Monday, December 19, 2011

Just stop please

Gio Gonzalez????

I won't say more than to point out Gio's #3 comp thru age 25 is Ernie Broglio. Check your history book to find out how that worked out for the Cubs.

both his 200 ip seasons feature 90+ walks and a 1.3+ whip. FIP and xFIP all significantly higher than the headline numbers we'll be BS'd with if he comes here.

Sure it's the AL but he pitches in an extreme pitchers park.

Why would you trade three or four lottery tickets for a mediocre 26 year old?

When you could have simply opened the checkbook and gotten a potential ace?

I know why and it doesn't give me a lot of confidence in the future.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Preparing to be bitterly disappointed

How Much Would Yu Pay for Jordan Zimmermann? | FanGraphs Baseball:

'via Blog this'

I'm glad someone did this. I have neither the time nor the talent to do this through a job.

If you don't want to click here's the nut: Darvish is worth nine figures.

Four current 25 year old comps: Yovani Gallardo, Felix Hernandez, Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann.

His 21 year old comp: Shelby Miller.

20 wins above replacement just sitting there waiting for the Lerner's to stroke one check. OK two checks.

Is this the first of many times the folly of the Werth deal comes back to haunt this franchise?

I don't look forward to Yu's Ranger debut. Nor do I look forward to his post-season starts.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wilson Ramos 4th and Danny Espinosa 6th in NL Rookie of the Year Voting | November

Wilson Ramos 4th and Danny Espinosa 6th in NL Rookie of the Year Voting | November:

'via Blog this'

This is the most encouraging news for Washington baseball fans since 2005.

One of the main goals of 2011 was to find out if the young players just reaching the big leagues could be relied on going forward.

Answer in re Espinosa and Ramos Yes.

That's two up the middle players (which are the hardest to find) in the hands of players the Nats control for the next 5 years. Incredibly valuable.

Still need to decide if Desmond is the long term answer at SS and of course that gaping hole in CF. Based on what we've seen so far this offseason, it won't be easy to fill that hole. Just don't panic and do something stupid Mike.

At least it may be possible to go back to the Twins well now that the GM who gave us Ramos for Capps is gone.

An exercise for me. What questions do I believe remain for 2012.

1) CF -- who will play there?
2) Starting pitching -- How many IP can Strasburg stand? Who's the 5th guy? Can we count on Lannan and Wang? Will Yu get posted and will the Nats take a run at him? (I know my answer and I know their answer but I can hope)
3) LOOGY -- don't have one. I am sure Davey J. loves matching up in the late innings and really wants a lefty killer.
4) Bench -- the Matt Stairs experiment failed. Who will fill the Terry Crowley role in 2012? (Sit on his A$$ for 8 innings enjoy the ballgame like any fan and come up in the 9th and knock one out)
5) Zimmerman long term. If the Lerner's aren't spooked by Matt Kemp's new contract, they should be. Zim's going to command a premium going forward and unless you want to be in the Prince Fielder situation the sooner a decision is made the better.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Ken Rosenthal (ken_rosenthal) on Twitter:

'via Blog this'


I was much happier with Rizzo on Jim Bo's twitter feed . . . focused on the starter and the CF. That's where you need to be Mike.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Who might Nats pursue in free agency?

Who might Nats pursue in free agency?:

'via Blog this'

The pickins' is slim. They are all available for a reason. Some like Grady Sizemore are severe injury risks while others like Coco Crisp are just overrated.

I've discussed Sizemore before and I think the same question is there. If the Nats believe they are a serious contender in 2012, can they take a chance that their #1 need, a starting CF/leadoff man, will only play 30 games?

It didn't matter all that much that Adam LaRoche went down. But as we all know, its much easier to find a decent corner infielder than a high OBP CF leadoff man. Putting your faith in Sizemore's busted knees would be a huge gamble which if they held up would be great but would sink the season if it doesn't.

As I said before, taking a chance on a player like Sizemore would be an easy call. Absolutely you do it since the downside would be a couple more losses and better draft position. Now, the downside might be loss of a chance to contend and a step backwards.

I won't go into great detail right now but I am firmly in the camp that says if Yu Darvish is available then he is the one guy who it makes sense to go after hard.

One thing I will say is: Darvish is NOT a Japanese pitcher. He's 6' 5" 220lbs. He's half Iranian. He cannot and should not be compared to any Japanese pitcher before him.

In addition, Darvish is 25, younger than most imports from the Far East and has not been worked nearly as hard.

I invite you to check out Darvish's numbers from his NPL career. Remember that the NPL is roughly equal to AA. If a 6' 5" 220 20 year old threw 200 IP in AA ball with a sub 2 ERA and a nearly 9k/9 he'd be the top pitching prospect in all of baseball.

Since then Darvish has thrown 200 innings four times. But not significantly more than 200. In other words, he's broken in. Young pitchers that get to their late 20's with no significant arm injuries after strong workloads tend to stay injury free. I'd put way more faith in Darvish staying healthy and effective than any other FA pitcher out there.

Unfortunately, its not clear yet if Darvish will even be available. And if so, can the Nats outbid the Yankees or the Rangers. I should say would they because they certainly COULD since monetary resources should not be a problem.

While Zuckerman mentioned B.J. Upton as a trade target, I think another young CF should be thrown into this pile as a trade target.

Lorenzo Cain is 25 and now stuck behind Melky Cabrera in KC. He's a plus defender and he's improved his on base skills tremendously over the last few seasons. He's expendable to the Royals but I'm sure would cost at least 2 good prospects. To get a younf CF/leadoff guy who could grow with the rest of your young players it's worth it to at least offer say Brad Peacock and Steve Lombardozzi and see if that gets the job done.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Can Jayson Werth screw the Nats in the offseason too?

Ryan Madson? No. Just say No.

Madson is a very good pitcher. He will probably continue to be a very good pitcher. But he is NOT worth what he will command on the open market to the Nationals.

So Jayson unless you speak Japanese, please DON'T HELP!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The most important decision of the offseason

Central Notes: Ventura, Ordonez, Sizemore, Epstein: MLB Rumors -

'via Blog this'

Since baseball came back to Washington, it has been at least in my eyes an easy call to say this team is on the downside of the win cycle. Moves need to be made with an eye to X, Y or Z years out and patching holes with overpriced FA or desperation trades would be a major mistake.

That cannot be said this offseason.

80 wins with a team that was essentially at the end of the season an 80- win team means the organization must make the all-important decision this off season: is it time to operate as a winning franchise, a contender or are we still in the building phase?

Normally, I would say this team is still in the building phase. I'm pessimistic by nature anyway.

But a GM can't be bound by such things. A clear eyed assessment of the situation is what is called for.

I'm struck by this when I consider one of the items in the piece linked above. It regards one of the principles in what I consider the original sin of the National franchise: the Bartolo Colon trade.

Grady Sizemore is going to be non-tendered. My immediate reaction was to say: Grab him. Roll the dice on those stitched together knees because he'd be exactly what you needed: a high OBP CF to leadoff.

But then I wondered if such a gamble befits a team that actually is trying to contend? Should a team with aspirations of at least contending for the playoffs go into the season counting on the spit and bailing wire holding Sizemore's knees together?

And that's the dilemma. To contend or not contend. I always assumed that it would be an easy call. The tipping point would be easily apparent.

Aside from the Sizemore conundrum, I read something about how the Nats weren't even comparable to the four teams left playing right now. That got me to thinking, if the Nationals and the Tigers were merged, who would have more important players:

OPS+ for hitters and ERA + for pitchers

C Alex Avila 143 Wilson Ramos 113
1B Miguel Cabrera 181 Mike Morse 147
2B Ramon Santiago 89 Danny Espinosa 102
SS Jhonny Peralta 123 Ian Desmond 80
3B Brandon Inge 51 Ryan Zimmerman 118
LF Brennan Boesch 117 Laynce Nix 103
CF Austin Jackson 89 Rick Ankiel 81
RF Magglio Ordonez 74 Jayson Werth 97
DH Victor Martinez 132 Roger Bernadina 92

SP Justin Verlander 170 Jordan Zimmermann 122
SP Max Scherzer 92 John Lannan 104
SP Rick Porcello 86 Chien Mein Wang 96
SP Brad Penny 77 *Stephen Strasburg 261

CL Jose Valverde 183 Drew Storen 141
RP Phil Coke 92 Tyler Clippard 211
RP Joaquin Benoit 139 Henry Rodriguez 109
Daniel Schlereth 118 Todd Coffey 107
RP Al Alburquerque 220 Sean Burnett 103

That's 4 clear Tiger Winners 3 clear Nats winners and two toss ups. A lot closer than I would have suspected.

But look at the pitching.

Cancel out Verlander and who's got the better staff? And Marquis's ERA+ of 98 fills the Wang spot for the whole year. Given that talent pool wouldn't the next four starters after Verlander all be Nats?

Lets not forget that those Tiger starters pitched half their games in pitcher friendly Comerica Park so their low numbers aren't a fluke.

Its a lot closer than you think. Now the superstar status of Verlander and Cabrera skew it somewhat in Detroit's favor but that's why they are playing in October. They aren't that much better all across the board.

Is 2012 the year to go for it? I'm glad I don't have to make that choice. I just get to criticize it if its wrong.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Oh a whole load of disjointed thoughts

INTERNET BASEBALL WRITERS ASSOCIATION: Washington, D.C. Chapter: DC-Internet Baseball Writers Association Announce 2011 Player Achievement Awards:

'via Blog this'

I voted. And I pretty much followed the final voting. I wasn't Tyler Clippard's first place vote for MVP but I am responsible for some of his 24 points.

The only winner I didn't back was Danny E. in the defensive player of the year award. I went with sheer watchability and voted for Rick Ankiel. I would favorite a You Tube compilation of just his OF assists this year.

As for yesterday, I sort of tuned out after watching Strasburg humiliate one Marlin after another. Anything I missed?

Really, you think Bud Selig is giving the up yours to all the critics of the Wild Card today? He should.

After M.Texeria's grand slam, I flipped over to a combination of the Braves/Phillies and the Man U/Basel Champions League match. Who knew that a injury time goal by goliath Man U to salvage a draw with a Davidesque Basel would be such a tiny footnote to the evening.

Here's some mathmatical perspective on the events of last night courtesy of Nate Silver:

The following is not mathematically rigorous, since the events of yesterday evening were contingent upon one another in various ways. But just for fun, let’s put all of them together in sequence:

  • The Red Sox had just a 0.3 percent chance of failing to make the playoffs on Sept. 3.
  • The Rays had just a 0.3 percent chance of coming back after trailing 7-0 with two innings to play.
  • The Red Sox had only about a 2 percent chance of losing their game against Baltimore, when the Orioles were down to their last strike.
  • The Rays had about a 2 percent chance of winning in the bottom of the 9th, with Johnson also down to his last strike.
  • Multiply those four probabilities together, and you get a combined probability of about one chance in 278 million of all these events coming together in quite this way.

    Couldn't ask for a better way to lead into the playoffs for baseball. I'll be interested in seeing if this doesn't boost ratings at least for the division series (although the whole Boston market is OUT I'm sure.)

    Been remiss is chronicling my MASN blogger day trip. So here's the condensed version:

    1. The ball sounds different in BP when it comes off the bat of Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman. I know that seems obvious but it made me wonder exactly why? Were they stronger? Were their swings just able to generate more bat speed? Are they more adept at making optimal contact? Nevertheless, you can tell a power hitter just by the sound of the contact in BP. I'm eagerly anticipating hearing Bryce Harper take BP one day.

    2. Davey Johnson is a teacher. For most of the BP session, Davey was talking one on one with players, teaching, demonstrating, basically passing on knowledge. Some people like to do that and some don't. For a young team, that has to be a plus. And Davey didn't just spend time with his best players, he was teaching to everyone on the roster.

    3. The dessert cart in the club level is beyond description. Just a sugar orgy on wheels.

    80 wins. I have to say that I am surprised. I guess we have the whole off season to examine this season and see exactly why this 70 win team in April ended up ten wins better. And it's not all Mike Morse because the difference between Adam LaRoche's prediction and Morse's is close to the difference between Jayson Werth's prediction and actual just in the other direction. Maybe its all Tyler Clippard?

    M. Rizzo -- my 2 cents. Take the next month off. Just go sit on a beach and have waiters bring you tropical cocktails until Halloween. For two reasons. First, you'll grind the other 11 months of the years and Second, I'd rather not have to pay for a fluky post-season performance in the FA market over the winter. It would be better if you just didn't even see it.

    Then come Nov. 1 it's back to work with just two goals for this offseason:

    1) Speedy McLeadoff CF
    2) Shape the rotation after SS and JZ.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Nationals Spend Big In Draft: MLB Rumors -

    Nationals Spend Big In Draft: MLB Rumors -

    Well it certainly took them long enough.

    What's to say . . . they are building an organization through the amateur draft. That's the strategy. We've seen it now for two straight years going well over slot wherever and whenever possible. What's not to like. Assuming Rizzo and his staff are good at their jobs, there will be a plethora of talent rising through the system, maturing at around the same time. It's almost textbook.

    Since I can't write anything negative about the signings, let me just pour my venom on the coverage.

    First, it took ZERO skill as a talent scout to pick Strasburg or Harper. So please, let's leave them out of any draft/scouting discussion. You would need an Omar-level amount of incompetence to have screwed those two picks up. They are not the result of any "focus on the draft" or "emphasis on development" those two are the result of two hundred loss seasons. Or sucking at the big league level which is not a skill.

    Also, please this strategy is but two years old. It was no where to be seen in '09. I don't care if the Nats spent a record amount in the '09 draft or not, they had not yet committed to this strategy at that time. That's why they didn't take any over slot signing later in that draft. Most reports gloss over this fact when they talk about the Nats draft history. '09 was Strasburg and a lot of $2 scratchers.

    All that said, its a lot brighter today if you are a Nats fan and are waiting to see meaningful baseball played in the Nation's capital.

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Lessons from the signing deadline - The GM's Office by Jim Bowden Blog - ESPN

    Lessons from the signing deadline - The GM's Office by Jim Bowden Blog - ESPN

    So it was as we always suspected . . . the Crow "debacle" was more the Hendrick's than JimBo.

    Assuming his timeline is correct, his opening offer was not a joke and he showed a lot of flexibility (and some restraint for not straight up laughing in their faces when they said $9m).

    The final number of $3.5 has always been the alleged high point and JimBo confirms it. More than Matusz, the biggest bonus for any pitcher in that draft, more than the position player taken right ahead of him . . . the Crow "debacle" is clearly a debacle for Crow not the Nats.

    He got half a million less a year later. He's a year farther away from arbitration costing him more and he's nothing more than a bullpen arm . . . which the Nats got for $2 million less a year later.

    Moral: you don't always have to make the deal. JimBo's non-deals with Crow and the Twins for Soriano are two fantastic examples of why the bias toward action is just that a bias.

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    FJB: OMG! He Threw His Helmet!!

    FJB: OMG! He Threw His Helmet!!

    Saving me minutes of research, the correct response to the latest overhyped Harpermania can be found above!

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Pay up.

    From today's chat with BA's Jim Callis:
      John (Richmond, VA): Any updates on Nats picks Purke, Turnbull, Buchanon, and Laxer? Thank you.

    Jim Callis: I don't think Purke is going to sign for less than he turned down of high school, so I don't think he's going to sign. He's competitive enough to take his chances of returning to full health, which could make him the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft. Turnbull is slow going so far, but I bet the Nats sign him. I see Buchanan and Laxer as backup problems in case they don't get Rendon, Meyer or Goodwin signed at the top of the draft. Those three might cost a combined $10 million (counting salaries in a big league deal for Rendon), but I bet they sign all three.

    That should be a sure thing bet. There would be no point to getting draft pick compensation and then NOT signing the picks.

    But what would chap my hide is not shelling out for Purke now. Later in the chat, Purke is mentioned as a potential #1 overall pick in 2012. And all it will cost you is $$$$$$$. I point to the fact that the Nats payroll is at least $40 million less than it should be based on the size of the media market they play in. So, giving Purke $4 million and walking away with a potential top of the draft pitcher seems to be an easy call. Write the check.

    I understand the risk involved. It is more likely that Purke never develops into an All Star, its very likely that he never develops into a major league average starter. But there is a chance he develops into a top of the rotation ace. Try and get one of them, just try. Even if you can, it will cost an order of magnitude more than $4 million. Its a risk worth taking gentlemen.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    MLB's Most Lopsided Midseason Trades Ever | ThePostGame

    MLB's Most Lopsided Midseason Trades Ever | ThePostGame

    Warning: It's a slideshow. So you don't have to click through it's 10th. Which is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy to low. 3rd at least. Brock for Broglio and Anderson for Bagwell are landmarks of bad trades. Other than that, I don't see it even being close.

    So congrats TWGMOBB!

    Heyman still a D-Bag

    Rangers lead trade deadline winners, Nationals are biggest loser - Jon Heyman -

    No. 1 on the losers list? Really? Because they didn't overpay for Denard Span or B.J. Upton? Maybe they should have been in on Colby Rasmus (but weren't since that would have cost $$$$$).

    But the real kicker is the old "They didn't trade Soriano or Dunn" BS.

    Hey D-Bag Heyman -- Ever heard of Jordan Zimmermann? Know where he came from? I didn't think so. Well I'll tell you. He was taken with a compensatory pick awarded to the Nats for the FA signing of Soriano.

    Now, tell me who did the Twins get when they traded Johan Santana? Phil Humber was the centerpiece. So making a deal isn't always the right move. Of course since you are a sportswriter you have a bias for immediate action over carefully considered long term planning which is BORING right?

    Didn't trade Dunn -- well Alex Meyers and Brian Goodwin is a pretty good haul (or their signable replacements in next year's draft).

    They didn't give up much of anything for Gomes and in theory he fits well with Laynce Nix as a very productive LF platoon. So what's wrong with that?

    And getting anything of value for Jerry Hairston Jr. alone should warrant a winner tag. Nats got a potential 4th OF -- not exciting but a guy who could fill a role on a good team.

    No, the Nats didn't make a game changing deal at the deadline. One wasn't available.

    Bowden's gone Jon. Whatever slight he inflicted on you is in the past. Move on.

    Friday, July 29, 2011

    Cheap Bastards Redux

    NL East Notes: Nationals, Marlins, Reyes: MLB Rumors -

    I can't swear by Jerry Crasnik's veracity. For all I know he may have made this up or been told it by some one with an axe to grind.

    Because if he's right, then the CBs are back in charge.

    $2.2 million. You want some team to give you a decent prospect and eat the money! Are you F*&$%^# Insane!

    Here's the thing. YOU HAVE ALREADY SPENT THIS MONEY! Its not like you have to stroke a personal check you didn't expect. You were always going to have to pay this out.

    For the last f*&^&*% time you are a big market club. I don't give an F about your current revenues and such. This is a big market, you are god damn BILLIONAIRES -- act like it! You eat that $2.2 million for breakfast to get a decent prospect. That's how you get better.

    Besides, you are going to have to open the checkbook for Purke and Goodwin and Rendon and Meyers. Uh why hasn't that been done yet. And I won't rehash my utter disgust at the fact that you haven't made a single notable international signing AGAIN!

    You flush $126 million down the toilet on Werth and now you are quibbling over this chump change? Man up. Or sell the team.

    I know in theory it makes sense to trade a relief pitcher for an everyday CF given a rough equilibrium in salary and control. That doesn't make it easier to part with Drew Storen for Denard Span as much as the Twins people scream about how unfair it would be for them.

    And yes Span in theory is exactly what they need and what I've been calling for them to find a CF with good OBP skills. An elusive creature no doubt. And he would be under contract till 2015 so he would in theory be part of team that was a contender. So as painful as it is to give up one of ours, its the right thing to do.

    Although I will point out that you could have had BOTH Storen and your cost controlled leadoff CF had the CBs simply unclenched their wallets and ponied up for Leonsys Martin who is currently tearing through the Rangers system.

    Or you could have had Colby Rasmus had you just been willing to eat Mark Teahan's $10 million. Todd Coffey and a B level pitcher plus that would have gotten it done.

    Face it, you aren't getting what you want without paying up. Get over trying to star in Moneyball II, compete like the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and Angels do: with big fat wallets.

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Approaching the "boiling point"

    Nats Insider: Approaching the "boiling point"

    My question is: Why? Why would anyone think this was really a .500 club?

    I know they were for the first 100 games this season, a seeming impossibility with Ryan Zimmerman out for 50+ of them.

    But they were (and are) at base the same 70 win team that left Viera in April. Three months of incredible luck shouldn't change long term perceptions (see 2005 for example)

    Getting mad isn't the answer. It's pointless. They have played over their heads for most of the year and the fairy dust is starting to fade.

    What's most troubling is this insistence that "we're not ready to punt this season" mentality. Admirable in some ways but if its more than a public posture then its the height of stupidity.

    The 2011 edition of the Nationals is done. They aren't going to make a playoff run, they aren't even likely to finish over .500. Its time to think about next year and the years after that.

    In terms of roster construction, Gomes is a great fit. He and Nix would make a near All-Star LF. Nix mashes RHP's .287/.321/.517 and Gomes mashes LHPs .333/.439/.537. (List of LFs with SLG over .500 right now Braun, Holliday, Hamilton (and Morse))

    The one on the bench becomes a devastating late inning PH. And au revoir Matt Stairs. You were are good idea just not in practice.

    They also got cash from the Reds too. Not a lot I'm sure, Gomes is only owed a little less than $500,000 for the rest of the year. They may be too clever by a half if they think they just bought a draft pick though -- its at least 50-50 Gomes accepts arbitration.

    In the end, its not much of anything really. Maybe 2011 is a little better. Maybe they get a sandwich pick. Maybe they keep the Gomes/Nix platoon for 2012. Eh.

    Now the real work.

    Marquis needs to go. If for nothing else then to give his innings to someone with a future here. If they get replacements for Manno and Rhinehart so much the better. Based on a ll the chatter, Marquis should be somewhat valuable. No financial commitment after this year unlike say Wandy Rodriguez. He'll be cheaper in terms of prospect talent than Ubaldo and his higher upside and team friendly contract. But most of all, you could start Jason Marquis in a playoff game. You may not WANT to but you could. I don't think you can say that about the other easily available starters on the market.

    I wouldn't say Marquis brings back a sure fire top 5 prospect. But he's worth something -- something with a high probability f being useful or with a low probability of being great.

    But that's the get rid of half. The real franchise defining move is this pursuit of a CF.

    First, lets be honest. If a young quality CF is available on the trade market there is a reason. They have flaws.

    Upton's flaws are obvious -- he's more hype than production. The rays have to believe (and they've known him since he was 18) that he'll be another in a long line of uber talented athletes who never became baseball players. Nats would have to feel they can change him, make him a baseball player.

    Rasmus is clearly out of favor in StL. Now being on Tony LaRussa's bad side isn't a total indictment but it does raise questions. And his on field performance is meh at best.

    Span is a little older, a little less ceiling than Rasmus or Upton but perhaps the most dependable in terms of knowing what you are getting. Unlikely to be much better or worse than he's been. Not an ideal leadoff guy but you could do worse (and the Nats certainly have this year) not a lock down defender but good enough. Isn't a sucking chest wound but never going to be confused with an all star.

    Upton's the high risk high reward move. I've advocated high risk/reward moves in the past so I'd have to say that's the way to go. Not sure I'd let Brad Peacock stand in the way of it either.

    Finally, one note about the trade deadline. I am now resigned to the fact that every trade deadline will be an exercise is painful memories.

    Why? Because the litany of trade deadline disasters now stands at Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz, Larry Anderson for Jeff Bagwell and . . . please I don't even want to mention it again but I'll just call it the "Never Forget" deal.

    What's worse is the seeming indifference of these writers. The "oh wouldn't Nats fans be happy if . . . " OF COURSE WE WOULD. WHO WOULDNT WANT TO NOT BE ON THE END OF THE MOST STUPID LOPSIDED DEAL OF ALL TIME! THANK YOU VERY MUCH JACKASS!

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    The Nats: Ready to deal?

    The Nats: Ready to deal? - Yardbarker

    Lots of stuff here. I assume Rosenthal has been talking to Rizzo -- that's where the VERY specific CF who can bat leadoff (hopefully that means high OBP not high SB) search target comes from.

    I'm already on record as saying this is absolutely on point both in terms of identifying a need and trying to fill it with the right combination of skills.

    His list of candidates is less than inspiring. B.J. Upton, Colby Rasmus, Denard Span or Michael Bourn. Meh. Upton will be very expensive very soon and is not a leadoff guy. Rasmus isn't a leadoff guy and based on his past year might not be as good as the prospect mavens thought. Bourn's value is his defense and his speed. OBP is marginal but acceptable. However he's a little bit too far along the age curve for his skill set and his salary. Span? Haven't looked at him closely.

    I suppose that's why they are all available . . . they all have flaws.

    Rosenthal doesn't mention Julio Borbon of the Rangers as a target. Not sure why since the Rangers need short relievers and Borbon is expendable. Would much rather have Leonsys Martin from the Rangers who would be absolutely perfect in terms of skill set, age and salary so I'm not holding my breath.

    Interesting discussion of the middle infielders. Are teams really calling about Espinosa? I don't buy that at all. How valuable is Espinosa now . . . a good glove MI with power and cheap? He would fetch ANYONE short of say Mike Trout.

    Wonder why they didn't think about Anthony Rendon as the ultimate beneficiary of a middle IF swap? He's more likely to be slotted there long term than Lombardozzi I would think.

    I'm sure the Desmond bashers will be outraged about the assertion that Ian would be an upgrade as SS for more than a few contenders. But he would be. He's only 26 and he has really improved defensively and I don't care what the advanced defensive metrics say. If he's one run better than average then Derek Jeter must be costing the Yankees 50 runs a year. DO those metrics take his arm strength into account? How many extra outs has he created turning a double play that with a rag armed SS would have not been close? More than a few and I have to believe his out of area score has to be undercounted.

    But with the glut of MIs now in the system . . . Desmond should go. He has present value AND long term value. He should bring back something nice too.

    How can they not talk about Jason Marquis as a trade candidate? He's in a gots to go situation. There are plenty of candidates to replace him (Detweiler, Milone, Peacock and oh my gosh I cant believe I'm typing this Wang!) and you could reasonably ask him to start a post season game. What other starter who's really available can you say that about? I doubt Ubaldo is really available -- Wandy R. maybe

    Please don't let the current flirtation with .500 stand in the way of deals. Just gather more assets. If you need to, you can use them in the offseason to get veterans if you think you need them for 2012.

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    Taking a long view

    The Goessling Game: Davey Johnson taking a long view of Nationals' development

    This piece just gives me a jumping off point for a few observations.

    First off, please stop with the contend in 2011 crap. That isn't going to happen. It just isn't. Enjoy the winning, enjoy the 1 run wins because they will be gone as soon as they arrived.

    I think a taste of it was administered last night. The overtaxed Clippard and Storen weren't available to put out the fire and the rest of the pen proved unable to hold the line. Expect to see more of that in the 2nd half.

    Johnson's observations (about the questions at short and CF) are on point. Now it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that but at least I know he knows. FWIW.

    Yes the NL East is tough division right now. but you know what? The Phillies are on their last legs. Right now, they are running on the fumes of two pitchers on the wrong side of 30. Check out their offense . . . middle of the pack despite playing in the CB bandbox. And best of all . . . there isn't a lot of room for their main offensive players to grow. Howard will continue to decline, Rollins, Utley Ibanez all on the down side.

    Now the Braves are another matter. They are loaded with young talent specifically pitching. We still have to see how committed their ownership is to winning though. Oddly, this is one franchise that really doesn't see a huge boost from winning. Are they sudden;y going to start flooding Turner Field? How would this team's winning be different from the years and years of it they've been doing and not really enhancing the attendance figures? It would be easy to imagine an ownership group who is content to be very good but not be willing to step out on a limb and really make a championship investment. And that might be smart since they are unlikely to get back that investment (with more revenue from more fans)

    There is a chance for the Nationals to contend soon perhaps as soon as 2012 if you want to wishfully think. But certainly by 2013 the erosion of the Phillie juggernaut should be evident and we'll know if the Braves ownership is willing to lay out for a title. And by then some of those holes could be fixed up.

    If they are looking to fill holes, please do not be afraid to sacrifice this year. Burnett=gone. Marquis=gone. Nix=gone. Turn them into future assets, they can be whatever is the best deal since with the glut of young catchers and middle infielders there will have to be some trading in Mike Rizzo's future. Having a few extra assets to sweeten the pot could be the difference between winning a trade or coming in second again.

    Also: Matt Stairs needs to be DFA'ed TODAY. He's on the team for one reason and one reason only: to give professional pinch hitting atbats late in games. A professional PH should be able to get a run in from 3rd with less than 2 outs. Not even asking for hit just a loud fly ball. Got a pop up. Tell me the team wouldn't be better off with Chris Marrero in his spot right now. Marrero could at least play the field and could match up late with LOOGY's. With Nix, Ankiel and Bernadina occupying the other bench PH spot at least Davey would have options. And it would be nice to see Marrero outlast all the "hes a bust" labels thrown on him for the past five years.

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    Jim Riggleman Resigns

    Jim Riggleman Resigns: MLB Rumors -

    Holy F!

    Gut reaction: I can't blame Rizzo for not making a move under pressure. Riggs wasn't his guy anyway.

    Did Riggleman think he had leverage having the team at .500? Thought this was his one chance to get a multi-year deal and when it didn't happen he felt honor bound to go through with his threat?

    Thinking deeper, this might not be the worst thing to have happen. Now they need an interim manager and please make it an interim manager for the rest of this year. And that guy CANNOT be a candidate for the job long term. I don't want a guy who feels he NEEDS to win this year to get a new contract.

    Despite the current hot streak, this is still a team in rebuilding mode. They aren't playoff contenders and they still need to operate as if they aren't. Wins in 2011 aren't important, wins in 2012 and beyond are. So, please don't burn up Zimmermann's arm or Clippard's or Storens. Please trade Pudge and Marquis and Coffey ASAP. Put in a guy who will keep playing Ramos over Pudge and Desmond over Cora.

    I will miss you Riggs. A solid baseball man, a pretty good talker in the press conferences and surprisingly willing to take some chances (pitcher batting 8th!!!). I think the players liked playing for him and that can't be discounted. And once again, thanks for Strasburg!!!!!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Nats Insider: Skole among 18 draft picks to sign

    Nats Insider: Skole among 18 draft picks to sign

    Got Justin Williams signed! HS short stop with strong college commit. A guy who should have been picked sooner which means they must have gone overslot to get him! +1 Mike

    Now, just quit it with all this "we may be buyers or sellers" crap. You are a seller. Sell. Sell now, sell hard and sell often.

    But please don't give the Rays Derek Norris for B.J. Upton. You can think about it but don't do it.

    I'm sure that's who they will ask you for. And you politely tell them 6 years of a cost controlled catcher with power and plate discipline is worth more than two (expensive) years of a middling CF with limited power and on base ability.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    A Bit Confusing?

    Breaking Down How Nine of MLB's 30 Clubs are Violation of Debt Rules

    The Biz of Baseball breaks down the nine teams currently in violation of MLB's debt service rule.

    Here's the description for the Nationals:

    This is one that gets a bit confusing. The $611 million Nationals Park was funded entirely by the public and player payroll has been some of the lowest in the league. The Lerners, who own the Nationals, are also one of the most-wealthy in all the league (technically the richest after the death of Twins owner Carl Pohlad). Ted Lerner has a net worth of $3 billion. So, what’s the catch? At first, we thought it was due to in-stadium revenues needing to be a certain level to assist in paying down construction bonds, but that’s money that District absorbs. Stadium lease payments? The Werth deal? If there was a place where the Nationals might be getting bit, it's at the gate. With the Nats currently ranking 21st in average attedance (21,402), and never being able to galvinize the fan base since Nationals Park opened, it's the one spot that you might point to.

    One spot you might point to? That's It.

    It is that unclear. Why exactly are the Nationals in debt at all? The Lerner's didn't have to borrow to buy the club, they didn't have to borrow to build the stadium. Where's the debt coming from?

    One absolutely uninformed and unsourced speculation would be the Lerner's agreed to take on debt from the prior owners (MLB) as part of the purchase agreement. I'm sure in limbo Expos/Nationals were not huge money makers. I'm guessing they had less than lucrative local TV and radio rights. (I think I even remember no one bidding on the Expos radio rights during their final season in Montreal).

    It would make sense to structure the deal this way. If they had simply split the Nat's purchase price up 29 ways there would be lots of questions about how that's being spent and why. From a practical standpoint, eliminating debt is the same as cutting a check only without any public recriminations.

    It almost impossible to determine the price of a major league franchise. Rarely are these deals only for the franchise itself, it almost always includes cable outlets or stadium ownership. As such, its not really worth it to compare any final sticker price. So, I'm sure we'll never know exactly where this debt came from and if the price the Lerner's paid was market.

    For the fans perspective, its only important if it has dogged the team's ability to operate. Perhaps the gap between the low payroll and the market's ability to support a much higher payroll is debt service.

    I can't say with certainty that has happened. There are sound reasons payroll has been low and it would have made little sense to overpay free agents who are mediocre at best when you have no foundation.

    But it could explain why they are so hesitant to bid internationally. I'd imagine IFA's are about the lowest priority in the expenditure chain.

    The Lerner's have no obligation to satisfy my curiosity about this debt. It seems to me that from their perspective it would be helpful to them to say Look we took on a lot of obligations you don't know about to get this deal done. We're trying to get rid of those obligations as fast as we can but until then it seriously limits what we can do. That would be understandable and give a logical reason for the payroll to be so absurdly low.

    Of course, they might be concerned about fostering a "we're not trying to win now because of this crippling debt" and there would be no way to create the impression they were trying to contend right now and trying to win. Maybe that would hurt attendance even more.

    I guess as an engaged fan I'd rather hear the truth than have the smoke blown up my ass.

    On other matters, I have to give a tip 'o the cap to Jim Riggleman for putting Jayson Werth into the leadoff spot. I wrote a while back that right now Werth should be considered as the leadoff hitter but that we'd never see it. We'll now we have but more in the mad scientist experimental vein than defended as a sound baseball move. Theoretically, Werth is one of your best hitters and getting him more AB's is a good thing. As is having him on base in front of your other best hitters. Some strong out of the box thinking from an old baseball man.

    Trade Jason MArquis NOW. Don't hesitate, don't wait another second. Get him on the acela to the Bronx tonight. He'd be the Yanks second best starter right now! Think they don't know that. Think they aren't concerned they won't make the postseason this time around because of that fact? Of course they are and its time to force the H & H Steinbrenner combo to panic and make a bad deal. The way Marquis is pitching right now you could see him in a post season rotation. Can you see Ivan Nova? Bartolo Colon? Freddie Garcia? TBD???

    I'd even try to cash in on Tyler Clippard. Maybe someone out there panics and really pays through the nose. Deal 'em a year too early rather than a year too late.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    24 hour media BS

    Video: Nats Phenom Harper Gets All Smoochy After Homer: DCist

    I don't know Bryce Harper either. Never met him probably never will.

    So let's just take random moments from this kids life and create a psychological profile that fits some predetermined narrative we like.

    The reaction this this "kiss" incident is almost laughable. Men and women WITH JOBS WHO ARE BEING PAID are writing articles about it.

    These same "journalists" are assigning blame, demanding the Nationals take "action" to stamp out this awful behavior before its too late and Western Civilization as we know it collapses.

    I like the internet. But its times like this I can see the problems it creates. Clearly, these stories are written with one aim: eyeballs. These writers think calling an 18 year old kid a jerk for fooling around on a baseball diamond will get them readers. They figure if they are outrageous enough or if they can drum up some controversy it will burnish their credentials as tough no-nonsense sports writers holding these overpaid arrogant athletes accountable to the standards of decent society.

    Or, as Occam's razor would posit, they are just lazy bastards who figure this is the easiest way to create content to be fed into the 24 hour a day media machine.

    How many electrons died over this absolute non-story? How long do you suppose it will be brought up in Harper related stories? How often will a-hole "yodlers" rant about it on radio and TV? Once is too many and I am not looking forward to the thousands of mentions I will be forced to endure if I choose to follow Nationals baseball coverage.

    Not that anyone should be surprised. The media spent a week wasting my time as I try to read current events with some old guy who "predicts" the end of the world. You do realize the only difference between that guy and the guy in the park with a cardboard sign is the medium don't you? They are both nuttier than squirrel crap but one is ignored (rightfully) and the other becomes inescapable.

    Final initial draft note: I don't have a problem with the Nats mid round strategy of taking tall signable college pitchers. There is probably a John Lannan in there somewhere. which would be great. It would be so nice however, if they could just get one of those high school tough signs too.

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Nationals take a chance on Matt Purke in third round

    The Goessling Game: Nationals take a chance on Matt Purke in third round

    What can I say but F&^$ and YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    They do have a plan, they are operating like the big market team they should be but in a good way . . . . this is Red Sox level move.

    I don't even care if Purke turns out to be damaged goods, its the idea that this team will search for high ceiling talent and will spend what's necessary. They didn't do that in '09. Maybe they were still gun shy.

    They certainly did last year with Cole and Ray. Working out pretty well so far.

    I wrote they had to come out of this draft with at least 2 new members of their top 10 prospects list. They may have FOUR new members of that list!

    Buster Blog: Nationals' Future

    Buster Blog: Nationals' Future - ESPN Video - ESPN

    I know everyone loves their draft the day after and the rubber won't meet the road for three to five years.

    However, when you have a draft say like the Nats did, its OK to celebrate just a little.

    Every guy they took should have been drafted before the spot where they took him. That means they got value.

    They got a true CF prospect with OBP skills -- a need that they didn't have to reach for.

    They got a potential front line starter or a potential top line set up guy (another Jon Rauch if you will)

    They got the best bat in the draft (right now). Rendon is probably the only guy who could step in and hold his own at the major league level right now. Not that he should but just that he could.

    And as Buster points out here, all Scott Boras clients. Remember when that was considered a negative?

    Nice little flourish at the end of Buster's blog about the Braves players saying the Nats have quite a collection of talent on the way and that they might be in the hunt for another Boras client this off season in Prince Fielder.

    I'd be surprised if they did go after Fielder, he doesn't seem to fit their athletic at all costs paradigm and with his old player skills would be a candidate for a early 30s cliff dive in skill.

    Went to see Ryan Zimmerman's rehab game at the Pfitz last night.

    It is true that Zim ole'd a hot shot that helped lead to the 5 run 2nd inning. But you really can't blame him for that, not like he needs to or should sacrifice his body for an out in a minor league game. Rifled a double down the left field line in his first AB then went the other way for a single in his second.

    Otherwise, things did not look good. Bauer started for the Keys (I believe this is the older brother of the O's top pick yesterday) and he dominated everyone except Zim.

    Destin Hood looked particularly bad. He passes the sight test with flying colors but in one AB he looked like hitting was a entirely new experience to him.

    J.P. Ramirez doesn't pass the sight test. Maybe it was perspective but he looked like a paper boy out there. He did draw two walks including one where he went down 0-2.

    Besides Bloxom's HR and Zim's 2 hits the Potomac highlight was a spectacular double play turned by Koburnus and Lozada. Koburnus reached a ball headed up the middle, made the glove toss to Lozada who barehanded and got the guy at first by a half step.

    Trevor Holder was so hittable. He threw strikes early but everything that the Key's hit was hit on the screws even the outs. It seemed he started to nibble a bit which got him behind in counts and then had to come in. The results were predictable including a HR that hit right in the middle of the Uncle Julio's sign in dead CF. Seemed like his velocity was fine so either he can't command it in the zone or it is dead straight.

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    How slow was Wilson Ramos’s home run trot?

    How slow was Wilson Ramos’s home run trot? - DC Sports Bog - The Washington Post

    Way to go Wilson. After your team got plunked, you should have Cadillaced that dinger.

    Its even better that the Arizona TV guys got all hot and bothered. What did they say when Espinosa got hit? Nothing I am sure despite the fact that pitcher was clearly trying to hit Espinosa. So FU Mark Grace if you can't take it.

    And I have two words for Mark Lerner regarding his statement that the Nats would be wiling to spend on players from the 2011 draft like they did for Solis, Cole and Ray . . . F*&% AND YES!

    I expect BPA all the way through the draft.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    It's said better elsewhere

    Nationals top Phillies, but still must overcome ingrained culture of losing - The Washington Post

    but just let me throw an amen brother on the Boswell's an idiot pile:

    I understand that Boswell is a writer and as such his focus is the narrative of the here and now. He's crafting the story of the 2011 Nats and in that context things were looking bad.

    But "scouting for players who might help in 2015" IS THE EXACT FREAKING THING RIZZO NEEDS TO BE DOING RIGHT NOW!

    3 of the first 34 picks in a deep draft means unless they add at least two new members of their top 10 prospect list, it will be a failure. And that will set the 2015 Nats back even worse than a "wildfire."

    Really, a wildfire? A team with Alex Cora and Jerry Hairston Jr. playing every day and losing is a problem. It's not a problem, ITS REALITY! It was a 70 win team that had aspirations of 75 with a bit of luck and might be well on their way with the run of decent pitching they've gotten.

    But take away Ryan Zimmerman, or the criminally underrated Ryan Zimmerman if you will, and the decay of Adam LaRoche and you have another 1st pick contender.

    As I've written so many times: 2011 died the moment Strasburg's elbow snapped.

    Taking the focus off 2015 and putting it on this year's collection of hope to be's and never were's is the criminal mistake. I'm sorry Boz that it doesn't make for a compelling summer of columns but them's the breaks.

    And I'm sure covering the Nats is a lot less fun when you can't sidle up to Stan and have him talk your ear off for a half an hour in the press box. Stan's a world class talker and I'll bet privately he has way more interesting things to say. So the Lerner's or Rizzo or really anyone in the locker room can't talk like Dunn, that's no reason to demand some new friends for you to BS with Boz.

    Try learning spanish. I'll bet Pudge and Livan! would be great bull session buddies.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Nats Looking For Center Fielder

    Nats Looking For Center Fielder; Asked About Bourn: MLB Rumors -

    Regardless of the particular details, should this Ladson story be true in essence, then I give one thumbs up to the Washington front office.

    If they have identified the need for a CF with a high OBP as a major priority then they are 1) smart 2) on the right track

    Now, as is pointed out in the comments of this piece, this commodity is rare. So saying they will "overpay" is not really all that meaningful. They WILL overpay and should they actually find the guy, they SHOULD overpay.

    They have a young catcher, a young shortstop, a young 2B, young closer and two young top of the rotation type starters. Those are the toughest positions to find major league caliber talent and the Nats have at least the promise of a major league average regular there. The other tough position centerfield.

    And right now, nothing. You can squint a bit and think Eury Perez but moving up I'm more likely to think he's more Endy Chavez than Tim Raines.

    The other key point is: none of these position players nor anyone likely to man the remaining positions are going to be a true high OBP leadoff guy.

    Which kind of forces the Nats hand in re: CF. If that guy isn't a leadoff hitter, they will always be crippled by having someone not suited to leading off, leading off. (They could make Jayson Werth the leadoff hitter I suppose but that would take some out of the box thinking that I haven't seen from Riggleman)

    They can't think the husk of Pudge and Sptintin' Todd Coffey is going to get them this rare commodity. That's why I hope they don't have a compunction about overpaying. Now, MY definition of overpaying would include (and in fact be my leading bargaining chip) be taking on a bad contract from the team with the right CF prospect. The Giants are an excellent trading partner in that respect seeing as how they possess at least two terrible contracts. It remains to be seen if they possess the right prospect though.

    (Aside: wouldn't it be nice right about now a scant few days before the draft, to have draft picks in play?)

    What about Harper? In theory, he could solve both problems (CF and leadoff). But I think the same trepidation applies to Harper as it does to Werth. They don't LOOK like leadoff guys and their bats are more typical of middle of the order hitters. Not to mention adding more pressure to Harper as a leadoff guy when he'll be trying to establish himself at the major league level at a young age anyway means they can't be thinking about that as a long term answer.

    Still I say go forth and overpay Mike. If you can add some pieces by dealing Pudge and Coffey please do. Jason Marquis should fetch a fat price as well. Just keep your eyes on the prize.

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    A stupid question

    Wire Taps: Washington Nationals Trade Chatter: Pudge Rodriguez, Todd Coffey. - Federal Baseball

    Are the Nationals ready to start dealing? -- That's the tag line. I'll give you the short answer: YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If the Giants really called about Pudge, why would you let the Giants GM off the phone before you made a deal? Rangers called about Todd Coffey but "no serious talks" are going on? Really? Todd Coffey should be sprinting to Arlington right now.

    Perhaps I'm wrong and the front office actually believes this team can turn it around and at least make a run at.500. I say so what? As I've said before 2011 died when Strasburg's elbow popped. Zimm's injury drove a stake through the heart.

    I guess part of the problem may be that Rizzo and the rest of the front office is buried in draft prep. That's a quality excuse. This draft is very important -- 3 picks in the top 35 in a deep draft. They need to come away with at least two new members of their top 10 prospects list for 2012 and another high ceiling player. Those guys will likely have a bigger impact long term on the Nats than anyone they could get for Pudge or Coffey.

    But to think there is actually some kind of choice between contending and dumping in trading either or both is absurd. The likely impact on the 2011 Nats would be small. The fans will understand. They will, you won't be losing attention, you will actually make it more interesting. We'd like to see some new chapters, offer hope rather than basically the nothing we have now.

    And while you are at it, call the Yankees and offer Marquis.

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    The Nationals' bullpen conundrum

    The Goessling Game: More on the Nationals' bullpen conundrum

    The operative assumption here is the bullpen is built to win now and develop for later.

    That's wrong. Winning now is unimportant. Developing assets for the long term (trade or useful pieces) is the primary goal.

    Rizzo obviously thinks so. He can never say that but this bullpen construction reflect that thought.

    And I give him two enthusiastic thumbs up!

    Once again, 2011 died the moment Strasburg's elbow popped. So what is the value of 60 wins vs. 70 wins? Is anyone going to remember or care going forward? No. Unless you follow the Pirates to decades of futility.

    Having a long term plans means making near term sacrifices in return for long term success. This is the sacrifice. One meaningless game in the middle of May during a lost season. Big Fing deal.

    As for an overstock of relievers, let us remember the Orioles got Mark Reynolds for a quiverful of relievers this off season. The Padres got Cameron Maybin for a pair of relievers. So excess relief pitchers have trade value, you just need them in Costco-style bulk packaging.

    Yes it sucks today to realize a winnable game was lost because the team's roster wasn't optimized to win that night. Such is the price to be paid.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Here's a sentence you son't want to read about your new outfielder

    Nationals Trade For Speedy Minor Leaguer Gregor Blanco | May

    Blanco is no star, and not quite a prospect anymore, but he is a good young player who had been boxed out by a bad situation in Kansas City where he was stuck behind veterans like Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera.

    Hey now, we got the guy who's behind Francoeur and the not Miguel Cabrera. Pinch me.

    Really though, this is just a depth move with no long term implications. I'll say this for Rizzo, he's very through about how he constructs his bench. Constantly, tweaking it, looking for spare parts.

    What I'd really like to see him doing right now is: Squeezing a useful long term part out of the Yankees for Jason Marquis. They have to be desperate for a starter since the Garcia and Colon mystery rejuvenation tour can't go on much longer and you have 4 possible rotation replacements (Maya, Detweiler, Milone, Meyers) waiting in the wings. Should get a bigger price the more starts Marquis makes in pinstripes.

    I will say this: 16-18 at this point in the season is a minor miracle. It just can't last can it? Can these starters keep making quality starts? When will Clippard and Storen's arms fall off? I anticipate a nasty losing streak sometime before Zimmerman comes back. That lineup is just so weak.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Not the worst idea I've heard

    The Goessling Game: The Nationals-B.J. Upton rumor passes the smell test

    B. J. Upton wouldn't be the worst idea I've heard as a trade target.

    He's young, plays a premium position and has massive upside.

    OTOH, he's never delivered on his promise at the major league level and now has a long track record of lack of success. He's no Devon White in CF and he's no Rickey Henderson when it comes to getting on base.

    Oh and you'd have to pay him after 2012.

    Maybe I've just talked myself out of Bossman Jr.

    This decision comes down to a pure scouting evaluation of Upton as a person and a player. The numbers say he's not likely to improve and what he is isn't much.

    But if there is an environmental factor, a physical problem or simply bad instruction perhaps Upton's talents could be unleashed elsewhere.

    If they can get him without having to pay the price for his potential and the FO has a clear idea of how he could be better, then why the hell not?

    In the end, I highly doubt the Nationals would trade for Upton. It's really a high risk move for an organization which has shown little appetite for risk.

    A few random thoughts on the 2011 season so far:

    Danny Espinosa and Jordan Zimmermann seem to have established themselves as useful players. That was (and is) a crucial goal for this season.

    Mike Morse is proving spring training stats don't matter -- BTW Ryan Langerhans has 2 HRs for Seattle so far I'm just saying.

    Rick Ankiel has two great skills -- hitting for power and throwing from the outfield. It proves all you need is one or two above average skills to find work in baseball.

    Jason Marquis is healthy. That's good. Now if he can just maintain it for three months he can be spun into something very useful come July 31.

    I can't make up my mind about Ian Desmond. By the numbers, he a negative fielder which is astounding. I know about the errors -- they are highlighted and chronicled. But it seems to me I see a play or two nearly every game that an average shortstop (let's call him Phristian) would not get to. Or a throw they wouldn't make. That's an extra out for the defense in the same way an error is an extra out for the offense. Maybe I don't see enough other SS in action to really judge and the numbers really do the job but in my mind they could do a lot worse at short than Desmond.

    Wilson Ramos has been extremely lucky so far. I'll grant you that. But he seems comfortable back there and there is some pop in his bat. Again, he may not be All-Star quality but he looks like he'll be in the fraternity of catchers for quite a while.

    Interesting stat during the Brewers/Phils game last night. Shawn Marcum was starting for the Brewers and throwing at best in the mid-80s. They posted a list of the slowest fastballs among starters in 2011. I'd be willing to bet you already know who topped this list by 3 mph if I remember correctly.I can't imagine what kind of confidence it takes to walk out to the mound armed with nothing like Livan! does and still get guys out.

    One suggestion for the game day staff at the park -- if you have a game that's close but say has gone on for such a long time that 95% of the visible seats from the CF camera are empty -- bring some people down from the cheap seats and fill them up. I feel like I'm watching college baseball when the CF shot shows NO ONE in the background. I know you want to maintain exclusivity for these posh seats but trust me when I tell you it looks like crap on TV.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Leonys Martin: Why isn't he headed to Harrisburg?

    Minor Developments: Early returns - Fantasy - Yahoo! Sports

    I can’t help but wonder if the injury to Josh Hamilton(notes) has the Rangers pushing the panic button today, with the big news being the expected signing of Cuban defector Leonys Martin. The club is reportedly offering Martin, a center fielder, a whopping $15 million dollar bonus along with a spot on the 40-man roster. Here is a little background on Martin, who was a budding star in Cuba. He offers speed, defense, and true lead-off ability, and may see the field in short order if Julio Borbon(notes) can’t pick up the pace. I’d expect Martin to start off at Double-A Frisco, and move quickly from there.

    $16 million. That's all it would take. And you would have yourselves the EXACT type of player you need: a CF who can be a plus defender with a good OBP so he can be your lead off hitter!

    This is an ELUSIVE skill set. It's on par with top starters and SS who can hit with power. Why wouldn't you do anything and everything to get one for nothing more than cash?

    So why again is the Nats payroll so low this year despite the fact they play in a massive media market? And the owners are billionaires? And why can't they be the ones announcing this signing.

    It can't be hard. I mean just call the guys agent and say "Whatever the Rangers are offering, we'll offer more." No matter what shady deals have gone down, money talks and BS walks.

    Hell, have Livan! call the guy. Would he really not take a call from perhaps the most successful Cuban major league pitcher going today?

    Wait till the signing is announced and Rizzo is asked about it. "We made an offer but we came in 2nd" is the odds on favorite.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Managerial Soap Opera

    Marlins' Edwin Rodriguez is lone manager on early-season hot seat - Jon Heyman -

    So our old friend the Bowden-hating Jon Heyman put Riggleman on the "warm" seat.

    I can't say it isn't speculation with some merit since you have a manger of a non descript club with a non descript record. If it turns out to be accurate, hey you are a freaking visionary. If not, no one remembers.

    What would be interesting is: Does the FO let a managerial soap opera commence?

    One where we get hints and not quite definitive answers to questions about the managers status. It becomes a part of nearly every game story, it percolates through the old and new media everyone speculating on if and or when they may call the press conference to "make a change."

    It's a way to stay in the headlines if you have a team that isn't particularly interesting or successful. And I really hope this FO doesn't go down that road.

    Look, we all know this is a 70 win team. Without Zimmerman and LaRoche its probably a 60 win team!

    (You'd have to have the lowest odd ever today for seeing a no hitter or perfect game when Halladay faces the emaciated Nats lineup)

    So why turn yourself into that organization that habitually sacrifices its employees to satiated the blood lust of fan base. Riggleman has a nearly impossible job if the job is for him to win 81 games. He should be judged solely on how he handles the development of the younger players and making sure the egos of the older players don't become a clubhouse cancer.

    That's a tall enough order and encouraging the speculation even behind the scenes would make the season more interesting but would be damaging to the club in the long term.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Strasburg's Elbow saved me $60

    The worst Strasburg jersey ever - DC Sports Bog - The Washington Post

    I was looking for a hook to note this and here it is.

    Got my Strasburg jersey 50% at Modell's along with a #37 red t-shirt. So, so far, that torn elbow ligament has me $60 ahead. If it heals. Otherwise, I have some real painful memories hanging in my closet.

    As for the opening series . . . look we didn't expect a .500 season. In fact, they are a 70-75 win team at best.

    But J Zimm pitched well. That was the only game I saw for an extended period of time and if he hadn't had the strike zone squeezed to an unreasonable extent, he would have had an even better outing. That should be very encouraging. His development as a solid #2 is one of the key goals for 2011.

    Danny Espinosa looks like he belongs. Another key development for 2011.

    Have to like Wilson Ramos' start. Operation Phase out Pudge coming along nicely. It was good of him to bounce into a patented Pudge DP on Sunday just to remind us why this is important.

    Did we expect Desmond to be an effective leadoff hitter? No. I certainly hope not. He's miscast there. But leadoff hitters are hard to find. It should be the #1 priority going forward on the hitting side.

    Did we see Mike Morse or Rick Ankiel as long term solutions? No we didn't. And they aren't. So if they fail it means very little (aside from more losses this year than expected) and they will be easy to dispose of.

    Rest of the important 2011 stories begin when the minor league seasons start. Obviously everyone will be watching Harper. But there are a lot of other stories.

    Will Norris bash his was to Washington this year? Or at least set us up to take a job in 2012? Will Detweiler force himself into the big league rotation? Will any of the talented OF's in Potomac breakout and establish themselves as a third strong position player prospect for the system?

    Finally, how will Sammy Solis, A.J. Cole and Robbie Ray develop?

    I'm setting the bar pretty low. But that seems most reasonable to me. Barring a string of unfathomable bad luck though, the expectations for 2012 will be much higher.

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    I have no complaints

    The Goessling Game: A discussion on Roger Bernadina

    How much fun can you have, how much passion can you muster when at base I agree with nearly everything the Nationals are doing this spring.

    I've written in the past one easily correctable problem for the team was a serious lack of power on the bench. I also pointed out how easy it would be to fix it. And lo and behold, that's exactly what they did.

    I don't have a problem with sending the Shark down in favor of Ankiel. Roger doesn't appear to be the answer in CF but it would be nice to find out for sure. Having him play everyday at Syracuse (and be an excellent call up in case of injury) seems to me to indicate a much deeper organization, one that doesn't have to reach for the Mench's of the world when injuries strike.

    No, Ankiel isn't the answer either. He's just a mercenary and unless he has some incredible luck, his AB's will be useless for the long term health of the organization. In other words, I doubt seriously he makes himself valuable enough to trade in July.

    Stashing Rodriguez and Ramirez on the DL -- savvy moves. Both could be assets and it would be stupid to give up on either one in favor of Todd Coffey. Keeping Brian B. again a savvy move. Generating potential value from essentially a useless roster spot (mop up man).

    Trading Nyjer -- same thought as Roger. Nyjer wasn't the answer in CF that was clear. Having him hanging around even in Syracuse wasn't worth it either. He was who we thought he was and that isn't good enough for his sub par OBP and anger management issues. And getting what looks to be a potentially useful player, albeit one with an Alex Cora like ceiling is a bonus.

    Trading Gonzalez -- again nice. Turned playing time from 2010 into an asset for the longer term. Without A-Gonz's ABs last year, do you think he'd have any value? He'd be like a hundred other AAAA utility infielders. But since GMs had the chance to see him and see him perform well in that role, he had value which could be cashed in.

    Not that any of these moves on the roster fringes will propel the Nationals into contention but they show a consistent pattern of evaluations based on not just the next ball game but for a longer term. A Plan if you will. And its a plan I like.

    Sure it would be nice to have an ace pitcher or a defensive wizard CF with a high OBP but those are two of the toughest commodities to find in baseball. I'd rather paste over those holes than try and talk myself into overpaid average players in those roles. If and when one becomes available, it will be easy and painless to put them in the lineup.

    Sure the starting pitching and the on-base problems loom large. But they are finally getting the small things right. And that usually leads to the larger things going right eventually.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    2011 Organizational Rankings: #24 – Washington | FanGraphs Baseball

    2011 Organizational Rankings: #24 – Washington | FanGraphs Baseball

    Not a through analysis but a few off the top of my head observations:

    Financial Resources: 75 (T-20) -- This is absurdly low. 7th largest media market combined with the richest owner in North American team sports means there should be no dearth of financial resources. If this refers to spending already made, then I understand this rating. Oh boy do I understand it.

    "Chances are the team’s ability to draw high level players will trend more with team record and team willingness to spend than anything else."

    This is his conclusion to the "We signed Werth to attract other FA to come to Washington."

    In that the theory behind signing Jayson Werth in the first place was to win more, the two go hand in hand. If Werth does his job and the Nats win more, then more players will want to play there. Especially since they have vast untapped resources at their disposal. Which came first? To me, the winning is far more important than the spending so I agree here.

    Chides the Nats for not trading Dunn at the deadline last year. Thinks they could have done better than the #23 pick and the #35 pick. Maybe, that is speculation. Getting prospects is only slightly less risky than the draft. Would you rather have Kevin Slowey or Jordan Zimmermann? That's the breakdown from the Soriano non-deal. Looks like a big fat winner for the draft pick to me.

    “given his dealings with the incredibly expensive first overall picks he’s had to sign the last two years, the team is willing to spend, spend, spend on the draft for now”

    This is the fly in the draft ointment. This statement is untrue if you focus on 2009 but true for 2010. The draft strategy only makes sense if the team is willing to follow 2010 and overpay for talent rather than the signable 2009 disaster. Going signable for #23 and #35 would kind of defeat the purpose of the Dunn gamble.

    I won’t even waste another electron on international signings (Maya withstanding) except to say there has been ZERO other evidence this team is seriously engaged internationally. Bring me the arm of Yu Darvish this offseason and we can’t forget all this.

    Really can’t argue with 24th. Only real positive note right now is if you include SS, you have two potential franchise players in the system. Most teams don’t have one. We really can’t say in only two years if the current organization is adept and developing the talent at hand. It won’t be long though when all of JimBo’s picks are gone and we’ll be left with these guys scouting and development track record on the line.