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What do the Nats need most?

Sep 9, 2010, 12:00 PM EDT


File photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Livan Hernandez will be back in 2011. Will Adam Dunn?

A scout from an American League team was quizzing me about the state of the Nationals the other night and asked me what I thought the club's biggest area of need would be this winter.

I paused to consider the question before responding with a simple answer: "Depends on what they do with Adam Dunn."

The Dunn decision, of course, will shape the Nationals' entire offseason plan. If they don't re-sign him, their No. 1 priority has to be finding a halfway suitable replacement, both at first base and in the fourth spot in their lineup. But if they do bring Dunn back, the answer is less certain.

What would the Nats' top offseason priority be at that point? Adding another big bat to the mix? Finding a new leadoff hitter? Signing a proven starting pitcher? Bolstering the bullpen with a reliable arm?

I'm not sure there's a clear answer in there. Another legitimate bat for the heart of the order — someone who could bat fifth or sixth and perhaps play right field — would be a welcome addition, but there are only so many of those types out there.Read more ยป

  1. Richard - Sep 9, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    You've summed it up as well as I could. They've done a good job constructing a foundation and giving themselves options. I think they need to sign Dunn. I'd love to understand there thinking re Dunn. Boz wrote a good column this morning, too. But they offer Teixeira $180M last year but can't see their way to giving Dunn 4 years. Look at Teixeira's numbers. Dunn is at least comparable. I don't get it or don't agree with them, I guess.

  2. Sunderland - Sep 9, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    I see an obvious need for an outfielder.At best, we come out of camp next year with our starting and bench outfielders as:WillinghamNyjerBernadinaMorseMaxwellThat's weak. And if one of those five shifts to first base, then we're even weaker.A true centerfielder / leadoff guy would be ideal. Great defense, high OBP, steals with a high rate of success.Nyjer circa July 2009 (but with a better arm).Remember how he energized our offense?Filling that spot with the right guy would help a ton. I'm just not sure that guy is out there.There's only a few of them in the NL now.

  3. Stew Magnuson - Sep 9, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    I agree with the statement above from Sunderland. The organization as a whole doesn't seem to have a lot of depth in the outfield. If there are some legit outfield prospects in the farm system, (other than Harper) I haven't heard about them. Over the course of a season, one or two outfielders may go on the DL (Or get suspended!).I understand The Plan and why they want to draft as many pitchers as possible, but one consequence might be a lack of depth in other positions. We need more outfielders who can hit. I've sat through so many games where the Nats just can't muster up any offense or get runners on base in.And the NAts need a legit leadoff man. Morgan seems like he should be a good lead off hitter, but he simply wasn't this year. Bonehead base running plays, swinging at the first pitch. Terrible.

  4. Sue Dinem - Sep 9, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    A legitimate, power-hitting, non-platoon RF. Morse is the RH version of Trot Nixon w/o the defensive prowess.

  5. Deacon Drake - Sep 9, 2010 at 12:33 PM

    It depends how you rate Bernadina and Morse. Morse has the bat, a good enough arm, but probably not the range to be more than an average right fielder. Bernadina has some bat, great speed, but lacks the focus and consistency need to start every day.I'm not sure that Bernadina will fare much better than some of the other aborted center field experiments. Retaining Dunn, the Nats should be looking for a good center fielder (don't over-invest in a flash like Andres Torres, or panic and go after Rajai Davis), another corner bat to work with or replace Willingham, and continue to platoon Morse and Bernadina.The infield, Zimm, Dunn, Desmond, placeholder (Kennedy?), Espinosa, and utility backup (possibly also Kennedy) is set with Ramos and Rodriguez catching.Another shutdown bullpen guy would be good to take the burden off Clippard to pitch every day.

  6. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    Carl Crawford. That's who we need. (And for the record, not re-signing Dunn would be a blunder.)

  7. Ben - Sep 9, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    While I hesitate to recommend another bidding war against the Red Sox and Yankees, I think the real need here is for an exciting top of the order guy, who's also an outfield talent. Carl Crawford is about a year and a half younger than Dunn, he's an established presence, and he'll be worth every penny they pay him for at least the next 3-4 seasons. Sure, the end of that contract will be a drag as he slows down, but I think they'll get more use out of him for $100M than they would've out of Teixeira for $180M. I think we all agree you need one more consistent guy who scares opponents when he's on-base during these next couple of years. There are cheaper options, certainly — but nearly all of them are older than Crawford, and if you're going to sign a guy, he needs to be 30 or younger to be around long enough for a competitive run. If the arms stay healthy and improve, I think he could be the linchpin of a team that competes in 12-14. Willingham played a good bit of right field before, and it's easy to shift him over and stick Bernadina in center, and Morgan to a backup role.Needless to say, in the absence of Strasburg and Dunn, expect to see attendance numbers collapse without a big signing.

  8. Anonymous8 - Sep 9, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    Sunderland, if you go in with Maxwell on the roster, you might as well pencil in 90 losses again. The weak bench has cost this 2010 team. This team's biggest problem in 2010 was the injuries like to Marquis and Strasburg and Willingham, but injuries happen. How can you explain away a bench of weak hitters like Nieves, Harris and Maxwell and Nyjer who is a starting Centerfielder/Leadoff with a .316 OBP.They need to re-sign Dunn and put together a great bench that doesn't include the names Maxwell, Harris, and Nieves—all great guys but this is about WINNING!

  9. Tcostant - Sep 9, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    I true #1 starter always helps, I posted this a few days ago but is still on the mark here: saw this on SI.com in the Daily Scope "Various outlets in Japan have been reporting different teams scouting pitching phenom Yu Darvish, who's said to be an even better prospect than Daisuke Matsuzaka was, reports Mike Silva of NYBD. The Yankees, Mets, Rangers and Rays are among many who have taken a peek."Me: I saw this guy pitch in the World Baseball Classic in March 2009 in San Diego, I was at all six games. The guy is a #1 starter in the bigs – easy! Yu was the best pitcher I saw there and that includes bonus baby Aroldis Chapman who I saw there too.If the Nats can get this guy, they should do it. He is very young (around 24) and is big league ready now. Go get him Nationals. Please!!!

  10. court - Sep 9, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    If they don't bring Dunn back, hopefully they get a cheaper defensive option like Pena or Lee and then spend the money on Crawford or Werth. While Morse has looked good, I think he's still a bench player or a possible platoon guy. I'd like to see Bernadina start in CF with Nyjer coming off the bench in a Willie Harris-type role. I'd also like Rizzo to go get Jorge de la Rosa. While we have a lot of pitching options, we don't have too many top-of-the-rotation guys or leftys (especially if Olsen is gone). So if Dunn is gone the roster could look like this:Crawford LFDesmond SSZim 3BPena 1BWillingham RFBernadina CFEspinosa 2BPudge CJZimde la RosaLivoMarquisLannanKennedy INFMorse 1B-OFRamos CGonzales INFMorgan OFMaxwell/HarrisStorenClippardBurnettMockBallesterEnglish/Slaten

  11. joemktg - Sep 9, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    Everything is relative.Dunn's signing dictates everything. So assuming Dunn is signed (is there a better first baseman for this club both professionally and personally?), then be strong up the middle. And that's weakness #1: CF. Need a strong arm, and Nyjer's arm is just not strong enough. Sad but true. You can afford to miss 1 of the 5 basic tools (hitting with power), but not 2 (arm strength).Weakness #1A is RF. Pick one: Bernadina, Morse, or platoon. Doesn't matter: that's the spot in the lineup where you need to come close to matching Zim's numbers (especially if your CF bat is average at best).Solve Dunn, then tackle CF. The CF solution dictates direction for RF.

  12. Ryan - Sep 9, 2010 at 12:58 PM

    I agree with Anonymous8, besides Dunn, the glaring weak spot of this team is the bench. Guys like Maxwell, Harris and Pudge (hopefully he'll be a bench guy next year and not the starter) are decent in the field, but scare nobody with a bat. Right now, the Nats pinch hit for the pitcher with guys who hit no better than the guy they're batting for.

  13. Mark - Sep 9, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    After the problems with Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford is the #1 potential Free Agent and probably will stay in the AL East.No need dreaming about Crawford. A trade for a CF would be the way to go and throw Detwiler or Lannan into the deal along with Maxwell and Nyjer.

  14. Jimmy - Sep 9, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    I would take a chance on a former Expo and now an injured Cleveland Indian (Grady Sizemore) He's still only 28 yrs old and could bounce back. You get your lead off hitter and CF in one move. Worth looking into and consideration!

  15. Tcostant - Sep 9, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    Jimmy – I like the Sizemore idea :)

  16. Doc - Sep 9, 2010 at 1:16 PM

    There is little logic in not signing Dunn. If they don't, they will still have to go out find a similar body for 1B, and for the same price or greater.The RF platoon of Morse and Bernadina came wtih some pretty good stats this year. If that stays the same then finding a good CF who has top of the batting order potential should be a priority. Morgan can only get worse. As good as he was the second half of last year, he was a liability this year. CF's with leadoff potential are a rare commidity so other adjustments may have to be made, with Bernadina in CF.The bench needs an overhall. Gonzo makes a very good sub; he gets a few hits, and he was better in the field than Guzman or Kennedy. Harris needs to be replaced.Assuming that the Nats continue to play better defence, like they have in the 2nd half this year, then everything points to a more competitive season next year.

  17. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    "It's rare that a 90-loss team heads into the winter with no glaring holes, but that might just be the case for the Nationals … if they re-sign Dunn."They do have glaring holes. The issue with the original question from the AL scout isn't whether they have holes or not; it's determining what the biggest hole is. And, I agree, that's a tough question.

  18. Richard - Sep 9, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    Re the option of making Morgan a bench player, #1) Rizzo seems totally against that, and #2) I don't think Morgan could stand it. He'd probably be disruptive if not in an everyday, leadoff role. Kinda like Olsen when he's not starting. Not willing to subordinate themselves and their giant egos for the sake of the team, I don't think.

  19. N. Cognito - Sep 9, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    A leadoff hitter.And, even with a rebound season, Nyjer is not the answer.

  20. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    The most important thing the Nats need is an above average glove at 1st Base. Dunn immobility hurts the team more than most die hard fans will admit. I'd like them to go after Carlos Pena. I know his batting average is down, but he should bounce back some. He is fantastic in the field and well respected in the TB clubhouse.It is generally a weak free agent class. Besides Crawford, Werth and Lee there are no obvious "impact" players available. Barring a trade, I don't see the opportunity for other major changes until 2012

  21. Anonymous8 - Sep 9, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    Mark @ 9:00 is right. The Nats will bid on Carl Crawford and have no chance to get him. This is the year for the Nats to trade a couple of young arms (not named JZim or Strasburg) to get a Centerfielder. This years Free Agent market is not going to be good. The relievers are the best of the picks in the FA market so the Nats can improve there.Jayson Werth would be an interesting consideration for RF as Morse could then be that player to strengthen the bench.

  22. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 1:32 PM

    Gotta sign Dunn. Not only for all the reasons articulated above, but because Zimmerman–who is not exactly a loud-mouthed complainer–has actually spoken up to say he wants Dunn here, and I don't want to imagine a future with an unhappy Zimmerman quietly stewing in the dugout.Gotta dump Morgan (after he gets a thorough psych evaluation, as a favor to him more than to anyone else) and get a true everyday centerfielder. Preferably one who can reliably get some hits.Gotta dump Harris. Pains me to say that, as I truly respect his work ethic, but his time is over.

  23. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    Does the current team have any passion for winning? Does it need a shakeup? The heart of the order — Zimmerman, Dunn, Willingham, Rodriguez — seems soft. You'd like to have a beer with 'em; they're very likeable, good guys; but would you want them next to you battling for wins? Over the last two years the team has done very little. Maybe that's Rizzo's problem with Dunn. I pay this guy a truckload of money and what do I get? The team seem content with losing, except for Desmond and maybe some of the young guys.

  24. Josh - Sep 9, 2010 at 1:53 PM

    I don't know if I can agree with Mark that the Nats go into the offseason with no glaring holes if they resign Dunn. In fact, I think the issue is the opposite: they have too many holes for them to choose just one. Center field is an issue; so is right field. SS and 2B look good for now but are still somewhat unproven. 1B might or might not be an issue, depending on Dunn's return. Catcher might or might not be an issue, depending on how Ramos hits in the bigs. The only two positions that look truly good are Zimmerman at 3B and Willingham in LF (and even that could change if Willingham moves to first base).As such, I think it would be a good idea to invest in the pitching, which continues to be so inconsistent that the Nats have yet to win four games in a row this year. Look at the list of pitchers you said would be clogging up the rotation next year: Jordan Zimmermann, Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis, John Lannan, Yunesky Maya, Ross Detwiler, Craig Stammen, Luis Atilano, J.D. Martin and "others." Of them, I think we can probably knock Atilano and Martin off the starters list, barring injury. The same, sadly, is probably true of Stammen, who is better than he looks this year but not too much better. Livan is already regressing and next year doesn't figure to be much better. Marquis will be on the roster but doesn't exactly have me excited as a career 4.50 ERA guy. Lannan… well, he's Lannan, and I don't know if his recent improvement is sustainable although I sure hope it is. Maya and Detwiler are still largely unproven at the major league level. How can you look at this list of starters and possibly think that the Nats FO isn't interested in acquiring better starting pitching over the offseason? Add Strasburg to the mix and it isn't so clear-cut, but as it is there is basically one really good pitcher in the rotation and a lot of maybes, has-beens, never-wases or never-will-bes.

  25. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 2:09 PM

    Austin Kearns is a free agent!!Starting pitching FAs are thin: Jorge De La Rosa, Kuroda, Lilly, Millwood, Pavano, Penny, Javy Vasquez, Westbrook. I'm sure Javy wouldn't mind making it back the NL East. CF Leadoff is the biggest need. Crawford and Crisp are the only viable options there.

  26. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    Wow, that is an extremely optimistic view of the roster. There are at least 3 huge holes to fill out on this team: Centerfield, Corner Outfield and First Base. Even that's assuming that Espinosa is ready for a full season in the majors.Also, listing 10 crappy pitchers doesn't mean any of them should be counted on. Atilano, Stammen and Martin are highly suspect major league starters. Livan is seriously old. Marquis is a back end guy himself, as is Lannan. So, in addition to three new position players, it'd be nice if they added at least one legitimate mid-rotation starter.

  27. Ted Leavengood - Sep 9, 2010 at 2:16 PM

    If they don't sign Dunn, the off-season will be consumed with replacing him and that seems a mistake. There are too many other things that need attention. For a three year deal he is just as much a bridge to whatever better comes down the pike as before. He can still be traded at the deadline.I agree that Crawford is the best target. And after him, John Rauch. I don't know what Minnesota is going to do with all of their relievers, but they have Nathan coming back, Capps and Rauch and that says nothing about guys like Crain who were once closers in waiting. Rauch is a free agent I believe and if the Twins keep Capps, he can probably be had for a reasonable price. He is a good fit and I he seemed like a good clubhouse guy.Crawford would help immensely on the offensive side. And I would rather have Morgan getting 400 at bats behind Bernadina, Morse and Crawford. As bad as Dunn is defensively, he at least compensates with the bat. If the Nationals front office wants a defensive upgrade then trade Willingham. He would fetch something in trade, but to the degree he doesn't it reflects his own inconsistency–poor second half production and often atrocious defense although like Dunn it has improved. Crawford does more for the offense and defense than Willingham and ditto for Morse. I don't think Bernadina is a known commodity yet, but he could grow into a fine center fielder whose defense off-sets his lack of real pop.The pitching is a mess, but since they extended Livan, my guess is they are going with their current rotation however it shakes out next spring: Marquis, Lannan, Livan and then fill in with Maya, Detwiler, Zimmermann and company.

  28. sjm105 - Sep 9, 2010 at 2:20 PM

    Really well thought out posts and I learned a lot, not just from Mark but others as well. Liked the fact that there were no rants about firings or dfa's but actual moves were discussed. I did not see a post keeping Bernadina in left next year but Riggs has said this is his best position, and I think he has done well. I also want to sign Dunn but after reading Boz, I am not sure that will happen. If Bernadina is in left you now have to fix center field and I wold love Crawford (moving Bernadina to center)but believe the posters are correct, he will not come here (unless we overpay by bunches). I think Willingham and a couple of arms might bring a decent prospect but I don't know who is out there. I like the idea of trying to get Sizemore as well. Also agree that Morgan would be an upgrade to Harris as a sub but his attitude/personality could not handle that.I would keep Kennedy and Gonzalez as both have done ok off the bench.Catcher is set, so its really centerfield and Dunn.Would like to think we will have 81 wins next year.

  29. JaneB - Sep 9, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    The Boswell article was making me sick, until the end when he pointed out that there IS NO BETTER OPTION FOR US than Dunn! It's a big fat blazing hole for us if we don't re-sign him. If that is the only move we make, I'm a happy season ticket holder.I agree with Anonymous8 that we need better strength off the bench. Maybe we do that by getting someone better in CF, and we keep Josh and Roger where they are. I agree that, joyful spark as he has been, Nyjer needs a new centerfield to play 81 games in. Or we get Carl Crawford when someone buys Josh from us. That would be lovely. As for the idea that we should even THINK about Crisp, let alone sign him, Anonymous at 10:09 — Yikes! He doesn't belong in our club house. He can't get along with anyone. Great bats, sane heads and big hearts only. Which is why Nyjer probably doesn't fit anymore.Much as I love him, and I really do, Justin Maxwell can't be our bench guy. He can hit in the minors; he hits really well down there; the difference between his bat in AAA and the bigs is too great for it to be the pitching. So maybe get him some head help and he can produce for us consistently. Maybe a grown up pitcher to tide us over till Strasmus Redux. But we'd have to give up something big, probably, to get that. And the big piece we have is Adam Dunn. And I say, no, no, no.For me, the first, second, third-through-tenth priority is SIGN DUNN. He leaves too big a hole, in the line up, in his spirit, and yes even at first base, to trade. I mean, no one would be talking about trading Pujols. why on EARTH would anyone reasonably talk about trading Dunn? I'm not trying to spark a debate on who's better…my point is Dunn is better defensively, right in par in the dinger department, and has a heart that is at least as big and irreplaceable in the clubhouse. I just Do. Not. Get. It. Go Nats!

  30. Theo S. - Sep 9, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    Simple. They need a power-hitting center fielder. Who doesn't over-throw/ignore the cut-off man, get picked off first and knows when to slide. First choice should be Colby Rasmus, assuming he's not another knucklehead. Second choice, Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh, based on their performance in the recent series, should be willing to accept three-four of the Nats' AAAA pitchers in return). Third choice, Vernon Wells. McCutchen could lead off, otherwise bat Espinosa #1, Desmond #2 (speed kills). Unless Bryce Harper really turns out to be Mickey Mantle, the Nats have no center fielder in their system likely to be ready before 2014. And center field is probably the thinnest position in MLB — free agent options are going to be grim.

  31. JayB - Sep 9, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    CF and Lead Off is the biggest hole period. Look at those numbers….how many outs created both at bat and on the bases. Lack of runs scored….amazingly bad stats.So replacing Morgan is job one. I would just move Roger over to CF and then the need is for a Power bat in RF….JUST LIKE LAST YEAR!…..why they did nothing all winter when they knew in December they were through with Dukes still is a wonder to me. Then a Defensive minded 1B with a secondary goal of hitting….that could be someone like Gonzalez in SD and if so then it is a win win ….he can do both. So can a few others on the market. BUT the have to tender Dunn to bet the draft picks…..and he could accept so not trading him at July 31 Deadline is now another huge problem created by this team. Too man self inflicted wounds still by the front office.

  32. raymitten - Sep 9, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    Signing Dunn is the key to everything. They have to do it — if not, everything is going to go south. Carlos Pena is oft injured and no one on the free agent market comes close to Dunn's production. Otherwise I agree with others that they need an impact outfielder. Hammer is a key complementary piece but they really don't have anyone who is better than 'just ok' in the outfield — Bernie, Nyjer the Nutjob, Morse — are all upgrades from the past but not going to take the team anywhere. I love the Carl Crawford idea but practically they aren't going to get anyone that sought after by the Yanks and Sox. The way they've jerked around Dunn isn't going to help them get free agents from elsewhere. I'd get the best impact free agent outfielder I could land, and stay away from reclamation projects on the cheap. Wang hasn't exactly helped the pitching staff this year, has he?

  33. BQ - Sep 9, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    If Dunn is retained, I wouldn't disturb following part of our lineup at all#2 Desmond SS, #3 Ryan 3B, #4 Dunn 1B, #5 Hammer LF, #6 Roger RF/CFOur catcher is pretty much decided to be Ramos n Pudge.Lead off remains the big question mark in our lineup. I prefer trading for one instead of signing a big FA like Crawford who hasn't batted leadoff in years. Someone suggested Sizemore. Any team would love to have that type of lead off hitter but I doubt Indians would be interested. They would rip us off in the trade if they decide to depart with Grady. Why not trade for Ichiro then? RF problem is solved and we won't need lead off hitter for next 10 years. Is Espinosa the answer to 2B? He had a great introduction to majors so far. I am still not sure. Then again, what FA options are available? If he is in the lineup, he should bat 7 before the catcher and after Bernie. If Dunn is not signed, that puts a hole in our lineup at #4. I favor him coming back and batting clean up as usual then going after another FA.I am okay with our projected starting pitchers Zmann, Livan, Lannan, Marquis and most likely Maya. Bullpen can have Ross, Craig, Clip, Storen, Burnett, and maybe Collin with Craig being the bail out RP.So yeah, lead off is the main problem. I trust Rizzo will solve it somehow.

  34. N. Cognito - Sep 9, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    "why they did nothing all winter when they knew in December they were through with Dukes still is a wonder to me."Because they didn't know in December.

  35. BQ - Sep 9, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    Nyjer has pissed off almost everyone on this board, if not by his stats, his behavior did him in. I also supported him until August. But all those stupid plays at the plate, the fight in Miami, press interview about Riggs, and all are just annoying.

  36. rogieshan - Sep 9, 2010 at 3:13 PM

    Yes, it all hinges on Dunn and when the projected contending date is — 2012 or 2013 (Harper's arrival)?If Rizzo decides he can't live with Dunn's defense at 1st, maybe he'll target someone like Lance Berkman (switch hitter with a better glove but less power) over the winter.

  37. BQ - Sep 9, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    Correct me if I am wrong but Lance will be heading back to Houston I believe. That's why he approved his trade to the Yankees on the condition of the team getting him will not pick his 2011 option.http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2009/09/2011-mlb-free-agents.htmlI am looking at all 1B FA and I have to say Dunn seems to be the best choice. After him, I would go after Huff. By signing Dunn, we give something up on defense but having a really good 2B can help us. I am not sure Espinosa is the answer for 2B or will he still be learning the position next season?

  38. Kevin Rusch, Section406 - Sep 9, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    OK, so we need to resign Dunn. I'm firmly in that camp. His defense is bad, but it's not longer statue-like. And you don't replace a bat like that for less than $15M/yr, so stop pretending. Unless you're going to put Derek Jeter at 1b, (he is a free agent, tee hee) you're not going to improve that position.I really liked Nyjer, but he's just been untenable lately. See if he plays winter ball and think about it.So, in a harsh world, what do you think of Bernadina's future? Could this be his career year? (He's 26, which is almost when players peak physically) He's good enough now; if he stays that way, good. I don't think we need bullpen help – looks like some of our failed starters would be fine in the pen. I wouldn't mind picking up Chad Cordero on general principle, but that's a side point.Meanwhile, I do think that the bench is a real opportunity to improve. I don't mind Willie Harris — superb defense and he hits the ball quite hard when he gets a hit. (Almost half of his hits are for extra bases) But we really need fewer automatic outs than Nyjer, Nieves (yes, I like him a lot too. We all know he's a great guy.) It doesn't look like Maxwell will ever make it. (again, too bad. I like him. If you kept him in favor of Harris, I wouldn't complain.) Mench? Please.What I'm looking for off the bench is not so much the deep-ball threat, but someone to hit for the pitcher and is likely to keep the rally alive. High OBP, basically. Think about it – late game, 1 on 2 out, #9 spot up. A homer threat is nice, but I don't know how many times I've thought "just get on so we can get to the top of the order." SO, if you got Crawford, kept Dunn, and had an outfield of Willingham, Crawford, and Bernie/Morse platoon, with a 250/350/400 OF guy as #5, a decent-hitting utility infielder and a backup catcher, that's 12 bats. I'd prefer to have a 13th player, maybe a small-ball guy, available as a defensive sub, pinch-runner, and bunter/slap hitter. (or someone who can be an emergency catcher so you can pinch-hit the #2 catcher and not put yourself at undue risk) That'd leave you with 5 starters and 7 relievers, which should be plenty. If you need another arm, its not like we won't have plenty of guys hanging around AAA and can rotate them in and out of the back of the bullpen a few weeks at a time.

  39. BQ - Sep 9, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    Oh by the way, I heard Rizzo is a fan of Brandon Webb. I totally don't mind him signing up with us for an incentive based contract but I heard he is looking for a base salary of $7 million or something. Not sure if price is right in that case. I would lower his base salary but add in lots of incentives.

  40. greg - Sep 9, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    OF.OF OF OF OF.we don't have a single complete player in the OF. willingham is hampered defensively (and health-wise, to an extent). nyjer is a head case with no arm and questionable mental skills defensively. and who has slumped tremendously offensively. and a terrible baserunner. morse is defensively challenged and still a ? for me offensively as a full-time player (OPS in Aug of 732, sept 637, since becoming more of a regular). bernadina has some potential, but more of a CF bat playing in RF. the rest is flotsam and jetsam and not worth talking about. so four OFs, all with questions, issues, and/or doubts. only one has proven to be a solid offensive player. only one has proven to be a solid defensive player. we need at least one solid OF to play either CF or RF. and if dunn leaves and isn't replaced, moving willingham to 1B, we'll need TWO solid OFs. the OF is this team's biggest achilles heel right now because there's nothing special coming in the farm system other than harper in the OF. we've pulled SS, C, 2B over the last year in desmond, ramos trade, espinosa. but the OF is a black hole prospect-wise beyond harper.then again, 1B isn't much better organizationally.

  41. ridgely - Sep 9, 2010 at 4:24 PM

    If they resign,and I hope they do,Dunn,I think they look pretty good. Some tweaking in the bullpen, bench strength and continued development of the young guys. I would hold pat. Nyjer? Not sure,but I lean towards him staying. ANd somew good luck for a change.

  42. Will - Sep 9, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    Ha, I just read the whole thread, and was looking for a Brandon Webb reference. Took 39 posts, before BQ mentioned him.It still looks like he'll be back for a week or two at the end of the month as a reliever. If he shows anything remotely similar to the stuff he was dealing from 03-08, then he should be a serious target in the Nats' offseason plans.There's not nearly as much risk involved as there was with Wang, since Webb should be pitching by the end of this season. Hopefully, he'll be ready for a regular SP load come ST. He also has wayyy more upside than Wang ever had.I think he'll be looking for a salary similar to what Ben Sheets got from the A's. Sheets, at least contract-wise, is a great comp for Webb. (Sheets much more injury-prone though). Sheets got $10mil for 1 season. I think with Webb, though, a 2 year/$16mil would get it done.If the Nats really want to field a good team, in addition to resigning Dunn and Webb, they should go after Werth. Crawford will have his choice of team, but Werth has been just as good as Crawford over the past 4 seasons, but would command much less money. A three year deal, similar to Dunn's contract, would hopefully get it done.

  43. N. Cognito - Sep 9, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    Crawford will end up vastly overpaid.I would like to see the Nats re-sign Dunn and go after Werth. I'd also like to see the Nats go after Adrian Gonzalez if the Pads don't sign him to an extension after next year (assuming they exercise the club option for next year). Gonzalez is as good of an offensive producer as Dunn, is younger and is a much better fielder. Dunn could move back to LF for the duration of the contract.

  44. gonats3 - Sep 9, 2010 at 5:02 PM

    Sign Dunn. Go after Carl Crawford. If they don't get him I can live with that; Willingham, Bernadina, Morse will do. Please, no more Nyjer Morgan as a starter. The biggest off-season need/upgrade is at manager.

  45. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    Where is Nuke Logan?? lol

  46. N. Cognito - Sep 9, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    Logan, Bonifacio and Morgan should be our outfield.

  47. court - Sep 9, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    I don't think Nyjer will be a problem coming off the bench. A lot of people thought Guzzie would have a problem moving to 2B or coming off the bench, but he was fine. For me, Bernadina is the CF of the future. He's fine in RF too, but putting him in LF seems like a waste. Roger can run, get on base and has a great arm. Nyjer would be the 4th OF, defensive specialist, late-inning pinch runner and could play extended periods of time if somebody goes down. While I don't agree with everything Tony Plush has done, I feel the reaction is overblown. The only thing he's done wrong recently was the slight bump of the Cards' C and his histrionics after the brawl. I've been frustrated with his outs on the basepaths, but as a 8 hitter or a pinch runner, you can take more chances. Let's not forget that Nyjer is a borderline Super Two and comes very cheap. Why not make him earn playing time instead of giving him the job and see what happens? It doesn't really make sense to just cut him. If you can move him, great, but I don't see that happening in light of the recent events.I do agree that the OF needs another power bat – either Werth or Crawford, but I don't think we can get either of those guys and keep Dunn. Trading for Adrian Gonzalez would be the best move, but who knows if the Pad's would do that considering the season they've had. I've been a big Dunn supporter all year, but the play yesterday was a stinging reminder of what h e lacks. Having a top-notch defensive 1B would be a great help considering the wild arms we have on the left side of the infield in addition to improved range. The bullpen is fine with the guys we have plus any of the starters that don't make the rotation (I'm talking to you Garret Mock and Matt Chico). Catcher is settled, and I think the MI is too – you have to give Espinosa a chance to sink or swim before Strasburg gets back. But the reason the team did not improve more from last year is starting pitching. We need a power lefty and I think de la Rosa is the guy. Despite all the pitching depth, only Strasburg and Jordan are top-of-the-rotation guys. In conclusion, I think the priorties should be:1. premier SP2. 1B (Dunn or Gonzalez hopefully)3. power bat in the OF (2 if 1B is a defensive guy)4. lead off guy not named Nyjer

  48. Wally - Sep 9, 2010 at 5:44 PM

    I also disagree with mark's conclusions regarding holes on the roster. If they want to enter 2011 with a credible chance of winning (not the <5% 'everything has to go right' chance), I think that they need to improve both their rotation and lineup.Lineup – LF, 3B, SS and C are well filled (assuming C is Pudge/Ramos, which appears to be above average defensively, with somewhat below offense that needs to be made up elsewhere in the lineup). That leaves CF, RF, 2B and 1B to fill. At least two of those need to be above average players, and the other two average players (my definition of above average is above average either in O or D, with average play in the other – or, I guess, a Pujols-type O with below average D). Except maybe for Dunn, I don't see those players currently on the roster. So if all of those spots are filled with some combo of Morgan, Bernie, Espy, Kennedy, Morse and Dunn, I consider that a below to average lineup. You are not going to have a credible chance of winning with that lineup unless your staff is excellent. Some names that would interest me (some have been previously mentioned) are Rasmus, Crawford, Uggla, BJ Upton, maybe laRoche if they don't resign Dunn.As for the rotation, I think that only 3 spots should be certain right now, and even those may be more circumstantial than legit. JZimm for sure, Lannan and Marquis are the others that I would say have spots, barring something unexpected happening. Everyone else should fall into the 'win it in ST or fallback option' category. Some of those guys I like, like Stammen and Detwiler, but they haven't done enough to give them a high probability of success next year, so I don't think that you can go with them as the starters and still have a high expectation of winning (I know that the same may be said of the three that I picked, but we have to start somewhere). So I would look to pick up two starters (1 is a must if they want any non-remote chance of WC). Vasquez, De la Rosa, Pavano or Kuroda seem attractive. The bullpen, I would primarily leave intact. It has done pretty well this year, and relievers are notoriously unpredictable. Plus you can't add everywhere. I am sure that they won't even add this much, because I really don't think that they are planning to be in a high expectation win scenario.So my lineup is C Pudge/Ramos1B Dunn2B UgglaSS Desmond3b ZimmLF HammerCF RasmusRF Bernie/MorseEven swapping Dunn for one of the other FAs wouldn't look so bad. C may be the only real hole, but the trade off would be worth it. Lots of HRs, anyway. You could also use different players obviously if you wanted to emphasize D or OBP.RotationJZimmVasquezKurodaLannanMarquisNo knockout guy (maybe JZ), but a chance for 2-3 above average guys.

  49. Jim in MD - Sep 9, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    Dunn reminds me of Lurch, the butler on the Addams Family. Powerful, funny, and lovable, yet lacking speed and agility. Carlos Pena may end up being less expensive and may not ask for a four-year deal that Dunn appears to want. Pena allows the Nats the flexibility to patiently develop their first baseman of the future (Chris Marrero? or do they think Marrero is going to be ready in 2011?). Pena may deliver similar power numbers to Dunn. He certainly can't be any worse than Dunn with 2-outs and runners in scoring position. (Mark, Do you have access to Dunn's numbers in that situation?) Pena's presence may result in fewer throwing errors and fewer ground balls getting through for hits. If Dunn signs for no less than a four-year deal, keeping him may hinder the Nats in the long run.A centerfielder who consistently tracks fly balls, makes good decisions, and throws accurately would be a nice addition, and I think the current starting rotation will be better next year. Lannan seems to have figured it out, and Marquis appears to be healthy for the first time all year. When Zimmermann is on, he is as dominant as Strasburg. And what about Detwiler? or Maya? I think the Nats rotation will do just fine until Strasburg returns and beyond.

  50. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    Mark -Thanks for the info and the provacative question, which has triggered an interesting discussion.Can you provide an update on a couple of players such as Jesus Flores, Chien-Ming Wang and maybe even Bryce Harper?Thanks,Mark in Arlington

  51. dale - Sep 9, 2010 at 6:02 PM

    My fantasy first base would be Adrian Gonzalez. If he is not signed by SD then he would be the priority FA. This team will get better by improving its defense. Dunn is still hurting us at first base. Desmond/Espinoza will be sorted out in spring training regarding who plays ss, and Willingham has made huge strides in left field. 2012 will have Harper in right field and Bernardina in left. Center field becomes the issue. Sometime next year a trade will be made for a center fielder(Willingham traded?). In the end the focus should be 2012, all the pieces should be fitting by then. I don't expect Rizzo to make any major trades solely to address the 2011 season. Thus, Dunn signed for two years can work, but Dunn signed for 3 or more won't fit.The pitching will develop in 2011 on its own momentum. I dont expect to see another FA signing for the Nats of 7 million plus for a pitcher this offseason.

  52. Mark - Sep 9, 2010 at 6:16 PM

    I agree with Mark, this team has no glaring holes. Rather, the team is like a piece of swiss cheese with lots of little holes. – we could use a better CF/Leadoff hitter, – we could use better defense at 1st base, – we could use a better bat in RF and 2B, – we could use a better bench, and – a deeper rotation would be nice.When a team has all of those problems, you have a bad team. Just not a team with one glaring weakness.

  53. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 6:26 PM

    A glaring hole is no catcher, no 2nd baseman, no closer, that is the team we had last year. This team has many many weaknesses. It is sort of like if your furnace and AC both go you need to get a new furnace or you will die you will be very very unhappy without an AC.

  54. Anonymous8 - Sep 9, 2010 at 6:26 PM

    Brandon Webb *reclamation project* was mentioned days ago on here, and talking about Carl Crawford will be as frustrating as when we all were salivating for Mark "Big Bucks" Teixeira in Decemeber of 2008 as it WON'T happen with Carl Crawford either, sorry to break that to everyone.#1 So what the Nats can do is re-sign Dunn as priority #1. #2 Trade off a back of the rotation starter paired with Nyjer Morgan for an impact outfielder #3 is re-beef up the bullpen through Free Agency as there are good players available #4 add to bench depth with Ramos, Morse, Gonzo, and 2 more. Yes, that means Morse comes off the bench

  55. rogieshan - Sep 9, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    Not that it matters now, but does anyone know how close we were in acquiring Carlos Gonzales last spring after his trade from Oakland in the Matt Holiday deal? I seem to remember Rizzo was in hot pursuit because he was responsible for drafting him as a D-Back.

  56. David - Sep 9, 2010 at 6:52 PM

    @Anonymous8You are correct I might also add a closer to the list if you can get a Capps type player. Storen may be a closer but I would use him as a set up man first. Additionally closers with one year contracts are easy to trade.The Nationals are not going to sign Dunn unless they get him at a very good rate. The Nationals only invest in players they think are long term solutions, uness they are filling a glaring hole. I think Rizzo believes the addition of Ramos and Espinosa along with Desmond and Bernadina makes it possible for the Nationals to go a different direction without Dunn playing the part of a long term solution guy. As for me I'd sign him because 40 HR 100 rbi guys who will play for the Nat's are few and far between and I go to the games.

  57. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 6:53 PM

    1) Sign Dunn2) Get a true, leadoff CF – dump Morgan3) Bolster bench with 1 more bat4) Sign bargain SP2001 Lineup1 – Sizemore, CF (I can dream)2 – Desmond, SS3 – Zimmerman, 3B4 – Dunn, 1B5 – Hammer, LF6 – Espinosa, 2B7 – Morse/Bernadina, RF8 – Pudge/Ramos, CStarters1 – Zimmermann2 – Maya3 – Livo4 – Lannan5 – Bargain SP, or MarquisBullpenSlaten, Burnett, DetwilerPeralta, Clippard, Storen

  58. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 6:54 PM

    I'm looking at this as though this was my money I'm spending, okay? We won't be in the playoffs in 2011. So, no need to spend a ton of money. First, let Dunn go. We were last place without him and last place with him. He demands way too much money and a long-term contract and then he says it's all out of his hands. Right!Mike Morse will give you the same stats for a fraction of the price (400k). Morgan and Bernadina are also cheap — about 400k as well. Willingham in RF – not as cheap due to his time of service. Espinosa and Desmond in the middle — both 400K guys as well. Rodriguez and Zimmerman are expensive but worth it.What we need is to replace anyone hitting below .225. So, goodbye Willie Harris and Justin Maxwell. Next year will be another building year. We'll see who will earn the right to be on the contending 2012 team. Bernadina, Morgan, Morse, Desmond, and Espinosa will need to show that they are worthy of being on the 2012 championship team. 2011 is their Final Exam!

  59. JayB - Sep 9, 2010 at 6:56 PM

    When Dukes refused to go back to Winterball/Winterball refused to take him back and in December after Rizzo said very publicly and specifically the he had to return and work on hitting curve balls……that is the day he knew he would trade of cut him…..

  60. N. Cognito - Sep 9, 2010 at 7:05 PM

    JayB said… "When Dukes refused to go back to Winterball/Winterball refused to take him back and in December after Rizzo said very publicly and specifically the he had to return and work on hitting curve balls……that is the day he knew he would trade of cut him….."When did Rizzo tell you this?

  61. raymitten - Sep 9, 2010 at 7:36 PM

    Mike Morse is going to be second in the NL in home runs next year? If you argue "we're last place with him, we can be last without him", you can trade Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg too. Lets hope that management isn't thinking that because then we permanently become the Pittsburgh Pirates.

  62. greg - Sep 9, 2010 at 8:00 PM

    wally, you think the nats have the chips to trade for uggla AND rasmus? rasmus is going to take some pretty good prospects to grab. uggla won't come cheap, either. i don't think this organization has the depth to trade for both these guys. then the cash to pay for dunn, vasquez, AND kuroda. very few organizations will acquire/resign five starting players in one offseason (more than 1/3 of the starters btwn SPs and everyday players). especially if they all carry a decent price tag. anon8, what team is going to give us an "impact outfielder" for a "back of the rotation starter and nyjer?" maybe we have a much different definition of "impact," but i think taking two cast-off parts and trying to get quality for them will only get rizzo laughed at. i'd laugh at him if he asked me. "Mike Morse will give you the same stats (as Dunn) for a fraction of the price (400k)"LOL! *snicker* *chortle* can i have a little of whatever you're smmoking?

  63. Anonymous8 - Sep 9, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    Greg – There are teams with a greater need for pitching and willing to give up an outfielder that is headed to Arbitration or Free Agency within a year or 2. Do you remember how the Nats got Willingham in that trade for Bonifacio?It can be done.

  64. Wally - Sep 9, 2010 at 9:24 PM

    Greg – Regarding whether they have the prospects for Rasmus, ordinarily I would say no. But if LaRussa comes back, they may be more motivated to trade him. Would something built around Espinoza and Milone get it done? Can't say, but it wouldn't be laughed off, I think. Cards need MI help, and Espy is major league ready and cost controlled, so you are trading like commodities. He has to look a lot better than Brendan Ryan and Skip Schumaker. And I think that Anon8 is right that Uggla, if traded, won't cost a lot in prospects. He is 1 year from FA and the Marlins have been trying to trade him for a while with no one ponying up a big prospect bundle. I think that they will either sign him or take the best offer, a la Willingham. On having the money for signing those other guys, I think that they have it. The mean MLB payroll this year was $84m (ie the 15th and 16th highest salaries), and I use mean so that the average isn't distorted by the Yanks. The Nats started the year at $61m, and Guzzy and Dunn come off, dropping it down to $41m. There are some raises for hammer and Zimm, but with $40m or so to play with, I think that they could sign Kuroda($7m), Javy ($8m), even resign Dunn ($13m)and get Uggla ($10m). Why is it unreasonable to expect that our team can approach a mean MLB payroll?As for your last point, that it is unusual for such high turnover, no arguments. I repeat what I said earlier, I don't think that they will do it. Mark's article asked what should they do, not what will they do.

  65. greg - Sep 9, 2010 at 9:31 PM

    willingham was not considered damaged goods, to some extent, at the time, coming off of an injury (back) that people worried could flare up again. and was not still considered the same quality prospect that rasmus is, nor is he capable of playing a quality CF. not to mention willingham turned *30* the year he was traded, rasmus is 24. these are not comparable guys at all.and while st louis isn't the NYY, they're not going to salary dump the way the marlins do regularly. i'll stand by my contention that you will not get a decent defensive CF with an 850ish OPS who's only 24 for a couple of spare parts.now, if there's a 30yr old guy heading into arbitration who could be good if he could stay healthy on a team that needs to dump salary, that guy might be available for spare parts.

  66. greg - Sep 9, 2010 at 9:35 PM

    wally, even if larussa comes back, they're not going to trade rasmus for pennies on the dollar. i wasn't saying he couldn't get traded, just that he would cost a lot. a 24yo CF with power isn't exactly a common commodity. who knows what it'll take to get him, but he was the top-rated prospect in their system before coming up and will be expensive. at least the reason the marlins didn't trade uggla is because they wouldn't take lowball offers. i guess it's possible they'll change their mind, but i suspect we'll have more competition for him than we did for willingham. neither guy will be cheap.

  67. greg - Sep 9, 2010 at 9:36 PM

    err. and willingham *WAS* considered damaged goods. dunno why i put not in there two posts up. :/

  68. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    I guess I entirely disagree. Even when losing Dunn one could surmise that the replacement would likely be Willingham at first. Unless they go outside. I don't see this as critical to progress as starting pitching. Without top of the rotation starting pitching it won't matter whether Crawford, BJ Upton, Morgan, Maxwell, Morse, Bernadina are in the outfield. They will once again end at least 20 games under .500. Maybe its 30 if you lose Dunn. 20+ to 30 games under? Is there really that much of a difference its still last place. Its still close to the bottom mlb wide?2011 is just like 2010 they positively must improve top of the rotation starting pitching first and foremost. Can Zimmermann become a consistent #2, #3 pitcher? He has yet to throw a complete major league season? You can't depend on that? Detwiler? The closest to achieving this is going to be Yuneski Maya. After that its back of the rotation starters led by Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis, and John Lannan? C'mon that is just not going to work! Without Stras the cupboard is once again pretty bare.Sorry, but I think that the starting pitching looks a lot worst, orders of magnitude worst than the outfield issue? Or the first base issue? It seems like the posters here dwell on Dunn and home run production not really seeing that 2 years of massive home run/extra base production from Dunn, Zimmerman, and Willingham have produced LOSING RECORDS. LOSING TEAMS? Hasn't that been the case?You know its kind of like what that old political slogan: "Its the economy stupid." … In this case "its the top of the rotation starting pitching stupid."

  69. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 9:53 PM

    Interesting observation about Rasmus. I lived in Tulsa (Rox AA club) and saw Rasmus play for the Cards' AA ball club out of Springfield, MO. six or eight times. What the papers said about Rasmus you could see from the stands–a lot of talent and a lot of attitude. It sounds like he is still a handful. I wonder how he would fit in with the Nats.fpcsteve

  70. Anonymous8 - Sep 9, 2010 at 9:54 PM

    David DeJesus is coming off an injury filled season and latest is a thumb injury. Playing 1/2 the season he had his best season of his career and is in a FA option year. The Royals can let him go to Free Agency or they can pick up his option and trade him but it isn't worth it for the Nats unless the Nats can get a contract extension.There are others out there that are viable and Grady Sizemore is another reclamation project after his knee injury and he is a Free Agent with a huge option after next season that I am sure the Indians would dump.I am sure Rizzo has several Outfielders on his list.

  71. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 10:04 PM

    Even if Dunn is not signed here is what the Nats think they have without going outside: (Excluding Morgan who is over 30 and will likely be tradeaccording to some sources.)1. Espinosa 2b/ss2. Desmond 2b/ss3. Zimmerman 3b4. Willingham 1b5. Morse RF6. Ramos/Pudge C7. Bernadina LF8. Maxwell/Boomer Whiting/Jason Botts CFMy guess here is that before you see Pena from the Rays you will seeMike Rizzo trade for BJ Upton to shore up the center field position. If Pena comes Willingham moves back to left field and Morse andBernadina are back competing for right field starter backup outfielderpositions.

  72. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 10:11 PM

    To whit. Just posted on the MASM Mike Rizzo Blog: I certainly would like to get a guy to lead that rotation and be a front-of-the-rotation guy, via free agency or trades or that type of thing. Those, as you know, are few and far between. They're tough to get and often expensive to get. But I feel comfortable with the depth. I do think we need a leader of that rotation. That would be one of our needs in the offseason.Again, its not the outfield so much, nor is it first base. Its finding top-of-the-rotation starting pitching that is key to having a successful offseason. http://www.masnsports.com/mike_rizzo/2010/09/nats-will-look-to-sign-ace-for-rotation.html

  73. Anonymous - Sep 9, 2010 at 10:37 PM

    @Mark,Can you provide an update on a couple of players such as Jesus Flores, Chien-Ming Wang and maybe even Bryce Harper?See Ben Goesling's posting of his most recent interview of Mike Rizzo for updates on Wang and Harper … http://www.masnsports.com/mike_rizzo/2010/09/nats-will-look-to-sign-ace-for-rotation.htmlI think both Kristen Hudak and Byron Kerr have posted updates on Jesus Flores on their MASN blogs. I'm not sure but I also think NJ posted one as well.

  74. SJ_Writer - Sep 9, 2010 at 11:14 PM

    Most glaring need – 1B, power, defense, if they don't sign Dunn.If they do, they need power and on-base ability at one other position and on-base ability at lead-off. Besides Dunn, Zim & Hammer, the rest of the team simply makes too many outs, doesn't walk enough.A true #1 ace starter is needed for pitching and a shut-down, high K set-up man or closer, with Storen taking the other role.That's my 2 cents…

  75. Jimmy - Sep 9, 2010 at 11:42 PM

    Trade Nyjer Morgan and a Pitcher (Jason Bergman or someone) for Grady Sizemore. And, get a real ML Manager. Continue our plan and within two years we will be a contender!

  76. Bruce - Sep 9, 2010 at 11:43 PM

    The way I see it, priorities are:1) Sign Dunn now.2) Aquire another #1 starter (Cliff Lee or the next best thing). Unlike to many chefs in the kitchen, something you can't have enough of. 3) Aquire a center fielder such as a Carl Crawford.Catching:Pudge, Ramos1B: Dunn2B: Espinoza3B: ZimmermanSS: Desmond (Espinoza could challenge him for SS)IF: Kennedy, GonzalezLF: BernadinaCF: CrawfordRF: WillinghamOF: MaxwellOF: HarrisSP: ZimmermannSP: LeeSP: HernandezSP: MayaSP: DetwilerSP: Stasburg (upon return…hopefully Sept.)This will require a serious financial commitment to play with the Big Boys, but if the Nats open their wallets and aquire a solid starter, not wait on CMW, or for someone to have a break-out year, and a legit CF, this could work out quite well.Should this happen, then LannanMarquis and Olsen and even Morgan (who I've soured on) are expendable. Trade, trade, trade.

  77. The Anti-Clint - Sep 9, 2010 at 11:51 PM

    Wow, there's still a lot of Nyjer-hate on here. While he is not the greatest player in the world, he is far and away better than Justion Maxwell, yet many here are penciling Maxwell into their projected lineups for next year. WHY? I like the guy just as much as anyone else, but he's proven again and again that he cannot hit major league pitching. Sure, his defense is good. Sure, his speed is good, but you can't steal first base. He looks totally lost at the plate and his strikeout rate is alarmingly high. As much as I hate to say it, I hope this month is the last we see of him and his struggles at the plate. He'll get one last shot with Nyjer going bye-bye for a while – I hope he proves me wrong; otherwise, I don't see him getting another shot.

  78. Sec3MySofa - Sep 10, 2010 at 12:10 AM

    I think Dunn will prove to be worth 4/$60, if they structure it reasonably, but if they do piss away that chance, then they need an Adam Dunn-type guy at first. The defense thing is a red herring, I'm becoming convinced. Dunn has made himself a MLB-average first baseman (and there is no league above this one–average is pretty darn good), and Rizzo certainly knows that, and so does Kasten. They also certainly know that if he earns his first 2-1/2 to 3 years of that contract, the fourth won't kill anybody even if he gets hurt and never plays one pitch, and the odds that he can do at least that seem pretty good from here.So unless they have some inside track on Pujols or even Gonzalez that nobody else knows about, I'm left to conclude they are either nuts, or that cheap. Or both.That said …If they sign Dunn, they are still several players short, but on the bench. They look better now, by comparison with a 102-loss team, but they don't look good yet.They can wait for Desmond and Espinoza to develop, if they improve the bench a whole entire bunch. Pudge was signed to be Plan B at catcher; Livo was Plan B for free-agent starting pitcher. They need to do at least that well at 2nd base/ss, at center (keep Nyjer–what has been done can be done again, but don't bet the rent on it), and right, assuming Willingham comes back whole, and Bernadina doesn't get hurt again. And yes, they do need another starter better than Marquis was supposed to be. Pitchers, as we've recently been reminded, get hurt–they just do. So have lots of them. I think the bullpen is more or less OK as is, if nobody else gets hurt badly. Which of course they will.

  79. Sec3MySofa - Sep 10, 2010 at 12:11 AM

    You WERE kidding, right?*********************Jimmy said…Trade Nyjer Morgan and a Pitcher (Jason Bergman or someone) for Grady Sizemore. And, get a real ML Manager

  80. Sec3MySofa - Sep 10, 2010 at 12:15 AM

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought Carl Crawford was a left fielder, and not a particularly exceptional one at that. He mostly plays hitter, I thought.In nine years, he's appeared in 54 games in center, and he's a minus five there, according to baseball-reference dot com.Help me out here.

  81. DRINK JMAX, the new KoolAid flavor! - Sep 10, 2010 at 1:21 AM

    Anti-Clint – I take Nyjer any day over Maxwell which isn't saying much as Nyjer's stats dictate he is a bench player. Maxwell can't hit right handed pitchers so what good is he?Someone in NatsTown that pulls the strings is in love with him and obviously many on here are drinking the same Kool-Aid.This is what you need to know about JMax. He has no homers and batting .121 with a .189 OBP vs. right handed pitchers!Do you all understand what that means? You can only play him on average twice a week against lefties which makes him at best a bench player and in my book makes him a Minor League player.

  82. Anonymous - Sep 10, 2010 at 1:22 AM

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought Carl Crawford was a left fielder, and not a particularly exceptional one at that. He mostly plays hitter, I thought.Crawford only fits if they move Willingham to first base if Dunn leaves. Otherwise he does not make a good fit. Even then I'm not sure he fits? He isn't all that athletic. Many folks are saying Carlos Pena because of the relationship he and his agent have with various Nationals entities. My take is that is the red herring. I suspect its BJ Upton in order to upgrade the athleticism in the outfield. The interest in Upton was originally reported by Ben Goessling's Nats sources many moons ago. Like Pena his BA is lower so his value shouldn't be too high … but his speed and athleticism remain plus he is younger. Why take him over say Morgan? Because Morgan has no arm. I contend that arm in center field and his inconsistency and lack of focus have hurt the Nats fielding wise more than Dunn at first base. Seems like Morgan might make a better utility guy now that he is past 30?

  83. Andrew - Sep 10, 2010 at 2:48 AM

    Not sure if this was discussed anywhere but Shawn Hill (former Expo/Nat) back from his 2nd Tommy John started for the Blue Jays tonight. He did OK, not great, not horrible.http://mlb.mlb.com/news/boxscore.jsp?gid=2010_09_09_texmlb_tormlb_1

  84. jd - Sep 10, 2010 at 2:59 AM

    Wow. This is the most interesting Nats discussion I've ever read. I'm gonna keep coming back here. I agree with Anonymous that starting pitching is the No. 1 task. Getting a solid centerfielder to at least give Nyjer some competition is also a priority and/or another outfield bat.Personally, I'd like to see Dunn go. We should've traded him this year already. It's not so much the lack of defense as the lack of clutch hitting. Look at his numbers with runners in scoring position and RISP and two outs. Atrocious. Over his entire career. We can lose a few of his home runs in exchange for some D and BA and CASH to buy some pitching. Thanks for the insights, folks!

  85. Anonymous - Sep 10, 2010 at 4:16 AM

    What do the Nats need MOST?A New Owner!!!

  86. Anonymous - Sep 10, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    Re-sign Clint!

  87. Anonymous - Sep 10, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    First: Have to sign Dunn. Worth overpaying for 2014 to have solid production in 2012/2013. He's the glue in the lineup. 1b defense is WAY overrated. Even if better 1b defense would save 20-25 outs over the course of the season, are you willing to trade that for 20-25 HRs? Pena had one good year three years ago and has been worse since. Lee is 35 and on the downslope. Dunn's the best 1b on the market and wants to stay. Sign him.Second: Oh, dear goodness, I agree with JayB. Move Bernadina to CF. Bernie's got a little bit of the Milledge problem – not enough bat to really be a corner OF, not enough D to be a solid CF. That said, I think he's much better D than Milledge is or was, so if you can get him to play something slightly-better-than average as CF and lead him off you get a little bit of a power threat at the top of the lineup. No, he's not the "traditional" slap-hitting waterbug kind of leadoff guy (like Nyjer, Nook, Brandon Watson, Endy Chavez, Bonifacio and every other failed experiment of that kind), but he's more like a Johnny Damon type – gets on base can hit 10-15 HRs. Trading for Rasmus is a pipe dream and thinking about moving Espinosa for him is a crack pipe dream. That's trading a hole for a hole – it's not like we've got a lot of solid 2b just waiting for their chance. Third: RF. That's been the hole the whole year. Morse could maybe fill it, but I'd like to see them run at Crawford. Sure, maybe they don't get him, but get in that game. I also like the idea of sniffing around about Sizemore, if he's actually available. He'd be a great CF/RF option and let Morse be a fourth OF – between Willingham, Bernadina, Sizemore and Morse, you could be running out an above-average OF with some pop every day. Nyjer goes – his attitude won't let him be a #5 OF, pinch runner, defensive replacement. JMax stays as the #5.#4: Pitching, Pitching, Pitching. I'm with Riz – a frontline guy would be incredible and make 2011 much closer to a contention year.

  88. Tom B - Sep 10, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    Nyjer Morgan has no arm or baseball instincts. He must go. Must sing Adam Dunn. Need at least one starting pitcher.

  89. Steve M. - Sep 10, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    Anon @ 11:07AM today. Well said, well put except in your 3rd point. No JMax. Anon8 made a great statement early on at 8:47AM yesterday, the bench is a disaster. Maxwell, Harris and Nieves are all weak. Someone else pointed out these guys are sometimes pinch hitting for pitchers who have higher batting averages! When people say that these guys don't get enough reps is pure garbage. Pitchers don't get a lot of reps and can bat in the mid 100's to lower 200's and their primary job is not to be a bench player and pinch hit. I can't take this team seriously until Rizzo gets over this mancrush attitude and makes the proper changes.This team if you just added one more stud to the bullpen and put Nyjer on the bench and replace JMax, Harris and Nieves (with Ramos) will be a better team. It won't be a playoff calibre team but will still be a better team.

  90. Anonymous - Sep 10, 2010 at 5:27 PM

    Ben Goessling again answers this question and elaborates best of all beat reporters (including Boz):What can Nationals learn from Giants, Padres? Defense is key, but pitching's first.http://www.masnsports.com/the_goessling_game/2010/09/what-can-nationals-learn-from-giants-padres-defense-is-key-but-pitchings-first.html

  91. Anonymous - Sep 10, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    Because of his arm Morgan belongs in left field which is where the Nats found him when they made that trade with the Pirates. His arm is a left fielder's arm. He should not be in center or right fields.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 55 44 --
ATLANTA 55 46 1.0
NEW YORK 48 53 8.0
MIAMI 47 52 8.5
PHILADELPHIA 43 57 12.5
Through Wednesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
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