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Garland, Willingham, Bruney, PTBNL, Flores

Were this a twitter feed, I'd condense the Nats' buzz thusly: They have interest in Jon Garland. They're hesitant to trade Josh Willingham without a great return. They think Brian Bruney can close.

There. That's 135 characters.

Now here's 1,835 more.

* First regarding Garland, the free-agent pitcher. GM Mike Rizzo this afternoon admitted that his team was in the running. "Yeah, we have interest in Jon Garland," he said. "We've had it the whole time. He's one of the 10 names we've been talking about throughout the whole winter."

* Willingham represents an interesting decision, but the balance of people Sheinin and I are talking to believe that A) Washington is maintaining a high asking price for its left fielder and B) the half-dozen teams with an interest in Willingham still prefer one of the big free agents (Holliday or Bay). Willingham's agent, Matt Sosnick, said today that he knew of intense trade interest in his client, but he'd be surprised if Willingham didn't open the season as the Nats' starting left fielder.

Rizzo, speaking about Willingham, added this: "He's a guy that we're not looking to move. We would only move him in a situation that improves our ballclub, but like we said, we're going to look at all avenues on all players. But yeah, Josh would be a difficult guy to move for us, definitely."

* Asked if he could see Bruney handling the closer's role, Rizzo said, "I think he's going to compete for the job."

Some additional tid-bits...

* The Nats still haven't determined that Cristian Guzman will move to second base. It all depends on free agent moves and trades. Guzman will open the season as a starter at 2B or SS, but for now, nothing more is known.

* The Nats are getting good news on the health of catcher Jesus Flores. Looks like he'll be fully recovered for the start of spring training.

* Rizzo and Yanks GM Brian Cashman were talking about a potential Bruney deal during the last two or three weeks, Rizzo said.

* Sheinin checks in with this item: The PTBNL in the Bruney deal will be player the Nationals select on the Yankees' behalf with the first overall pick in Thursday's Rule 5 draft. Because the Nationals' 40-man roster is currently full, they will have to remove another player, as they did Monday with Saul Rivera, to make room.

* The Nats still aren't satisfied with their bullpen. More moves could be coming, Rizzo said. "We're certainly not where we need to be right now."

By Chico Harlan  |  December 7, 2009; 5:23 PM ET
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Next: Inventory. The word of the year.


Wow so we basically got Bruney for nothing. Good job Riz.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | December 7, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Why will they have to remove a player from the 40-man roster if they're immediately going to trade whoever they select in the Rule 5 draft - which of course will be someone specified by the Yankees? This basically would force them to give up two players in exchange for Bruney, Rivera plus another guy. If they have to do that, why wouldn't they just wait until the Rule 5 draft, pick the guy the Yankees want, cut Rivera, and then make the trade?

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | December 7, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm really beginning to see a difference between the way Mike Rizzo and Jim Bowden acted as team GM.

Jim Bowden furiously made trade after trade, and then would look up to see if any of them helped the team.

Rizzo make's far fewer moves, but each one has an impact.

I like that.

Posted by: rushfari | December 7, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Eclipse: The Nationals went into the meetings with a full 40-man roster; they released Rivera for the space to acquire Bruney - trading the Rule-5 pick will force another player off of the 40-man.

I see your point of view, but when you go into this with a full roster, it can become a numbers game - that's where the Nationals are right now.

Posted by: BinM | December 7, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse


Stop talking about who you're either in or out on and just do what needs to be done to burnish your roster for 2010.

Posted by: leetee1955 | December 7, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

BinM, it still makes no sense that they'd have to release another player to make room for Bruney. No one is forcing their hand to acquire Bruney now instead of after they cut Rivera to make room for the Rule 5 pick. So why would they do it that way? I'd be willing to bet that the rules do not require them to cut somebody else in this case. If they did, they would leave the week with 39 players when they came in with 40. Not the intent of the Rule 5 draft.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | December 7, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

I believe you have to have room on your 40-man in order to even participate in the Rule 5, because the player selected (in the major league phase anyway) is immediately placed on the roster.
Doing it this way will cause the Nats to punt a roster spot for someone who will then be eligible to be selected by someone else. It's disappointing that that's the way the Yankees wanted to do it, but they must have their eyes on someone since they will need to keep him in the bigs all year, and the No. 1 pick was the way to get him.
All we can hope for, I guess, is that whoever gets outrighted by Washington does not get plucked by someone else.

Posted by: mjhoya12 | December 7, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

MASN has some newish posts, one that touches on draft pick considerations:

Also, thanks to Dave and Chico for all the posts today, and welcome back, Chico.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 7, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

After the Nats ship the Rule 5 pick to the Yanks, won't they have an open spot on the 40-man? So it's not a matter of (potentially) losing Rivera and another player for Bruney, it's a matter of swapping Rivera and another player for Bruney and someone else. It all depends on what the 40-man looks like after it all shakes out.

Posted by: js_edit | December 7, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Rule-5 release candidates, IMO - Bergmann, M.Estrada, Chico, Garate. The team might actually let go of Chico first (due to the severity of the original injury), with a back-side offer of a MiLB contract.

Posted by: BinM | December 7, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

We have a bunch of trash on our 40-man (BinM listed a few of them) so I see no reason to get worked up about a guy that's not going to make the team. Besides, we could make a trade between now and the Rule 5 draft making all this moot.

I like this trade alot by the way. We have no real power arms in the 'pen, outside of MacDougal, and he's no sure thing to make the team. Bruney can keep the closer's seat warm for Storen. I would also like to see Smoltz sign as a reliever - again, he could be a stop-gap closer and sitting in the 'pen with the youngin's would not be the worst thing in the world.

Posted by: sec307 | December 7, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Look at it this way, guys. The Nats entered today with a full 40 man roster. Then they cut Rivera to bring them to 39, and also announced the trade of a PTBNL for Bruney. But unlike most PTBNL trades, the Nats don't currently own the un-named player. The trade cannot be consummated until they do, and that won't be until the Nats draft the PTBNL in the Rule 5. Until the trade is consummated, Bruney can't go on the Nats 40 man roster because they don't own him yet. Therefore they go into the Rule 5 draft at 39, not 40.

Posted by: nunof1 | December 7, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

At the risk of sounding like a Bowden apologist, let's not forget that he had absolutely nothing to work with. Rizzo got Bruney today, but Bowden got Flores in 2007. Bowden was GM when they traded for Willingham, when they signed Dunn, and when they drafted Zimmerman.

Don't get me wrong, Rizzo is likely to be a very successful GM, but let's not get carried away. So far he has traded for Morgan, Burnett, Garate, Thompson, Mattheus, Morse, and Bruney. He certainly does not suck, but its a little early to call him a success.

And just for emphasis: Bowden was a disaster. Not saying he wasn't.

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

Imagine if the new guy doesn't get to close:

Don't it make my Bruney blue....

Posted by: Drew8 | December 7, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

@Bisquit: I think Bowden's misjudgements outweigh his successes, in most rational peoples' minds; no need to feel like an apologist.

Rizzo is taking incremental steps to make this team better, imo. It may not be as fast a track as some planet NJ commenters would like, but neither has it been the 'one step up, two steps back' dance that JimBow took us through during his reign.

Posted by: BinM | December 7, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Great recap, nunof1 - summed it up very nicely. MLB Network says Pavano accepted arbitration, for what it's worth.

Posted by: sec307 | December 7, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Penny is officially a Card, which means Smoltz is out. It doesn't seem there are too many places out there for him to land... other than here.

Posted by: sec307 | December 7, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse


you're a bowden apologist. instead of trying to make a cohesive, competitive roster jimbow fueled by his hubris opted for toolsy mismatched parts. i damn near choked a few weeks ago when the man who inflicted da meat loaf, FLop, PLo, thrilledge and elijah dukes on this franchise said on MLB on XM about how much "character counts" when constructing a team. hindsight is always 20/20.

Posted by: surly_w | December 7, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Drew8, nice one. Even if he doesn't close. As soon as he lets up a homer or fails to get an out, we can use it.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 7, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

surly, i'm with you on most of those. But Meat performed quite well in 2007, the year we were projected to lose 120. And I still don't think it's fair to put Elijah on that list because he's doing well.

I started to (virtually) high-five rushfari ^^ for his/her comment about the differences between Bowden and Rizzo. But I agree too that Bowden did do some good things for the team. They may have been by accident, but he got some good guys.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 7, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse transactions shows that Everett is "off the board", having re-signed with DET to a 1-year deal. From the Nationals standpoint, that's bad news, imo.

Posted by: BinM | December 7, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse


the only reason i included da meat loaf was that after his career was salvaged by the nats in 2007, he didn't dedicate himself to maintaining his excellence and basically collected $10 million the last two years of his contract for doing virtually nothing. i know he had diabetes, but meat admitted he didn't do all he could have to be physically ready to play in 2008 and 2009.

Posted by: surly_w | December 7, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Okay a little off topic, after a rather exciting first day of the MLB Winter Meetings but this does speak volumns for us die-hards.

News Flash; Program Manager at the radio station formally known as WJFK now called The FAN has instructed on-air talent (if you can call LeVar Arrington and Mike Wise radio talent) not to talk about baseball.

It was revealed by none-other then that MLB XM-175 MLB Homeplate sellout AKA Holden Kushner who blurted out that he was sick and tired of 4 hours of Redskin talk but that he didn't want to get the boss mad by breaking the rules and talking about the Nats and the Brian Bruney trade. According to Holden the word is no one cares about the Winter Meetings and there is no team locally worth talking about.

Didn't Phil Wood reveal a few months back that Snyders WTEM canned him becuase they said that thye didn't want to have an on-air show devoted to a single sport? Yeah, two hours of Nats talk once a week really broke the back of that 24X7X365 Redskin blabber.

So there you have it, the two radio talkies aren't going to talk Nats, if the WATIMES goes away and Bonneville doesn't buy an FM frequency from Citidel to add another Sports Talker , then NJ and the WAPO will have to suffice. Oh lord!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | December 7, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

I think a failure to deal Willigham would be a bad move. Willigham is a perfectly acceptable player who's value has never been higher. The fact is that too flawed, and too overvalued not to be dealt right now.

Of course his mix of poor defense and streaky power means he is only a bad attitude and a criminal record from being invited to the Bowden house for dinner.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 7, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Wow, what an awesome treat. Horrible, long day at work so I get home and flop on to the couch with my dogs and fire up NJ. And what do I know, I totally forgot it was the first REAL day of the hot stove! Nats posts galore and helpful trades for bullpen arms! Talk about an awesome end to a bad day!

Posted by: HenryStin | December 7, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

TippyCanoe, if you hate Holden Kushner so much why do you continue to listen to him and prop up the ratings of his show and his station that won't talk about baseball?

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | December 7, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Penny is officially a Card, which means Smoltz is out. It doesn't seem there are too many places out there for him to land... other than here.

Posted by: sec307


Frankly, I'm just glad that the Nats didn't go after Penny.

Posted by: js_edit | December 7, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

surly, good point. one year out of three for that much money does not put Dmitri Young in Bowden's "good" column. I take that one back.

my guess is that he never stopped drinking, which is deadly with diabetes.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 7, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

can someone explain why da meat loaf's 2007 season is revered so much? it's not like ted williams hitting .406 in 1941. his offense was nearly league-average for a 2B or SS and he was such a defensive liability that robert fick had to finish most games at 1B. r-zimm and dunn have both had better overall offensive seasons but it seems like da meat loaf's 2007 season is the one people are going to most fondly recollect to their grandchildren.

Posted by: surly_w | December 7, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

surly, because we didn't just look at the stats.

he was a risk and he, you know, cameback. he was fun and he was hitting and took the chance Bowden gave him and ran with it. We were a different team then. Our pitching stunk but team defense wasn't nearly as bad. we could afford his so-so glove. He had energy and pop and could make fun of himself. It was great.

Of course he doesn't look like a big deal now, but neither does John Patterson or Chad Cordero.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 7, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

'nother new post.

Posted by: leetee1955 | December 7, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Groan, Drew. (I'm just jealous that I didn't think of it. ;-))


Imagine if the new guy doesn't get to close:

Don't it make my Bruney blue....

Posted by: Drew8 | December 7, 2009 7:45 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 8, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

I believe that Desmond's abysmal offensive performance in winter ball has lead the team think about starting the season with Guz at SS and signing a free agent 2B.

Posted by: markfd | December 8, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

ESPN (specifically, Rob Neyer) is knocking both the Brunney deal and the Pudge deal, saying that the loss of draft picks negates the value of the deals. Angle here to explore?

Posted by: Handsome_John_Pruitt | December 8, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Can you trade a rule 5 pickup without offering him back to his original team? I guess so, but I didn't realize that. Will the Yankess have to keep him on the 25-man roster all season, as the Nats would have?

Posted by: mw09 | December 8, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

The rule 5 pick for Bruney is fine, contra ESPN. Do they think he was gettable for nothing? He's a quality reliever. A trade has to benefit both sides.

Posted by: mw09 | December 8, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

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