And now, the perfunctory Holiday-We're-Closed-sign-in-the-store-window post.
Hope everyone has a great holiday, and that you enjoy your time off. We'll still post should anything of grave importance occur, but I'd doubt it. Eat too much, and then pledge to eat less after the first. It is the natural way of the world.
We're being active, and that's good. I think I saw Pete Orr once in Richmond. I think he struck out three times. So, he's got that going for him.
And we've already covered the Return of the King, and how we're actually glad to see the man come back. So, I'm imagining that'll turn into a major league deal after Spring Training.
Pete Orr, on the other hand, looks to be a Columbus guy. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
According to the Nationals website, the Nats are targeting BOTH Jason Jennings and Mark Prior.
This would make this offseason an unbridled success, and if any news outlet said we didn't have the best offseason, they'd be lying to themselves. We've added youth, power, speed. We've also added experience and flexibility on the bench.
I know we've jumped the gun a little bit, proclaiming the NL East Wild Card winners already. If this move goes down, it goes in stone, and I am a believer in Trader Jim and Stan the Man. I'll turn into Nats320.
I HOPE that happens.
THERE IS NO WAY NOOKULAR LOGAN TOOK STEROIDS...NO @#$%ING WAY!!!
I find the notion that Nook Logan took performance enhancing drugs to be preposterous. It's obvious it didn't help him bulk up any, we've all seen pictures of the guy. Some people claim they take it to recover from the daily grind. But in Nook's case...WHAT DAILY GRIND! The guy played every other day, sometimes not even that much. If I were Nook, I'd be pissed. Not at George Mitchell anything like that. No, I'd be pissed at my dealer for selling me fake HGH. Cause it clearly wasn't the real stuff.
I wish I had other stuff to write about, but there's nothing, absolutely nothing. Today Paul Lo Duca and Lastings Milledge were unveiled to the Washington media. You can dress em up but you can't take em out. Check out the banner shot from Nats.com
First things first, that guy in the background looks scary. I'm pretty sure he's a Marlins fan wondering what its like to actually sign a new player. Second, Trader Jim looks really pleased with himself. I don't pretend to imagine what's really going on in his head but I'm guessing its something along the lines of, "That's right Jimmy, you really duped em all this time. You're a god damn genius. No one does it better than you. Take that Reds! How's Gary Majewski doing? PWND!" Lastly, Mr. Milledge also looks mildly amused, but look at Lo Duca! I'm glad he could spare the time out of his extremely busy day to grace us with his presence. It's not every day you get to see a 4 TIME ALL STAR. I know you were just traded from a contender to the Nationals, but seriously, show some @#$%ing respect, at least paste on a fake smile.
You're not starting off on my good side Paul, not at all. If you're going to mope on stage, you might as well have just phoned in and placed a cardboard cutout of you on the stage. That is, if the Mets shipped us the one they used behind the plate last year.
Milledge on the other hand, I like your style. You already know how to give the media what they want, the almighty quote. "We're gonna go out there, we're gonna bust our tail and we're gonna win." Similar to but not quite as legendary as maybe my favorite sports quote of all time, "We'll take the ball, and we're going to score!" (oh, Matt Hasselbeck), but still, I like where his head's at. He's hungry for wins, which can only help.
From now until we're mathematically eliminated from the 2008 playoff race, the following statement will end all of my posts:
2008 Washington Nationals, NL Wild Card Winners!
This was mentioned casually in passing, in both Boswell's article about Lo Duca, and in Barry's Journal this morning. For those to lazy to click, both these gentlemen implied that their was an ever so slight possibility of landing Brian Roberts from the Orioles.
Sweet Sassy Molassy, I would make that trade in a minute. What trade? Any trade, getting Brian Roberts. Want Guz, Chief, and Maxwell? How about Lopez, Chico, and Rauch? Pena or Dukes as the deal breaker? Sure. Take em.
Roberts would be THE BEST ALL AROUND PLAYER ON OUR TEAM, instantly. "What about Zimm?" Zimm doesn't have the complete game that Roberts has, not to say that in a few years, he won't. Instantly, we have our MI defensive problem solved, we have a leadoff hitter with speed, and we've got a marquee name that can spray the ball, and should be a perennial lock for the All Star team. Ok, well, he and Utley can take turns.
I've already read in multiple places where people are saying that Angelos would never allow this trade to happen. That may be true. It doesn't mean I can't dream, does it?
According to Barry.
Well, the position is settled now, and I imagine that Flores will spend most of this year in AAA, playing every single day, and we bring in a warm body to backup Lo Duca for this one year.
I don't love this move, and I don't hate it. It's like signing Ray King.
This weekend...nothing happened.
It's been a slow weekend for Nats news and I was out of town for the weekend. Thus...no posts.
Last week was a week of highs and highs (we think). I think I speak for Jon in that I don't think we made one bad move. Ryan Church and Brian Schneider never figured in to our long term plans as a team so their departure isn't a huge blow. Were Church and Schneider really going to produce that many runs this year...I don't think so. The only player leaving for which I had any affinity is Jonathan Ablalalalaladingdong. He showed some sick stuff in his short stint with the big club and he could've been a major piece of our pen for years to come. But there can only be so many spaces for a spot lefty and Ray King takes up two and ate the third.
So the outfield has transformed from Pena, Church/Logan, Kearns into Pena, Milledge/Kearns, Dukes/Kearns. Which would you rather pitch to? Exactly. Pitchers don't care who you inseminated, beat, and or disrespected. They only care if you can hit. And the second group I mentioned hits better than the first. Case closed!
Okay I think I've beat this dead horse enough. The Nationals Report thinks Trader Jim is a genius and might be leading us to the promised land.
Your 2008 Washington Nationals...
NL Wild Card Winners!
We've got the stones to believe, DO YOU?
Disclaimer: I, Jon, share Kyle's enthusiasm, and depending on the way the rest of the offseason shakes out (signing some arms), I will be right behind him. If not...we'll see.
This is what I wanted to hear! The Nationals have signed Aaron Boone to be this year's Tony Batista with a 1 year, $1 million contract. As I mentioned previously, the anti-Red Sox karma is fine by me.
The news on WMP is a little more complicated then we thought it was last night. I'll let Barry break it down for you, legalese style:
They also agreed to the aforementioned extension with outfielder Wily Mo Pena, the one GM Jim Bowden said last night was innacurately reported by ESPN. The twist: Pena will get $2 million in 2008 -- thus avoiding arbitration and getting only a slight raise from his $1.875 million in 2007. But he'll have a mutual option for 2009. If the club picks it up, he'll make $5 million in 2009. If the Nationals decline, then Pena can pick up the option for $2 million.
Here's somewhat of a weird twist, considering today's earlier Rule 5 transactions, which I'll get into in a second.
Also: Ryan Langerhans brought back on a split major league/minor league deal. If he makes the big league club, he'll earn $500,000. He'd make $300,000 at the minor league level.
Ryan "If-I-Want-To-Palm-A-Basketball-I'd-Need-Langer"-hans, the lefty who doesn't hit his weight. Seriously. Hit .167, weighs 205. I'd lose some weight, if he's not gonna hit better just to avoid that distinction.
Rule 5 News: We picked two players, 1B Matt Whitney, who is a power hitting prospect that missed a year in the Minors after he broke his leg on a sprinkler head playing basketball (best run-on injury ever), and OF Garrett Guzman. Aside from the obvious clubhouse issue of having multiple Guzmanii, there is now a logjam in the outfield, even worse than before.
The Rule 5 draft has certain stipulations which I'm sure you are all aware, but in case you've somehow stumbled onto this blog from an odd google search, (You wouldn't believe the kind of search terms we get traffic from...particularly "ass apple" and "nipple"...weirdos) I'll break it down.
Each team fills up their 40 man roster with their 25 man active roster, and their high prized prospects that aren't quite ready yet. Every year, the Rule 5 draft allows teams to take unprotected players from other teams, under the stipulation that the player taken has to remain on the active roster all year. If not, the player has to be returned, and there may be a monetary cost too (although I'm not sure, and don't feel like looking).
The point here is, we've taken a 1B and another OF. One of whom is a lefty. In the Outfield, somebody has gotta go. It won't be Milledge or Dukes, because both don't have a high trade value. We just signed WMP to an extension, but similarly, his value won't fetch any high returns. That leaves us with Kearnsie. I've already said before , Kearns could be productive in the new ballpark. I think at the cost of his contract, we should keep him and send whichever of the new OF acquisitions doesn't pan out in ST to AAA. We could see if Langerhans has figured how to hit in the offseason (unlikely), see if there are any Lefty outfielders on the FA market that could be had on the cheap, or we could stick with Guzman. This last option is dangerous because of the lack of lefty bats, Guzman would get more at-bats than you like your Rule 5 pick to get (with Flores as an exception and not the rule). In my opinion, this was a stupid pick, and we should have picked up some players with non-guaranteed contracts so we're not hamstrung on keeping the guy on the squad the whole year because he has "potential" (a la Tony Blanco).
I like Whitney, only because he's younger than Tony Bats, and if he makes it through the season as a defensive replacement and pinch hitter, he adds to 1B depth in the minors, of which we don't have a lot (don't talk to me about Larry Broadway). I will miss Tony Bats and his running to first after being HBP and his occasional power shot, but we gotsta move on. This isn't the 2007 Nationals. This team might have a chance.
I'll write tomorrow about the Nationals relative gains in this not-yet-finished offseason, and maybe you'll be converted to our cult that thinks that next year, around September, we might be playing games that mean something.
Barry seems convinced we're pushing hard to sign Paul LoDuca to platoon at catcher with Jesus Flores. I'd rather we not, but what do I know, I've only never managed a professional baseball team ever. I do though, think of myself as the next Theo Epstein.
Regardless, I do not want him, not at all sir!
Edit: Well, you may not have to have him, sir.
YAYYY DAMIAN MILLER MAYBE!! What, was Benito Santiago unavailable?
UPDATE: LoDuca looks like he's moving north...FOR 5 MIL! REDICULOUS
Ladies and Gentlemen, Bloggers, Analyists, and Steve Phillips, I'm here today to tell you the State of the Nation(als) is strong! (Waits for applause)
Stan Kasten and I have worked together in a bipartisan fashion to make the moves that will make this group stronger, and help it compete in the new, globalized world of the National League East.
Just because we are better off than we were one year ago, doesn't mean we can relax. There is an Axis of Evil in our midst, and we cannot allow their acts to go unanswered. Omar Minaya, who I believe is from Azerbaijan or something, is a threat to our Nation(al) security, and he must be stopped. I received word from an intelligence report that Minaya has an evil plan to sign every hispanic player in the league, making a super-immigrant team that cannot be felled. We cannot allow that to happen. Well, he can have Felipe Lopez, but hands off our Jesus.
That brings us to another point. A lot of the "Media" has given this administration guff about signing players with troubled pasts. A lot of you know that I have a history of giving people second chances, and I believe very strongly in that. This team is about forgiveness, understanding, and togetherness. Oh yeah, and winning. But for all the naysayers that claim that Mr. Milledge and Mr. Dukes are a danger to the clubhouse, and to society at large, I offer you this solution. We have Jesus on our team. Well, we actually have two Jesus'. Jesuses? Jesui? Anyway, we've got the J men to help these kids find the path. Barring that, we've got Da Meat Hook, who will simply eat any one or thing that hurts the team (or gets in his way to the Pre-Game spread).
We aren't done making this team better. We are linked with Livan Hernandez, Bartolo Colon, and other fat guys whose names I can't remember at this moment. This brings us to the most important aspect of this State of the Nation(als). My "Roadmap for Victory in the NL East Mission Accomplished America" plan. Please pay attention and take notes, as there will be a quiz at the end.
1. To finish first in any category at the end of the season. Now, the Liberal media will tell you that the only categories that count in this business are Wins, Losses, Home Runs, etc. I don't think that's the truth. We could lead the league in weight. We could lead the league in felonies. We could lead the league in outfielders. There are opportunities out there, and my job is to explore those.
2. To get ejected more often. With Robert Fick gone, and Dmitri's diabetes-rage under control, we've got to lean on the new guys and Manny to get the job done. Everyone knows that ejections get shown on Sportscenter. We've gotta compete with the Yankees and Red Sox in media coverage, and this is one way to get this accomplished.
3. To spread Nationalocracy all over the world. We've been talking to some Japanese relievers at the Winter Meetings, and Stan is very keen to sign some players from Asia to expand our fan base. But I say, Asia is just the beginning. That's why, I will ask Major League Baseball to authorize funding for a Spring Caravan to Mars. It's one thing to be a global brand, but it's entirely different to be a Universal brand. Take that, Red Sox.
4. This last initiative is already underway and showing signs of success. Bob Boone and the Nation(als) Intelligence Agency have come up with an important discovery that could move the Nationals into first place, forever. The NIA has come up with a brainwashing device that makes teams act like the Kansas City Royals (spending no money, and trading away any and all talent). The early success story is obviously the Florida Marlins, trading away Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. There are, unfortunately, side effects and unintended consequences. As you may have noticed, the device's emission have floated into Kansas City, and have turned the Royals Front Office into the New York Yankees Front Office. We are sorry for this mistake, and we have crews working around the clock trying to fix this problem. Stan Kasten wanted me to say that he's sorry to Andruw Jones. He'd never be headed to KC if we hadn't used this device. But this device is good for the Nation(als), and its good for America.
In closing, I want to thank you, citizens of the Nation(als). You have shown your support by watching this team, when we had Jason Simontacchi pitching, and D'Angelo Jiminez batting. You've shown commitment, and an unwillingness to Cut and Run, even when Ryan Langerhans is hitting. We will reward that commitment by cutting payroll, and trading your fan favorites. Granted, these trades may have made us better, but I can assure you, that was not our intention.
Good night, and God Bless America.
Just a quick rundown of the "Winter Meetings Checklist" posted on Nats.com last week and what can be checked off:
More starting pitching:
Half Check! Tyler Clippard from the Yankees. Youth talent but nothing proven yet. More importantly no innings eater yet. I'm still holding out for Livo.
Nothing! There aren't many true leadoff hitters out there on the market but anything is better than what we've got. Problem is that the defensive lineup seems set, so who would squeezed out for a leadoff hitter...I predict 2B. Its going to be a tough find though.
Check! The Nats have acquired both Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes through trades. Both come in with some questions about character and none about talent. Hopefully a change of scenery will provide both with new life.
Check! Both Milledge and Dukes have above average power so it seems as if we're trying to kill two birds with two stones here. Neither have played full major league seasons though so the breath is still being held on this. Smart money is on at least one or both working out.
Most Nationals fans that I know are pretty familiar with the names Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes for various reasons. The same cannot be said though for Tyler Clippard. All you ever hear Yankee fans talking about is Phil Hughes. So I'd like to take a moment and go around the blog nation and give you a little taste of what people are saying about our new pitcher. BTW, here is his myspace page...lame.
Clippard throws a fastball from 88-92 mph, throwing all of his body at the batter to create some mild deception. He backs it up with very good curveballs and change-ups...Clippard was 22 years old and was just the 2nd or 3rd High School pitcher in his draft class to make it to the majors. That’s impressive. I like the way his secondary pitches work when his fastball can be located.
Fire Joe Torre:
A lot of ballclubs would take Clippard's mind blowing second half and set him up in the major leagues right away. However, Clippard is a finesse pitcher. Finesse pitchers take a little longer than power pitchers to adjust to new leagues...That is not a knock on Clippard - as he is only 21 years old.Baseball America:
When Clippard is on, his biggest strength is his ability to keep hitters guessing.
Moreover, if you look at the stats of Clippard, you'll see that he's consistently thrown 150 innings every year for about 4 years now (~130 in 2007 due to moving around in the system). With his finesse pitching style, it seems as if he's going to be a durable guy. This bodes well for his future in Washington, where it seems the rotation is survival of the fittest at times.
Many out there are giving Albaladejo no play in this story, simply putting him a "a reliever" and therefore a wise more for the Yanks. What they're missing out on is that he's a good pitcher. Watch some of his film from last summer/fall and you'll see some nasty stuff out there. His career K/IP is nearly 1 and his WHIP in the majors is a minuscule 0.63. This is no chump we're sending the other way. I see him becoming a mainstay of the Yankee pen for the next few years provided he doesn't implode under the pressure.
I chalk this deal up as a win/win on both sides. The Nationals are absolutely stacked in the pen. It's the only reason we were able to win as many games as we did in 2007, especially with the starters only giving you 5 innings night in, night out. The Yankees, have a dearth of talent in the pen sans Joba (who looks to be in the rotation at the moment) so this trade makes sense all around. I'm excited to see how Clippard progresses this spring and look forward to cheering him on at stadium to be named later.
Nationals trade Reliever Jonathan Albaladejo to Yankees for Tyler Clippard.
Again, full break down on this tomorrow, but initial reports are...YESSS!!! We just swindled my other favorite team, but I'm ok with that because the Yankees needed bullpen help as bad as we needed a Starter.
Tyler had one major league start that was epic. He struggled afterward, but this kid has the stuff. This team is getting better by the day.
KEEP GOIN JIM!!
I could say more, and I will. But for now...
Everyone else is talking about the Elijah Dukes trade so peer pressure mandates that I chime in with an opinion on it. The way I see it is this: I'd be pissed too if I had to play for the Rays. Look, how angry would you be if you toiled years in the minors only to be brought up to a major league team who has never even sniffed third place in their division. Now I'm not advocating killing your kids unless they really piss you off, but I'm ready to give the man a chance. We're batting 100% in restoration projects so far so why not.
Message to all you Dukes haters out there (this means you, every blog in the Natosphere Update: Except Banks of the Anacostia):
Let he who has not sinned, cast the first stone. We all have done, or know someone who has done some really stupid things. Maybe you got your girlfriend pregnant in high school, maybe you drove drunk and crashed your car. I don't know. All I know is that you weren't poor (allegedly), given millions of dollars and then told to never do anything wrong...ever...or else. Short leash...fine, but you don't know the man. So I'm giving him a clean slate, as should you all!
Elijah Dukes, he of the gun-picture message, of the chest bumping in the Dominican League, is a Washington National in exchange for a PTBNL.
Keep yourself informed here for now, Kyle will be on here later with the run down.
UPDATE: PTBNL is Glenn Gibson a la ESPN
Some quick stats:
Drafted in 2006, 4-3 record in 12 starts, with a 3.10 ERA. This is guy is young talent, and part of the Vermont Lake Monsters pitching staff that performed extraordinarily well the first half of their season.
Background: The son of former major league lefthander Paul Gibson, Glenn showed off his superior feel for pitching at short-season Vermont. He might have been the New-York Penn League's best pitcher until his final two starts, when he tried to pitch while sick and saw his ERA balloon from 1.74 to 3.10. It was later discovered he had mononucleosis, causing him to drop about 20 pounds and reversing his solid progress in the weight room.
Strengths: Gibson's savvy makes his stuff play up. He pores over hitting and pitching charts before every start so he can exploit weaknesses, and he mixes speeds and locations very well. He can throw his plus changeup in any count for strikes, his slow downer curveball can be above-average at times and his fastball can touch 91 mph and has late movement.
Weaknesses: Gibson's fastball sits in the high 80s and isn't overpowering, which limits his upside and margin for error. He still needs to add strength to his frame, particularly his lower half, to improve his durability and velocity.
The Future: Gibson is ready for a full-season league and should begin 2008 in low Class A. He looks like a safe bet to reach the big leagues as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Snap judgement: This isn't exactly Dukes fornothing as it was rumored to be. Gibson isn't one of the high profile names, but he was number 8 prospect and this guy did say he was going to kill his wife, and it could be assumed he meant it. This is the classic "troubled player with loads of talent for talented youngster who won't develop for years" trade, and sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't. This does bring up a quandary of too many outfielders in the mix, as all of the players we picked up need playing time to be effective. The smart thing to do would be to send the odd man out to Columbus for seasoning (my vote for Dukes), and let the remaining players start almost every game. The likely thing is that AK, as well as Cordero or Rauch are on their way out of town. I hope not, because AK's home-away splits last season were night and day, and this guy needs a chance to hit in a non-death valley.
Take a quick poll of "baseball people" around the league and the opinion on the Nationals is still pretty much the same as it was two years ago. Some talented players, but farm system is understocked and there's no end to the suck in sight.
Along comes Bill James from SI givin' us some love!
13th in the league in young talent, and they're only talking about players ON the roster. That's top half of the bigs people, 14 spots higher than the Yankees. This year, wild card, next year, World Champions!!!