Thursday, November 27, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday Mailbag, Roundup

First, the mailbag. Before I answer the questions, I'd like to point out how bad Ladson was this week. Three out of the seven questions asked were either "I can't answer right now," "I can't judge Montz," and "I don't know at this time." I appreciate the honesty, Bill, but I'm sure there were more than 7 questions in your email inbox. If you don't know, skip them and answer a different one. So without further ado, the mailbag, followed by some minor league free agency signings.

I've been an Austin Kearns fan for years, and he hasn't really lived up to the hype because of injuries and slumps. With his rough season in 2008, is this the end for Kearns as a starter?
-- Chad B., Hitchins, Ky.

The end? No. Kearns will probably not begin the year as the full-time starter, but he'll be backing up two guys in Dukes and Willingham in which you can pretty much count on a DL stint or two. Once he gets in a groove, he'll get a permanent starting job and either be dealt or Willingham will move to 1B permanently.

What are your thoughts on catcher Luke Montz?
-- Louis G., Washington

To be honest, I think his 2008 numbers in AA were a fluke. I certainly hope I'm wrong, but his AAA numbers weren't impressive. Once I see numbers at AAA and ML, I will be convinced. I'm rooting for ya, though, Luke! Prove me wrong!

There seems to be a lot of people getting on Lastings Milledge and his play in center field. I thought he improved dramatically over the course of the season. Why are people writing him off as a corner outfielder? 
-- Justin E., Potomac, Md.

"Improved" is a relative term. In Milledge's case, he "improved" from being probably the biggest waste of talent (in his case, talent=range) since Barry Sanders played for the Lions to being simply below average defensively.

Will Ronnie Belliard be playing for the Nationals next season? If so, do you think he will start? 
-- Clare M., Mechanicsburg, Pa.

It would be news to me if Belliard wasn't on the Opening Day roster. He won't start, but I do see him getting 30-40% of the innings at 2B, maybe more once Anderson Hernandez comes back down to Earth.

In the two years Manny Acta has been the manager of the Nationals, no starter has pitched a complete game. This is mind-boggling. Why is this? You would think that in two years, at least one pitcher would be able to go the distance. 
-- Dave F., Seaford, Del.

Ladson: "Actually, Jason Bergmann and Tim Redding pitched complete games this past season." Delaware Dave=PWNED!

But honestly, I don't really buy into Manny's whole "take them out before they get shelled and, in result, get their feelings hurt" dealio. Let them pitch until they show signs of pending ineffectiveness.

Considering they have a first-base opening, could the Nationals try to pick up a veteran with strong name recognition, such as Nomar Garciaparra, until a young player can take over in September? 
-- Keith S., Arlington, Va.

The Nats will probably to to pick up a younger veteran with strong name recognition. Adam Dunn, Mark Texeira, etc. Nomar Garciaparra hasn't been a "strong name" since he was dealt at the 2003 trade deadline.

Where does Kory Casto fit into next year's plans?
-- Bill L., Columbia, Mo.

And here are your 2009 Syracuse Chiefs! Starting in left field, number 5, Kory Casto!

In other news, Baseball America announced in their weekly Minor League Transactions post that the Nats have resigned RHP Ryan Wagner, RHP Dan Leatherman and OF Jemel Spearman while signing RHP Preston Larrison and 1B Brad Eldred

I've always thought in the back of my mind that Wagner would become a force again. I doubt it more and more every day, but It's a good career move for him to resign with an organization so weak in ML-ready relievers. 

I don't have much to say on Leatherman, but he did have really nice numbers in Hagerstown this year. Maybe we'll challenge him with Potomac and possibly Harrisburg around the all-star break.

Spearman's got speed and a decent AVG/OBP combo, but has only 60 career PA at AAA or above at age 28.

The Larrison signing has gotten a lot of love, both from Baseball America and Beyond the Box Score. Here's what BA had to say: "The 28-year-old Larrison is the pick to click in this group. A Tigers’ second-round selection in 2001, he’s pitched in 100 Triple-A games and racked up a solid 3.49 ERA and just 84 strikeouts to go with 57 walks in 134 innings. However, he’s given up just seven home runs in that time, as he’s got one of the better—if not the best—sinkers on the market. His groundout-to-airout ratios in the past two seasons: 2.7 (Buffalo, ‘08), 3.0 (Toledo, ‘08), 3.0 (Toledo, ‘07). Yes, the double play will always be in the back of opposing managers’ minds." And what BtBS says: "I absolutely love this move for Washington. Call him Chris Schroder deluxe. Larrison finally found his way out of the American League Central after a season with Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate and into an organization that should use him at the highest level. Holder of a 69.1% groundball percentage last season, Larrison gets ant killers at an alarmingly high rate. Larrison's swinging strike rates are also enough to make one ecstatic, although not giddy. The tRAs aren't overly impressive, but as a situational reliever with batted ball average flukes, he's a fine addition to the Nationals organization."

And last but not least, Eldred. He's got fantastic power numbers but a beyond-awful BB/K ratio. Hit .244/.305/.546 with 35 HR, 100 RBI, 28 BB and 144 K with CHW's AAA affiliate in 2008. I can hear the shrieks from SoCH already!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Who should we go after? Major League Bats Edition

Unlike the previous post, this is going to be completely 2009 Nats ML-based.

The Nats can compete in 2009 if they spend money correctly and effectively. Let me repeat that. The Nats can compete in 2009 if they spend money correctly and effectively. This is not going to be another "Maybe Next Year" post...the offseason has started, pieces have been added (Olsen, Willingham), removed (Chief, Wagner, Schroder, Bonifacio) and signed elsewhere (Affeldt, Dempster). Whether or not the Nats can compete with these players is really up to you, but I think that we're a few key pieces away from being competitive. And as much as I would love to get these key pieces through the system, we're still way far off from fielding a .500 team just with our own system guys (and minimal free agent/trade additions). Numbers are rounded after the third decimal place, so if you're keeping score at home and things don't add up, that's why.

Here goes:
UTIL Jerry Hairston, Jr.-Look, I love Willie Harris as much as the next guy, but we need a super sub who is more experienced in the infield. Hairston has spent significant time over the last few years at three vital positions: 2B, SS and CF. We can guarantee him playing time (if we want to compete, we can't be starting Alberto Gonzalez all of the time). He played for $500k last year. I think we can get him anywhere from $1 mil to $1.5 mil.

1B/3B/PH Russ Branyan-He's the force off of the bench that we've been missing since Daryle Ward was traded. When you sign bench guys, you don't want ones that are all-around mediocre like Aaron Boone. I don't care that Branyan strikes out a ton-he makes up for it by hitting a crapload of home runs off of the bench. He made $800k last year. How about $1.5 mil for a great bench bat?

1B/OF Adam Dunn-Yes, I went there. Like it or not, he is one of the most productive batters in baseball. We need to stop dreaming about Nick Johnson now. Let him be our best bat off the bench (even better than Branyan!) and if he's healthy, move Dunn to the OF. I'm tired of counting on Johnson with no contingency plan. It's time to count on Dunn with Johnson (and then Willingham and then Da Meat Hook and then Branyan) as the contingency plan. Will 4 years, $48 mil be enough? If not, I'm down for 5 years, $60 mil.

Where would all of this leave us offensively? (note-in 2008, the ML average was exactly 6300 total PA, which averages out to exactly 700 per position. Pitchers averaged about 300 PA give or take, so about 5900 go to hitters (including PH appearances). My projections on PH plate appearances may be a bit off, but it's the best I could do. Generally speaking, I've tried to use "main guys" as I have a total of 21 guys that will be used in my projections. I've broken everything down by position as follows:

C: Jesus Flores-400 PA, Wil Nieves-250 PA, Luke Montz-50 PA
1B: Adam Dunn-400 PA, Nick Johnson-100 PA, Dmitri Young-100 PA, Josh Willingham-100 PA
2B: Jerry Hairston, Jr. -250 PA, Anderson Hernandez-250 PA, Ronnie Belliard-175 PA, Alberto Gonzales-25 PA
3B: Ryan Zimmerman-500 PA, Ronnie Belliard-75 PA, Russ Branyan-75 PA, Leonard Davis-50 PA
SS: Cristian Guzman-500 PA, Alberto Gonzales-100 PA, Jerry Hairston, Jr.-75 PA, Anderson Hernandez-25 PA
OF: Lastings Milledge-525 PA, Elijah Dukes-400 PA, Josh Willingham-350 PA, Austin Kearns-300 PA, Adam Dunn-200 PA, Wily Mo Pena-100 PA, Roger Bernadina-75 PA, Ryan Langerhans-75 PA, Jerry Hairston, Jr.-50 PA, Leonard Davis-25 PA

Now let's look at production by player. I've combined the MARCEL projections for 2009 with some of my own (based mostly on the 2008 season). Let's see how the Nats stack up.

Ronnie Belliard-300 PA-I have Ronnie hitting .274/.347/.441, amounting to 37.448 Runs Created.
Roger Bernadina-80 PA-I have the Rockin' Curacaoan hitting .261/.317/.377, amounting to 7.009 RC.
Russell Branyan-150 PA-I have our new Daryle Ward hitting .242/.342/.590, amounting to 22.812 RC.
Leonard Davis-60 PA-I have the Good Lenny hitting .260/.314/.468, amounting to 6.882 RC.
Elijah Dukes-400 PA-I'm playing it safe with Elijah because of injury concerns. I have him hitting .255/.383/.499, good for 54.631 RC.
Adam Dunn-600 PA-Dunn's down for .246/.391/.522, worth 82.202 RC.
Jesus Flores-400 PA-Does .262/.322/.412 sound right? If so, 43.797 RC.
Alberto Gonzalez-150 PA-.264/.333/.398 equals 15.963 RC.
Cristian Guzman-500 PA-.314/.344/.449, equaling 66.703 RC.
Jerry Hairston, Jr-375 PA-.265/.338/.398, totalling 39.318 RC.
Anderson Hernandez-300 PA-very close to Hairston, at .270/.337/.396-32.676 RC.
Nick Johnson-100 PA-This is where the projection is incredibly conservative, putting my end total of RC near the bottom of what it COULD become if Nicky J is healthy-.266/.412/.505, worth 20.488 RC.
Austin Kearns-350 PA-He's gonna bounce back, trust me-.258/.357/.430, worth 40.645 RC.
Ryan Langerhans-95 PA-.233/.378/.387 is worth 10.289 RC.
Lastings Milledge-525 PA-.274/.337/.451 is worth 62.965 RC.
Luke Montz-50 PA-.261/.343/.420 is a total shot in the dark (probably a little high), but over 50 PA it doesn't make too much of a difference. 5.610 RC.
Wil Nieves-250 PA-Won't impress with the bat this year, but good with the glove. I have him at .247/.305/.367, worth 22.535 RC.
Josh Willingham-450 PA-The new guy will impress some with his eye and power, but if my projections are correct, he will be the 5th or 6th best hitter in the lineup, perhaps taking some pressure off? .262/.359/.453, worth 54.528 RC.
Dmitri Young-100 PA-We know Da Meat can hit .282/.364/.466. That's worth 15.576 RC.
Ryan Zimmerman-500 PA-He's a good breakout candidate this year, but let's keep our projections realistic: .282/.351/.456, worth 64.580 RC.

All-together, this would provide 722.701 RC. Add in the pitchers' 300 PA at their 2008 production (.090/.133/.102), worth another 2.947 RC, and you end up with 725.648 RC. Consider the breakout possibilities from the likes of Dukes, Milledge, Zimmerman and Flores and that could rise even higher. Say we expect a little bit more production across the board and it ends up evening out at 730 RC. That would be a 89 run improvement over last year. Sure, it's not as much as you'd expect with so many changes, but that level of production, even with last year's poor overall pitching, would even out to 71 wins. So without improving our rotation a single bit, we would go 71-91. Come back by the weekend and I'll show you my plan to get the pitching up to par to get us up to (and maybe even over) .500.

We all know none of this is going to happen under the Lerner administration, but it's fun to dream, right?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Who should we go after? Minor League Edition

After looking through a few sources (and perusing the Baseball America list of minor league free agents), here are some guys I think might be worth going after. I have 79 guys.

I've put the guys into categories...don't yell at me if they fall under more than one. Feel free to name anyone you don't see on the list now that it's finished. If you see mistakes (links, ages, etc.) post them in the comments and I'll correct them. Please let me know if someone has signed and I haven't noted it. I'd like to see some discussion on who ya'll think we should go after.

Signings are marked through Dec. 8. Please post a link in comments if you have confirmed the signing of any of these players!

Former ML'ers
RHP Brandon Medders-29-Rough 2008 in AAA but has a 3.52 career ML ERA in 151 IP.

OF Jeff DaVanon-35-career .259/.349/.400 slash line in the majors ain't bad at all. Pretty good plate discipline as well.
RHP Jeff Weaver-32-Not good since 2005, but why not throw him a bone?
3B Morgan Ensberg-34-Had 20+ HR in 3 of his 4 full seasons in ML. Draws a lot of walks, doesn't strike out TOO much...could be this year's Aaron Boone (but better).
RHP Oscar Villareal-28-Won 10 games out of the Diamondbacks' bullpen as a 21-year-old rookie in 2001. Rough 2008, but still worth having can NEVER have enough relievers!!! Career 3.86 ML ERA in 336 innings tells me to give this man a job.
RHP Tim Corcoran-31-Had a decent 2006 in ML but a bad '05 and '07. Wasn't too bad in '08 in AA/AAA and was pretty good in '07. Maybe the former 44th rounder has something left in the tank.
RHP Jack Cassel-28-"Cassel is Carlos Silva - his fastball tops out at 88, he’s got a sinker that gets an average amount of groundballs, he doesn’t have an out pitch, but he tries to make up for it by pounding the strike zone. Maybe you don’t think we need two Carlos Silva’s, but at the very least, he should stand as a glaring example of how stupid it is to throw money at veteran guys whose best skill is “eats innings”. Cassel’s every bit as good, and unlike Silva, he doesn’t cost $48 million to sign."-U.S.S Mariner. Matt Cassel's brother fared pretty well in his rookie year in 2007 with San Diego, but was knocked around for Houston in 2008. Cassel isn't going to strike out (or walk) too many guys, but he gives up a ton of hits (although most are singles).
RHP Mike Koplove-32-ML career ERA+ of 120 (with only 2 seasons under 100, one of which he only pitched 6 innings) to go with an ERA of 3.82. Had nice 2007 and '08 campaigns in AAA, with 2.50 and 3.46 ERA's, respectively. Doesn't walk many guys, decent amount of K's and could provide a veteran presence in our young bullpen. EDIT-signed with Philly.
Erasmo Ramirez-32-Decent K rate, not many walks, hittable. Too bad he gets righties out better than lefties!
RHP Scott Strickland-33-Career ML ERA: 3.34. Had some injuries, but in 2006 and 2008, he posted ERA's of 2.10 and 3.53, respectively to go with WHIP's of 1.07 and 1.16. Worth a shot.
SS Adam Everett-32-"Everyone knows of Adam Everett and his defensive wizardry. Injuries slowed his 2008 season, but he was still a better defender than Brendan Harris. Everett would make a fine shortstop (1.9 wins) or second baseman (1.6), although he is on the wrong side of 30."-Beyond the Box Score. Sadly, he's terrible with the bat. Would be a nice backup/late-in-the-game defensive replacement, though, and I'd much rather have him than keep Pete Orr.
1B Ben Broussard-32-Decent ML success in the past (career OPS+ of 104, career high of 127) and a decent career slash line against righties: .270/.331/.462. We have to sign at least one of these 1B/OF types, preferably a bunch for when our annual injury attack happens.
1B Chris Shelton-28-Speaking of 1B/OF types we should go after, we reach Chris Shelton. Here's what Beyond the Box Score has to say about him: "Most casual fans will remember Shelton as 'That one no-named guy who hit a lot of homeruns then fell off.' Well, that's not entirely true. Even in 2006 Shelton had an above average OPS. Oddly Shelton has a better major league career OPS versus righties than lefties." Shelton has a career 111 OPS+ in the majors and is still only 28. Definitely worth a few of Uncle Ted's bucks. EDIT-signed with Seattle.
RHP Kevin Cameron-29-This guy gets it done, quite simply. His ML WHIP (1.574) and walk (5.56 BB/9) numbers are discouraging, but his career ML ERA is 2.91 in 68 IP. And his minor league numbers are much better in terms of WHIP and walks (as they should be, but they're pretty significantly better). EDIT-Signed with Oakland.
RHP Ruddy Lugo-28-Has bounced around a bit and has had random, moderate success in a few places (2006 in the majors, 2005 and 2007 in the minors). A key player in my Baseball Mogul 2008 dynasty.
1B Chris "Remember Me?" Richard-34-Yeah, he's still around. Remember when he had 13 homers in 56 games for the Orioles in 2000? I'm sure O's Exec does. EDIT-signed with Tampa Bay.

Former top prospects
RHP Tim Spooneybarger-30-Cool name, still recovering from 2005 Tommy John surgery (7 and 1/3 innings pitched in 2008, 3 from really, 3 total innings pitched from 2004-07), in a band with A.J. Burnett (according to Wikipedia).
RHP Franklyn German-29-Huge (6'7", 298 lbs), throws 100 MPH, has more career BB than K, but still a 4.25 career ML ERA.
RHP J.D. Martin-26-"Martin is a command specialist who throws strikes and has a good enough change-up to miss bats occasionally. He came back from a long series of arm injuries to carve up Double-A, and while his stuff makes him more of a swing-man/long relief type, he could potentially turn into an okay #5 starter option."-U.S.S. Mariner. Good career ERA (3.50), better 2008 ERA (2.41). 35th overall pick of 2001 ML draft. EDIT-Signed with the Nats!
OF Freddy Guzman-28-Speed? Check. Patience? Check. ML success? Nope. But a .277/.355/.371 career minor league slash line and a .272/.337/.394 slash line this year (with 71 steals) makes him worth taking a chance on. Lots of doubles and triples, too.
RHP Jose Capellan-28-Called a "flamethrower" by Mets Today, can throw 100 MPH according to Wikipedia. Maybe Randy can straighten him out.
RHP John Van Benschoten-28-The 8th overall pick in the 2001 draft has been LeVale Speigner-esque in his parts of 3 seasons in the bigs, allowing 100 runs (92 earned) in only 90 innings pitched. Ouch. His minor league numbers continue to get worse little by little, but they're still decent enough to make me think he's got SOMETHING in the tank. Maybe try him out as a reliever? EDIT-signed with the Chi Sox.
OF Chris Duffy-28-Decent ML slash line of .269/.328/.361 for his career. Beyond the Box Score says Duffy is worth 1.3 wins in either corner outfield spot. Nice, but only if we don't keep Langerhans, who is better with the bat and the glove.
LHP Erick Threets-27-Still young, awful control (another Randy project). I pined for him back when the Giants DFA'd him in early June on but for some reason, nobody picked him up on waivers. Ridiculously bad BB:K ratios for someone with decent K numbers make it seem like he's a lost cause, though. EDIT-signed with LAD.
2B/OF Victor Diaz-27-Good enough numbers in the minors throughout his career, but surprisingly has a 106 career ML OPS+ in 147 games. Hasn't played 2B since 2003, so don't expect to use him there.
RHP Yorman Bazardo-24-Something wasn't right for Yorman in 2008. In basically the same amount of innings he pitched in '07 and '06, his hits and home runs allowed soared way above his career average. A commenter here says he has hit 98 on the radar gun. Not that you can believe any commenter, but I'm just sayin'...
1B Wes Bankston-25-"Wes Bankston is a former top prospect turned bust. He got some time in Oakland last season, but didn't showcase his impressive splits versus righties (.868) which would make him a decent platoon mate at DH/1B."-Beyond the Box Score. Basically the same as every guy on this list. Had a .280/.328/.496 slash line in AAA this year. From the looks of it, he's never lasted a full season (due to injury, I'm assuming). Doesn't strike out too much for a slugger, but doesn't walk enough either. Also a key piece to my 2010 World Series champion Tampa Bay Rays on Baseball Mogul 2008.
3B/SS Joel Guzman-24-Sure, he (still) hasn't amounted to much with the bat. But he's only 24. And he was a top prospect once. Hey, can't a guy dream that the next A-Rod is going to come out of minor league free agency?

Career minor leaguers
OF Bronson Sardinha-26-Looks like an average player across the board, with a .268/.348/.407 career slash line. Usually good for around 10-15 HR and SB. Drafted as a SS, but hasn't played infield since 2004. We could use our own "Flyin' Hawaiian."
RHP Matt Peterson-27-His Achilles heel has always been walks, with 376 career free bases in 867 and 1/3 innings pitched. In 2008, however, he only had 6 in 30 and 2/3 innings. Did he finally figure out how to throw the ball over the plate or was it the small sample size? Worth a shot, IMO.
OF Adam Greenberg-28-With one career PA in the bigs, it's hard for me to put him under "former Major Leaguers" but with his story, you can't really call it more than that. He got beaned in the head in his only major league at bat in 2005. He had an awful 2006, hitting
.209/.342/.272, but I would have to believe that was because he was scared of getting nailed in the head again. His numbers rebounded in 2007 to .266/.373/.428 before falling back to .271/.361/.347 this past season, but the high OBP makes me believe he would be a worthwhile pickup.
1B/OF Mitch Jones-31-The epitome of a career minor leaguer: 200 career HR, but 0 career ML games. Career AAA slash line of .262/.345/.527, but with more than 1 K/game over his career, not sure that he would be anything more than a AAAA guy (although with 35 HR in 385 AB in the last 2 years, he might be worth a shot anyways). EDIT-signed with the Dodgers.
OF Joe Gaetti-27-Believe it or not, Gary Gaetti's son is probably a better hitter than he was. Joe has hit (and hit well for that matter) at every single level he's played at, with a sub .800 OPS once (in 49 games at AA in 2007, the same year where he had an .845 OPS in 74 AAA games). With a .903 OPS in 2008, he's definitely worth a shot.
RHP Cory Doyne-27-To be honest, I have no clue who this guy is. But since being converted from a starter to a reliever in 2004, Doyne has been pretty lights out: 235 and 2/3 IP, 5.61 H/9, 4.47 BB/9 (too many), 10.08 K/9, 2.25 K/BB, 1.12 WHIP, 2.52 ERA. He's got 4 saves, 6 hits allowed, 3 BB and 6 K in 7 and 2/3 shutout innings in the Venezuelan Winter League as well. And if that's not enough, couldn't we use another reliever who wears a flat-brimmed cap?
RHP Lee Gronkiewicz-30-Career minor league worsts: 3.27 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 6.75 K/9. Career minor league averages: 2.44 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 2.46 BB/9. This is your Moneyball kinda guy-he's only 5'10", weighs 210 pounds ("not a jeans model" as Billy Beane would say), but how can you argue with those numbers? He had Tommy John surgery in April, but he'll be ready to play at some point this year. I want my team to be the team to finally give Gronk a real shot.
OF Wayne Lydon-27-Strikes out way too much for a "burner", but would be a nice guy to have when September call-ups roll around. Career 95/122 SB at the AAA level (78%), 427/531 (80%) overall. EDIT-Resigned with the Blue Jays.

Former Nats farmhands/players
RHP Emiliano Fruto-24-Acquired in the Jose Vidro trade, dealt for Chris Carter who was dealt for Wily Mo Pena. Hasn't been good since 2006. Ranked by NFA as the Nats' #6 prospect in July of 2007.
OF Jason Dubois-30-Spent time in Columbus in 2008 (and sucked), moved along to play for the Cubs' AAA affiliate, put up .307/.399/.664 slash line.
RHP Tomo Ohka-33-Traded to Milwaukee for Junior Spivey in 2005, ironically the last year he was effective. Maybe now that Frank is gone, we can convince him to come back. A switch-hitter. EDIT-signed with Cleveland.
1B Matt Whitney-25-2007 Rule V draftee, not as impressive in 2008 (10 HR, .760 OPS) as 2007 (32 HR, .909 OPS). Walk numbers are up, strikeout numbers are down, and with Broadway and Jimenez likely leaving the organization, we'll have room for him. EDIT-Whitney signed with the Nats. Who called it? :)
3B/OF Tony Blanco-27-Am I kidding? Strangely, no. The 2005 Nats' Rule V draftee spent almost all of 2008 with the Tulsa Drillers, the AA affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. They taught him to drill the ball there, because a .323/.385/.587 slash line, 67 XBH and 88 RBI in only 103 games is pretty darn good. Okay, it was as a 26-year-old in AA, but maybe he's finally turning that raw talent into on-the-field performance?
1B/OF Val Pascucci-30-
"Pascucci is a right-handed Todd Linden with worse defense. He can hit a fastball a long way, though, and he’s good enough to be someone’s platoon partner."-U.S.S. Mariner. Career slash line of .285/.404/.524 in AAA, including a .280/.403/.508 line this year. We have to find a spot for this guy (note-he was drafted by the Expos and played with the organization through 2004).
2B Bernie Castro-29-I don't know why, but I always loved this guy. Maybe it's because his name is Bernie. Maybe it's because Bernie is short for Bernabel. Or maybe it's just because I have a heart for little guys who are fast (basically the anti-me). His batting average went down a little in 2008, so for a contact hitter it made all of his stats look awful. But his BB and K numbers are rapidly moving toward each other, which is a great (and promising) sign. Bring Back Bernie!!
OF Brandon Watson-27-Again, I don't know why, but I liked Watson as well. After I got past his stupid "Hollywood" attitude, that is. As much as I hate guys like Nook Logan who could never get on base but had great speed, I always beg for them on my team. Please, for the sake of the Nationals, keep Willy Taveras out of my grasp!
2B/3B/SS D'Angelo Jimenez-31-I will never forget the nice little .245/.379/.373 line he put up for the Nats in 2007. Sure, it's nothing special, but after hitting .040/.172/.040 through his first 31 plate appearances, it was a pleasant surprise (for a reference point, he hit .312/.442/.481 in his 97 plate appearance after that awful start...and unrelated, but semi-similar-Elijah Dukes hit .038/.188/.077 in his first 32 plate appearances as a National and .293/.413/.528 in his 298 plate appearances afterwards).
OF Ryan Langerhans-29-We all know Langerhans. I once hated him because of his awful 2007 season, but learned to love him for what he does best: defense. This article from FanGraphs (via FJB at the previous link) really shows how valuable Langerhans is. And his bat isn't HORRIBLE anymore (and it was actually above league average in 2008). I want him back in the Curly W in 2009! EDIT-resigned with the Nats.
RHP Claudio Vargas-30-This guy's been around forever and is still 30? He hasn't been "above average" in terms of ERA+ since his rookie year, but has never really strayed much away from average.
RHP Chris Schroder-30-Goodness, did we toy with this guy this year. He almost had as many call-ups (and send-downs)-3-as games pitched-4. He had a very good 2007 in the majors and was alright this year in AAA. I don't blame him if he wants to go somewhere where he'll at least know where he'll be pitching every day, but I'd like him back. EDIT-signed a ML deal with Oakland. Good for Schrodes.
OF Chris Snelling-27-We know he can hit, but staying healthy is the problem. Sign him to a minor league deal, call him up to the majors and let him get as many games in as possible before getting hurt. Just don't count on him for any more than 5 games.
3B/OF Yurendell DeCaster-29-The Rockin' Curacaoan should be brought back for his performance, but also to continue to mentor fellow Curacaoans (is that how you spell it?) Roger Bernadina and Shairon Martis.
1B Luis Antonio Jimenez-26-Did nothing but hit this year. Okay, that's not true. He did play 1B some and walked some, but he did his fair share of slugging for Harrisburg and Columbus. BB numbers going up, K numbers going down...I like what I see.
LHP Arnie Munoz-26-Spent most of the year on the shelf with a shoulder strain. Pitched well in the minors in 2007. I wouldn't be opposed to bringing him back.
LHP Larry Broadway-29-Not a typo. 2008 numbers: 6 and 2/3 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 H, 1 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP. Makes for a 2.70 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 5.4 K/9, 0 BB/9. Why not? He's not making the majors as a slugging first baseman. "Broadway is a 6-foot-4 left-hander who pitched his freshman year at Duke. The side-armer made a pitching appearance earlier this season against Louisville", "The Nationals might be wise to let Broadway pitch here and there to see if maybe he can standout on the mound. Move him around to a few other positions to see if he could handle himself at other spots on the diamond. They might find that there's something about Broadway that does stand out, after all.", plus a full article about him as a pitcher on

Royce Ring-28-"Ring didn't pitch too much for the Braves, but was decent, not nearly as good as his major league career totals indicate he could be however. The former San Diego State closer throws in the upper 80's and has pitched for three teams since 2005."-Beyond the Box Score
"Ring is a former first round pick with a nasty curveball and a sinking fastball that gets a lot of grounders. His command is a problem, but he’s got two major league pitches and he’s left-handed. For a team short on bullpen lefty’s, he’d be a nice NRI to spring training."-U.S.S. Mariner
Carmen Pignatiello-26-rough 2008 campaign but still did okay against lefties. Walks a lot of lefties but strikes out more.
Ian Ostlund-30-"Ostlund is 30 years old and a Tommy John Surgery survivor (yes, survivor). Last season he got 11% swinging strikes and had a 2.94 FIP, impressive, add in a 2.18 BB/9 and there is little to question, except his GB%. Ostlund only gets 36.55 grounders, but he didn't give up a ton of homeruns. Odds are that changes a bit in the majors, but there's something decent about him considering the swinging strikes amount."-Beyond the Box Score.
I guess TJ surgery is the reason this guy has never gotten a shot in the majors. Career 3.18 ERA in the minors (2.87 in two AAA seasons). VT grad. EDIT-Ostlund signed with STL.
Mark McLemore-28-No, not THAT Mark McLemore. Extreme fly-ball pitcher. Looks like he missed all of 2008. Injured? Retired? Who knows...
Carmen Cali-30-"Cheap left-handed reliever candidate. Gets a lot of ground balls, but control is spotty"
"Cali is a 30 year old who sits in the lower-90's. Last seen in the majors with the Twins in 2007, and the Cardinals in 2004/2005 Cali's control has abandoned him in his major league stints. He gets nearly 11% swinging strikes, and nearly 55% groundballs. Cali is at least worth a look as a non-roster invitee. Also has the best name of the list: Carmen Salvatore Cali."-Beyond the Box Score. EDIT-signed with the Dodgers.
Stephen Randolph-34-"Randolph...last spent time in the majors for the Astros in 2007, and in 2003/2004 for the Diamondbacks. He too sits in the low 90's, but got the most strikes swinging of anyone else on this list last season with 15.9%, he walked quite a few (nearly 6 per nine) but gave up only 0.38 homeruns per nine despite a 38 GB%."-Beyond the Box Score. A forgettable part of his forgettable 2005 campaign was for the Nats' then-AAA affiliate, the New Orleans Zephyrs, where he allowed 31 earned runs in 29 innings (think LeVale Speigner in 2007, but worse). My opinion on Randolph isn't incredibly favorable...He's almost 35-if he was ever going to be a productive major leaguer, it would have happened by now. Then again, so could have been said about Type A free agent Darren Oliver...
Sean Henn-27-former top prospect, has been pretty awful in the majors, but minor league numbers are still semi-promising. Could become another Charlie Manning...woohoo?
Daniel Haigwood-25-a young guy with decent minor league numbers (K/9 over 9, ERA of 3.68), but tragically walks too many guys. If only we could sign all of the "walks too many guys" and one of them figures it out. EDIT-signed with Pittsburgh.
Mike Gosling-28-another example of K's going up and BB's going down. Don't confuse his ML experience (92 career ML IP) for ML success (4.79 ERA, 1.848 WHIP, 1:1 K:BB ratio), though.
John Rheinecker-29-if he is used strictly as a LOOGY, he'll be great. If not, he'll be horrible (career ML splits here). "John Rheinecker is perhaps the most interesting of the list. A former first (actually supplemental) round pick of the Oakland Athletics, Rheinecker was dealt in March of 2006 in a deal that netted the Cubs Freddie Bynum, the Athletics Juan Dominguez, and the Rangers John Koronka as well as Rheinecker. In 2006 Rheinecker was primarily used as a starter (13 of his 21 appearances), his starts would be curbed in 2007 but one thing remained: struggles against right-handed hitting. Rheinecker missed 2008 due to a surgery to remove a rib as well as arthroscopic shoulder surgery that caused him to miss almost the entirety of the season. Astoundingly good against lefties, Rheinecker is only 29 and pitches in the mid-80's, but still finds a way to get more than 9% swinging strikes."-Beyond the Box Score
Heath Phillips-27-I've never seen him play, but here's what Beyond the Box Score had to say about him in 2007. Rising WHIP scares me, I'd say lay off.

Aaron Boone-types (Corner IFs who can hit)
1B/3B/OF Mike Cervenak-32-He's about as old as Aaron Boone and has 0.3% of Boone's ML experience, but who cares about experience anyways? Good AVG, ok plate discipline, doubles power. EDIT-Resigned with the Phillies.

Mike Restovich-types (AAAA 1B/OF types)
1B Scott Thorman-26-Pretty awful for the Braves in 400+ AB's from 2006-07. LH hitter, will keep getting chances as a platoon guy, especially at his age. EDIT-signed with Milwaukee.
1B Kevin Barker-33-has had 4 cups of coffee (1999, 2000, 2002, 2006). Career .272/.356/.476 line in the minors (to go with 226 career HR), LH hitter, VT grad. EDIT-signed with the Reds.
1B/OF Todd Linden-28-"Linden is one of those classic tweeners; a guy with just enough bat to kill Triple-A but not enough to earn a job as a corner OF/1B, especially since he’s not a great defender. But he’s a switch hitter, he can take a walk, and has at least gap power. If anyone’s a candidate to pull a Ryan Ludwick and develop late, it’s Linden."-U.S.S. Mariner. The career .231/.303/.335 major league slash line won't cut it, but he definitely wouldn't be a bad guy to have hanging around AAA for when Nick Johnson gets hurt. And you can ALWAYS use a switch-hitter.
OF Nick Gorneault-29-Spent the last 4 years in AAA hitting .275/.350/.489. Good enough with the bat, good enough with the glove, could be a nice 5th OF. We could definitely do worse than Gorneault...looks like a Restovich clone to me.
OF Ray Sadler-28-Classic AAAA outfielder...20ish homers, way too many K's, not enough BB's to outweigh them.
OF John-Ford Griffin-29-Called a "free swinging AAAA outfielder" by Mets Today, Griffin is pretty much as advertised. He hits righties very well (.305/.387/.557 this year) but basically just loses his power against lefties (.333/.377/.386). Not too shabby. In 23 career ML at-bats, Griffin has a .304/.370/.696 slash line. If we weren't overrun with outfielders, I would definitely say go for him, but if we can teach him 1B, he could become a valuable lefty bat off of the bench.
1B Justin Huber-26-.271/.347/.470 splits over his career in AAA, but was awful in 2008 (although he didn't play a whole lot-only 61 games in AAA and 33 in ML). Needs to improve his BB/K ratio, but he would be nice AAA depth.
1B/OF Paul McAnulty-28-Career major league numbers aren't TOO terrible (.208/.324/.330). Looks like a very disciplined hitter with a little pop, best suited for the bench. EDIT-signed a minor league deal with the Red Sux.
1B Brett Harper-27-Hit .315/.338/.577 in 2008, his first year of AAA, but his K/BB ratio is awful.
1B/OF Garrett Jones-27-BB numbers slowly creeping up, K numbers slowly creeping down, has always had the raw power to be an ML slugger.

Rare Commodities (Catchers and Middle Infielders)
2B/3B/SS Robinson Chirinos-24-Could be even more rare-apparently training at C in Arizona. That blog post also speculates Chirinos will return to the Cubs, as they wouldn't send him to Arizona only to have him leave as a minor league FA. Hasn't hit much above A, but still couldn't ignore the .283/.431/.475 slash line he put up in 120 A+ AB's this year.
2B/SS Erick Almonte-31-I don't really know why I like this guy so much (maybe I have him confused with Danny Almonte?), but once again you have a guy whose walk numbers are finally rising and strikeout numbers are falling. Might be too late for him to turn it around, but it's not like we have great organizational depth at SS.
2B/3B Adam Morrissey-27-Good batting average/OBP combo. Not much power, but he's a 2B so that's semi-expected. Top Prospect Alert said something probably 4 or 5 years ago that might hold true: "Odds are, Morrissey will be a player that is slow to break into the big leagues, probably earning a regular roster spot closer to age 26 or 27 than age 24. He may very well have a decent major league career, but it is doubtful that he will ever earn much more than a utility role with a big league team." He's 27 now, so it's make or break time for that prediction of him.
C J.D. Closser-24-You know, .239/.320/.367 in the majors for a catcher isn't really that bad. His power seems to have left him over the years, but he also hasn't played a full season...ever? But with only 148 games played over the past 2 seasons, I think it might be safe to assume injury sapped some of his power. I want this guy to compete for a backup job. He can hit...and at the very least, if his hitting starts to suck, he at least can walk (and doesn't strike out too much).

My final top 10:
9-RHP Mike Koplove (Signed with PHI)
2-OF Ryan Langerhans (signed with the Nats)
Honorable mention:
Gronk (missed because of injury concerns)
Jose Capellan (missed because I don't know if he can throw strikes)
J.D. Closser (missed because of his lack of recent success)
Wil Cordero (no, seriously, he was on the list!)

-2009 Opening Day age listed
-The 2001 sandwich round will be made famous by my list: #34-Bronson Sardinha, #35-J.D. Martin, #37-John Rhinecker, #41-Todd Linden. Not to mention #33-Jeff Mathis and #38-David Wright.
-Is Langerhans really a free agent? The 2007-08 offseason was his first year of arbitration. He was never released (was outrighted to AAA and cleared waivers). But lists him as a free agent. But has on their transaction blog that the Nats signed him. No news on this, will need to dig deeper.

In attempts to continue the delay on the minor league FA post...

Here's your Monday Mailbag!

With the acquisition of Josh Willingham and rumors swirling about the Nats wanting Carlos Gonzalez, I can't help but notice that the team has a lot of outfielders. What do they plan on doing with all of them?
-- Pat R., Oakton, Va.

Well...most teams carry 5 outfielders. Either Pena or Kearns will be moved by Opening Day I bet. I'd rather hold on to all 5 (Pena, Kearns, Dukes, Willingham and Milledge). All of them spent time on the DL in 2008 (Milledge played 138 games, Willingham played 102, Kearns played 86, Dukes played 81 and Pena played 64. That's a total of 471, whereas 3 outfielders multiplied by 162 starts a year equals 486, so that might not even be enough depth! Resign Willie and Langerhans!

How do you think Scott Olsen will impact the clubhouse dynamic? He's not known for his cool.
-- Unidentifed Nats fan, Washington, D.C.

FishStripes, a Marlins blog, has (on at least 3 different occasion) stated Scott Olsen has been given an unfair shake in the media, saying things like: 

"There are too many comments by his present and former teammates to lead one to believe he his a jerk," (Feb 2008)

"Scott isn't a bad person and actually he is a good kid, warts and all. Just try to find one of the off-season meet the players functions where he isn't there.  Olsen made more fan appreciation and charity events scheduled by the team than any other player last season.  That alone doesn't qualify you for good kid status, but his teammates state emphatically that he is, and they should know,"  (Aug 2007

(About Gondeee of Talking Chop, a Braves blog, and the following comment he made: I always thought Olsen was considered a hot-head. I remember clashes between him and Joe Girardi when he managed the Marlins -- kind of a strange personality to add to the Braves clubhouse.) 

"I like Gondeee, he is a good guy, he knows the Braves and he knows baseball, but he knows absolutely nothing about Scott Olsen. Olsen is an excellent teammate and anyone on the Marlins will tell you the same.  He is not a "hot-head", contrary to what has been written in the past.  But the point of all of this is not to call Gondeee out, I mean really, how could he know. It is just to bring out the recurring theme that is being said about Olsen by the sports writers and the baseball bloggers.  And actually, Gondeee treated with more dignity than most. Now, I'm not trying to sell Olsen, heck, I want him back.  It is just that I think he is getting an unfair shake in the press." (Nov 2008)

Now I don't know if Craig from FishStripes has some sort of man-crush on Olsen, but he pretty emphatically defended him back there. It's only one viewpoint, but until the guy screws up as a member of the Washington Nationals, I will give him the benefit of the doubt, and so should all of you.

Do the Nats have a legitimate chance at landing Mark Teixeira, or is it just talk? 
-- Chris E., Glendale, Calif.

If they put up the money, they have a legitimate chance. Here was my reasoning that I posted on the comments of back on Nov 9: "The Nats have some decent up-and-coming prospects. Nothing too amazing, but they could be able to hit .500 this season with him if the right players get healthy and the young guys improve. Tex could go down in history as the guy who turned the Nats from a loser to a winner. Or he could go down in history as the guy who played first base for the Yankees after Jason Giambi." I know it won't necessarily work out that way, but I'd like to think the Nats would be a better fit for him than most teams.

Now that Emilio Bonifacio has been traded to the Marlins for Olsen and Willingham, do you think trading Jon Rauch to the D-backs for Bonifacio was a good trade? The Rauch trade never sat well with me, and I think this confirms the Nationals lost out in the deal. 
-- Will R., Rose Haven, Md.

I went back and forth on the deal for a while, but in the end, I don't think it was a good deal. I do think that the deal was salvaged by the Olsen deal. My initial (documented) opinion was kinda non-commital: "
My first reaction is that we got a decent player in a position of need. I think we could have gotten more for Rauch (perhaps another low-level prospect), but if this was Rauch's market, I'm happy. I heard rumors of Reid Brignac for Rauch, which would have made me happier, but this is fine." I went back on July 30th and changed my mind: "I tried to rationalize it for a while, but it simply wasn't a great trade for the Nats. Now that being said it could end up being a win for the team, but Rauch is worth more than Bonifacio. They should have (and definitely could have) gotten more than Emilio." One note-Nats Journal commenters ended up voting 61% to 39% in favor of the trade. I know I originally voted in favor. Would be interesting to see Chico run a new poll over there.

I agree with you that the Nats should play the kids. But is there any indication they will? They have a lot of young outfielders and now they have more. No matter how good they are, I don't see a place for Roger Bernadina, Leonard Davis or Justin Maxwell. 
-- Garry F., Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Canadian math: Bernadina+Davis+Maxwell>Milledge+Dukes

Uhhh. I think not. Maxwell's always hurt, Davis hasn't proved much above AA so far and Bernadina was awful his first time around in the majors (and only decent his second time there). If we were talking someone of Burgess' talent level that was ready, I would agree. But none of these guys project as starting ML outfielders in my opinion.

What are your thoughts on the new jerseys? Will they amount to more wins in 2009? 
-- Michael S., Mount Airy, Md.

I like the new road uniforms, am semi-indifferent to the Curly W red ones, but dislike the DC/patriotic ones. I am definitely patriotic, but there's way too much going on there.

As for more wins-does anyone feel like crunching some numbers to see if there is any correlation between getting new uniforms and getting more wins? It would be a coincidence, but an interesting coincidence in my opinion.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Just as Mike at Nats Fanboy Looser posted, I got a text from a friend telling me the Nats made a trade: Emilio Bonifacio, P.J. Dean and Jake Smolinski for Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham. I'm not at home right now, but this looks like a great deal for the Nats. As much as I love to bash Bowden, this is a steal at first glance...although so was the Kearns/Lopez trade.

Roster Moves

Per Ladson:
The Washington Nationals today selected the contracts of 24 year-old outfielder Leonard Davis, 22 year-old right-handed pitcher Luis Atilano and 23 year-old shortstop Ian Desmond. Nationals Senior Vice President and General Manager Jim Bowden made the announcement.
Player pages:

The general consensus says these guys are good choices, and I tend to agree. Hendo pined for Marvin Lowrance, and I was beginning to warm up to that idea (based on numbers alone), but Brian from NFA doesn't seem to think he'll get picked (and I trust his judgment over my own). Looks like we're getting near the end of the line for Mike Daniel (who was not very impressive in AA this year).

Monday Mailbag

It's our favorite event of the week-the mailbag!

Do you think outfielders Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes will reach their full potential?
-- Matt B., Fairfax, Va.

Dukes-Yes (if he can stay out of jail).

Milledge-No (unless he develops better plate discipline and more power or suddenly has a breakthrough defending in center).  P.S.-Milledge's B-R page is up for sponsorship. Hendo, you gonna jump on that?

I see you talking about everyone in the rotation, but you have never mentioned Tim Redding. He was the best starter on the team this past season. What is his future with the Nationals?
-- Jason T., Fort Worth, Texas my calculations, John Lannan was #1 and Odalis Perez was #2. Nobody measures starting pitcher success by the number of wins anymore, Jason!

For the record, I doubt he gets non-tendered. I haven't seen the Rule V eligibles yet, though, so I reserve the right to change that (I see the Nats picking 1 or 2 guys up).

With Washington's need for pitching, has it expressed any interest in right-hander Carl Pavano?
-- Brian P., East Winthrop, Maine

"The team can't afford to have players on the DL like they did this past season."-Ladson

No, stupid, the team can't afford to have crappy players on the roster. The problem with the Nats isn't that their players get hurt, because every team has injured players. Their problem is that they rely wayyyy too much on guys with huge injury histories. Sign Pavano to a non-guaranteed deal, let him compete for the 5th rotation spot. I have the same feeling about Ben Sheets and Pedro Martinez. Both could be steals. Why not take the risk? These guys could turn out to be great pitchers if they stay healthy, and we're gonna suck either way. Might as well try for 2 compensation picks.

Any idea who the Nats are looking at for their No. 1 selection in next year's First-Year Player Draft? Is Steven Strasburg already a lock?
-- Jody D., McLean, Va.

Unless he sustains a major injury, it will be Strasburg. If he is the consensus #1 pick and the Nats don't choose him, I'm resigning from my fandom and becoming someone's bandwagon fan.

Last week, you wrote about the all-time Expos team. Andres Galarraga put in more years at first for the Expos, but honorable mention must go to Al Oliver. He put in two productive years at first for the franchise.
-- Rodney W., Arlington, Va.

Good story. You should write a book.

I've read all your stories since you were covering the Expos and I have a great amount of respect for you and your opinions. However, I believe you are too patient. I believe in giving someone a second chance, but not 10. Don't you think you can stop hoping for miracles for players like Nick Johnson or even managers like Frank Robinson? You wait too long for a productive result, then you acknowledge that maybe they weren't that great.
-- Alex C., Montreal

"You make a fair point. I think one has to be patient in this game."-Ladson

Is it just me, or does Ladson seem like the kind of person who would try to be patient with a ticking hand grenade?

Shouldn't the Nationals be more creative and aggressive with runners on base?
-- Efren M., Washington, D.C.

As Manny said this year, we can't afford to waste outs on the basepaths. If we can reach an extra base 70% of the time or more, it's worthwhile. We've got some decent speed in Millz with Thrillz, Dukes, Bonifacio, etc. but they're not good baserunners. Hopefully Marquis Grissom can help with them.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tech Triumph

Even though the calls and the bounces went Maryland's way, Darren Evans still set a VT rushing record, the Hokies' D held the Terps to negative 12 rushing yards and this happened (not even the best hit of the night-check out the video on this page of Darrius Heyward-Bey getting drilled).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Somehow this fell through the cracks

But it's good for a laugh:

From Big League Stew:

10 'moves' the Nats can make to become next season's Rays

Because of a combination of maturing young players, shrewd moves by the front office and deft managing by Joe Maddon, the Tampa Bay Rays leaped from having Major League Baseball's worst record in 2007 to the World Series a season later.

But what about the worst team in the majors this past season? Can the Washington Nationals make a similar way for themselves in '09? Most baseball experts probably would say no way. However, D.C. could take steps to emerge from 100-plus defeat, injury riddled, embarrassing baseball.

Here are 10 ways the Nats can become the next Rays — or something like that:

10. Be firm and tell Elijah Dukes "no" to the unlimited threatening texts and free explicit video plan he wants for his mobile phone.

9. Tough love in '09: No disabled list.

8. One exception: List oft-oft-injured Nick Johnson out for the season, thanks to mysterious turkey poisoning at Thanksgiving, thus clearing roster space for Mark Teixeira

7. Have bugs installed in the visitor's clubhouse by former Sec. of State (and big Nats fan) Henry Kissinger as they can pay off big-time.

6. Even though his name suggests he'll spend several dates performing at the Kennedy Center with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, second baseman Emilio Bonifacio must put his dream of becoming a NL All-Star before his dream of becoming one of The Three Tenors.

5. Protect brittle superstar third baseman Ryan Zimmerman this off-season by encasing him entirely in Nerf.

4. Nix harebrained scheme of GM Jim Bowden to pick up "Devil" nickname on waivers from Tampa and transform "Nationals" to "Devil Gnats."

3. Sit down outfielder Austin Kearns, tell him that he should have been a country singer as his name obviously suggests, kick him out the door, and sign Adam Dunn to play left.

2. Stan Kasten out, Dick Cheney in, as team president.

1. Prevent the exotic Japanese artist that staff ace John Lannan has been dating from breaking up the starting rotation.

Do your civic duty

I did.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Big trade!

I knew JimBow would come through and get us that key pitcher!

Today the Nats acquired 2005 9th round draft pick Matt Avery from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for 2005 33rd round draft pick Ryan Buchter.

According to Chico, Avery is a Fairfax native who went to the University of Zima (now the University formerly known as the University of Zima, as Zima is no longer going to be produced). He is a servicable relief pitcher, with a 3.26 ERA and 7.91 K/9 over the last 3 years (in which he has been almost exclusively a reliever, with only 2 starts). Too bad he can't throw strikes, with a career 3.73 BB/9 (which rose to 3.89 as a reliever).

Buchter had a decent 2008 (I don't really feel like crunching his numbers), but gave up a high proportion of unearned runs (4 of his 11 runs allowed were unearned). His 2006 and 07 seasons were pretty bad.

So basically, a 25 year old AA pitcher (LeVale Speigner, anyone?) for a 22 year old A/A- pitcher (Clint Everts, anyone?). Don't really care, neither will likely make any difference in the future.

And the Chief says he isn't opposed to coming back next year.

And I'm rooting for the Skins harder that I ever have (and likely every will) for one reason. That's the closest to poltics you'll ever hear out of me ever again.

Mailbag time!

Our favorite time of the week-Mailbag time!

Don't you think it's time to move on at first base? Dating back to his days with the Yankees, Nick Johnson gets hurt every year. He's good when he does play, but you can't keep a player just for that reason.
-- Ed K., Harrisonburg, Va.

Johnson is an excellent hitter. Until he proves he can be healthy again, however, I'm not counting on him. Go get Adam Dunn and bring back Nicky J as a pinch-hitter.

Any chance of the Nationals acquiring Adam Dunn?
-- Pam R., Cincinnati

Power hitter? Check
High OBP? Check
First Baseman? Check
Former Red? Check
It can (and probably will) happen.

If you were the general manager of the Nationals, what moves would you make?
-- Brian W., Washington, D.C.

I would stop throwing $1-5 mil at crappy FA's (Lo Duca, Mackowiak, Estrada, etc.) and spend it all on Adam Dunn. I would sign a reliever (Juan Cruz) and a starter (Oliver Perez). The team would still be young, as all 3 of these guys are 30 or younger. Let the kids play, but give them a few bigger kids to help them out.

I know it's hard to translate Minor League stats to the Major League level, but do you feel the Nats have any potential superstars in the Minors? I've seen Michael Burgess, Chris Marrero, Justin Maxwell and Roger Bernadina play, and I'm not really sold on any of them. All have talents but none seem to be franchise type players. May I have your thoughts?
-- Brandon P., Bethesda, Md.

There are probably 10 true franchise hitters in the minors, none of which are in the Nats organization. That's not to say these guys aren't necessarily future stars-only time will tell if Burgess can fix the hole in his swing, Maxwell can stay healthy, Bernadina can hit ML pitching and Marrero can continue to improve.

You've been covering the Nats/Expos for quite some time, so I figured I would show you my all-time Montreal lineup, since Washington hasn't been around long enough to have an all-franchise lineup. The Expos' all-time franchise lineup, to me, is: LF Tim Raines, 2B Jose Vidro, RF Vladimir Guerrero, CF Andre Dawson, C Gary Carter, SS Orlando Cabrera, 3B Tim Wallach and 1B Bob Bailey. What do you think?
-- Joseph M., Westwood, N.J.

Without research, I agree with Ladson-add the Big Cat and we're fine.

What will the starting rotation look like next year?
-- Haley P., Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

John Lannan
Collin Balester
Oliver Perez
Tim Redding
Shawn Hill/Jason Bergmann/Shairon Martis/minor league FA

I read all of your mailbag questions, and none of your answers convince me that the Nationals will be any better next year. I like the coaching changes, however, the team is either full of young guys with potential or players who would be lucky to sit on the bench on any other club.
-- Alex L., New York

Is the offseason over? Has the offseason even started? Geez, there's still 5 months between now and Opening Day...the chances of the roster not changing between now and then are smaller than 0.

Have the Nats lost interest in left-hander Matt Chico? Where does he fit for 2009?
-- Bill N. Silver Spring, Md.

He fits in with John Patterson and Chad Cordero.

Unrelated note-in his predictions for where the top 50 FA end up this year, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicts the Nats land Adam Dunn and resign Odalis Perez. I can see both happening. Here's the whole list. They're more based on best fit/who is most likely to shell out money (will the Nats really do so for Dunn?) but are pretty solid predictions at first glance.

Another random update-in the article "Nationals targeting slugger to clean up" Ladson refers to Alberto Gonzalez as "Alex Gonzalez." I hadn't heard that one before...I guess he'd rather be confused with other crappy middle infielders by the same name than the former Attorney General who shares his "old" name.