Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
On Twitter: AdamKilgoreWP and PostSports  |  Facebook  |  E-mail alerts: Sports and Redskins  |  RSS
Posted at 1:58 PM ET, 01/12/2011

Mike Rizzo's roster overhaul

By Adam Kilgore

One of the most overlooked yet telling aspects of the Nationals' offseason is this: Only four players from the 2009 opening day roster remain in the organization. Ryan Zimmerman, John Lannan, Jesus Flores and Alberto Gonzalez. A superstar, a member of their rotation, a catcher who will compete to begin 2010 in the majors and a backup infielder. That's it.

Jim Bowden basically handed that 2009 team to Mike Rizzo in the wake of Bowden's resignation. Rizzo, then, has used this winter to finish an almost complete overhaul of the Nationals' major league roster since he first grabbed the reins, then as the interim general manager.

The full-scale change dating back to when Rizzo began running the Nationals is pretty remarkable. Unless the Nationals choose to re-sign Willie Harris as their 25th man, 21 of the 25 players on the active roster will have been acquired or promoted to the big leagues under Rizzo's watch. In a short period of time, Rizzo has made the Nationals his team.

Rizzo jettisoned most of the team he inherited from Bowden last year, but he continued this offseason. The Nationals didn't re-sign Adam Dunn, traded Josh Willingham and didn't tender contracts to Wil Nieves or Scott Olsen.

The change to the Nationals' opening day starting lineup, even compared to last year, will be stark. Out are Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, Harris and Adam Kennedy. In are Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Danny Espinosa and either Michael Morse, Roger Bernadina or Rick Ankiel. At least half of the Nationals' starting position players will have changed.

It may be an obvious point that Rizzo has made widespread alterations to the Nationals' roster. But it also seems worth pointing out, from the long view, just how complete of an overhaul the Nationals have undergone under Rizzo. The Nationals, losers of 298 games over the past three seasons, have become acquainted with the challenge of scrubbing off a reputation for losing. While the stigma may persist, the players who created it do not.

By Adam Kilgore  | January 12, 2011; 1:58 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Mariners sign Adam Kennedy
Next: Frank Robinson out of hospital after health scare at baseball's owners meetings

Comments

Unfortunately this "overhauled" roster will be lucky to win 70 games.

Posted by: DixonTheDog | January 12, 2011 2:32 PM | Report abuse

You know, if you couple this analysis with the fact that the 2011 minor leagues have more potentially useful players than did the 2009 farm system, and it becomes hard to reconcile with the folks who say Rizzo has done nothing to improve the franchise.

Posted by: advocate2 | January 12, 2011 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I, on the other hand, looking at the same revamped roster say (subject to a review of said roster, after ST but before OD) say it will win 79 games.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | January 12, 2011 2:39 PM | Report abuse

You seem to see the Nationals only keeping two of the three outfielders competing for one spot--left field. My assumption is that they keep them all with Morse filling in at 1B some of the time, and Ankiel, Bernadina, Morgan and Morse sharing two positions with Morgan and Morse getting the most atbats of the four. But they will keep all three coming out of spring training.

What seems more unlikely is that they carry three catchers. I don't know whether Flores can start the season at Syracuse without having to pass through waivers, but despite his work in Winter Ball, he could probably still use some conditioning. The problem area is having three catchers, not five outfielders, one who can play first and shortstop in a pinch.

Posted by: Juliasdad | January 12, 2011 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo certainly could not have stayed the course with what he was given. He had no choice but to revamp the team in light of the poor record for the past few years. What I like about Rizzo is that he does seem to have an overall plan for the team and is not just there making flashy deals to impress people. He has put a personal mark on the organization and has built a much better defense, equal offense, but the Nats still have very questionable pitching. I'm confident that he will solve this piece as well.

Washington has the potential to be a strong major market team (large, relatively wealthy urban area with lots of corporations) in an area starving for a winner. With the 'Skins and Wizards down and likely to stay that way for a period, the Nats have an opportunity to really get Washington excited about baseball if the team is competitive this year, given the promise of Strasburg and Harper. If they don't start to win soon, however, the fan base will continue to decline to the hardy few of us who are happy to have a team.

Posted by: JamesFan2 | January 12, 2011 2:44 PM | Report abuse

It most certainly is Rizzo's team now, and I wish I thought it would be a better one than I expect it to be. Sadly, I tend to agree with many of dfh21's points in the prior thread, although I am not quite as pessimistic as he. Errors should be down, but so will runs. We got no SP, Rizzo's self identified greatest need. He tried but couldn't get them to come (because we have not built it under the Lerner's parsimonious reign, imo). The team is changed from last season, but I am not confident that it will be much better. I do hope I am wrong.

Posted by: NatsFly | January 12, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I think 79 wins would be an outstanding accomplishment. I also think it is possible. I assume that the overhaul isn't finished and that we will see other SP's before ST is complete. It may be the case that better defense makes fewer runs a wash.

Posted by: fpcsteve27 | January 12, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Bowden-- Last place NL East.
Kasten-- Last place NL East.
Rizzo-- Last place NL East.

Meet the new team. Same as the old team.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | January 12, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

"Meet the new team. Same as the old team."

Just like the Skins, without the long history that should have resulted in them knowing better.

Posted by: mike8 | January 12, 2011 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Look at the overhaul in the manager/coaching staff since 2009 too. Of the group that started 2009, only Riggleman and Eckstein remain. And Riggleman was bench coach then, not manager.

Posted by: FeelWood | January 12, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo can turn out the light, overhaul the roster and get into bed before Willie Harris goes dark.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 12, 2011 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Pitching, Pitching, Pitching. Until the Nats obtain 3-4 legit starters, they will be sub 500. Doesn't matter who are playing the other positions.

Posted by: fearturtle44 | January 12, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Willy Aybar or Julio Lugo

Posted by: db423 | January 12, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Meet the new team. Same as the old team.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | January 12, 2011 3:19 PM

Meet the new post. Same as the old post.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | January 12, 2011 4:00 PM | Report abuse

At least we all can agree: SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES!

Posted by: trezmartin | January 12, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

The Nats have been turning over the roster every two years since they got here.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | January 12, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

One would hope that the club would change-out a lot of players on a historically bad club. The Bucs have had similar roster changes, as have the Mariners, Marlins and Padres, for example.

The question is will the assembly of players Rizzo gives us this spring be able to win -- I don't care if the players have been here for years or whether they show up tomorrow, I want them all to play well.

I think that the club is much better now than last year, but they have a ways to go to be legit. A healthy Marquis alone is a big addition -- we can look to that guy for 180 innings, only Livan threw that many last year for us. I am thinking that the keys to the club's success will be getting quality innings from the SP, Desmond making the plays at SS (he should hit well), Mogran playing a lot closer to the 2009 version than the 2010 version of himself, the bull pen shutting clubs down and Espinosa's all around game. The Nats could get lucky on several fronts and shine, but it is very hard to get lucky on starting pitching in any kind of big way when you don't have healthy talent.

Rizzo needs to go get someone who can start ahead of Livan. He cannot be our Opening Day guy if the club is going to have a shot at playing .500 ball. And they need someoen more reliable than Storen to potentially close. They can get some guys. I am excited to see who they land.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 12, 2011 4:29 PM | Report abuse

What a terrible overhaul... who will be this years scapegoat? Now that Manny Acta is gone and Adam Dunn is gone, I suppose it will be Nyjer Morgan, right? But definitely not Rizzo, right? I'm out on Rizzo.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | January 12, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

PowerBoater is exactly right. The question, then, is how many players on last years' opening day roster are guys you can see keeping for more than a year, as opposed to this years' presumed opening day roster. If the number is up, we're making progress. If not, not.

Discuss.

Posted by: TomServo | January 12, 2011 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Jamesfanman2. Rizzo appears to have an overall vision and plan that he is executing. The defense and team speed have substantially improved. All the knuckleheads Bowden brought to DC (hello Miledge and Dukes oy vey) are gone. Tony Plush became a bipolar knucklehead last year and I would not be surprised to see Ankiel start in CF. SP is still very weak and needs help, but the bullpen looks strong. I trust Rizzo's vision and talent. I expect a 10 game improvement in 2011 and a breakout in 2012.

Posted by: wcfanman | January 12, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

"Bowden-- Last place NL East.
Kasten-- Last place NL East.
Rizzo-- Last place NL East.

Meet the new team. Same as the old team."

Typical rather ignorant-of-baseball deadskins fan.
Same as the old fan.

Posted by: periculum | January 12, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse

" But definitely not Rizzo, right? I'm out on Rizzo."

We'll just see won't we? I'm taking down names. Prepare for it, I will be absolutely insufferable when Rizzo turns out to be right and most of you flat out wrong! Sigh, DC fair weather deadskins fans.

~rubbing hands gleefully~ I can't wait!

Posted by: periculum | January 12, 2011 4:42 PM | Report abuse

On the Nots catcher surplus, I would not be surprised to see Pudge traded - perhaps not until July when his value will spike - and the Nats going forward with Ramos and a (presumably) healthy Flores. A July trade would give Jesus time to play into shape at AAA and assume backup duties when Pudge is traded, hopefully for a stellar pitching prospect.

Posted by: wcfanman | January 12, 2011 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo needs to go get someone who can start ahead of Livan. He cannot be our Opening Day guy if the club is going to have a shot at playing .500 ball. And they need someoen more reliable than Storen to potentially close. They can get some guys. I am excited to see who they land.

Posted by: dfh21

Well, you can write off two more pitchers....Penny to Detroit, Farnsworth to Tampa - each for around $3M. Stay the course, Pants. We waited years and we finally got it - Pants in HD.

Suck on it and like it.

Posted by: Brue | January 12, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

"Pitching, Pitching, Pitching. Until the Nats obtain 3-4 legit starters, they will be sub 500."

Finally, an enlightened comment? That's the one thing the Nats did not turnover every two years @powerboater. The pitching after 2005-2006. Mostly it was dumpster diving and waiting for high school kids like Josh Smoker, McGreary (off at college and now with TJ) and Colton Willems.

They have SP, just no one with a solid major league record of accomplishment outside of Livo.

I expect Maya will perform as expected. After that it is hoping that JZimmnn and Detwiler finally live up to their potential. And Marquis to his 7.5 million contract. Then its Lannan at #5 and Livo in Batista's old spot. And that one of the others decides to step up or be winnowed out.

Posted by: periculum | January 12, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

"Suck on it and like it.
Posted by: Brue "

Like I said I'm taking names ... and checking them twice ... gonna find out who's ...

Posted by: periculum | January 12, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

One thins is for certain, the Natinals will get swept by the O's in interleague play and the O's will outdraw the Natinals (in terms of TV ratings) in the DC/Metro area.

Posted by: DixonTheDog | January 12, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Again, let's start with right field? The position everyone was all lathered up about last year?

Jayson Werth, Corey Brown (top 50 prospect), Roger Bernadina, Bryce Harper (#1 prospect in all of baseball), Michael Burgess, Destin Hood.

Last year wasn't it?: Elijah Dukes, Michael Burgess, Destin Hood.

110% improvement.

Sheesh.

Posted by: periculum | January 12, 2011 4:54 PM | Report abuse

In 2006 the Nats used 13 different players in the outfield. Only 1 of those 13 played with the Nats in 2008 (Kearns).
In 2006 the Nats used 10 different players in the infield. Only 3 of those played for the Nats in 2008 (RZ, FLop, NJ).
In 2006 the Nats used 5 different players ar catcher. None of those played for the Nats in 2008.
In 2006 the Nats used 29 different players as pitchers (Read that again!). Only 6 of those played for the Nats in 2008 (Bergman, Chief, Hill, Big John, Rivera, Schroder).

57 guys in 2006, only 9 of which played for the team 2 years later.

None of this mean anything, except to say that PowerBoater69 and dfh21 are kinda right.

The Nats have been turning over the roster every two years since they got here.

One would hope that the club would change-out a lot of players on a historically bad club.


Posted by: Sunderland | January 12, 2011 4:55 PM | Report abuse

How about this quote?

"I really like our roster. We have added youth and athleticism. We can already see for next year that we will have a young, athletic, speedy team to go along with an above-average defensive team."

Rizzo, prior to the 2011 season?
Nope.
Stan Kasten, prior to 2009.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 12, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I would be happy with 75 wins. I wish it were easy to set the bar higher, but the rest of the NL East has improved, too.

Still, it's not being overly optimistic to believe that:
1. The Nats will get close to 200 innings and 10 wins out of both Marquis and Lannan.
2. Livo will also throw 200+ innings.
3. Maya and JZimm will be reliable starters.
4. Storen, with a year under his belt, will be better.
5. Burnett and Clippard will be reliable out of the 'pen.

Sure, I would like to get one good starter, but if they don't, the pitching is still a solid bet to be better than in '10.

Posted by: nats24 | January 12, 2011 5:05 PM | Report abuse

"One thins is for certain, the Natinals will get swept by the O's in interleague play and the O's will outdraw the Natinals (in terms of TV ratings) in the DC/Metro area."

I think it more likely that Deputy Dog will arrest Dixon the Dog for public urination on a blog.

Posted by: periculum | January 12, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I think it's been a fairly productive and encouraging offseason, so I don't come to complain much, but I would point out that we've basically moved the three headed right fielder of last year to left and replaced Willie Harris with Rick Ankiel. I think we're much better in right,stronger I hope at second and probably worse in left and at first then we were when the season ended, allowing for improved defense in both places (at least as to Bernadina).

Posted by: Arkymark | January 12, 2011 5:11 PM | Report abuse

"Rizzo needs to go get someone who can start ahead of Livan. He cannot be our Opening Day guy if the club is going to have a shot at playing .500 ball. And they need someone more reliable than Storen to potentially close. They can get some guys. I am excited to see who they land."

I strongly suspect that Rizzo would concur.

I think I would pick Jon Rauch if he were willing to come back to the Nats. Adding another veteran arm to the left side that can close. With HRod and Ramirez, Kimball and Carr they have plenty of possibilities in the 'pen.

As far as that starter. If its not Zimmermann (probably not because as many have observed he will probably have his innings limited) it might have to be Maya, winner of the Dominican League pitcher of the year. They may have to live without a power pitcher at the top of the rotation due to both innings limits plus lack of experience. I foresee a rotation with power pitching toward the back end and Maya, Marquis and Lannan toward the front.

I still expect to see Livo in Batista's old role as innings eater.

Posted by: periculum | January 12, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

It's not even two weeks into the new year and O's Trolls are already out on the list...

Posted by: bromisky | January 12, 2011 5:23 PM | Report abuse

"probably worse in left and at first then we were when the season ended, allowing for improved defense in both places (at least as to Bernadina)."

If Morse wins the job; he is younger, just might drive in close to 100 runs, while hitting around 25-30 homers. Its the gap power I am concerned with as his doubles (12) and triples (2) total was below his home run (15) total. His fielding ought to match up pretty well with Willingham's and he has a better arm. He should hit for a much higher average, decent OBP and a better OPS.

Bernadina looks like the fourth outfielder and does not have the stamina to play every day.

I still expect Corey Brown to replace Nyjer Morgan. Its not just the hitting its the fielding and the arm. Brown has a plus, plus arm and is likely the better fielder.

Posted by: periculum | January 12, 2011 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Remember until they banished Dukes nothing bad was said about him; I expect Morgan is in the same boat, peform in spring training or start working oin your post career job. One thing you can give Rizzo credit for is keeping things close to the vest; for that reason I'm not worried there isn't much buzz about a third tier (Farnsworth, Penny) pitcher coming here brcause we wouldn't know until the press conference.

One thing that could push Morhgan to the door is Brown showing he can handle the job; with all his issues on and off the field I can't believe management will tolerate much more from an ordinary Morgan, and at his best last year he was ordinary.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | January 12, 2011 5:39 PM | Report abuse

peric, I want Brown to win the job, even more so, I want Brown to really have a chance to win the job, but I don't see Rizzo letting that happen. He'll want Brown playing everyday, so Brown only makes the club if they are willing to rid them selves of Nyjer. And they are not ready to rid themselves of Nyjer. So Brown on the opening day roster is a pipe dream. (but my pipe dream too)

Morse might hit 25 - 30 and drive in 100. He also is just as likely to hit .240 and endure prolonged slumps. He's also unlikely to get more AB's in April and May than Bernadina. It's Bernie's job to lose.

"Bernadina does not have the stamina to play every day"
Where in the world did that come from?

You think the outfield is going to primarily be Morse, Brown and Werth, with 2 left handed OF bench players (pick from Ankiel, Bernadina, Nyjer)?

Never.

Bernadina, Morgan and Werth, with Morse and Ankiel on the bench and Corey Brown somewhere further north of here.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 12, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

People who criticize the roster overhaul seem to have a short memory. The organization that came to DC was only the shell of an organization. We can thank MLB for causing its farm system to fall into disrepair. Frank Robinson was the primary reason the Nats were respectable initially -- the team over-achieved while suffering from a serious talent deficit. Frank Robinson never got the credit he deserved. The Nats are developing a nice core of young, talented starting pitching that's starting to come of age. Aren't many of these guys 1st round draft choices? By tightening the team's infield defense, that's only going to help the Nats' young pitchers develop. The retooled bullpen is only going to settle down our young pitchers. The Nats may be 2-3 years out before we can expect them to contend, but the team is being built to win for the long-haul.

Posted by: dannykurland1 | January 12, 2011 5:43 PM | Report abuse

>>I will be absolutely insufferable when Rizzo turns out to be right and most of you flat out wrong! rubbing hands gleefully~Posted by: periculum

P, you got me all wrong. I hope to high heavens I am wrong and you and Mr. Rizzo are right. You think I enjoy watching a loser year after year after year. From your mouth to Gods ears. I truely hope you are right and the Nats finally break out. Unfortunately I just don't see it. History is unfortunately on my side, along with Riggleman coaching and absolutely no pitching. But please prove me wrong. I would be the happiest guy in the upper deck behind 3rd base!!

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | January 12, 2011 5:55 PM | Report abuse

To add to PowerBoater and Sunderland's claims, the Nats had just five players on the 2009 Opening Day roster that suited up for the team on Opening Day 2007: Belliard, Flores, Guzman, Kearns, and Zimmerman.

None among the Opening Day rotation were on the Opening Day roster in 2009. Two (John Patterson and Jerome Williams) were out of baseball two years later. Bergmann, who didn't break camp with the big club, was later recalled.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 12, 2011 6:09 PM | Report abuse

>>Nyjer Morgan

Rizzo has indeed cleansed the Nats of Team Bowden. But Rizzo hasn't admitted to any mistakes himself. However jettisoning Crazy Nyjer would be admission of a personal failure on Rizzo and a completely wasted acquisition. Not sure he's ready to do that. And since we all know Riggleman has no backbone when it comes to Morgan, don't see anything changing there.

And BTW peeps, when you're making your assessments and prognostications for the upcoming season, don't forget this major
problem with the upcoming year, one Mr. DoubleSwitch Riggleman.
Manager does matter. BigTime!
And unfortunately we got one o the worst in the game.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | January 12, 2011 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I can't wait for this team to start winning, probably in the next couple years. Then all the morons will turn into bandwagoners - just like what happened with the Caps.

I also like how people just assume that these Nats will score fewer runs than the 2010 club - who finished 25th in MLB in that category. As periculum says, we shall see. Rizzo is building the franchise on defense, speed, desire and gap hitting. They don't have the juice snap their fingers and acquire starting pitchers yet. We shall see.

Posted by: Kev29 | January 12, 2011 6:26 PM | Report abuse

"But please prove me wrong. I would be the happiest guy in the upper deck behind 3rd base!!"

Its all about pitching ... still, looking at

right field:

Jayson Werth[all star], Roger Bernadina, Rick Ankiel, Justin Maxwell | minors | Corey Brown [top 25-50 prospect], Bryce Harper [#1 prospect in baseball] Michael Burgess, Destin Hood.

center field:

Nyjer Morgan, Jayson Werth, Roger Bernadina, Rick Ankiel, Justin Maxwell | minors | Corey Brown [top 25-50 prospect], Eury Perez [top 100 prospect], Chirs Curran, Bryce Harper [#1 prospect in baseball]

left field:
Michael Morse, Roger Benandina, Rick Ankiel, Justin Maxwell | minors | Corey Brown [top 25-50 prospect], Michael Burgess, Destin Hood, JP Ramirez.

third base:
Ryan Zimmerman [all star], A. Gonzalez, M. Morse | minors | Stephen Souza, Stephen King, Tim Pahuta(?).

short stop:
Ian Desmond, D. Espinosa [top 100 prospect], A Gonazlez | minors | Brian Bixler, Josh Johnson, Rick Hague, Adrian Sanchez

second base:
D. Espinosa [top 100 prospect], A Gonzalez | minors | Josh Johson, S. Lombardozzi, Jeff Kobernus

first base:
A LaRoche, M. Morse | minors | C. Marerro [top 100 prospect], M. Aubrey, T. Moore, Justin Bloxom.

catcher: Pudge Rodriguez, W. Ramos [top 50 prospect], J. Flores | minors | D. Norris [top 50 prospect], Sandy Leon, David Freitas.

RP: D. Storen, H Rodriguez [top 50 prospect], T. Clippard, S. Burnette, D. Slaten, E. Ramirez, C. Stammen, R. Mattheus | minors| A. Carr, C Kimball, etc.

SP: {the most questionable}
Y. Maya [top 50 prospect], J. Zimmermann, R. Detwiler, J. Marquis [all star], J. Lannan, L. Hernandez, G. Mock, Martin, Atilano, Broderick, Martis, Wang | minors | Barthmaier, Allen, Tatusko, Peacock, Milone, Chico, Arneson, Mandel.

Posted by: periculum | January 12, 2011 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Kev29 -- They do have the ability to snap their fingers and acquire starting pitching, well kind of. All they have to do is pay through the nose for it. And they have loads of money in their nose to do it.

Think about it, they did not need Werth in RF (as someone pointed out above, Bernadina, Harper, Burgess, etc., already in the locker room) at $126M but they needed De la Rosa at whatever extra it was going to take to lure him away from the Rockies (maybe a third guaranteed year, or an extra $2M or so each for the two years he got). They did not want him enough to overpay to the point of making it a no-brainer for the guy to take the DC money (like they did with Werth).

Maybe they were right not to go the extra mile to get De la Rosa, but they could have had him if they had really wanted him.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 12, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

For 2011, the Nats will finish with a record of 75 - 87, but I'm taking the over on W's.

Posted by: ImWithStupid | January 12, 2011 6:48 PM | Report abuse

peric - A slight correction (and comments) from your 4:54 post...

IIRC, it was Dukes, Bernardina, Taveras, Morse, Harris, Burgess in RF going into Spring Training in 2010. Hood was buried in minor-league camp. While Harris was the O.D. RF, Bernadina & Morse had the majority of playing time there in 2010. So, the team has shifted their RF combo from 2010 to LF entering 2011. The gross exchange is Willingham, Harris & Taveras out, Werth, Ankiel, Harper & Brown in.

Werth & the promise of Harper makes the net exchange a plus; Ankiel is Harris, with less speed, but Brown is basically unproven above AA levels, and will likely start the year in SYR. Burgess may advance to SYR sometime this season, while Hood is still untested at the A+ level.

The Nationals orginization is re-developing depth, through both trades & drafts, and it's OK to have your favorites; Just don't fall into the "Bowden-Kasten" trap of 'over-hyping' minor-league ballplayers into more than they currently are.

Posted by: BinM | January 12, 2011 6:53 PM | Report abuse

"Kev29 -- They do have the ability to snap their fingers and acquire starting pitching, well kind of. All they have to do is pay through the nose for it. And they have loads of money in their nose to do it."

Prospects ... not salary. Try to be clear about that please?

They offered the moon and the stars to Grienke and Cliff Lee. What makes you think they didn't do the same with De La Rosa.

If makes you wonder if some people are in the business of rewriting history to make it fit with their dim view of the franchise. Its extremely unfortunate to say the least.

Posted by: periculum | January 12, 2011 6:56 PM | Report abuse

"The Nationals orginization is re-developing depth, through both trades & drafts, and it's OK to have your favorites; Just don't fall into the "Bowden-Kasten" trap of 'over-hyping' minor-league ballplayers into more than they currently are."

I don't think that I am. The evidence seems to point to greater and broader depth down into the minors ... even at the AAA level where the AAA guys folks use to rail at resided. Now, former Nats pinata's are with other teams: Bergmann is now with the BoSox.

Given Brown's performance in AA and AAA at the end of last year he looks as ready as Espinosa was/is for the majors. He has pretty much out performed both Maxwell and Bernadina at those levels. I think even you see a glimmer of hope that he might make folks forget about Nyjer and the right field travails of last year?

Nevertheless, Burgess actually has real prospects ahead or competing with him, not retreads like Taveras. That is a stark difference over last year. Maybe they move Burgess to first base? ~smiles~

Posted by: periculum | January 12, 2011 7:01 PM | Report abuse

@dfh...you're generally right, but...

The great SPs simply aren't available. Let's remember that true #1s are few & far between (maybe 12 - 15 in the majors) & 1.5-2s are no more than maybe 30-35. Who do you get.

Also, don't forget, Espinosa will probably not have the hitting ability he did, last year, because of his hamate surgery.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | January 12, 2011 7:08 PM | Report abuse

preic -- relax.

"If makes you wonder if some people are in the business of rewriting history to make it fit with their dim view of the franchise. Its extremely unfortunate to say the least."

Spare me the self-righteous illconceived drama.

What makes you think that the Nats did offer the moon the sun and the stars to De la Rosa? You can assume they must have done so out of thin air, but I cannot assume they did not based on the fact that guy took an essentially 2 year deal from the Rox? I guess the moon, sun and stars does not include a third guaranteed year. I guess we can assume that De la Rosa turned down something north of an extra $10M from the Nats? No, the guy very, very likely did not snub the Nats if they offered him 50% more money. Get a grip.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 12, 2011 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Nats have needed SP since they came to DC. An improved defense that will take away some hits and runs as opposed to the porous D the Nats have had in the past will help bring quality FA SP. But before quality FA SP comes, the D is going to have to prove that it will not give away hits. I like what Rizzo is doing.

Posted by: duck458 | January 12, 2011 7:27 PM | Report abuse

@Sunderland: You had queried earlier about 10-5 rule pitchers available on the trade market; Here's what I've found, so far...

D. Lowe (ATL) - 10yr+ player, with a probable "no-trade" list.
S. Kazmir (LAA) - 7 years service w/no CBA restrictions; open target.
C. Zambrano - Looks to be 10/5 with Cubs; Can block any trade as a result.
B. Zito (SF) - 10yr+ player; Makes 10/5 list at start of 2011 season. Might have a 'no-trade' list.

Damn; I thought I saw an 'out strategy' for the Nationals in 2011 - Guess I was wrong again.

Posted by: BinM | January 12, 2011 11:21 PM | Report abuse

@peric: Be happy with your opinions, and smile all you want in the off-season.
The reality is that Burgess isn't moving to 1B any time soon (why waste his +arm at a position that doesn't require one)?

Positional depth (as of 1/12/11 - top minors player after semi-colon)...
CA- Pudge, Flores/Ramos; Norris.
1B- LaRoche, Morse; Marrero.
2B- Espinosa, Gonzalez; Lombardozzi.
SS- Desmond, Espinosa; Bixler.
3B- R. Zimmerman, Gonzalez; None.
LF- Bernadina, Morse; J. Frazier.
CF- Morgan, Ankiel, Brown, Maxwell; Whiting/Van Every.
RF- Werth, Harper; Coats/Burgess.

Posted by: BinM | January 12, 2011 11:47 PM | Report abuse

@BinM,

Nice job. I tried to mix and match between the top rated prospects on natsprospects.com (which I agree with) and the "psuedo" prospects who might get the call.

You followed the straight and narrow.

Nevertheless you also demonstrate the depth and breadth of the current depth the organization now features. Far, far better than last year and so many years past.

I know Burgess probably isn't going to first base (although given his foot speed he really should! Arm not withstanding!) he is trade bait for some silly organization like the Cubs and Pirates.

As far as the rest ... well Harper makes all the difference but wouldn't it be nice if the Nats were the TB Rays with all of those draft picks? We'll just have to console ourselves with the knowledge that the Nats 3 are mostly higher than TB's. Still I believe that this FO could make huge progress with TB's picks. And TB's very talented staff will be able to do the same.

Posted by: periculum | January 13, 2011 12:07 AM | Report abuse

BTW, @BinM, I am picking also-ran Michael Aubrey and up-and-coming older prospect Tyler Moore over Marerro.

Well, not really ... I am hoping that Rizzo is right about getting competition for these positions that it brings out the best in players. Both Marerro and Burgess are young players who now have competition they never had before ...

Again, I say GOOD! They need a good kick in the pants.

Posted by: periculum | January 13, 2011 12:14 AM | Report abuse

"Also, don't forget, Espinosa will probably not have the hitting ability he did, last year, because of his hamate surgery."

According to Byron Kerr Espinosa is now claiming that his wrist and arm strength are stronger than they were in September with the Nats.

Guess we'll find out in ST 2011. He has the potential to hit 30+ homers. But I would prefer to see 50 doubles sprayed to all fields (mostly with men on) instead.

Posted by: periculum | January 13, 2011 12:18 AM | Report abuse

The moral of this article is that the Lerners fiddle fudged their first 3 and 1/2 seasons of stewardship, using all available funds to reduce the debt load on the team they purchased.

JimBo did as instructed with the lowest payroll in baseball. In spite of the odds, he acquired the three "best" players in the brief history of the Nats...Soriano, Dunn and RZ.

I'm still waiting for one of Rizzo's acquisitions to have a comparable season. To date, he hasn't showed me much.

Posted by: howjensen | January 13, 2011 5:53 AM | Report abuse

Self-righteous ill-conceived drama--wow! Spoken by one of the most self-righteous bloggers on this site.
I'm with you peric. Keeping track of the constant naysayers should be interesting. Anyone who doesn't think this team is markedly improved from last year's version just doesn't get it. Oh, wait, that sounds self-righteous, doesn't it.

Posted by: jcampbell1 | January 13, 2011 6:33 AM | Report abuse

Markedly improved? Maybe, hopefully, but most of the fans on this site had them picked to win 76-81back when they were losing 100+. I'll be happy when I see marked improvement, but I won't expect it.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | January 13, 2011 7:16 AM | Report abuse

BinM, thanks for checking into the veteran pitchers. I looked at Zambrano, and think that his 2001 season, with only 7 innings pitched, does not count as a service year. So Zambrano, I think, is at 9 years.

Regardless, I can not see the Cubs unloading prospects for Garza, then dumping salary and Zambrano. They are trying to compete.

This out strategy, a very good thought, may indeed have very few plays.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 13, 2011 7:22 AM | Report abuse

I am surprised at all the early-in-the-year pessimism. This time of year should be for the optimist. In fact I think the beauty of winter and early spring is that we can honestly believe that our team will be much better than the year before – and that is my view.

In 2011 I believe …
• Ryan Zimmerman will improve his throwing accuracy and will run away with the golden glove, hit over .300, and lead the team with RBI.
• Morgan will return to his 2009 form, make better throwing decisions, make better base running decisions, and cover Center field so well that his weak arm is not much of a factor.
• The Nats infield defense will become the best in the league.
• Jason Werth will prove to be worth what the Nats are paying him.
• Livan will continue his 2010 form and each of the other starting pitchers will be better than they were last year – and none of them will get injured. Someone from the minors may finally figure it out and prove to be a star.
• Ramos and Flores will continue to improve.

Posted by: LostHarp | January 13, 2011 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Zambrano might be available as the Cubs will look at it as addition by subtraction; how many more incidents can they take?

As for Kasmir, there have been multiple reports in the past, both in NY and TB, that he has a bad attitude; unless he fixed that when we went out west it might not be worth it to get him despite his talent and the dearth of quality starters we have.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | January 13, 2011 8:21 AM | Report abuse

I'm self rightous too, but checked with friends and am apparently considered rightous by others as well. And I believe the team is much improved over last season. I believe in defense, fundamentals, athleticism, power arms, and good health. There is more work to do though. I just don't understand why Rizzon can'g get the Rockies to trade us CarGo for Morgan. And the Giants won't hand over Lincecum for Balester. I'm pretty sure the Lerners would pay the freight.

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 13, 2011 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Zambrano also pitched exceptionally well in the 2nd half last season. After returning from the bullpen with a start on August 9:
11 starts, 8 - 0 W/L record
1.44 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 1 HR allowed in 69 innings, 8 K's per 9 innings.

Just no way subtracting him, while making a run at the playoffs, makes any sense.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 13, 2011 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Like LostHarp, I too am optimistic for 2011. Walgreen's will be much better defensively this year when Desmond learns some patience and stops trying to make those impossible off-balance throws to first base.

Pitching is the wild card, and I honestly think our young pitchers can learn that they don't have time to give up 3-4 runs in the first innings like they did so many times last season. They have to be prepared from the first pich onward. 3-4 runs might be enough for the opponent to win the game.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | January 13, 2011 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Well, it's a new year and Rizzo has turned the club personnel over.
Lessee if they can win. Because if they so much as play like they did last year against the Cubs (they mailed it in. I was so disgusted with the lack of professionalism in that game, I left in the seventh inning. Even the Cubs fans were leaving because they couldn't stand to see a club (Nats) just lay down and get kicked), there won't be many people at the park.

Posted by: M20832 | January 13, 2011 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I am really surprised how many people in the capital of our country are "dumb as a stump",the nonsense written about this team here matches any and all of the stupidity that exists in today's political rhetoric.To speak to some of the stupidest assertions made to today, lets start with Jorge De La Rosa who stated publicly in the Denver Post and on MLB TV that the Nationals had offered substantially more money to come to Washington but he wasn't going to uproot his family ,leave a playoff team,take his young children to new schools and leave an area(Denver) that his family loved for any price. Rizzo and Riggleman's attitude/relationship with Nyjer Morgan.....this is the dumbest line of conversation yet. Rizzo has yet to make one comment about any transaction that has occurred on his watch until after the transaction was complete period. As for Riggleman you don't survive in baseball for 37 years if you are afraid to speak your mind. The longest it has taken him to be hired, when he was available is less than 15 days and he is regarded as one of the best managers in the game by his peers.How do any of you think that you have the knowledge to evaluate his job performance,must be your experience coaching your kids little league team. Rizzo and Riggleman are tied to the hip rebuilding Bowden's mess of a plan and have done a job that borders on incredible according to their peers in the game and I'll leave my trust with them.

Posted by: wellscats | January 13, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

" and he is regarded as one of the best managers in the game by his peers."

You lost us when this flowed from the keyboard.....

The rest of baseball respects Riggleman so much that he is among the lowest paid people in his position in all of baseball.

Reconcile that.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 13, 2011 9:23 AM | Report abuse

@Peric...What Espinosa thinks/says is fine. History (what little of it there is) says that, for whatever reason, it takes about a year to fully recover.

Of course I wouldn't know about such things, since I was a player, coach, and umpire for about 50 years before I even heard of a hamate bone.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | January 13, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Just no way subtracting him, while making a run at the playoffs, makes any sense.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 13, 2011 8:32 AM


It does if his personality fractures the clubhouse. Maybe he has solved all his issues or can keep them in check, if not then its the classic example of one bad apple ruining the bunch.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | January 13, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

BTW, with Penny in the fold in Detroit they might be more prone to moving Galaragga, who is out of options. Might be another choice.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | January 13, 2011 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I think that I might want SP Chris Young (6'10"), presuming his medical condition is good, and RP John Rauch (6'11"). Almost 14 feet of pitcher might play nicely on the Nats roster.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 13, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

SCNats, agree with your last note about Zambrano.

Galaragga is an option, but is he's another soft tosser? Last year 74 K's in 144 innings. He got into the 7th inning 8 times out of 24 starts. Better than most Nats pitchers in 2010, sure.

And I like Chris Young, especially since he'd likley cost less than $2M. Plus imagine the conversation Princeton's Young would have with Stanford's Storen.
No idea what the status of Young's pitching arm is, but it can't be 100% certainly healthy or he wouldn't still be looking for work.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 13, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"The rest of baseball respects Riggleman so much that he is among the lowest paid people in his position in all of baseball.

Reconcile that."

Just finished reading Bill Madden's bio of George Steinbrenner. Did you know that when Steinbrenner hired Joe Torre, he was among the lowest paid people in his position in all of baseball? Joe Torre then had pretty much the same resume Riggleman has now. And yet Joe Torre was highly respected then within baseball, just as Riggleman is now. Respect has nothing to do with how you get paid in baseball, winning does. If Riggleman ever becomes the kind of winner that Torre ended up becoming, then Riggleman will get paid like Torre got paid - even if for some reason he loses all respect in the process. Salary does not equal respect.

There's your reconciliation.

Posted by: FeelWood | January 13, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

"think that I might want SP Chris Young (6'10"), presuming his medical condition is good, and RP John Rauch (6'11"). Almost 14 feet of pitcher might play nicely on the Nats roster."

OK, now I've got this picture in my head of a 14 foot stack of 2 pitchers staggering towards home plate, 4 arms flailing... Maybe the hitter would run away if he saw such a monster coming towards him!

Posted by: NatsFly | January 13, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Feelwood, thoughtful reply.
I allowed the thought to stray, my bad.
The notion I find impossible to accept is Riggleman being "regarded as one of the best managers in the game".

Posted by: Sunderland | January 13, 2011 10:44 AM | Report abuse

NatsFly, sounds like you have a certain Walter Johnson statue on the brain...

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 13, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

If I may offer some middle ground on Riggleman before hopping over to the Boswell chat, I think he is highly regarded in baseball, which will always ensure him of a job. However, his best skill may not be as a manager, but as a bench coach or system coordinator. At this stage of his career, I think he's more of a caretaker manager, doing the job until the need for a better manager comes along. My hunch is that this will be his last year, regardless of record. If the Nats do stay on course to be competitive in '12, I suspect they might want a different man in charge.

Posted by: baltova1 | January 13, 2011 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Frankly, I think the most interesting storyline to the overhaul of the Nats is the assertion by certain journalists (e.g. Phil Wood) that one of the factors considered by the Nats braintrust when making certain players expendable is the characteristic of not being noticeably affected by losing.

Posted by: mgilham | January 13, 2011 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I would also like to be clear that anyone who disagrees with me is very, very, very stupid and also dumb.

Posted by: Arkymark | January 13, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

"And his big, ugly face is as dumb as a butt."

One of my favorites.

-----

I would also like to be clear that anyone who disagrees with me is very, very, very stupid and also dumb.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 13, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Gorzelany is more likely to be shopped than Z, I think. But I'm dumb. Ood-looking, but dumb.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | January 13, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Gorzelany is more likely to be shopped than Z, I think. But I'm dumb. Good-looking, but dumb.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | January 13, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

And repetitive.
Dang droid.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | January 13, 2011 1:45 PM | Report abuse

This team is a joke right now and anyone who posts saying so is not being a "fairweather fan". These people are just telling the truth instead of being a homer. None of us should be unrealistically hopeful for a team just because it's ours. I hate this team right now because I WANT to love it. And until they produce a winner, management and the journalists need to hear our displeasure, it's the only way they'll change their losing ways. If you're happy with Espinosa, Desmond, Morse, Bernadina, Morgan and that joke of a rotation, then you don't know baseball from your arse. Look across the Mason Dixon line and read the lineup and rotation of stars who play hard and are winners. God I hate the Nationals right now. This is going to be yet another season that blows chunks...

Posted by: drobins7 | January 13, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"This team is a joke right now and anyone who posts saying so is not being a "fairweather fan". These people are just telling the truth instead of being a homer. None of us should be unrealistically hopeful for a team just because it's ours. I hate this team right now because I WANT to love it. And until they produce a winner, management and the journalists need to hear our displeasure, it's the only way they'll change their losing ways."

...Isn't that the very definition of "fairweather fan"?

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | January 13, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

"This team is a joke right now and anyone who posts saying so is not being a "fairweather fan". These people are just telling the truth instead of being a homer. None of us should be unrealistically hopeful for a team just because it's ours. I hate this team right now because I WANT to love it. And until they produce a winner, management and the journalists need to hear our displeasure, it's the only way they'll change their losing ways."

...Isn't that the very definition of "fairweather fan"?

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | January 13, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

So I was sitting here scratching what turned out to be a baseball. Imagine my chagrin. But really, how can you hate the team you root for? You can wish they were better, but if they're not your team when they're losing, you should be prohibited from rooting for them when they win.

Posted by: markfromark | January 13, 2011 8:15 PM | Report abuse

"I know Burgess probably isn't going to first base (although given his foot speed he really should! Arm not withstanding!) he is trade bait for some silly organization like the Cubs and Pirates."
___________________

Kaaaa-chingggg!

Posted by: VPaterno | January 17, 2011 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company