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Posted at 10:24 AM ET, 01/ 5/2011

More on Adam LaRoche, the Nationals new first baseman

By Adam Kilgore

Here are nine things not touched in today's fishwrap story you might not have known about Adam LaRoche:

1. He's from a baseball family. LaRoche's father, Dave, pitched 14 seasons as a reliever for the Angels, Indians, Cubs, Twins and Yankees in the '70s and early '80s. His brother, Andy, still plays for the Pirates, where they were teammates in 2008 and the first half of 2009.

2. He's a slow starter. Before the all-star break throughout his career, LaRoche has hit .252/.327/.449. After the all-star break, he has hit .295/.354/.535.

3. He's conquered ADD. In 2006, after a lackadaisical play against the Nationals cost the Braves a game, LaRoche got tested for ADD and began taking Ritalin. The medicine is a banned substance, but approved players are allowed to take it and LaRoche has, of course, been approved by the league. More here, in this excellent story from 2007 by Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. (Hat tip to The Nationals Enquirer.)

4. He cares more than he seems to. LaRoche's laconic nature has given some fans and former coaches the idea that he doesn't care. Well, he does.

"I think that's a knock on him, that he doesn't try," former teammate Nick Green told me for a Boston Globe story in 2009. "That's just how he is. That makes a lot of people more successful. Sometimes he gets a bad rap that he's not trying, but he's going to be there every day. He's laid-back, but he's got some spice to him, too."

When the Pirates traded away Nate McLouth in 2009, LaRoche told the Post-Gazette, "There ain't a guy in here who ain't [ticked] off about it. It's kind of like being with your platoon in a battle, and guys keep dropping around you. You keep hanging on, hanging on, and you've got to figure: How much longer till you sink?"

5. He's funny. Here's a good LaRoche story: In 2007, his first year in Pittsburgh after leaving the Braves, LaRoche started the season in a rough slump. Chipper Jones, a close friend, saw LaRoche's batting average in the paper and called him.

"Tell me this is a misprint," Jones said.

"Oh, no, you're seeing it right," LaRoche said. "It's a hard .091, so it's not that bad."

He's also friends with Adam Dunn, which tells you something about his personality.

6. He's been a popular teammate everywhere he's played. "He'll fit in great in the clubhouse," said Matt Capps, who played with LaRoche in Pittsburgh. "If you can't get along with Adam LaRoche, you probably don't have a heartbeat. He plays hard and gives everything he has every night. What you see is what you get."

7. He was more valuable than Carlos Pena or Derrek Lee last year. According to FanGraphs.com, at least, he was. LaRoche was 15th last season in the Web site's Wins Above Replacement category. He posted a 2.1 WAR, while Lee had a 2.0 and Pena had a 1.0. (Adam Dunn ranked ninth at 3.9.)

8. He's left-handed. The Nationals did not make getting a left-handed hitter at first a major priority, but it helps. With Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth in the middle of their lineup, the Nationals didn't need another right-handed hitter in that part of the order. Zimmerman, Werth and LaRoche will likely hit in some 3-4-5 combination, and Jim Riggleman has the option to split up Zimmerman and Werth with LaRoche if he so chooses.

9. He's an avid hunter. LaRoche grew up on a ranch in Kansas, and almost every profile of him mentions his love for the sport. When I spoke with Capps last night, he told me to remind LaRoche that LaRoche owed him a hunting bow.

By Adam Kilgore  | January 5, 2011; 10:24 AM ET
 
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Next: The state of the Nationals' starting rotation

Comments

Very glad this deal got done.
Rizzo handled this well.

"The Nationals did not make getting a left-handed hitter at first a major priority."

This is not necessarily true.

They didn't *say* it was a priority, but saying that would have hurt negotiations. So why say it? Would be foolish.

They did say there were interested in Pena and DLee, but that does not really mean they were.

I think Rizzo got exactly who he wanted from the get go.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 5, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Regarding letting Dunn walk: The worst part of that move was not trading him for Edwin Jackson. Dunn is not a winning player on a national league team so he had to be moved I thinkk. Although we get a draft pick by not rading him, that is much more of a shot in the dark than getting a proven major-league starter like Jackson. And it takes a long time for a draft pick to have major league value. Plus, with the Werth signing, don't we give away whatever pick we got for Dunn? I have the feeling that Rizzo was too busy pulling off the Ramos trade to move Dunn. Sure would like to have Jackson in the mix for this year's rotation...

Posted by: GiterDunn | January 5, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Should we get a pitcher of note - again, if we get one - then I think Rizzo has had an excellent offseason.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | January 5, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

SCNatsFan, depends what we give up, no?
I for one would rather roll the dice with what we have in '11 than give up 3 of our better prospects. But either way, doing it or not doing it, you're taking an unknown risk.

We have so much "payroll flexibility" now, I'd rather spend money on a pitcher than spend prospects. Yeah, there's not much left. Chris Young? Maybe Zito could be had for a lesser group of prospects? I'd even rather spend cash on Pavano than spend 3+ prospects on Garza.


Posted by: Sunderland | January 5, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

How can so many stories appear about Dave LaRoche without any mention of "La-Lob?"

Posted by: truke | January 5, 2011 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Good to know even with Adam DUNN gone that Adam LAROCHE still fill THE DUDE role.

Posted by: estuartj | January 5, 2011 11:30 AM | Report abuse

GiterDunn - If I understand the compensation rules right, the Nats come out in a better position after the Dunn/Werth issue is sorted out. The Nats first round pick is protected so the Phillies get our second round pick for Werth, meanwhile, we get the White Sox first round pick for the signing Dunn. The end result should be the #6 pick, a low 20s-ish pick, and a supplemental first rounder and no 2nd rounder. Not sure how LaRoche affects this though. Was he an A or B free agent?

Posted by: heezy | January 5, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

>>A 25 HR, 90 RBI guy with a great glove >>seems like an upgrade

Nails. Unfortunately though, therein lies the problem. When you're a team that is pushing 100 losses each year, you aren't one nip and tuck away from a pennant. You don't need an upgrade, you need a complete overhaul.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | January 5, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Exactly, truke. As I suggested in the last post, Adam needs to get his dad down to Viera to teach Livo and Maya LaLob.

Though on reflection, it might be best to see Balester throw it. He has the sense of humor to do it, and he actually throws hard enough that it might be effective for him.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 5, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Sunderland - absolutely. To spend all the time they have building the farm then trading what little talent we have is senseless. I'd rather take the chance and sign a Penny or Bonderman then trade a Ramos or Perez, players we should be developing.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | January 5, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

This Laroche signing is a waste of money and lousy talent. Another bad move by rizzo. Morse was the man they should have put on first. Better hitter and errorless
last year. Should have a dyamite year in 11
if they play him. The nats stink. WHERE'S the Pitching???????????? Another below par season. DUNB MANAGEMENT.

Posted by: chiro1623 | January 5, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I don't think it is fair to say Rizzo got the guy he wanted all along in LaRoche when Rizzo complained to Boz that they liked D. Lee a lot and they don't understand why he chose Baltimore over DC. Rizzo missed on Pena and he missed on Lee.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 5, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

10. LaRoche batted .264 against lefties vs. Dunn's .199.

With runners in scoring position and two out (with numbers adjusted for 162 games for better comparison):

LaRoche: .327/.476/.653, 51 HR, 268 RBI
Ryan Howard: .200/.341/.586, 38 HR, 198 RBI
Albert Pujols: .340/.588/.620, 24 HR, 186 RBI
Adrian Gonzalez: .317/.563./439, 10 HR, 142 RBI
Prince Fielder: .212/.441/.242, 0 HR, 111 RBI,

Fielding Percents:

LaRoche (.995), Pujols (.994), Gonzalez (.994), Votto (.993), Fielder (.992), Howard (.990), Dunn (.987)

In many ways, LaRoche's offense and defense is in the upper third of all National League first baseman.

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

heezy -- I think that LaRoche was a Type B and that he did turn down arb, so the nats don't give away anything but the D-Bax get a supplemental pick, I think.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 5, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Not to nit pick AK but laconic is not a synonym for lackadaisical. It refers to someone who speaks wisdom in very few words. It comes from the Spartans who hailed from the region of Laconia. They were known for their brief but insightful sayings.

Posted by: db423 | January 5, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Ah I rembmer the La Lob very well. I was working and listening to the game on the radio and you could hear all the fans laughing as the ball was pitched to Gorman Thomas. It went on for many pitches until he finally got a single. I later saw video of it, and Gorman turned and stuck his toung out at LaRoche after reaching first base. I would love to find a video of that to show my kids. Looks like they took it off of YouTube.

Posted by: twinbrook | January 5, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

DUNB MANAGEMENT.

Posted by: chiro1623 | January 5, 2011 11:58 AM

PRICELESS!!!

How do these MENSA members even navigate their way to this blog??

Posted by: Kev29 | January 5, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

dfh, re: Rizzo got the man he wanted. We'll never know.

But he likely could have had Derrek Lee for sure if he *really* wanted him.

This is Rizzo's m.o. Say very little, just the right things, don't burn any bridges, don't show too many cards.

I have felt all along he wanted LaRoche on the 2 year deal. (But that don't make me right, I know that)

But the quote of Boz's is meaningless. Completely meaningless. Look at Rizzo's actions, not at what Boz says Rizzo said. Rizzo let DLee sign with Balto without making a counter - offer. He could have had DLee if we wanted.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 5, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"I have the feeling that Rizzo was too busy pulling off the Ramos trade to move Dunn. Sure would like to have Jackson in the mix for this year's rotation... "
_________________________________________

The deal was in place. Kasten Nixed it. Boswell cnfirmed this in a story a month or so ago

Posted by: JDB1 | January 5, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

In reporting a story, the only thing Boswell could ever possibly confirm is that he'll have a different version of the story come tomorrow.

Posted by: FeelWood | January 5, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Mark me down in the category that keeps your farm system in tact for the time being. I think the Nats are still early in developing depth and trading what little they have now just doesn't make a lot of sense in most but perhaps not all cases. Overspending (glad its not my money) seems the thing to be doing in the short run, at least until they become more attractive to free agents as the place to be. I think Boz nailed that in his latest article.

Posted by: cokedispatch | January 5, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Well............................this beat's a sharp stick in the eye,okay i'm glad Rizzo pulled the trigger now if we can just sign Jermaine Dye(just kidding)slow rainy day here in the A-T-L and tired of these Falcon fans with all their Super Bowl talk.

Posted by: dargregmag | January 5, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Feelwood - Right on.
cokedispatch - Boz nailed nothing.
Every team overpays for free agents, or rather appears to overpay. Didn't the White Sox overpay for Dunn? Or so it seems? He averaged $10M for 2 years here. He's getting $14 x 4 in Chicago? Why didn't Boz mention that?

Posted by: Sunderland | January 5, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Sunderland -- ok, if Rizzo could have had D. Lee, if he really wanted him, but did not want him enough to get him, I can buy that. But I do not want to hear Rizzo whine that players won't come here because the Nats are not winners when the club (and Rizzo in particular) has not done much to win for years.

Rizzo's making excuses for not landing players is weak. Players won't come unless you win, but you can't win without the players coming here fist -- poor, poor Mike. Quit whining and start running a real MLB franchise -- it has been 5 years of low spending and bad decisions under the Lerners, almost 2 years of a lot of the same under Rizzo and he was also here in the prior regime in a position of power. The Lerners and Rizzo dug this hole and we paid them to do it; it is not as if they stumbled upon the problems they have today, they created them.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 5, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

GiterDunn,

Zuckerman wrote in December that "the White Sox were not offering Hudson (or Edwin Jackson, for that matter) to the Nats in a Dunn trade."

It's hard to tell if the Nats are better off with the picks without really knowing what was offered for Dunn at the trade deadline.

http://natsinsider.blogspot.com/2010/12/trade-vs-draft-picks.html

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 5, 2011 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Apropos of nothing, it still doesn't make sense to me to call hunting a sport. In the sports I watch, both parties know they're participating, they have the same equipment, and neither side dies during the competition.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 5, 2011 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Nice 9, here's four more:

1) LaRoche only hit into 8 DP last year.
2) He hit .259 vs RHP and .264 vs LHP in 2010
3) While his lifetime 1st/2nd half splits are higher, his 2010 split was about even - OPS .787 first; .788 second
4) His highest career batting averages are against the Phillies (.308) and Marlins (.304) (teams he has faced >200 Plate appearances)

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 5, 2011 1:28 PM | Report abuse

dfh, no arguement on pretty much all that, except I don't hear Rizzo whining.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 5, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

JohninMpls,

That's a good article by Zuckerman - it makes sense regarding Edwin Jackson and it doesn't. Why would you trade away a controllable Hudson who doesn't have arbitration for 3 years to get a "more reliable" 5th starter? I=Would that really ut you over the top versus acquiring Dunn? On the other hand, I could see that they wouldn't want to trade away their only 5th starter, if the is in fact the case. I thought I remember reports though that said Kenny Williams was hot at Rizzo because he got Jackson just to make that trade for Dunn. If prospects was the best we could do for Dunn then I have much less of a problem with the failure to trade.

Posted by: GiterDunn | January 5, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Sund...agree to disagree. I think Boz had it right. Sox did overpay Dunn, imo. To pay AD 14 mil vs. 7 or 8 mil for LaRoche is to suggest AD is twice as good as AL. I don't think he is and therefore I think the AL signing was a smart move for better defense and not an overwhelming drop off in offensive production.

Posted by: cokedispatch | January 5, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I think a key point to be made about that post is that Zuckerman got this information from watching "The Club" on MLB Network. He didn't write that article with any inside information about Chicago's negotiations.

So while the article does give some information, at the end of the day, we're back where we started, aren't we? Without actually knowing what was offered, it's hard to say whether or not the decision to not move Dunn at the deadline made sense.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 5, 2011 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Sunderland -- maybe it is an unfair read on my part but I take the following from Boz's piece as Rizzo whining:

Rizzo said: "We liked Lee a lot. I don't know why he went to Baltimore over us."

"It shows the difficulty of trying to build something," Rizzo said. "The only thing that convinces players to come is winning. It's the chicken and the egg. Which comes first? Do you win and then the players come, or do the players come and then you win?"

Difficulty in trying to build something? Please. Everyone is trying to build something, some clubs do better than others. The Nats have been terrible -- for years. They have lacked the will or the skill to win, or to even attempt to win. Rizzo has been complicit; he's not a victim of circumstance. His job is no ahrder than he has made it.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 5, 2011 2:38 PM | Report abuse

"Morse was the man they should have put on first. Better hitter and errorless
last year."

LaRoche averages more HRs and RBIs than Morse has totaled in his entire career. As to fielding, Morse has very little playing time at first base, so you cannot possibly evaluate him in comparison to LaRoche. BTW, just because someone has no errors doesn't mean they're a good fielder. If you just stand there frozen by a sharply hit ball that goes to the left or right of you down the right field line, your fielding percentage doesn't suffer, but you failed to do your job. A better fielder, even if he doesn't get the ball cleanly and is given an error due to the runner reaching base can at least keep the runner from advancing past first by keeping the ball in the infield.

Posted by: Fairfax6 | January 5, 2011 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"Apropos of nothing, it still doesn't make sense to me to call hunting a sport. In the sports I watch, both parties know they're participating, they have the same equipment, and neither side dies during the competition."

Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you. That's all you need to know about hunting at the major league level, where few so-called "hunters" compete.

Posted by: FeelWood | January 5, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

LaRoche is a good signing to fill a gap for now. Its only a two year contract. Mike Morse starting in RF will help the team. He is still young, and can go to first base in a year or two. Meantime, I hope the Nats will at least let Morse back up LaRoche at first (and not Waits).

Posted by: shred11 | January 7, 2011 1:47 AM | Report abuse

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