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Why the Nats (in particular) need defense

Speaking recently about keys for the upcoming season, Ryan Zimmerman said that "we have to play better defense" -- a contention that is, of course, impossible to dispute. And unless the Nats take the field this year holding Formica countertops instead of mitts, it'll be likewise impossible for them avoid some defensive improvement. We know the fielding miseries of '09, and there's no purpose in rehashing them here.

But to the point about improvement ...

"Everyone talks about the pitching," Zimmerman said, "but [our pitchers] had to get a lot more outs than other people had to. So it's just taking more responsibility on that side of the ball. I think it was just pushed under the rug [last year]. It's unacceptable, and I think we all know that and we're ready to work and be better."

The Nats hope this week to come to terms with free agent second baseman Orlando Hudson. Even if the 32-year-old's range has diminished somewhat, he's still a four-time Gold Glover -- he even won the honor in 2009 -- and he committed just eight errors in 145 games at second. When GM Mike Rizzo has discussed Hudson, the interest has always been labeled as a means to "upgrade the defense."

Which makes sense.

But as we debate the value of Hudson and the extent of Washington's need for him, I wanted to make the argument that infield defense matters MORE to Washington than it does to almost any other team in baseball. Why? Because the Nationals have a rotation that strikes out fewer hitters, throws softer and relies on more grounders than almost any other staff in the game. Once Stephen Strasburg is a part of the rotation, and perhaps once Jordan Zimmermann returns (knock on wood) from Tommy John surgery, the Nats will have a collection of power pitchers.

But for now, Washington has Jason Marquis and John Lannan at the top of its staff. After that? Tougher to speculate, but Scott Olsen could figure into the mix if he's healthy. Then there's a mix of candidates for the last spots: Garrett Mock, Ross Detwiler, J.D. Martin and Craig Stammen. Among that group, Martin and Stammen seemed the most polished in 2009. Detwiler, who pitched well in September, has the greatest upside. Mock, for all his toils, still gets mentioned by Jim Riggleman in any discussion about the staff.

Now, some numbers:

* Last season, the average major league team had ground ball:flyball ratio of 1.22:1.

* Nats starters combined for a groundball:flyball ratio of 1.40:1. (Only the Rockies and Cardinals had higher percentages.)

* In 2009, the Nats' starting staff had fewer strikeouts (518) than any other staff in baseball.

* Since then, the Nats have added groundball specialist Jason Marquis to their rotation. Among qualifying starters in 2009, both Lannan and Marquis ranked in the top 10 in ground ball percentage.

* League-wide in 2009, pitchers averaged 6.99 strikeouts per nine innings. Among current candidates for the rotation, only Mock was above average (7.09). (By the way, Zimmermann was 9.07).

The other K/9 IP rates:

Lannan - 3.88
Stammen - 4.09
Martin - 4.32
Marquis - 4.79
Detwiler - 5.11
Balester - 5.93
Olsen - 6.03

So, the Nats could well enter 2010 with three -- or even four!? -- pitchers with K/9 IP rates lower than 5.00. To give you an idea of just how rare this is, in 2009, 87 pitchers threw 150 or more innings. Seventy-three of them had K/9 IP rates higher than 5.

Here are the GB:FB ratios of the various starting candidates:

Marquis -- 2.15 (:1)
Lannan -- 2.02
Stammen -- 1.65
Mock -- 1.63
Detwiler -- 1.36
Olsen -- 1.00
Martin -- 0.88
Balester -- 0.83

By Chico Harlan  |  February 2, 2010; 10:03 AM ET
 
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Comments

Nats-- Stop Screwing Around on Hudson before you lose him!
In my best Marlon Brando: Make him a deal he can't refuse.

Posted by: dovelevine | February 2, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I'm a sabermetric kind of guy - numbers make me happy. As such, I realize defense, bunts, hit&runs, and squeeze plays aren't in your best interest. But they sure are more exciting (to the casual observer) than watching Beckett strike out 18 and a team of sluggers belting the ball into the upper deck. Nyjer Morgan, who probably won't be as good as he was last year, is fun to watch. One of my favorite aspects of RFK was when an opposing player would hit the ball "pretty hard" to the alleys, and the fans of the visiting team would cheer what they thought was a home run, and all the locals knew "eh, can of corn." Nyjer's like that -- what looks like a sure double will instead be some gorgeous highlight-reel catch.

Posted by: Section406 | February 2, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Yeah. What Dovelevine said. Get it down.

Add Hudson and another starter and this team may actually have a chance at 75 wins.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 2, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

That's Can of Kearns, remember?

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 2, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Small disagreement with Zimmerman on his statement about Nats bad defense being "swept under the rug". That might have been the case under Acta but I seem to recall Riggleman repeatedly stressing better defense and holding more infield practice under his watch.

Here's hoping Riggs keeps that up in 2010.

Posted by: CHAMP1464 | February 2, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Hudson is undoubtedly going to sign weth the Nats.

My Projected Lineup/Roster:

MMorgan CF
OHudson SS
RZimmerman 3B
ADunn 1B
JWillingham OF
EDukes OF
CGuzman SS
IRodriguez/JFlores C

SP Pitchers (3 lefties - very nice):
JMarquis
JLannon
SOlson
RDetweiler
MStammen

RP Pitchers (2 lefties):
MCapps (closer)
BBruney
SBurnett
EGuardado
TClippard
JBergman

Reserves:
WHarris (2B,OF)
POrr (3B,2B,SS if needed)
CDuncan (1B,OF) and/or MMorse (1B,OF)
RBernadina (OF) and/or JMaxwell (OF)

To be determined at Spring Training:

1. Whether Bernadina needs some seasoning at AAA after a year on the IR. He may beat out Dukes if the latter has a poor spring. Alternatively, if Willingham is traded for a young SP, Bernadina may start at LF.

2. Keep Morse and Duncan?

3. What to do about Maxwell? A trade may come back to haunt Nats - he's very talented.

2. Desmond will go down to AAA. The Nats will finally have some depth - no need to rush him. Its Guzman's job to lose at SS.

3. Detweiler is the real deal and is ready. He's going to stay. Stammen has the edge for the 5th SP with Martin and Mock likely going down to AAA. Along with Balester, Chico, Slanton, Speier, and Batista, they will provide the Nats with the pitching depth that they have lacked in passed years.

4. AGonzalez wont make the team. EBruntlett and JWhitesell to AAA.

5. Nieves starts at AAA if Flores is ready.

Posted by: hersheyman | February 2, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

>>Hudson is undoubtedly going to sign weth the Nats

I remember the same sort of thing a buncha years ago with the Os and Vlad. The Os were the only team left with any money and they were the only ones in the running for Vlad. They had him--No Doubt!

But a funny thing happened. The Os kept lowballing Vlad and he kept waiting and waiting, when in fact a simple solid offer would have nailed him down.
And then at the 12th hour out of nowhere came the Angels with a better offer and Vlad signed with them. And he went on to win the MVP I believe and the Os ended up with Sammy Sosa and you know the rest.

So Nats/Rizzo/Lerners, I say again, you are the NATS, the worst team in baseball. You need to pay a premium to get guys to come here. Stop lowballing. Stop lollygaggling and get on the horn and get this deal done. Or you will lose him and peeps will be pretty PO'D.

Posted by: dovelevine | February 2, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I am beginning to doubt the Nationals are going to spend the money to acquire another veteran starting pitcher with any standing.

The team could have acquired Millwood or Garland, both of whom were available.

Ladson mentioned a potential trade, but who are the Nationals going to offer up that is going to yield a quality starter?

I bet the Nationals are going to be back in the Livan Hernandez range in terms of acquiring a veteran who most likely is a back of the rotation type who will be labeled as a 'mentor' to the younger pitchers.

Posted by: leopard09 | February 2, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Dovelevine

I think it's clear from the Dunn/Pudge/Marquis contracts that they are aware they have to overpay. This is not new news to anyone. They just have to figure how much they are willing to overpay.

Posted by: soundbloke | February 2, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

PS: Nats you've garnered some goodwill recently with the signing of Strasburg, Rizzo, Marquis etc. Don't blow it now. Don't let it all go to wasate. You've made some headway. Don't go patting yourself on the back. You haven't moved mountains yet but maybe just maybe you're going in the right direction. Don't take 2 steps back here by blowing it. Do the right thing. Sign Hudson and one more pitcher and you'll be surprised how grateful your fan base will be and how much improved your team will be.
As Spike Lee said:
DO THE RIGHT THING!!!

Posted by: dovelevine | February 2, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

"I'm a sabermetric kind of guy - numbers make me happy. As such, I realize defense, bunts, hit&runs, and squeeze plays aren't in your best interest. But they sure are more exciting (to the casual observer) than watching Beckett strike out 18 and a team of sluggers belting the ball into the upper deck."

Every single one of these sentences is false. You're clearly not a sabermetric kind of guy, defense is in your best interest, and the casual observer finds strikeouts and home runs much more exciting than slick defense and small ball.

Posted by: Tank2 | February 2, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Livan is not the ideal FA, but at this point, I would take him. He's a #5 and he will get lit up on some of his starts however, he will have some solid starts as well and he gives the Nats a veteran guy who will take the ball every 5 days and eat innings.

I would rather see that than any number of our 23-24 year old guys, who are not ready to be up in the Big's, battling just to get through 4 innings every other start.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 2, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Actually, Vlad already had an offer on the table from the Dodgers. But they were going through an ownership change, which made him nervous. Then the Angels offered to match it, and he accepted immediately.

Posted by: rjyoung | February 2, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I guess that the one thing that really makes me confident about the Hudson signing is that (good Vlad analogy notwithstanding) other teams come in and out of the rumors, but the Nats are in there all along. I have a feeling that the team is waiting for Hudson to budge off $9M before they bid against themselves. If the Nats have the highest offer out there, Hudson needs to make the next move.

That said, I hope they are given a chance to raise it. If Hudson's agent isn't even talking to the Nats, then they are just waiting to see if interest develops from another team before they come off their unreasonable opening position.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | February 2, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Of course most of Balester's fly balls went over the wall so they really should not count ....

Posted by: natbiscuits | February 2, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Balester's Rollie Fingers mustache is supposed to fix that problem, right?

Posted by: nunof1 | February 2, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Anybody got the team's defense numbers for before and after Acta?

Posted by: Juan-John1 | February 2, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Better defense behind a bunch of mostly young pitchers who don't miss many bats is essential for a rise in the standings. The Nats should be looking to emulate the 2008 Rays who rose from obscurity because their pitching improved in front of better defense. The Nats aren't the Red Sox or Twins of the '60's, who were defensively slip-shod but who could outscore most opponents on a regular basis.

Posted by: leetee1955 | February 2, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

It does appear that the relief pitchers are a little more power-pitching oriented. I have not looked up the stats, but am thinking that the backend of games will profile closer to league average.

Posted by: natbiscuits | February 2, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

If Bernadina beats out Dukes for a job in Spring Training - I'll eat my Curly W cap. Bernadina is not a major league hitter. He was overmatched by MLB pitchers.

Posted by: comish4lif | February 2, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I agree we have to overpay but the hope is by doing that it makes the team more attractive to next years class. It's not like the team will have to do it forever.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | February 2, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Manny Acta screwed so badly with Dukes because of Acta's love affair with Austin Ks. Dukes should be given every chance this season.....I'd say a good 4 months of uninterrupted play to make it or break it. If he fails, then, fine make new plans. But I still believe this guy has got the talent, if nurtured properly, to be a giant. Maybe not....We'll see.

Posted by: dovelevine | February 2, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

leopard....I don't know about Millwood but my understanding was that Garland made it perfectly clear that he wanted to sign with a west coast team thereby taking the Nats out of the picture.

Posted by: CHAMP1464 | February 2, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

+1/2St,
That's the exact think that makes me MOST nervous about Hudson--that we've been there consistenly. We're the comely friend that asked you to prom. I mean, you could go together and maybe even have a good time, but isn't it worth it to hang around a little while and see if anyone more enticing comes along?

I want to believe this gets done before P&C report, but I have visions of Screech standing in the rain with a bunch of dead, soaked flowers, dateless.

And then FLop drives by with his date and throws an empty at him.

Posted by: natinbeantown | February 2, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone get the feeling, given we seem to have stepped up the chanse for Hudson, that if he had any inclination to be a Nat what-so-ever he'd have signed by now.

I get the feeling he is checking out the bar to see if there are any Jennifer Lopez's left at all before he settles.

Posted by: soundbloke | February 2, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

>>And then FLop drives by with his date and throws an empty at him.Posted by: natinbeantown


BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAH!!!!!!!

Posted by: dovelevine | February 2, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

It does appear that the relief pitchers are a little more power-pitching oriented. I have not looked up the stats, but am thinking that the backend of games will profile closer to league average.

Posted by: natbiscuits | February 2, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

My favorite part of this off season is that we now go into 2010 with a completely different bullpen then in 2009. This years will be much improved with quality depth.

Posted by: Stu27 | February 2, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

hyman roth has been dying of the same heart attack for twenty years.

Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | February 2, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

When I think of the money this franchise just pissed away -- $8M on Kearns, $5 million on DaMeat, $1M on PLoD, a few million for FLop's 55 percent effort -- and we're going to the mat with Hudson over what amounts to chump change for a 2010, major market allegedly big league team. It's an embarrassment. We need a second baseman who can hit and field, and Orlando Hudson needs a team. Get it done, StanK, and quit your triangulation.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | February 2, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Stephen Strasburg may be the most extreme groundball pitcher the Nats have in their system. He had a ratio of 4.67!!!! in the Arizona Fall league.

Posted by: Section314 | February 2, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang....right on, Dove-both for Dukes and for the "Don't Blow It" memo to the f/o.And like Sunshine notes, when you consider the wasted bucks -let's not forget LoDuca AND trading for Vinny Castilla (gave up a 1st rounder, I recall).And Leopard, too-even if Garland wanted to stay out west, we've passed on some decent arms....heck, I could single out just about all of you for agreement...so where's section 506????Is he waiting for the season to start?(Apologies if you're a she, 506).Come on, Nats-we're that close to REALLY gettin' this party started. With a decent team, I think we top 2.7 mil in attendance. And what the heck-it's unbridled (idiotic?) optimism time-I'm revising up!87/75...with some wild-card mention, too.....c'mon, the Rizz-I'm counting on you!
Go Nats!!!!

Posted by: zendo | February 2, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

For those who care about things like PECOTA, BP has revised its depth charts (they had a bunch of glitches with their data) to project the Nats with 76 wins...

Posted by: Section220 | February 2, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

What a coincidence! 467 is also the average distance of the home runs he gave up.

OK, that may have been a little harsh.
************
Stephen Strasburg may be the most extreme groundball pitcher the Nats have in their system. He had a ratio of 4.67!!!! in the Arizona Fall league.
Posted by: Section314 | February 2, 2010 1:11 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | February 2, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

BTW Just wondering, why would the Dodgers rather have Ronnie Belliard than Hudson? Why would anybody? Am I missing something here? And are the Blue team really going with 2 ex Nats at 2B in Belli and Carroll??Seriously??

Posted by: dovelevine | February 2, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

so does the PECOTA change if they sign Hudson? Just wondering.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | February 2, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Good question Zendo. Where's 506 been? I haven't seen a post from him in a while.

NutsNut and 1a,

You ladies are the Camp Counselor's for this loony bin. Any word on 506? Hope everything is OK.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 2, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang....yea, Dove-I posed that question a while back. Someone responded "hot bat"...and while Ronnie certainly responded with us as soon as Riggs gave him regular playing time, he was scorching for a while in L.A.Still, makes you wonder if O's availability is because of (whispered) concerns on his possibly rapidly declining skills at the plate and in the field.Or did the media cement the storyline that "he's gotta go cheap" so that it's now accepted as fact?
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | February 2, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Hershey man,

strike Guarderdo and put in Walker in the BP list.

Posted by: Cartaldo | February 2, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget the Guzman contract when we are discussing terrible wastes of money.

Posted by: soundbloke | February 2, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

"when you consider the wasted bucks -let's not forget LoDuca AND trading for Vinny Castilla (gave up a 1st rounder, I recall)."
*********
Vinnie was a free agent signing--not sure whether he was Type A--and a good one. They did give up on retaining Tony Batista to get him.

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54695-2004Nov16.html

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | February 2, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Do you mean the first one or the current one? Because the current one was a reasonable deal at the time.
**********************
Don't forget the Guzman contract when we are discussing terrible wastes of money.
Posted by: soundbloke | February 2, 2010 1:32 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | February 2, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

If the Os don't sign Bedard, why not the Nats? Give him some big bucks for 1 or 2 years. Seems like a good investment. Injuries aside, dude can pitch and we need another front line pitcher. This team's got money. Why don't they freakin spend it??!!

Posted by: dovelevine | February 2, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

BTW Just wondering, why would the Dodgers rather have Ronnie Belliard than Hudson? Why would anybody? Am I missing something here? And are the Blue team really going with 2 ex Nats at 2B in Belli and Carroll??Seriously??

Posted by: dovelevine | February 2, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Not sure Boswell is sold on Hudson at his asking price.

I think it goes like this. Hudson may have the better career statistics, but at the end of last season Belliard was playing better than Hudson. Belliard may even be a better all-around player than Hudson today. After all, players can decline quickly.

Even if Hudson is better all-around (is he better today or is it just his overall career that's better?), maybe he is asking for more money than he is worth.

Hudson must be better defensively if he won the Gold Glove last year. Maybe that's enough for us. Maybe the Dodgers need a bat like Belliard's, whereas we need a glove like Hudson's.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | February 2, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

The current Guzman contract locked up a poor fielding, overweight SS, who couldn't walk for two more years than we wanted him.

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

there's some serious question out there about when bedard will actually be able to pitch. i've seen speculation as late as june. meh.

Posted by: sec231 | February 2, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

zendo and 505203, as 506 had announced his engagement and subsequent marriage at one point, my guess is that his RHCFW might be taking up more of his time these days.

And no love for Vinny? Aww, come on, you guys. I'm rooting for his team in the Caribbean World Series. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 2, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I don't think 78 wins are unrealistic for 2010. If you look at the team's record for the 50 or so games Morgan was in the lineup, the Nats were 24-26? With a better bullpen and starting pitching, these number are not far fetched.

Posted by: 1of9000 | February 2, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

>>Belliard

Al I know is ole Ronnie could barely crack the starting lineup with the Nats. And now the Dodgers would rather have him than Hudson?? Something smells fishy.

Posted by: dovelevine | February 2, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

>>Belliard

Al I know is ole Ronnie could barely crack the starting lineup with the Nats. And now the Dodgers would rather have him than Hudson?? Something smells fishy.

Posted by: dovelevine | February 2, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse
-------------------------------------------

People seem to think the Lerners are cheap just because they have not yet signed Hudson. But thanks to the McCourt divorce, the Dodgers really are cheap. Belliard + Jamey Carroll is cheaper than O-Dog.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 2, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Hershey man, Strasburg will be an opening day starter. Walker and Drew Storen will be in the bullpen.

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

IT'S LIVE BASEBALL!

The 2010 Caribbean W.S. is starting on MLBTV.

IT'S LIVE BASEBALL!

Thank heaven.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | February 2, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks 1a. I forgot 506 got married, that would explain it.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 2, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I still love Vinny Castilla.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 2, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Garland wasn't available to the Nats. He turned down more money to stay on the West Coast, reportedly.

-----

The team could have acquired Millwood or Garland, both of whom were available.

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

Juan-John1 -- I kept a spreadsheet that showed under Acta (87 games) the Nats committed 83 errors (.954 errors/game) Under Riggo (75 games) they committed 61 errors (.813).

Posted by: luv2bikva | February 2, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Castilla's mullet alone was worth a first rounder!

Posted by: dfh21 | February 2, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

O-Dog had a bad wrist last year which is why the Nats didn't sign him then. Recall that he reportedly flunked a physical with the Nats.

Remember when he tripped over Adam Dunn at first base at Nats Park? He left the game holding his heavily wrapped wrist? It seemed plain to me that his wrist was okay at the start of the season but started bothering him as the season went on which is how/why Belliard beat him out. I assume that is one reason why the Nats won't immediately match Hudson's asking price (as will no one else); he still may be damaged goods.

Posted by: Section314 | February 2, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

And during those 87 Acta games, the Nats RS/RA was 381/489. Under Riggo, it was 329/385. See, defense works!

Posted by: luv2bikva | February 2, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

To tramellcanady: No way are Storen and Strasburg are in the opening day lineup. They need some time in AAA. Its simply not worth rushing them, and Rizzo and Riggleman, smart crusty baseball guys that they are, know what they are doing and wouldnt succumb to the hype. Everything that they have done this past year points to them taking a terrific steady approach to infrastructrue building, which is exactly what the Nats organization has needed, practically since 1998 when they were the Expos. They have sufficient pitching depth at this pont to keep them in AAA till at least the All-Star break.

To Cartaldo: You are right. I forgot about Walker. He and Guardado are going to duke it out for the last spot. A good possibility is that they both make it, and the Nats go with one less reserve position player.

Posted by: hersheyman | February 2, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Re: Belliard/Hudson -- Nunof has it right -- it's basically a financial decision. If they could have Hudson at Belliard's salary, they'd take him. But they aren't willing to pay the freight and Belly played well for them last year. I love Belly, always have, but he probably won't keep up his torrid pace playing every day for the Dodgers. Nor would he for us.

Posted by: Section222 | February 2, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

yo Hershey,

Well Walker was signed to Major League Contract, and he is a legitimately decent relief pitcher, so I think he is pretty much guaranteed to be in be BP.

Guardado got a minor league contract and for him to make it he would have to bump out Bermgman or Clippard...two dudes who are out of options...so i think it would take alot for him to be on the opening day roster..

Posted by: Cartaldo | February 2, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

at the same time they will have that additional bp guy for about a month..because they will go with the 4 pitcher rotation - like most teams do- in may.

Posted by: Cartaldo | February 2, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

april rather

Posted by: Cartaldo | February 2, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

3-5 million a year is a bargain for Hudson. 8-9 is overpaying significantly.

The Nats are bidding against themselves at anything over 6 for Hudson.

Posted by: CJArlington | February 2, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Please bag the Guzman at "Short" talk. He's "outta here" like the greatest announcer used to say. It's Desmond at SS and Hudson at 2B. If they don't get him they're better off with Brunlett. I'm having a hard time with still seeing Dukes out there in the Outfield. Gotta be somebody better than him around - Maxwell should get a shot. The pitching looks better and Storen should make the team. He's ready, Strasburg maybe by the summer - I doubt it but if he's got that much talent like I believe he does he could...

Posted by: billm32 | February 2, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

>>I kept a spreadsheet that showed under Acta (87 games) the Nats committed 83 errors (.954 errors/game) Under Riggo (75 games) they committed 61 errors (.813). Posted by: luv2bikva

WOW!! Not the amt of errors. That you kept a spreadsheet.

Posted by: dovelevine | February 2, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

The Nats defense will be improved over the first half of 2009 but it still is not that great. Willingham is not much of an outfielder, Guzman is poor at short and Dunn is not fantastic at first. Zim and maybe Morgan are good (I think numbers show Hudson has lost range but he is still improvement over 2009 cast of characters).

Questions are the bats at catcher, Guzman, Dukes - is he going to hit like an outfielder or not? Morgan - can he keep OBA over 360? I would love for Nats to beat out Mets but I think we are looking at another last place finish but debuts of Strassburg and Storen are something to set stage for 2011.

Posted by: Pensfans | February 2, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm sick of the old canard that Garland was available to the Nats. He turned down 15/2 to get a 4.7/1... That doesn't spell available to me.

In other news, I support Storen/Strasburg in the minors, Strasburg in AA for at least 4 starts, AAA for another 4-8. Storen in AAA.

*I support Brunlett over both Desmond and Guzman at SS, although Guzman's contract may make it impossible to put him anywhere other than at the MLB level. (And no, I don't advocate eating his salary. He's not THAT bad.)

*I'm pro-Dukes. He showed a lot of work ethics and maturity after Milledge got sent away. Nyjer is going to help him improve by example. I think it's his job to lose going in to Spring Training.

Posted by: swang30 | February 2, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

"I'm sick of the old canard that Garland was available to the Nats. "

That's not an old canard, it's a new canard. An example of an old canard would be "Lerners are cheap".

Posted by: nunof1 | February 2, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

@hersheyman & cartaldo --
The Nats and most all MLB teams carry 7 relievers so both Guardado & Walker could make up our opening day bullpen:

Capps (Closer)
Bruney (Setup)
Burnett (Setup)
Clippard
Walker
Guardado
Bergmann (Long Relief)

That leaves 5 bench players, 4 counting backup C(Flores/Nieves). Preferably, Riggleman would want 2 LH & 2 RH hitting reserves on bench. Those spots, along with maybe 1 bullpen job, will be determined in ST.

Posted by: OldSkoolDiehard | February 2, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang...yea, now I recall 506's change of status. Here's hoping he still has time to read us now and again and note that he's missed....on Castilla-I thought I had read(on FJB) it cost us but that year we were #4-took Zim, in fact. The Rox with the sandwich comp pick (can't loose a top 15 pic) took someone named Chaz Roe....thanks, Nats1A...and yea, I DO like Vinny. He was terrific the 1st half of the year, if my oft demonstrated weak memory is correct,,,before those battered knees started howling. And 1of9000-where's your spirit!? I'm already out on the twig at 87 wins. Think Cap't. Kirk in his new incarnation peddling cheap hotel rooms for someone-lower, lower (as in losses!)As for arms-how about Smoltz the 1st half, and then (when he sees we're still in contention) Pedro for the 2nd half!And how come there are so many empty seats at the Caribbean series game on? Swang-as an unabashed Dukes fan....right on. I'm dreaming of a monster year from him.
Go Nats!!!!

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

What about Shairon Martis? I have heard no mention of him possibly cracking the rotation. I realize he lost his last three games, but he won the first 5!

Posted by: PattyinSJ | February 2, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

@ OldSkoolDiehard - I agree, both Guardado and Walker make the team, particularly given the 6IP history of most of the Nats starters.

Posted by: hersheyman | February 2, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

"I'm sick of the old canard that Garland was available to the Nats. He turned down 15/2 to get a 4.7/1... That doesn't spell available to me."

Garland's contract is actually 11.2/2 (or player option for 5.3/1). vs. "reportedly similar to marquis" (15/2). which is a little different. a one year contract actually could be more valuable to a player, as you're a free agent again next year (and maybe can get much more - see Pineiro 16/2 after a career year).

garland was a free agent and thus available. now, would 16/2 done it? more? problem is he probably isn't worth that much more (4.00 ERA, low k/9).

same story with the other "available" pitchers that are now signed elsewhere, whatever the nats were offering wasn't enough. hello livan?

Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | February 2, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

http://the0common0man.blogspot.com/2010/02/manliness-of-frank-howard.html

Posted by: sec231 | February 2, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Stammen's not going to beat out JD Martin. Might as well get used to it people ... you had all of last year. The soft thrower is in the mix and given that his softest pitch was still harder than most of his genre ... he just needs a bit more seasoning.

Posted by: periculum | February 2, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Some news on Hudson and (via) Kennedy...

http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb/article/2010-02-02/nats-hudson-have-mutual-interest-disagree-on-money

Posted by: Kev29 | February 2, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, here's a summary of the Nationals starters for 2009, based on the following: 'Quality Starts' (6.0IP, 3ER); Their records in QS(W-L-ND) & non-QS(W-L-ND) games...
Lannan, J.: 33GS, 20QS(61%); 9-4-7, 1-9-3.
Olsen, S.: 11GS, 4QS(36%); 1-1-2, 1-3-3.
Cabrera, D.: 8GS, 1QS(13%); 0-0-1, 0-5-2.
Stammen, C.: 19GS, 8QS(42%); 4-2-2, 0-5-6.
Zimmermann, J.: 16GS, 6QS(38%); 2-2-2, 1-3-6.
Balester, C.: 7GS, 1QS(14%); 1-0-0, 0-4-2.
Detwiler, R.: 14GS, 4QS(29%); 1-1-2, 0-5-5.
Martis, S.: 15GS, 6QS(40%); 4-0-2, 1-3-5.
Mock, G.: 15GS, 4QS(27%); 2-1-1, 1-7-3.
Martin, J.D.: 15GS, 5QS(33%); 1-1-3, 4-3-3.
Hernandez, L.(w/WSH): 8GS, 6QS(75%); 1-2-3, 0-2-0. (w/NYM): 23GS, 11QS(48%).
Estrada, M.: 1GS, 0QS(0%); 0-0-0, 0-1-0.

That's 65 quality starts in 162 games (40%) for the Nationals in 2009.

With the acquisition of Marquis, the Nationals could gain something like this...
Marquis, J.(COL-2009): 33GS, 21QS(64%); 15-2-4, 0-11-1. Marquis in effect replaces Cabrera, Olsen, & Detwiler, in terms of Games started; That's a gain in my book, but the team still needs a plug-in for the loss of the 25 starts made by Zimmermann, Hernandez & Estrada; Who fills the gap?

Posted by: BinM | February 2, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

"That's a gain in my book, but the team still needs a plug-in for the loss of the 25 starts made by Zimmermann, Hernandez & Estrada; Who fills the gap?"

If its Rizzo he seems to always be looking to the left ... at one of Chico (if truly healthy), Detwiler, Thompson, or Olsen (if truly healthy), possibly two of?

Posted by: periculum | February 2, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the research BinM. That tells me this team is in serious need of another veteran arm...and Hudson as up the middle defense.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 2, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Then there's "the big question or question mark?" We can all assume that Drew Storen will more than likely run amok through the minors for half a year and get called up to compete with Matt Capps for the Closers job. But .. then there's Strasburg ... and the dark horse: Karns. Do they need more than a year of seasoning in the minors? Even if they do well should the Nats risk rushing them to the majors too soon? Or play it safe and by the numbers? Shutting them down early as they did with the young arms this past year?

But if they did come to the Majors could that number of quality starts go up? And Strasburg/Storen are not ground ball pitchers.
They are more the power pitcher that Zimmermann appeared to be on the verge of?

Posted by: periculum | February 2, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Vinny Castilla just hit a homer for Mexico in the Caribbean WS. Not bad for a 42 year old!

Posted by: Kev29 | February 2, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

The Nats signed Kevin Mench to a minor league contract. I guess he's AAA depth, but he can hack a little - or used to.

Posted by: natbiscuits | February 2, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Hey, we need all the menschen we can get. Keep it coming.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | February 2, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Two tidbits courtesy of MLBTR:

The Nationals signed [outfielder] Kevin Mench. The 32-year-old didn't play in the majors last year, but he hit 25 homers as recently as 2005. He has a career .900 OPS against lefties.

The White Sox signed Daniel Cabrera. The 6'7'' right-hander led the American League in walks and earned runs allowed when he logged over 200 innings for the Orioles in 2007. He split time with the D'Backs and Nationals last year, struggling with both clubs.

Posted by: thepostischeap | February 2, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Under "Who let the dogs out", perhaps another potential to watch is Trevor Holder who like Karns touches the mid-90's. In other words, a potential Jordan Zimmermann. He pitched many more innings in college than did Strasburg, appeared in 2 college world series and was a team leader for the UGA Bulldogs, much like Kobernus on the left coast. He appeared to move up faster than most of the other prospects drafted with the exception of Drew Storen.

Could he have some impact on the pitching staff next year or the year after? I was surprised he did not appear on NFA's top prospects list. Hopefully Holder will make folks rue the day the "dissed" him ... as did Martin and Storen last year.

Posted by: periculum | February 2, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Periculum,

These are JD Martin's stats from last year in 15 starts, of which, only a 1/3 were quality starts:

5-4 4.44 77.0IP 85hits 14HR 24BB 37SO .279Avg 1.42Whip

I personally don't think that they make anyone "rue" the day that they "dissed" him. I hope and he may, develop into a servicable #5 starter. I don't see him being any better than that, honestly.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 2, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

The hopes and fears are rampant, and it's great reading. It's so easy to get too optimistic.

I remember after Martis's complete game win over the Giants last season, I thought he'd definetly found it, and then Stammen's great game against the Yankees, and going back a year, Bergy's near-no-hitter against the Braves.

Success can be fleeting.

But really, is it reasonable to expect Desmond to replace Guz at short? I don't think so. And I agree that the contract Guz signed at the time was not a bad deal. He's being overly maligned here, in general. (Then again, I would advise that he get that laser eye surgery checked out.)

Posted by: nats24 | February 3, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Very good post, Chico.

Not only do the Nats need quality fielders up the middle, they (we) need stability. Whoever comes in will have to work together for a while. Remember Brooks, Belanger and Grich? Man, could they play defense! But it didn't happen overnight.

The revolving door has to stop.

Posted by: JohnRDC | February 3, 2010 5:51 AM | Report abuse

Statistics, statistics, statistics. They all mean nothing. They just represent what happened in the past but have no bearing on the outcome of a game. If a hit will win a game and the batter has struckout his last 50 times at bat, has never driven in a winning run, then gets a hit to win the game, the statistics meant nothing. The team who scores the most runs wins regardless of statistics or how the runs were scored. So, just sit back and enjoy the game, regardless of nonsensical statistics.

Posted by: Pete433 | February 3, 2010 6:35 AM | Report abuse

Way to go,Pete433! Statistics may and I say, may, determine the "price" of a baseball player, but for me, I want to just for the moment, sit back and enjoy the wonderful game of baseball.

Posted by: bsballu5 | February 3, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Washington, DC (AP) - The Washington Nationals are in final negotiations with former Oakland A's secondbaseman Adam Kennedy to join the team. Kennedy would reportedly receive a one year contract worth an approximatley two million dollars. Kennedy would compete with Ian Desmond and Alberto Gonzalez for the starting secondbaseman job. This move brings to an end the tortured pursuit of Orlando Hudson who is now rumored to be headed to Japan to sign with the Hiroshima Carp. Washington General Manager Frank Rizzo said "We made Hudson an offer he should not have refused, so now he will have to sleep with the fishes." Hudson was not available for comment.

Posted by: natbiscuits | February 3, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Ya, and we're going to need to order some bigger helmets. :-)

In other news, atta boy, Vinny!

---

The Nats signed Kevin Mench to a minor league contract. I guess he's AAA depth, but he can hack a little - or used to.

Posted by: natbiscuits | February 2, 2010 10:29 PM |

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 3, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Does anybody else here constantly refresh MLBtraderuors.com through out the day..to only be summarily disappointed by the end of the day when nothing has happened or some other team has signed a much coveted free agent that you wanted the Nats to get?

Posted by: Cartaldo | February 3, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

http://www.thenatsblog.com/2010-articles/january/correcting-pecotas-mistake-the-nationals-will-not-have-a-winning-season.html

old pecota: 82-80
new pecota: 76-86

Posted by: sec231 | February 3, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

"Statistics, statistics, statistics. They all mean nothing. They just represent what happened in the past but have no bearing on the outcome of a game."

You know, I really shouldn't take the bait on this, but I can't help myself. You're aware that statistics are a record of what happens in baseball games, right? They record player and team performance? I mean, that's what they are. They're not just random numbers. They are how players actually perform.

We all enjoy baseball differently. You like sittin' back, chillin', not worrying about any silly statistics (other than runs scored which, guess what, is A STATISTIC), that's great. Enjoy the game, and I'll be glad to see you at the park. But don't tell me how to watch the game, okay sparky?

Posted by: Section220 | February 3, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

W-L is a statistic, too, isn't it? ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 3, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I seldom agree with Dovelevine, but he is right on the Dukes opportunity. Dukes has not yet gotten the level and length of opportunity to play RF on a regular basis, to find out if he is "the real deal" or just a toolsy headcase. Assuming that he has "earned" the job out of ST, he needs to see regular duty there at least through the A.S. game, w/ about 280-300 PAs. That will give the club a realistic read on his future.

I assume that biscuits story, or at least the final quote was tongue in cheek. If not, Rizzo is way better than even I thought.

BTW, if anyone more than the few true seamheads (as opposed to Nats fans) saw the first two games of the CWS, yesterday...please never criticize the Nats defense again. Some of those plays looked like MABL games.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | February 3, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

"W-L is a statistic, too, isn't it? ;-)"

Yes! This.

I just think the whole "stat geeks vs. baseball poets" thing is old. (Which means I should probably freaking let it go instead of knee-jerking a response.) I mean, this was an overheated, overdone argument two or three years ago. I happen to enjoy baseball more through my appreciation of some of the available metrics. That doesn't mean I have no soul or that I'm some sort of robot. Pete433 doesn't like all these newfangled crazy numbers. Okay, great. Some of us do. Let's both have another outrageously overpriced Miller Lite on a gorgeous sun-kissed day and he can keep talking about RBI and wins for pitchers while denying that he pays attention to stats, and I talk about OPS+ and wOBA and WHIP, and we can both enjoy the game.

By the way, obviously the flip side applies, too. I think sabermetrics provides insight into the game that isn't otherwise available. But we stat nerds shouldn't get pompous and condescending and dismissive when the baseball poets start talking about heart and clutchitude and gutsy guttiness and the artistic and human elements of the game. You don't HAVE to pick a side and insult the other side. You can like BOTH the right brain and left brain aspects of the game, and baseball has plenty to appeal to both. In fact, that's why it's my favorite sport!

So, anyway, sorry if I sounded like a jerk there Pete433 - I just react badly to the suggestion that the way I appreciate baseball is "wrong."

Posted by: Section220 | February 3, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Geez. I really need the games to start. In the worst way.

Posted by: Section220 | February 3, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I keep waiting for the "Nats finally sign Hudson" post.

I think with this team being no better then .500 next year that you give Dukes the opportunity to be the everyday rightfielder and see what happens. He doesn't strike me as someone you want on the roster unless he is playing every day but at some point you have to give him the chance without someone looking over his shoulder and tell him to put up or shut up.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | February 3, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

s220, well said, as applies to both sides of the equation. I hear you on needing the games to start. For those of us with access to MLB Network, the CWS will have to suffice for now.

Speaking of which, definitely some of the position players weren't helping their pitchers out, mikecatcher, although I thought Pablo Ozuna made some nice plays for the Dominican team.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 3, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

>>I seldom agree with Dovelevine, but he is right


Welcome to the dark side my friend. You can check in but you can never leave......


Posted by: dovelevine | February 3, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

New post. Hey, maybe they could have a Kevin Mench giant batting helmet sundae promotion. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 3, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Hotel Dovelevine?

Posted by: Section505203 | February 3, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

There is a line that is crossed when statistics rule the whole conversation of baseball. We, the admiring public of true baseball will never cross that line..

Posted by: bsballu5 | February 3, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I hear (at 2pm EDT Thursday) that the Twins are closing in on signing Orlando Hudson because the Nats are not budging on their wished-for pay offer. That 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.

Posted by: mx_heinrich | February 4, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

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