Weekly wrap-up of Nats and other baseball news that caught my eye. With the absolute deluge of baseball news, rumors, and unbelievable FA signings this week I frankly got lost in the shuffle, so most of these items are from the weekend and early this week. Hopefully you know by now about Reyes, Buehrle, Wilson, Pujols and our Rule5 losses. If not, you’re just not a true baseball fan now are you?
Nationals In General
- An excellent good-bye blog posting from Ben Goessling, leaving the MASN Nats beat for his home-town paper. No permanent replacement has been hired, but MASN still has Byron Kerr putting out excellent prospect-focused posts, and Pete Kerzel temporarily filling in for Goessling during the Winter meetings (and perhaps beyond).
- Well, now we know what Stan Kasten plans on doing in his post-Washington career. Unfortunately for Kasten, Bud Selig can’t just give him the Dodgers as has been his custom in “awarding” teams to new owners.
- Byron Kerr reports that Hector Nelo, our high-A reliever who is pitching in Venezuela, can now hit 100mph. He always had a high velocity arm, but being a 25-yr old in high-A isn’t necessarily the most impressive feat. He was an April minor league free agent pick up, having been released by the Texas organization after putting up pretty mediocre figures. I’m projecting him in our AA bullpen for 2012. He may be able to hit those high figures, but its not being reflected in amazing k/9 rates. I remain skeptical that he can be an impact arm for us in the future.
- As noted elsewhere, Keith Law’s posted his “top 50 under 25” list of players under 25 but who have already lost their rookie eligibility. Its insider-only but Amanda Comak at the Washington Times pretty much cut-n-pasted the entire list late last week. You can google it or search her archives. 3 Nats made the list: Strasburg, Ramos, and Espinosa. No real quibbles about those Nats left off; Drew Storen would have qualified, as could have Desmond and some weaker members of the bullpen/bench, but clearly Law doesn’t rate closers (nor do I, really). He has Craig Kimbrel, 2012’s ROY at #49. Law’s little dig at Desmond in his Espinosa write-up also indicates his opinion of the hitting capabilities of our current starting SS. I do question some of his rankings: I’d certainly have ranked Kershaw above one-year wonders such as Mike Stanton, but perhaps Law’s explanation of his ranking (he’s looking at projections for the next 6 years versus what they’ve already accomplished), explains it away.
- Well, there goes one OF option: Laynce Nix has signed with the rival Phillies. Most reports seemed to indicate that the 2-year guarantee solidified the deal for Nix, who faces at best a LF platoon in Philadelphia. Still, he could turn in a 20-homer season rather easily hitting in that bandbox.
- Jim Riggleman signed on to manage the Cincinnati AA franchise, a bit of a step down from a MLB manager job but at least he has on-field work.
- In what is sure to inspire a fire-storm of Natmosphere posts, Jim Bowden reports that Ryan Zimmerman’s agents have been “rebuffed” in opening contract extension talks. I can’t blame Rizzo here: you’ve got a franchise player who can’t stay healthy; he’s a risk to guarantee a bunch of years and a bunch of money. Yes, everyone’s a risk to give guaranteed contracts … perhaps why the team needs to think on it a bit more.
- Uh oh. Sammy Solis is visiting Dr. Yocum to get his elbow looked at. This is not a good sign. Can anyone say Tommy John surgery?
Free Agents/Player Transaction News
- A month-old post, but somehow I missed it. Jeff Passan’s free agent tracker, with some concise opinion on each of 181 free agents this off-season. No predictions but on-point analysis.
- Wow. Heath Bell gets 3yrs/$27M from the Marlins. Not that I don’t think he’s a good closer, and not that I really care that the Marlins just acquired a player being paid in AAV the equivalent of 1/8th of their 2011 payroll. Maybe this whole “Marlins are going to spend money” thing is for real. I agree with Neyer’s assessment here: “that’s a lot for a guy who is going to throw 65 innings.” Predictably, Keith Law hates the deal.
- Even more Wow: Jose Reyes signs for a reported 6yr/$106M deal with these same Marlins. One has to wonder if we’re looking at another dynasty build-up/epic team dismantling situation.
- Jon Heyman’s list of 10 busiest clubs for the Winter meetings, and somehow the Nats, whose name is associated with practically every FA in some form or another, are not on the list.
- We could soon find out just how serious the Nats interest is in Yoenis Cespedes, with him possibly being declared a FA within the next week or so.
- Despite some opinions that the Rule 5 draft is useless, there are active teams every year (The Nats included). Here’s one blog’s Top 25 available Rule 5 draft potentials. He does list three Nationals: Brad Meyers, Sandy Leon and Erik Komatsu. He also lists the top other prospects by system. That’s a TON of research frankly, digging through rule5 eligibles from all 30 minor league systems. Of course, John Manuel did the same on Baseball America, posting part 2 of his review, highlighting some favorites for role players (utility infielders, 4th outfielders, loogys and middle relievers). I’m guessing its from this group that the Nats may tempt fate and look to fill some bench spots. 12/7/11 Update: sure enough we lost both Meyers and Komatsu. So irritated.
- Sometimes, star athletes just don’t know how to say good bye. Manny Ramirez has filed for re-instatement and plans on playing in 2012 after serving his 2nd drug suspension. He’ll have to improve on his 1-17 outing for Tampa Bay last season.
- Interesting potential trade tidbit posted by new Masn beat reporter Pete Kerzel: Boston possibly dangling either Josh Reddick or Ryan Kalish in trade for starting pitchers (names mentioned include Ross Detwiler and Collin Balester). I’d like any trade permutation here; both Detwiler and Balester are out of options and increasingly with every Buehrle/Wilson/Oswalt rumor Detwiler’s chances of making our 25-man roster diminish.
General News; Baseball and other.
- “Just in time,” indeed. Rob Neyer reports that the Feds are investigating the incredibly shady Marlins stadium deal. Jeff Passan also mentions the SEC subpoenas for financial records, meeting minutes, etc, looking for evidence of bribery of federal officials. Nothing would make me cackle more than to find out that the Marlin’s owners and management were to expect a federal indictment for corruption. Everything I’ve ever read about Jeffrey Loria, David Samson, and Larry Benifest and anything related to the Marlins as an organization and this stadium deal in particular has been negative, and this undoubtedly will be no different. I hope Selig is happy with himself for engineering Loria’s Expos sale and Marlins purchase, as well as watching his new buddy subsequently pocket millions and millions of dollars in revenue sharing whilst occupying the 6th largest market by MSA.
- Wow. Jon Heyman is leaving SI for CBS. This prolific writer is well known for being ahead of the curve on baseball news, and leaves a pretty big hole in the baseball reporting department for cnnsi.com.
- Interesting precedent setting event: MLB has restored Mike Trout’s rookie eligibility for 2012. He’ll certainly be a candidate .. if he can get on the field. Matt Moore may be a better candidate, based on what we saw in September and October though.
- I’ll put in just enough opinion to get into trouble on the BCS: LSU-Alabama repeat for the National Championship is an abomination of justice when looking at the Alabama season in basic comparison to Oklahoma State. The OK State-Stanford game will be 10x as enjoyable. I only wish the BCS could have had 100% egg on its face with LSU losing the SEC title game but still being pretty much guaranteed a match up in the Championship. I would have laughed. Call me when there’s a playoff.
- I didn’t realize they were nominated: legendary college coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Pat Summitt received 2011’s SI Sportsman of the Year award. Clearly these were “career” awards, as opposed to anything specific to 2011.
- In case you were interested, or wanted to nit-pick every Hall of Fame ballot to death, here’s a blogger who tracks all the BBWAA voters and finds their HoFame votes.
- Not to get into too much politics here, but Mitt Romney’s reported dig on Barack Obama’s planned 17-day vacation smacks of hypocrisy. All he needs to do is check the record on George W. Bush’s days spent “on vacation” while office and perhaps he’d wish he wasn’t casting stones. In fact, depending on how you interpret this research, Bush spent nearly 32 PERCENT of his time in office actually back home at his ranch or at Camp David.