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.