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Who’s on first?

Dec 16, 2010, 4:48 PM EDT

The Nationals have a right fielder (one who will cost them $126 million over the next seven years). They've got one of the best third basemen in the game. They've got a pair of young middle infielders who can grow together.

The Nats have both a veteran and two young catchers who can share the workload behind the plate. They've got a solid left fielder who could be traded (but a couple of backup options in case that happens). And they've got a center fielder who is going to get a chance to prove last year was an anomaly.

So what's still missing from this puzzle? Oh yeah, a first baseman.

Plain and simple, the Nationals don't have one. (For those still clamoring for Michael Morse, general manager Mike Rizzo made it clear once again yesterday that everyone's favorite part-time player is still "a backup plan" in case another first baseman isn't acquired.) Which means Rizzo essentially has three remaining options: Sign either Adam LaRoche or Derrek Lee or attempt to trade for a first baseman.

Let's deal with the last scenario first. A trade seems increasingly unlikely, based on the way Rizzo was talking yesterday following the Jayson Werth press conference. For one thing, trades cost players in return, and the Nats aren't really looking to fill one roster hole byRead more ยป

  1. Anonymous - Dec 16, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    Mark, Rosenthal has the Nats in serious discussions with the A's about Willingham.http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/Oakland-As-in-talks-with-Washington-Nationals-for-OF-Josh-Willingham-121510What can you tell us?

  2. joemktg - Dec 16, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    This one's easy: Fogamirror plays 1B this year, and the Lerners, as a part of PHASE 2, sign Prince Fielder during the 2012 off season. Problem solved. Yeah: I slept at a Holiday Inn last night.But they've got to improve the starting rotation this year via trade so as to make Nats Park inviting for FAs next year. Phase 2 doesn't happen just because you have a big checkbook: ask Brian Cashman.

  3. joemktg - Dec 16, 2010 at 5:05 PM

    And sign Zim NOW to a long term deal: lock him in.

  4. Jeeves - Dec 16, 2010 at 5:05 PM

    I would rather have Lee for one year, giving the Nats some time to assess the situation. Imagine the defense on the corners. As well, Lee, recovered from last year's injury, is a much better hitter than LaRoche, whether facing left or right handed pitchers. I still think the Nat's future first baseman should be Norris, with Ramos behind the plate.

  5. Anonymous - Dec 16, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    One thing is certain the Athletics have some top notch young starting pitching prospects they brought into the rotation last year. Cahill, Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Mazzaro, Outman. Pedro Figueroa looks interesting. Now they've also signed Harden.Next guy up is first baseman Chris Carter a big power hitter. Unfortunately, he is a right handed hitter.Have to assume (knowing Rizzo) he is trying to get pitching from the Athletics.

  6. Anonymous - Dec 16, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    At this point I strongly suspect Norris ends up behind the plate. The other catchers (Flores and Ramos).

  7. Anonymous - Dec 16, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    @JoeMktg,Zimmerman has just stated in public that he is not YET (operative word) interested in signing an extension. He wants to see progress toward building a winner. He doesn't share Jayson Werth's optimism … he is still in wait and see mode.As is often the case on this and other boards, people tend to blame Rizzo when in the end its often the player/agent balking at coming to the Nats. See Cliff Lee.

  8. Anonymous - Dec 16, 2010 at 5:20 PM

    Boswell just went into full backpedal on Lee. Last week he said Lee was washed up (lost his bat speed). Boz said he didn't know about Lee's wrist injury and subsequent surgery. That makes a rebound from last year more likely. It also makes Jeeves's opinion (sign Lee)sound good and not signing LaRoche sound OK. Lee is also great with the glove (matching the Nats' pitching and defense model).fpcsteve

  9. raymitten - Dec 16, 2010 at 5:37 PM

    I heard that the Nats were heavier on Lee at this point. I not sure I can successfuly articulate why, but I'd rather have Lee than LaRoche — LaRoche seems too Pittsburgh Pirates. Lee has some post season success (he was on the right side of the Bartman game) and just seems like a better fit. I really want to keep the Hammer unless there is another OF signing/trade in the near future.

  10. joemktg - Dec 16, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    Anon 12:19,Supports my plea to take steps now to make the environment more attractive for next year's FAs. The great PHASE 2 doesn't happen without substantive changes. And PHASE 2 includes signing Zim to a LT deal.

  11. Will - Dec 16, 2010 at 5:58 PM

    With this talk about Willingham and the A's, it reminds me again how useful David Dejesus could have been to the Nats. He's a lefty with a good OBP, he can play all the OF positions, but is very good defensively in LF.Rizzo really missed the boat on that one, especially considering that all it took was Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks (who are basically Craig Stammen and your pick of any average A ball SP).

  12. Sunderland - Dec 16, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    But joemktg, Zimmerman by all accounts does not want to commit here and now for 7 more years. Why would he? He'll at least play out 2011, and likely 2012 as well before talks happen. He's NOT going to stay if we still stink.He's NOT going to extend now.

  13. NatinBeantown - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:11 PM

    I think I prefer LaRoche because I just don't think there are good options for 1B in 2012 in our system or coming on the market (unless, of course, Uncle Teddy offered Reston Town Center for Pujols as an FA in '11). Folks need to forget about Prince Fielder–his downward trajectory is steeper than Dunn's projects to be. Just not a "Rizzo guy" at all.*and yes, by "not in our system," I mean that the brain trust doesn't think Marrero is the 1B on a 'go for it' 2012 squad.

  14. natsfan1a - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    Waitaminute. Not one person came up with "what's on second"? I'm very disappointed in you people… ;-)

  15. Anonymous - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:26 PM

    Dumping Willingham for a couple of minor leaguers who will likely turn out to be duds makes no sense. What't the Nats history with minor league prospects acquired in trades?? It's pathetic.

  16. Anonymous - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:27 PM

    good point, I think they will sing lee and make a push for pujols next year…ha! Pujols is probably going to get a billion dollar contract.

  17. alexva - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    A's To Acquire Josh Willingham per MLB Trade RumorsBy Ben Nicholson-Smith [December 16 at 12:21pm CST]

  18. 1B Nick Johnson - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    I wouldn't mind coming back to Washington. I bat left-handed. And I would sign an incentive-laden 1 year contract.

  19. Anonymous - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:30 PM

    I agree with NatinBeantown on Marrero. This is just speculation on my part, but I bet he is playing for another organization on August 1, 2011 at the earliest or in spring training of 2012 at the latest. He apparently is best suited to be a DH in the AL.fpcsteve

  20. VladiHondo - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:33 PM

    My guess: Chris Carter of the A's

  21. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:34 PM

    I don't believe Rizzo would trade Willingham for a couple of minor league pitchers as reported by Rosenthall unless he had something else fairly big in the works.

  22. Pilchard - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:34 PM

    Yes, would not be smart to trade anyone for "minor league" duds, but would guess that Rizzo and his staff are capable of assessing which minor leaguers are least likely to be "duds".FWIW, the A's have a bit of a log jam at first base with Daric Barton and #2 prospect in the A's organization Chris Carter (Carter hit 34 HRs last year). Wonder if Rizzo is thinking about getting some 1B help from the A's.

  23. joemktg - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:37 PM

    Sunderland: I get that. That's why the Nats have to work TODAY to improve the rotation for tomorrow, so as to improve the environment and make it more inviting for FAs in 2012 as well as Zim to resign LT. Trading Willingham improves the defense, and perhaps provides more trade matter to bring in a starter. Improve the defense + improve the rotation = nice place to play in 2012.

  24. phil dunn - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    The Hammer is gone, dumped to the As for a couple of unnamed prospects. Maybe Zim will be next. After all, Teddy has to find a way to pay Werth's salary. I knew we would pay for Grandpa Ted's temporary insanity.

  25. NatinBeantown - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    My guess, Tyson Ross. Classic Rizzo guy: 6'-6", 225 lbs, high k/9, turns 24 in April and is on the cusp of MLB ready.

  26. Anonymous - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:41 PM

    ESPN says that one of the players in the trade (that they are calling a done deal)has major-league experience. They aren't saying whether they are pitchers or position players, though. I agree with NatsJack in Florida: I bet there is more to this than just trading Willingham away. I also wonder if this indicates the Nats are OK with a Bernadina/Morse platoon in leftfield.fpcsteve

  27. Anonymous - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    Would love for one to be 1B Daric Barton, but that is asking too much.

  28. Tcostant - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    Willinghan has been traded.http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=5926547No info on players, other than one minor leaguer and one who has at least some time in the bigs.

  29. Sunderland - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    Carter is right handed, and also plays LF.

  30. Jaxpo Nat - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:55 PM

    A's could trade Barton to make room for Carter at 1B, but can't see getting Barton for just Willingham.

  31. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:57 PM

    If, in fact, it is their #2 prospect Chris Carter, that would mean a left handed hitting 1st baseman is imperative. Carter is listed as a left fielder so I'm not sure how that leaves Bernandina and Morse. I'm positive this is the first of several dominoes to fall.

  32. DFL - Dec 16, 2010 at 6:59 PM

    So Willingham is gone along with Dunn. The Nats will be fun to root against this year.

  33. Mark - Dec 16, 2010 at 7:00 PM

    I just hope this trade wasn't to make sure he had a Roster spot in the OF for JMaxwell. Just saying (tongue in cheek)

  34. NG - Dec 16, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    As much as I wish it were so, there's no way the A's of all teams would trade 6 club-controlled years of their top prospect, Carter, for one arbitration year of a good but not spectacular player in Willingham. I like the Tyson Ross suggestion as the player with some major league experience, and one of their projectable low-level pitchers as #2. I'll throw out Justin Marks just b/c he's left handed. http://www.minorleagueball.com/2010/8/21/1634855/2010-top-20-oakland-athletics-pre

  35. markfd - Dec 16, 2010 at 7:29 PM

    Good luck Josh, you are one of the truely nice guys in the game!

  36. Anonymous - Dec 16, 2010 at 8:02 PM

    Ok, so let me get this straight:1) We lost Dunn and his 40 HRs (basically guaranteed each season) and still have not replaced his power in the #4 spot (do not even tell me Werth is a #4 hitter he is a #3 or #5-6 hitter meaning he is a slap hitter who gets lots of doubles based upon speed). 2) We lost our #5 hitter Willingham for two yet to be determined cans of corn neither of which will play LF or generate any power!? So, the batting order is what:Nyjer LIan RRyan R??? 1B ?Jayson RRoger LPudge RDanny Sso basically if Ryan, our anonymous 1B or Werth do not drive in the runs we will not score…hello Billy Ball version 2011…OY VEY!!!!

  37. Anonymous - Dec 16, 2010 at 8:08 PM

    Who is on first INDEED! with the Padres, Orioles and Nats all competing for D-Lee and LaRoche, one team is going to come up short, hence maybe you do want so urgency Mr. Rizzo or else Phase 2 will be shortly follwed by Phase III, which for you will be unemployment!

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