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Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 02/10/2011

Long toss: Winners or losers?

By Washington Post editors

Yesterday on Baseball Insider, Dave Sheinin presented his offseason winners and losers.

The Nationals were mentioned among the winners ... but not exactly in a winning way.

5. Jayson Werth. The 31-year-old right fielder played his free-agency card like a champ. First, he hired Scott Boras as his agent. Then, he stayed out of the way as Boras found a team (the Nationals) that was both itching to make a big splash and resigned to the notion that they would have to vastly overpay for said splash. The result: a $126 million contract. Well-played, sir.

What do you think? Overall, where would you place the Nationals among the offseason winners and losers?

By Washington Post editors  | February 10, 2011; 11:45 AM ET
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Winners. Getting tired of all the out-of-town media criticisms of the Werth signing. No, I don't really expect him to be as productive at the end of his contract as he should be in the first couple of years of it. No, I don't expect him to put up monster numbers in Nats Park and be the main guy in the lineup or hit as many HR's as Adam Dunn. But I do anticipate him being a bona fide plus major league OF'er on both offense and defense who will fit into the organization, the clubhouse and the lineup and make this team stronger. I could care less about his salary. The other moves made by Rizzo have tweaked and strengthened the Nats for 2011. Not a runaway winner in the off-season but I still call it a curly W.

Posted by: McKinley2 | February 10, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Losers. Too many question marks/finger crossed in the starting pitching, a lineup that will make more contact but generate less power without any appreciable gain in speed, a leadoff hitter who has trouble getting on base, and no real protection for Zim in the lineup.

I'd actually be willing to call it a wash from a win/lose standpoint if they had addressed any one of the above, but I think this team will probably win just about as many games as last year.

Posted by: kingrob76 | February 10, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Into the losers pool, but not at the top (that's reserved for the Rays and Yanks). What was the greatest need during the off-season? A top line starting pitcher, and I believe that is straight from the GM's mouth. The club needed to add a top line starting pitcher so as to improve on last year's performance...and make it a more attractive destination for other FA's. For whatever the reason, they didn't get it done.

This was a stated objective, and they didn't attain it. Fail.

Posted by: joemktg1 | February 10, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Why cant people understand the Nationals HAD to overpay to jump start the organization. He was by most "experts" standards a top 3-5 free agent. We overpaid, sure, but it needed to take place to get people thinking this organization is serious about winning. Who thought they would get Cliff Lee or Grienke or Garza, without giving away half the team. This signing with a better first base option with Laroche and some of those utility guys, not bad for a bad franchise with some get prospects coming.

Posted by: DCfan8397 | February 10, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

The answer to this question comes after this team has played 100 games or so. A top of the rotation pitcher would have helped immeasurably but bankrupting the organization of what little young talent that is either near or major league ready would have been foolish. As it stands now, with no further moves, this team could win 75 games.

Posted by: dmistretta | February 10, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

LOSERS. I have no problem with the size of Werth's deal, but I do have a problem with losing 2 of our best 3 offensive weapons. There were ways to improve the team without letting Dunn/Hammer go, for instance, we could have kept them both, saved the money on LaRoche and overpaid a starting pitcher. Or perhaps, we could have lured Greinke here w/ a lineup including Zim/Dunn/Werth/Hammer.

How can you call us a winner when we didn't upgrade the pitching staff or the lineup? It sucks, but its true.


Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | February 10, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse

It pains me to say it, but the Nats did better than the O's this off-season.

Disregard anything additional I have to say after this post, as I am going off my

Go Nats!

Posted by: P00PY__MCP00P | February 10, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Extra-underscore p00py do you really think you'll be able to outlast me? Do you really think you're the first person to try to create a fake poopy handle in an elaborate attempt to fool the unsuspecting rubes around these parts?


As for the Natinals, they may be "winners" right now, but in about 2-3 years they (and all their fans) are gonna feel like complete idiots for the contract Worth got. Especially when Zimmerman asks for twice that, since he's head and shoulders better than old man Worth.

Natinal fans will still be complaining about Worth not living up to the contract while the O's are on their 5th consecutive trip to the playoffs and World Series.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | February 10, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

WINNERS: They got LaRoche and Werth and improved defense and slightly better on clutch offense.

The area they lost was not signing an Ace pitcher but one was never really available.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | February 10, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

So, it's Rizzo's fault that Zack Greinke wouldn't accept a trade here? Because the deal was done with KC otherwise.

Also, it was Rizzo's fault that Cliff Lee wasn't really interested in playing for a building team at age 33 and preferred to go to a championship contender?

Welcome to baseball folks!

In this man's game, no-movement clauses and no salary cap mean that any one team (other than the Yankees) is not guaranteed of being able to acquire or retain any player on their list.

In the NFL you see less of the no-trade clauses and the cap means that richer clubs can't simply identify and sign name players without consequence if they fail to perform.

The Phillies have stocked their roster for another run. No one is really going to challenge them in the East.

The Nationals were smart after the Greinke affair ended to make moves to shore up other positions on their team and not panic into trading all of their prospects away for Matt Garza, who in my mind is 1 or 2 levels below Greinke as a starter in the majors.

This time next year you will be looking at Strasburg and Zimmermann on the staff and the opportunity to add a quality veteran or two with the expiring contracts of Jason Marquis and Livan Hernandez.

It would have been nice to add another outfielder who could play centerfield but then again the word is now that with Werth in right, Harper could end up in center.

So, do you really want to see the team spend $10M on a centerfielder who would only be here for 1-2 years max before ceding his slot to Harper?

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | February 10, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Losers. And not because of Werth. Overpaying for a borderline star is what losing franchises have to do. That's just reality.
The Nats were losers because for whatever reason, they didn't address their greatest and really only need: Pitching.
And no, please don't any1 mention the name Gorz, like that will have any major positive outlook.

The Nats are heading into the 2011 season with the same group of pitchers as last season (which put them at around 90 losses), except of course minus their best starter.
That doesn't foreshadow wonderful results.
That the Nats failed to come up with any major improvement in their rotation is really mindboggling.

Pitchers win games, not right field players.
Just look at SF last season.
Who played right for them?

Posted by: dovelevine | February 10, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I'd give 'em a C+.

If they had nailed down a front line starter, either through free agency or trade, I would give a much higher mark. SP was their biggest weakness... Rizzo acknowledged that at the beginning of the off season, and yet still the team was unable to improve that major weakness much at all. Basically we are depending on better health and/or performance from the same cast of characters from 2010.

On the other hand, the defense was vastly improved. Werth in RF, Bernie in LF and Laroche at 1st, plus a full year of Espinosa at 2nd will all be significant upgrades... and hopefully the improvement Desmond showed in the 2nd half will carry over.

The bullpen remains a strength, possibly even improved if Rodriguez and Balestar shine and Storen can take another step forward. We just need somebody to jump out to establish themselves as the closer.

And, offense took some heavy hits with Dunn and Hammer leaving... but I would still wager we score more runs in '11 then we did last year, based on better depth (no Nieves and not relying on Pudge behind the plate... Espy over Kennedy at 2b... Werth over whoever in RF... hopefully an uptick in offense from Desmond and Morgan (or Morgan's replacement).

Anyway... better... but only slightly better because the SP situation still threatens to drag the team down.

Posted by: Ghost7 | February 10, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Loser: The Washington Post.

Last six days on which Baseball Insider posts have appeared: 2/9/11, 1/6/11, 1/5/11, 12/14/10, 12/3/10, 11/23/10. That's six measly days out of the last eleven weeks. Does the Post even cover baseball any more? Did they ever?

Winner: Sheinin. Full time pay for seven stories in eleven weeks. (Don't forget his groundbreaking expose of long hair on NFL players, right before the Super Bowl.) Where do I get a gig where I can phone it in like that?

Posted by: FeelWood | February 10, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Hmmmm ...

I don't think Rizzo is even close to done yet ... so I rank them as

Like it or not pitching has improved. And YES Gorzelanny. If he is throwing 92-94 with the improved pitching repertoire as described in the Cubs blogs? YES, Zimmermann hopefully healthy and ready to pitch. Its a wait and see with Maya and Detwiler but given Maya's winter performance perhaps there's more than many think. No one possibly believes Livo's performance last year will continue this year ... and Marquis? No on is relying on him. With Milone and Rosenbaum the Nats can now seriously consider trading Lannan. In general there is a lot more inventory and competition at starting pitcher for the Nationals.

What they are missing is a true veteran ace. They were blocked from obtaining one. Tradewise, perhaps its best as the farm system still needs a lot of build out.

Rizzo picked up to 2 ~100mph flamethrowers, Relief pitching should be improved over last year. With lots spare for a potential trade perhaps with a team like the Rays.

Got a decent prospect left-handed hitting outfielder in Corey Brown. They solidified themselves at catcher. This past draft and one coming will seem them entrench themselves even more up the middle with starting pitchers, MI, and catchers.

Posted by: periculum | February 10, 2011 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Werth at his introductory news conference stand up there and say, the Nationals have promised me this is only the beginning. There are going to be more signings.

Just wondering, what happened to those signings? Or was Werth really talking about and satisfied with simply LaRoche and Gorz?

Posted by: dovelevine | February 10, 2011 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Winners by a mile! We had to improve our defense, and we did it very well. Werth is one of the best all around outfielders in baseball. Suddenly, we have a 1bperson that has a chance to catch some of our infielder's wayward throws. If any of our injured starting pitchers (Wang, Marquis) come through, we will be a +.500 team. Look out 2012!

Posted by: JpJp | February 10, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

It depends on what game you are playing. Winners if the goal is to improve your team over the previous year. Losers if the goal was to add an ace starting pitcher. Paying a lot is not a problem until you can't acquire someone you need later because of it. Werth, LaRoche, Gorzelany, Coffey, Hairston, and Rodriguez are significant upgrades over Dunn, Willingham, Harris, Peralta, and Kennedy.

Posted by: natbiscuits | February 10, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Well, I'd be hard pressed to build a case to call them winners this offseason. They did some nice things, sure. They are certainly in better position than they were 12 months ago. But winners? That word's got connotations. So not, not winners.
Not losers either, that's for sure. They are better off than 12 months ago, but they missed the boat on SP's. Yeah it was a lousy year for SP's, yeah Rizzo tried. I ain't making a judgement there. But the bottom line is that their rotation is soft, and it's gonna take a whole lot of good fortune to play .500 ball.

BTW, I don't at all mind Dunn and Hammer leaving. I think Rizzo played this correctly. Dunn's a one trick pony who can't get a hit in the clutch because he can't hit lefties. Important situation? Dunn at bat? Just bring in a lefty and Dunn turns into a .199 hitter. We are better off without him, as likeable as he is.
Getting two good prospects for Willingham's last arbitration year is fine too. If Corey Brown patrols CF capably for a few years, if HRod throws at the back end up the bullpen capably for a few yers, then that deal will have been huge.

Posted by: Sunderland | February 10, 2011 1:39 PM | Report abuse

We are probably on the up side of winner vs loser but it did hurt not to land an Ace. That being said, we are definitely not starting this season with the same group of pitchers as Doveline states. Yes, lots of questions but Marquis should be healthy, Maya should be better, Gorz does help and Zimmnn is one year healthier. Is this a top notch group? Of course not, but its a better outlook than last year. My big hope for the season is CM Wang. I am not expecting it, since its his shoulder rather then elbow or tommy john but IF he can return to his form with the Yankees we will have a shot at 81 wins. I am guessing 75 or more and as long as we keep improving, I am ok. Other reasons for seeing us as winners - Better defense in 3 positions (first, Right and moving Bernadina to left), more speed, and we are slowly building depth in the minors.

Go Nats

Posted by: sjm3091 | February 10, 2011 1:44 PM | Report abuse

"What do you think? Overall, where would you place the Nationals among the offseason winners and losers?"

As we've learned from the example set by the Redskins for lo these many years, the correct answer to this question is WHO EFFIN CARES? If anything, we'd want the Nats to be offseason losers, because that actually might translate into them being in-season winners. We already know what being offseason winners translates to, don't we?

Posted by: FeelWood | February 10, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

On another point, agree that the Post is a Loser. How tough is it to write a sentence asking about the Nationals? When will they start reporting or digging for news? Also, I had stopped going to Baseball Insider because I thought they had shut it down. Was surprised to see something in the bird cage edition. I still miss Barry.

Posted by: sjm3091 | February 10, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

>>BTW, I don't at all mind Dunn leaving. I think Rizzo played this correctly.

Corrctly? How? He could have gotten a starting pitcher from the White Sox for him instead of letting him leave for nothing.

Posted by: dovelevine | February 10, 2011 1:49 PM | Report abuse

>Loser: The Washington Post.

Last six days on which Baseball Insider posts have appeared: 2/9/11, 1/6/11, 1/5/11, 12/14/10, 12/3/10, 11/23/10. That's six measly days out of the last eleven weeks. Does the Post even cover baseball any more? Did they ever?

Winner: Sheinin. Full time pay for seven stories in eleven weeks. (Don't forget his groundbreaking expose of long hair on NFL players, right before the Super Bowl.) Where do I get a gig where I can phone it in like that?

Posted by: FeelWood

Leave it to a loser to complain about a free blog and newspaper.

Posted by: Brue | February 10, 2011 1:51 PM | Report abuse

>Posted by: FeelWood

You should adopt a hairlip baby. Would give you something constructive to do, because you posting on here sure ain't it. It's a quality of life issue, and you ain't got no quality.

Posted by: Brue | February 10, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Is the 23rd and 34th pick in a pitching rich draft "nothing"?
We don't *know* what he could or could not have got in late July. But letting him go rather than inking him for 4 years is fine.

Posted by: Sunderland | February 10, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Winners. They did what they had to do to get Werth, which legitimized the Nats as a free agency contender. Werth and LaRoche together will far out-produce the combination of Adam Dunn and any other Nat in RF. I loved Adam Dunn but you're basically adding more collective productivity at the two positions (1B and RF) and also much better defensive abilities that will also save runs and make that margin of increased productivity even greater. The bench strength is also very interesting and very much improved with the additions of pros like Ankiel, Hairston, and even Matt Stairs as a LH pinch hitter. This team actually has some decent depth in that they have four versatile outfielders, a solid infield and backed by strong utility guys like Hairston and Gonzalez (who might get traded) - and a veteran catcher, a promising catcher of the future, and a rehabbing catcher that could hopefully blossom back into a solid piece of the future. I like these moves - I think the Nats have done a good job this winter. A rock solid SP would be nice but even the pitching staff has some interesting depth to it, and the already strong bullpen has added even more quality pieces. I like where they're going...they made the tough decisions but have improved the team.

Posted by: AsstGM | February 10, 2011 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Overall, I'd say they're winners. Vastly improved defense. Improved starting pitching. Improved bullpen. Nothing wrong with that.

They didn't get everything they wanted this offseason, so they didn't "win" as much as we (or they) would have liked. But that doesn't make this offseason an overall loss. They still managed to improve the team.

Posted by: js_edit | February 10, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Losers, in a close call. They are much improved, but how could they not have been much improved? The Nats did not fill the biggest need in front end starting pitching. The add of Werth is very nice, but they did not need that guy so much and they overpaid like mad to get him. They rely now still on a lot of unproven guys as postion players and a staff that looks mediocre if they are lucky. They could have and should have been bolder. They still cannot find their wallet to a level of spending commensorate with their market.

Had they been building this club with an urgency leading up to this off season, then they would have likely had more success luring FA's, but you real what you sew.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 10, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

PECOTA guys on MLB Network were saying that Werth would hit .265 with 70 runs scored. Hmmmmmmmmm blame it on sabermetrics. Or the new lineup he'll be in.

Winners. I think they will increase their loss total, which is their ultimate goal, lessening their revenue so they can get more revenue-sharing and keep a low payroll. This team will lose at least 95, probably 100. The only starting pitcher who will be back next year will be JZimm. Four out of the eight starting players will either be gone, or on the bench by the end of the season. Possibly five, it depends on how patient they're going to be with Desmond and his lack of concentration.

Posted by: Brue | February 10, 2011 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Off-season grade: Incomplete.

Oh, and hooray for poopies!

Posted by: ImWithStupid | February 10, 2011 5:56 PM | Report abuse

"Is the 23rd and 34th pick in a pitching rich draft "nothing"?
We don't *know* what he could or could not have got in late July. But letting him go rather than inking him for 4 years is fine."

Agree 100% with @Sunderland here. This is a pitching rich draft at both the college and prep school level. Its also talent rich. That means three potential top rung starting pitchers (and I suspect that is what Rizzo, Clark, Kline, et al will draft) added to the inventory. And they usually don't take as long to develop as position players as we've seen.

The only caveat ... or call it a wish ... I would have is that they could somehow have all of TBR's 11 picks in the first 90. That's before the 3rd round. That could instantaneously reverse the reign of error of Segway Jim, Minaya, et al back to 2002. In a
single year.

As Nats fans we can try to console ourselves with Harper and Strasburg two elite prospects ... one a potential Teddy ballgame, and the other a potential Walther Johnson.

And KC had fewer top picks than most teams yet managed to rebuild themselves into an excellent farm system starting from 2006 until the present.

Posted by: periculum | February 11, 2011 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Winners but it is close.

Winners because one of the main offseason goals was to improve the defense. They clearly did that, Overpaying for Werth is okay with me, cost of being cheap and bad so long and after I saw what Crawford got, Werth's deal isn't so bad.

Why is it close? Pitching, one of the goals was to get a #1 starter. Didn't happen, but shouldn't blame them to much because getting a #1 starter was pie in the sky stuff.

Dunn - I'll miss him and Zimmerman will miss him too.

Let see how it all plays out.

Posted by: tcostant | February 11, 2011 9:36 AM | Report abuse

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