This is your semi-weekly/periodic wrap-up of Nats and other baseball news that caught my eye.
Nationals In General
- Per CBS’s Danny Knobler (who really needs a new profile picture), the Nats had to out-bid the Red Sox for Gio Gonzalez’s services, possibly indicating why the price in prospects went so high.
- Buster Olney ranks the current 10 best rotations in the game after all our recent FA moves and trades. Philly is still #1, but surprisingly LA Angels have not risen to #2. Honestly I think the Angels have supplanted the Rays at the near-top. And, amazing of amazing, he has the Nats at #8. Here’s a direct quote from the article: “It’s possible that a year from now, we will view the front three of the Washington rotation as the best in the majors.” That is high-praise indeed; perhaps THREE years from now when we have the likes of Solis, Meyer and Purke shaken out into possible MLB starting roles … but a year from now there will still be the stud 1-2-3 punches in LA, Philly and SF.
- The next day, Olney ranks the current 10 best bullpens and, again, the Nats come in 8th. They were 5th in the MLB in bullpen ERA last year and may need one more arm to continue that trend.
- Jon Sickels‘ has published his preliminary Nats top 20 prospect list (I may have linked this in the last article frankly). This was posted just prior to the Gio Gonzalez trade, meaning that his #3, #4, #6 and #9 prospects are now playing for Oakland. The list is considerably thinned now, of course, but what we got in return may make everyone forget what we gave up.
Free Agents/Player Transaction News
- Carlos Beltran signs with the St. Louis Cardinals, probably pushing Lance Berkman to the Albert Pujols vacated first base position with Beltran playing RF. Its a good signing for St. Louis, who obviously is taking a step back offensively but Beltran should help soften the blow. What gets me though is the price Brian Sabean paid for a couple months of Beltran, only to decide in the off-season that he wasn’t worth signing.
General Baseball News
- Great article on Brian Cashman, the Yankees, payroll and their direction over the past few years from Jonah Keri on Grantland.com. Whereas most teams operate on payroll budgets, the Yankees never really have before … but they do seem to be targeting the luxury tax threshold now. Not that any team with a $189M payroll can be really that “constricted,” but the fact remains the Yankees have only won the world series once in the past decade. This same topic covered here as well by Bob Klapish.
- Oakland reportedly granted permission to move to San Jose. This certainly affects the Giants and their market, though probably not as much as people may think. When the team moved from Candlestick into the city, the move was a significant distance more than just the 7 miles and 15 minutes added onto the drive for most suburban fans. Now those fans in the far southern parts of the Bay area, the affluent areas closer to Stanford, Sunnyvale and deep in Santa Clara county will be just a few minutes (against the majority of traffic) from an Athletics stadium, even if its built north of San Jose in Milpitas.
- Of course, the A’s have been in a dismaying sell-off of talent so far this off-season, and don’t have a starting outfielder under contract, so they could be severely struggling until they do secure a new stadium. Ken Rosenthal talks about this topic here; noting that Billy Beane has taken one look at his division rivals Texas and Los Angeles and concluded that the A’s are a lost cause in 2012. Now they’re so young and weak that they may very well lose 110 games.
- Side effect of all the action in the AL west this off-season; does anyone doubt that the AL wild card, long the property of the also-ran in the AL East, may suddenly belong to the AL west titans for the forseeable future? Texas and Los Angeles look to feast on the incredibly weak Athletics and the still-not-contender status Mariners and could easily take 14 of 18 from these teams (in much the same way that the 103 loss 2009 Nats went 3-15 on the year versus Philadelphia). Meanwhile, New York has done little to address its needs this off-season, nor has Boston (except to swap relievers but do relatively little to address injuries to its pitching staff). Tampa continues to be who they always are; a young cheap team meticulously assembled to sneak up on team with 5 times their payroll … but all these teams seem set to beat each other up while their wild card contenders in the west get fat on easy teams. Perhaps its only a one-year issue; the addition of a second wild card really lowers the difficulty bar for most of these franchises.
- Boy, if you didn’t think the Mets franchise was in serious financial trouble, check out this article and the high lighted quote from Craig Calcaterra. Quick calculations show that the team owes around $900 million on various loans coming due in the next few years. I don’t see how this team could possibly stay solvent for the next 5 years. But then the question becomes; how do you possibly pay off this much debt on a franchise that you couldn’t possibly argue is even worth $900M?
- Phew; The Yankees have to be concerned reading this news item: Alex Rodriguez went to Germany to get experimental treatment on his knee. In case you had forgotten, this is the same guy the team still owes $143M in salary plus a likely $24M more in homer-plateau reaching incentives that he seems relatively likely to reach.
- Updated 2012 draft order from PerfectGame.org. This also has a significant amount of interpretation of the new draft and compensation rules in the new CBA, and is honest in admitting that there are some things we just don’t know. As it stands now, the Nats draft 16th overall and then not again til #80 overall because of the massive number of supplemental first round picks.
- We have lots of family that went to UCal-Berkeley, so I always take interest in stories about the school. This article talks about some larger fiscal problems in the State of California, ones that led to the disbanding of their baseball program and the subsequent fund-raising efforts that resurrected it (a good thing, since they made the CWS this year). We talk a lot in politics about education and funding, but to see tuition rising 18% in one year in California public schools, with more budget cuts set on the horizon, is kind of depressing given the state of our economy in general.
- One of the few local area Div1 baseball programs George Washington announced their spring baseball schedule. A three-game set in mid-march versus Georgetown is the local highlight here; one game in Arlington then two at Georgetown’s home field in Bethesda (Shirley Povich stadium). They have home-and-homes with George Mason but not JMU this year, and have a mid-week visit to the slaughter in UVA. GWU plays in the A-10 in baseball; a pretty weak baseball conference but with some interesting teams nonetheless.
General News; other
- Wow, i’m hoping this guy lost a bet.
- Kobe Bryant; how about a little discretion buddy? The “proof” is a little lacking though. This website did the same thing with all of Tiger Woods‘ alleged affairs.