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Posted at 10:33 AM ET, 12/19/2010

Not trading for Zack Greinke makes sense for the Nationals

By Adam Kilgore

The options for adding a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher dwindled last night with one of the most significant moves of the baseball offseason. The Nationals will not be trading for Zack Greinke, not after the Milwaukee Brewers acquired him from the Kansas City Royals for shortstop Alcides Escobar, an outfield prospect and two pitching prospects.

The Nationals, according to sources, had been pursuing a trade for Greinke but did not want to include right-handed starter Jordan Zimmermann in the package, which the Royals insisted on. The Brewers, who have a deeper system, were content to part with Escobar, a rookie in 2010 who is basically their version of Ian Desmond - he's not as good of a hitter at this point but is more polished in the field.

The Brewers' farm system is deep, and the haul they gave up was impressive. Jeremy Jeffress has a fastball that can hit 100 mph, Jake Ordorizzi was a first-round pick out of high school in 2008 and Lorenzo Cain had an .830 OPS in 148 plate appearances during a call-up last year.

The Nationals have come a long way with their farm system. But, as owner Mark Lerner acknowledged this week, it is not yet at the point where they can afford to be swapping swaths of prospects for one impact major leaguer. If they gave away Zimmermann along with any two or three of Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos, Drew Storen or Roger Bernadia, the hole created would have been greater than the one filled. And the Nationals are not at the point where they have the depth in their farm system to replace that kind of trade from within.

"Nobody wants to give up our parts," Lerner said Wednesday. "Anytime any team even calls, it's so tough. It's like giving away one of your children. It would take a very special trade for us to give up some of the good parts."

Lerner also said, "I don't think there's a trade that's ever asked for that doesn't include Jordan Zimmermann's name." In this particular case, including Zimmermann may not have made sense no matter the condition of the Nationals' farm system.

Yes, Greinke is great, a former Cy Young winner, and Zimmermann has made only 23 starts in his career and won four games. But Grenike has only two years remaining on his contract, and Zimmermann has five more years of team control, two of which come before he is eligible for arbitration and will be making virtually the league minimum.

He's not Greinke, at least not yet. But Zimmermann is the potential No. 2 starter for the Nationals who would probably be a No. 3 or No. 4 on a very good staff. By 2012, he could form an elite 1-2 punch with Stephen Strasburg for years to come.

The combination of Zimmermann's ability and his service time makes him virtually untradeable for the Nationals. Adding Greinke would have been a major statement, would have made it easier to forget Strasburg is rehabbing all season and would have inched the Nationals closer to immediate contention. But it just wasn't worth giving up Zimmermann or ravaging a farm system that the Nationals are still building.

UPDATE: I've been unable to verify this myself, but I'd be remiss to not mention the report by SI.com's Jon Heyman that the Nationals had a deal in place with the Royals for Greinke, but Greinke nixed the deal because his contract allowed him to block a trade to the Nationals and he believed the Brewers had a better chance to win.

General Manager Mike Rizzo did not respond to a message this morning. I'll post any more information I can gather.

By Adam Kilgore  | December 19, 2010; 10:33 AM ET
 
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Comments

I agree completely.

Posted by: Section406 | December 19, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I don't know, I think Kilgore is much funnier when he rags on the team like in his movie review. And I'm sure he's trying to be funny here. Needs to concentrate on the finer points like timing and delivery.

Posted by: Brue | December 19, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

The Greinke deal, or lack of, is moot since he refused to waive his no-trade clause to Washington according to Heyman at SI. But...

If you're not willing to part with one of your top pitching prospects why even pick up the phone? You think KC's gonna part with a former CY'er for a bunch of A prospects? And the fact that his contract is good for 2 years is a good thing. You have 2 years to evaluate him and either extend his contract or trade him or even let him walk. And please don't tell me Markie has to approve all trades. I thought that was Rizzo's job.

Posted by: pwilly | December 19, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Adam, you are right of course about the farm system being weak but that of course is NOT what they tell the fans and their are endless quotes over the past 12 months and even this fall about how they are ready to trade all that depth in the farm....Perhaps it is time to call the Nats this? They have drafted very poorly and it shows.

Posted by: JayBeee | December 19, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

According to Sports illustrator Jon Heyman, the Nats had a deal worked out with Kansas City, but Greinke told the Royals he wouldn't accept a deal to the Nationls who were on his no-trade list.

Honestly this guy is not the type of guy you want on your team. What I mean, he is a great pitcher and could be the best but he has had bouts of mental instability and signs of paranoid tenancies. That is the reason you never saw a big team in a big market like the Yankess or the Dodgers or the Angeles go after him. They were all afraid that he wouldn't be able to handle the fan and media scrutiny.

He will be perfect for a small town like Milwaukee, that have kind fans and very little national media scurinty. The Washington area has had enough drama with players like Haynesworth and Areana who have experienced problems in making the right mental judgements and now McNabb, who is mentally sane and a great guy, but he is dealing with some a management that has been totally insane now for over a decade.

Posted by: Golfersal | December 19, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, this team is not quite ready for a two-year rental of a player like Greinke. He's not the difference-maker if the other pieces of the huge puzzle are sent packing to secure his services. Best trade is the one you don't make. But the Nats clearly have to start winning to change their image among players and fans as Pittsburgh South.

Posted by: McKinley2 | December 19, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

SI.com's Jon Heyman reports that the Royals were close to a deal that the trade would have sent Zack Greinke to the Nationals.
Washington was prepared to give up reliever Drew Storen and shortstop Danny Espinosa, as well as others, to Kansas City in the trade. However, the Nats were one of 15 teams on Greinke's no-trade list, and he told the Royals he would not approve the deal. The Brewers were also on the list, but evidently he was OK with going to Milwaukee, clearly feeling that the Brewers had a better shot to contend right away. Dec. 19 - 10:38 am et
Source: Jon Heyman on Twitter

this is an embarrassment

Posted by: swanni | December 19, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

By my count that is 5 blue chip prospects the Brewers have traded this winter. I think that's the baseball equivilant to going "all in". They must think they have the other pieces to win now, why else would you gut your farm system?

That puts them in a very different position than the Nats. It was simply too soon in building process for the Nats to take this kind of a risk. If the Brewers win a championship their GM will seem like a genius; if they don't and all those prospects become productive major leaguers with Toronto and KC, their GM will be living under an assumed name somewhere on the other side of the planet.

Good call Rizzo! Lets get a 1B, sign some help for the bench and see what the kids can do in 2011.

Posted by: lesatcsc | December 19, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

He wouldn't approve a trade to the Yankees either. The guy is a ball of anxiety riddled nerves, and he can't take that media stuff. I think the fact that the Nats were willing to deal pieces for Greinke is big. Even though I think it would have been a mistake, I think it shows that they are willing to make the big moves.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | December 19, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

The options for adding a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher never existed. Any thought of the Nats ever acquiring one, by trade or other method, was 100% Nats front office bull/spin to help keep fans busy thinking the Nats could do anything to improve the starting rotation. Next, Garza will be traded to a National League team, and even the middle of the rotation pitchers will have been signed, leaving the Nats with leftovers no one wants.

When it comes to pitching, Bowden couldn't bring pitching to DC, and Rizzo is proving he cant either. One thing both Bowden and Rizzo are expert at, is making promises.

Thank God there's the draft, or the Nats would in a deeper hole than they are now.

Posted by: KenzAFan | December 19, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

If the Nats put a similar package together for Garza, it would be a huge mistake. The guy is a bit of a hot head and I just don't think he's close to Greinke in terms of talent. Losing out on Garza, if the cost is similar to Greinke, would be okay with me.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | December 19, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

The Brewers were also on the list, but evidently he was OK with going to Milwaukee, clearly feeling that the Brewers had a better shot to contend right away. Dec. 19 - 10:38 am et
Source: Jon Heyman on Twitter

this is an embarrassment

Posted by: swanni
**********************

swanni, it's not an embarrassment.
Heyman speculates, but states matter of factly, that the reason Greinke preferred Milwaukee over DC is playoff contention.

Is Heyman right?
Who the heck knows, but he certainly may not be.
Greinke, as Golfersol pointed out, definitely wants a gentle environment. Not just on the field but in his life. Milwaukee, the city may have been preferred over DC, the city / metro area.

Either way, nothing to be embarrassed about.

Posted by: Sunderland | December 19, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

> I think the fact that the Nats were willing to deal pieces for Greinke is big. Even though I think it would have been a mistake, I think it shows that they are willing to make the big moves.

Posted by: Cavalier83

The only way you actually KNOW whether they would part with those players is if they actually DID part with them. Spin it, Pants, spin it! Make sure Heyman gets it on his twitter the same day the trade happens! Go Pants 2.0 Go! Go Pants 2.0 Go!

Posted by: Brue | December 19, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

>Either way, nothing to be embarrassed about.
Posted by: Sunderland

Speak for yourself. The guy didn't want to go to an organization that was worse than the KC Royals. And you say he's not stable. He's a lot more stable than the apologists on here. Bunch of friggin losers just like the team.

Posted by: Brue | December 19, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad Rizzo and Lerner are adamant about not trading Jordan Zimmerman. This kid is going to be fun to watch for the foreseeable future! At this point, it really doesn't make sense to trade for starting pitching, especially Garza who isn't ace material. I don't believe we should give up multiple pieces of our system unless it's for a true #1 like Felix Hernandez.

Posted by: Keenan1 | December 19, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

If you do not give up value then you will never get value....I for one have waited long enough for a real baseball team in DC....it is now time to win....their is plenty of money in the bank and they need to spend it or nobody including Zimmerman is going to stay here.

Posted by: JayBeee | December 19, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Uhhm, no. Prospects are not our children, they are not so dear to our hearts that they cannot be moved.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 19, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I was a young whipper snapper when the Senators traded Joe Coleman, Eddie Brinkman and Aurelio Rodriguez for Denny McClain. A Nats trade for Greinke would've rank up there with the Denny McClain trade on the negative side for Washington

Zach Greinke declining a trade to the Nats is a blessing in disguise for the Nats and their fans if it's true the Nats would've sent Jordan Zimmermann, Drew Storen & Danny Espinosa to the Royals. Who would've played 2nd base for the Nats if Espinosa was traded to the Royals ?

I sense Mike Mike Rizzo is working hard to up grade the Nats team but please Rizzo be patient and don't make a deal that will put the team backwards.

Posted by: 4U2Know | December 19, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

But Brue, you, Heyman, and me have no idea why Greinke would not not to come here.
With most players, sure, it's a organizational decisions. For some players, location is important, they want to be east coast or west coast or whatever. For Greinke, it may have had nothing to do with the team at all and everything to do with living his life in a mid-size midwest slow pace low presure place.

I'm just saying Heyman states as fact that it had to do with the ability to compete for the playoffs. And unless Greinke told him this (and he didn't of Heyman would have boasted that), it's speculation positioned as fact.

Posted by: Sunderland | December 19, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

How can you fault Greinke for wanting to go to a team that WILL contend in 2011, versus coming to Washington where he'd be in no better situation than in Kansas City in 2011? He'll be a FA in two years and if/when the Nats are looking frisky we can make a run at him to augment our formidable rotation of Strasburg, Zimmermann and Solis.

THAT is something to look forward to.

Agree with Kilgore that mortgaging the future by trading Storen, Espinosa and Zimmermann would have been too much. These are not "prospects:" these are guys who played major league baseball in 2010 and have "arrived." They're better than prospects; we already have a good idea of what they can do and what they can become. Each has shown flashes of greatness and we need to develop them, not trade them.

See http://www.nationalsarmrace.com/?p=501 for more thoughts.

Posted by: tboss | December 19, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Speak for yourself. The guy didn't want to go to an organization that was worse than the KC Royals. And you say he's not stable. He's a lot more stable than the apologists on here. Bunch of friggin losers just like the team.

Posted by: Brue
----------------
To borrow one of your favorite phrases of late: "Spin it, Brue, spin it".

Posted by: BinM | December 19, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Well, what is done is done and Grienke is off the board as a possibility for the Nats. There is no real need to speculate as to what went down to have a deal not go through, or whether the club is better or worse off for it.

But, the fact is that the club has an opportunity to vastly improve right now. Rizzo still has $30+M to work with in 2011. How can he not fill the biggest holes on the roster with that kind of cash? Rizzo needs to deliver a slugging LH bat that can play every day, a front end SP, back-end bull pen help and some bench depth. If he won't give up prized prospects to get impact players, that is fine, but that means that he needs to buy some (FA's and bad contract guys).

He has the money to fill the club's biggest needs, he has no excuses not to get it done. If he does not fill that to-do liist between now and ST, he's not the right guy for the job. It is pretty much that simple.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 19, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Agree, and have done so all along. I might have gone along with loosing Espinosa, Clippard, near-ML-ready OF and another arm, but not those of Zim or Stor. I've thought a young-bunch for proven-starter trade was a bad idea - what this team needs is a two year (yes, even three if you have to go there) FA such as Webb or Pavano. They have the mid-term money to do it, and it gives them tons of freedom to leave the 17 decent pitching prospects in the minors and find out where they fit in a year or two.

Posted by: ajtrue78 | December 19, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Uhhm, no. Prospects are not our children, they are not so dear to our hearts that they cannot be moved.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 19, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, that's some scary stuff from Mark Lerner.

Posted by: Sunderland | December 19, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Of course, it's possible they might have flipped him mid-season for equal-or-better prospects to what they spent getting him.

Probably not something you want to count on, but it's a Plan B.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 19, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Looks to me like Milwaukee wants to keep Prince Fielder? The way to doing that would be to produce a winner perhaps?

As Strasburg so aptly put [paraphrased] it when referring to Bryce Harper: 'If he doesn't want to come here we don't want him.'

Time to move on Natstown. It should be very clear to all and sundry that Mr. Rizzo is the most aggressive GM in baseball right now. He is doing it by the numbers. Following every possible lead. He appears to be relentless in his pursuit of excellence. It feels to me like he will eventually succeed in
striking the motherlode. That's my intuition about the man.

Posted by: periculum | December 19, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Both Ramirez and Rodriguez throw harder than Storen. Both look like potential closers. Heck Ballystar throws harder in relief. Carr is said to throw in the high nineties.

Every day Storen with his command of a plethora of pitches looks more and more like the starter they have been missing? I would still like to see how he fares in that role since they seem to have enough guys in the pen? If he and Kimball could somehow become effective as starters there would be no need for Grienke.

Posted by: periculum | December 19, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Excellent Non-trade!

A closer, a starting 2B, and who knows what else would have had to go for Grienke. He (Greinke) is a risk - all starting pitchers are risks - I'm not talking anxiety disorders, I mean physical health. If you can sign one as a free agent, then great, go for it - its just money. But if you have to trade away three to four featured players as Phil Wood reports (Zimmermann, Norris, Storen, and Espinosa), it would be a horrible deal.

My guess is Greinke understood what would be given up to get him. At which point his escape from KC would have become a net loss.

An embarrassment? Hardly.

The embarrassment would have been to forfeit such a high price to fill a single need. It would likely have come not only at the price of the prospects, but also at the price of failing to sign Ryan Zimmerman before he hits free agency.

Las Vegas makes a lot of money because stupid people gamble against the odds. The Nationals just made a very good decision not to gamble a sure future for a big payoff that never comes.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 19, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

The Nats are going to yet again lose 100 games if they take the field with the club they have assembled right now, that is a pretty decent bet for one to make in Vegas. Rizzo needs to start actually landing the guys he said he'd get.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 19, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

"The Nationals have come a long way with their farm system. But, as owner Mark Lerner acknowledged this week, it is not yet at the point where they can afford to be swapping swaths of prospects for one impact major leaguer."

It's time to stop the woe-is-us MLB gutted our franchise excuse-making. The reason that the system isn't at that point is because the Nationals' drafting and player development has sucked. That's the reason, pure and simple.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 19, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Well, at least we have the Caps.

Posted by: BobLHead | December 19, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Kind of hard to bust on the Nats if they made a deal with a guy who could turn it down and did. Unless, of course, you just want to criticize everything the team does (and we know who I'm talking about). Rizzo needs to keep plugging away and something will happen.

Posted by: baltova1 | December 19, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

"It's time to stop the woe-is-us MLB gutted our franchise excuse-making. The reason that the system isn't at that point is because the Nationals' drafting and player development has sucked. That's the reason, pure and simple."

However IN POINT OF FACT? The above makes the explanation
"the woe-is-us MLB gutted our franchise." viable does it not?

Look at the Rays and A's from 2004 to today. Look at their farm system? Look at the number of failed top draft picks in the Nats farm system. The damage that Bowden and major league baseball did to this franchise is beyond egregious. Which is why Rizzo also said that in 2006 when he arrived here the situation was worst than that of the new expansion AZ Diamondbacks in their first year?

ITS IMPROVING but still PRETTY BAD people! Its getting thrown in your face just because you now have an aggressive GM who really is working his butt off to improve and contend. Unlike the Bowden, Kasten years its not about spending money is it? INow you see its about trying to make the aggressive move and the players themselves balking at coming to the Nats!! Its likely why Derrick Lee is reluctant to sign ... why they couldn't get Cliff Lee and now Grienke. Why Werth is likely thinking twice about his decision.

Fortunately there is a draft and the right people to make the picks. Think about their situation. If they did lose 100 they might get the top pick again ... which might help the most?
But what they really need is to be in Tampa Bay's position with up to 8 picks near the top. Instead of just 3.

@dfh21, what good is having the money to spend when no one worth a fiddler's damn wants to come to the Nats. Should they spend it on more soft tossers like Pavano. I'd rather see Webb and I bet he too is considering his options before going to the Nats! WHO ARE YOU GOING TO SIGN who will actually come who is going to better than what they currently have? Name them!

Posted by: periculum | December 19, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

What about Nick Johnson at 1st base. He's a slick fieleder, younger than Lee and lefty unlike Lee. He's due for a year where he doesn't get hurt

Posted by: NattyDread2 | December 19, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I cannot blame Rizzo for Grienke not being willing to come here via trade, but I think that Rizzo and the Lerners do take the blame for the Nats not being considered a better place to play than KC.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 19, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

' but I think that ["Rizzo"->replace with Bowden] and the Lerners do take the blame for the Nats not being considered a better place to play than KC.'

Think about it, there used to be a web site named Fire Jim Bowden just for that reason? Was there not?

This is Rizzo's second year with the reigns. First without Kasten involved in personnel decisions. Give the guy a break will ya? Everyone across baseball appears to be reasonably impressed with his energy and aggressiveness. Unlike Bowden HE actually hired a bunch of really smart baseball people to call him out when he might be wrong. Knowing in advance that every baseball decision would be on the razor's edge for this franchise.

What more can the guy do?

Posted by: periculum | December 19, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Guys, it's an embarrassment because Greinke's decision reflects what the league thinks about the Nats -- they stink; they will always lose; they have to over, OVE$R pay to get a FA to come here.

And it's an embarrassment because the Lerners' cheap, amateur managmement over the last four and a half years if the reason the Nats have a reputation as a place you don't want to go.

Posted by: swanni | December 19, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

If the Nats had signed Dunn -- and kept Willingham instead of throwing him away for two middling "prospects" -- Greinke might have wanted to come here.

But those two decisions make the Werth signing look like a one-time PR stunt.

A young, gifted pitcher doesn't want to leave one organization that doesn't keep their best players to go to another one that doesn't keep their best players.

Posted by: swanni | December 19, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo is not returning Adam's call because he HE is embarrassed today.

Posted by: swanni | December 19, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Peric -- His first year without Kasten? How creative are we going to get in terms of rationalizing Rizzo not being able to assemble a roster that passes the laugh test?

Going into his 5th year as an owner Mark Lerner says the farm is still too fragile to move quality players out to get better now and you say that the MLB club is too bad to expect FA's to come here. The excuses for failure run wild.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 19, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo has been involved in picking draft picks for the Nats since 2007.

Posted by: swanni | December 19, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm Mister Positive, but I do recognize that the 2008 and 2009 drafts were not as productive as they were supposed to be (except for Strasburg). The 2010 draft still has an opportunity to be a game-changing good draft with Harper, Solis, Hague, Cole, Ray, Keyes, Martinson, etc....

But Rizzo has still been in charge for less than 24 months. The scouting staff was overhauled in fall 2009. The number of "bad acquisitions" has dropped significantly. There has been no post Bowden Lopez, Dukes, and Milledge.

The universally accepted best way to build a team is pitching, defense, and fundamentals. The current management has the right focus. But there is no time machine that allows you to go back and correct the mistakes of the previous management.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 19, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Past Management? The same management is there.....Lerner Micro Management is responsible for all this mess.

Posted by: JayBeee | December 19, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Natbiscuits, I think that's well said. We are all paying for past mistakes. But some mistakes are on Rizzo's watch, too, albeit likely forced on him by the Lerners's cheap, amateur ways.

Posted by: swanni | December 19, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

swanni do you consider Willingham the equal fo 23 year old Justin Upton? That's Rizzo's model for a left fielder. Not a converted catcher who couldn't find a position because injuries forced him from the position he had trained in in the minors. Willingham is not fast, is not agile, he has a decent throwing arm, he can hit, but can't run the bases well, is a decent OBP machine. And the injuries keep piling up on his 31 year old body.

In other words he is Nick Johnson with a bit more power and a much lower batting average.

Posted by: periculum | December 19, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Consider, please, that the point may not be whose fault it was.

OF COURSE this team is an embarrassment, and a league-wide laughingstock--they haven't been any good at all since the All-Star break of 2005. That stink's not going to go away soon. It won't even go away when they start winning--they'll have to win a lot for that to go away. It's going to take even longer, given the mistakes they've made. But people do make mistakes.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 19, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I am less interested in trying to assess blame than I am trying to say that we should not be content with losing. We are not damned to last place. The fact is that the club can get much better right now.

Rizzo has options all over the place. He can add Hawpe and LaRoche, adding much needed decent LH thump, he can get JJ Putz or the like for late inning work, there are quality bench IF's all over the game for cheap. He can trade less than A level prospects for bad contract front end starting pitching. Etc.

But, I stick to it -- if he cannot sell the Lerners on the need to make the club legitimate now (after all the losing and the club needing to be much better in 2011 in order to be a contender in 2012 when Stras is back), if he cannot add the LH power bat, the front end SP, the bench guys and another closing option beyond Storen -- all of which is doable, then he is not right for the job.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 19, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"if [Rizzo] cannot sell the Lerners on the need to make the club legitimate now (after all the losing and the club needing to be much better in 2011 in order to be a contender in 2012 when Stras is back), if he cannot add the LH power bat, the front end SP, the bench guys and another closing option beyond Storen -- all of which is doable, then he is not right for the job."

I agree, and I have no doubt Rizzo would, too. Question is, how long will you give him, to do that? They don't play a game for several months.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 19, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Again, if by some miracle Rizzo manages to convince Derrick Lee to play first base for the Nats for a couple of years they will then have a line up that should be superior offensively to what they've had the last 4 years or so. Over all younger, faster, more athletic, and better fielders. Unlike Dunn, Lee can hit .300 if he remains injury free and has hit of 30+ homers as recently as 2009. He is a gold glove first baseman. Espinosa at second, Desmond at short, Zimmerman at third. Bernadina, Morgan and Werth. Pudge, Ramos, Flores and Norris are the choices at catcher.

A 3,4,5 of Werth, Zimmerman, and Lee. If Norris were ready they could move him to #2 in the batting order.

The problem is will Lee sign? Otherwise its Morse.

Posted by: periculum | December 19, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm less optimistic than you, Peri, about Lee, but we'll see, one way or another. They're still several players away from significance, nevermind contention, but they're still several months away from baseball, too.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 19, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

@swanni, Rizzo had to fight to ensure that Jordan Zimmermann was high on the draft board so that he could be selected in the supplemental round. It almost sounded like he had to be a bit crafty about it.

That sure doesn't sound to me like Rizzo was running the draft. If he were I doubt you'd see Burgess, Marerro ... but most particularly Colton Willems, Sean Black and Glenn Gibson as the top pitchers drafted in a year. ALL HIGH SCHOOL pitchers. This has Bowden written all over it.

sec3mysofa is right its going to take time to "wipe the stink off". As long as progress is made in the right direction and the Lerners stand behind Rizzo and his staff and don't meddle like Dan Snyder it should all be okay.

Posted by: periculum | December 19, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

There is no way the Nats should give up Zimmerman and others for Grienke. This is a good no-trade. Now it would be nice if they get Pavano by just overpaying for him.

Posted by: cr8oncsu | December 19, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

@dfh21:
Your last paragraph speaks to the truth - This is the time for the club to become "interesting', at the very least.

Acquiring a legitimate 1B, a LH-power hitter, bench strength, and help at the top-end of the SP rotation before the team breaks camp from Viera in March is seen as necessary; Less than that would just be 'treading water' imo.

Posted by: BinM | December 19, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I don't agree with the cheap assessment - never have. Kasten announced the Lerner/Kasten intention from the very first day saying "they'll call you cheap bastards". But it was born in the belief that you build the farm system before you start spending. They did; and they are. It just took longer than best case scenarios would have dictated. Best case scenarios seldom happen. And this is far from worst case scenario (see: Pirates, Pittsburgh).

Had the Lerners spent heavy in 2008 and 2009 they would have only succeeded in forfeiting draft position. They are building a franchise that will have an opportunity to be very good for a very long time. That is the magic of having a government job infused economy. Once you are good, you can probably stay good. But you have to build the foundation first.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 19, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Sec3 -- I give Rizzo until ST starts. Plenty of time to make very significant changes to the roster.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 19, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

"I'm less optimistic than you, Peri, about Lee, but we'll see, one way or another. They're still several players away from significance, nevermind contention, but they're still several months away from baseball, too."

If they finish dead last (hard to do this year) they might have be able to trade Ryan Zimmerman while his value was insanely high. Anthony Rendon is out there.

However, because of the "stink" and the dearth of high picks compared to teams like the TB Rays and a still mediocre to weak farm system they are still trying to swim after treading water for so very long.

Posted by: periculum | December 19, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Peri - Rizzo was wrong to let Dunn and Willingham go; it makes the Nats look cheap and/or in rebuilding mode. If they had kept them, Greinke probably would have come aboard willingly.

Posted by: swanni | December 19, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Sec3 -- I give Rizzo until ST starts. Plenty of time to make very significant changes to the roster.
Posted by: dfh21 | December 19, 2010 4:16 PM
************************
Seriously, can we hold you to that?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 19, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I think Rizzo is a very good judge of talent, but he's a long way from being a good manager. His lack of experience as a GM is really showing this off-season.

Posted by: swanni | December 19, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Swanni, I don't agree it makes them look cheap to any knowledgeable baseball people, and you can't possibly know that about Greinke.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 19, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

USA Today says O's about to sign LaRoche.

Another one bites the dust...

Posted by: swanni | December 19, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo, rightly or not, is using a system, and Dunn and Willingham don't fit into it. It may or may not work, but it's an actual plan, not a PR move.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 19, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

A lineup with Zim, Dunn, Werth and Willingham headed by an ace like Greinke would have been a playoff contender.

Posted by: swanni | December 19, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Right now, the Nats' payroll is in the low to mid 40s.

If that's the plan, count me out.

Posted by: swanni | December 19, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Derrick Lee, OTOH -- he fit it just fine, five or six years ago. But he's better than what they have. I would have preferred the lefty, but Keith Hernandez ain't out there.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 19, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

@dfh21:
Your last paragraph speaks to the truth - This is the time for the club to become "interesting', at the very least.

Acquiring a legitimate 1B, a LH-power hitter, bench strength, and help at the top-end of the SP rotation before the team breaks camp from Viera in March is seen as necessary; Less than that would just be 'treading water' imo.

Posted by: BinM | December 19, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

"A lineup with Zim, Dunn, Werth and Willingham headed by an ace like Greinke would have been a playoff contender."

No, it would not. Not even .500.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 19, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

OK, maybe .500. But only maybe.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 19, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Sec3 -- and a .500 team in 2011 with Strasburg and maybe Harper coming in 2012?

Tell me that wouldn't have gotten you excited?

Posted by: swanni | December 19, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

The payroll as of now is about $41.5MM (per Cots: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tsCEGKNVcxttZHoBc2O6q0w&output=html),
but that's for 11 guys.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 19, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

The off-season isn't over, ok, but our options are getting fewer every day. And Rizzo's lack of GM experience is a big problem.

Don't get me wrong. I am happy that Rizzo is the GM, but he's not as smart as he thinks he is. He should have kept some of the valuable pieces he had instead of trying to draw to an inside straight.

Posted by: swanni | December 19, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Adam said that the Nats' payroll was about 40-41M -- before the Werth and Willingham moves. Werth is getting $10 million next year and Josh received $4.8M in 2010. Do the math and the payroll is around $45-46M.

Posted by: swanni | December 19, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm excited anyway, just not about this team.

They were .500 in 2005, and for the first half of that, yes, I was excited.

FWIW, I don't think Strasburg will be fully healthy by 2012, and I don't think Harper will be ready then either.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 19, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

A lineup with Zim, Dunn, Werth and Willingham headed by an ace like Greinke would have been a playoff contender.
Posted by: swanni
----------------
More like might have been a playoff contender. With Grienke on board, the Nationals could have been in a scrum for 2nd or 3rd with ATL, FLA, or NYM. Without Greinke, it looks like a scramble to get out of 5th.

Grienke 'kicked the deal to the curb', so the team has to move on.

Posted by: BinM | December 19, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

@Swanni...you haven't changed. You knew nothing about baseball when you used to post, here and you haven't learned anything, since.

1. Dunn was, is, and always will be an American League player. He never had a natural position and never will (well, except DH). I was one of those hollering to sign him the last game of last year. Then I thought about it. The Nats offered more than any other NL club would for 3 years (let's remember that we were the only ones making an offer two years ago.) The Os offered roughly $1M more for four years than the Nats did for 3. Sox made a good deal, but only because he could be put at DH.

2. Grienke is probably close to a #1 and somewhat better than Zmnn, but not enough to mortgage the future. Assuming that he does have a measurable anxiety disorder, is he the kind of starter you want on the mound 3 times a year in Phila and 3 times a year in NYC? I don't think so. OTOH, Milwaukee (AKA North Side Chicago, Lite) is perfect. He knows the AL Central. Except for the White Sox, all of the cities are relatively small, and all have non-violent fanbases. Also, the Brewers were perfectly willing to "go all in." Presumably, Fielder is a short termer. If they are still in the race at trade deadline, they keep him and either pay him, long term or let him go as part of a rebuilding process. If they are out of it (likely), they trade him, probably for prospects.

By the way, Swanni, you do realize that each of the 29 other teams has a general manager, who is trying to accomplish, essentially, the same thing that Rizzo is.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | December 19, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

mikecatcher --

Spot on. Some people here talk like Rizzo is the only GM out there and every player can be picked up with little to no hassle.
This isn't your fantasy league, folks, and none of the other teams are using the autodraft. Not only that, there is a difference between putting together a team and building an organization. If you can't see it, we can't help you.

Posted by: mjhoya12 | December 20, 2010 12:21 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure the Pollyana role fits me? Apparently, I seem to be the only one?

I see a farm system vastly improved. Vastly. Just looking at the updated draft tracker on NationalProspects.com (used to be Brian Oliver all kudos and hosanas to its originator) with those pretty green outlines indicating draft picks signed. So many more picks signed as compared to those prevevious to Mike Rizzo? Beyond that I see prospects excelling at a level and getting promoted. I see prospects coming to the majors and becoming major trade bait? As far as I can tell that never happened before? Did it?

I look at the major league roster and I see a consistent, persistent, inexorable movement toward power pitchers and five tool position players. Guys with speed and athleticism who can play their positions. I keep looking to see if Justin Upton is in left field?

I THINK they are moving in the right direction. The major hole still lies in starting rotation. I think first base is covered. But its Rizzo who believe otherwise. BinM looking at Derrick Lee's stats do you really think they need a power LH bat if they sign him? If he performs as he has has in the recent past at age 34 they don't . If he doesn't they still have Michael Morse.

Bench? He has already been hard at work BinM? Hasn't he? Bixler plus Matt Atonelli in AAA look like a pretty good start to me? They are young and have the physical tools don't they? Corey Brown looks a lot better than both Bernadina and Maxwell. HRod made it easier for Rizzo to consider trading Storen.

Nothing is perfect but I really like the direction the team is taking. But the reality is that if they had the Rays 11 potential draft picks they would be sitting pretty for 2012 and 2013. Instead they will only get 3. That to me hurts more than anything else given the situation.

Posted by: periculum | December 20, 2010 12:41 AM | Report abuse

For us old Senators fans, it's worth noting that former Washington 3B/RF Buddy Lewis, who's 94 and was one of many who lost his prime to WWII, is now the only surviving MLB player who debuted as early as 1935. He gave the Nationals (as they were officialy known then) 10 good years and hit .297 for his career. A 2-time all-star, 12 years apart.

God speed, Buddy!

Posted by: nats24 | December 20, 2010 1:15 AM | Report abuse

@Catcher50,

You still think you know everything and MIL is still in the NL central with the Cubs....and you still are a self created know it all who really does not know much at all.

I like what Rizzo is trying to do but the failures of the last 5 years and the continued Micro Management of Lerners is going to make his job impossible in the short run. That is too bad. Nats did not need to become loser town. 2007, 2008 and 2009 were completely avoidable and the cost is higher than the benefit of drafting SS and Harper. Just look at other teams who drafted later and better....Giants did not need first pick to get Buster or those pitchers. Lerner created this failure and they still are the driving reason Rizoo can not get the team out of the dumpster.

Posted by: JayBeee | December 20, 2010 5:29 AM | Report abuse

It would be great if they could get Lee or LaRoche signed before Christmas. Pitchers will really have to work to get past Zimmerman, Lee, and Werth in the lineup - a lot of pitches. I'm also looking forward to watching losts of Desi-Lee productions on the 6-3.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 20, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Pants claims he's creating all this inventory, but he doesn't want to deal any of it. Marky's giving him coverage saying that 'every deal includes J Zimmermann'. Right. A lot of insiders said that Milwaukee didn't give up all that much, just numbers (of players), so it's not like a lot of other teams could have done the same thing. Of course, you have the no-trade clause, but Greinke had one with Milwaukee too.
Pants also doesn't see the need to sign people to substantial contracts, which in turn screws him if he wants to trade a major league talent. Nobody wants a player who's not under contract, there's too much uncertainty. You don't see any of his 'talent' getting pre-arbitration deals for guaranteed money as a trade off to saving a year or two of arbitration. Hell no - all the guys under their control are for the minimum, which means maybe they're really not all that great/cannot be included in packages because they're cheap and 'untouchable' for the Nats. It looks like the Werth deal was a Lerner/Boras maneuver, and Pants doesn't look to sign anybody for more than a year or two at most. He's just waiting for his genius drafts to come to fruition. Or he's just waiting for Stras and Harper to save him, which I think is the only thing he's got on his mind. They've already thrown away 2011, and outside of getting what's left of Strasburg and a rookie Harper, there ain't much happening for '12 either.

Posted by: Brue | December 20, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Pantsfan, I mean Brue - spin it all you want to make Rizzo look bad, Grienke didn't want to come here. Period. There was nothing he could do. I swear you'll blame Rizzo for the opening day weather.

And what is this major league talent you want locked up for years and years? LaRoche? Morgan? Lee? Hudson? Instead of using broad brushstrokes to paint the team this way why don't you point out specific players you'd like to be signed to these long term contracts.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | December 20, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Peri,

I here what your saying and I agree. Although Justin Upton make sense, I think Grady Sizemore would be a better fit. I would also be ok with a platoon of Flores and Morse, at first. If you platoon Flores it could give his shoulder more rest.

Posted by: hansenjo | December 20, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

They added Werth, nothing else that can be expected to stick to the roster thus far.

The club may be moving in the right direction but the speed at which it is moving is glacial, and for a club that has as its best season going .500 6 years ago and just having finised last for the third straight time, that is just not acceptable. Management cannot shove yet another dead men walking on Opening Day roster of Nats down our throats in 2011.

This is Rizzo's third hot stove, the Lerners are coming into the 5th season of spinning the performance gauge and having it land on either Cheap or Dumb (often times, both) 98% of the time. Subtract Dunn and Willingham and add Werth and a crap shoot Wang is not nearly enough. They need to step it up.

They need LH power, front end starter, back end bull pen arm and some bench help) and those need to be players who can really play, not Odalis's, D'Mitri's or Elijah's. They have the money to get pieces they very much need, there is no excuse for them not to put a club on the field that has a chance come April. No excuses.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 20, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

"who were unwilling to give up young starter Jordan Zimmermann, according to the Washington Post. "

=============

hahahahahahahaha Keep those DAMAGED GOODS....and have your EXCUSES when you finish DEAD LAST...102 losses.....and go 400 over 4.....

Get better? PERISH the Thought !!!!!!

Posted by: GRIMReaper55 | December 20, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

>Instead of using broad brushstrokes to paint the team this way why don't you point out specific players you'd like to be signed to these long term contracts.

Posted by: SCNatsFan

Small-minded approach - go on all day and argue about this player over that player. Like it's a fantasy league. Useless. That's what fans do. You need to pay more attention instead of getting upset. All you have to do is look at how they dish out their contracts, and you'll see why they're at a huge disadvantage when it comes to making trades. It's self-inflicted.

Posted by: Brue | December 20, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Nationals To Sign Rick Ankiel

Posted by: twinbrook | December 20, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

It's like the old joke:
Q: How bad are the Nationals?
A: So bad that players invoke no-trade clauses NOT to go there! (Ba DUM)

It wouldn't surprise me at all if this is true. The talk about not being willing to trade our great prospects is just the same old BS from the Nats.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 20, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

It's like the old joke:
Q: How bad are the Nationals?
A: So bad that players invoke no-trade clauses NOT to go there! (Ba DUM)

It wouldn't surprise me at all if this is true. The talk about not being willing to trade our great prospects is just the same old BS from the Nats.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 20, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Can you blame a talented pitcher for not wanting to come to Nats Town and play for the Natinals? He's played in the minor leagues in KC for years and would be taking another huge step back here in DC where they are destined to be in the cellar and lose 100 games for another 5 years.

Posted by: jwing14 | December 20, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I Am also glad they didn't make the trade that was rumored. BUT...

J Zimmerman has not YET impressed me like others. He had not showed himself to be better than a #4 or #5 Starter. Can someone set me straight on this? Maybe I missed somehting. I Do remember he had a near no hitter once. He has had a couple of real nice outings otherwise...average.

Posted by: frediemac1 | December 20, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

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