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The best shape ever

Here's a guarantee: Several times within the next month, you will consume a news story -- not even counting this blog post -- asserting that a particular baseball player is Reporting to Spring Training in the Best Shape of His Life. Chances are, you will read several of these stories, because they are a rite of the baseball calendar, and because certain players do bust their butts during the offseason. When they reemerge into the public eye, ready for workouts, everybody notices the difference.

The invention of spring training stories about fitness coincided, best as I can tell, with the invention of February itself. Not that the accounts have always been positive. A 1932 story in the Post about aging "big moundsman" Fred Marberry included several quotes from team president Clark Griffith, who said, "[H]e is getting older, and takes on fat over his shoulders and around his stomach, and has trouble not only getting it off but keeping it off. Why, he gains a few pounds when he has two or three off-days. And this excess fat also prevents him from getting all of his stuff on the ball."

More recently, of course, with innovations like the treadmill and the nutritional info .pdf on the Panera Bread Web site, more and more players have returned from their winters in tip-top shape. Nats reliever Ray King reporting to spring training in 2008 weighing 23 pounds lighter than he did the previous season. As recounted in a WaPo Health section story, King "stopped drinking soda and swapped greasy, fast-food burgers for salmon." MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote at the time that King "hardly has a gut" and is "in the best shape of his life."

As baseball writers, we see players just about every day from mid-February until early October. So, notable appearance changes in the time apart are all the easier to notice. Last year, Kory Casto, Ronnie Belliard and Ryan Zimmerman all reported to Viera in much-improved shape. And in Zimmerman's case, it coincided with a breakout year. Of course there's no guarantee that fitness correlates with success. Ron Villone wound up with the Nats for much of '09, but during the Grapefruit League he was with the Mets. One paper, the Bergen (N.J.) Record, wrote about Villone: "[He] turned 39 in January, and with plenty of time on his hands and a second home in Florida, he worked himself into the best shape of his life. He dropped about 12 pounds while focusing on keeping his career alive."

Now, let me get to the point.

Because in all seriousness, a few Nats players truly have stuck to pretty intense conditioning regimens this winter. When Craig Stammen, John Lannan and Ryan Zimmerman showed up to NatsFast last weekend, you could tell the difference.

One female fan mentioned to Zimmerman last Friday that he looked to be in terrific shape.

"Do I look better?" Zimmerman said, acting surprised.

"I didn't think you could," she said, "but you do."

Zimmerman seemed satisfied with that answer.

"Well played, well played," he said.

The third baseman told the fan that he hadn't tweaked his fitness routine this winter -- "No South Beach diets," he quipped -- but behind the scenes, he was most definitely putting in the work.

Lannan, Stammen and Zimmerman all stuck around in the D.C. area after the '09 season ended to work out (five days a week) with team trainer John Philbin, who also operates a gym in Gaithersburg. Lannan and Stammen actually shared a house in Bethesda, and visited Philbin every morning. Every workout session was one-on-one, with either Philbin or fellow trainers Matt Eiden and Jim Flood overseeing the work.

And what did they do? It varied from day to day, according to Philbin, but the pitchers did lots of work with medicine balls and resistance training. They often wore heart monitors, keeping a pace that gave the workout a metabolic component. Once a week there would be three or four miles of running, at about a seven-minute pace, but more often the players did interval running, with short sprints and 30-second rests.

"It's pretty intense," Philbin said. "Their strength improvements, you could see it every time they came." He explained that the players would exercise a given muscle -- say, biceps -- twice a week. So... "you're averaging about one- or 1.5-percent increase in strength every session. That's two- or three-percent improvement per week. So over the six or eight weeks, every muscle movement they got 20- or 25-percent strong. Whether it's triceps or lat movements or biceps."

Philbin continued: "Lannan and Stammen, they started to like the weights. Which is unusual for pitchers. They're all a little phobic about weights. But they started to find they were increasing strength and their flexibility was still as good as it had been, if not better. Then when they started throwing in December, they felt real good. So we're hoping all this translates into spring training and we see results from this whole process.

As for Zimmerman?

"He's a workhorse," said Philbin, who was previously a conditioning coach with the Redskins. "I'd put him with an NFL linebacker, in that he gets at it year-round. He's at another level. We're doing some serious serious workouts for two hours straight, and this guy just keeps coming. He's the ideal kind of athlete, because you just keep throwing it at him and he eats it up. That's what makes these guys exceptional and who they are -- what goes on behind the scenes."

For Lannan, Stammen and Zimmerman, the workouts with Philbin ended just before Christmas. But as those three headed back to their homes, all had programs to keep their fitness routines going.

Said Philbin: "I think you've been around our club around long enough to know those guys are like silent leaders -- Lannan among the pitchers and Zimmerman among the position guys. They lead through their actions. It's subtle, but they're about performance. And I think it flows over. The guys respect them. And when they do well, it reinforces everything they do with respect with their work ethic."

By Chico Harlan  |  February 4, 2010; 11:40 AM ET
 
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Next: Hudson won't be heading to DC

Comments

Wow, an excellent informative post. Shows Chico isn't slacking off.

Posted by: nats24 | February 4, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Great job and the questions to Zim were priceless. He sure isn't eating his PapaJohn's pizza!

Posted by: dmacman88 | February 4, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, it was funny when Ladson noted that King "barely has a gut." For King, "the best shape of his life" was still very round.

Joey Eischen turned to yoga at the behest of his wife, right? He dropped some weight, but I seem to recall he wondered if it limited his effectiveness.

I think Steinbog mentioned Bergmann came to camp "in the best shape of his life" last Spring, losing more than just the hair on his head.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 4, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Yes! Can't wait to see them in action!

Posted by: PattyinSJ | February 4, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

We're all still waiting for Bergmann to come to camp with his head in the best shape of his life. The mental game has always been his Achilles heel.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 4, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Orlando Hudson Rumors: Thursday
By Tim Dierkes [February 4 at 11:59am CST]

The Twins have "intensified their pursuit" of Orlando Hudson, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The writers believe Hudson is likely to find a team this week, though the free agent second baseman is still asking for at least $6MM on a one-year deal.

Rosenthal and Morosi say the Nationals are not a clear frontrunner for Hudson, who could be swayed by the Twins' status as a contender. The Indians are seen as the least likely of the three suitors.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | February 4, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

"His head is his Achilles Heel."
Worthy of Yogi himself. POD.
***************
We're all still waiting for Bergmann to come to camp with his head in the best shape of his life. The mental game has always been his Achilles heel.
Posted by: nunof1 | February 4, 2010 12:59 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | February 4, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

and while we're at it, I didn't see this at the time, either:

Brewers Claim Marco Estrada
By Tim Dierkes [February 3, 2010 at 12:42pm CST]
The Brewers claimed pitcher Marco Estrada off waivers from the Nationals, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. In a corresponding move, Milwaukee designated Tim Dillard for assignment.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | February 4, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

But does he look better than Grady Sizemore?
http://tinyurl.com/y9nbysx
********
One female fan mentioned to Zimmerman last Friday that he looked to be in terrific shape.

"Do I look better?" Zimmerman said, acting surprised.

"I didn't think you could," she said, "but you do."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | February 4, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Once again, Chico fails to get the answer to the most important question regarding Zimm and his admirer. Namely, did he score?

Metrosexual Chico probably watches 9 1/2 Weeks for the food.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 4, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

If the Twins sign Mauer to that 10-year deal they're talking about up here, would that help them land Hudson?

Or vice versa.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 4, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Adam Kennedy, welcome to DC

"The Twins have intensified their pursuit of free-agent second baseman Orlando Hudson, one major league source told FOXSports.com on Thursday morning.

Minnesota general manager Bill Smith declined to comment Thursday when asked if he is optimistic about his chances of adding a free agent this week.

Hudson is asking for at least $6 million on a one-year deal, a separate source said. He is likely to agree to terms on a new contract this week.

The Washington Nationals have been linked to Hudson for weeks, but they aren't a clear frontrunner in the market for his services. The Twins have a much better chance of reaching the playoffs this year, which could nudge Hudson in their direction.

Hudson has drawn interest from the Indians, as well, but Cleveland appears to be a less likely destination than the other two.

Sources say that the Nationals have been waiting to get Hudson at their price, believing that they are the most legitimate suitor -- just as they were a year ago with Adam Dunn, who shares the same agents. The problem with such an approach is that the Nats might be overplaying their hand. -- Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal"

Posted by: swanni | February 4, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Been a Rizzo fan from day one, but the Hudson situation is starting to look like a repeat of Jim Bowden's bungling of the Aaron Crow signing.

Posted by: swanni | February 4, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure it matters (O-dog signing). Its hard to stomach signing a guy for that sort of money when he lost his job to a guy you traded to his team ... a guy who no one wanted previous to that. It means O-dog's skills at the plate are likely in a steep decline. I'm not sure you pay that kind of money over that period of time for a pure fielder.

Posted by: periculum | February 4, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

But it's not in question that they want him; the question is why won't they go the extra $1-2M to make it happen like they did for Pudge.

Posted by: swanni | February 4, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Spring Training or into the season trades look to be the way Rizzo is going to deal with the middle infield problem. Hopefully, he continues to be a far cannier trader than Jim Bowden was.

Posted by: periculum | February 4, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Just freaking sign Hudson and Livo already. Or Kennedy and Livo. We all know it going to happen.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | February 4, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

If Hudson's biggest deciding factor was playing for a contender, he would have signed with one already, no matter the price. It's clear that his only criterion is the money, and if a contender really wanted him they'd have ponied up what he's asking for in order to get him. Hudson is holding out in the hope that some team will meet his asking price. Once he realizes that's not gonna happen, he'll sign with the highest bidder. And there's no reason at all to believe that it won't be the Nats. They've made him an offer, but it's clearly not a "take it or leave it" offer, or he'd have made a decision by now instead of stringing them along. They'll up their offer if they need to. If they don't, they won't. I'm sure Hudson knows this, which is why he's trying to get another team to make him a better offer. But how many weeks has this dance been going on now without that happening?

Stick "Adam Dunn" into any of these rumors instead of "Orlando Hudson" and you'll find you've just recycled last year's news word for word.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 4, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Ladson saying that Hudson is close to a deal with the Twins.

Welcome aboard Adam Kennedy.

Posted by: jfromPG | February 4, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I suspect they have tried to outslick Hudson; forcing him to take less because it's getting close to spring training.

But the Nats don't have the luxury to be slick; teams with 103 losses don't have the luxury to be slick.

They have to pay to play, which is how they got Marquis and Pudge.

If Hudson signs elsewhere, it will look like the Lerners reverted back to form. And that won't sit well with a lot of fans who have been watching this situation, hoping things really have changed.

Posted by: swanni | February 4, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Looks like it's a deal: Twins and Hudson.

And that's okay. Though I've really wanted to see him signed, I've worried that he could become Cristian Guzman II in the team's infield.

With their new stadium and better team, Hudson to Minnesota makes sense.

Now let's get Adam Kennedy and let Desmond show his stuff at short.

Posted by: rushfari | February 4, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if there is any particular advantage to Adam Kennedy over who we have. I convinced myself I wanted Orlando Hudson, and I feel a little heartsick right now. I want to see players come to the Nats gladly, not stall them until a better option comes along.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | February 4, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

This off-season was like being ahead 4-0 in the fifth inning, but then suddenly looking at the scoreboard in the ninth and you're down by four runs.

No second baseman. No second veteran pitcher. A bunch of last minute signings of has-beens and cast-offs.

Was Mark Lerner on vacation until mid-January?

Posted by: swanni | February 4, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Back in December, a lot people and journalists were saying how great of an offseason the Nats had.I think the front office listened to that and felt they didn't have to do anything else because everybody is already satisfied.

Posted by: jacquesdoucet | February 4, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Jacques, it's also possible that season ticket renewals didn't do well in Dec/January, which might have prompted them to go back to their fiscally careful ways.

Either way, it looks bad to the fans -- and the players, many of whom were hungry for Hudson (and another starting pitcher) to come aboard. This has to be a big letdown for them.

Posted by: swanni | February 4, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I wanted Hudson also. For a one year deal, give him the extra money. Call it the 103 loss surcharge. This will wipe out a lot of the optimism most of us felt this past weekend at NatsFest. I think the way it's shaping up right now they will have decreased payroll from last year.

Posted by: dlombardo1 | February 4, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

If the Nats don't get Orlando Hudson because they stuck obdurately to their wished-for pay offer, it will be a terrible shame. For losing Hudson will leave the Nats' infield defence, except for Zimmerman, in a dire state. Just the recipe for another 100 losses when strikeouts by the Nats' starting pitchers will be few and far between. Adam kennedy won't fill the bill. Gotta hope for the sort of ingenious trade that seldom happens.

Posted by: mx_heinrich | February 4, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"The the best shape ever," a hardy perennial. Kind of like: "The Nats have devoted significant resources to their scouting and front office operation" and "there's no way we can lose 100 games this season."

Posted by: Section222 | February 4, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Hope the Nats front office is reading this forum today:

Fan enthusiasm deflating faster than an old balloon.

Act accordingly (and fast).

Posted by: swanni | February 4, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

if i was hudson and the money was close i'd go to the twins.

it's more important for us that desmond/espinosa/kobernus improve. one year deals won't solve our problems and he won't get much more than that anyway. longterm, this is small potatoes.

Posted by: longterm | February 4, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Knowing I'm in a minority here, but I will not be too upset if the Nats fail to bring in Hudson. I am one of those who suspect his defense has declined over the past 4 years and that his last golden glove was on reputation. I also think Guzman can shift to 2d and be Hudson's equal defensively. I expect Guz, if healthy, will hit his .290+ with a .325 OBP, like he did in the 2007 before his injury, and in 2008, and in the first half of 2009. I would have rather seen us bring in a good glove SS at the start of free agency (there are none left), but, failing that, I'm OK with trying to land Kennedy or sticking with Guz at 2d. I'm more worried about counting on Desmond in place of the vet MI (Hudson / Kennedy) than I am about Guz.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 4, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

All this talk about improving the defense..Still haven't seen a move that does that

Posted by: jacquesdoucet | February 4, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

The money shouldn't have been close. If the Nats wanted Hudson, they should have been bold and aggressive and made a can't-turn-down offer early on.

If they didn't want him that badly, they should have said so publicly and signed Adam Kennedy or someone else that fell within their salary restriction.

This situation was poorly handled. A first whiff for a rookie GM.

Posted by: swanni | February 4, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

If they put Guzman at second, the Nats will lead the league in errors again. He clearly doesn't want to play there -- and he never has in his career. It's fantasy to think he would suddenly master the position by Opening Day.

Posted by: swanni | February 4, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

"The best shape ever," a hardy perennial. Kind of like: "The Nats have devoted significant resources to and have greatly improved their scouting and front office operation," and "there's no way we can lose 100 games this season."

Posted by: Section222 | February 4, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

The Harpers:

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100204&content_id=8019020&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

Posted by: dmacman88 | February 4, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Hey, at least with Hudson, we were in it until the end...

Posted by: DesertNat | February 4, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

DeserNat, well put.

Losers love to talk about how close they came to winning.

Winners do what it takes to win.

Posted by: swanni | February 4, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

It is just one defensive measure, but it provides food for thought:

Guzman UZR at SS - 2005-09 - 422 games (~3 140 game seasons) - -9.2, or ~ -3 per full season .

Hudson UZR at 2d - 2006 - 2009 - 536 games(~4 140 game seasons) - -9.2, or ~ -2.3.

Less than a run a season, with Guz playing the more demanding defensive position. UZR has its faults, but that is not a small sample size.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 4, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and most SS pick up 5 runs improvement when they move to 2d.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 4, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Not when they are coming off right shoulder surgery.

Posted by: swanni | February 4, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

while i wouldn't mind seeing hudson here, i find it amusing to think that to some people, the offseason turns on whether they signed him or not.

2-3 years ago, signing him would have been great. his recent downturn (which explains much of the lack of interest, along with his foolish belief he should get $9m at one point) makes it not as big of a gain or loss whether he signs or not.

i think to too many people it's just symbolic and they're getting worked up in a lather over someone who's just not worth getting that worked up over.

recap: woulda been nice, but it's not the huge deal to me that others seem to think it is (either way).

Posted by: sec231 | February 4, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Looking like a Kennedy will return to Washington. I commend Rizzo for not buckling to a declining in skills Hudson. Kennedy will do til the younguns arrive. Only thing I don't like are his initials, if ya know what I mean.

Posted by: cokedispatch | February 4, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Nats fans, meet your new second baseman:

Drum roll, please.....

Alberto Gonzalez!

Posted by: swanni | February 4, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Sec. 231, it's not just Hudson; it's also the failure to sign a second veteran pitcher, the inability to find a good trade for Josh Willingham, etc.

It's as if the front office just upped and quit after signing Capps.

Posted by: swanni | February 4, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm with jca on this one. All this talk about Hudson, but I feel SS is the real problem. Desmond is a major question mark. I would have much rather slid Guzman to second, (see Boswell's comments on this being a likely success), and upgraded short instead. Not sure what their plan is if the do sign Hudson, I'm assuming Guzman still starts at short in that scenario.

Posted by: MiketheBaptist | February 4, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

At sec231

I don't think the frustration is only over the fact that the Nats will not sign Hudson but more about the fact that after the Capps signing we were told that by the front office that they were certainly not done improving the team.Since then nothing significant has happen and a lot of the free agents options have gone elsewhere.

Posted by: jacquesdoucet | February 4, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Wish I could say that I'm surprised by this but, I'm not. This is typical of the Lerner's and StanK. Kennedy is not a terrible 2nd option but, who's to say they're not going to lowball him and then fiddle fart around until he signs somewhere else as well.

Rizzo said that MI was a top priority in the offseason, well, I guess not.

This is exactly why I told the Nats ticket Rep, when she called about me renewing my plan, that “I will spend my money when the Lerner's decide to spend theirs.”

Hopefully they make a last push to get Hudson but, knowing the history, It doesn't look good.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 4, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

If the Nats thought Guzman was viable for second, do you think they would have pursued Hudson, Kennedy, Cabrera, etc.?

Obviously, they don't think Guz can -- or is willing to -- pull it off.

Posted by: swanni | February 4, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

My guess is that the front office is considering any and all possibilities to upgrade the middle infield. I think many of you need to relax on the condemnation of the front office/owners for lack of additional moves until we know for sure there aren't any more.

Posted by: MiketheBaptist | February 4, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I honestly don't care whether it's Kennedy or Hudson. Neither will embarrass themselves with the bat or glove. Neither will change this team into something decent.

Posted by: soundbloke | February 4, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

MiketheBaptist, we can't rely on blind faith any more (if you'll forgive the pun). We've been burned too often by the Lerner regime.

No more talk; action only.

Posted by: swanni | February 4, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey - we don't have Kennedy locked up yet!

Posted by: Kev29 | February 4, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

And one thing's for sure, the Post has been all over this story! :rolling eyes:

Posted by: Kev29 | February 4, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Kev29 -- LOL

Posted by: swanni | February 4, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Swanni - you may be right. Guz may have been privately groaning enough that the FO decided "uh oh, looks like we should aim for a 2d baseman and not a SS." I'm not sure I've seen much in the reporting to say that is why they are looking at 2d basemen. I think it is more the front office being nervous about starting Desmond in the majors without a viable plan B that caused them to look for another middle infielder. I think Guzman, as a 10/5 guy with an untradeable contract, was always penciled in for a starting MI slot, and the FO was just looking for second basemen because that's where the quantity and quality was in the FA market. Finally, if there is much doubt about Guz's shoulder, then I'd be more comfortable with the shift to 2d than the keeping him with the longer throw.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 4, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

To clarify - the Nats are thin at MI this season at the MLB level, the quantity and quality this off season was at 2d, and that is most likely why they are looking at Hudson, Kennedy et al. rather than get into the bidding on a Type A like Scutaro. My preference would have been a glove guy at SS like Omar Vizquel or Adam Everett, but it seems the FO was aiming for a more complete starter.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 4, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang..now, before I start fuming...any link to a definitive confirmation that O is a Minnesota Senator? Looked but couldn't find one......Yea Swanni-once again, we seem to be happy with being better than awful. That balloon deflating could sound similiar to a loud "Bronx Cheer"....I mean......awww, just eff it!.....at least the foreskins WIN the preseason - as opposed to continually finishing 2nd. And it's not even that I'm sure about the skills of O-it's the whole hype thing, a sorta bait and switch that this offseason is turning into...
Whoops! Looks like I'm fuming....
(Sigh)
Go Nats...

Posted by: zendo2 | February 4, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100204&content_id=8020848&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

Posted by: Kev29 | February 4, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Sad to say, but the O-Dig made the right choice. He'll bat 2nd and score 100 runs standing on his head in that lineup, be in the playoff race and he'll be in postion for another payday in 2011 (though, those shrew Twins may go mutual option or something on him, who knows).

I presume Kennedy will be the guy, if anyone.

Will the money be spent elsewhere is the question. Wang maybe?

Posted by: dfh21 | February 4, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Yea, Ladson says the deal is just about done between Hudson and the Twins....We see how long his wrist holds out....

Posted by: bromisky | February 4, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Shrewd Twins, not shrew ones.

Talk above about Guz playing 2B is just silly. The club never considered that a reasonable option, no matter what they may have said.

Guz ia a SS. Never played 2B in his life. If they move him to 2B then they'd have no one to play MLB SS AND they'd have a guy who may stink it up even worse at 2B than he did at SS. And at a price of $8M. A price which was a discount when agreed upon and Guz is reported by Riggleman to have played through a lot of pain for the club last year.

Given that they gave the vet Kearns the benefit of 11 doubts to right the ship, I can't see them throwing Guzman under the play a new position for the good of the awful club bus when they do no not have a clear alternative that makes that radical move necessary.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 4, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo and the Lerner's had an idea what they thought Hudson was worth; if they and Hudson didn't come to an accord then you can't accuse them of being cheap until you see how Hudson performs and what moves they make.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | February 4, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang...thanks, Kev....although it's still "MAY" be nearing a deal....but yea, I know this script.
On another note, Vinny Castilla was just up for Mexico...the stadium looks like a Marlins home game. Empty! And the 100 loss Nats, what are we gonna look like with another effort akin to what we've been producing? Sadly-I CAN'T not go!
Sure is great to have a hometown team to be despondent over!!!
Ah, baseball....another (sigh)...
Go Nats....

Posted by: zendo | February 4, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

The Twins are making a push to sign Mauer to an extension, but to do so, they need to prove they're going to contend - and not just for a division championship after game 163.

They went out and traded for Hardy, then they picked up Thome as an FA. Now, they get Hudson.

Time will tell if it has the desired impact.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 4, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Exactly how much were the Nats supposed to spend on Hudson? The guy lost his job to Ronny Belliard.

Should he have gotten Guzman-like money? Please....because then in July, when Hudson is hitting 250 and has no range, all we'd hear from this crowd is how stupid the front office is for giving big money to an over the hill vet.

You can't complain about re-signing and overpaying Guzman and complain at the same time about not being willing to pay Hudson his asking price.

Let Desmond play already...let's see what he can do in a full season.

Posted by: stantonpark | February 4, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Husdson would have been great for the depth of our MI but im not gonna get all bummed about not getting him. Dont really see how people can start calling this off season unsuccessful because we didnt get Orlando Hudson for a year, he wouldnt win us a ton of games, it would have been great defensively and a good depth move but cmon hes not exactly a ringer anymore(if he ever was).
This place really needs P&C to report or at least some new nats news to salivate over.

Posted by: Stu27 | February 4, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Haggling and obsessing over a mediocre player like Hudson makes us look small time if you ask me. Stanton is right. This is a man who couldn't beat out Belliard for a job. Now I'd have him over Belliard myself but, it does speak to the fact that he just isn't all that good.

What are we so afraid of. We can win 75 games with Hudson, 74 with Kennedy, 70 with Guzman. This team needs so much work dedicating this much time to which short term plug we stick in the holes is just ridiculous.

Posted by: soundbloke | February 4, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

"Haggling and obsessing over a mediocre player like Hudson makes us look small time if you ask me."

I don't totally disagree with your end verdict, but we don't have to look small time - we ARE small time. Losing 385 games in 4 seasons kind of takes care of that for you.

Posted by: Kev29 | February 4, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Let Rizzo work a trade or two .... If the prospects pitch well then perhaps deals can be made ...

Posted by: periculum | February 4, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, we don't need Hudson or Kennedy. Screw it. Gonzalez was such a stud last year, let's just run him out there. Or heck, Ian Desmond played a less than a month in the Bigs last year so, we can put all our hopes on him.

103 losses? So what. Bottom 5 payroll again? Doesn't mean a thing.

There are some low expectation havin' MF'ers in here. Geez.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 4, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Kev29

You are of course quite correct.

Posted by: soundbloke | February 4, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Very sad about the O Dog news, its what the Nats are and the LernerStanks are what they are. Its all smoke and mirrors! Hey at least they are going all out this year in the promotiond dept, I guess an RZ bobblehead will satisfy the kiddies while the freight payers get to languish with the bill and another 100 losses.

BTW O Dog was in the Torre Dog house from mid-August on last year. Something about his fratenizing with opposing players, apparently Joe didn't like it and told him so.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | February 4, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

no we should Sign Hudson...its still no done deal, the Nats can still get him...

Posted by: Cartaldo | February 4, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Loved the Nats' trainer's comment about Zimm and the weight program:

"He's the ideal kind of athlete, because you just keep throwing it at him and he eats it up."

As opposed to Da Meat (and others), who when they threw a program at him, he just ate. And ate. And ate.

Hey, Hudson Lovers, let's look on the bright side: FLop is still available...

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | February 4, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

We've waited for weeks to see who will take a chance on free agent Chien-Ming Wang, a two-time 19-game winner with the Yankees.

The Nats are latest team to emerge on the Wang radar. Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that Washington is monitoring Wang's progress as he recovers from shoulder surgery, but has yet to have contract talks with agent Alan Nero.

MLB.com's Ken Gurnick report earlier in the week that the Dodgers watched Wang throw off flat ground last week, and concluded he is three months or more away from pitching in a game.

Posted by: periculum | February 4, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

There's always the left-handed Peter Orr? ~smiles~

Posted by: periculum | February 4, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Man, if there's anyplace I'd want to be less than on the "Wang radar" - I haven't seen it.

Posted by: Kev29 | February 4, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

The Nats aren't going to get any real prime players unless/until they start winning games and look like they have some chance of taking the NL East. The only way this is likely to happen is through trades. For that they need to develop those pitching prospects and draft a whole heck of a lot more. Competing teams will always need more pitching.

Posted by: periculum | February 4, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

You never know ... Rizzo might just sign FLop, if he can motivate him to play, and really play for Washington again.

Posted by: periculum | February 4, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

And someone should get Dunkey on Zim's off season training program. He can afford to skip a few hunting trips.

Posted by: periculum | February 4, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

flop left the nats on pretty bad terms..doubt it....

Posted by: Cartaldo | February 4, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo and the Lerner's had an idea what they thought Hudson was worth; if they and Hudson didn't come to an accord then you can't accuse them of being cheap

Posted by: SCNatsFan

I don't have to - everyone else does. Build-a-Bear anyone?

Posted by: Brue | February 4, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Ladson. Ladson. Hmmm. Where have I heard that name before? Oh yeah, he's the guy who was tweeting that there was no way the Nats were going to extend Dunn, mere hours before both Dunn and the Nats announced that they were working on an extension.

Ladson's tweets should always be taken with a grain of salt. Trust but verify. Or don't even trust.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 4, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I concur Ladson blows

Posted by: Cartaldo | February 4, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

It's Minnesota's MLB.com beat writer who says the Twins are close on Hudson - not Ladson.

Posted by: Kev29 | February 4, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I don't have to - everyone else does. Build-a-Bear anyone?

Posted by: Brue | February 4, 2010 4:50 PM
_________________________________________________________

And don't forget to make a stop a Teddy's BBQ or the newly expanded Red Porch.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 4, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

mlb trade rumors:

3:01pm: Christensen tweets that the Indians are outbidding Minnesota for Hudson, though he's skeptical considering Cleveland's lack of spending this offseason.

***********

This is starting to look like posturing to me.

Posted by: NatsNut | February 4, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

>Bottom 5 payroll again? Doesn't mean a thing.

There are some low expectation havin' MF'ers in here. Geez.

Posted by: Section505203

It's an IQ test. If you haven't figured it out by now, it's not gonna happen.
So what's the payroll number? Pitchers and catchers next week, we're just about all set! 40 million with two players getting roughly half of it? Apparently, spending for skilled labor just isn't kosher. Maybe they'll buy some more land or something. ***holes

Posted by: Brue | February 4, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

505203, the Nationals roster dictates expectations. Most of the people on this board want a winning season. Yet, the consistent error in a lot of the logic on this board was that Hudson would assure (a hope of) a winning season. However, that logic erred in that it believed that something that might have been sufficient to produce the desired result (i.e. 82 Wins +) was in fact necessary for it. We must all understand that realistically, when looking at projections, the roster with or without Hudson does not have enough talent to have a winning season. And it specifically does not have enough pitching talent. And I am sure the FO already knows it. They built this team so it wouldn’t STINK (i.e. lose 100 games). That is the benchmark. So, I think that in evaluating the offseason for 2010, we should evaluate whether during the season the team STINKS or doesn't STINK, not whether they are competitive or have a winning season. Having lofty expectations when the data does not dictate it is similar to having a dollar, a dream, and a plan to spend all of the money without buying a lotto ticket.

As for ABM’s notion of hating the “Lerner’s are Cheap” mantra, I understand his argument, even if it is usually presented in a logically flawed manner. They do spend “some” money. “Some” is relative and there is no valuation on what constitutes cheap versus what constitutes not cheap. And individual signings cannot be used as evidence to that effect. However, I think it can be stated that recent history suggests that the Lerner’s are not as concerned with having a competitive payroll in relation to all other payrolls in baseball when market size is considered into the equation. Understand that I use the term “competitive” as a measuring stick of dollars allocated to the Nationals MLB roster versus the other teams’ MLB rosters and ranked in terms of expected revenue based on market size, not as the traditional meaning which reflects talent on the roster. (As an aside, using the traditional term for competitive, I think it is not even debatable as to whether the Lerner’s have shown that they value having a competitive roster, as no rosters under the Lerner ownership have been competitive.)

Posted by: lpatashn | February 4, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

First, I'm glad the Hudson watch is over. It would have been nice to have him, but not at above market prices.

Second, there are a lot of people who like whipping Ladson, but there have been quite a few times this winter that he was the only one bringing the news. I appreciate him for what he is a decent reporter employed by MLB corporate. I'd much rather have a Ladson report than crickets.

And finally, I like Desmond, but I'd be happier if they would sign Kennedy. If Desmond subsequently beats him out, then all the merrier. But better to have too many horses than not enough.

Posted by: natbiscuits | February 4, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang...it's not so much that the O of the present is not without risk. Maybe we'll all be glad down the road this year that we didn't get him(if, in fact, that's the case-still no confirmation on the Twins). It's just the groundhog day FEEL to the whole thing...another arm, a middle infielder...they're coming!......and a promising start in Hot Stove.... followed by promises of more to come. More ESTABLISHED players, not more dumpster diving.
Now, I haven't totally lost my optimism-I really do feel that The Wizz is gonna be the real deal-but the fact remains that the slow Lerners are still the owners, and StanK? Well, I dunno WHAT to think about him. Where's Boz been? We no longer have the Times and Mark Z, Ben and Thom Loverro to speak truth to power, so to speak.
Jeez-we so desperately want a winner to support-can't ownership....in a wealthy, well-educated, top-tier market that insists on acting small;owned by the wealthiest owners in American pro sports....can't they see how each time our collective hopes are raised and then dashed....what's that line "fool me once, shame on you;fool me twice....."
Well-call me the worst SORT of fool-a BASEBALL lovin' fool. With a team of my own to root for.
So....
Go Nats

Posted by: zendo | February 4, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

The Nationals seemingly have improved their crop of pitching prospects over the beginning of last year and years' past. Is that a sign that they are attempting to build a world series winning franchise? Its how the Mets got it done. And Rizzo's old-school likely goes back to that period.

If he had succeeded in somehow acquiring the services of the left-handed fireballer from Cuba, and he did go after him, he would almost have a future world series winning starting rotation wrapped up ... along with a potential closer in the wings. That would be 1-2 years away.

How important is pitching? The Mets won with guys like Swoboda? Swoboda? Grote and Harrelson were fair but look at the rest of the infield. Agee and Jones? Are they better than Morgan, Dukes and Willingham? And Clendening was no Dunn.

Instead of complaining about whether O-dog is signed we should be more interested in why Rizzo (perhaps it was ownership that quailed) allowed the Reds to beat him out to
Aroldis Chapman. With Strasburg, Chapman, Lannan, Thompson/Holder/Karns, Mock? You might have the makings of THE break-out season to end all breakout seasons?

But it didn't happen.

Posted by: periculum | February 4, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm not going to argue that the Lerners shouldn't spend more money...i would love to have signed a top FA starter.

But let's actually talk facts:

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tsCEGKNVcxttZHoBc2O6q0w&output=html

The payroll isn't high, by any stretch, but it's also not bottom 5 (caveat: obviously these numbers need to shake out with arbitration and non-FA player signings.)

Posted by: stantonpark | February 4, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

"Yet, the consistent error in a lot of the logic on this board was that Hudson would assure (a hope of) a winning season. However, that logic erred in that it believed that something that might have been sufficient to produce the desired result (i.e. 82 Wins +) was in fact necessary for it."

Posted by: lpatashn | February 4, 2010 4:59 PM __________________________________________________________

That logic does not apply to me. I just said a couple days ago if the Nats sign Hudson and another solid starter, they could possibly win 75 games.

I just want the Lerner's to start spending on players at all level's. I'm tired of all this nickel and dime crap. Lowballing a proven ML like Hudson when you have a huge void to fill in the infield, in hopes that he comes around, is ridiculous when the Nats payroll is one of the lowest in the ML's.

Pay the freight.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 4, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

stanton,

Google "MLB payroll rankings" (input the year for specific year rankings) and you will see that that Nats have been in the bottom 5 every year, and they are headed for that again based on the 2009 numbers.

The Lerner's need to step up and stop the BS.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 4, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Hudson would have been good for the lineup, good for the D, good for the clubhouse. It seems we had a budget for our second baseman and that O-Dog's agent has managed to get the Twins and Indians to throw out a number that exceeds it. Disappointing as usual. However, Kennedy would be fine too. Guzman and Dunn on the right side together would not be fine, however. Sign Kennedy and then let Desmond try to beat out him or Guz for the starting job at some point.

Posted by: BobLHead | February 4, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

You underestimate the talent on the team. PECOTA's projection is 76 wins. Assuming the Nats stay on the mean and the players dont drastically deteriorate, taking your thoughts and add O-Dog as a 2-3 WAR player and add another 2-3 WAR pitcher and 4-6 wins above PECOTA's 76 win projection "could" get the Nats to the 83 Win nirvanna as opposed to the 75 win expectation you bring to the table. I think thats why expectations were so high. But, we should all wake up and realize its not gonna happen as there is no pitcher available and Kennedy adds at best 1 extra win. So, NO WINNING SEASON FOR YOU!

Posted by: lpatashn | February 4, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm trying to be funny because I am frustrated. I don't care about $ or payroll. I care about talent. If the talent costs $1, thats great. I just want the talent. However, based on how the Lerner's have run the team to this date, I do not believe that acquiring the talent to have a competitive team is the Lerner's priority right now. Three pieces of evidence are (a.) FO staff was inadequate to do the job (as witnessed by lousy drafts) (b.) Jimbo as GM beyond the point when all could see he brought in inferior talent overall and (c.) not acquiring the pices that the FO stated they would at the off-season's beginning.

Posted by: lpatashn | February 4, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

section505,

perhaps my link was not clear, but it is the MLB Contracts payroll spreadsheet for 2010. I don't question the fact of the low payrolls of the past, i'm only talking about this year.

http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2005/01/washington-nationals_01.html

Posted by: stantonpark | February 4, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

O Dog himself reportedly claimed to prefer the Nats as a destination, but the Nats look to have yet again come up short on the coins to land a saught after player. And to a smaller market club (again). Ouch.

Rizzo has done a nice job filling holes to keep the club from being simply awful, but he has not yet gotten it done on the heavy lifting.

They needed an Ace, we got no Ace. They wanted/needed a 2B, we've got some decent yet unspectacular choices left but not the target guy. They needed to add pieces for beyond 2010 -- only the additions of Bruney and Capps, neither guy a lock to be asked back, Pudge (39!) and Marquis fit that bill.

When they sit down again with Dunn to get passed current "level zero" in talks on an extension, do they think that this guy may not want to be on an ever-building last place team and may actually want to make the playoffs before he retires? The money will be elsewhere and a much better organization will be writing the checks.

If they really want Dunn, they are going to have to wow the guy. Wowing guys is not the strong suit of Nats baseball management, I hope they have it in them.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 4, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

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