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.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
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
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.