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Posted at 8:08 AM ET, 11/30/2010

Jorge De La Rosa comes off the market

By Adam Kilgore

The market for available, high-quality starting pitching - the kind the Nationals have been aggressive but, so far, unsuccessful in pursuing - shrunk once again Monday night when the Rockies signed left-handed flamethrower Jorge De La Rosa. He came off the market one day after the Marlins signed veteran right-hander Javier Vazquez, another potential Nationals target.

The Rockies signed De La Rosa to a contract worth at least $21.5 million over two years and potentially $32 million over three years, according to the Denver Post, a sign of how costly it will be for the Nationals to add the top-shelf starter General Manager Mike Rizzo desires.

The Nationals had met with De La Rosa's agent, Bobby Barad, during the General Manager meetings two weeks ago. Rizzo also met with Tom O'Connell, the agent for veteran right-hander Carl Pavano, who is now the best available free agent following Cliff Lee, one of the best pitchers alive and a player Rizzo acknowledges would be a long shot for the Nationals to sign.

The dearth of remaining free agent talent already, before the calendar has even reached December, shows how valuable pitching has become this offseason. "There just aren't many [elite starters] out there," said one AL GM earlier this winter. "Everyone is looking for the same thing."

Given the rate at which teams have been scooping up pitchers, Pavano could reach a deal soon. Known best for his injury-filled, failed tenure with the Yankees after signing a lucrative contract, Pavano resurrected his career the past two seasons. For the Indians and Twins, Pavano went 31-23 with a 4.39 ERA, 264 strikeouts and 76 walks in 420 1/3 innings. This year, he won 17 games and started Game 2 of the ALDS.

After Pavano, the best option for the Nationals would be either a low-risk gamble, such as Brandon Webb, or a trade. The best pitcher available in a trade in Zack Greinke, but the Royals are said to have an astronomical asking price that could cripple a farm system that Rizzo has rebuilt in his short tenure as general manager.

The competition for starting pitching has not been a surprise to Rizzo. At the end of the past regular season, Rizzo vowed he would add a frontline starter to head the Nationals rotation. The opportunity to do so is growing smaller, but he knew it would be tough to find that kind of pitcher.

"They're as precious as gold, and they're very difficult to obtain," Rizzo said at the GM meetings. "They're very expensive to obtain, either cash-expensive or player-expensive. But we're continuing to try and improve ourselves in that category."

By Adam Kilgore  | November 30, 2010; 8:08 AM ET
 
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Next: Adam Dunn declines arbitration

Comments

Wanting a SP and getting a SP are two completely different things. Being in the race simply is not good enough, we cannot go into the year with what we have. Webb would be nice if we didn't count on him for anything; we need someone who can take the ball every 5th day and give us a quality start, and if management and owners don't do that this offseason then they have failed us.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | November 30, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

The Nats amaze me. They have had a glaring need for quality starting pitching forever and they are on the sidelines with their hands in their pockets when the guys are flying off the board. They likely had no chance with Lilly or Garland, but De La Rosa very likely could have been a Nat if the Nats guaranteed a third year.

Now the Nats will have to trade and take on salary for someone like Derek Lowe, Barry Zito or Randy Wolf. They are almost out of FA options.

How this club can be timid right now is beyond me. Rizzo needs to be telling the world why he did not get this kid.

Posted by: dfh21 | November 30, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

It is disappointing to have two of the better starting pitchers come off the board already - Vazquez and De La Rosa (I don't count Garland as he was never going to sign east of the Mississippi).

There are still 12 weeks before spring training so it is certainly too declare defeat. The next 30 days will be the most meaningful - December is when most trades and signings happen.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 30, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Rizzo had his chance to get a very decent young starting, but didn't trade Dunn. Other than the Ramos deal, he has done very little that, at this point, is tangible evidence of improving the club. I am losing faith in his making the smart decisions. But in two weeks or so, I hope he changes my mind. I'm no longer counting on it though.

Posted by: jcampbell1 | November 30, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

29 teams did not get De La Rosa. He signed with his 2010 team. Just to be clear, De La Rosa sports a 1.52 career WHIP, a 5.02 career ERA, and pitched only 121 innings last year and has only pitched more than 130 innings once in his career. He's 29.

This was not a must sign. The concept that De La Rosa is somehow an ace in waiting is unsubstantiated with facts. He was/is a long shot to pitch 200 innings in any year of his career.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 30, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Natsbis is right -- this is not a must sign. But, adding a front of the rotation starter was Job One according to Rizzo himself and it is not yet done and the options are growing smaller. Rosenthal wrote yesterday "The Nationals' pursuit of De La Rosa was complicated by their efforts to sign hitters, most notably free-agent first baseman Carlos Pena."

Really? Are the Nats not capable of negotiating for multiple players at once? Is Carlos Pena really a priority over starting pitching? And they were not going to ink Pena until Dunn decided whether he'd turn down arb in any event. I have visions of headless chickens running wild all over the Nats war room.

Rizzo is losing my trust, my season ticket holding since day 1 need something to hang on to fragile trust.

But hey, good old baseball-lifer Bob Schaefer is in Nats Town!! So, why despair.

Posted by: dfh21 | November 30, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I don't know when Vazquez and De la Rosa became Jesus on the mound. FA pitching is terribly thin. It would be very short sighted to sign one of those pitchers to a long term deal when all you are doing is robbing your young, potentially better pitchers of innings. If this free agent class came out last year, Marquis would be talked about in the same breath as the other guys and we see how he worked out.
Also, the notion that we could have traded Dunn for quality young starting pitching is absurd. If Dunn was so sought after for a half year, why hasn't a team scooped him up now when all it will cost them is money?

Posted by: paulhealey | November 30, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

"But, adding a front of the rotation starter was Job One according to Rizzo himself and it is not yet done and the options are growing smaller."

The options have not changed at all. There is only one front of the rotation starter in free agency this year, and he is still a free agent.

Posted by: paulhealey | November 30, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

On Dunn - not sure why they didn't lock him up - he seemed to be happy here.
On Pena - not sure why they love him so much given his declining numbers and overrated D
On SP - looks like they will have to trade for it and deplete what little talent we have on the farm.

It smells like we are becoming the Pirates....

Posted by: goexpos2 | November 30, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

"Rizzo is losing my trust, . . ."

Say what, dfh? Be careful whom you trust. I wouldn't trust Rizzo any further than I can throw Stan Kasten. They're two birds of a feather IMHO. All hat and no cattle.

Posted by: JohnRDC | November 30, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I'm not concerned about any single transaction, Vazquez, de la Rosa, etc. But what concerns me, is that Rizzo came out, and very pointedly stated that a "top of the rotation starter" was his "number 1 priority" and he has since backed off that stance. Why? Most of the posters here know who the available free agents are and what they will cost. So, how is Rizzo surprised?

My guess on not being able to negotiate with Pena and de la Rosa isn't a lack of ability (or bandwidth) from the front office, it's a lack of money. Rizzo doesn't know how much he can spend on de la Rosa until he signs Pena and vice versa... well, de la Rosa has signed, so, Rizzo can concentrate on Pena. Of course, he cannot make a concrete offer untli they know whether or not Dunn will reject arbitration.

I don't know how you can be a fan and not feel screwed.

Posted by: comish4lif | November 30, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

It's not all Rizzo's fault in not moving forward. We don't know all the facts but perhaps his hands are tied due to the restraints of the Lerners. They are not exactly free with their $'s.

Posted by: boyn4884 | November 30, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Comish -- I am with you. If the budget is the problem (hard to beleive that really is the case considering they have a ton of coins laying around to get back to last year's well into the bottom third in MLB sppending level), you blow the money on the pitching.

Anyway, I am thinking Aaron Heilman is the next Tim Redding. Brad Hawpe the next Austin Kearns. Rizzo is going to go Jim Bowden Type B FA dumpster diving all over us in the next few days. We'll here about value and upside, returns to health and fresh starts. Get ready.

Posted by: dfh21 | November 30, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

If DeLaRosa or Garland are at the top of the rotation you are in trouble anyway, if you overpay to get them your hurting - for evidence, look no farther then Marquis who is more comparable to these guys then Lee or Grienke is. Once again I get the feeling from this board that the Nats must make moves and spend money but the moves and players aren't really important; they just want to see activity and its better to overspend and get players then not get them; thats a really easy position when it isn't your money. Do not give up the young talent to get us players who lead us to .500; keep them and build a team that can play better then that and know that is going to take time, more then most fans want. This team is going nowhere until SS and Harper arrive as every day players and nothing Rizzo does will change that; he just needs to get the pieces to surround them.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | November 30, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Rizzo can't do squat unless the Lerners give him an open checkbook and by that i mean they trust Rizzo to do what's good for the franchise. The bottom line is if Rizzo has limitations on what he can spend then he's restricted.

Posted by: dargregmag | November 30, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

'splain to me, please, why ANYONE would be a season ticket holder. The Nats are not doing so.

I signed up for season tickets the first day they allowed us to do so. Have held them since Opening Day 2005. Great seats in RFK, right behind home plate, just under the roof, I think we started @ $35 per. held four through 2009, then scaled back to 2 @ $150 per this season.

How many games would I have been closed out if I walked up 10 minutes before first pitch? How many sell outs do you expect in 2011 with a weaker offense and no improvement on the mound?

They offer great deals for new season ticket holders. But not so much for folks already in the fold.

They are letting Dunn walk and want me to be excited about the prospect of Carl Pavano as the "ace."

I think there is an obvious way for fans to vote.

Posted by: advocate2 | November 30, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

De La Rosa a .500 lifetime pitcher who can barely pitch 130 innings a season doesn't sound like a top of the rotation 10 mil a year pitcher.

Posted by: 4U2Know | November 30, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

SCNatsfan: Actually, it IS my money, in part. I live in DC, which built a stadium with taxpayer dollars for this team. I have had a ST package for years and spent lots of my money at the park. And there has been plenty of time to build a competitive team. The fans are entirely justified in being disgusted with the cheapskate owners. I do not advocate spending for the sake of spending, but their payroll is absurdly low and their team stinks. The only players who want to come here are reclamation projects, who rarely work out. In a flat free agent market two years ago, they unexpectedly landed Dunn and then wouldn't pay up to keep him. For several years I have been waiting for them to field a respectable team, and I am tired of waiting. I see no indications that they will change. My ST renewal package sits here beside me as I type. I don't intend to send it in, although I have not yet thrown it in the trash. There is still time to sign Dunn, or make some other moves to convince me to spend my money, but I don't expect it.

Posted by: NatsFly | November 30, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

NatsFly, I understand your frustration and I share it with you, but you are paying for entertainment; if you aren't being entertained then you shouldn't be going. If fans truly won't support the way the Lerners run the team then the only real way to show it is not not buy tickets, to not go to games; vote with your wallet. If every ST holder doesn't renew and the attendence stays the same, either with new ST holders or single game buyers, then guess what, the town is out of luck. Expecting Lerner to change because people are spending their own money isn't going to happen, he's commited to the 'plan' which requires him to spend near the middle of the pack and throw a couple of hail Marys.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | November 30, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

From Kilgore, about 6 weeks ago: "The Nationals' stated, primary goal this offseason is to land a legitimate No. 1 starting pitcher to anchor their rotation."

So the Nats / Rizzo set the expectation, not fans and posters. Cliff Lee is not coming here, I think for the most part we all agree on that. Every other quality free agent pitcher is gone now except Pavano, and he's going to get a contract the Lerners won't touch.

A trade is possible, but we have so little organizational depth that it might not really make sense.

So Webb it is. He can be a workout buddy with CM Wang.

dargreg, I completely agree that the Lerners have been tight with the checkbook since day 1. Rizzo can't operate effectively like this. I still think he's very capable (Capps, 2010 draft, Ramos), but it seems like he needs permission for everything and does not have parameters to just operate like a real GM should.

Posted by: Sunderland | November 30, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Pants can't do anything right unless it falls in his lap. He signed Marquis (injured), Wang (injured), and wants to sign Webb (injured). He trades for Ramos (.240 in AAA) who will most likely be exposed if he's forced to play every day. Trades for Morgan - a 30 year old career minor leaguer. He picked up Burnett (good job Pants you got a LOOGY who can go one inning and preserve that deficit that's always there by the time he comes into the game). Mf has made two trades in a little over two years. He doesn't have enough balls to at least TRY to stretch Drew Storen out and make him a starter when he's desperate for hard throwers in the rotation. 'He was a reliever in college'. Yeah, that's because his college coach wanted to fast-track him to the majors, and for no other reason. He doesn't make Detwiler lift weights, so he drops his arm slot because he's weak, and gets tattooed because of it. There are so many things he could do with what he's given to work with, yet he keeps sending the message that they're going to acquire players that he knows damn good and well won't come here, he even admits as much. If the FA pitching is so thin, he's going to have to work with what he has, or make a trade, and he's done neither. He's a loser.

Posted by: Brue | November 30, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

SCNatsfan -- the Lerners "plan" has not put them in the middle of the pack spending wise yet. Not within a Five Iron.

The Nats sold us a bill of goods with this whole plan jazz. It was a stall tactic (there is no "right way" to build a winning club that takes some to be determined but always longer than we think it should take if the results on the field still stink period of pateince from a fan base), and to add imsult to injury they barely even tried to back up their promises. Years ago they told us they'd have a dynamic, killer front office, but then did not hire a full staff until late last year. They told us they'd go hard after international talent, they signed basically none until Maya. They told us they'd be agressive in the draft, but avoided kids who demanded above slot. Sure, the Harper and Stras signings are huge, but they are also no brainers. Chasing Tex and chasing Chapman is worthless stuff; though Nats management seemingly demands credit for that failing work. They added an innings eater, a 38 yr old part time catcher and a grinding 2B vet in Kennedy to 2008's awful squad, came out of Spring Trianing with no RF and a clanky gloved rookie at SS -- that was supposedly the best Rizzo could do. Pitiful.

Now they say THIS is the year we add some shiny pieces, THIS is the time we can spend, THIS is the time we will get that Number 1 we so terribly need -- BUT, then they back off of that talk because it is kinda hard and kinda expensive to actually DO that and they are not so good at hard, costly stuff and we should understand. You know, Mike has ONLY been GM for 2 years, the Lerners are ONLY going into their 5th year of ownership, the cotton candy is ONLY $8 at Nats Park . . . they are wroking in a world full of contraints and all.

Posted by: dfh21 | November 30, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Brue - that loser comment was pretty harsh, though it may be true. Right now Rizzo is a deer in headlights. Maybe he instinctively jumps in the right direction, maybe he gets smacked by the speeding Buick. We'll see.

BTW -- meant to type 2009's squad, not 2008, I get my woeful Nats squads mixed up.

Posted by: dfh21 | November 30, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

dfh21 - I don't thin you can say selecting Cole in the draft and siging him was a sasfe pick or not drafting someone who demanded over slot. Clearly that is wrong. ANd I don't know they they demand credit for chasing the highest FAs when, realistically, they have no shot of coming here.

Everyone agrees that the team needs to spend more; the question is where to spend it. Free agency, unless you are the Yankees, is more hit or miss; we could have signed Zito or a number of players that turned out to be money pits. Anyway you look at it until the young talent develops, or at least gets to a point where it can be traded for talent, the team is going nowhere. If you want to sign middle tier FAs so we come in 4th instead of last then that's your opinion and your welcome to it but what this team needs is a farm system and there is at least some life in the system that MLB all but evicerated.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | November 30, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

SC -- you are right SC I should give them credit for the nice pick-up that Cole was in the 2010 draft (they spent to get the kid and got a big talent in a lower round becasue of it).

However, I think that you should also be more realistic. Every player is hit of miss to some extent, some more sop than otherws (Wang, Webb). And MLB has been gone from the picture for years, we can't blame them forever. I don't want to sign middle tier FA's -- though Rizzo seems comfortable taking that route -- I want top tier guys coming to the club via FA, via trade, via draft or international signing, whatever, but the Nats have been unwilling to get those guys. They have failed miserably to build this club - for years. And it is hard not to point a finger at them not being willing to spend as at least being a very big part of the problem. And "waiting for the young talent to develop" stuff is crazy talk. There is not much young talent there. Nats management needs to do more, much more and we can't let them make excuses. I mean, think about it this way -- Florida is getting it done with less money in a lousy park with no fans. It is time for the Lerners and Rizzo to produce a MLB roster than has a chance.

Posted by: dfh21 | November 30, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

"but what this team needs is a farm system "

Right on. But since you can not trade draft picks, the farm system is going to get built (or not built) regardless of what you do in free agency, with the one exception is you sign Type A FA's.

So it isn't one or the other. You can be active in the FA market, active in trades, active in acquiring MLB talent AND build the farm system.

Posted by: Sunderland | November 30, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I agree Sunderland; you can't use as an excuse that you are building a farm system to blow off every other means of signing talent, but creating a winner means that needs to be fixed.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | November 30, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"He doesn't make Detwiler lift weights, so he drops his arm slot because he's weak, and gets tattooed because of it"

Brue, thanks for this, the best fiction I've read since Moby Dick

Posted by: 3B11 | November 30, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Fans who are not being entertained are voting with their feet--that is why Nats park is available to be taken over by fans of other teams. That is why ST holder numbers sink further each year. If they would put a product worth seeing on the field, people would want to come see it, as they did when Jeezus pitched. But they simply will not spend what is required to field a decent team, and the fans are melting away. I was at the stadium the game after the trading deadline passed and Dunn was still a Nat. The fans mistakenly assumed that this meant the team intended to keep him, and responded with a wild spontaneous standing ovation. The ownership's response to this unusual fan enthusiasm was to kill it by failing to re-sign the slugger. Ted Lerner obviously knows real estate and shopping malls, but when it comes to baseball he is an idiot. What did this poor town do to deserve him and The Danny at the same time???

Posted by: NatsFly | November 30, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Moby Dick was just a big fish story.

Posted by: BobLHead | November 30, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Note to Brue; Damn Dude just tell us how you really feel, fustrated huh? just goes to show you that this fanbase is getting fed up with the double talk.

Posted by: dargregmag | November 30, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

>"He doesn't make Detwiler lift weights, so he drops his arm slot because he's weak, and gets tattooed because of it"

Brue, thanks for this, the best fiction I've read since Moby Dick

Posted by: 3B11

He also got that groin/hip injury because his legs are like toothpicks. The reason Detwiler didn't injure it worse earlier in the offseason is because he sat on his skinny ass from October to January, and when he finally did something, he got hurt - which in turn pushed back his availablity three months during the season.
Also, dropping his arm slot causes his breaking ball to flatten out, so it doesn't change the eye level of the hitter, something Knight talks about all the time. When you drop your arm slot, you're throwing across the plate, which makes the strike zone smaller than the 17" because you're not approaching it from straight on. If it looks like he's being squeezed, he's not, because the ball actually travels a shorter distance across the plate when it comes from the side. These clowns have had 3+ seasons to figure this out with him, and his mechanics are just as bad as when he was drafted. Detwiler already throws over 90, and if they built him up physically, he could come over the top and increase his velocity, and his breaking ball would be sharper.

Posted by: Brue | November 30, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Wow, blaming Rizzo for not changing Storen into a starter. Maybe we should blame him for the price of parking too as well as the quality of the pretzels.

What did we give up for Burnett and Morgan? Please, you blame Rizz because he doesn't get Pujols for Hanrahan and Milledge. And now he's the blame for Detwiler not lifting weights? Guess the San Fran GM was in the weight room instructing his players in technique, that's why the Giants won.

There are 100 credible things to blame Rizzo for, you don't have to make things up.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | November 30, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Yep, Rizzo set the bar high for himself in a FA Market that really only had 1 legit #1 starter.

Not smart Riz----Lesson #1. Under promise & over perform.

The best way to satisfy this fan base now is to land one LEGIT big name Free Agents or do the smart thing and get Adam Dunn back!

I don't see trades as being viable either as the Nats would be giving away their future for the short-term and you don't do that unless you are playoff ready NOW.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | November 30, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

You are right, he should have kept his mouth shut - its not like he could say "we'll sign someone if we can get them cheaply and make a trade of we can rob someone" which I think is the plan of attack.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | November 30, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

With all the talk of "mentoring", an opportunity was surely missed while this organization had control of both Detwiler and Ray King. Although perhaps they were afraid King would eat Detwiler if they put the two of them together, instead of showing him how to pack on the pounds while still being able to take the mound.

Posted by: FeelWood | November 30, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

"These clowns have had 3+ seasons to figure this out with him, and his mechanics are just as bad as when he was drafted."

Actually they tried to change his arm slot and after two seasons of failed results, gave up and told him to go back to where he was when he was drafted. But hey, why let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

Posted by: 3B11 | November 30, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I have no idea why Rizzo came out and said that he was going to acquire a #1 starter. Cliff Lee is literally the only one on the market and he's not coming here. And neither are any of the other top-shelf free agents (and there are not many of those, either). This team needs a top of the rotation starter, a first baseman and a right fielder. But we're not going to get long-term solutions at any of those slots through free agency, because (i) the right free agents don't exist (most are over the hill); (ii) the Lerner's won't overpay to get the guys that are out there; and (iii) signing FAs cost us draft picks we can ill afford to give up (ditto for trades which would cost prospects).

It sucks, and has for some time, but there has been some (glacial) progress. Pudge was a good signing, and we now have Ramos, Flores and Norris behind him. Anyone want to go back to Paul LoDuca? We also have two home-grown middle infielders in Desmond and Espinosa, and Lombardozzi waiting in the wings. Guzman and FLop, anyone? They locked up Zimmerman with a reasonable contract that he seems likely to outperform. They traded for Willingham and from where I sit, they should sign him to a reasonable 3-5 year deal now -- I suspect they could get a bargain. Anybody want to go back to Wily Mo? Ryan Church? In the same vein, I know some people got fed up with Nyjer in the course of 2010, but would we rather have Lastings? Or Nook Logan?

So my position is, things might look bad now, but it's been worse. Next year might not be pretty, but "doing things the right way" might mean that 2012 looks like this:

c: Ramos, Flores or Norris
1b: Marrero (.294/350/.450 in AA last year)
2b: Espinosa or Lombardozzi
3b: Zimmerman
ss: Desmond
lf: Willingham
cf: Morgan
rf: Burgess (.265/.357/.465 in A+ and AA)

... and a rotation that starts with Strasburg, Zimmermann and Lannan. Now that's a team I could get behind (again).

For now, they should placate us by locking up Willingham, giving Dunn 3 years and $40 million (somebody will take him at the trade deadline in 2012) and signing Webb and Aaron Harang.

Posted by: BobLHead | November 30, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

ummm, I don't think Rizzo held a press conference announcing his intent to go get an ace starting pitcher. He responded to a question about offseason priorities by saying that the number one need was a pitcher for the front end of the rotation. We have every reason to believe that is still his priority. (My priority is building enough wealth for a reasonable retirement, but hey we don't always get what we want).

Among the many rumors this winter is the snippet that the Nationals are asking for pitching in every deal. Everyone wants pitching. Its hard to get. But the winter is NOT over. Give it time.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 30, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

>Actually they tried to change his arm slot and after two seasons of failed results, gave up and told him to go back to where he was when he was drafted. But hey, why let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

Posted by: 3B11

They tried to change his arm slot, but they didn't accompany the change with weightlifting. He's too weak to raise his arm slot without it. Now he's back to throwing across his body, and he will continue to have trouble finding the plate, get pounded the second and third time through the order and continue to be useless even though he throws over 90 mph.
The difference in the SF pitchers and the Nats pitchers is bulk and strength. Even Lincecum is built up. Matt Cain, etc. Those guys don't have control problems because they can repeat their windups. The Nats have guys like Detwiler and Balester who couldn't hit a bull in the ass with a banjo because they can't repeat their windups. Why? Because they lack muscle mass. You can't repeat your windup without strong thighs, and you can't get on top of the ball if you don't have a strong upper body. Has anybody on here ever pitched??

Posted by: Brue | November 30, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Brue, just to be fair, I think that their handling of Detwiler has been part of the kid's problem. He was bumped from level to level before allowing for "dominance" at any level. He still has potential and is still young enough and lefthanded. I hope he spends from April to August in Syracuse and figures it out once and for all.

Posted by: 3B11 | November 30, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

"And now he's the blame for Detwiler not lifting weights? Guess the San Fran GM was in the weight room instructing his players in technique, that's why the Giants won.

There are 100 credible things to blame Rizzo for, you don't have to make things up."


Most teams prescribe an individualized off-season conditioning and throwing program for their players. It's up to the players to follow it. As of 2008 at least, the Nats did not do this. Do they do it now?

Brian Cashman travels around the country during the early part of the off-season and meets with players one-on-one. Does Rizzo do anything like that?

It's not all luck. A lot of it is design, and hard work. Using Detwiler as an example, the Nats have never had a design for him and his progression. The fact that Madison Bumgarner--who came out of high school when Detwiler came out of college--is now miles ahead of Detwiler is not due to dumb luck.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | November 30, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

"Brian Cashman travels around the country during the early part of the off-season and meets with players one-on-one. Does Rizzo do anything like that?"

Coverage: you want to visit Nyjer at home? I'd give Rizzo a pass on that.

Posted by: JohnRDC | November 30, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

"A lot of it is design, and hard work. Using Detwiler as an example, the Nats have never had a design for him and his progression. The fact that Madison Bumgarner--who came out of high school when Detwiler came out of college--is now miles ahead of Detwiler is not due to dumb luck."

You don't think they had a design for Detwiler when they spent the better part of two years trying to change his throwing motion? It's not like they just shipped him off to the minors and said "show up in a couple of years ready to be a #1 starter" as you imply. You're right, it's not due to dumb luck that Bumgarner is miles ahead of Detwiler. More likely it's due to dumb Detwiler. From the day he was drafted, he never came off as being the brightest bulb in the bunch. The thing is though that when you dump a s***load of money on someone who's not all that bright, it never makes them any smarter. Usually it ends up making them even dumber.

Posted by: FeelWood | November 30, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Cashman meeting with players has little to do with their development, you are reaching there. A nice touch sure, but its not like a meeting with makes the guys career. BTW, the year the Nats took Detwiler the Yanks took Andrew Brackman. How is that working for them? And the Giants also took someone named Timothy C Alderson... why isn't he in the majors? Did they waste all the advice on Bumgartner?


I do not know about the offseason conditioning program and how, or if, they check on players. I would assume they do but - I would think every team does - but I could be wrong.

Rizzo is not a pitching coach and should not be tinkering with their delivery. Blaming him is off base.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | November 30, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

"You're right, it's not due to dumb luck that Bumgarner is miles ahead of Detwiler. More likely it's due to dumb Detwiler. From the day he was drafted, he never came off as being the brightest bulb in the bunch."

But yet the Nats picked him. So whose fault is that?

"BTW, the year the Nats took Detwiler the Yanks took Andrew Brackman. How is that working for them?"

I'm pretty sure they'd say it's working fine for them. They took him at the back-end of the first round, not with the #6 pick overall. And they knew picking him was a calculated risk, since he was rehabbing from TJ surgery at the time they picked him. Finally, unlike the Nats, the Yankees don't have all their hopes pegged on success in the draft.

"And the Giants also took someone named Timothy C Alderson... why isn't he in the majors? Did they waste all the advice on Bumgartner?"

You mean the Tim Alderson whom the Giants traded for the guy who started at second base for their World Series winning team? What do we always hear about the Nats? That they don't have any real prospects to trade for proven MLB talent?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | November 30, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Everyone on here talks all this stuff about what Rizzo hasn't done. I don't think Lilly, Vazquez or De La Rosa are worth what they got on the market. But no one has said what players they think Rizzo should sign/acquire.

Posted by: tommy11599 | November 30, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, it could be that Bumgarner is just a better pitcher than Detwiler. Sometimes it is the conditioning. Sometimes its the talent. There are so many ways to attack a losing team it is mind numbing. They're cheap, they don't sign enough free agents, they don't sign the right free agents, they don't make smart trades, they don't make timely trades, they don't spend enough, they don't develop players fast enough, they don't hire the right front office people, etc......

The truth is the Nationals are six years old. The ownership is 4 years old. The whole time the Nationals have been trying to develop, the other 29 teams have been working to get better too.

Insisting loudly that they have had ample time to fix every problem, does not make it true. They have had time to make more progress than they have made, but in truth a perfect storm where resources, talent, and luck all came together were needed and it just hasn't happened yet.

Six years. Perhaps that seems long to a community that had no baseball before 2005, but ask the Red Sox, or the Rangers, or the Rays how long they had to wait for contenders. Or ask the Cubs? It really is not as simple to accomplish or as egregious to fail over six years as many seem to think.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 30, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

BobLhead - I have to admit that when I saw you looking toward 2012's lineup, I stopped reading the post. The club should be adding pieces for the MLB roster and beyond right now. And think about it -- does the rest of baseball consider Desmond/Espinoza some dream middle infield of the near future or is that really more of an inside the Beltway myth?

Rizzo said -- and he said it a lot and not in an off-handed in response to a question as he was catching a trin or something -- that he has as priority one landing an Ace. I hope he's working that out. As far as I am concerned he can trade anyone not named Stras or Bryce for Grienke. Or he can get Shields or Guthrie or Garza or even Big Z from the Cubbies. That second group might not be as shiny as a true true Ace should be, but the cost will be less too.

In any event, the Nats standing back and waiting for the market to shake out makes me nervous. Clubs are making moves all over the place for playrs that could help the Nats, the Nats have basically done nothing. Maybe they are schrewd, but maybe they are simply scared. It makes me think that they have cold feet on this whole ready to make a splash in free agency talk, that they are reconsidering, thinking NEXT year is the year we adjust the scheme, not worth doing it now. Next year is always a year away.

Posted by: dfh21 | November 30, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

"...ask the Red Sox, or the Rangers, or the Rays how long they had to wait for contenders."

Actually, these are all horrible examples that undermine your point. For each of these teams, new ownership/leadership quickly led to success on the field. In less than 4 years in each case.

These examples show that "the ownership is 4 years old" is hardly an excuse. A well-run organization can make tremendous progress in 4 years, or less.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | November 30, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Kevin must have a better network than WikiLeaks to have such detailed knowledge of all 30 MLB teams' training regimens.

Either that or he's just talking out of his arse, like always.

Posted by: nunof1 | November 30, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Nope. The Red Sox, Rangers, and Rays respective new ownerships had a lot more to build on than the Lerners did when they took over. The Rays for example had nearly ten years of top ten draft position to build their farm system. The crop was in the field, their new owners appropriately harvested the crop, but they did not have to build from ground up.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 30, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Bottom line: The Lerners don't spend enough money on the ML roster. Period.

I see progress in baby steps over the last year or so, because of Rizzo but, it won't be nearly enough unless they fill the friggin' holes the size of Texas on the ML roster. You can't put all you hopes on young kids, you have to have some proven ML'ers to fill in for when/if they don't pan out.

And I ain't talking about Adam Kennedy, Willie Harris or Kevin Mench types either. Those are re-tread, cheapass, dumpster diving alternatives to signing a legit proven player.

The fanbase is waiting on you Uncle Teddy, open up the flippin' checkbook, you old fart.

Posted by: Section505203 | November 30, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Natbiscuits: You make some good points. I want to be patient, I really do. The thing which has driven me over the edge was their unwillingness to sign Dunn last July when (according to Boz and other reports)they could have done so for 3 years and $30 something million. It seemed to me that that action showed that they were hopelessly cheap and they really do not care about giving the fans something to cheer about now. That, in turn, leads me to wonder whether they will ever bring themselves to spend what is required. I don't think so. I did not expect a championship by now, but I think it is perfectly reasonable to expect to see far more progress than they have made. But the worst thing is that I really do not think we will see a good team as long as Ted Lerner owns them.

Posted by: NatsFly | November 30, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

DFH -- I am a Cubs fan. It's always about next year. Or even next century in Chicago's case. Besides, if you had read the rest of the post, you would have seen that I threw a few bones in for 2011.

Posted by: BobLHead | November 30, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

I'll meet you half way. While I agree that the Lerner's need to demonstrate a willingness to spend more - now, I would suggest that it is too early to declare them hopeless as owners. I wanted them to sign Dunn too, but I do understand his flaws as a player. He can't hit lefthanders well, can't field well, and fails to put the ball in play 40% of the time he comes to the plate. Given those weaknesses, I understood the reluctance to sign him to a multi-year contract. It is hard to know what is truth and what is rumor, but there were claims that the Nats did have 3 years $30M on the table. If true, it was Dunn who passed on the opportunity, not the Nats.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 30, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

I'll meet you half way. While I agree that the Lerner's need to demonstrate a willingness to spend more - now, I would suggest that it is too early to declare them hopeless as owners. I wanted them to sign Dunn too, but I do understand his flaws as a player. He can't hit lefthanders well, can't field well, and fails to put the ball in play 40% of the time he comes to the plate. Given those weaknesses, I understood the reluctance to sign him to a multi-year contract. It is hard to know what is truth and what is rumor, but there were claims that the Nats did have 3 years $30M on the table. If true, it was Dunn who passed on the opportunity, not the Nats.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 30, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Looks like any remaining chance of re-signing Dunn just went out the window; According to Jeff Passan at YahooSports, Greg Genske has set the baseline for Dunn at 4/$60M. Isn't that fairly close to the number a few folks were floating on this blog back in May-June?

Ultimately, the Nationals aren't going to improve the on-the-field product until the Lerner group allows the true baseball-savvy minds in the Front Office some latitude in both signing or trading players. Rizzo may well have a trade lined up for Dunn near the deadline, only to be blocked by the Lerners or Kasten at the last minute; We'll never know the truth.

As the team currently stands, they'll get two picks in the 2011 amatuer draft for Dunn, who will each need 2-4 years of development before they're even close to MLB-ready. Four years of ownership, and it's still "one step up, two steps back;..." (Lowell George/Bill Payne, 'Straight from the Heart' - Little Feat, 'Down on the Farm', 1979).

Posted by: BinM | November 30, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Dunn's agent may ask for 4/$60M, but who would give that to him? An NL team for him to play first base? No way. Dunn doesn't want to DH, but even if he did what AL team would give him that? The Tigers already wouldn't. The White Sox would take Konerko back for less than that. Who's left? Dunn's agent is smoking crack if he thinks he can get that kind of contract out of anyone. If he's smart he'll take the Nats 3 year offer while he still can, 'cause otherwise he'll be getting even less than that after the Nats sign Pena or LaRoche or someone else and have no more need for Dunn.

Posted by: nunof1 | November 30, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Of course Dunn has flaws. He also is the best FA slugger out there, and he wanted to stay here. Will he get 4/60? I would be a little surprised at that much. But the failure to sign him for a reasonable amount in July was inexcusable, and is attributable directly to the owners' cheap ways. They had to haggle, and didn't offer the 3/30-something until late summer, at which time there was no reason for him not to test the FA market. Bush league. Which is exactly what this team will be so long as Ted Lerner is in charge. I wish it were not so. I'll still root for them and go to the park a couple of times a season, but no more ST for me.

Posted by: NatsFly | November 30, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

All Dunn has to do is relent on his demand to play 1B full-time. He'd be in Harm City overnight. He's worth 60 million as a DH-1B. Split it 50/50 and let it go. But the club always retains the right to make it 90/10% DH/1B.

Posted by: Brue | November 30, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

The Nats have had a three year deal on the table for Dunn since late July, according to Ladson. Phil Wood's sources confirmed that the AAV of that contract was greater than Dunn's 2010 salary of $12M. (Yes, his 2/20 contract was split $8M in 2009, $12M in 2010.) Clearly the only reason he didn't sign earlier was because he's been insisting on the 4 year deal all along. He could have signed for 3/$40M or whatever if only he had wanted to. He didn't. And he may well be regretting that decision soon. His agent wants to start the bidding war at 4/$60M. That would require that there actually be bidders. Apparently there are none. His name has not been linked to anyone on MLB Trade Rumors since the Tigers backed off and signed Martinez. There is zero, nada, no buzz at all about Dunn in this FA market. And you do kinda need some buzz if you want a bidding war to erupt, don't you?

Posted by: nunof1 | November 30, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

As usual, the Nats Journal regulars are eating their young.

"Lerners are cheap"
Guess signing Strasburg, Harper, Zimmerman, Pudge, Marquis, etc. shows nothing.

"Rizzo isn't doing anything"
Guess that little swap for Ramos doesn't count.

Tonight on Hot Stove Rosenthal, Williams and Magrane all said the Nationals are doing just fine - and in time we'll be where we want to be...that Rizzo and ownership are doing exactly what they should. Not that I think Mitch Williams is a genius, but they seem to be more hopeful than a hometown blog seems to be....

Posted by: dand187 | November 30, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

dand, or at least more hopeful than those who are still posting on said hometown blog. I'm just saying...

Also, MLB Network rocks. That is all.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 30, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

The difference is the guys on the MLB network can view the team dispassionately; when you look at a team that has broken your heart and is on a seemingly glacial pace to respectibility anyone who is a fan is justified in having a "I've heard this before" attitude even if the team is actually headed in the right direction.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | November 30, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

This is exactly why the Washington sports scene is so bleak and has been for so long; everyone wants a quick fix. Building winners from scratch takes time and long-term planning.

The fans who want ownership to throw extra years and money at slightly above average free agents are the same ones who let themselves be disappointed by the short-sighted splashes Snyder makes year in and year out.

I hope I'm not drinking the kool-aid here but I do think a foundation is being built for sustained success and our day will come. Honestly, I'm more proud of the above-slot draft signings than I would've been if we signed De La Rosa or even Cliff Lee.

Posted by: von_bluff | November 30, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

As usual, the Nats Journal regulars are eating their young.

"Lerners are cheap"
Guess signing Strasburg, Harper, Zimmerman, Pudge, Marquis, etc. shows nothing.


This made me laugh out loud at work. If you think that is near enough money to spend in order to field a competitive team then more power to you.

As much as I am a "Lerner's are cheap" pessimist, dand187, you are the equal Koolaid drinking Homer on the other end of the spectrum.

Posted by: Section505203 | December 1, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I think we all want the Nats to be a winner. Where we differ is how. The answer is not signing big budget free agents like Cliff Lee (34 years old!), but to make smart decisions with the eye on the future. Nyjer Morgan was a great decision because he gives us credible defense and a top of the order hitter for 4 years or so. If the youngsters show they are ready, then we can trade him. I get the feeling many of you want Rizzo just to spend money willy nilly, but that is not the answer. Hell, we last won it all in 1924...I can wait a few more years for our farm to develop! For now, go with young talent unless we can get a good player on the cheap (Adam Dunn a great example). I would try to get Nick Johnson back (if healthy) to fill the 1b defensive hole. Let's see what Mike Morse and Maxwell can do for 1/3 of a season. Our infield looks very good, and if Ramos and Flores continue, we have solid catching. At least one of our young pitchers has to come around. Storen can close, but he will have some tough times. I think the Nats are on the way to being very good. Give them (and Rizzo) some time...

Posted by: JpJp | December 1, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Oops...Cliff Lee is only 32 years old, but we still should not break the bank for him...

Posted by: JpJp | December 1, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

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