black), with judgements compiled in absolute secrecy, but posted to where?

sec3(sofa) - Are you taking notes?

Posted by: BinM | December 24, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking they're planning to let him season a little longer in AA, but you never know. If he forces the issue in ST, that would be a nice problem to have.

**********
Hmmm, Now, the Pirate's fan word of caution hasn't fallen on deaf ears. Rizzo's #1 closer is likely going to be Drew Storen and not Matt Capps. However, its nice to have a backup ... a second closer type to come in ... I really can't see Storen not closing ... whatever?
Posted by: periculum | December 24, 2009 2:26 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 24, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

"The jokes can't all be funny. You've got to expect that once in a while"

Groucho/Captain Spaulding

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 24, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

"I'm thinking they're planning to let him season a little longer in AA, but you never know. If he forces the issue in ST, that would be a nice problem to have."

As Rizzo and his new lieutenants like to say ... its up to the players whether and when they make it to the big club. I take Storen at his word, and his word last year was that he wanted to sign and get started right away ... he had plenty of seasoning in college I suspect given the maturity and progress he has shown up until now.

He will be on the 25 man coming north ... He'll be closing along with Capps or he will be the closer.

Posted by: periculum | December 24, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"OOOO -- kites! we need to fly Dementor kites over the field."

And kids, both big and little, are eating tons of chocolate in their stockings to ward off and keep dementors away. Have you been eating lots of chocolate lately sec3?

Posted by: periculum | December 24, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Watch putting the curly "w"'s on those capes BinM. Looks like the curly W hats are a stylish trend in LA's gangland.

Posted by: periculum | December 24, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Dementors don't come near me--the pink elephant scares them off.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 24, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

sec3(sofa): For Dementors, based on your reference point, who does that describe best (among the foulest beasts on earth; Soul-sucking fiends who dement people who come in contact them for too long). To me, that's JimBow, to a tee.
If that is what you seek, they'd all need to ride Segways to the park, have prior DUI's & have their lower G-I tract occupying most of their skulls.

Posted by: BinM | December 24, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of scared off --

"Within today's blog entry, ESPN.com's Buster Olney notes that none of the remaining teams in need of a closer (Florida, Pittsburgh, and Detroit) have the payroll flexibility to spend $8-10MM on Jose Valverde. Valverde will probably have to settle for significantly less money than he is asking for, and could potentially even be forced into a setup role somewhere." MLBTR

*************
So they're paying Capps $3.5-4MM, if he hits his marks. What happens if Valverde is still available, like Dunn was last year, for way less than anyone expected, say $6MM? Mighty tempting, I think. One year deal, let Storen simmer a bit?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 24, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Practically, I expect the Snakes' $5MM is still on the table, but hey, it's December.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 24, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Honestly? The first thing that came into my mind was the Yankees. Then the Hendricks bros, and Boras.
***************
sec3(sofa): For Dementors, based on your reference point, who does that describe best (among the foulest beasts on earth; Soul-sucking fiends who dement people who come in contact them for too long). To me, that's JimBow, to a tee.
Posted by: BinM | December 24, 2009 3:04 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 24, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Honestly? The first thing that came into my mind was the Yankees. Then the Hendricks bros, and Boras.
***************
@sec3(sofa): In my mind, the Yankees = Bill Gates/Microsoft (corporate to the core; if you can't beat it, buy it).
The Hendricks brothers = Posers; wannabe Scott Boras. Clearly delusional of late & have been strongly effected by dementors.
Scott Boras = Lord Voldemort & the Devil incarnate; Feeds off the labors of others while trying to corrupt the world he resides in to his will.

Posted by: BinM | December 24, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Definitely red. hmmm, maybe sec3 (the African explorer?) will have some posting ideas.

---

1a1: Smashing! So the capes/hoodies would need to be red (rather than black), with judgements compiled in absolute secrecy, but posted to where?

sec3(sofa) - Are you taking notes?

Posted by: BinM | December 24, 2009 2:45 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 24, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Some more numbers to mull over, this time for the starting pitchers (SP stats from the 2009 season, MLB only)...

Marquis: 216.0IP, 15.03Pt/IP, 1.426WHIP, .262BAA, 4.04ERA.
Lannan: 206.3IP, 15.12Pt/IP, 1.401WHIP, .264BAA, 3.88ERA.
Stammen: 105.7IP, 14.99Pt/IP, 1.325WHIP, .267BAA, 5.11ERA.
J.Zimmermann: 91.3IP, 17.23Pt/IP, 1.402WHIP, .265BAA, 4.63ERA; On DL, 2010.
Martis: 85.7IP, 15.87Pt/IP, 1.503WHIP, .251BAA, 5.25ERA.
Mock: 78.3IP, 17.91Pt/IP, 1.750WHIP, .306BAA, 5.40ERA.
Martin: 77.0IP, 16.77Pt/IP, 1.546WHIP, .277BAA, 5.13ERA.
Detwiler: 73.7IP, 16.62Pt/IP, 1.669WHIP, .293BAA, 5.13ERA.
Olsen: 62.7IP, 16.62Pt/IP, 1.734WHIP, .317BAA, 6.03ERA.
Balester: 30.3IP, 16.93Pt/IP, 1.584WHIP, .281BAA, 6.83ERA.
Estrada: 2.3IP, 26.52Pt/IP, 2.609WHIP, .300BAA, 19.57ERA.
Atilano, Jaime, Strasburg, Thompson: No data.

Posted by: BinM | December 24, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Happy Holiday everyone - Enjoy.

Posted by: BinM | December 24, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, BinM, and back at you!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 24, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo is doing one he11 of a job, with the Nats.

Keep up the good work !!!!!!!

Posted by: dashriprock | December 24, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas to Mike Rizzo, Stan Kasten, the Lerners, Jason Marquis, and Matt Capps. You certainly all helped make my Christmas happier.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 24, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

All this big love for Rizzo is overblown. I am glad to see some adds to the club, but I am not ready to annoint Rizzo as some savior any time soon.

Additions of a few veteran players with limited upside and on short term deals is not exactly showing some amazing skill set as a GM, especially when he's running a last place club with holes all over and he has money to spend in a big way.

They needed a catcher, so they singed one of the 8 or so available guys, they need starting pitching terribly, they signed an innings eater, they have no closer so they inked a mid level non-tendered closer on a one year contract. Not exactly inspired work here folks. He's filling glaring holes with placeholders, he's not building some potential perennial contender.

There is no creativity, no risk/reward, no boldness from this group. This is not Seattle where they are stocking loads of talent and trying to make a run, or Baltimore or Tampa with young talent under control at almost every position, or even Cleveland or Pittsburgh where they have blown up the club to get as much young, cheap talent as they can due to market conditions in their marekts, etc. -- those clubs are showing some ghanas. The Nats could have taken an aggressive tact this off-season, but yet again it's duct tape and some wire until the seemingly never coming salad days of Nats future get here.

Rizzo's job is not a tough one right now as expectations are freaskishly low and even when minding the tight Nats budget he can do a lot b/c the club has such payroll flexibility and the market is low so.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 24, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Bah humbug, dfh21. This Nats fan is enjoying a merry Christmas thanks to Rizzo's moves. We're one starting pitcher and one middle infielder away from a semblance of respectability, which is moving in the right direction as far as I'm concerned. This is all being done at zero cost to the future. I don't see anything lost and much gained through what Rizzo's done so far.

I'm a happy camper.

Posted by: GoNats21 | December 24, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

"Merry Christmas to Mike Rizzo, Stan Kasten, the Lerners, Jason Marquis, and Matt Capps. You certainly all helped make my Christmas happier."

You do know that all of them with the exception of Rizzo and Capps are Jewish, don't you? Perhaps a Happy Hannukah would have been more appropriate. Or just go PC and say Happy Holidays.

Posted by: nunof1 | December 24, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

The sentiment is still appropriate as I observe Christmas. It's not a curse, its a blessing.


Posted by: natbiscuits | December 24, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

See Gonats21, simply moving in the right direction is enough to fill your Nats stocking. This GM thing is easy.

Merry Christmas all.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 24, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

dfh21 is right, this being a GM and running a franchise is easy for any true fan. Just ask Vinnie Cerrato and Danny Snyder, they have it wired.

Posted by: Catcher50 | December 24, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

nunof, biscuits is being too modest. He was actually well aware that those gentlemen are Jewish -- because, seriously, why on earth *wouldn't* he know their religion? -- but he was also aware that Hanukkah already ended, and he didn't want them to have to wait, and even Purim is too far off to satisfy.

Presidents Day, now that might have been the way to go. But that ship has, alas, sailed.

Posted by: Scooter_ | December 24, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

dfh21, the bold risk reward last year was Cabrera... and boy did that work out. I have a feeling that if we didn't sign Lackey and Holliday to below market contracts and trade for Joe Nathan that you'd think this offseason was a failure.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | December 24, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

dfh21 is right. Rizzo isn't bold enough. We should get a new Gm with some sense of risk someone who knows to scout and trade for upside and tools.

I've been listening to XM a lot recently and one of their commenters knows all about this stuff. His name is Bowden. Bold, adventurous. He would fit this team like a glove.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 24, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

All I am saying is that Rizzo has not done anything fantastic. The needs this club has are many and glaring and the way they have gone about plugging them is not so magical nor is most of it in line with The Plan. Pudge 38, Eddie G. 39, Marquis is an innings eater, not a front end rotation guy. Bruney is an unproven project (but at least he's under team control), Capps a midling guy. This is not the stuff of Executive of the Year trophies, it just isn't.

The club is without doubt better -- but could they be worse? -- and only getting better after this much time is just pathetic, especially with a chincy payroll in a big, east-coast market and with a new park.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 24, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Peace, and let them be, in their exaltation. They speak better than they know, and beyond your understanding.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 24, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Beautiful article on Ryan Zimmerman on espn.com in the baseball section. Just an outstanding article all of you njers likely will love to read.

Posted by: cokedispatch | December 24, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

DFh21,

You must be JayB's son. We already have enough people who see the glass half empty. I didn't know that you were one of the people who were so rich that you thought the Nats payroll was chincy.

Give Rizzo a chance he is doing a pretty good job, let him finish.

Posted by: natsguy | December 25, 2009 3:12 AM | Report abuse

Excellent snark, my good man. That is all.

---

dfh21 is right. Rizzo isn't bold enough. We should get a new Gm with some sense of risk someone who knows to scout and trade for upside and tools.

I've been listening to XM a lot recently and one of their commenters knows all about this stuff. His name is Bowden. Bold, adventurous. He would fit this team like a glove.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 24, 2009 10:51 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 25, 2009 6:36 AM | Report abuse

So when I hope for the Nats to go get top level talent now, I am wrong to see the Nats glass half full (no bad contracts, very low payroll, very good offensive pieces in place this year, teams looking to dump salaries and the Nats having the ability to take it on, new park, east-coast big market, etc.), b/c getting any player of elite-ish status to DC is just not doable, but I should see the glass as half full when evaluating whomever Rizzo trots out. What a gift to have this figured out now, Best Christmas ever!

Posted by: dfh21 | December 25, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

@cokedispatch: Read the article and it was indeed a good read, but one question...

He is referred to in the article as a North Carolina native. I thought he was a Tidewater VA product.

Posted by: TimDz | December 25, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I re-read it and it says they moved when Ryan was in 6th grade. Too much holiday cheer last night I guess...

Posted by: TimDz | December 25, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

@dfh21,

Are you a member of the FO like JayB and Periculum think they are? If not, how do you know what Rizzo tried for and is trying for now. Do you think he is stupid enough to negotiate in the media? I guess he must have called you personally to let you know what he is doing.

Give the man a chance. It is a very bad free agent market and he has done surprisingly well.

Oh and Merry Christmas to all of you from rainy Oregon.

Posted by: natsguy | December 25, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I had the same reaction upon my first reading, Tim, and I didn't partake of any holiday cheer. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 25, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

A hit, a very palpable hit.
***********
So when I hope for the Nats to go get top level talent now, I am wrong to see the Nats glass half full (no bad contracts, very low payroll, very good offensive pieces in place this year, teams looking to dump salaries and the Nats having the ability to take it on, new park, east-coast big market, etc.), b/c getting any player of elite-ish status to DC is just not doable, but I should see the glass as half full when evaluating whomever Rizzo trots out. What a gift to have this figured out now, Best Christmas ever!
Posted by: dfh21 | December 25, 2009 10:00 AM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 25, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Well everyone Merry Christmas my wife,my daughter, and I are awaiting family for fun and good times and especially Michah our recent addition to the family(his first Christmas)my wife keeps him during the week to keep our daughter and son-in-law's baby sitting expenses down, he's quite the young man growing every second(his dad is 6-3/315) but let me say as we close this year I have enjoyed blogging with all of you and look forward to this season and exchanging opinions and the occasional friendly barbs i sincerely hope all of you have a wonderfull day and again Merry Cristmas to all.

Posted by: dargregmag | December 25, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

here's the link to the espn article on zimmerman.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4751693

btw, i've seen him out for dinner in arlington, too. just didn't walk up to bother him.

Posted by: sec231 | December 25, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

"Periculum think they are? If not, how do you know what Rizzo tried for and is trying for now."

Hmmm, I don't think I ever intimated that ... my hunches HAVE paid off have they not? Martin, Morse, for starters. Mebbe Padilla didn't pan out.

I make educated guesses based on what I've seen and admittedly on whatever scoop Brian's NFA provides. He also makes "educated guesses". I don't see anyone calling Brian or BinM members of the FO.

Mind your P's and Q's I might have a connection to S. Clause.

Posted by: periculum | December 25, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Likewise, dargramps! And a happy and prosperous new year to you and all yours. You're a lucky guy.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 25, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Im just happy not to see any bad contracts, $5mil a year for DaMeat Hook, $8 mil a year for Guzman and Kearns, and a closer that has actually closed a game before this season.

Rizzo's moves have been solid but unspectacular, however compared to Jimbo he appears to us as the executiv of the year.

No great moves, no bad moves, I'll take it.....for now.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | December 25, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

@petey: The team is still on the hook for Guzman in 2010 ($8M), but is otherwise clear. While the MI defensive picture is still unclear (Guzman/AGonz/Desmond), I have to believe that Rizzo & Co. are considering all options there, including trades.

To date, your closing line just about covers it - "No great moves, no bad moves, I'll take it.....for now."

Hoping all the contributors on NJ had a wonderful holiday. For the team we all follow, it certainly seems that there are better days ahead. Blessings & Joy to all.

Posted by: BinM | December 25, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang....been busy....like Mike, huh? Couldn't remember my password on a remote site , hence the "2" in the handle....just wanted to thank you all for the added joy you've brought to finally having our own team.Heck-someimes the ONLY joy!!!
Link smu Kaledu!!!! (Merry Chriistmas in Lithuanian)....or Happy Saturnalia....a non-denominational Merry to all my fellow Natssholes!!!!!
Soon to be Aint Nats somethin'
Go Nats

Posted by: zendo2 | December 25, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the good wishes, dargramps and others, and I wish the same for you. Hope that little Michah got some Nats gear from Santa. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 25, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Barring any additional moves, here's my current view of the 2010 Washington Nationals roster:
Lineup -
1)Morgan, N.- CF
2)Guzman, C.- 2B
3)Zimmerman, R.- 3B
4)Dunn, A.- 1B
5)Willingham, J.- LF
6)Dukes, E.- RF
7)Rodriguez, I.- C
8)Desmond, I.- SS
9)SP
Bench: Nieves, W.(C), Morse, M.(CI), Gonzalez, A.(MI), Harris, W.(UT), & either Bernadina, R.(OF) or Maxwell, J.(OF).
Flores, J.(C) on DL-15; Either Bernadina, R.(OF) or Maxwell, J.(OF) off roster.
Starting Pitchers -
1)Marquis, J.(R)
2)Lannan, J.(L)
3)Stammen, C.(R)
4)Olsen, S.(L)
5)one of Martis, S.(R), Detwiler, R.(L), Martin, J.D.(R), or Mock, G.(R).
Zimmermann, J.(R) on DL-60; All others to minors or off-roster.
Bullpen -
Long Relief: Chico, M.(L).
Middle / Situational relief: Bergmann, J.(R), & either Slaten, D.(L) or Guardado, E.(L-NR).
Set-up: Bruney, B.(R), Burnett, S.(L), Clippard, T.(R).
Closer: Capps, M.(R).
Mattheus, R.(R) on DL-60; All others to minors or off-roster.

Posted by: BinM | December 25, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the summary, BinM.
One thing we haven't gone into much, but did discuss at length last season, is roster flexibility. Who has options, who can be shuffled if they need to bring someone up, or if someone isn't working out come May or June?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 25, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Starting Pitchers -
1)Marquis, J.(R)
2)Lannan, J.(L)
3)Detwiler, R (L)
4)Chico, M. (L) (if he is really healthy)
5)one of Martis, S.(R), Stammen, C., (R), Martin, J.D.(R), or Mock, G.(R), Another veteran pickup.
[Martin is more effective starting than coming in relief. I expect to see him there as usual in spite of the storm of negative opinion.]

Bullpen -
Long Relief: See #5 starters.
Middle / Situational relief: Clippard, T.(R), & either Slaten, D.(L) or Guardado, E.(L-NR).
Set-up: Bruney, B.(R), Burnett, S.(L).
Closers: Capps, M.(R), Storen, D (R).

Posted by: periculum | December 25, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Watch for Espinosa to possibly start in next year's infield.

Posted by: periculum | December 25, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

What do you guys think?:

http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-ERA-WASHINGTON-NATIONALS-CAP-7-1-8-1-4-3-8-1-2-5-8_W0QQitemZ280442903312QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?var=&hash=item870ac2df25

Posted by: big_game_lannan | December 25, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Hmmmmm.... I dunno. Don't think so.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 26, 2009 12:40 AM | Report abuse

I'd almost rather see a black cap with a red Curly W

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 26, 2009 12:41 AM | Report abuse

OK, Cubs-fan-wife and I have discussed it.
This would work if it were a yellow W, because the flag has yellow, but if you're expecting R/W/B, this is jarring.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 26, 2009 12:44 AM | Report abuse

Aren't those pointy-ball team colors?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 26, 2009 6:56 AM | Report abuse

sec3(sofa): By my counts, Flores & Zimmerman have all their options remaining. Desmond, Dukes & Morgan might each have 1 left. For the pitchers, Lannan, JZimm, Stammen, Severino & Mattheus have 3 each, Martin, Balester, Atilano, Chico, Garate & English have 2.
I think just about everybody else on the roster is out of options.

Posted by: BinM | December 26, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Yes! A bobblehead prophesy!

Posted by: HenryStin | December 24, 2009 2:34 AM |


I'm happy to have been right about something. Happy Christmas to all! And thanks Mike Rizzo!

Posted by: BobLHead | December 26, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

@BinM: Detweiler is out of options? That can't be right (of course, I've been wrong several time before...)

Posted by: TimDz | December 26, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

BinM, I'd be shocked if this ends up mattering, but I'm quite certain Jesus was optioned to AAA his second year with the club (i.e., the first season he didn't have to be on the major-league roster).

The one who always surprises me is the 15-year-old Martis already being out of options, but I think it's been proven to me before.

Posted by: Scooter_ | December 26, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

TimDZ: oops - Detwiler & Mock have 1 left. There are some players on the roster I'm unsure on (Thompson & Morse) as well.

Posted by: BinM | December 26, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Sooter: IIRC, Flores was sent down for injury re-hab; that doesn't count against his options.

Posted by: BinM | December 26, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

BinM, I think Scooter is right about the Flores' optioning at the start of '08. I don't recall that he was hurt then -- the Nats FO wanted him to catch every day for a while at AAA.

Posted by: nats24 | December 26, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Admittedly, minor-league options are one of the hardest things to track. I've yet to find a site that tracks them - it usually comes down to looking at a players' record year-to-year.

Posted by: BinM | December 26, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

NN, Scooter: You guys were right - 17GP in the minors in 2008 (thank you, Fangraphs).

Posted by: BinM | December 26, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

The cap is the colors of that other W team. I agree, I don't think so.

On the second day of Christmas, the GM gave to me...

two new relievers
and a guy who can now close out games.

Posted by: dand187 | December 26, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Periculum,

I gave up on Santa Claus a while back so no problems there. I really don't have to mind the p's and q's that you set. I guess you think you are also one of Santa's helpers as well as a member of the FO.

As far as Espinosa, his glove is probably ready but not his bat. He needs at least one season at Harrisburg.

JD Martin was a luck break (we'll see if he even makes the team in 2010). If they sign Garland, Martin is history. I don't agree about Morse. He hasn't proven he can hit or field with consistency in the MLB.

Posted by: natsguy | December 26, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I think that the bobble reference was to this, BobL:

@ gusgrace / NatsNut

I say this in all absurd seriousness, but I have a Matt Capps bobblehead, which is the only reason I know of him. My fiancée is from Pittsburgh, and I went to Capps bobblehead day when visiting her parents two years ago. He had a great save and I remember thinking, "huh, this guy is pretty cool" and digging his signature fist-pump after a save. Still have said bobblehead. Fate? You decide!

Posted by: HenryStin | December 23, 2009 11:35 PM |

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 26, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Gracious. Was looking through old news, and I realized why Flores 08 is so confusing. He was supposed to start in AA, then the other catcher(s) got inured, so he was the starter, then the old dudes came back, and they sent him to AAA, and he was there for like a month, then the old dudes got hurt (Lo Duca and Estrada to DL on the same day), so he came back up, and I think he was up to stay. Phew.

(Now if someone could just explain little Shairon being out of options when he's only 11 years old, I'd be much obliged.)

Posted by: Scooter_ | December 26, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Well, the Nats FO isn't taking a long weekend, unlike the rest of us - Guardado was signed to a minor league contract this morning.

Posted by: Traveler8 | December 26, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

(Now if someone could just explain little Shairon being out of options when he's only 11 years old, I'd be much obliged.)
Posted by: Scooter_ | December 26, 2009 4:08 PM
---------------------
One more time - Probably because he's been playing professionally since he was 10 (Drafted by SF; traded to WSH & added to 40-man, 2006; optioned to POT, 2007 [-1]; optioned to HAR & recalled, 2008 [-2]; optioned to SYR, 2009 [-3].

Say thanks to JimBow on your way out; It's the same reason Detwiler is down to 1 option as well.

Posted by: BinM | December 26, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

With all these pitchers running out of options, does the FO now look to package some of them for a starter? Rizzo was/is looking for a starting pitcher and I'm not sure exactly who/what is left.

With that in mind, I ask this of the NJ faithful: If Washington WAS to put forth a package of pitchers (say two of them), who could they get (either SP or MI help) and would Washington have to part with someone like Willingham?

Posted by: TimDz | December 26, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

While we waited for Capps the other day, some NJer hoped against hope that Rizzo would nab a new right fielder. I suspect Rizzo will do that very thing in the first week of June. Kid by the name of Bryce Harper.

I hope that -- as in the cases of Yount, Chipper and Biggio -- moving to the outfield comes easily to a gifted infielder with a big bat.

Posted by: Drew8 | December 26, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

@TimDZ: Do the Nationals have pitchers to trade? Absolutely - Just about anybody outside the 2009 draft picks, Lannan, Marquis, Stammen & Capps are available, IMO.

The question is, who is looking for pitching in return for a MI (AZ, SF, maybe NYM)?
Getting a solid SP for multiple arms doesn't usually work, unless the arms have options.

Posted by: BinM | December 26, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

@Drew8: You may have a case to be made there (Harper from CA to RF). We'll see what the pecking order looks like, come June.

Posted by: BinM | December 26, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

On Clippard! On Stammen! On Burnett and Bergmann! On Bruney, on Garrett! On Capps and Guardado!

Guardado?
See the new post.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 26, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

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