Friday, November 30, 2012

Win now?

Keith Law pretty much sums it up for me.

A not terrible CF for a decent price in exchange for a high upside pitching prospect. A truly win-now move.  We've come a long way on the success circle.

I suppose this means the last of Adam LaRoche.  I wouldn't be happy to have to pay him for the next three years based on last season's production because that's most likely not going to turn out very well.

The idea that the Nats needed a speedy leadoff on base defense CF has been one I've written about many times.  I've also noted that they are hard to find.  However, in the 2nd half of 2012, that problem had been resolved.

Jayson Werth IS the leadoff hitter we needed.  I don't give a crap about this he needs to be a "run-producer".  He's not.  He's ideally suited to the leadoff role, a little pop and a lot of on base.  Harper can handle CF just fine from a defensive perspective, moving him to left seems like a waste of a potentially sterling defensive player anyway.

 I'm guessing the plan is having Morse at first next year and then having Zim stay there for the course of his contract with Rendon taking over at third.  Span sits between Harper and Werth for the next two years with Goodwin taking over just as Span's $9m option can be turned down.

I hope they at least made La Roche a qualifying offer so that when he signs with Boston, the Nats get a compensation pick.  That will hopefully replace Meyer in the now-depleted system.

It seems to me that it would have been smarter to use Meyer to get the other starter they need rather than the CF.  Think they could have gotten James Shields or jon Lester for Meyer?  That wouldn't have broken the budget for 2013 nor forced a long term commitment.  It would have meant paying LaRoche for the next three years but exactly what will it take to fill that open starter slot over the next three years?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Live Blog Game One NLDS

OK so it's the 4th inning and I'm just getting started.

Would this even be recognized as a no-hitter?  At least we know it won't be a complete game.

So much for that.  There goes the no-hitter.

I guess going halfway across the country meant Gio found that lack of control he lost coming over from Oakland.

Backwards K how about that TBS.

More Steve McCatty interviews please.

Only 9 more days of the "Teenage" accomplishments list?  I'll miss Tony C.

Just for my own edification, I'd like to know how much Capital One paid Jimmy Fallon to humiliate himself with all those accents (aside from the lobster guy which is clearly in his comfort zone) and I'd like to know how much Dish Network is lowballing WUSA. It must be a lot since they are annoying the F*&% out of me with those gd crawls.

God damn. We get it Gio. We're all saying the same thing

Adam Wainwright doesn't seem to have a problem with the shade, light shade thing.  Has no problem throwing strikes.

What would be the kangaroo court fine for a Cardinal that swings at the first pitch today?  $100?  $500

This has to be Gio's last batter.

Would Davey consider Lombo for game two if the Cards weren't throwing a lefty? Espi looks lost right now

It will be Gio's last batter.  2 runs in 5 IP.  It was ugly but at least it didn't get out of hand.  And although Lynn is really good, I'm glad to get into the Cardinal bullpen this early.

Our first key moment:  $126 million for this moment Jayson

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHJHHHHHHH.  Don't tell me strikeouts are not worse that other outs at this very minute.

That makes up for Some of the K last inning Jayson.  Not enough but some

I was going to say it must not be our day with the Harper robbery and LaRoche's error but hello Ryan Mattheus houdini act . . . no runs bases loaded no outs . . . you are telling me we have a chance

I'm 99% sure Espi did that on his own.  I'm sure it wouldn't have happened if Davey were still alive


OK Drew Storen against their 1-2-3 hitters for a postseason win.

One kid and 15 social security recipients behind home plate tonight. Not good long term baseball

Again, it was ugly but Morse got it done. one down.  and the leadoff guy.

Why am I still nervous?  The Win Probability has to be over 50% right?

You can throw strike one? Someone tell Gio

Thanks Dick.  Announcer jinx of all time on the extra base thing

GAME OVER!   Thank you Tyler Moore and Ryan Mattheus.  Never expected to write that.  Now, we'll have at least two games in DC

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wow. The season isn't over.

INTERNET BASEBALL WRITERS ASSOCIATION: Washington, D.C. Chapter: DC-Internet Baseball Writers Association Announces 2012 Player Achievement Awards:

'via Blog this'

I suppose something must be said at the conclusion of the 2012 season.  98 wins, an 18 win improvement, the NL East crown and the best record in baseball.  OK not bad guys.

Really, not a lot to say.  Other than it's not a fluke.  There aren't the otherworldly luck in close games the O's had or fluky out of career norm seasons by one or two players.  This was a team that started the year as a 80-85 win team with upside and ended the year as a bone fide 98 win team.

True you can point out that the rotation was healthy all season and maybe we got more than we could expect from LaRoche and Desmond but all in all really nothing that out of the ordinary.  Yes they had no serious starting pitcher injuries but that will happen with a young yet experienced rotation.  They lost Zim, Desmond and Werth for significant time and it really didn't slow things down.  Now they are better with those guys don't get me wrong but they were able to paste over any holes that appeared in the lineup with ease.

I can't even recall a serious losing streak although when you win 98 games that isn't likely anyway.  That strong stable of starters meant if you were only as good as your next day's starter, they were pretty damn good every day.

I think the two things that really elevated the team to this remarkable regular season were Gio's brilliance and of course Bryce.

I've already made my mea culpa on Gio.  Nothing in his past would indicate he'd be an easy top 4 Cy Young vote (R.A.'s got that sewn up sorry).  but he clearly is.  Dickey, Cueto, Kershaw and Gonzalez in any rational ballot.

But Bryce really moved the needle.  And the number that flabbergasts me is one that never gets talked about. It's not a new fangled stat either. It's 98.  That's in runs scored.  They flashed that number in a recent game and my jaw hit the floor.  Seriously, 98 Runs!  That's insane.  It's absolutely true (just Fangraphed it to be sure.)

Throw out every other number.  He's 14th IN THE MAJORS IN RUNS AS A 19 YEAR OLD.  Who missed three weeks!  Now a bit of this has to do with the guys hitting behind him driving him home and I under stand that but 98 runs is still a damn impressive number.  It really brings out a lot of those little things that Bryce brought . . . taking extra bases for example.  Also, Bryce got ON BASE.  Can't score if you can't get on.

Hoist a tall one boys. Great season.  Which will not be diminished by anything that happens from now on.  Postseason is a crap shoot.

And one more thing, STFU you stupid troll Christine Brennan.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Nationals clinch playoff spot, first for D.C. team since 1933 | Big League Stew - Yahoo! Sports

Nationals clinch playoff spot, first for D.C. team since 1933 | Big League Stew - Yahoo! Sports:

'via Blog this'

For such a big deal, it doesn't feel like a big deal.

I mean I started this blog with the idea that it would be an accomplishment to reach 43 wins . . . the low standard to ensure forgetability for bad teams or 63 wins to avoid the dreaded 100 loss season.  Of course they weren't successful in the latter and thanks to Riggleman (thought we forgot what Jim did for us not as the Nats manager but sweeping that last series in Seattle and gifting us Strasburg).

Even though playoff baseball is devalued, this is a franchise that has played what 5 postseason games period.  Haven't had a postseason game in Washington since 1933.  That's exorcising a lot of demons and ending a lot of narratives.  I'm all in favor of ending sportswriters narratives.

Side note: how freaking good was Ross Detweiler last night?  Spotting a 95+ FB all over the place.  Am I crazy for thinking that I wouldn't be ashamed to have him start a post season game?  And he's the 4th starter. h/t to Davey for having the guts to put him in the rotation from Day One (we'll just all agree to forget the regrettable CM Wang era OK).

Storen was pretty special too.  That's a key to postseason success -- 8th and 9th inning shutdown guys.  Pretty glad to go into a series with Clip and Storen at the end right now.  And I'm confident Davey will keep them both fresh.

Honestly, how can anyone other than Davey get a vote for NL MOY.  Making the Lannan/Detweiler call out of ST, the way he's handled he bull pen from Day One mixing and matching and generally creating favorable late inning matchups all year long, having a productive bench and using it and finally and IMHO the key move convincing Jayson Werth to be happy in the spot he belongs -- leading off.  How many managers would have both the smarts and the balls to tell a 6' 5" $126m guy he's no longer a "power" hitter and get him to go where he makes the team work best as a high OBP leadoff guy.  Short answer not many.  (Would Manny Acta? I doubt it.)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How the Nationals Were Built - The Triangle Blog - Grantland

How the Nationals Were Built - The Triangle Blog - Grantland:

'via Blog this'

Expos apologist forgets that it was the Expos that made the hideous Colon deal which is just as responsible for the bottoming out as anything else.  Oh and Omar's terrible drafting after the first round.  Lots of 1st rounders go bust but usually teams find mid round gems.  Not under the late term Expos.

I'm sure I could look this up but I prefer to just ramble on and say I am certain there were times in 08 and 09 when an overmatched Nats team walked into Philly or SF or anywhere really and had their asses handed to them.  Where is was so patently obvious which was the better team. The games not even close.  Well, payback's a bitch Chicago.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Oh Noes? What if the steroid narrative is bunk?

Was MLB's Juiced Era Actually A Juiced-Ball Era?:

'via Blog this'
What will lazy sportwriters do now?  Although the evidence is not definitive, it does appear MLB was complicit in trying to"juice" the game via modification to the ball itself.

Check this quote:
The 49.1-foot discrepancy in flight for two balls at the extremes of tolerance is roughly three times the distance produced by a three percent increase in batted ball speed. That's according to the rule of thumb cited by Nathan in his evaluation of data on home run distances, whereby each additional mile per hour of batted ball speed increases the fly ball distance by 5.5 feet. That's a lot of extra homers added to the ledger without anyone violating the rules.

If you have ever wondered why some pitchers can be picky about the ball, the specs for MLB baseballs is a 1/4" in diameter and 1/4 oz in weight.  I couldn't tell the difference but I would be willing to bet someone who played the game would.

Interestingly, they even note that gameballs for minor leagues flew on average 8 feet less than MLB game balls.  Sort of explains how a guy can go from minor league double machine to home run derby guy without juicing doesn't it?

The larger point I'm making is: we've slipped into a convenient narrative for the late 90s early 2000s regarding the "steroids" era.  Oh records from that time are suspect, everyone was juicing and the game was just out of control.  Well, we still don't know how many were doing it  (and we never will) and we don't know if it helped or hurt.  (BTW -- why isn't it ever discussed that pitchers juiced too. Doesn't that even things out?)  This narrative while easy is not complete nor correct.  The so-called "steroid" era is not different than any other era and attempts to portray it as such as just ill informed.

Personally, I don't give a crap about steroids.  But I'm stuck living in this world where sportswriters love the stuff and infect historical discussions with it every chance they get.  Oh the lamentations I will have to ignore come the 2013 HoF ballot.  I know its too much to ask to say just let it lie.  but can we please have some perspective.

Also, I AM NOT IN PANIC MODE YET.  Losing streaks are inevitable and after such a great run to be expected.  We're just one quality start away from putting all this behind us so cheer up.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Boz -- All is forgiven

Visiting the Washington Nationals - Grantland:

'via Blog this'

Yes, Thomas Boswell, all is forgiven.  At least when I realize that we could have a pretentious blowhard like Charles Pierce scribbling for us instead.

Of course he's not here every day and can't be bothered with any minutia like oh understanding why the ball park was "ridiculously expensive" (hint for you CP -- it had to do with the District and the politicians who insisted on a municipally owned park.  If you can't figure out why, then I suggest you try building a parking garage in the District and see how quickly they politically-connected cement companies scurry out from the woodwork.)

Let's beat the old "they lost two teams, they don't deserve another one" horse to death again.  Yes, Havana IS a much better spot for an MLB team than the 7th largest media market in the country.  I'm sure all of us would be dying to hop in our Piper Cub's and meringue down to Havana to smoke cigars and complain about capitalism.  Hey CP, I'll bet those '36 Olympics were such a hoot -- bet you wish you were there too. They really knew how to celebrate human achievement with totalitarian style.

So, DC losing teams is just desserts but Montreal losing a team it didn't give a shit about, in a crummy stadium that was a health hazard is a crime of the century?

Nice for noticing that there are National's fans Mr. Pierce.  Did they just materialize in the past week?  Or were there 2 million + in 2005?  Surprise?  A Winning team means fans go to the park.  Losers mean they don't.  Amazing insight. I really must ensure the continued daily delivery of dead trees in order to savor your wisdom.

I will give him credit for the Whitey Ford reference in re:Gio.  Perhaps if he had stuck around and seen the other four members of the starting staff he might have laid off the doesn't look like an NBA 3 meme.  Pretty sure ZNN, Stras, Detweiler and EJ would all man the small forward position.

I do have to agree with at least one thing . . . the worst part of the pennant race baseball in DC will be the endless cameos of "important" people in the stands.  Hard as it will be to believe, their insipid BS when they get camera time will be even worse than that of ordinary LA or NY based celebrities who at least will be trying to move product rather than compete to get their snouts in the public trough the deepest.

On a small baseball note, kudos again to Davey.  Making the Werth hit leadoff is something only a guy like him could do.  In other words, despite the fact it makes far more sense than any other lineup configuration, Werth's stature would disqualify him in the eyes of most "baseball" men.  Davey, while being a "baseball" man is also smart enough to know what's going to help his team win.

It hard to imagine, when I started blogging here the goal I had in mind was 63 wins.  Now, it may be a .500 season before the end of August.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Shut down Stephen Strasburg, or just let him pitch? - ESPN

Shut down Stephen Strasburg, or just let him pitch? - ESPN:

'via Blog this'

or beat a dead horse whichever you prefer.

The only sensible reaction comes from Ben Sheets, man to whom I would have given $10m to not pitch, who says whatever the decision, the team has to be 100% committed to it.

I agree.  Have a plan and stick to it.  Gather what info you can and make the choice that you believe serves the long term interest of the club.

Sure I'd like to see Stras pitch in meaningful games late in the season (avoiding the jinxing postseason verbiage) but if the Plan has been to limit innings and everyone's on board then just do it.  Don't listen to the tougher than thou might only have one chance at it crowd.  Those are the same people in the folding chairs at every Little League game who can't understand why the 12 year old ace can't pitch just one more game so their benchwarmer can play in the next playoff round.

Sure Strasburg's built like a workhorse and I'm sure its in his nature to want to pitch. But he's already broken once and he's still young, he's far from being beyond the reach of pitching injury from overuse.

And Orel and Carpenter's experience doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in the pitch em till their arms fall off crowd.  Does anyone have an example where a guy went too many innings and his team didn't win?  Then that guy was never the same and the team faded.  I'll bet that example exists but we'll never know.

No reason to believe that 2012 is some magical year that cannot be repeated.  The Phillies repeated from '08 to'11 without much problem.  Can anyone see a team with Stras, Gio and ZNN at the top of the rotation being anything other than a post season contender in 2013? With the two wild cards hell and yes.

Relax people, the Nats haven't won anything yet.  Are we really going to get all Atlanta-like complacent after one season if they don't win?  Settle in folks, we've got a few years of contention to enjoy.  We've suffered through what the Astros are now, now its time to enjoy it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Credit where its due Omar

Bang! Zoom!: Believe me, I don't want to be positive but . . .: . . . I have to. It's my nature.  I always distrust popular opinion, generally I despise anything that everyone else loves.  There are excep...

Never let it be said that I don't give credit where credit is due.

TWGMIBB gets another pick to the Bigs!!1

So hoist a cold one Omar and have the last laugh at me all your many detractors. Only you saw the future of jim Henderson so clearly.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Nationals sign four international players - Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

Nationals sign four international players - Nationals Journal - The Washington Post:

'via Blog this'


Also, a sentence that should never be written again (from this article)

Nationals ownership has been hesitant to wade into the international market since the Smiley Gonzalez fiasco, when a Dominican player the Nationals signed for $1.4 million faked his name and identity.

Not only was this 2006?  six freaking years ago but IT WAS JUST 28% of a loDuca for god's sake.Years of potential international talent lost because of this.  Unbelievable.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Just a warning: There is now no $$$$ excuses

Nationals Acquire Kurt Suzuki: MLB Rumors -

'via Blog this'

Going off half cocked is as old and venerable tradition as there is on the Internet.  So, in the interest of serving tradition, allow me to to do just that.

If the Nats are paying even one penny of Kurt Suzuki's contract next year, then any off  season excuses about $$$$ are a complete joke.

$6 million plus in 2013 for Kurt freaking Suzuki!  Ouch.  A Loduca +$1m that hurts.

For what exactly?  He's not an offensive upgrade from anyone the Nats have now even given the depressive aspect of his formerly home field.

38% of baserunners thrown out.  Whoop de Doo.  You can't tell me there aren't a couple of members of the International Brotherhood of Backup Catchers waiting down at the union hall who couldn't do that while wielding a wet noodle at the dish?

And David Freitas?  A 23 year old with solid OBP skills.  No one will be able to convince me that the Nats couldn't have gotten Geovanny Soto from the Cubs for Freitas had it been offered.  Soto's line now might be worse but he has solid secondary skills and has the potential to be at least league average offensively.

If Billy Beane got rid of Suzuki's contract for the rest of this year and 2013 and still got a guy who could be a decent backup catcher in a few years then all I can say is please stop trading with Billy Beane.  Or at least don't let him take his pick of your minor leagues. Avert your eyes as he replaces Suzuki with former Nat farmhand Derek Norris.

My warning is this: I refuse to count Suzuki's 2013 commitment toward the salary budget.  You took this on with malace aforethought -- don't bitch later about spending restraints because you horribly overpaid for a bad catcher.  Not buying it, not one tiny little bit.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nationals Baseball: The Phillies aren't dumb and the Marlins aren't the same old Marlins

Nationals Baseball: The Phillies aren't dumb and the Marlins aren't the same old Marlins:

'via Blog this'

I wasn't to keen on either the Phillies or the Marlins going into this season.

Thought the Phillies were aging and not in a good way and that the Marlins has spent money but not very wisely.

Got those two things right.  Missed on the Nats being a .500 team though.

I disagree that either of these teams is really a threat going forward.  Yes the Pillies do have their core locked up through 2015 . . . but that core is all on the wrong side of 30.  Halladay, Lee, Utley, Howard, Rollins are getting worse not better.  Hamels is going to be a fine staff ace for the foreseeable future but who else is likely to maintain?  Can they afford to keep Hunter Pence?  They are already talking abut dealing him.  This is not Carlos Ruiz's true talent level -- he's having a career year and that won't continue.  Who is going to play 3rd for them going forward?  They have to replace Shane Victorino with ??????  They may have decided to retool rather than reload but from where I stand that is a terrible decision and will consign them to years of high payrolls and mediocre performace.

For the Marlins, they were always on the wrong track.  The Bell contract was a joke the moment it was signed and the Buhrle contract wasn't too far behind.  Who knew that Hanley Ramirez, their franchise cornerstone would disintegrate in front of our very eyes.  What's worse for them long term is their burst of activity and their new stadium did very little to increase revenue streams.  They will have a tough time putting together a winner using a spend spend spend formula so they will have to take the long road of prospect development.  And aside from Christian Yelich and Jose Fernandez, there isn't a lot in the cupboard.

Short and long term the Braves and the Mets cause much more concern.  The Braves just have a lot of young talent and have a knack of finding and developing young players.  For god sake Brandon Beachy was UNDRAFTED@!  That means he wasn't considered one of the best 600 amateur players in the country during his draft year.  That's hard to do.  And before his TJ, he was a top 5 pitcher in the NL.

The Mets seem to have found a clue.  We can all hope David Wright decides to move on. That would help.  Getting Zach Wheeler for a 2 month Carlos Beltran rental was big for them.They have some holes to fill but with the New York media market, they can be much bigger players and support a much higher payroll.

I have to say that this past week has made me a believer.  That Friday night collapse at home against he Braves followed by the shutout by Ben Freaking Sheets looked for all the world like the start of a young team feeling the pressure of a division lead for the first time.  Better and more veteran teams have folded (see Atlanta and Boston just last year) and this looked for all the world like a team wide failure.  A gutting of the winning "Natitude"tm that had propelled them beyond what I thought reasonable so far.

But as the old adage goes, you are only as good as your next day's starter.  Five wins later, with outstanding starts from every one in the rotation and even one who isn't (thanks John for one last moment!), and the ship is righted.  I'd also put a fair share of the credit for the turnaround squarely on the shoulders of one Davey Johnson.  Normally, you can't make much of a case for a manager making a difference but in this case I think Davey's response to Friday has a lot to do with the turnaround.

His post game press performance was a clinic in how a manager should handle this kind of situation.  He made it 100% clear using as harsh language as he could muster that it was HIS fault.  He let the team down. He mismanaged the bullpen and he was totally at fault.  That is a manager's job: When you win it's the players and when you lose it's you.  No wonder players love playing for Davey.  And no wonder they could go out and not carry that loss for too long.   This is such a simple lesson and the hallmark of so many successful managers in all sports that I am astounded when managers/coaches fail at this all the time.

Lastly, unless there is a deal where you get something for nothing like the HanRam to the Dodgers deal I see no need to make a move at the deadline at all.  There's been some talk about a starter to soak up innings after Stras is shut down but really how many starts would we be talking about?  And that guy would have to be better than John Lannan to make it worth while.  The Randy Wolf's and Kevin Millwood's of the world don;t meet that standard.  Besides, will there even be meaningful starts in September?  Is it possible that there won't be a "heat of the pennant" race in the NL East?  I do understand that it is reasonable from a cost/benefit analysis to go for the division crown over the wild card now but I'm not sure its worth much prospect wise to make that move.  I'd support a strict money move, if you feel like you need another middle infielder just go buy Jamey Carroll from the Twins. I don't see the need but if you do eh OK.


Friday, July 13, 2012

I never doubted you Mike, Ted, Mark

Nationals go over slot, sign Lucas Giolito for $2.925 million | HardballTalk:

'via Blog this'

OK so I did.  But you came through.  Paid the tax, acted like the big market bad boy that you are.  I suppose I should know who else is paying the tax but I don't.  So that must mean it isn't very many teams and the Nats are one of them. GOOD FOR YOU AND ABOUT FREAKING TIME!

Now, all you have to do is take a look at the "where they came from" list of the All Star Game and see that almost half of them were international free agents.  Pry out a few pennies in that direction and you'll be on your way to a (dare I say it) dynasty.

OK that's a bit too much. The system isn't set up for dynasties unless you own and control your own network in one of the top media markets in the country.  So please, give that bastard Angelos absolutely no quarter in the MASN negotiations.  Take as much as you can. A playoff run this year leaves you holding all the cards . . . the longer they hold out the better your deal should be.

One more thing. Fangraphs posted a fake trade where the Nats give Rendon, Espinosa, Meyer and Leon to the Phillies for 2 months of Cole Hamels.  Just don't.  No need at this point to give up much of anything for help at the deadline anymore.  2 month rentals are even worse a deal then before the latest CBA . . . how long will the giants regret Zach Wheeler?  Or more precisely, how long will we regret Zach Wheeler?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Nats Insider: Crowds growing week to week

Nats Insider: Crowds growing week to week:

'via Blog this'

Duh, winning.

As if this is somehow strange.

Although it may be that its not just winning but exceeding expectations that is the real key.  These Nats have exceeded expectations of everyone (me included) and this aspect makes the story of the Nats season that much better.  A surprise twist if you will.

Atlanta has shown us how the tyranny of missed expectations can deflate what is by any other standard a highly successful franchise. The Capitals are another example.

In any event, I never bought the crap that Washington "wasn't a baseball town."  A town is what its most successful franchise is.  Maybe St. Louis really is a baseball town (as shown by David Freese's 8 million plus votes. Side note: although there are still all star caliber players who aren't going to KC, Freese should get this dispensation just for what he did last October. ) but that's about it.

The elements are in place for sustained period of good baseball here.  It will be interesting to see what this town would look like with a perennially successful baseball franchise while the other sports teams continue to flounder (I'm looking at you Dan Snyder don't think this is a football town forever, your sustained lack of success isn't going to be turned around by one flashy draft pick.)

As for the Nats, I don't think things could be going any better right now.  The Phillies are this close to running up the white flag (as they should), the Braves rotation is a problem, the Marlins are an overrated mess, and the Mets are well the Mets.  This generation of Mets specializes in caving down the stretch not running down a frontrunner.

Not only this, aside from Gio and Ian is anyone really having a season beyond reasonable expectations?  There aren't any luck factor stats showing this 16 games over .500 to be a fluke.  So far, they are a 94 win team and have played like it.  Maybe that pace is a little much but they only need to play .500 the rest of the way to be a wild card contender.  

edit:  rather than put up a new post, I'll just throw it here since it is sort of relevant.

Playing .500 from here on out would give the Nats 41 wins. Added to the 48 they already have and you are at 89.

So the target for the rest of the division is 90.

Mets  79  GTG Need 45 wins   WP needed  .569
Braves: 80 GTG Need 47 wins  WP needed  .587
Marlins 80 GTG Need 50 wins  WP needed  .625
Phillies 84 GTG Need 53 wins   WP needed  .630

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ryan Zimmerman’s Struggles Continue | FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball

Ryan Zimmerman’s Struggles Continue | FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball:

'via Blog this'

When Zimm signed the $100m extension, my thought was at least he'd be more immune to criticism than Jayson Werth just for what he's done for the franchise.

That's seems to be right on the money.   Cause there ain't no two ways about it: he's stunk on ice.

And he isn't getting even a eighth of the criticism Werth got last year and Werth was doing a whole lot better!  Which shows you exactly how bad Zimmerman's been.

Now you could argue that Zimmerman's struggles have been subsumed in the success the Nat's are having so far.  When they were their typical losing team last year, it was easier to point fingers. Granted. Winning does cover up a lot of faults.  But I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that Zimmerman was the lone bright spot on a lot of bad teams and the long time fans who would be most critical are just afraid to rein down the opprobrium on such a figure.

Understandable.  This article doesn't give us much hope that a healthy Zimmerman is going to come back.  We're reduced to hoping his injury is worse than he's letting on.  It would be a near monumental disaster if this was Zimmerman's level for the next five years . . . combined with Werth and his albatross.  That would leave the Lerner's with a tough decision . . .

they'd have to eat a lot of these contracts or they would squander the best years of the magnificent pitching staff they have assembled.   With the vagaries of pitching, there is no way to assume this window will stay open for five years.  Hell, it probably won't stay open for three. That would be pretty good .What's more likely a Braves in the 90s run or a 2003 Cubs rehash?

Can't even move him to SS -- he'd be a liability compared to Ian D with the glove and the stick right now!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

So far, Bryce Harper is living up to the ridiculous hype - Grantland

So far, Bryce Harper is living up to the ridiculous hype - Grantland:

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If you don't want to read the whole thing, here's the nut graph:

Bryce Harper, age 19, is the best hitter on a first-place team.

The only thing that haunts me, as a pessimist by nature, is the name Tony Congilario.  He's always the guy on these teenage lists who isn't a Hall of Famer.  We all know why and that thought hangs over every discussion of Harper's future.  It could be taken away so easily, so quickly and end up being just a footnote rather than the grand epic novel we're hoping for.

It was a pleasure to listen to the BS Report from Monday where Red Sox fan Bill Simmons recalled his teams weekend series with the Nats.  "Guys throwing 100mph, scoring from first on doubles their just a good team and we're not."  Respect comes slowly then it comes all at once.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Nationals eyeing Dominican prospects Gustavo Cabrera, Wendell Rijo - Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

Nationals eyeing Dominican prospects Gustavo Cabrera, Wendell Rijo - Nationals Journal - The Washington Post:

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Please, for the love of Pete, just get over the Smiley Gonzalez thing.  It didn't work out.  Deal.  In the end, he cost the team less than Paul LoDuca and they aren't still whining about that.  For that matter he's cost less than Chien Ming Wang and what the hell good has that done so far?

Get into the Soler bidding.  You have the cash and you can't have enough top end prospect talent.  Your payroll isn't commensurate with your market so you have spare change.  And soon your payroll will give you the excuse you need to no longer be big international FA players.  So double down now while you have the opportunity.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

$3.5m to buy a prospect?

Nats Talked With Dodgers And Rockies About Lannan: MLB Rumors -

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$3.5m to buy a prospect.  That's what you are talking about.  Its the new MLB, GM's aren't going to give up cash AND talent to get at best a league average starter for four months.

Lannan's $3.5m is a sunk cost.  You dynamited that bridge the day you offered Lannan arbitration.  The only question now is: what are you going to get for your $3.5m?  Four months of AAA pitching or a decent prospect?  Pay Lannan and ship him to who ever offers you the highest ceiling prospect.  THAT is a no brainer.

Made an observation in re: the Nats draft. 14 of 15 are up the middle players.  Nary a corner infielder or outfielder in sight  (the 14th rounder is a RF).  I like this strategy.  You can always move players to the less demanding end of the defensive spectrum but its impossible to do the opposite.  Think Mike Morse who was drafted and came up as a shortstop.  Can't imagine him there now.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Two Words Mike

F&^% and YES!

This is how you do ut.  Screw the money, take the best player.  He's 17. Go ahead and TJ his elbow now and by the time he's healed, he'll get this damn 160 IP limit out of the way at Hagerstown.

MLB's 10 worst deadline deals

June 27, 2002 — Expos and Indians - MLB's 10 worst deadline deals - FOX Sports List:

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Kudos to Fox -- they have the "deal" in the correct spot. Number One overall.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Gio: I apologize

Nationals Pitching Is Still Excellent After A Weird Week of Outings | May:

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Hey man, so sorry about that whole mediocre thing.  Believe me, had you just said that you had found the strike zone on the cross country flight from Oakland to DC I wouldn't have written it.  Really.  And as long as you know to find that elusive strike zone, boy you are really good.

A couple of other thoughts:

I was pondering a post about the Brett Lawrie/Bill Miller umpire incident focused not on the helmet throwing visual but the obvious "I'll show you" call the umpire.  I was going to write about how while I can't condone Lawrie reaction, I can understand it.  That was Ball 4 by any measure and it was so clearly a case where an umpire let a personal disagreement influence his judgement.  As unprofessional as it was for Lawrie to throw the helmet, it was equally unprofessional for that call.  I was also going to point out how baseball wouldn't do a damn thing (at least publicity) to Miller.

So they decided to suspend another umpire Bob Davidson for who knows what.

Umpiring is tough job and to their credit, they are right a lot more than you would think.  And I can understand why MLB keeps umpiring discipline a closely guarded secret. They don't want to give the impression that one guy is a problem. Understood.   Hopefully they are sending the long overdue message to the umpires that people don't care if you get "shown up." They don't pay to see you.  If you become part of the story, you have failed.  I will be interested to see how the union reacts. My guess is they go ballistic.

The fact that no plan as ever withstood contact with reality is cold comfort for GM Rizzo.  I would be the first to say that he had quite a nice little catching plan in place a week ago.  Two young well rounded backstops and a nearly ready one waiting in reserve.  There are a lot of teams that would love to have a stash of potential quality catchers like that.  And then its gone.  Nothing you can do about what happened.  All I'll say is remember the process was right and don't panic!

When can we start worrying about Zim's lack of power?  Defense and good AB's don't make a $100m player.  Need some more out of you.

Ian -- its great that you can hit home runs.  Fantastic.  However, between you and me, I'd trade your home runs for 30 points of OBP.  .330 is all I'm asking for.

Another feather in GM Rizzo's cap at least so far this year is the marked improvement in the Nat's bench.  Actual dangerous PH's lurk making these late inning rallies a lot easier to assemble.

edited to reflect the fact that the umpire suspended wasn't the guy involved in the Lawrie incident.  Although it should have been.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Three Things from last night

Baseball Video Highlights & Clips | ARI@WSH: Harper goes 3-for-4 with two runs scored - Video | Multimedia:

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1. On Harper's first double, Parra the D'Backs CF makes a barehanded grab on the carom off the wall and makes a strong if off line throw to second.  Assume for a moment his throw was Ankielian -- it would have made for a close play at second . . . for most anyone else or someone who was admiring a drive that very well could have been his 1st career home run.  Harper however was already standing on second before the ball ever left Parra's hand.  Wow.

2. The contrast between Bob Carpenter's "call" of Desmond's game winner with Charlie's is black vs. white. Polar opposites.  MLB TV's version of the highlights keeps Carpenter's call up till Desmond swings. Then its all Charlie. We don't need Hawk Harrelson but c'mon Bob give us something.

3.  Ian I want to introduce you to one Kendrys Morales.  I know it is highly unlikely you will ever hit another walk off homer but if you do don't freaking leap to land on the plate!!!!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How sportswriters create myths

How the Washington Nationals became baseball's sleeping giant - Ben Reiter -

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If you are interested in a handy easy to follow narrative, I point you toward this.

Why oh why do we point to Strasburg and Harper and call it a "focus on development?"  Those guys have absolutely nothing to do with development.  They are a product of two 59 win seasons. Period.  Zimmerman isn't really a product of scouting either he was the 4th pick in a loaded draft.  They can be applauded for at least not missing here. We can quibble about whether Bruan or Tulo or Jay Bruce or Andrew McCutchen or oh man so sorry Mariners fans!

But oh that was the Plan (trademark Stan K) We didn't want to go out an sign free agents to make us somewhat better.  OK so you are telling me that the whole Texeria thing was just a pile of Boras bullshit?  I can understand that but I can't wrap my head around how you can say we meant to suck that's why we didn't sign anyone and also claim we tried to sign Mark Texeria to an albatross contract.  Those are mutually exclusive but as you will note they are presented in two different contexts by the writer. Each piece in the place it needs to be to support the narrative.  Clever but mendacious.

I certainly enjoyed the part about scouting and development being the focus of the organization and how the billionaire owners starting putting tremendous resources into it.  Kudos to them for building up what was to be generous a skeleton crew of scouts.  But let's also remember that this focus of development is wayyyyyyyy more recent than this writer lets on.  Cast your eyes back to the draft of 2009.  The Nats spend more in that draft then anyone ever before in history!!!! Development. Scouting! The Plan in action!  No.  Just one one in a generation pitching prospect who had the foresight to hire Scott Boras.  Check the rest of that draft. Slot or below for THE REST OF THE ENTIRE DRAFT!  Didn't see any of those guys in the Gio loot pile did ya?

Of the four guys in that loot pile only AJ Cole stands out as part of the development and scouting plan.  Clearly they had no desire for Tommy Milone based on the outcome of the Lannan v Detweiler competition. This is not the place for soft tossers (Danny Rosenbaum keep your bags packed in late July)  Norris was excess in the wake of the Ramos robbery and Peacock -- they filled that slot for $11 million.  A much better outcome than I thought at the time. Gio's relative lack of wildness being the main reason this deal looks so good right now.

Don't get me wrong.  I for one applaud the scouting and development plan.  Would have been nicer had they started it a few years earlier but hey who am I to argue now.  A more accurate narrative would say the Nationals and their billionaire owners hoped a new ball park along with the most affluent metro area in the country would be enough to fill the seats.  When they realized that this is a frontrunning town (sometime in 2009 would be my guess) they changed course and opened the wallets to at least appear to give a flying F.

Thanks to having what I have no problem calling a Top 10 GM they've been successful in building a pretty good team for now and better still for the next few years.  

Of course I am still waiting for the first impact international signing.  Carlos Alvarez doesn't count.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Not that anyone cares but I approve this message

Nationals minor leagues: How Hagerstown scored 24 runs and the rise of Danny Rosenbaum - Nationals Journal - The Washington Post:

'via Blog this'

Harris said Skole’s patience signified why Hagerstown has “started to heat up. They’re doing a very good job of controlling the strike zone.”

I heartily approve this organizational message.  Although as a complete nerd I did ask the Fangraphs prospect maven about Skole yesterday and he said he didn't like Skole coming out of college but that he had dropped 20-30 lbs and looked much better at the plate. The field well that was a different story.  I remain hopeful since I sat at the Pfitz a while back and saw Mike Moustakous lose a game when a three hopper went right between the wickets. I would have sworn to you he couldn't handle the hot corner in a slo pitch softball league after that but now I can't turn on webgems without seeing him making a play.   So let hope spring eternal.

I know the bullpen depth is an issue without Storen but to my eye Tyler Clippard needs to take a break.  The last two years of massive use have finally caught up to him.  He's not built like a horse and I think its starting to show.  It happens with relief pitchers, they lose effectiveness after heavy use.  And no one's been leaned on more than Tyler.  And that's not just a comment on last night. It seems even when he's gotten out of jams (like the 7th last night for example) he's really struggling with command.  And it seems they have a scouting report -- lay off the change.  

Hitting is down all over MLB so far this season.  That's good in the sense that the anemic offense isn't that out of the ordinary. But its clear its going to be a problem. Not a killer problem since I am sure the pitching is as good as advertised.  So we're in for a season of 3-2, 2-1 games with a lot of drama at the ends.  In fact, if Storen doesn't return at all, I'd put Henry Rodriguez in line for 40+ saves assuming he maintains his current grip on the strike zone.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Someone more technologically adept than me needs to make that video

Baseball Video Highlights & Clips | Multimedia:

Please someone make a Rick Ankiel throws from the OF highlight reel.  You could even include the throw he made after his 3 base error when he hit Zim on one hop from the base of the wall and made that play closer than it had any right to be.

Lay everything else off to the side and just witness such a display of athletic achievement.  How many humans could do what he just did?  If there were a lot, we'd see them patrolling OFs all over the majors.

I may have been wrong when I wrote that this is a .500 team.  The offense is a problem but it's not an insurmountable one.  There is NO question that this team has pitching and defense.  You can go a long way with those two.  Its clear that this team is going to play a LOT of close games meaning that luck and the odd outstanding play will determine wins and losses. Luck evens out but defense is a controllable constant.  Right now the weakest link defensively is the left fielder.  And if that's your weakest link you are in pretty good shape.

I even think they'll be fine offensively if Desmond and Espinosa can keep getting on base with such regularity.  Desmond's been the real revelation so far, what can you say about a guy whose been your best player from an 8-3 streak?  Its an absurdly small sample size yes but being the best player for an 8-3 stretch has some meaning. I know Desi won't keep it up but he really doesn't have to.  Just play solid defense and get on base.  Zimmerman will come around and maybe by that time Morse will be back.

At the very least, there sin't a game the Nats can go into right now where I think yeah they've got a huge edge in the starting pitcher department.  That's a major turnaround.  I've got to think seeing the Nats on the schedule looks great to opposing fans but the advance scouts are telling the players hey no free lunches this series boys.  You are gonna have to get after it or we'll be shut down.

I guess there is a reason Davey Johnson's teams always end up better than anyone believes at the start of a season.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Following the script

You could do a search and replace on National's pitchers and their "sore" elbows.

This time cut and paste Drew Storen's name.

How many time does this have to happen?  First it's no big deal then its rest and rehab then its a flight to Birmingham and see you next year.

Although the way H Rod and the rest of the pen pitched in Chicago, maybe we won't miss Storen all that much.

That will be key however. This looks like a team that will play a lot of close games. They can't score and their pitching will keep them in it.

However, should Morse return soon at nearly the same level of production as last year and if Desi and Espi keep getting on base I wouldn't be surprised to see a pretty decent offense.  La Roche finding his stroke is the best possible news. Let's see it happen for a month though -- of course given La Roche's history we'll have to see it for an entire season before its real.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lannan and other Opening Day thoughts

John Lannan Wants To Work For Food | Nationals Inquisition:

'via Blog this'

In a way, you can't blame John Lannan for asking for a trade.  Especially if the narrative, which we have to construct, is that Davey told him he's the #5 starter and then (after some stage whispers from above) he suddenly was on a bus to Syracuse.  It would be difficult to perform for an organization that basically lied to your face.

Even given the worst case scenario, it is not in the Nats interest to move Lannas just to move him.  I hear all this oh his $5m salary is going to be a sticking point.  Really.  I dare you to name the #4 and #5 starters for the AL East powerhouse Boston Red Sox?

I know Lannan defies all the statistical profiles, he really shouldn't be a league average hurler.  I know the K rates stink but the fact is over the past three seasons he's been every bit the league average as you could be.  And for many teams, that would be a huge upgrade.  Without a lot of injury risk either.

Hold out for something of value. Preferably a prospect even one a long way away.

It's kind of a strange feeling Opening Day 2012.  There are actual expectations now.  As pessimistic as I want to be I really can't.  There is no reason this team shouldn't be at least .500 barring massive injuries.  And if you can be .500, you have a shot at getting a little lucky and being in the thick of a wild card race.  Losses will hurt now rather than just be part of the rebuilding process.  Wins are now expected or at least taken somewhat for granted, they should win half the time now.  It's like the transition from the Wizards to the Capitals.  For the Wiz, any hopeful sign is welcome while the Caps failure is harshly judged.  This team is moving from the one to the other and it will be interesting to see how these expectations are managed early on.

One more thing. To all you bemoaning the lack of a true Centerfielder on the Opening Day roster . . . pray tell where would you have found one this off season?  In case you didn't know, it is one of the most difficult positions to fill.  Plus defenders with at least on base skills are hard to come by and not easily given up.  Leaving the position essentially open means a possible Harper transition is easier (although I am increasingly becoming of a mind that we won't see Bryce till September. Just a hunch perhaps my natural pessimism rearing its ugly head.)

If nothing else, it will be satisfying to look at the daily pitching matchups on any given day and think We've got a damn good shot today!  That's something I never said in the Martin/Simontachi/Martis years.

As for a prediction, I'll say 82-80.  And that's because I think they are much better than last year but last year's 80 wins was slightly above what they really were.  So 82 wins is really a nice leap.  And it would set the stage for a no doubt about it run in 2013.

Friday, March 2, 2012

25 CFs since 2005?

Nationals Continue Monitoring Center Field Market: MLB Rumors -

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That's what they say. And sadly it sounded right.

Wilkerson 88
Wilson 54
Church 12
Byrd 2
Chavez 2

Byrd 44
Church 42
Logan 25
Escobar 19
Jackson 15
Watson 7
Anderson 5
Kearns 4
Matos 1

Logan 79
Church 39
Langerhans 33
Maxwell 5
Watson 5
Kearns 1

Milledge 134
Harris 14
Bernadina 12
Dukes 1

Harris 53
Morgan 47
Dukes 32
Maxwell 20
Milledge 5
Kearns 2
Patterson 1
Bernadina 1

Morgan 128
Bernadina 20
Maxwell 13
Taveras 1

Ankiel 84
Bernadina 50
Werth 17
Hairston 6
Bixler 4

I found 27. If you count starts only it's 25. Laynce Nix and Jorge Padilla are listed as playing the position but not having any starts.

Only twice in the last 6 years has a player started over 100 games in CF for the Nats in the same season.

Of the 27, only 11 played in more than one season. (Church, Byrd, Logan, Watson, Kearns, Maxwell, Milledge, Harris, Bernadina, Dukes, Morgan)

Bernadina the only one who started in 4 different seasons or more. Church and Maxwell had starts in three different seasons. The others, two only.

Added 5 to the list just last year.

Morgan 175
Milledge 139
Logan 104
Church 93
Wilkerson 88
Ankiel 84
Bernadina 83
Harris 67
Wilson 54
Byrd 46
Maxwell 38
Langerhans 33
Dukes 33
Escobar 19
Werth 17
Damien Jackson 15
Watson 12
Kearns 7
Hairston 6
Anderson M. 5
Bixler 4
Chavez 2
Matos 1
Patterson 1
Tavares 1
Padilla 1*
Nix 1*

Of course, out of context this seems like a lot. I'm not ambitious enough to compare it to other teams CF's over the last 6 years or to another position to see if this is way out of the ordinary.

And finally, it really doesn't tell us anything we don't already know . . . CF has been a disaster from the beginning.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What is it with Ulnar Collateral Ligaments and this Franchise?

Washington Nationals' Left-Hander Sammy Solis Joins Jordan Zimmermann And Stephen Strasburg. - Federal Baseball:

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I suppose there is a good reason for TINSAAP but come on. Another top pitching prospect needs TJ? Maybe they should just do a proactive TJ on Purke and Meyer right now.

What is troubling about the Solis saga is that it parallels many other pitching injuries suffered. Lack of firm and quick diagnosis. Now it was plainly obvious when Strasburg snapped his elbow but in a bunch of other cases it has gone just like Solis . . . loss of effectivness followed by elbow pain followed by rest followed by a quickly aborted comeback followed by a trip to Dr. Andrews.

I understand that medical science isn't an exact one. But this isn't an episode of House. There isn't some mysterious underlying cause of elbow pain. These are pitchers, they hurt their elbows all the time in predictable ways. It shouldn't be that hard to figure it out.

Further, can we just chalk this up to the vagaries of fate? Is there a problem with the training staff? Strength and conditioning? Clearly the Nats medical and training staff lags behind say the Phoenix Suns but are they somehow hurting the organization? It would seem to me to be a rather prudent investment for a billionaire to make who owns a MLB club (since we know they aren't going to spend internationally!)

Speaking of spending, kudos for the Zimmerman extension. As long as he stays healthy, which you could say about any long term guaranteed deal, he should be worth it. And we like Zimm so there shouldn't be the same show me resentment that clouds our view of Jayson Werth. We already appreciate the ways Zimm helps defensively, they way he leads and of course his "clutchiness". Even with a decline, I imagine the fan base would be saddened rather than angry about Zimm's albatross contract.

Let me say this too. The Phillies are not going to be as good as everyone thinks they are. Chase Utley's already dinged, Howard's declining and he's hurt, Rollins is way older and theire best pitchers on on the wrong side of 30 too. It would not surprise me if the Phiting Phils struggled to break .500.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Does Super Agent Scott Boras have a conscious?

Nationals To Sign Edwin Jackson | February:

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Because if he did, this is his penance for what the Nationals did for him in re: the Werth deal, the Texeria deal AND the Fielder deal.

I know all about Edwin Jackson's flaws. Bottom line: he was good enough to start playoff games LAST YEAR. I would not be embarrassed to have him start one this year. Quite frankly, as much as I can appreciate John Lannan and his magic wizardry, I can't see him pitching in a crucial game.

But let's not get hasty about it.

There is zero reason to just dump Lannan because you have a "glut" of starters. Those "gluts" tend to work themselves down to well I think Jason Simontacchi will go on Thursday real quick.

And if it doesn't come to that for the Nats, it WILL come to that for someone else. Hopefully, it will come to a team with a surplus CF who can get on base. (Pie in the sky I know.)

Is this now an 80 win team with significant upside potential? I'd have to say it is.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Prince Fielder Nats Roundtable (With Bonus Prince Fielder Poll!) | Mr. Irrelevant, a D.C. Sports Blog by the Brothers Mottram

Prince Fielder Nats Roundtable (With Bonus Prince Fielder Poll!) | Mr. Irrelevant, a D.C. Sports Blog by the Brothers Mottram:

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I wish I had something useful to add to this discussion of the Prince situation but I really don't.

1. The Werth deal is already an albatross . . . since there is a not insignificant chance Prince's deal also becomes an albatross that would almost crush the Nationals for the next 7-8 years! That's assuming the 4-5 years of sweating off all that salary and a few extra years just to rebuild from the flaming wreckage. If you think FA's were reluctant to go to DC before, imagine what they'd be like after another half decade of suck.

2. Have more cost-effective options in Morse and LaRoche short term and maybe Zimmerman long term. I'm a little less concerned about Zim having to move, Brooks Robinson was an excellent defensive 3B into his late 30s. Of course he won't be all world like he is now but he would at least not destroy the value of his bat through atrocious defense. If 2011 is Morse's real level of production going forward then that's a lot of cash for what would amount to a miniscule upgrade (Prince v. Morse 2012 only)

3. Shorter term is better. 5 years is better than 6. 10 is right out. We already have a front row seat to the destructive properties of such a mistake (watching the Phils flounder with Ryan Howard's contract)

On balance, I'd say pass. Mostly because any deal that would be palatable for the Nats would be a major disappointment to Prince. And I can imagine an unhappy Prince eating his way out of town right quick.

And even with Prince, it wouldn't solve the major offensive problem the Nats have . . . OBP at the top of the order.