Weekly wrap-up of Nats and other baseball news that caught my eye.
Nationals In General
- In a minor move, the team re-signed its own AAA minor league free agent Carlos Maldonado, per tweet from Bill Ladson. This sets up our catcher depth for most of the system (Flores/Ramos, Solano/Maldonado, Norris/Leon, and Nieto/Fritas) and gives the team some flexibility with the inevitable injuries. Frankly Norris’ poor 2011 season jeopardizes his progression; he’ll obviously be repeating AA in 2012 and needs to show some improvement to keep his oft-repeated “close to the majors” prospect status.
- Chris Marrero tore his hamstring and had surgery, two weeks ago. Two weeks ago!? How did this little nugget stay hidden for so long? Most of the beat reporters had the story on 11/29 and had the same opinion as I; this probably frees up a bench spot for someone like Tyler Moore or perhaps another veteran 1-year FA.
- Nats are apparently interested in Mark DeRosa. No big surprise; we have basically zero competent utility infielders under contract right now. DeRosa can be 2012’s version of Jerry Hairston.
- Sorry to hear that Masn beat reporter Ben Goessling is leaving to join the St. Paul Pioneer Press. No word on his replacement.
- Per the soon-to-be-departing Goessling as well: Toronto continues to collect ex-Nats players and signs Garrett Mock to a minor league deal. I’m starting to sense a Jim Bowden-esque obsession on the part of Dana Brown with our farm players. So be it; if they were that good when he was here, we wouldn’t have been ranked in the bottom 5 farm systems of the league.
- Espinosa, Ramos and Strasburg on Keith Law’s best 50 under 25 list. Harper still too young to consider.
Free Agents/Player Transaction News
- There remains to be questions whether or not Yu Darvish will actually post this off-season. Rumors of a divorce complicating his posting persist, and its now been a week since the end of the NPB season with no word of his posting status. (Jon Paul Morosi reports).
- Here’s some non-news: Mark Buehrle won’t come “cheap or short.”
- Here’s David Schoenfield’s 3-fix suggestion for each team in the NL east. His suggestions for us? CJ Wilson, putting Werth in CF and signing a corner outfielder, and decide whether Davey Johnson is the long term answer. I’m not sure the 3rd issue matters in the least: Johnson is only 69; there’s plenty of recent evidence showing guys who are older and less accomplished can be successful in the majors. His argument for Wilson makes sense; he’ll cost half of Pujols/Fielder, wouldn’t be stressed as our “Ace” with Strasburg and Zimmermann around, and will only improve as he goes from the AL to the NL. I like his Werth answer honestly; I think Werth could hold his own in Center for at least one season, perhaps two.
- Baseball America’s Rule5 Preview, part 1 (may be subscriber only). I definitely see some players the Nats could experiment with, given that they are looking for a 7th bullpen arm and a utility infielder. He mentions our own Brad Meyers as a possible draftee, but not one of the marquee names out there.
- Ken Rosenthal says the team is really on both Prince Fielder and the cuban-FA Yoenis Cespedes. I’m not “against” the interest but am surprised by it. Does the team really want to just give up on Adam LaRoche that quickly? Do they really think Cespedes could play in the majors in 2012?
- Well, there goes one of my Nats-trade candidates; the Angels acquired catcher Chris Iannetta from the Rockies for prospect Tyler Chatwood. My working theory was that the Angels, who have too many outfielders and especially two many guys who can play center field, would be open to trading one of them (specifically Peter Bourjos) to the Nats for a catcher prospect. Maybe it still can happen. Of course, Rizzo actually has to be in the country in order to make deals (when this trade went down, Rizzo reportedly was in the D.R. scouting Cespedes).
- Its just a MLBtraderumors chat, but Tim Dierkes is well respected, at least in my opinion. He has the Nats as potential FA suiters for most every major name. Edwin Jackson, Mark Buehrle, Cespedes, Fielder and Pujols, even Jimmy Rollins. Geeze.
New Labor Deal Items
- The new CBA seems almost custom-written to drive out the Tampa Bay Rays. This scout.com article summarizes it nicely. I wonder what the Tampa ownership group said about these negotiations as they were going on. Clearly their methods of gaining advantages through player development and stockpiling draft picks are now obsolete.
- Jim Callis reports via twitter but captured here some more restrictive items about the draft we’re finding out.
- Teams in the 13 smallest markets now enter a Competitive Lottery for picks. A quick analysis of the 13 teams selected (from Ben Goessling’s article: the Diamondbacks, Orioles, Indians, Royals, Athletics, Pirates, Padres, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Marlins, Brewers) almost identically mirrors the 13 smallest teams by MSA (in smallest to largest order; Milwaukee, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Baltimore, St. Louis, San Diego, Minneapolis, Seattle, Phoenix). The only deviations are the Athletics and Marlins, who would easily be amongst the smallest markets in baseball once you isolate Oakland from San Francisco’s MSA, and Miami from Ft.Lauderdale. Tangotiger posted an interesting discussion on the same topic (where in the comments I posted this same analysis) on his blog here.
General News; Baseball and other.
- It looks like the NBA has finally gotten its act together, announcing a tentative deal to salvage the season on Nov 26th.
- An interesting take on the Bill James “game score” statistic. (click here for a list of the 20-best scores in the last 70 years). Highest ever recorded: an 18-inning shutout pitched by Carl Hubbel scoring a 127 game score. Kerry Wood’s 20-k 1-hitter is the highest score in the last 25 years, scoring 105. This was also the highest-scoring 9-inning game in baseball history. My initial guess on the best ever game pitched would be Harvey Haddix’s 12-inning perfect game, lost in the 13th inning. Here’s the box: it scored a 107. The highest ever recorded Nationals game score? John Patterson in 2005 pitched a 4-hit shutout with 13 K’s, worth a score of 92. Strasburg’s 14-K debut was worth a 75, though interestingly his final 2011 start (6 innings of 1-hit ball over the Marlins with 10K’s) earned a 78. There’s about 10 games out there in the 80s range, including an 88 that I can’t possibly think who could have thrown. Is anyone a baseball-reference subscriber? I use the site multiple times per day; I should probably register and pay for my time.
- From the great blogger TangoTiger, an Expos Tribute video.
- From another great blogger Rob Neyer, a news item about the future of baseball in the Portland, OR area. Portland does not have a single pro baseball team in the area, not even a short-season or Indy league team, despite being roughly the same size population wise as the MLB cities of Cleveland and Cincinnati, and being larger than Kansas City and Milwaukee.