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Greetings from Indy

Good morning from Indianapolis. I'm back from the dead, and the Nats' offseason is very much alive. For the next 3-1/2 days, baseball's execs will hunker down in their Marriott and/or Westin suites in frigid downtown Indianapolis, fueling the hot stove. Sheinin and I are both here to keep tabs on the whispers and player movement. We're already hearing some buzz about Josh Willingham -- namely, that a good half-dozen teams could have some interest in acquiring him -- and just a bit later this morning, Sheinin will weigh the pros and cons of a Willingham trade.

In the meantime, here are a few other notes to pass along.

Outside the second-floor media workroom here in the Marriott, I've already seen one terrific snapshot -- a reminder of just how much has changed with the Washington Nationals in the last calendar year. Jim Bowden, once the Nats' GM, is now an XM radio host. He's hunkered down in the hallway here, sharing a table with his co-host and broadcasting live, pontificating about the day's events. Stan Kasten, the Nats' president, just appeared as Bowden's guest. Just think about it. A year ago, the two were teammates in Washington's bid for Mark Teixeira.

This, too, will be of interest for Nats followers: MASN has just announced its launch of MASN 2 HD, which means that in 2010, every Nats game will broadcast in high-def. Same goes for the Orioles, whose games are also carried on MASN or MASN 2. According to the MASN release, "the majority of MASN's cable and satellite affiliates will be prepared to carry the channel for the 2010 MLB campaign throughout the network's seven-state television territory."

By Chico Harlan  |  December 7, 2009; 10:09 AM ET
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Next: Why the Nationals might trade Willingham


Hooray for full-time HD! Now if they'll only announce a deal to carry Charlie and Dave on an FM station that has decent coverage in Northern Virginia, I'll consider it a wonderful holiday season!

Posted by: ramgut | December 7, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Gee, Chico, do you think that maybe some of us might be interested to know what Kasten had to say on Bowden's radio show? Did he brag about all of the Nats' awesome young pitching like Mock, Stammen and Matt Chico? Maybe you can get your buddy Steinberg to transcribe the interview for us, huh?

Oh, and the Willingham stuff is old news by now. But do you care to tell us what you are hearing that the names of the "good half dozen teams" are?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 7, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

"the majority of MASN's cable and satellite affiliates will be prepared to carry the channel for the 2010 MLB campaign throughout the network's seven-state television territory."

But does anyone know if Comcast is included in that "majority"??

Posted by: Kev29 | December 7, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

What Kasten said about Strasburg in the Bowden interview:

Posted by: swanni | December 7, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

People....clearly Chico is doing this under protest, and a s condition of getting his next gig at the do not really expect him to do any work do you?

Posted by: JayBeee | December 7, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I used to slam CIL for being too negative, but if anything he is understating the problem these days.

Hopefully this week we will see at least a brief uptick in the coverage. Here's a suggested to do list for the intrepid reporters:

1) Confirm if the Nats are pushing the deal on WIllingham or if they are just being contacted about his availability?

2) What would it take to get one of the Braves two starters - Lowe or Vazquez.

3) I assume Dukes returned from the Dominican due to the tragic loss of his Father, will he finish out the winter league?

4) What truth is there to the rumor/conjecture being floated that the Nats might play for Holliday?

5) Are there any takers for Guzman?

6) Will the Nats sign or trade for a catcher and who is top of their list?

7) Is Orlando Hudson still of interest to the Nats?

8) Are the Nats prepared to trade one or more of their fifth starters in a package to fill a need?

9) What do the Marlins want for Nolasco?

10) DO the Nats think Bernadina and/or Maxwell would replace Willingham if he is traded or would they sign a replacement?

11) Do the Nats have a MLB player budget in mind?

12) Are the Nats dead set against signing a type A free agent or would they sacrifice a pick if they got the right deal?

13) Will the Nats tender Scott Olsen?

14) If Flores is supposed to be healthy by spring and they see him as the future at catcher, why do they continue to say that they want to acquire a starter at catcher?

See now all that could have been a script for posting a blog a day for the past two weeks, but you have a lot of catching up to do, so today would be good.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 7, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

More from DCRTV: MASN To Launch MASN2-HD Overflow Channel - 12/7 - The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, the television home of the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles, will launch a high-definition overflow channel in the spring of 2010. MASN2-HD will allow the network to televise every Orioles and Nationals game live and in high-def throughout the season. The majority of MASN's cable and satellite affiliates will be prepared to carry the channel for the 2010 MLB campaign throughout the network's seven-state television territory, MASN says. Nationals and Orioles game replays will still appear on the network's flagship high-definition channel, MASN-HD. "O's Xtra" and "Nats Xtra," the network's exclusive pregame and postgame shows, will be televised in HD live and on location from the ballpark during every home game for both teams. In 2010, MASN2-HD will carry 130 live baseball games, with another 190 on MASN-HD.....

Posted by: thepostischeap | December 7, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"just a bit later this morning, Sheinin will weigh the pros and cons of a Willingham trade."

Here's all you need to know about a Willingham trade: unless it returns major-league ready starting pitching, it's not happening. They're not going to trade Willingham for prospects or anything like that. Pay no attention to which other teams might be interested in Willingham. That's nothing but smoke. Look instead at who Rizzo is looking to acquire, and then see if Willingham might be what they'd have to give up to close the deal. For instance, would the Marlins take Willingham back for Ricky Nolasco?

Posted by: section309 | December 7, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

That's a shame 309. I would personally be glad to see Willigham go for a major league ready-ish shortstop.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 7, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Good list, natbiscuits, I agree with you, but at this point I think it is not worth the additional effort. Chico is a lost cause, as JayB indicates. He never liked his job, and he never was interested in doing analysis or actual reporting. And now he is on his way out the door.

Pity the 25 year-old who got a prime reporting job dropped in his lap with no prior baseball writing experience and no prior experience working at a paper with The Post's stature. Contrast that with Svrluga--a mid/late-30s married guy who never signed on for a baseball beat but who handled the job with enthusiasm and did a great job.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 7, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Yo, CoverageIsLacking:

Lighten up, Francis. (And happy holidays.)

Posted by: Drew8 | December 7, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Thank you 309. Everybody please remember that the primary qualification for a general manager is the ability to lie to his colleagues and to the press, and to blow smoke to the fans.

Not good! Not bad! It's just the way it is.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | December 7, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

My point above, in case y'all didn't get it, is that they're not shopping Willingham. In other words, if another team approaches them with an offer for him, it would have to be a complete knock-your-socks-off offer for Rizzo to even consider it. And the other teams aren't going to do that. They're going to be offering what they want to get rid of, which is what the Nats don't want.

OTOH, if Rizzo approaches some other team about a player the Nats really want, and the price turns out to be Willingham, there might be a deal coming out of that. And sorry, soundbloke, but I believe Rizzo has already been quoted elsewhere as saying that MI is at the bottom of their priority list, after starting pitching, catching and relief pitching.

Posted by: section309 | December 7, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse


Adding to the Biscuits list;

-Ask StanK what's this "mutual interest" all about regarding Smoltz?

-Pirates might be willing to deal Ryan Doumant(sp) for some arms. Are the Nats looking for a frontline catcher with upside to spell Flores or is it bargain basement time behind the plate?

-Nolasco probably has alot more tread on the tire then say Lowe, ask Rizzo if Bernadina and Gonzalez might do the trick.

-Can management be serious when they insist that a team that has lost 205 games thinks its okay to go into 2010 with basically the same team. "I'm comfortable with Guzman and Desmond up the middle with Zimmerman and Dunn at the corners, thats a pretty good major league infield" (Jim Riggleman WATIMES Monday 7 Dec).

Posted by: TippyCanoe | December 7, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

As for MASN-2-HD... does that mean that we can find the Nats on the same channel every night?

I'm not sure why the Fish would take Willingham back - they didn't want to pay his arbitration award last year - it'll be even higher this winter...

I'd tender Olsen - but only after talking to him and making sure that he and the Nats were on the same page as far as arbitration figures. That is - I'd tender him but only if I thought I could sign him prior to arb.

As for signing a Type A - why not? We don't lose a pick. Anyone that we sign would result in the award of a Sandwich pick. By virtue of being in the bottamhalf (ahem) of the standings, we get to keep our first rounder.

Posted by: comish4lif | December 7, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

comish--not quite. The top half (first 15) picks in the first round are protected, but the team WOULD then lose its (top half, still) second-round pick--overall number would depend on the number of picks between the first and second ("sandwich") rounds for teams that lost Type B free agents, maybe thirty-something-th overall. Second round picks are still pretty good picks.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 7, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

"As for MASN-2-HD... does that mean that we can find the Nats on the same channel every night?"

Probably not. All they're doing is extending the previous MASN/MASN2 arrangement that they've had on the standard definition band the past several years over to the HD realm. MASN2 only existed when there were Nats and O's games that overlapped, as a place for them to show the second game. The same will be true of MASN2-HD. So if they were to say that (for instance) the Nats would always be on MASN, then you'd want the O's to always be on MASN2. But on days when the O's had a game and the Nats didn't, there would be no MASN2 to put the O's on. They'd go on MASN. So yes, they could provide a dedicated channel for one team, but not both. And if they were going to do that, guess which team Mister Angelos's Sports Network would choose to be the one with the dedicated channel? (Hint: It won't be the Nats.)

Posted by: section309 | December 7, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: mjwies11 | December 7, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

and there is another post

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 7, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

To those folks complaining about the MASN2 setup: If you have enough sports events available (and sufficiently inexpensive) for broadcasting two channels year-round, please tell MASN officials. Otherwise, from their perspective, it's pointless (just as it would be for CSN to do two year-round channels merely because of Capitals/Wizards spillover).

For you folks with HD, just be happy you'll get all the Nats games that way, OK?

Posted by: VPaterno | December 7, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

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