Friday, July 30, 2010

I'll tell you how it feels. It feels freaking great!

How will Wilson Ramos fit into the Nats Future?

to be on the winning side of a trade. And that's exactly where the Nats find themselves this morning.

I don't even care if Wilson Ramos is the second coming of Wil Nieves. I don't care if he would end up 4th on the Molina family depth chart, it's still a win simply because ITS EXACTLY WHAT THIS TEAM SHOULD BE DOING!

They even sent CASH to the Twins. Meaning they are paying Capps salary this year. And I'm sure that's why they were able to pry Ramos away, Capps came free and he'll be under team control for net year too. Ohhhh how tough it must have been to pry those pennies from the Lerner's hands but at least they did it. Credit where it's due.

As for Ramos, no need to start his clock. Should wait till September to bring him up just to be sure since he spent a few days in Minnesota earlier this year. Next year he should at least be given half the job pointing toward ownership in 2012.

Oh and an unconventional suggestion to replace Capps in the bullpen . . . Chuck James.

Right now, there is no one in the Nats pen who matches up with left handed batters. Burnett is death against lefties. The three lefty's in the Chiefs pen all have warts of one sort or another (I am not ready to ride the Ron Villone express again). James has major league experience and has a Cliff Leesque 31/2 K/BB ratio at Harrisburg.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

If only they were this caution with ALL their pitchers

Another Strasburg milestone: The first scratch of his career - Big League Stew - MLB� - Yahoo! Sports

One theme (among the few I beat to death) has been the seeming inadequacy of the team in dealing with pitching injuries.

The same refrain has happened time and time again . . . pitcher is OK maybe even showing signs of competence. All of a sudden they begin to get rocked. Ascribed to any number of reasons, the pitcher continues to pitch. Then, a "missed start" or "we're holding him back a day or two"

Finally, we get the "Paging Dr. Andrews" call. And the inevitable quote "My arm/shoulder/elbow has been sore for a while. I just tried pitching through it."

See Mock, Garrett, Lannan, John, Stammen, Craig (2009), Zimmermann, Jordan (2009) and on and on and on.

So, when the Meal Ticket complains about being unable to loosen up, go right ahead and get the MRI.

And if you are pissed you paid full price because of Strasburg, remember what was said about that Reds home date in early June . . .

The Plan must include Chris Marrero as the starting 1B on Opening Day 2013. That would explain the two year offer to Dunn and the unwillingness to go to three or four.

Dunn plays everyday in 2011, Marrero apprentices at AAA. 2012 Dunn starts, Marrero still at AAA but gets called up around June 1. Either Dunn becomes moderately useful deadline trade bait or he powers your drive for the NL East crown. Two successful seasons by Dunn should allow him to keep Type A status and make an arb offer easily declinable for him. Two picks come back and poof new starting 1B in 2013.

Prudent strategy I have to admit. And well worth sticking to your guns. Now Dunn @33 > Marrero @25 means a downgrade at 1B in 2013. But you hope the downgrade could be covered by the extra $14million freed up in payroll (yes I am silently laughing to myself at such a thought)

All I ask is: if you must trade Dunn get quality back in return. Don't sell short like AZ did in the Haren deal. The smart teams know Dunn is a difference maker, make 'em pay the price.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Oh jeez. Must we

Nationals' Dunn visits Brewers broadcaster Uecker in 2nd inning - Big League Stew - MLB� - Yahoo! Sports

get our fruit of the looms in a twist over this.

Ohhhhh. It's a GAME. A sacred and holy GAME.

Think about that for a minute. It's not surgery or nuclear power plant operations. It was a GAME. Played for sport and entertainment value.

And people go ans ascribe all kinds of meaning to it. Oh, the guy is disrespecting the GAME. He's being insubordinate and is clearly showing his disdain for the progress of his contact talks.

Dave Cameron over at USS Mariner wrote a piece today about the flare up in the Mariners dugout over the weekend. His main point: beat reporters and obsessive bloggers are terrible
amateur psychologists. They don't know what's going on iin the heads of people they cover on a regular basis. And you know what: neither does anyone who is freaking out over this situation.

How many times does a hall of fame broadcaster return from serious heart surgery? A broadcaster beloved (I assume) inside baseball. And one who clearly had a rapport with a visiting player who just happened to not be playing that day. A confluence of events almost impossible to imagine. And I continue, not likely to manifest itself again.

So, to show a true mark of respect, the players, who is NOT playing and could have been asleep in the clubhouse for all you knew, went to pay public homage to a beloved broadcaster and friend on the air. Three words: BFD!

I'm sure Uecker loved it and I'll bet the fans listening got a kick out of it too. The sum total of enjoyment for baseball is increased. I find it impossible to care for the critics and their narrow view of baseball purity. Make the GAME as accessable and fun as possible and maybe you can save yourself from falling further and further behind football.

I also see where the Nats as "listening" to offers for Matt Capps. They aren't making calls but a listening. My advise: listen harder. Capps has been a far cry from last year's bullpen by gasoline can disaster but what really is his long term value and how much will it help next year when he's twice the price? The Yanks offered Jesus Montero for Joakim Soria!!! Got to be someone halfway decent in the Yanks system for a "proven closer tm"

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Going to be positive today

Across the Affiliates | Nationals Farm Authority

Just for once. Just to see what it's like.

Interesting day yesterday as the Nats potential #1, #2 & #3 starters were all pitching.

And all three were effective.

I don't think it takes much imagination to envision the opening series of 2011 as a Strasburg/Zimmermann/Detweiler trifecta.

To me, that would give the Nats a chance to win all of those games. Or at least, it would mean the starting pitching wouldn't be the reason for another terrible start.

What it means for now is: trading for a prospect whose ceiling is a mid-level starter is really less important. Fixing the holes at 2B and CF are far more important (and to a lesser extent RF). In many ways, that is a much more difficult challenge. TINSTAAPP means teams might be more willingto deal a pitching prospect especially one with a limited ceiling since it's very likely that the prospect never develops.

But a major league caliber CF or 2B? Lot less likely to give away. Catcher too for that matter.

How much in free advertising do you think the nationally televised ESPN game last night was worth? Even led Sportscenter -- meaning even more free publicity. Adding this to the financial impact Strasburg is having on the team really makes the $15m he got seem like a steal.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wrong wrong wrong

Bullpen trade market 'a flip of the coin' - ESPN

"They're so focused on building that team back to respectability," an AL executive said. "To them, finishing seven or eight games under .500 is a lot better than finishing 15 games under .500. It means a lot to their business moving forward. In the end, I think they should consider trading him. But they don't seem that motivated to do it right now."

Not this s*^% again.

If this represents the thinking of the FO, then we're all screwed. Or at least condemned to a Pittsburgh/Kansas City/Baltimore like descent into perpetual mediocrity.

Yes, winning breeds attendance and revenue. But unless you go 35-5 in your next 40 games, wins in 2010 mean jack s*&^.

Holding out on Dunn, as I've gone on and on about elsewhere, is fine. He's a difference maker and should command a premium.

Matt Capps was FREELY AVAILABLE last offseason. He's replaceable. And you have the one card that could make Capps (and Guzman) worth a prospect with a shot at helping you down the road . . . you can pay their salaries!!!!

2010 was never about 2010. It should have always been about 2011 and beyond. Keep your focus there and skip this short term thinking. Two or three more wins this year isn't going to fill the place up. Two or three more wins next year or the year after when you have a better team, then your investment pays off.

And kudos to the FO for finally making a big international FA signing. About damn time. Now let's get this Cuban Craig Stammen into the rotation before we find out he actually outdueled Jamie Moyer at the Little League World Series.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tired old memes

Nationals Inquisition � A Problem Like A Donkey Named Dunn

The case for dealing Dunn isn't so cut and dried:

  1. Dunn wants 4-years/$60 million: If true, it is absolutely insane for a 30-year old masher who strikes out just as much as he puts the ball in play. His defense is below average to average at best and the National League doesn’t DH so why the Nats would pay for one, I have no idea. Thinking about it, he might actually be able to get that sort of deal– but not in D.C. He shouldn’t.
  2. Dunn Is Going To Be 10-and-5: MASN’s Ben Goessling pointed out something yesterday that is very important: if Dunn stays with the team and gets a four year deal, in the final year of that deal Dunn would be eligible for 10-and-5 rights and would be able to block any sort of trade. That isn’t territory you want to enter with a slugger who is going to break down more than build up at his age. Good find, Ben.
  3. Does Dunn Even Want To Be A Nat?: We know he says he wants to stay, but come on. An aging vet who never has tasted the playoffs doesn’t want the opportunity before he has to hang it up? Isn’t that what these guys play for? Dunn signing with the Nats to begin with seemed like desperation to just get on the field rather than an actual desire to play for a last place team.
  4. They Could Always Re-sign Him: The Nats could always trade Dunn at the Deadline and with it being his Free Agent year, they could always re-sign him during the off season if he truly likes it in D.C. Hell, it might be the best “take one for the team ever.” The Nats are all but finished this season, Dunn goes to a contender after getting traded and gets his chance at the playoffs while the Nats get valuable prospects. Then, in the off season they re-sign Dunn. So by next season the Nats could rake in both prospects and Dunn and lose nothing. It is a fantasy situation, but it is one to stroke yourself over if you think about it.

1. "tired old masher who strikes out as much as he puts the ball in play" -- please stop. Even at his worst, Dunn's bat has been a huge plus every season he's played. All the K's do is limit BA upside. I will note the K's also lower the DP chances . . . think the Nats would be better off if Pudge could K a few extra times! At 4/$60 he'd be a bargain next to Ryan Howard who he resembles in many ways. Of course, Dunn's a BETTER defender at 1B than Howard so there's that. Let's say Dunn's a 4 win player for the next four years. That's worth about $12-$14m per. The Lerner's can afford to overpay slightly, they have the money.

2. 10-5 rights. Who cares? First, it's in the last year of his deal. Second, you'd only want to move him if your "rebuilding" effort has failed completely so what's Dunn's incentive to block a trade? Yes, he'll have extra leverage four years from now, is that a reason to accept a substandard return NOW?

3. So what you are saying is Dunn should take less money to play for a contender? Really. Because that happens all the time. Bottom line is: high bid wins. No one knows who will be good or terrible two years from now. And Dunn seems to be a decent clubhouse guy -- he's no Yunel Escobar at least so there aren't chemistry issues which might drive down the price.

4. I guarantee at least one team will look at Dunn and say as a 1B/DH we can get a highly productive hitter for much less than what Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez would cost. Also, Dunn is going to be a Type A free agent and he will get an Arb offer. So to trade and resign will cost your 2nd round pick -- even more reason to hold out for a much higher prospect price.

One has to look at Cincinnati. They certainly don’t seem to be missing Adam Dunn in their line-up.

Teams NOT better off with Dunn @ 1B this year: San Diego, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Detroit, Boston . . . umm ahhhh anyone else? Texeria's been terrible, Dunn's been better than Howard & Fielder and Morneau's been hurt. For everyone else, Dunn represents a massive upgrade. Yes, the teams he's played on have sucked and his play in LF was a part of the suck. But he's not responsible for 90% of the suck and even at his glovetastic worst, he was still a net plus.

Again, I don't disagree with the trade Dunn route. I only disagree that it's a must trade situation. Guzman, that's a must trade situation. Capps should be a higher trade priority since his value will never be higher between his relative success and the thin reliever market and his cost certainty next year.

Trade Dunn but only if you get a premium. Hudson, Tyler Flowers and Christian Marrero take it or leave it Kenny.

Monday, July 19, 2010

He doesn't know them very well

Not�many quality position�players available�at MLB trade deadline - Jon Heyman -

5. Adam Dunn, Nationals 1B. One GM called the asking price "prohibitive.'' However, GMs can still see the Nationals dealing Dunn, whose big power should make him an attractive rental even with what's left of his $12 million 2010 salary, then perhaps signing him back as a free agent. The Yankees could envision him in Yankee Stadium, aren't focused on starting pitching anymore and would like to make up for missing out on Lee. The Angels make sense, too, with the loss of Kendry Morales to injury, and so do the White Sox. "They should probably move him, but the Nationals do some curious things at the deadline,'' one GM said, referring to their decision to keep Alfonso Soriano a few years back and various trades. They also are a rare potential seller that might be able to take some well-salaried players in return, putting them in a unique situation. "They could do unusual deadline deals,'' one GM said, meaning they could seek proven players back, not just prospects.

6. Josh Willingham, Nationals OF. The productive hitter has 15 homers and 49 RBIs and would be popular as a trade chip. But one competing GM, noting Willingham is under the Nats' control through arbitration another year, said, "I think they should keep him.'' Yet another hitter who could help the weak-hitting Giants.

"Could take well salaried players in return" "could do unusual deadline deals" HA HA HA it is to laugh.

They have had this ability since 2007 and it hasn't happened. Why is 2010 any different?

If they decide to trade Dunn, "prohibitive" is the starting point for what they should get. Remember, Dunn WILL get an arb offer and he will command "A" compensation so that really kills the trade him and resign in the off season strategy.

At 4/$60 -- that's not terrible. Barring injury, Dunn's likely to return close to $15m a year or at least he'll give you a solid $10m. I mean he's unlikely to veer into total albatross mode even throughout the length of the contract. Now 5 years or a few million more . . . then you'd think a little too much. Dunn's 30-34 year old seasons should look at lot like 2009-2010.

Wouldn't Jim Thome be a reasonable comp? Lots of power, patience mediocre-fielding 1B and he was pretty productive through those years in Philly.

Of course that the safe play and if there is one theme I've established it that this team isn't in a position to take the safe route. The only chance to really improve substantially in the medium term would be to get a haul for Dunn. At least one real impact player, preferably a bat and some other pieces. Now for this course to work, it would require 1) actually getting the impact prospect and 2) a willingness to spend the resulting savings. I'll grant you 1 is a crap shoot even for the best of GMs. 2 is totally within their control and as of 2010, they have not shown that willingness.

Didn't see the games this weekend but I sense a little panic button pressing throughout the Natsmophere.

Hey, that Josh Johnson guy, he's pretty good. Can't use that excuse yesterday though. Sometimes it goes that way in short stretches. It does highlight an ongoing problem and it isn't the 3-4-5 hitters. 1 & 2 haven't been doing their jobs (not that we had any reasonable expectation they would) all season.

Offseason assignment Mike: find a 2B with a high OBP. Or a centerfielder. Not asking much only the least plentiful commodity other than true #1 starters.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ESPN: Nats have several conversations regarding Dunn � DC Pro Sports Report

ESPN: Nats have several conversations regarding Dunn � DC Pro Sports Report

The ramification of dealing Dunn away will filter through the Washington Nationals lineup. The fact that Dunn is already starting to sour on a desire to ink a long term deal with Washington deflates the notion of trading away Dunn, and then resigning him in the off-season. So we do what? Trade him for prospects? When do the Nationals decide they don’t want to be a prospects team, a build for the future team, and instead be a winning team? When?

When? I'll tell you when. WHEN THE TEAM DOESN"T SUCK!

This was a 70 win team when the season started and is still a 70 win team. The window for contention is years away (and thanks to the cheapskate owners may never appear.)

Paying Dunn the open market rate for the next 3-4 years wouldn't be the worst thing they could do. Giving him Ryan Howard money well that's another story. If he's demanding a Howard-like deal, put a stamp on him and send him packing.

Oh, and make someone pay a premium. Since he's proven to be an average fielder at first, his bat would be worth 2-3 wins to anyone. Ask the 2009 Tigers if they could have used 2-3 more wins. The Cliff Lee to the Rangers package is a good place to start one ML-ready guy with significant upside one B prospect and one C prospect. If you don't get it, offer him arbitration. If he takes it GREAT! One year at $13-$14m. If not, two picks (your B and C prospect at least)

Some might argue Dunn deserves a Howard-like contract. My main fear, aside from the eventual performance decline is such a huge outlay would give the cheapskate owners an excuse to continue their pattern of not spending.

Let's review . . .

Tell me how many high profile international free agents the Nationals have signed this year. It rhymes with NERO. In five years in DC, the total rhymes with PUN. And he was really 22. So it's not like Miguel Cabrera or Ubaldo Jiminez is sitting in the system preparing to join the core.

I'll give them the 2008 draft. They spent there.

But now according to Ladson, they haven't even discussed a contract with Harper. And again I am baffled. It exactly the same as the Strasburg negotiations and I didn't under stand that either. I know Scott Boras makes deals at the last minute and that's his style but come on, you have an excellent chance of hitting 300 losses for the last three years, shake things up.

Boras is a businessman. Stan, you are going to have to pay. He knows you have the money and he knows you have to sign Harper. So, why the charade? Give him Strasburg's contract and say if you sign now, we can get Harper to the bigs a year earlier. That's worth millions more than the dollars you are scrapping over right now AND it only hurts financially IF Harper is successful at the major league level.

And please, don't cry poverty. You have plenty of cash -- the $30-$40 million you aren't spending in major league payroll and the Strasburg bonus $750,000-$1 million per home date. Show the fans that you are interested in building a winner by getting the Harper deal done NOW. Oh, and A.J. Cole too. Without Cole, your 2010 draft is just as bad as 2009 (1st round excepted in both cases).

I also find it hard to believe that a cash strapped but contending franchise like the Rangers wouldn't be interested in some payroll relief. Take a bad contract off their hands and take one of their multitude of top tier prospects. Jon Daniels wouldn't like it but I'll bet the bankruptcy court would.

The plain fact of the matter is: with Dunn they are a 70 win team. Without him, 67-68. Is that what you want to be? Keeping him would be fine, if ownership was committed to putting the pieces around the core necessary to contend sooner. But clearly, they have not been and are not now. So, every day this is the case, the window for contention gets pushed farther and farther away.

As a fan, Iike watching Dunn hit. I'd like to watch him hit for the next 3-4 years too. But I don't like it so much as to ensure 90-100 losses for the next four years.

BTW -- check what KC and Pittsburgh are doing internationally.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dunn deal coming for club? | News

Inbox: Dunn deal coming for club? | News

It was teased as "Ladson says Nats will be buyers" and I was ready to rain on that parade.

Really, what it says is the Nats won't do much at the deadline. Not likely to trade a lot of pieces but to make trades to make the team better. Folks, you can't pay enough for that kind of insight.

It was a 70 win team when they left Florida and they are still a 70 win team. They are sellers or they should be, sellers of anything and everything. If someone is actually thinking of trading for Willie Bloomquist, then you have to get Willie Harris out there fast. Capps, Kennedy, Guzman GONE.

Repeat after me: winning in 2010 is worthless. Anything that can convert a present asset into potential future value MUST be done. Worst thing a team can do is try both at the same time. Doesn't work. Never works. Unless unending mediocrity is your goal then two thumbs up!