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End-of-season report card

Oct 5, 2010, 5:43 PM EDT

On the collective level, the Nationals made some significant strides in 2010, winning 10 more games than the previous year, though their final record of 69-93 still felt disappointing to many who believed this team was good enough win more.

The same applies to the Nats on the individual level. Several players enjoyed breakthrough seasons and established themselves as key components to next year’s club, but several others underachieved and left everyone wanting more.

Now that the season is over, it’s time to hand out grades to the full roster, plus manager Jim Riggleman and general manager Mike Rizzo…

… but to learn them, you’ll have to go to CSNwashington.com.

Speaking of CSN, I’ll be appearing on SportsNet Central at 6:10 p.m. tonight discussing the Nats’ season.

  1. Anonymous - Oct 5, 2010 at 6:59 PM

    Mark,I generally agree with you on most of the grades, except for the 2 INC's. If Detwiler is being graded on the past calendar year, and Maya was being graded starting when he signed with the team, then they deserve grades.Detwiler's goal was to build off of last September and lock up a spot in the rotation, period. Then he waited until spring training to tell the team about his hip problems. The fact that we're saying the same things about him now that we were a year ago is no one's fault but his own. He finished the course, so he needs to be graded, and he earned no better than a D.Maya's goal was similar to that of Detwiler a year ago. He had 10 professional starts to lock up one of 5 rotation spots going into spring training 2011. He failed to do that, but he also didn't completely take himself out of the running. I say a C is fair.Thoughts?-Matt

  2. Doc - Oct 5, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    Mark you are a tough, but fair (as in consistent) grader of Nats performance. I think I would have slipped my teacher's pet Morse an A, as opposed to an A-, but what the hey! I know that Dunn was a lousy OF, but I think your recent WAR analysis speaks for itself, and his defense at 1st is better than the whole world seems to give him credit for. I mean who are all these 1st basemen with power that are better with defense.You're flat out correct on Wiggleman and Rizzo. I think that Rizzo overplays his cards when ever he's dealing. What has he been thinking about when purporting to be signing Dunn remains a mystery.Riggleman is an AA/AAA manager. Nice guy, but unwilling to deal directly with poor performance. McCatty manages the pitching, and Eckstein needs to manage the offense.

  3. Doc - Oct 5, 2010 at 7:27 PM

    Oh, yeah, one more small item, I would have given Ballystar a B+, may be an A. He really did what he was asked to do in the pen, and in the end result didn't kill anybody. For sure his mustache is an A+–I mean it's better than his curve ball.

  4. JD - Oct 5, 2010 at 7:35 PM

    Mark, Generally I think you are bang on; I do have several players I would grade somewhat differently: 1) Pudge – C- very poor hitter at this stage of his career. 2) Stammen,Martin,Atilano – D- not major league quality starters 3) Balester, Espinosa, Ramos – INC. Can't really make a judgment based on September competition. 4) Kennedy – C- Poorly managed by Riggleman. 5) Lannan – C what you see is what you get; a no. 4 starter.

  5. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 5, 2010 at 7:40 PM

    Just a short story about "poor performance" I got to witness first hand this past weekend at the FIL game with Houston.Eury Perez, identified by some to be a candidate for CF in 2013 was in CF in the first inning. With two outs, one run already in and a man on third the Astros hitter lofted a fly ball towrds fairly deep CF. Eury drifted back rather nonchalantly and put his glove up over his shoulder to routinely make a one handed catch. As it would be, the ball promptly bounced out of his glove for a 2 base error. The Astros proceeded to plate 2 more runs on some rather poor outfield execution (not hitting the cut off man or throwing to the wrong base).When the third out was registered, the Nats outfield instructor gathered every outfielder in camp behind the dugout and proceeded to ream all of them. The second hitter was supposed to be Eury Perez but Randolph Oduber took his place in the batting order in the FIRST INNING!Eury was banished to the adjacent field where an instructor dropped ball after ball in the mortar gun so Eury could catch each one with both hands while screaming I GOT IT! I GOT IT! I GOT IT! This went on for the next two and a half hours. Every 30 seconds, you heard I GOT IT! I GOT IT! I GOT IT!It only ended when the game ended. I think Eury learned something Saturday.

  6. Anonymous - Oct 5, 2010 at 7:41 PM

    ARGH! No! No incompletes! You get graded based on what the expectation was of you when you joined the team and/or major-league roster. If a player was a September call-up and all that was expected of them was to get their feet wet and see how they handled the bright lights, but they lit it up like Ramos and Espinosa, then they get graded appropriately for exceeding expectations. Sheesh.

  7. Steve M. - Oct 5, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    LUIS ATILANO: C- I say C overall. Somehow he ended up on the W side of the ledgerCOLLIN BALESTER: B B- still not sure on himMIGUEL BATISTA: B B- started off poorly and stepped it upROGER BERNADINA: C C+ He single handedly won a few games with the glove and bat. Big slump which he needed some days off for and didn't get due to the poor bench. He is a keeper!JOE BISENIUS: DSEAN BURNETT: A A+ huge suprise after so so beginning.TYLER CLIPPARD: B+ IAN DESMOND: B- B For a Rookie, did more then I imagined. A shame he had some long slumps to ruin what could have been a tremendous season with the bat. Glove was shakey at times has to get below 20 errors in 2011ROSS DETWILER: Inc (last start was real bad)ADAM DUNN: A- A Mr. Consistent and did better with defense at 1st base than I would have thoughtDANNY ESPINOSA: B B A Gold Glover in the near future and opposing pitchers badly exploited his weaknesses. Outside fastballs and inside changeupsALBERTO GONZALEZ: C+ Solid bench playerWILLIE HARRIS: D Willie, it was nice knowing you. A "D" is a nice grade for a nice guy.LIVAN HERNANDEZ: A- Yep, biggest surprise on the teamADAM KENNEDY: D D+ Another guy who should write a check back to the fans. Found energy after Guzy was traded but what about April to July?JOHN LANNAN: B- C+ Still above average and huge surprise to me that he is a Major Leaguer again and earned it. Congrats JohnJASON MARQUIS: D- C I give him a big break. He was injured and showed when he came back that he is a good back of the rotation guyJ.D. MARTIN: C- JD was my pick to surprise in 2010. Yes, he was a surprise and not in a good way.JUSTIN MAXWELL: D F+ Mark, you are way to nice because I don't care about that he is a great person. I gave him a + for the Grand Slam in Atlanta. Painful to watch and I take your word that he is a great person.YUNESKY MAYA: Inc Could be….To Be ContinuedKEVIN MENCH: FNYJER MORGAN: D yes, will Rizzo pull a Kearns with this guy?Regressed in every aspect of game from last year: Offense, defense, baserunning, character.MICHAEL MORSE: A- I like your rating. Take out 1 long slump and this guy is Jayson Werth based on full year numbers. 30+ HRs and 85+ RBIs. WOWWIL NIEVES: D- Love this guy as a person but as a ballplayer, not so much. Hope he stays on as a CoachSCOTT OLSEN: D+ Yep. Just didn't Do It.JOEL PERALTA: A- B+ Nice surpriseWILSON RAMOS: B Great pickup!IVAN RODRIGUEZ: B- Can't hit into all those Double Plays next year. Needs more days offDOUG SLATEN: B B- Better than expectedCRAIG STAMMEN: C- Fair assessmentDREW STOREN: B+ Needs to work on pitch location and challenging batters with his best stuffSTEPHEN STRASBURG: A A+ Better than advertisedTYLER WALKER: C- Good luck TylerJOSH WILLINGHAM: B+ Great first half! Need his bat back in DCRYAN ZIMMERMAN: A+ One of the best at any position in all of baseballJORDAN ZIMMERMANN: B- B+ This kid will go from Tommy John to Cy Young in a few years. His stuff is that goodJIM RIGGLEMAN: C Did decent with what he had. He gets 1 more year to prove himself. Didn't like the use of the all of the double switches and seemed to over manage himself at times or the overall handling of the way Nyjer behaved. Jim at times seem to lose controlMIKE RIZZO: B C+ Jury is still out on his full rating as the year kind of isn't up. Great job with a bullpen that struggled in 2009. Horrible job with bench and RF position out of Spring Training. Needed to make a trade or 2 early in May to bolster the bench and didn't and the Nats fell apart halfway through May. We all dreamed of what could have been. Finished the year with a great Draft. Harper and Cole could be the 2 names from 2010!

  8. Traveler8 - Oct 5, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    NatsJack, great reporting – guess this is what the instructional league is all about!At the risk of getting Dibbled, I think Strasburg may be overrated for this year – incredibly impressive start, but in too briefly to rate that high – what if he had been around all year performing that way – how would you score him higher? Not clear why Atilano gets points off for elbow surgery and Strasburg does not.

  9. LoveDaNats - Oct 5, 2010 at 8:17 PM

    Natsjack in Florida,I love your stories!

  10. Doc - Oct 5, 2010 at 8:35 PM

    Hey NatsJack get that FIL OF instructor a ticket to Nats Land. Now that's 'instruction'! Eury Perez probably learned a lesson that Morgan hasn't learned.

  11. Sunderland - Oct 5, 2010 at 8:36 PM

    Natsjack, great story,thanks.Mark Z:Methinks you were a bit too gracious with Riggleman and Rizzo.grading Rizzo is tough since we can't know how much he was hamstrung by the Lerners. And while Rizzo did some really good things this year, the draft, Capps / Ramos, Maya, Rizzo also entered camp knowing he likely did not have a right fielder.Riggleman just bolluxed this team. His platoon of Guzman, Kennedy and Desmond was bad for all three of them. It only ended when Rizzo took Guzman away from him. This platoon really hurt every aspect of the Nats play.Same of course with keeping Morse on the bench the whole first half.And then even worse, allowing so many little things to go uncorrected, especially with Nyjer's throwing, bunting and baserunning. We all blame Nyjer to varying degrees, but Riggleman was his big enabler. This has to deflate professional ballplayers, to see a teammate make elementary mistakes on a fairly regular basis.And how about this, the team under Riggleman took infield practice every day, but they still fielded poorly. Practice, I am betting, was rote and simple, a box to check, done without purpose almost all the time.

  12. NatsFan2005 - Oct 5, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    Of course all such ratings are debatable, but only one jumps off the page as wholly wrong: Riggleman. A net minus regardless of the quality of the players and deserving of no more than a D- under the most generous of scoring curves. The guy is just a liability, a born loser (163 games under .500 and fast growing at this overlong stage of his career), and a sure deadweight on an already mediocre coaching staff. He's go to go.

  13. JD - Oct 5, 2010 at 8:59 PM

    NatsFan2005, Not that I disagree with you but Riggleman isn't going anywhere; he won 10 more games than the previous year and his starting rotation suffered lots of injuries. Next year's team must be at least .500; nothing else should be considered acceptable. In the event that this is not achieved you can expect Riggleman and his entire staff to be gone.

  14. NatsFan2005 - Oct 5, 2010 at 9:32 PM

    JD:You're right, of course: Riggleman will be back. That's why I won't be renewing my five season tickets for 2011.

  15. Phil dunn - Oct 5, 2010 at 10:38 PM

    It looks like Adam Dunn is going to be a Type B free agent. That makes Rizzo's decision not to trade him for Dan Hudson even worse.

  16. Phil dunn - Oct 5, 2010 at 10:44 PM

    Beyond getting rid of Riggleman, the Nats need to hire a real hitting coach. They have never had one.

  17. dcusimano123 - Oct 5, 2010 at 11:29 PM

    Wow. I want to take your class. Are you *serious* with some of these grades?ALBERTO GONZALEZ: C+ No. D-, mainly because of defense, which was OK.WILLIE HARRIS: DNo. F-. Total waste of a roster spot, the very definition of a sub-replacement level player. Useless at nearly every point of the season. Epitomized the 2010 Nats.ADAM KENNEDY: DNo. F. Cost more than Orlando Hudson, and sucked. Again, complete waste of a roster spot.JASON MARQUIS: D-No. F-. $15 million, which made the Nats not sign Jon Garland. Worthless. Signed for next year, causing another drag on the roster. Cut him, eat the $7.5M, and sign somebody off of Half Street with a better fastball. He's a batting practice pitcher – when he throws strikes – at best.JUSTIN MAXWELL: DNo. F-, maybe a G. THE GUY CAN'T HIT. AT ALL. Total waste of a roster spot. Who cares if he's a nice guy. He's a bad bad bad baseball player.NYJER MORGAN: DNo. F-. Great fantasy player (if you're counting SB, not SB-CS and OPS), but a bad bad bad baseball player. Slugged .314. That's just terrible. 0 HR, 88K. Hard to put up a worse season than Nook Logan's 2007, but Nyjer succeeded. Get rid of him right now and put the beer vendor from section 116 in there, and the Nats are a better team.Just to name a few. The Nats have BAD baseball players, and they persist on playing them. Back up the truck and cut them. All.

  18. CapPeterson - Oct 6, 2010 at 12:06 AM

    On Rigs, are we the only last-place club that has not made a managerial change during 2010?dcusimano, thanks for the Nookie Logan comparison to help put Nyjer's season in perspective. Think any other GM looks at Nyjer and sees anything remotely similar to what Rizzo sees? And of course thannks to NatsJack!

  19. Anonymous8 - Oct 6, 2010 at 12:13 AM

    Way too kind to Rizzo but we know you can't bash him, can you?2010 could have been a much better season if he had a rightfielder and a bench built when the season started.C is average. Can't blame him for Marquis injury and Garland was not coming to Washington.Matt Capps saved his butt and as a fan, glad it worked out because that led to Ramos.Rizzo gets an A as a closer. He got all the draft picks and AJ Cole which was huge. Did they overpay? Maybe, but he closed it.No way to judge Rizzo on how his Draft picks have performed other than Storen and Strasburg so that judgment is years away.So I am going to judge him harshly for blowing the outfield situation in Spring Training and having the worst bench according to BA in the Majors and I blame him and Riggleman for the Nyjer moron situation. He fixed the bullpen and added to the starting rotation. When he had a chance like he did early in the season last year to make a key trade (Nyjer/Burnett for Hanrahan/Milledge) he didn't do anything.This team needs a CF and Nyjer Moron can move to the bench!This team wins 4 to 6 more games next year with a legit leadoff guy and solid bench and Adam Dunn re-signed. With Ramos, Gonzalez, Bernadina and Nyjer on the bench, Rizzo needs only one more if he gets the CF.

  20. JaneB - Oct 6, 2010 at 12:19 AM

    I;m watching the re-run of Strasmus on MASN now (I wish I'd gotten there early enough to see Mark talk about the Nats). Anyway. I didn't see it on TV, and haven't watched the DVD yet. And I miss Dibble. I'd grade Mark with an A by the way, and recommend that he skip a grade. Except maybe then we wouldn't get him back next year.

  21. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2010 at 12:30 AM

    I'm surprised they didn't go back and edit Dibble out. Surely they have the technology for that.

  22. Aussie Gus - Oct 6, 2010 at 12:39 AM

    OK, I have created a new stat. It's called the TRAP, or Team Report Average Player.I basically gave each score a number, so A+ = 1, A = 2, etc. Then you assign each player (not Riggs and Rizzo) a number according to their Zuckerman score and average that result. This season you get 6.8, which rounds up to 7, which is an overall average of C+.I think that proves that Mark's previous article on being less than the sum of their parts is correct. Surely being slightly above average would mean we'd finish slightly above .500?

  23. Anonymous8 - Oct 6, 2010 at 1:04 AM

    Watching the Post-season report on MLB Channel. They are talking about leadoff men. They said the Indians and Nationals rated worse in the MLB at leadoff.Can't understand the people that think otherwise about Nyjer. If you subtract all those caught stealings from his OBP, his numbers are so low you have to wonder about the brain power of the GM and Manager about penciling him in game after game.No way Nyjer goes into Spring Training as the presumptive CF. Nah, I should never assume anything.

  24. A DC Wonk - Oct 6, 2010 at 1:40 AM

    Aussie Gus — the only problem with your system is that you're weighting each player the same. For example, if you have four infielders that all rate an A (I'm not saying that we do, I'm just giving an example), who cares if you have four bench players that rate an F.In response to Anonymous8 — you can't just look at the team and say: Rizzo blows because we didn't have an RF or a strong bench. You have to judge where we were beforehand. And where were we before — well, dead last in team ERA and a dead last bullpen for starters. And from dead last bullpen we now have one that's in the top 1/3 of the league — quite an improvement for one year. We have a catching prospect where we didn't have one before. We have a potentially pretty solid infield. And, as others (including you): someone who can get a deal done (signing Stras and Harper). Someone who makes good picks (compare, say, Storen and Solis to, say, a Chris Marrero, and the non-signing of Crowe).My mantra has been, all year, you can't fix everything at once, and, further, you have to have stuff in order to trade for other stuff. And it's harder when MLB let the entire farm system die. (And let's also not forget that Lerner may have been restricting him some)So, this year the bullpen, and, perhaps most of the infield was fixed, and, perhaps the catching problem. I'm sure Rizzo, next year, will be looking for starting pitching and, at the least, a reliable bench.We're getting there . . . but it takes time. Rizzo has made, on the whole, great moves, picks, and signings so far. If he makes as much improvement next year, it ought to be a much more fun season.

  25. Aussie Gus - Oct 6, 2010 at 1:52 AM

    Damn you and your logic Wonk. What if I multiply the player score by their AB's, and then divide the total by the number of AB's, and then divide that again to get the average points per player.

  26. A DC Wonk - Oct 6, 2010 at 2:05 AM

    Auggie Gus . . . perhaps that might work, and then do the same for innings pitched for pitchers? ;-) . . . . Oh, and one more thing about Rizzo — IIRC, he signed all top 20 picks last year, and 25 of the top 26 picks this year. And he made huge upgrades to the front office, and, even bigger upgrade to the scouting department.

  27. Mr. NATural - Oct 6, 2010 at 2:48 AM

    I think the only error in your grades, Mark, is the low grade for Wil Nieves. He was expected to be a light-hitting player who did a good job on defense when Pudge was out. I think Nieves did exactly what was expected of him, plus he seems to be a terrific presence in the clubhouse and with the fans. I'd give him a B.

  28. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2010 at 9:53 AM

    JD:If Riggleman's going to be kept on now, why would you think the same people in power would let him go if we have a 10 game improvement and finish next year with 79 wins?What logic dictates that next year we have to be at .500 or unacceptable, but this year at .426 is acceptable?This is what is currently most scary about the Nats. No accountability. No correcting mistakes. We keep Willie Harris and Justin Maxwell and trotting Nyjer out there every day and there are no consequences for bad decisions or poor performance.What makes you think this will change next year?JD said… NatsFan2005, Not that I disagree with you but Riggleman isn't going anywhere; he won 10 more games than the previous year and his starting rotation suffered lots of injuries. Next year's team must be at least .500; nothing else should be considered acceptable. In the event that this is not achieved you can expect Riggleman and his entire staff to be gone.

  29. Sunderland - Oct 6, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    Yo Phil dunn, what you bring up is scary.Adam Dunn's late season slump could indeed have dropped him from a Type A free agent to a Type B free agent. My personal analysis of this is that this would, um, suck.Speculative rankings at:http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/10/2009-10-elias-rankings.html

  30. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    Organization: C -Team: D+Bullpen: AStarting Pitching: DDefense: DBase Running: D Offense: D+Management and Coaching: D+unterp

  31. 320R2S15 - Oct 6, 2010 at 12:11 PM

    Adam Dunn A- You cannot be serious.Adam is a good guy who hit alot of HRs, that's the good.At first base he is a statue, with a glove that would keep him off a good D1 college team. Even if he could get to balls, chances are he would not catch em.I do not like his attitude, his body language is poor, and I believe that translates to overall aproach. The players love him and in alot of ways that is good, but overall, and in the long runn, I don't think it matters. Winning breeds happiness, period, and I don't think Adam will help you winn. Sure he will hit a ton out, but how many times did you see him fall flat in critical situations this year? I want fire and determination, not a walk.I would give Dunn a C for the 38 homers alone, but I would not sign him for the $ he is looking for. I'm hot and cold on Rizzo, but I think he has it right with AD.

  32. JD - Oct 6, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    Anon @5:53My point was that they wouldn't let Riggleman go after only one year when strictly speaking he didn't fail. The team as constituted was a 70 win team and this is right around where they finished.What changes next year is that he will be there for 2 years and the bar will be raised some so the results will have to be better and the leash will be shorter. I agree that 79 wins is not that far away from 81 but .500 is important symbolically and it can easily be used as a minimum requirement. Those of us who watch the Nats regularly see Riggleman's every move (very mechanical, no outside the box thinking) and overvalue his effect on the win/loss number. I don't think manager would have made the Nats a .500 team in 10 with this roster.

  33. raymitten - Oct 6, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    I think your grades were, in many places, far too high. There were several players accountable for the Nats having only 69 wins. Wil Nieves — can't block the plate, can't throw, can't hit, calls a bad game. Kevin Mench — only player in MLB history to not hit his hat sizeRoss Detwiler — should have reported his hip injury before spring training; maybe this would have not been a lost seasonScott Olsen — perpetually whining about his spot in the rotation, but did not put up a consistent performance to earn one. Willie Harris — did not hit .200. Had moments of acceptability but this seemed like nothing more than an excuse to keep trotting out a guy who found permanent residence on the interstate. Justin Maxwell — has had more lives than a cat and cannot hit .200. Paris Hilton looks good in a Nats uni too, doesn't mean she can hit major league pitching. Brian Bruney — a mistake by Rizzo that no one seems to remember. Ching Ming Wang — didn't pitch an inning, not a good pickup.Jason Marquis — injured when he arrived. Didn't the medical staff check him out before handing him $7.5 million? Luis Atliano — a few lucky wins but really never proved that he was anything more than an emergency stop gap. JD Martin — has shown nothing, not a major leaguer. Adam Kennedy — demonstrated an inability to field a baseball on the ground hit directly at him. Very rarely got a clutch hit.Yunesky Maya — I'm not convinced that this guy is ever gonna make it. A four year deal for him but not for Dunn? Really? Roger Bernadina — not as bad as those listed above, but regressed throughout the year and has Jim Edmonds disease — can make the most routine play look spectactular by misplaying it. The notion that he is a good outfielder is not one I'm buying. Nyjer Morgan — crazed but fascinating. Seems to be defined by the phrase 'you take the good with the bad'. An interesting guy to watch, and makes some truly great plays sometimes, but seems to be a lot of baggage for what he ultimately produces. I think Rizzo gets no better than a C. His failure to resolve the Dunn situation with a contract was hanging over the head of the player and the fans all year long. He knew he was going to get rid of Elijah Dukes but really had no backup plan. His off season acquisitions of Bruney, Wang, Marquis and Kennedy all failed in one way or the other. He did a good job getting Matt Capps and turning him into Ramos, which filled a great need of the team, and, he for the most part did a great job improving the bullpen. If I were Jim Riggleman, I'd say the glass is half full and tip my cap to him. But this was half a decent roster this year. Granted this post focuses on the negative, but these are the areas that the team needs to improve to get better in '11. And its a long list.

  34. Knoxville Nat - Oct 6, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    CapPeterson asked the question, "On Riggs, Are we the only last place club that didn't make a managerial change?"Aren't we the only last place club that saw a 10 game improvement in MLB this season? If I'm not mistaken only a small handful of teams improved by 10+ games this year over last with the Padres being the leader in this respect. I'll be the first to concede that at times I was baffled by some moves Riggleman made (Guzman in RF against the Astros for example)however as manager he has to play with the roster given to him to work with. I'm sure there were times he was frustrated with Nyjer and would love to have someone else in the lineup instead but who in the minor league system was available to replace him? No one on this board knows what went on in the clubhouse behind closed doors between Riggs, the coaches and Morgan but a well run team also doesn't air their dirty laundry in public so to speak.All in all, I think Mark's grade of a C is spot on for Riggleman this year and I would hope we can show at least another 10 game improvement next season.

  35. A DC Wonk - Oct 6, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    What logic dictates that next year we have to be at .500 or unacceptable, but this year at .426 is acceptable?Because we'll have a better team next year! Ramos for Nieves is an improvement. Espinosa for Guzman is an improvement. Having Storen and JZimm a full season will be an improvement. Maya might be ready for the big leagues next year. And so forth. As others keep mentioning: there's only so much you can do managing from the bench — you can only play the players you have.As for those (sigh) again bashing Rizzo for not resolving Dunn's contract — why do so many, who know nothing about the actual negotiations, assume that this is Rizzo's fault? Perhaps Dunn's agent is asking for too much money.Note, too, that Dunn strikes out an awful lot. It's not just because he takes a lot of pitches. Go over to Fangraphs, and you can see that he's among the worst first baseman at swinging at pitches outside the strike zone, and close to the worst and swinging and missing at pitches inside the strike zone. Yes, his OPS is terrific. But, damn, 199 K's is a lot — when there's a guy in scoring position, a K really hurts. Add that to his errors, you end up with a Fangraphs WAR of 3.9, which is only 6th best amongst 13 regular NL 1st basemen — i.e., middle of the road. (In fact, even if you don't include fielding, he's still only 6th best!!)That's not to say we shouldn't resign him — unless there is a more capable replacement. The Nats need him. But he or his agent may well be thinking that he's worth a whole lot more than he is really worth.

  36. Feel Wood - Oct 6, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    "Perhaps Dunn's agent is asking for too much money."No, he's asking for too many years – four. He's apparently held steady on that all season long. Early in the season there were reports that Dunn would accept a three year deal, and now there are reports that the Nats have a three year deal on the table for him. That can only mean that Dunn's agent is holding to his expectation that he can get a four year deal in free agency. Otherwise he'd be signed now.This is apparently the same agent that had Dunn holding out for more than a two year deal in the 2008-09 offseason. How'd that one work out?

  37. JD - Oct 6, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    As I've said all along: The best move re Dunn would have been to trade him for the best possible prospect; if they could have had Dan Hudson they should have done it; keep in mind they still could have signed him as a FA. If he was a type 'A' FA my instinct would be to let him go and take the draft choices; if he is really a type 'B' FA I would offer 2 yrs + an option; no more. Not having Dunn in the lineup does not mean you have to regress; there are many ways to improve the lineup especially if you have the resources saved by not signing Dunn. Playing Morse at 1st base and improving the outfield by signing 2 very good players or acquiring them via trade is one option. Spending some of that money to improve the rotation is a better way to go yet.

  38. alexva - Oct 6, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    For all the talk about Riggleman and the 10 game improvement, he actually managed them to a lower percentage this year vs. the time he held the job last year. His grade should be lower than C.

  39. upperdeck4 - Oct 6, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    Although, Mark, I generally agree with your grades, I have to disagree on a couple. I do not see how Tyler Clippard merits more than a C. He had way too many bad outings to merit anything higher. Additionally, when the set-up man has that many wins, it is often a sign that he is blowing leads. Also, with respect to Rizzo, I'd give him at best a C+. The Bruney deal was a disaster; it appears that the Dunn matter will also be a disaster.Additionally, how about giving an F to the Lerners?

  40. Steve M. - Oct 6, 2010 at 6:00 PM

    I am going to play GM like I have the ability to raise payroll by $35 million next year and sign 3 players (one was with the Nats last year).In 2008, the team was in bad shape. In 2009, it underperformed. In 2010 coming out of Spring Training, it looked scary with the hole in rightfield. The team overall finished just below the estimates and not by much. So much of the expectations of achieving the 72 to 75 wins were on Nyjer Morgan being the sparkplug he was in 2009, and he turned out to be a disaster. How can 1 guy fall so far from where he was the prior year? It happens, and Rizzo and Riggleman stuck with their guy like a bad marriage.If only 1 change was made to this team for 2011, I think the leadoff spot is crucial to find a .350+ OBP guy with speed and can play CF. Rizzo has to find a way to re-sign Dunn, find his leadoff man, and get 1 power bat for the bench, and 1 high ceiling low investment guy like Brandon Webb or if I was spending Lerner's money I would sign Dunn, get Carl Crawford, and Zach Greinke. Yep, I just ran payroll to $92 million next year and now this team can make a run for the playoffs and increase attendence to the numbers Bill Ladson predicted for last year!

  41. Anonymous - Oct 6, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    @SteveM,I think the payroll drops to SD levels next year if they lose Dun which is between 35 and 40 million. So, yes indeed, Mike Rizzo can go out and get a Crawford, a Grienke, a Werth, a Cliff Lee and stay well within the payroll parameters of the last 3 years.

  42. Steve M. - Oct 6, 2010 at 7:52 PM

    Anon @2:40. I went through Cots and tallied up the current players that should be here in 2011 plus the salaries the Nats carry for Strasburg and Harper and Maya that have to be paid out and I came up with $48 million without Dunn. I plugged in numbers for the 4 arbitration eligible players in Morse, Willingham, Burnett, and Lannan and included the contractual increase for Zimmerman and took out Wang.So add $14 mill for Dunn and you are at $62 mill before adding $16.5 for Crawford and $13.5 for Greinke which is how I came up with $92 million as I figure they will back end a deal for Greinke in a 3 year $45 million contract and Crawford a 4 year $74 million deal.If Rizzo wants Crawford, the Nats will have to overpay.

  43. Anonymous8 - Oct 6, 2010 at 10:46 PM

    Steve M. – I went to Cots and your numbers look close. All depends what happens with all the Arb eligible players.I don't think Greinke would go from making $13.5 to the Nats at $13.5 even though you say the deal would average $15 mill per year. He is probably looking for 4 year $68 million in my opinion. Still not sure about him as he just didn't look close to what he was in 2009. I also don't see Lerner doing 2 big Free Agents on top of Dunn so it is probably pie in the sky.I would like to see the re-sign Dunn and try to pull off the coup de grĂ¢ce to all the doubters that think the Nats can't pull off a blockbuster Free Agent signing and get Carl Crawford!

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 79 15.0
NEW YORK 76 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 85 20.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Sunday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (4) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 67 2.5
y-ST. LOUIS 87 69 4.5
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 71 7.0 --
PITTSBURGH 84 71 7.0 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 11.5 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Sunday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 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.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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