Monday, December 21, 2009

Don't take it from me

I fully endorse the opinion here:

General manager Mike Rizzo has seemingly made paying premium prices for veteran mediocrity a priority this offseason, which is an odd use of resources and playing time for a team that isn't anywhere close to contending. Ninety-five losses or bust!

Two years $15m. At least Marquis is a Type B and won't cost a draft pick.

So, Marquis is unmovable in '10. At least without picking up that 2nd year. And will he fetch a prospect at the deadline in '11? Only if he pitches with the same horseshoe up his ass for the next 18 months as he did last year (which is highly unlikely).

So, for $15m, we get two years of league average pitching. (Career ERA+ of 99!) with virtually no chance of creating any long term value. Don't cite his 4.04 Era in '09. FIP is closer to 4.70 squarely in the soggy center and far more likely to be his '10 result based on his tiny K/9 totals.

Will the '10 & '11 team be better? Yes. Marginally. Is that worth something? Sure it is.

But this deal will be an absolute loser IF it precludes other moves like signing international FAs like Chapman or going over slot up and down the '10 draft (not just for the #1 overall like in '09). The same can (and should) be said for the Pudge deal.

Don't think this $21m means jack squat. It's not my fault you wanted to waste this cash on mediocre veterans. It doesn't get you off the hook from spending money to make the team better long term.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Again, not where they should be

15 teams watched a workout by Aroldis Chapman in Houston today.

I know where the Nats President was and it wasn't Houston.

A good half the teams in MLB were there. Were the Nats? We don't know. And that probably means no.

Why oh why would they even sniff around a 21 year old lefty with high 90s stuff? A guy who's pitched well in international competition, much like another young fireballer we know.

Can't you even pretend like you did with Texeria?

I repeat, there is a potential top of the rotation starter available. He won't cost you a draft pick, he won't cost you any prospects. All it takes is for Ted Lerner to get out his checkbook and jot down some zeroes. I guarantee it won't matter what number you put on the check, it will clear.

Yes it is a risk. He may be 63 for all we know. He may have a multi-million dollar arm and a 50 cent head. Two words: So what.

####update: Rizzo was there! Two more words: F*&^$$^ & Yeah

You suck. You suck at a historical level. And it isn't like its going to be easy to get better fast.

You are in a division with one well run and well financed franchise (Philadelphia) one well financed but comically directed franchise (Mets), one well run and moderately financed (Atlanta) and one really well run but dirt poor (Florida). Notice that each of these competitors does at least one thing well. Right now, you are poorly run and cheap. That is a recipe for 5th place indefinitely.

Your payroll for 2010 won't be more than 60m. Can't be. It could be $90m easily. It could be $100m. The Washington DC metro area is the 7th largest media market in the county. Don't tell me the DC market can't generate enough revenue to match that megalopolis that is Milwaukee?

So where's the $30 to 40m going to be spent? What's your farm system ranking? Was it 26th? I'm pretty sure that means you need help. Could use an infusion of young talent. Just look what you can get with even moderately talents prospects (Cliff Lee for example)

I hate to put it this way because that will just lead you to giving Joel Pinero waaaayyyyyy too much money for too many years. Yes, you are listed as interested in him. Someone who has virtually no chance of earning his contract.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Passing scene

Not an inspired title I know.

It's as inspired as the National's winter so far.

Brian Bruney? An older and more injury prone Joel Hanrahan. Fantastic.

Pudge Rodriguez? Had to give him two years. Really, once Gregg Zaun was off the market, he was the best left. In terms of value to the Nationals, we now know the cost to get your team name engraved on a plaque in Cooperstown. Way down at the bottom but there none the less.

Here's two questions.

1) When the Rangers bid $7.5m/1 for Rich Hardin, why didn't the Nats pipe up immediately and say $8m? They are supposedly looking for starting pitching. Rich Hardin is potentially the best starter on the market. There is a chance he earns way more than $8m next season. No other starter left in free agency has a snowball's chance in hell of earning $8m next season.

And don't start with me about Jon Garland or Jason Marquis. Neither one could be a #1 starter and neither one would fetch a fat price in prospects at the trade deadline. Once again, the Nats fail to take a calculated risk looking for a big reward.

2) A top tier relief arm goes on the market. He's dealt for a guy who's been dealt twice in recent memory. Basically roster filler. So the prospect price is practically nil. This guy would immediately become your closer and be one of the better ones in the National League. So, why does Rafael Soriano go to the Rays and not the Nats? Maybe Atlanta didn't want to deal in the division. OK I can accept that. But did they even ask?

They are still playing rinky-dink small market baseball. That mentality is not going to work. Kansas City and Pittsburgh have tried and failed. This is a major media market and can support a much higher payroll team. They can also afford to take chances and make mistakes. If you are going to make a mistake, at least do it with something that has a chance of paying off big.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Meetings

Just a few odds and ends:

"The Mets would like to unload Luis Castillo in an effort to lure Orlando Hudson to New York, and they're very interested in Nationals outfielder Josh Willingham to fill their need for a slugging left fielder. Shpigel says that the Nats currently have a steep asking price though, as Willingham is in high demand"

Rizzo's first test. Remember the old poker advice: If you can't figure out who at the table is the fish, then its you. Omar IS the fish. Strip him naked and leave him bleeding by the side of the road.

Nationals interested in Jon Garland according to Peter Gammons. Insider subscription required.

I would prefer not to beat this dead horse again. So, please for the love of God, don't even talk to Jon Garland. Don't think about him. Pretend we live in a world where Jon Garland doesn't exist. It's a good world where sub mediocre pitchers DON'T receive millions to help their teams lose.

Gammons also says the Nats are interested in John Lackey. I like Lackey, I'd love to have him on the team. But this smells like an agent trying to get another bidder. If you could get him for A.J. Burnett money (5/82 I think), that's a go. Over $100m? Pass

The Royals sign Noel Arguelles according to Yahoo! sports.

$7m over 5 years. $2m in incentives.

I repeat the F*&%(&*% tiny market, low budget tin pot Royals signed a major international free agent. For $7M!!!!!! Over FIVE YEARS. That's $1.4m a year. For a hard throwing young pitcher who would cost you nothing but $$$$$. Are you freaking kidding me!!!! Being outbid by the Red Sox or the Yankees I can understand. But the Royals?? Really. You are telling me that the Royals, in their minuscule media market, having a longer record of pathetic futility, can find the $$$$$$ to add a great young prospect but the big market, cheap bastards in Washington can't find the money. F U

Shinen's list:

"Among the possible targets are pitchers whose contracts their teams are looking to shed, such as Atlanta's Javier Vázquez (one year remaining at $11.5 million), or arbitration-eligible pitchers whose teams need payroll savings, such as Florida's Ricky Nolasco or Detroit's Edwin Jackson."

Yes, yes and hmmmm. Not sold on Jackson. Nolasco? Oh yeah. Highly unlikely though. The arb-eligible guys are still affordable for teams with payroll flexibility. That will drive up the prospect cost. Vazquez is basically like an arb-eligible since he only has one year left.

This list would cost nothing useful (and by nothing useful I mean it would cost only the pennies the Lerners are currently torturing at their palacial estates)

Bronson Arroyo
Aaron Harang
Gil Meche
Jeremy Bonderman
Derek Lowe
Carlos Zambrano

There is no doubt that the first five on this list could be had tomorrow for nothing more than salary relief. Look, I just solved your top of the rotation problem. Not that these guys are true #1s mind you but they would serve the Livan! role with only minor suckitude. Worst case scenario (barring injury) you have your 200IP veteran.

Harang and Arroyo have club options for 2011 with a $2m buyout. (Let me save some time and fill out that buyout check now) Bonderman has one year left and no buyout. Meche has two years left, Lowe has three as does Zambrano.

Obviously Lowe and Zambrano would be tough to swallow, neither projects to be worth even close to their salaries. But that's why you get them for nothing. Beggars (and back to back 100 loss teams) can't be choosers. I'd posit that either could be moved to the bullpen, Lowe was an effective closer earlier in his career where they could make for interesting trade chips in 2012.

The others represent no real long term commitment. You could even flip them at the trade deadline if they pitch well enough. (they would have to be traded, there is ZERO chance you offer them arbitration. They would accept in a heartbeat so Soriano-style brinksmanship won't work here.)

Do they make the National's better long term? No. Unless they fetch something useful later. But they make next season better without sacrificing any long term asset. You need to sell tickets.

You could make a similar list (probably a much longer one) of bullpen guys with horrible contracts that could be had for a ham sandwich. But even I wouldn't spend the Lerner's cash on that.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Yes. I've been co-opted. Reigned in by the classic Washington technique of granting "access".

Just hung up on a conference call with new Nats manager Jim Riggleman. That's right, me a lonely pajama-clad basement dwellar had a chance to speak directly to one of only 30 major league managers.

All thanks to: Dave Nichols, Nats News Network and his DC-IBWA idea. And the Nats PR staffers who set the whole thing up.

Anyway, you little people on the outside didn't miss much. The other bloggers asked the same kind of questions that any interested observer of the Nats would want to ask given this opportunity. And Riggleman answered just as you might expect . . . nothing flashy or glib. Just solid baseball focused answers. Not a thing wrong with that and exactly what could reasonably expected.

I'll take away three things:

1) He didn't want to talk about himself which is an admirable trait IMHO. He did say that he considered his role to be one of not letting the team get too high or too low. Sort of a Stay Medium message. We all know how the last Stay Medium guy is faring.

2) When asked about stolen bases, he said they had gone away thanks to the Steroid Era when managers just waited around for someone to hit one out. He thought that the stolen base would make a slight comeback. Nothing particularly odd about this opinion. I found his use of the term "Steroid Era" to be significant. First, if I were involved with baseball, rule #1 would be "Never mention steroids in public." Second, I wonder if those involved in baseball really think of the late 90s and early aughts as dominated by juiced up sluggers? AFAIK, we have 104 positive tests back in '04. Given a 65-35 split pitchers to hitters that would be about 68 hitters. Is that enough to change the entire strategy of a 100 year old game? Or was the problem so widespread and so known inside baseball circles that managers managed differently knowing they had roided up sluggers up and down their lineup. * note -- I couldn't care less about steroids in baseball. But for those who do, here you go.

3) When asked why free agents would want to come to a team with 100 losses in consecutive seasons, Riggleman answered that "ballplayers are looking for opportunities." A player would rather be a starter than a backup. Essentially, this means that playing time is an asset the Nationals can use. They could guarantee a guy coming off an injury, hey you'll stay in our rotation now matter how badly you get pounded. We'll give you the best chance to get yourself healthy and back in game shape. Then we'll make sure you land on a contender come July 31. Brad Penny didn't do himself any favors signing with the Red Sox last year. They had to win and couldn't wait for Penny to be fully healthy and ready to contribute so they cut him loose. I'd make that my cautionary tale when I went after say a Ben Sheets or a Mark Prior.

Please don't stay tuned for more inside info from Nats land, I doubt there will be any more here. In fact, I don't think there is any now. But at least I feel more important and that's what a blog is for right?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

$12.5m is a place to start

That's Aaron Harang's salary for 2010. And it's too much for Cincinnati to swallow

It gets better. Here's Harang's contract status according to Cot's:
  • 07:$4.25M, 08:$6.75M, 09:$11M, 10:$12.5M, 11:$12.75M ($2M buyout)
  • 2011 option increases to $13M with 210 IP in 2010
  • if traded, 2011 option becomes mutual option at $14M ($2.5M buyout)

So it's a $14.5 m commitment.

Oh. I see why he's available. Yech. Barely league average. A right handed Scott Olsen for five times the price. Except for those two outstanding seasons three and four years ago when he was in his prime.

OTOH: the Nats DO need a veteran starter at the top of the rotation. I don't think that can be disputed after last seasons disaster. Their are only two ways to get something like that: free agency or a trade.

Free agency means almost inevitably you will be forced to overpay. Especially if the quality you want to buy is consistency. You can get a cheaper alternative but you radially increase the chance of suckage or injury. Either of which defeats the purpose of spending the cash. Also, it is far more likely to require a longer term commitment for the mediocrity in question. One year of Jon Garland's averageness would be OK, three would be intolerable.

Trade market. Here's its much more interesting. Two ways to make a deal. Either have prospects or have cash on hand. Since the Nats farm system is still pretty bare at the upper levels, it makes more sense to go the cash route.

The Reds want to cut payroll upwards of $15m. They have a pitcher who has been hurt and when healthy been average. They are paying him $12.5m this year and will almost certainly buy him out (barring a miracle renaissance) for another $2m. A $14.5m commitment.

Take that burden off their books and it shouldn't cost you a damn thing. Hell, I'd give them Carlos Alvarez or whatever the hell his name is this week just for fun. Think the Reds don't jump at that? Of course they do. They'd be stupid not to. Unless someone allows them to buy a prospect by picking up part of Harang's salary which I would think is highly unlikely.

Pros: No long term commitment. Harang's gone after 2010 no matter what (again barring a miracle contract year drive). He could be sold as a veteran presence at the top of the rotation. Just as likely as any of the top FA's this off season to be healthy and throw 200 innings albiet of league average ball. Could be flipped at the trade deadline and get a decent prospect.

Cons: It's $14.5m for about $6m in production. I didn't go to business school but I know that is a bad deal.

All in all, why the hell not? Again, I love spending other people's money. But isn't that the main sport here in Washington?

I'll throw a quick 2 cents in on the manager search. What are the odds that the Nats find an uber manager who can by sheer baseball intellect and force of will turn this motley band of rag tag losers into a trim fighting for a pennant machine? About the same as a Nancy Pelosi blink this decade.

So what do we really want in a manager? Give us a character. Someone who we can talk about, who will amuse us who will be a personality a presence in the sports community. If we have to watch the same quality of baseball, at least keep up mildly entertained while doing it. I guess that's an argument for Groucho Marx errrrr Bobby V.

Now, if you tell me he'd be likely to blow out SS's arm or play mediocre vets ahead of promising kids, I'd say I wouldn't care if he was entertaining at all, he'd be a disaster. But, if he can get those things right, why not go for the fun? We've had precious little of that in our Washington baseball lifetime.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The ONLY reason to keep Riggs

is to not taint the next manager with the stink of '10's drive to not lose 100 games for a third straight year.

I can see the utility of avoiding a Lou Pinella in Tampa situation where you pay for a "proven" manager and they arrive to find the cupboard bare. They try all the tricks that worked when they had superior talent (over managing, temper tantrums, blasting players in the press etc.) and they still lose 60% of their games. Finally, they simply lose interest and beg to get out of their contract.

Who needs that?

As for a young guy, what would make the National's job attractive? No sign that the owners are going to spend, not really a baseball town, team promises to be bad in the short run. At least Drayton McLain in Houston would pony up the dough (although they might be in worse shape than the Nats in the long run)

So why not Riggleman? He's cheap, disposable and not without some managing acumen. (Lest we forget, he's partially responsible for the Future Front of the Rotation)

As a fan, the choice sends the message: ehhhh. Not a big name, not a big personality just a caretaker.

I mean really, wouldn't you rather have the Lerner$'$ spend the millions it would take to hire a Showalter or Valentine on oh I don't know guys who have the athletic skill to actually hit and throw and catch the BASEBALL! Plenty of places to spend that cash -- Cuban defectors, Japanese high schoolers, Venezuelan outfielders. Please go get them and it won't matter if you have John McGraw or the late Tug McGraw managing.

Oh and one more thing. There is absolutely no reason, none whatsoever, to offer Scott Olsen arbitration. I have confidence Rizzo knows this but since I recently saw a 2010 preview that incuded an Olsen arb, I wanted to make this point clear. There are a raft of factory second starters on the market -- it would be a shock to me if Olsen got more than an NRI in the off season. That I could live with.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Get me Lackey!!!!

That's the guy. "No Socsh. It's mine"

And he was right.

I want him at the top of the rotation. Does he fit the mold of a stopper or what?

It's just cash Mark. Make it happen.

Chief Jackass

" seems some reporters just don't even know what they don't know, and often don't even know what they think they know."

"As a fan, and as an owner, no one hates to lose more than I do, but I like to base my opinions and my emotions on fact, not on cocktail party suppositions. That's the difference between a mature fan or pundit, and a childish tantrum...

"I have had to learn not to expect more from some of the folks covering the Nationals. My friends have been telling me that for a few years...

"I have to remind myself that the job of many reporters is filling column inches more than being factual or informed."

-- Chief Jackass Mark Lerner

It's only four small paragraphs. But oh how much it says.

His Obamaian paranoia about media, his casual dismissal of criticism as ranting of the uninformed. A true douche.

Hey Mark, if you are so concerned about accuracy, then by all means tell your side of the story. What's inaccurate? Don't you think we'd love to bash the Food Critic if he got something wrong? Of course we would. So show me.

Tell me I'm wrong when I make the claim that you pocketed $40m in profit in '08 and will turn a profit in '09. Open the books and make me look like a fool. Please.

Prove to me that you aren't ignoring the international free agent market. Show that you tried to sign Inoa or Sano or Aroldis Chapman? Give us the phone records, the texts, whatever we need to prove you are doing everything you can to win. Show me why spending $3.2m on the best Dominician prospect this year is a bad idea and how your orgainzation is just too tapped out to be a major player in this avenue for acquiring talent.

Clearly you must be smarter than me or all the other observers out here in the Natsmophere. You own the team and I don't. You have the money, you must be smart because you earned errrrrr inherited all that cash. Please enlighten us oh Sage of South Capitol Street. Tell us why uniforms are misspelled, tarps fail, fireworks malfunction and two consecutive 100 loss seasons happened?

There is one positive Mr. Lerner. You'll have to do a hell of a lot worse to capture the worst owner in town award.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Post Season Nationals Trivia

Thought I'd forgotten the Nationals One a Day Calendar updates.

No. Just waiting for another great one. And October 8th is it.

Here is the best trivia question the marketing department could unearth for the Nationals

The 2007 Washington Nationals had four players who struck out at least 100 times. Can you name them?

Yes. Please tell me how many useless at bats I watched by in '07? Please, I want to relieve all the cooling air generated in the hot Washington summer by these fantastic fanners.

Two quibbles with FJB:

1. Bradley Meyers is a clear cut above everyone on that list except Detweiler. And he's ahead of Detweiler by a nose.
2. Jack Wilson wold be a fine no hit/all glove shortstop. 16 and 15 uzr/150 the last 2 years. I think I'd put more faith in Wilson's glove remaining valuable than Hardy's bat coming around.

One big point of agreement with FJB:

Jeff Suppan's albatross of a contract BEGS for a salary dump deal. BEGS for it. Give us Hardy, whom you don't need and will earn far more than you want to pay anyway and Suppan and his massive obligation and we'll give you a brisket sandwich. Don't tell me the Brewers don't make that deal in a heartbeat. They want to add two starters and are willing to deal Mat Gamel to get them. That means they will have to take on salary and they HAVE to be a the top of their salary ceiling.

Now it may turn out that the point of this deal, to make sure the 2010 nationals don't lose 100 games for a third year in a row, may not happen. It's somewhat likely that Suppan pitches WORSE than the c level bottom filler rotation guys used this year. And Hardy's back may make him Belliard-like in his range and Josh Wilson like with the stick.

While I'm thinking about it, I should make a list of tradeable commodities on the shelf for Rizzo to deal with:

Untouchables: Zimmerman, Strasburg and Storen

Untradeables: Dukes (attitude), Dunn (National League only) Guzman (contract) Flores (injury)

Moveables: Every pitcher not listed above. Lannan probably has the most value. Detweiler is probably 2nd. I love Meyers so I'd make him 3rd (although he'd be untradeable for me). Do guys like Mock, Martis, Chico, Stammen, Balestar and Martin get traded? Aren't they basically replacement level?

How about deeper? Guys like Arneson or Mandel? Maybe Milone. Do the McGeary/Smoker/Willems trio have any value left?

Willingham makes the most sense as a trade chip on the hitting side. Relatively low salary next year, good clubhouse guy easily replaceable as a corner outfielder.
Do you have to dig down to guys like Burgess, Hood and J.P. Ramirez to find prospect value on the hitting side? I think you might. Espinosa I suppose. Maybe he makes Desmond expendable.

Really, the cupboard is kinda bare. To me, it makes more sense to use your absurdly low payroll to leverage talent from organizations that are overstretched.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


First Jordan Zimmermann shreds his elbow ligament.


Now Derek Norris cracks his hamate bone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Double FU(*^&%(%(&^%*&^$%&$#(^**(&)*(&

It had to be to the two best prospects in the system. It also had to be the worst sorts of injuries too. I know guys come back from TJ all the time (Chris Carpenter and Josh Johnson to name two) but still it blows a couple of good years.

and the hamate bone -- they can come back but it takes a lot of time to regain the power and that was one of Norris' calling cards.

C'mon on baseball gods haven't we suffered enough! 205 losses in two years.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Some commentary on our awards

I won't replicate the list of the 1st Internet Baseball writers of DC awards.

You can find the winners here.

I'll only make a couple of observations.

First, I was terribly surprised at how close the voting was for Minor League Player of the Year. That seemed to me to be as easy a slam dunk as most of the other categories (Zimm on the hitting side and Lannan on the pitching side.) Maybe Derek Norris is out of sight and out of mind but aside from his weak finish, he had a season that would top many organizations lists not just the Nats relatively weak system.

I suppose I should have given Desmond some more consideration. He remade himself into a legit prospect this season. And I am telling you right now, Brad Meyers will be a major league starter soon. Maybe not a great one, maybe just another #3/4 guy but he will be in the mix.

To me the toughest category was relief pitcher. Does anyone in that bullpen deserve any type of recognition? Better still, would any of them make a postseason roster this season? I think it was the goggles that swayed me.

And if you are wondering who voted for Elijah Dukes for the humanitarian award look no further. The little league incident and the overblown reaction to it by the club and the media made that an easy call. Bring Dukes back, play him in RF everyday, tell him he needs to relearn patience at the plate and he'll be fine.

OK how about some other categories to get some different names in the mix:

Bucky Harris Scrappiest Player of the Year -- Give one to the guys with limited talent!

1. Willie Harris
2. Pete Orr
3. Jorge Padilla

Denny McLean Pitching Disappointment of the Year -- another chance to stick the shiv into our favorite punching bags

1. Daniel Cabrera
2. Scott Olsen -- (I'll just assume Rizzo was kidding when he implied he might offer Olsen arbitration)
3. Joel Hanrahan

I'm sure if I could give it more thought I'd come up with a few others.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pent up stuff

What has there been to say over the past month of listless baseball known as "playing out the string."?

Ian Desmond has made a case as a major leaguer or as Chuck Knoblauch V 2.0 (minus the felony charge!)

I ask you this: when Elijah Dukes was 5 minutes late for a game because he stayed to greet every little league player it was a national story about a malcontent who doesn't play the right way. Aside from starring as a Web Gem, who is talking about his full speed game-saving catch? Lot of gritty pros would have a) not had the athleticism to get within 20 feet of that shot and/or b) decided that slamming into a wall in pursuit of a game saving catch was too high a price to pay when it meant the difference between 108 losses or 107. Dukes hit the wall. Enough said about his place.

Have we found out anything about the pitching staff? Not really. Have J.D. Martin, Garrett Mock or Ross Detweiler earned a rotation spot in '10? If Eddie Bonine can start maybe the most important regular season game this season then maybe so. But would anyone feel confident that they could significantly improve their performance next season? Detweiler maybe since he's still young but the other two are what they are.

So it Lannen, Strasburg, Vet Free agent A, and two of the other in house candidates. With the quality of Vet FA starters out there, there is almost no chance of Vet free agent A being a difference maker. Now 8**couch cough John Lackey***cough maybe but do any of us really believe they are going to pony up for the only decent bet? Think more like Carl Pavano (last seen giving up a laser to Mags Ordonez to put the final nail in the coffin for the Twins '09 season).

The message I hope they take out of last night's walk off finish is: 3 years and $37 million doesn't mean no blown saves. Spend wisely in the pen please.

I have to say this: The Twins. The tiny market Twins get the top Dominician prospect for a little over $3m? Really. Couldn't find $3.2 million underneath the mountain of revenue sharing checks? And I notice a strange silence when it comes to Aroldis Chapman. Or the Japanese high schooler who's name escapes me who is thinking about coming over so he doesn't get caught up in the whole posting system stuff. Gents: your current '10 payroll in near $40m. You have that in the bank before you sell ONE TICKET!

And I don't want to hear about debt service and understanding the finances of a baseball team. The Safeway guy who built the Giants new park financed it himself. And it did hold down his payroll having to pay back interest and principle. That didn't mean the Giants went cheapskate. Oh by the way, the Giants media market, split with the Oakland A's isn't nearly as large as the Washington metro area.

Aren't the Lerner's billionaires? Didn't the team cost roughly $400 million. Are you telling me the Lerner's got a Jumbo loan or an Alt-A subprime to buy the team and now the resetting is killing them? Not likely.

Can't they understand that from a fan's point of view all we've seen in terms of trying to get better in the long run is the $15m for Strasburg and the 2007/08 draft spending. That is peanuts compared to the profits from the last two years. You have the budget and if you say you don't you are lying. Prove me wrong Stan.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Who's running the asylum?

To quote the great John McEnroe:

Jim, you cannot be serious.

Reward veterans who's played hard all year?  Owe it to contenders? 

On one hand, Riggs attitude is the correct one for a manager.  A manager's job is to win the next game. Period. 

But there has to be someone in the organization who isn't focused on the next game.  That's what the VP for baseball operations or  whatever title Rizzo got when they made him general manager.

He's the one who tells the manager "Listen, I know its not our best chance to win tomorrow but I have to know some things about our young players if I am to make informed choices this off season.  So, play Desmond.  Everyday.  I'll deal with any hurt feelings."

This has clearly happened on the pitching side where Detwiler will only get in a few mop up innings. Right now, wouldn't Ross be the first choice to take an open rotation spot?  Syracuse record would make that case. But that ain't happening.  (Notice how they just shut  Martis down rather than give Riggs an option)

These September innings are of absolutely no 2009 value.  But they do represent an asset for the future.  Let's see if Desmond can be an everyday player.  Can Maxwell stick as a 4th OF? 

And keep this AB/IP as an asset in mind during the off season.  A veteran SP could be had with just enough cash and a promise of a rotation spot guaranteed.  Someone like Ben Sheets.  Hey Ben, instead of killing your 2011 value by getting hammered playing for a contender (Brad Penny for example), why not sign in Washington for one year?  We'll accommodate your schedule . . . need an extra day off? No problem.  need to skip a turn. Be my guest.   And if you regain form  by July 1, you will be traded to a contender.  You won't know in the spring if the team you pick will be a contender.  We can guarantee that if you pitch well, you'll be in a pennant race in August/September.  Some agent has to be smart enough to see that's a pretty good deal for his client.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Shank end of the season

The shank end of a miserable season. At least now it's post September 1 and we can focus all our energies on 2010.

Cause who wants to look at the sorry mess of 2009 anymore. And please, can we get the gremlins away from our young pitchers elbows. Does anyone doubt that Craig Stammen will be in James Andrews waiting room a week from today?

Right now we know for certain only four members of the pitching staff for 2010: Lannan, Mock, Burnett and Clippard. That's seven or eight spots up in the air.

Lots of candidates for the three open rotation spots: Martin, Martis, Detwiler, Balester, FA pitcher to be named later, Livan!, I'll even add Stammen on here on the off chance that his elbow ligament isn't already the shape of a never ending pasta bowl at Olive Garden. One might be tempted to add Strasburg and as the options decrease, this becomes more likely. Although I'm sure they'd rather have SS start out in the minors just to defuse some of the inevitable franchise savior stuff.

When you cull it all down, there are only two real difference makers avaibale on the FA market in the starting pitcher department.

John Lackey will be 31 next season and has a career ERA+ of 117. Been less than healthy the last two years after 5 years of heavy labor. Still effective when he pitches though. Have to wonder why the Angels seem ready to part ways with him.

He is somewhat of a flyball pitcher .78 career GB/FB ratio so that's not Rizzo's style. But maybe, with Nyjer patrolling CF, a flyball pitcher would be prefereable to the IF defense with Guzzie and Dunn. Have to believe the Angels will offer him arbitration at least, he only made $7m in 2009 so he'd cost the 2nd round pick. Have to think moving to the NL would be a boost.

He'll probably be expensive -- can't see giving him 5 years. What kind of pitcher will he be at 36? But he might command that kind of deal. Still, he's no flash in the pan and is about as good a bet as anyone in the FA pitching market to come within 80% of his salary in value.

Now the other is Rich Hardin.

Age 28 for next season. Career ERA+ of 129. Most of that in the American League too. .68 GB/FB ratio, another flyball pitcher. Over a K per inning for his career too.

Never thrown 200 innings in any one season. IOW -- extreme injury risk.

One look at his top comp tells you all you need to know about Hardin: Mark Prior. If his arm is right, he's great. But most of the time it's not.

A.J. Burnett had the same reputation and got 5/85 last offseason. But this off season: Will the Yanks be in the SP market at all? Will the Red Sox? If they aren't, who would pony up the dough for Hardin? Again, the Cubs likely to offer arbitration so he'll cost the 2nd rounder too.

No doubt the Nationals management is going to ignore these two on the premise that top of the line FA pitching is a luxury reserved for big market teams or teams just a player or two away. I would hope, at least, that they keep their options open. The market for either of them may be softer than we realize right now. Would it be so bad to get either one for three years even if you had to go to the $12-$15m range?

My post hype prospect who was freely available in ST but not picked up due to the logjam of DH?1B types:

BAd teams need to keep options open and take chances on guys like this. We all remember how Dmitri worked out but there was another FA 1B freely available that off season . . .

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Not enough

$15+ million? Only $8m this year.

Are you kidding me?

No money for the rest of the draft. No money for international signings. No money to absorb major league salary in exchange for prospects.

And it comes out to a mere $8m?

Let's say after SS's $8m and the crummy attendance and the miniscule ratings that the team only breaks even this year.

There is still the matter of the $35-$40m PROFIT from last year. Profit NOT reinvested in the product in any appreciable way this year.

Kansas F*(&^&%^( City was blowing up slot up and down the draft. The whole day yesterday signings kept coming in: 7th round pick Brody Colvin signs for $900k with the Phils. And on and on.

Are you telling me that a franchise with the worst record in baseball last year, with the worst record in baseball this year a billionaire owner AND turned a profit last year CAN"T AFFORD to spend on the draft?

Ackley the #2 pick got $7.5m guaranteed $9.5 in all. That's only a LoDuca more than SS!

It's easy to spend other people's money I know. I just wonder why this franchise is acting like a small to mid market franchise when it should be one of the big boys. I'll grant you half of New York is bigger than the DC metro area but Philly? Atlanta? Florida? Should easily be able to compete financially with those guys.

And at least until 2012, the Mets are totally hamstrung!

Great. You did what you had to do and signed Strasburg. Now go get the guy some help.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I told you so

Meet Aaron Crow . . . much less rich because he is a greedy bastard.

How'd that turning down $3.5 turn out for ya? 

Please call Steven Strasburg and tell him your story.  How you lost millions (the difference between what he'll get this year over last year plus the fact that he's one year farther away from his FA contract) by holding out for "What you are worth".  HA HA HA HA HA

It probably not right to make such mean generalizations about a kid like that.  I'm sure his agents told him to hold out, the offers would get better.  You never hear about how that strategy fails (Matt Harrington anyone?). 

Monday, August 10, 2009

Gambler's Fallacy. . . they are dead right

I've mentioned the gambler's fallacy before. Basically, it means that previous events don't influence future events. Like if you flip a coin and heads comes up 10 times in a row. Tails is "due" but the likelihood of a tail is the same as it was the first 10 times.

But obviously that doesn't work for baseball. For the last 25 games, the same breaks that they didn't get in the first half they get. Timely hitting, decent pitching from the starters and the pen and tighter defense. This is the team we thought we had in ST . . . regularly mediocre rather than the bust of historic proportions we suffered through.

It is going to take some getting used to. I shut off the Game Cast of Thursday's game at 6-0. If seen that movie too many times I thought. Oops.

Anyway on to other matters.

First, the Guzman saga. Boston claimed him, then no they didn't no one claimed him. Nats say they aren't looking to deal him.

If so, I wonder why the Yanks didn't claim him. Cashman should know the Nats aren't going to stick him with the $8m next year and it would block the Sox from getting the SS they need.

What to pay the mighty Strasburg. Here's the debate at MLBTR:

Two points. I advocated the Godfather method espoused by one poster here. Make an initial public offer so large that it would make him look like a greedy bastard for saying no. Upsides: he might have signed two months ago and might be in the rotation right now. No one could claim cheapness. Downsides: they really want the $50m and wouldn't budge no matter what public pressure.

A lot of the posters make the point that SS isn't worth even $20m since he hasn't proved himself in MLB. What did not proven in MLB Dice-K get? That's been a mixed blessing for Boston at best. But, and this is Boras' argument, the Dice-K deal sets the market for major league ready pitching talent outside of MLB. And he's right.

Strasburg's problem comes from the fact that he doesn't have good options. Forgo a year of $20m in the pocket and risk injury and getting NOTHING and liking it. Dice-K could have stayed in Japan and made more money than 99% of his countrymen. Also, waiting a year to sign means you are one year farther away from the big payday, the first FA deal.

It's also unlikely that Boras could scare off a San Diego or Kansas City from taking him so he could fall to a big market team (Mets should be in the top 10 thanks to Omar!). Why? He's out of leverage. He CAN'T sit out two years.

Hey, some international spending. Way to go guys! Now, crack open that checkbook just a bit wider and get this guy too.

Finally, I won't give a detailed report on the Saturday night P-Nats game I attended. I will say this: Michael Burgess hit a ball that is still traveling. I mean an absolute BOMB. In the first, he hit a frozen rope that one hopped the 400 foot sign in dead center. 2nd inning . . . wow. It cleared the 400 foot sign in dead center, over the second row of billboards, over the American flagpole and disappeared into the trees. It wouldn't surprise me if one or two of those trees were lying on their sides. My friend said that was the longest home run he's ever seen and I have to agree. Tom Milone started and scattered 6 hits in 6 1/3. Didn't seem dominant just very efficient.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Progression to the Mean

I'm pretty sure I wrote that when Manny got the ax, the new guy was likely to look better in comparison simply by progression to the mean. That is, the Nats HAD to be luckier than they were in the first half. Well, that seems to be the case.

11-11 in the Riggleman era. With the starting rotation in tatters, I can't see this being a .500 team but they are now what we thought they were . . . below average but not historically bad. Good offense, suspect run prevention.

Nyjer Morgan's been playing way over his head and that's helped a lot. The middle of the order has taken turns scalding the ball. Aside from Morgan, the rest of the team has been about the same as when they were losing 7 out of 10 on a regular basis.

You know, I'm just going to enjoy this week of wins. It'll be 10 days from now when I can hang my head in shame as the future of the franchise gets fitted for his Fort Wayne Cats uni. I was confident the Lerner's understood how important this was and they would simply make a deal happen. Boras has to know he isn't getting $50 million. Lerner's know they are going to fork over $20m guaranteed at least. Now, I think it was going to be a pissing match from the start and nothing was supposed to happen.

Look at how many 1st rounders are unsigned. And very few if any over slot. Hmmmmm. Of course, this time the players union will be at the defense table during the collusion hearings.

And one last musing. At least 2/5ths of the starting rotation is completely untrustworthy (Mock and Martin). Stammen is slightly better but not much. There is nothing in the pipeline either. J Zimm needs to be shut down. He's got the #2 starter job sewn up, no need to stress that shoulder. Anyway, this starter problem looks to wear out an already fragile bullpen. THose guy have alimited shelf life as is and they would be better used up in coming years.

Attn: Front Office. Get better fast without losing talent. See here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Not much change

Aaron Thompson is one more soft tossing lefty in the organization. Hurrah. Maybe he grows up to be John Lannan . . . more likely he grows up to be Matt Chico. At least they got the idea . . . they basically paid the rest of NJ's salary for Thompson. A good start but not really the impact deal we're hoping for.

I do like the fact that one of the guys they got for Beimel comes pre-injured. That'll save a bundle in medical bills. Ha ha the Rockies had to pay to fix his elbow ligament!!!

Once again a trade deadline passes without a major move. Not that one was possible without any real assets to deal. I just read that the most salary any one team took at at the deadline was a little over $7m. So no one was taking on salary (except for the Peavy deal no long term expenses either).

Give them another gold star for bringing Elijah back and making him a regular. Please don't keep fing with him. Zim Dunn Willingham Dukes makes a pretty formidable middle of the order. At least it could.

Really the only mystery left is the Strasburg countdown. Two weeks exactly. As I've said before, it's a franchise defining moment. Don't screw it up.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Be creative (and not cheap)

This is from MLB trade rumors today:

The Red Sox and Indians discussed a three-way deal Thursday night that would send Victor Martinez to Boston and Clay Buchholz to Cleveland, according to's Jayson Stark. The deal would include a third team and send prospects in all directions.

The Red Sox and Indians contacted other teams to find a match. The Red Sox would want to trade recently-acquired Adam LaRoche to the third team, according to one of Stark's sources. LaRoche wouldn't fit on the Red Sox anymore if they add Martinez and there don't appear to be many suitors for him, especially now that the Giants added Ryan Garko. We know a team other than the Giants made the Pirates an offer for LaRoche earlier in the month.

The Indians are "heavily scouting" the Rays' system, but it's a "long shot" that Martinez goes to Tampa because the Rays have financial limitations that would likely force them to make a preliminary deal before acquiring Martinez. With just over 14 hours left, they don't have much time.

Now in just these two paragraphs are two ways for the Nats to get better with almost no player downside.

1. Red Sox want VMart. But they have the Adam LaRoche albatross hanging over them. Get on the phone and tell Theo, we'll take LaRoche and his salary if you send us a prospect. Then deal Nick J. for Ryan Tucker and boom. Two prospects for 2 months of NJ and cash.

2. Same deal with the Rays. They need to shed payroll to add Vmart. Take their payroll and get a prospect. Rays are deep in pitching and have a ML-ready SS who's buried now behind Bartlett and Zobrist.

This is a great time to use the massive profits this team has been making. Strasburg is not enough. Do more. Be creative not cheap for once!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The power of D

Even I must admit, last night's 3-1 win was more about D than O.

Nyjer Morgan's running catch, Zim's , dodging, ducking, dipping, diving and dodging all over the hot corner even Guzzie made a play if I remember correctly. Even Adam Dunn made a nice running catch on the left field line.

Absent those plays, it would have been a 4-3 or 5-3 loss. Just like about 40 of the previous 66 losses.

15 more to go to hit 43 and let the '62 Mets pop open that jug of ripple for another year.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another $2.5 million in the bank

Congrats to the Lerner family who just got $2.5 million richer thanks to Scott Olsen's frayed labrum.

The math: Olsen's going to be non-tendered (ahhhhhh have I just let the cat out of the bag!) So, instead of getting a small raise for a league average 30 starts from say $2.8 in '09 to $3m in '10, he gets a minor league deal if any deal at all.

Fill Olsen's roster spot in '10 with a pre-arb guy at no more than $500,000 and voila the Lerner's make $2.5 million with one torn labrum.

Now guys, I know the market stinks and business is down but you've just pocketed $2.5 m. What are you going to do with it?

Hint: Think San Diego. Or failing that chase a fleeing Cuban (the country not the maverick owner). Or a (really) teenaged Dominician shortstop?

Do something. For God's sake.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Promoting That Which I Like

-1 for syntax I know.

But, I love it when someone agrees with me.

What will I do in three to five years when the Omar hobby horse has run its course? 

I don't know and I don't care.

If nothing else, Scott O's shoulder trouble should give Uncle Teddy and his band of tightwads ample ammo in the upcoming arb hearings to give him the max slashola to the paycheck (assuming they even offer arb)

BTW guys, there's a 21 year old Cuban on the open market who's a lefty and can touch 100 on the gun.  It only takes cash (so I know it'll not happen but its worth pointing out yet another missed opportunity to help the club long term costing only a dent in the Lerner's Swiss cash balance)

Another cash related thought . . . would NJ and taking Lugo off your hands for Bard or Bowden be something you'd be interested in Mr. Henry?  Mr. Henry????  Over here . . . yes your wife is hot you rich bastard. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What the F*(&%^(&*%

That's all I have to say about this Boz report . . .

Let me say this as clearly as I can. 

There is NO OTHER PRIORITY higher for this organization than to sign Strasburg.  None. Zero.

Not getting a permanent GM, manager not deadline deals not roster shuffling, not even proofreading uniforms, it's SIGNING STRASBURG.

Haven't talked to him for a month? WTF????  They should have been camped out on his front lawn the day after the draft and not left until he signed on the dotted line.  Do you really think waiting even one second is beneficial?  Don't you think the leverage goes over to SS every second the Aug 17th deadline approaches?  Answer: Yes it does. 

Lerners: I know you didn't get rich by shelling out a dime more than necessary in your negotiations.  I can respect that.  But this ain't the parking garage business.  It's not all about location.  This is the entertainment business.  Perceptions matter.  I am not going to find a different parking garage just because the owner of that garage is a tighwad ass(^*&^*&^.  But I will find something else to do with my entertainment dollars rather than support a substandard product run by a tightwad ass*(&*(. 

Face facts: if you want this $400 million investment to start to pay off, you are going to have to start spending money.  I've droned on and on about ways you could have accelerated the development of this ballclub without tying yourself to big time free agent contracts.  Yet, aside from some overslot bonuses in the draft, nothing.  You even went cheapskate in this draft! 

Stop reading right now and pick up the GD phone and call the man.  Talk to Boras.  Now.  Don't wait.  Do it every freaking day.  Make yourself a pain in his ass if you have too.  Get it done and get it done now.  Can't you see what it would mean to the "fans" of this franchise?  Don't you realize how embarrassing it is to wear Nats gear in public?  

"You a Nats fan?  They suck.  They are pathetic" and those are the charitable ones.

You have a chance to start writing an entirely new narrative about this team by making the Godfather offer and getting this pick signed.  I am telling you, there will be the pre-SS era and a post-SS era.  The image of you and the team will change immediately if you show your commitment to winning by getting this deal done easily.  Drag it out, squeeze every penny till Lincoln cries and even if you get him, it won't change the perception.  It'll be, well they had to do it. they didn't want to and they nearly screwed it up.  Same old Nats.

I really hate to have to side with all the superficial jerks out there (I'm looking at you Wilbon you pompous windbag) who cavalierly dismiss this team as worthless.  But you are making it impossible to defend you.  Give us something please.

BTW: For those of us who think the team isn't quite as bad as it's record . . .

Monday, July 13, 2009

Might as well pile on

I'm pretty sure I said it a month ago, it had to be done.

Manny Acta might be a nice guy, a good baseball man and may end up being a successful manager elsewhere but it was not gonna happen here.  Eventually, the stink rubs off on the manager. 

It credited to Bill Parcells but it sounds more like a truism than a real quote

”You are what your record says you are.”

In the Nats case, they really are a little bit better than 26 wins. But not by much.

By my reckoning, Manny greatest failure was to not recognize what kind of team he had this year.  Despite the fact that he had a few more vets in the field, they still needed to be pushed to work hard every night like a young team that is bad would have to do just to remain somewhat competitive.  This team didn't do that.  The young pitchers sure have but between the meltdowns by the vet bullpen arms and the lackadasical play of vets in the field, the talent gap was too hard to climb.

I'd imagine that the psychology of losing also played a role here.  There were the three stomach punches early in the year against Florida. It seemed the team never got a chance to develop and swagger (ignorance and arrogance in the Bull Durham parlance) and that magnified the mistakes.  Attitudes changed from winning to performing and not getting hurt.  Who among us would put out effort day in and day out for a business that you knew was going down the toilet?  Real high character people might but the unwashed masses, they check out mentally but still cash the paychecks.

Interim manager?  Got to be the way to go.  The next two and a half months won't tell you anything about a new manager.  Better to use the time to decide what kind of guy you want and then go out and find him.  Oh and Teddy, pay the man too.  Stay off the discount rack please.

Finally, the late unlamented JimBo comes in for the lion's share of the blame here.  So, the '05, '06,'07 and '08 bullpens that were at the least mediocre to surprisingly effective were who's success?  Is the '09 lineup vastly superior to the lineups run out in the past few years?  They are what middle of the pack in runs scored?  That's a damn sight higher than they've been in the past.

If you want to kill someone for the dearth of talent here, kill the man responsible . . . Omar.  He drafted absolutely nothing. Zippo.  And tell me an outfield of Jason Bay in left, Grady Sizemore in center and Vlad Guerrero in right wouldn't have more than 26 wins?  I know I can't kill him for Vllad but the other two (plus reigning AL CY Young award winner Cliff Lee and talented but troubled Brandon Phillips.) 

The point is, as I love to make, is it takes a long time to become an overnight success. It will take longer because the ownership refuses to use their financial resources to jumpstart the process (not Mark Texieria but how about international signings or some creative take salary off your books for a prospect deals?)  Even I have to give them credit for their work in the draft (they've spent there until this year.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

There is nothing left to say

I've been out of the TV loop for Nats games for a bout a week.

Last night, I sat down to watch the festivities from Denver.

Hey, not bad through three.  An opposite field bomb from the hitting Zim and three OK innings from the pitching Zim.

To be honest, I can't even be sure I remember all that happened over the next couple of hours.  I can honestly say I've never seen anything like Willie Harris' bouncing balls.  Think about this: would that grounder taken a normal hop, those two runs don't score.  That probably keeps the pitching Zimm in for a while longer and it makes the Guzman debacle and the 1/4/3 FC a moment of comedy rather than pathos.

What force is it that kept Josh Bard's drive to right center (the same spot Zimmerman's shot went and kept carrying) 4 feet from leaving the park?  Another almost moment.

I don't know about any of you but I was really scrutinizing Manny Acta's face every time the director panned to the dugout for a reaction to the latest disaster.  To me it seems bemusement was the dominant emotion.  Like he couldn't believe what he was seeing and had no idea how to make it stop. A sort of fatalism had set in whereby raging against the injustices perpetrated on the field would be pointless . . . they were going to happen and there was nothing to be done.

I won't go into a whole spiel on Boswell and his 20/20 hindsight.  He's old and probably forgot the Brandon Watson and Endy Chavez outfield defense experiments.  Sure they could catch but those teams couldn't score at the Jack Daniels High School prom.  Guess what?  You want players who can catch hit and throw?  Takes money or a lot of drafting acumen and luck.  Most of the time, you take what you can get. 

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's July 2nd. Do you know where your GM is?

I know where he isn't.  In a hotel lobby in Santo Domingo inking a boatload of 16-22 year old Dominicans to fill the sparse prospect cupboard.  Why?  Because of Strasburg.

If they don't sign Strasburg, they MAY put money into international signings.

Great.  When you are 22 and 54 I think you really should cut back on spending for the future.  That makes a lot of sense.  First they went cheap in the draft then they are total non-players in the international arena.  Please give us some hope!

I'll never link to my mistakes mind you so that makes me a hypocrite for linking to this Why didn't the Nats grab Andy Marte when he was available post?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One step forward, two steps back

Nyjer Morgan is underappreciated.  I get that.  He's an amazing defender (but hasn't played much CF where I presume he'll be stationed).

But he's 29.  Perhaps his recent increase in plate discipline portends a Brett Butler-like 30's career arc but that's not likely.  That's as much of a gamble as waiting for Milledge's prime year breakout.

Morgan will make the 2009 Nationals better.  It looks like he has the skills to sustain his .350 OBA and that would make him a decent lead off hitter.  As long as his wheels hold out, his amazing defense will overshadow his slightly below mediocre offensive "contributions."  Morgan will never be a key piece and that's what is disturbing.

Basically, in this Pirate swap the Nationals have 1)sold low on two assets and 2) acquired nothing of long term value.

I love the fact that the Nats press release includes this about our new LOOGY:

Burnett sports a .200 (22-for-110) batting average against in 2009

That's pretty good, No?  He must be real good a hit prevention.

Well, not so much his BABIP (the luck factor) is an unsustainable .218.

His 6.4 k/9 doesn't profile as a guy who will always outperform average in BABIP.  In other words, the odds are Burnett turns back into the mediocre lefty reliever he's been destined to be for years. 

So on the reliever side, the swap was to get the pitcher who's had tremendous luck this year for one who's had horrendous luck.  I know it's gambler's fallacy to assume luck changes based on past performance.  But averages are averages for a reason.  The most likely result is Hanrahan pitches better and Burnett pitches worse.  So what have the Nats gained? 

I'm just not comfortable with the fact that the Pirates got 1) the guys who has a chance to be very good in MIlledge and 2) the RP who's better than his numbers indicate for 1) a guy who's likely as good as he's ever gonna be and 2) an RP who's been absurdly lucky. 

I know Milledge will most likely never materialize as an impact player.  In that case, taking the sure thing in Morgan makes sense.  But doesn't a team that is 31 games under .500 need to take big risks?  Play the upside angle at every turn? 

I guess this front office doesn't think so.  I'm sure we'll see more of that tomorrow when the international signing day arrives and well nothing happens in Nats Town.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Twenty Two

Amidst the carnage that is season 2009 in Nats(ghost) Town, at least we have the entertainment value that is an Adam Dunn AB.

Go on over to and watch it again.  Love the slo-mo swing cam.  And Jim Palmer's reaction . . . "that's the farthest I've ever seen a ball hit here"

It can be so easy . . . get a quality start and not terrible relief pitching, hit a couple of home runs and walk away with win 22.  Still on that 48 win pace.  When you salvage one game in every three game series and STILL help your winning percentage . . .

Now, the trade rumors intensify around all Nats including Dunn to the Mets.

And as per type, the New York prospects get hyped beyond all persepctive.  Bobby Parnall?  Really.  A set up guy who could never close because he can't throw strikes consistantly (hello Joel Hanrahan???)  And, thanks to the drafting acumen of TWGMIBB, the Mets have little else.

(Washington Nationals One-a-day calendar update: June 27/28  Nationals Trivia: "One of the worst trades in Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals history came in 2002 when the team traded Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Lee Stevens for what fat errrrr front line pitcher")

Why not just slip a knife in my back and make it quicker?  Never forget, never forget!

Willingham to the Reds.  What's on the shelf in Cincinnati?  Maybe 1-5 is too much to ask for. How about 6-15?  A couple of pitching prospects on that list with flyball tendencies.  Not Rizzo's style.  A couple of big (but old for their level) middle infielders.  Hmmmm. 

First impression on the Morgan/Milledge rumor.  The Pirates turned it down?  That's Nyjer Morgan not a '75 vintage Joe Morgan right?  A 28 year old who doesn't walk, has no power but plays top tier defense.  This is what is known as replacement level talent.  If they really want Morgan, just wait a year and the Pirates will non-tender him instead of clogging up their OF with an expensive defensive sub.

Morgan's age 28 season underway right now: 90 OPS+.  18-28 in SB's.  64% success rate. Isn't that a net negative?  Milledge gave us 91+ last year at age 23.  IOW, Morgan's NOT gonna get better.  He is what he is.  Milledge can still improve on the hitting side.

Lastings fielding stats are as ugly as you would expect.  Wow. Morgan can really pick it. But aren't we building a ground ball staff?  No Sid Fernandez's on the horizon as far as I can see.  And if it's defense you want, this guy built almost all his value on defense (prior to this year when he's built nothing.)

Solid citizens are nice but as Leo "the Lip" Durocher said. . .  It's OK to say give equal talent, take the good clubhouse guy.  Given unequal talent, not so much. 

Very disappionted in the Langerhans trade.  Very.  Mike Morse?  Does he bring anything to the table that the Nats don't already have?  Langerhans could have been a good 5th OF (certainly could have filled Kearns' roster spot would he be put out of our misery.)   C'mon Mike ask for someone deep in the Mariners system.  Recently demoted Shiron Martis was buried in the Giants system and all it took was Mike Stanton.  Surely you could have gotten at least a lottery ticket rather than basically nothing.

Finally, OK it's tonight that Scott Olsen gets his revenge on the Marlins.  Yeah, that's the ticket. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I like being right once in a while

mostly because I'm wrong a whole lot more.

But I thought I'd just log for future generations this bit of fortunetelling . . . .

Here's what Heyman (SI baseball writer said see #14)

Here's what I said.


An interesting 40 minutes of talk on the Nats draft here.

My thumbnail review: too easy on the new regime.  They aren't focusing on more polished college players, they made signability picks from #10 on down.  That is an entirely unacceptable strategic decision. 

I can live with not handing out big money major league FA contracts.  They almost never work out and can be huge failures. 

But to go cheap at the draft!!  C'mon.  In terms of actual outlay, what are we talking?  Even with Strasburg's contract, would they to top $30 million even if they took tough signs?  Say $20 million to SS another $4m to Tyler Matzuk who was a top 5 talent and is asking for this.  Still have $6 million left for the rest of the draft. 

I don't hesitate to point out that this team was over $40 million in the black last year.  That's profit.  So don't tell me it isn't in the budget.  If it isn't, then that's a choice.  You've decided to skimp on the best way to build a lasting winner.  And you get away with it because everyone feels sorry for you that big bad Scott Boras is going to bend you over and make you pay out the wazoo for the top guy.

So for less than half of A.J. Burnett's $82.5 million over the next 5 years, you could add 3-4 impact prospects to your mostly barren farm system. 

Instead they've basically punted.  Pin everything on SS being the guy they think he'll be and no one will remember the other picks.

Please, look at why you are where you are.  Those disasterous drafts of the early to mid '00s. Now, aside from SS, 2009 is a waste.

And fine, you like groundball pitchers and are focusing on infield defense.  Guess what?  That's not what other teams are looking at.  So, if that's your plan and it seems solid enough, then work it.  Get your guys LATER rather than earlier.  That 3rd round pick would have been there in the 10th. 

I'd be somewhat mollified if they were just honest about it.  Yes, we're cheap bastards and we're not going to go above and beyond build a winner.  Why should we when Red Sox fans fill our park? 

Monday, June 22, 2009

Nineteenth and Twentyth

You gotta respect the streak.


As unbelievable as this sounds, things could be worse.

There was a time earlier this season when there is no chance the Nats win either or both of those games against Toronto.

So Shiron couldn't keep the starting pitching streak alive (five in a row one whole turn through the rotation. How many teams can claim even one streak like that this year. Answer is probably a lot of good ones but . . . )

Now on a 48 win pace.  Twenty three to go to clear the '62 Mets futility record.  (I'm a big believer in setting your goals short just to make them reachable.)

Concerning note: Villone, Tavarez and MacDougal are the only arms that seem useful in the pen.  No long term value there at all.  On the other hand, it does show how a decent bullpen can be cobbled together from scraps.  Let's take that lesson to the off season rather than one that says pay a lot for a short reliever.

Friday, June 19, 2009


I thought I'd get a few days break from bloviating with this new, blog the number of the win strategy.

Three of the top five web gems from Nationals (Kearns/Hernandez then Willie's gem). Might have to rethink that whole offense/defense thing.

Really, the old saying in baseball is: you're as good as the next day's starter.  And if a guy gives up zero runs in 6 and a 1/3rd, anyone is gonna look good.  (until Lannan's shaving cream in the face. Was it just me or did Stammen look pissed? And why did it take a minute to get the guy a towel? Don't they have people for that?)

I see that the Pale Hose might have gotten tired of MacDougals wildness and figured a 30+ year old guy wasn't ever going to learn control.  But good gracious, he's dealing.  95-96 consistently. He's benefitted from two double plays behind him and from hitters without a lot of patience like Cano but still a guy who can bring it like that shouldn't be freely available.  Caution should still be exercised . . . wait till he gets a closing situation with some more patient hitters -- white knuckle time.

Well, we now know who it ws that was asking for the moon in all those previous trade deadline deals?
If I had the inclination, I'm sure I could find the exact same quote or one pret near it in '07 with Soriano and last year too.  The GM is different but someone's the same!

One more thing.  This post in Nationals Journal shows me something.  Rizzo's thinking ahead.   He has dare I say it . . . A  PLAN tm.   Not only that but a smart and sound plan.  Don't start abusing the young pitchers arms until they are on the cusp of free agency. 

If they are serious about limiting innings, why not go with the six man rotation?  Boston is (at least until they find a sucker errrr trade partner for Brad Penny).  98 games left in the season.  That would be a little over 16 starts per pitcher.  Average 6IP and that's just under 100 innings.  That'd be close to the top limits and it would keep them all in the bigs rather than having them waste time in Syracuse.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Wonder if a running feature titled with the latest win number would leave this blog essentially shut down?

OK. Let's be positive. It is win 17.  And it pushes the Nats back to a mere 29 games under .500.

Who drafted John Lannen in the 11th round?  Looks like a nice pick.  Even got to do a phoner on Baseball Tonight last night.  Got to be the first time since the end of Zim's hitting streak that the Nats got positive coverage from any national outlet.

So that's 1-4 on the current 15 game swing through the AL East. I point out that this is right on target for my 3-12 prediction.

Staying positive, here's a question.  Would you rather have this and $20 million a year or this?  Long term people, long term.

On the trade front, MLB Trade Rumors reports the Rangers have interest in NJ.  Please, let that one be true.

The Rangers have far and away the best farm system in the game right now, with impact prospects, lots of depth (particularly in very young pitching) and plenty of prospects close enough to the majors to help the big league club in 2009 and 2010.

And their owner just declared bankruptcy and is laying off staff.  Time to circle the carcass and vulture these guys.  Imagine what you could get from them with something they need to contend this year and salary relief?