Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Nats Off-season News Items Wrap-up 12/25/11 edition


Welcome to Washington Mr. Gonzalez. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images via

This is your semi-weekly/periodic wrap-up of Nats and other baseball news that caught my eye.  No better time than today to publish, since there’s not much else going on Christmas day.

Nationals In General

  • Bus Leagues Baseball profiles Matthew Purke, with a nice scouting report and recap of his journey to the Nats franchise.
  • Nice little bench move here: Nats claimed infielder Carlos Rivera from Philadelphia’s waivers and stuck him on the 40-man.   He theoretically can play both SS and 3b, though reports are that his SS defense is suspect.  I’m not going to nit pick moves like this and the Mike Cameron signing; our farm system kind of has a gap in terms of player development from the last Bowden draft years, so we are missing these roster-augmentation players that otherwise would be filled from within.  Soon though with the college-heavy drafts of the past couple years we should have all the spare parts we need sitting in AAA so that we’re not signing mid 30’s utility players and claiming mediocre players.
  • Welcome to 2012’s version of Jerry Hairston; Mark DeRosa to sign with the Nats and be our super utility guy.  Can’t argue with the move; he fills a need, is willing to be a bench player, and can play a bunch of positions.
  • Congrats to ex Nat Jason Marquis, who looks to sign a deal with Minnesota.  I’m glad he’s landed on his feet after a freak fractured tibia just after we traded him last year.
  • Obviously the big news this cycle is the Gio Gonzalez move.  Frequent readers here saw a very healthy discussion in the past week in this space.  I’ll post some reaction links here not posted elsewhere: Buster Olney‘s blog (the take away for me is how badly Oakland’s fans seem to be reacting), Jim Bowden‘s video reaction and his description how the deal went down (the interesting takeaway being how the 2nd player thrown into the deal from Oakland’s side turning the tide).  Keith Law values our prospects highly and says we overpaid.  Another prospect-heavy analyst John Sickels analyzes our outgoing prospects (surprisingly Sickels says the A’s got “fair value” instead of calling it a loss for the Nats as Law did).  Here’s Tim Brown‘s reaction, plus Ken Rosenthal‘s original report.  Lastly, fangraph’s David Fung graphically analyzes projected WARs and determines that we gave up nearly twice the value in future production, which involves quite a leap of trust that all four of these guys pan out to their potential.  Lastly, here’s Baseball Prospectus’ take on both sides; not nearly as glowing for the 4 prospects gained as I thought they would be.

Free Agents/Player Transaction News

  • Roy Oswalt is considering one-year deals, immediately bringing nearly every MLB team into the discussions.  I’d love to have him on the Nats but suspect that he may end up in a situation that makes it easier for him to get one more relatively lucrative FA contract.  I.e., an easier division that’s closer to home.  Imagine him in San Diego against weaker NL west teams.  With the Gonzalez signing though, my guess is that we’re out of the FA pitcher race.
  • Interesting take on the Yu Darvish bidding results and the Toronto loss from Buster Olney (insider only), intimating that all the talk about the Toronto interest was overblown.
  • Great points by David Schoenfeld on espn, pointing out another similar article on Grantland, talking about the “Prospect Mania” that has become the norm in baseball over the past 10 years.  Ironically, this same issue was seen in our Gonzalez deal; are our prospects really that good, or are we over-valuing them and their potential?

General Baseball News

  • College Baseball Newspaper announces its pre-season Collegiate All American team.  From first glance, Florida looks really strong (4 guys on the first team, another four on the 2nd team, wow).  South Carolina returns two all-american starters, virtually guaranteeing weekend series wins all year.  Finally Texas has 2 first team, 3 second teamers just in its rotation.  Too early to predict Florida versus Texas in the Omaha final in June 2012?
  • George Washington, a lesser Div-1 baseball program that has given the Nats some later-round org players in recent years, is renovating Barcroft park in South Arlington, where they play their home games.  They’re putting in artificial turf, nicer facilities and a nicer snack bar.  Nice.  It was already a nice place to see good collegiate baseball; now it should be this much better.
  • Documentation/Actual testimony from a player who won an appeal of his PED positive test.  Latest rumor I read about Ryan Braun is that he was taking something for an STD.  I can’t find a link so perhaps its just that; a ridiculous rumor.
  • Good, non-hysterical analysis of the new CBA’s winners and losers from Basball America’s J.J. Cooper and Jim Callis. Callis continues with this analysis of the impact on big and small market teams.
  • Man, I can’t wait to see this soap opera in Spring Training; former Marlins manager says that Hanley Ramirez won’t go to third easily.
  • Nice shirt, Mike Napoli.  (NSFW, in other words, “Not Safe for Work.”)  Not really; you can barely see the “R-rated” part.
  • I wonder why they left the field?  A current picture of Detroit’s old stadium.  We were in Detroit 3yrs ago and drove by this stadium as it was only in partial de-construction.
  • LA Dodger’s plans to sell dealt a blow by a bankrupcy judge.  Or were they?  I’m not entirely clear how this ruling affects anything frankly.  As long as Frank McCourt is removed from the picture, I think everyone will be happy.

General News; other

  • Categorize this in the “people who don’t have a sense of humor, ever” department: Pat Robertson found the hilarious Tim Tebow skit on SNL last weekend “disgusting.”  Hey Pat; I find your opinions on race, discrimination, acceptance, tolerance, and your stated stances on the reasons that Hurricane Katrina, the Haitian earthquake and 9-11 happened to be “disgusting” as well.
  • This link was ironic for me, in that my family just had the same discussion about what is the best Xmas movie of all time.  Jim Caple presents a 64-team bracket for Xmas movies.  I think the selection committee screwed over “Scrooged,” giving it only a 9 seed.  In another bracket, its a regional winner :-).

5 Responses to 'Nats Off-season News Items Wrap-up 12/25/11 edition'

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  1. If I’m not mistaken, the reason the diamond is still showing in the Tigers Stadium photo — and why it looks so good — is that fans get together there weekly (or maybe monthly) to week and otherwise tend it and they then have a pick-up game or two.

    Happy Holidays (excepting Pat Robertson, of course).

    Eugene in Oregon

    25 Dec 11 at 1:21 pm

  2. That should be “to weed” the field…

    Eugene in Oregon

    25 Dec 11 at 1:21 pm

  3. Cool! That’s a cool story. I’d probably do the same, if we had such a situation here.

    Todd Boss

    26 Dec 11 at 9:19 am

  4. Lots of good links here,thanks, showing a bloggers life doesn’t slow down on Christmas.
    Love the Hanley Ramirez story. I think in the spring that will even supplant the continuing buyers remorse of Albert “it’s not about the money” Pujols.
    Seriously, you’d think at some point the Marlins would call Hanley’s bluff and agree to mutually dissolve his contract. He couldn’t hit last year at all and he was too fat to play SS anyway.

    I was initially thinking there weren’t enough XMAS movies for Caples bracket, but when you include films like The Ref, it’s wide open. I mean The Ref’s a great movie, but not exactly loaded with holiday cheer. :)

    Mark L

    26 Dec 11 at 10:28 am

  5. Hanley; he makes sense to change scenery. Clearly management’s actions in “protecting him” during his periods of petulance and laziness while penalizing others (releasing Cameron, demoting Morrison just recent examples) have shown to Ramirez that he’s above his teammates. And that’s just not going to fly with Guillen. I think the team needs to move him to a team that can afford his salary and give him a shot to start anew. There’s several teams out there that could clearly use his offense and could use an upgrade at SS (just by quickly looking at depth charts, Boston (Scutaro), Minnesota (Nishioka), Atlanta (Wilson), LA Dodgers (Gordon), NY Mets (nobody with Reyes leaving), San Francisco (Fontenot), and our own Washington Nationals.

    Or, you convince him to move to 3B, where Miami has a massive hold and HAVE had a massive hole for years.

    Would you support trading to get Hanley and installing him at SS? He can certainly hit. He’d be a massive offensive upgrade over Desmond. We’re talking a guy who is normally a .950 OPS guy and used to steal a gazillion bases. leadoff? could be but more likely a middle-of-the order guy. Maybe a #2. Problem is, he is bad at SS defensively. -10 uzr/150 last two years.

    Todd Boss

    26 Dec 11 at 1:01 pm

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