Tagged: Mike Rizzo

The Second Half

Good morning Nats fans!!!

Well, we are finally through easily the hardest 4 days I have endured all season. Don’t get me wrong, i’m not complaining, because normally i’ve viewed the All-Star Break as a, well, break from Nats baseball for a myriad of reasons, although I have always loved them. Now, I am incredibly excited for the second half to begin, and there is no shortage of storylines going into the second half. This team has proven itself in the first half that they are going to be around, if not on top, for the long haul. Here are some big storylines for the Nats as they are set to face the Marlins in a 4 game wrap around set tonight, with Jordan Zimmermann facing Josh Johnson:

Drew Storen: The Nats 43 Save Closer of last season is going to make his return from Bone Chip surgery in a day or so. Davey has been on record saying he may not automatically make the flip-flop of Tyler Clippard and him. Davey is a big continuity guy, so I cannot say I am surprised Davey said that. The key is going to be how Storen is when he returns. If his rehab stats are any indication, it looks like he’s going to be just fine.

Jayson Werth: The Nats big money Right Fielder will be returning in roughly a month, maybe less. These moves are going to force the Nats to make some tough decisions with players. Does Tyler Moore get demoted, or does he take Xavier Nady’s spot as the Righty Bat off the bench? Another interesting move is going to be where Davey bats him. Bryce Harper could be moved down to maybe 5 or 6 and Werth could be their 2 hitter with Morse and LaRoche healthy, which is probably what i would do. If i’m Davey, my card probably looks like this:

1) Espinosa 2B
2) Werth RF
3) Zimmerman 3B
4) LaRoche 1B
5) Morse LF
6) Harper CF
7) Desmond SS
8) Flores/Solano C
9) Pitcher

Imagine that lineup, especially with the way Desmond is hitting, batting him 7th? Wow, that would be fun. Of course, I prefer a righty/lefty balance, and Davey could go with the hot hand with Desi in the middle. Hell, Davey could bat LaRoche 6 and Harper 5. It’s a fun issue  to have.

Trade Deadline: Does Mike Rizzo deal for another Starter to take the place of Stephen Strasburg once shut down, and would later take the place of Edwin Jackson if he decides to sign elsewhere, or does he call someone up, like a John Lannan or maybe hope Chien-Ming Wang puts it together? Personally, I don’t believe Rizzo wants to bring up Lannan, and I think he wants to deal the two guys I just mentioned, and with the prospect of guys like Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Zack Greinke, Wandy Rodriguez, along with some second tier Starters available, I think Rizzo believes he has some better options out there, with an idea of what he would have to part with.

Bench Players: Chad Tracy and Xavier Nady will be returning as well, and will (hopefully) be 100%. Tracy was a very good Left Handed Bat off the bench when he was healthy, and him and Bernadina is a nice combo of power and speed guys to have. Nady’s wrist has been  barking, so if he gets that taken care of he could provide a nice boost along with Tyler Moore.

The Nats start a stretch tonight of 13 straight games against Miami (4),  New York (3), Atlanta (3), and New York (3) again. The Nats have to pick it up against the Marlins, since they were swept the last series they played them, and they need to continue their play against Atlanta and they need to take advantage of the incredibly unfortunate New York Mets, whom I only root against when they play the Nats. Otherwise, I want the Mets to continue proving me right, as they have all year.

This is an important stretch for the Nats, and they need to realize that and capitalize on it.

I have all the faith in the world that they will.

GO NATS!!!!

-Nick

Injuries and Perspective

Good Morning Nats Fans!

We sit here on a Saturday Morning with the Nats coming off a 7-3 win over the Reds, and 20-12, 1/2 a game ahead of the 20-13 Atlanta Braves, and with their fair share of warts. One of the bigger ones recently is the loss of Jayson Werth to a broken wrist, his expected return time being about 3 months (12 weeks). Naturally, the loss of Werth has pushed Xavier Nady and Roger Bernadina into the starting picture because of Bryce Harper’s move over to Right Field, and for some reason, the idea of Tyler Moore being put out there daily is a tad crazy, but I digress. Now, this unfortunate injury spurs one big thing: trade rumors, namely involving outfielders.

Okay, I’ve seen everything you all have seen, dear readers. Peter Bourjos is on the bench for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with the emergence of Mike Trout, to go along with his .192/.259/.288 slash line with a homer and nine RBI. He’s a speedy, 24 year old Center Fielder who could leadoff for the Nats, thus dropping Ian Desmond in the lineup. Bourjos does have a hip problem, and will undergo surgery after this season. As good of a player Bourjos is, his acquisition causes some problems. It’s not as though RIGHT NOW the Nats have lost either Mike Morse or Jayson Werth for the entire season (and with Werth’s comments about essentially crushing Phillies fans hopes and dreams, he may be back earlier than 12 weeks), so when one/both of them come back, what do you do? Sure, right NOW Bryce Harper is .233/0 HR/3 RBI/.333/.372 right now, but we’re talking about August for Werth’s return and June(ish) for Morse’s return. You can handle Morse’s return easily- Nady/Bernie to the bench, Ankiel still in CF and Harper in RF- but what do you do when Werth comes back? You’re probably NOT gonna demote Harper, and you can’t trade Ankiel because he’s a matchup guy who’s going to be out there 3 of 5 nights a week in Center. The even bigger issue is this: what do you do next year if you get Bourjos?

In my opinion, the Bourjos idea ONLY works if the Nats don’t hold onto Adam LaRoche. There is an option in LaRoche’s contract for 2013, which, with the way he’s playing right now (.333/.429/.588 with 6 HR and 23 RBI) I don’t really blame them if they DID pick up that option, because he’s probably on pace for a pretty big year, so he may not want them to pick up that option, because if he keeps up this pace, he could probably get 4 years on the open market based on his offense after this year AND his defense. So with that said, acquiring Bourjos- or ANY other Center Fielder for that matter- would mean LaRoche walks away. What would happen then is Morse, an infielder by trade, would move down to First Base, where he was serviceable last year, Bryce Harper goes into Left and Jayson Werth is in Right. If you ask me, either way, the Nats are in a very good position, because the Outfield can be Morse/Harper/Werth OR Harper/Bourjos or Span/Werth. Either way, they’re in a great position if you ask me.

Another interesting dilemma the Nats are facing, and soon, is Chien Ming Wang. Ross Detwiler has been just stellar since being handed the 5th starters spot the way he was. Remember, this is coming from a guy who didn’t want Detwiler is the rotation. Period. And I have to admit, I was….wr….wroo…..wrong *gasps for air.* What I’m trying to say is, the Nats cannot trade Lannan (seemingly) why not try to trade Wang, and keep the rotation as is, because if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Okay, now I know what you’re saying, and I get it. The Nats invested a lot of time and a considerable amount of money into his recovery period with a few one year contracts as he rehabbed his surgically repaired soldier. He wasn’t horrible last year, and projected well as a #5 starter this season…until he busted his hamstring in Spring Training. Now, I realize it was never Ross’ job to keep, but I really don’t know how you justify taking Detwiler out of the rotation. I mean, he’s 3-2 with a 2.10 ERA, and would you like to know the most EARNED RUNS he’s allowed this year? Would you? Really? Okay, I’ll tell you. 3. THREE. THREE EARNED RUNS. And he’s only done it TWICE. Every other start: 0-1-0-1. Yup. He should TOTALLY get pulled from the rotation. (For those of you who don’t know, that was sarcastic.) It’s going to be really tough to justify to me and a lot of other people that taking out Det and plugging in Wang is a good idea.

The bottom line here is that, as fans, we need some perspective. Just because our two top outfielders are hurt does not mean we run out there and trade for someone. For the first time in a really long time of Nats baseball, they actually have almost all their holes filled. They may even have their leadoff hitter in Ian Desmond and their everyday Center Fielder in Bryce Harper. Hell, Adam LaRoche may even be the long term first base option!

Point is, enjoy the team as is, because they’re pretty damn fun to watch!

GO NATS!

-Nick

Leading Off for the Nationals…Gerardo Parra?

Good Morning Nats Fans!

Reports surfaced February 25th (last Saturday) that the Nationals have interest in Arizona Diamondbacks Left Fielder Gerardo Parra. Rumors and and speculation has been running rampant since the D’Backs signed former Twin Jason Kubel to a 2 year/ $15M deal, which left many people scratching their heads. So, with that said, why would the Nats have interest in this guy if a Defending NL West Championship team doesn’t want to start him?

For one, he’s versatile. He can play all 3 Outfield positions, and batted .292 with 8 homers, 46 RBI, 15 Steals, a .357 OBP and .427 SLG in 141 Games. Kubel is definitely more of a power threat, which could be what they’re looking for in a Left Fielder. They might also have been using Parra the wrong way. I think that if the Nats get him, they should use him to leadoff and in Center.

I don’t think it’s a terrible idea. The Nats only other leadoff option that’s Major League Ready is Ian Desmond. Everyone knows my opinion on him. Parra stole 15 bases in 2011, and had a .357 OBP, .059 pts higher thatn Desi’s .298 OBP. Parra’s Slugging also kills Desmond’s (.427 to .358, a difference of .079 pts). If you want to look at things statistically, when your only other option is Desmond, go after Parra. Parra’s also a Left Handed Hitter, something the Nationals don’t have enough of. Your Lefty locks are LaRoche and Espinosa (who’s a switch, but let’s be honest, he’s a Lefty 80% of the time) if Harper doesn’t make the team. If Harper makes the team AND they get Parra, all of a sudden, their lineup is pretty balanced (1 Parra {L}, 2 Werth {R} 3 Zim {R} 4 LaRoche {L} 5 Morse {R} 6 Harper {L} 7 Espinosa {S} 8 Desmond {R} 9 Pitcher). Now, I may have the 4/5 spots wrong, but I think that’s a pretty solid lineup regardless.

Parra could defnitely help this team. The only issue is that Center Field is his “worst” position. That’s where he would most likely play. The other issue is what Kevin Towers would ask Mike Rizzo for in return. John Lannan? Roger Bernadina? Ross Detwiler? I think Bernie makes the most sense. I don’t want Lannan traded.

BOTTOM LINE: If the Nats can get Parra, they should. It’s either that, or a 2011 platoon, and pray Michael Bourn, BJ Upton and Shane Victorina sign extensions with the Braves, Rays or Phillies, respectively.

GO NATS!

-Nick

Darvish is Done…on to the Prince.

Good Morning Nats and Baseball Fans alike!!

Well, it’s finally done. The Texas Rangers and Yu Darvish agreed to terms on a 6yr/$60M deal roughly half an hour before the Wednesday 5pm deadline. The Rangers complete what will be a $111.7M payout to a 25 year old Japanese phenom who is half Iranian and 6’5″. Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, and even Bobby Valentine all have had nothing but great things to say about his talent, and from what I’ve seen, it’s tough for me to disagree with them. He can get it up to 95 on his Fastball, has a filthy high 60s curve, and a nice n nasty slider along with a changeup and whatever else a Japanese Pitcher throws (they’re always rumored to throw 52745 different pitches). The Rangers (seemingly) got better with this move, and will move Neftali Feliz out of the bullpen, and Alexi Ogando goes back to the bullpen with this move. Sure, Darvish is unproven. Bobby V saw him up close, and I wouldn’t discount his opinion, although I’m sure he could give a #@!* is he’s wrong, since he’s competing with the Rangers, and isn’t a TV analyst anymore.

If you follow me on twitter (@NickNats90), you’ve noticed that basically the entire offseason I’ve been tweeting/retweeting ANYTHING related to the Nationals, Rangers, and Prince Fielder. Now that Darvish is signed, we can finally focus on Prince and his next home 100%. The Market for Prince has been incredibly slow to develop, only going as far as “team X is interested at their price” or “this team is the favorite.” Needless to say, it’s been ridiculously maddening, as this has gone on for MONTHS now. Anyway, let’s move on, shall we?

The Rangers, especially GM Jon Daniels and CEO Nolan Ryan have both said basically the same thing: “it’s very unlikely we sign him.” Now, let’s look at reasons why they WOULD say that. Josh Hamilton is a Free Agent after the 2012 season, and would demand big money on the Free Agent Market. Nelson Cruz will need an extension at some point, along with their young arms. They just invested $111.7M in Yu Darvish, and Prince will at least demand $170M. Do they want to (or can they even) pay BOTH Hamilton and Prince? I’m not so sure about that. Although that huge TV deal they signed with Fox makes them a bit of a dark horse. That right there is a big reason why the would be LYING about not signing him. Mitch Moreland is not comparable at all to Prince, although they are high on him, and want him to produce. They probably would also get 40-50 Home Runs every year from him in that ballpark.

Bottom Line Question: Do I think they sign him?: I think they can, but I don’t know if they will. I just don’t know.

Now, obviously, the Nats are interested, although Mr Close-to- Vest himself Mike Rizzo has said that they are happy with Adam LaRoche, BUT they have had conversations with Scott Boras, who they have an amazing relationship with. Many people in the industry see the Nationals as the favorite to sign Fielder, and are currently re-negotiating their TV deal with MASN, and could double or triple the money coming to them. That money is going to be used (in my eyes) for two things: to pay Ryan Zimmerman (Free Agent after 2013) and to sign Prince Fielder. Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if Zimmerman is telling Rizzo, “sign Prince, and we’ll talk extension whenever you want.” And why wouldn’t he? With two years of having Adam Dunn, a lefty power hitter, hitting behind him, Zimmerman batted .299 with 58 HRs and 191 RBI. Prince is probably an even better hitter than Dunn, and I think Zimmerman and Werth with definitely benefit from him. Now, I know a lot of people are rumbling “they’re gonna let Zim walk and that’s why they drafted Rendon!” Okay, so then explain this to me: WHY are the re-negotiating their contract with MASN…NOW? With Prince sitting their on the Market, and two years away from Zim’s walk year? They wanna have both. Rendon will probably take over at 2nd base or somewhere else. There’s no reason for them to talk extension with Zim, re-negotiate their MASN TV contract (where they actually HIRED someone familiar with TV contracts to negotiate for them) AND acquire Gio Gonzalez all in one offseason. Sorry, it just doesn’t.

Bottom Line Question: Will they sign him?: Yes. I think they do.

Don’t count out the Miami MLB Back..er Miami Marlins, sorry. If Prince backs off his no-trade demand, I think they’ll give him the money he wants.

Right now, it’s the Rangers vs the Nationals. It’s gonna be fun, and I just hope it ends soon.

Go Nats!!

-Nick

Darvish is Done…on to the Prince.

Good Morning Nats and Baseball Fans alike!!

Well, it’s finally done. The Texas Rangers and Yu Darvish agreed to terms on a 6yr/$60M deal roughly half an hour before the Wednesday 5pm deadline. The Rangers complete what will be a $111.7M payout to a 25 year old Japanese phenom who is half Iranian and 6’5″. Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, and even Bobby Valentine all have had nothing but great things to say about his talent, and from what I’ve seen, it’s tough for me to disagree with them. He can get it up to 95 on his Fastball, has a filthy high 60s curve, and a nice n nasty slider along with a changeup and whatever else a Japanese Pitcher throws (they’re always rumored to throw 52745 different pitches). The Rangers (seemingly) got better with this move, and will move Neftali Feliz out of the bullpen, and Alexi Ogando goes back to the bullpen with this move. Sure, Darvish is unproven. Bobby V saw him up close, and I wouldn’t discount his opinion, although I’m sure he could give a #@!* is he’s wrong, since he’s competing with the Rangers, and isn’t a TV analyst anymore.

If you follow me on twitter (@NickNats90), you’ve noticed that basically the entire offseason I’ve been tweeting/retweeting ANYTHING related to the Nationals, Rangers, and Prince Fielder. Now that Darvish is signed, we can finally focus on Prince and his next home 100%. The Market for Prince has been incredibly slow to develop, only going as far as “team X is interested at their price” or “this team is the favorite.” Needless to say, it’s been ridiculously maddening, as this has gone on for MONTHS now. Anyway, let’s move on, shall we?

The Rangers, especially GM Jon Daniels and CEO Nolan Ryan have both said basically the same thing: “it’s very unlikely we sign him.” Now, let’s look at reasons why they WOULD say that. Josh Hamilton is a Free Agent after the 2012 season, and would demand big money on the Free Agent Market. Nelson Cruz will need an extension at some point, along with their young arms. They just invested $111.7M in Yu Darvish, and Prince will at least demand $170M. Do they want to (or can they even) pay BOTH Hamilton and Prince? I’m not so sure about that. Although that huge TV deal they signed with Fox makes them a bit of a dark horse. That right there is a big reason why the would be LYING about not signing him. Mitch Moreland is not comparable at all to Prince, although they are high on him, and want him to produce. They probably would also get 40-50 Home Runs every year from him in that ballpark.

Bottom Line Question: Do I think they sign him?: I think they can, but I don’t know if they will. I just don’t know.

Now, obviously, the Nats are interested, although Mr Close-to- Vest himself Mike Rizzo has said that they are happy with Adam LaRoche, BUT they have had conversations with Scott Boras, who they have an amazing relationship with. Many people in the industry see the Nationals as the favorite to sign Fielder, and are currently re-negotiating their TV deal with MASN, and could double or triple the money coming to them. That money is going to be used (in my eyes) for two things: to pay Ryan Zimmerman (Free Agent after 2013) and to sign Prince Fielder. Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if Zimmerman is telling Rizzo, “sign Prince, and we’ll talk extension whenever you want.” And why wouldn’t he? With two years of having Adam Dunn, a lefty power hitter, hitting behind him, Zimmerman batted .299 with 58 HRs and 191 RBI. Prince is probably an even better hitter than Dunn, and I think Zimmerman and Werth with definitely benefit from him. Now, I know a lot of people are rumbling “they’re gonna let Zim walk and that’s why they drafted Rendon!” Okay, so then explain this to me: WHY are the re-negotiating their contract with MASN…NOW? With Prince sitting their on the Market, and two years away from Zim’s walk year? They wanna have both. Rendon will probably take over at 2nd base or somewhere else. There’s no reason for them to talk extension with Zim, re-negotiate their MASN TV contract (where they actually HIRED someone familiar with TV contracts to negotiate for them) AND acquire Gio Gonzalez all in one offseason. Sorry, it just doesn’t.

Bottom Line Question: Will they sign him?: Yes. I think they do.

Don’t count out the Miami MLB Back..er Miami Marlins, sorry. If Prince backs off his no-trade demand, I think they’ll give him the money he wants.

Right now, it’s the Rangers vs the Nationals. It’s gonna be fun, and I just hope it ends soon.

Go Nats!!

-Nick

An update on the Nats offseason…

Good morning, Nats fans!

Last Friday, I posted a list of potential Free Agent Targets for the Nats, what I think it takes to sign them, and how I think they would fit. Since then, there have been multiple reports by specific reporters and websites that the Nats are going to make a
“Major Push” for one specific Pitcher. That pitcher? Roy Oswalt. Like I said last week, he’s 34, coming off a back injury riddled 2011, and his $16M option was declined by the Philadelphia Phillies. Another thing I neglected to mention: with the emergence of Vance Worley,and the rumors that the Phillies are also on the verge of signing Ryan Madson to a 4 yr/$44M deal, I think it is highly unlikely he has a “P” on his cap next year. Mike Rizzo mentioned in his Chien-Ming Wang conference call that he wanted a guy who is “able to pitch 200 innings many, many times in your career” (courtesy of Ben Goessling of MASNsports.com, link). Goessling mentions how well that describes Mark Buerhle, as Rizzo also stated, in the same post, “it’s not about having the best stuff.” It seems, though, that if the Nats were to order their “veteran starter” targets (i’m excluding CJ Wilson because he’s only been a Starter for 2 full years.), it would probably be Oswalt #1 and Buerhle #2.

I say this because Buerhle is basically 2 years younger, and could command as many as 3 guaranteed years (and, based on his track record, who could blame him?). Buehrle has never been injured, never pitched less than 200 Innings in a year, and has posted single digit wins once. In a contract meeting, needless to say, the Nats wouldn’t really have much leverage, Buerhle’s track record speaks for itself. Oswalt is much different, however, and here’s why. Oswalt missed 10 starts in 2011 because of back issues, has had multiple sub-200 inning seasons, and is 34. If I’m Mike Rizzo, I would give Oswalt 2 guaranteed years, and maybe a club option. You could install incentives into the deal for making 30 starts, pitching over 200 innings, winning 15 games, etc. Oswalt also does not have an protests to signing in D.C. According to Adam Kilgore, in his post today in Nationals journal, Link here, takes us back to 2010, where he states, “In 2010, when he pitched for the Astros, Oswalt told the Post he would waive a no-trade clause to accept a deal to Washington.” With that said, while we do know Buerhle is ‘playing the field,’ we do NOT specifically know how likely it is he signs elsewhere. With Ozzie Guillen in Florida now, there’s a chance that he signs there because of the comfort level with his skipper of 6 years, and one where we won a World Series in 2005. Buerhle, however, is 24-6 with a 3.34 ERA vs the NL, which makes him the winningest Interleague Pitcher, period. Being an 11 year resident of the American League, Buehrle could see the NL as a new challenge for an already pretty successful career. He is a Missouri native, but it does not look as though there is a spot on his hometown St. Louis Cardinals. He’s already met with the Marlins as well, so we’ll have to see where that meeting goes.

Let me reiterate: I think Buehrle is the better option, because of his age, his consistency, and his durability. However, I do believe that Oswalt is not a bad option, and would probably be easier to sign. Sure, he’s not much older than Buehrle, and he does throw harder, has won 20 games twice, and has vocalized his lack of protest to signing in D.C., and he could probably come more at the Nats price than Roy Oswalt’s. There also seems to be much less chatter on who is interested in Oswalt than who is interested in Buehrle, who has been linked to the Nats, Marlins, Yankees, and White Sox. I have heard that the Yankees may be interested, but I have also heard Brian Cashman may re-sign Freddie Garcia and “call it an offseason,” most likely because of their abundance of young pitchers. I think the Yankees are more likely to make some trades, don’t ask me why, but I do.

Needless to say, once this CBA thing with is finished, the offseason will probably heat up, although it could heat up much sooner than one would think.

Go Nats!

-Nick