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Plenty of money still to spend

Dec 21, 2010, 3:49 PM EDT

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jayson Werth got a huge contract, but he's only making $10 million in 2011.

The Nationals front office has stated pretty clearly for several months that now is the time to start adding high-priced acquisitions, whether via free agency or trades. The organization is willing and able to increase payroll, and already this winter we've seen the Nats sign Jayson Werth to the 14th-largest contract in baseball history while making legitimate offers to either sign or trade for high-salary pitchers like Cliff Lee and Zack Greinke.

There's no questioning the Lerner family's willingness to spend money on players this offseason. That doesn't, however, mean they actually will spend more money on players in 2011 than they have in the past.

In fact, it's entirely possible the Nationals' Opening Day payroll in 2011 won't surpass last year's $66.2 million total and actually could come up short of it.

How is that possible? Let's look at a few reasons how…

1) Though the total value of Werth's seven-year contract is a staggering $126 million, his 2011 salary is a relatively meager $10 million. Werth's salary doesn't reach the $20 million figure until 2014.Read more ยป

  1. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 21, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    Oh great!…. Here comes JayB….

  2. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 21, 2010 at 3:56 PM

    I do like the absence of Justin Maxwell and Willie Harris, though.

  3. Mark - Dec 21, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    Hey Mark, that's pretty much the numbers that I have. One nit, he MLB minimumis $414 K for 2011.

  4. slopitchtom - Dec 21, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    I'm presuming this doesn't include any incentive bonuses some players have in their contract. I believe Livan will make substantially more that $1 million if he pitches as well or as often in 2011 as he did in 2010.

  5. Steve M. - Dec 21, 2010 at 4:15 PM

    The team sits most likely at 23 players right now as there are 4 on your list that won't play on Opening Day 2011 so there is certainly more payroll to add to this :1) Stephen Strasburg2) Bryce Harper3) Jesus Flores4) Chien-Ming WangIf you add:1) Derrek Lee $ 9,000,0002) Carl Pavano $10,000,000Then the team is at $71,000,000. Also of note is you are still dealing with back-end loaded contracts for Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth which does skew the numbers by almost $11,000,000 from fair market value.I do have to agree with Mark's statement about the Phase 2 should be increasing the overall payroll.Fortunately, the Nationals have plenty of cash waiting to be spent.If they don't? Well, good luck explaining to your fan base how "Phase 2" actually involves spending less money than "Phase 1" did.

  6. Mark Zuckerman - Dec 21, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    Mark: I was trying to figure out if the league minimum goes up next year, but I couldn't find that anywhere. Thanks. So basically add $14,000 to each of the "under control" players, which adds about $150,000 to the grand total. Doesn't really affect the overall big-picture number.Slopitchtom: You are correct that these numbers are base salaries only, no incentives. But it should be noted that the $66 million figure I used for this year's Opening Day payroll also includes base salaries only. Livan (and others) made money in incentives as the season played out, but that's not reflected in the $66 million figure. So the comparison from 2010 to 2011 is still valid.

  7. DFL - Dec 21, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    A problem for the Nats is that many of the more talented players don't want to play in DC. Adam Dunn actually wanted to play here but was jettisoned by King Rizzo, leaving a large hole in the line-up. That leaves the Nats with the orphans of Major League baseball with Dereck Lee the most likely big-name signee still available.

  8. Steve M. - Dec 21, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    DFL – I am still mourning the loss of Adam Dunn also, but I do see Derrek Lee after this thumb surgery as a good pickup even if you get something similar to his 2010 production although you would really like his odd # year production like 2003, 2005, 2007, or 2009. 2011 is an odd year so hopefully there is a bounce back.So the question to me is at 34 years old last year was it a thumb injury or age decline?LaRoche is the safer pickup and a LH bat, but Derrek Lee should give good numbers with near 20 HRs and if it was the thumb as the real problem for the drop off, then there should be big upside potential!D. Lee will probably take a 1 year deal but I hope Rizzo is smart enough to include a 2nd year option just in case Lee does put up big numbers.

  9. Bowdenball - Dec 21, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    For those who are curious, $52 million would put the Nationals near the bottom of MLB payrolls. Even adding $20 million for Pavano and Lee or LaRoche puts us in bottom half.By way of contrast, here is the 2010 MLB Fan Cost Index:http://teammarketing.com.ismmedia.com/ISM3/std-content/repos/Top/Fan%20Cost%20Index/MLB/MLB_FCI_2010.pdfIf they are waiting until the time is right to spend money, I support that plan. But if that's the plan, then they should also wait until the time is right to charge fans accordingly.

  10. JaneB - Dec 21, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    At this point, how do they spend a bunch for a major hurler without trading away pieces we want to keep (Espy, Storen, etc.)? I thought there was no one left to buy, straight up.ANd what is the deadline for getting back down to 40 guys?

  11. JaneB - Dec 21, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    PS to Steve M: I'm still in mourning, too. We named our Christmas tree after the big guy. The first Nats year, we named it after Livo and we got him back, eventually. What else can a powerless fan do?Also: Went to see "How Do You Know?" — the James L. Brooks movie featuring a character who plays a Nat. Waste of time, on many levels.

  12. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 21, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    JaneB… Pavano is still out there.

  13. Nattydread - Dec 21, 2010 at 4:58 PM

    Interesting that the Nats paid about the same for Rick Ankiel that Cleveland paid for Kearns. Kearns is a better bet — still — I don't want to see him in DC again.

  14. Kenz aFan - Dec 21, 2010 at 5:06 PM

    Mark, Shouldn't you be including the $4 million in bonus money that's due to be paid to Jason Werth in 2011?In regards to payroll, if the Nats continue to increase it at the same 9 to 10 percent they have been during Phase 1, then the 2011 payroll should hit the $72 million mark. That said, if Phase 2 indeed means a more significant increase in payroll, then even adding Derrek Lee and Carl Pavano still doesn't bring the 2011 payroll to that Phase 1 mark of $72 million.When it comes to promises of increased payroll, all the good intentions in the world wont earn the Nats even one win.It's time for the Nats to either put up, or shut up, and if they cant put up, they need to fess up and prepare to see a lot of empty seats, because only the die-hard fans will be left to watch the games.A baseball team's bread and butter (key to higher revenues due to trickle down effect) are the fringe fans, the bandwagon jumpers, the fans that take in an occasional game, not the die-hard fans. When fans fill a ballpark, the trickle down effect means a whole lot more that than just ticket revenues increasing.Smart teams will turn all those once in a while fans into die-hard fans and reap the benefits, both short and long term. The Nats need to start showing some smarts.

  15. Mark - Dec 21, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    Dunn is gone and time to move on as he just wasn't clutch. On the other hand, Derrek Lee hit .283 with a .411 OBP last year with 2 outs and RISP. Lee also performs better versus RH relievers and his HR power is split almost equally per AB versus both righties and lefties and he hits more HRs on the road.Lee hit his 29th career HR against Rick Ankiel in Ankiel's rookie season which is always good for clubhouse trivia when you ponder how the Nats LF gave up a HR to the team's 1st baseman.

  16. phil dunn - Dec 21, 2010 at 5:20 PM

    All of this goes to show that the Lerners are still cheap, despite their moment of temporary insantity when they signed Werth. Werth addressed a hole that didn't exist. The other two glaring holes, starting pitching and first base, have not been addressed. There could be a hole in LF too. The jury is still out on Bernadina, especially after his season ending slump.

  17. Pauloyd - Dec 21, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    I am curious for an example of how they can still make a major pitching upgrade via doggedness, and still have there be a cost beyond players.

  18. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2010 at 5:45 PM

    Wow, we didn't have a hole in right field? That seemed to be the one thing people talked about all season long.

  19. PAY TO PLAY - Dec 21, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    phil, can you keep the Phase 2 comments of "cheap" off the Blog until the season starts?I say that 1/2 smart a$$ and 1/2 seriously as it isn't fair to make that judgment until the final dollar is spent.While they aren't spending the money like I believe they have needed to, I also have never believed the Lerner's were cheap as they spent $450,000,000 to purchase a shell of a team that everyone knew was worth nowhere near that amount. Forbes has them valued at $387,000,000 so if you take a $63,000,000 loss in value and add back the profits they made in 2007 to 2010 I think you find that this was a horrible investment.Here is why, take your $450,000,000 and if you left it in bonds 5 years ago at 6.50% then on the interest alone would bring back just under $30,000,000 annually.Hope you get my point.

  20. Tim - Dec 21, 2010 at 5:54 PM

    It really donesn't matter how much they spend this season. What matters is adding pieces that can be part of a good team in 2012 and beyond. And as important, clearing out the dead wood so that our young guys have a chance to sink or swim. Dunn was the wrong guy. Really not stoked on any of the 1B or Starting pitching choices out there right now. La Roche seems ok, but not amazing. I really dont' care if we get him or Lee or neither. I would like to see Morse play once a week at 1st and see how he does.

  21. phil dunn - Dec 21, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    Pay to Play–The low hanging fruit has been devoured. Only the scraps remain. From here till the season starts is dumpster dipping time.

  22. raymitten - Dec 21, 2010 at 6:10 PM

    My prediction is that Drew Storen is going to be traded to the Rays for a starter.

  23. DJ - Dec 21, 2010 at 6:11 PM

    Mark-Excellent work as always. You are the best Nats beat writer out there. At what point does the media come out and say the Lerners are cheap? Constant low payroll after low payroll get tiresome.

  24. Mark - Dec 21, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    Phil, it almost seems a deep seeded disdain for the Lerners as you would sing your tune no matter what they do. They went after Cliff Lee and got Jayson Werth and if they get LaRoche or D. Lee, I will be content.I always wonder if you speak from any ground of great spending yourself and what other defiencies you have. You certainly are a rude man.

  25. N. Cognito - Dec 21, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    Let's face it. There are a few zealots (I'm being kind) here that view every Nats decision they don't agree with through "cheap" glasses.If only this blog had an ignore feature.

  26. Steve M. - Dec 21, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    N.Cognito, I agree and I think Mark @ 1:25 said it right that it is a deep seeded disdain.You look at other Franchises close to us that don't spend money like they should like the Orioles and Pirates and their fans don't scream "cheap". When Leonsis traded Gilbert Arenas who was his most expensive player, nobody said it was a move being "cheap".I wonder why Phil Dunn tags Lerner as being "cheap"????? PayToPlay made a very good analysis of the Lerner's investment and as a fan I hope they spend wisely and make the moves they should be making. I do expect that what I pay for tickets is commensurate with the product on the field which has been my biggest concern from Day #1 with this franchise.

  27. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2010 at 7:08 PM

    The Nats dont have to explain anything to me about phase 2, they are looking for quality not just anybody, thats why we are not the Mets. This isnt the best free agent market for starting pitching.

  28. Bowdenball - Dec 21, 2010 at 7:09 PM

    N. Cognito:I hope you are not grouping me in with the "Lerners are cheap" crowd. I like what they're doing to build this team. My preference, and the reason I contrasted the payroll with the Fan Cost Index, is to make the point that they should not be charging for a premium product unless and until they provide one.

  29. N. Cognito - Dec 21, 2010 at 7:11 PM

    From pieces of information about how the Lerners conduct business (i.e. going over expense accounts with a fine-tooth comb, requiring significant justifications for expenditures, being sticklers for following contracts) one can certainly come to the belief they are cheap, as far as the day-to-day operations of their enterprise are concerned.One can certainly disagree with the Lerner/Kasten approach to rebuilding the Nats, even though the formula they are using is not uncommon and if executed well, is usually successful.Arguments about the amount of the payroll are the argument of the ignorant, as these are hollow arguments especially considering they don't account for the contract status of many of the young players on the Nats roster.

  30. N. Cognito - Dec 21, 2010 at 7:17 PM

    Bowdenball said… "I hope you are not grouping me in with the "Lerners are cheap" crowd. I like what they're doing to build this team. My preference, and the reason I contrasted the payroll with the Fan Cost Index, is to make the point that they should not be charging for a premium product unless and until they provide one."I agree that the cost of some tickets at Nats Park are too high, however, your argument would be better if it was Fan Cost Index vs On Field Results.The cost of parking is ridiculous.

  31. PAY TO PLAY - Dec 21, 2010 at 7:20 PM

    Bowdenball, most of the product is what we see on the field and the stadium we walk into, but you also have to factor in that as fans we have to absorb part of the enormous purchase price paid for the team.The Oakland A's can do so much of what they do because they were purchased on a fair system and paid only $180,000,000 for a better team a year before the Nats were essentially auctioned off by MLB.We the fans were screwed from the beginning so yes, we pay more for an inferior product right now.

  32. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2010 at 7:30 PM

    "I like what they're doing to build this team. My preference, and the reason I contrasted the payroll with the Fan Cost Index, is to make the point that they should not be charging for a premium product unless and until they provide one."This is a dumb comment each and every time it is made, not just by you. No team in any sport bases its ticket prices on the quality of the team it is fielding. Prices are based on what the market will bear in that particular city, just as prices for any other commodity vary from city to city. Gas costs more in DC than it does in Cleveland or Pittsburgh, food costs more, housing costs more. By the same token, salaries are higher in DC than in those other cities. So you would expect that the cost of disposable items such as entertainment should be more in cities like DC too. MLB is entertainment. Whether it is good or bad has no bearing on what you should expect to pay for it. You'd pay more for a bad play or movie in DC than you would in those other cities too. The Fan Cost Index you are citing should correlate with the Consumer Price Index in the various MLB cities, not with team payroll as you erroneously assume.

  33. Theophilus - Dec 21, 2010 at 7:35 PM

    My guess is Phil has loved the Redskins for the last 10-12 years.

  34. mjames - Dec 21, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    Payto play's analysis is not quite accurate as he assumes the $450mm was all equity. As I understand it they borrowed the money. They would have if they were smart investors. The money earned each year has been used to retire debt. I think they make $30 million a year. Assume they borrowed the entire $450 million and paid down $30 million year since 2006. $450mm – 150mm (debt repayment 5yrs * 30))= $300mm versus the $365mm enterprise value per Forbes. It looks like that Lerners increased their equity value in the Nats by $65mm. Not bad if you ask me. I say they spend the money or "off with their heads". We are tired of "eating cake" or " we are made as hell and we are not going to take this any more".Give me Lee and I will be happy with my cake. I do not want them to trade the young core . I have nightmares of the Colon trade.

  35. Steve M. - Dec 21, 2010 at 7:50 PM

    mjames, your analysis is flawed. I guess you have never purchased a home and taken out a mortgage.

  36. Bowdenball - Dec 21, 2010 at 7:53 PM

    Anonymous 2:30:You are wrong. There is some correlation between size of market and ticket price, of course, but there is also a correlation with player salary and the quality of the product. Ticket prices are not and should not be purely a function of market forces. There is a civic responsibility aspect to owning a sports team- a stewardship, if you will- that virtually all owners recognize. Owners are expected to set "fair" prices, not the prices that the market will bear (otherwise you'd see teams like the Lakers and Red Sox that sell out every game selling their tickets for far, far higher prices). My point was that are prices are not necessarily "fair" when you consider what ownership is currently spending to enhance our experience. Here's another chart that goes beyond payroll and demonstrates that our ownership group spends the third-lowest percentage of revenue on baseball-related expenditures in the league, ahead of only the scam in Miami and the Padres:https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0Ai7jvL72qriOdEdFcWs2TjVlOUV3MXI0YXVJY0gtalE&hl=en#gid=0

  37. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 21, 2010 at 7:55 PM

    Good call Anonymous 2:30… I stay out of the cost versus play on the field thing. As a resident of Central Florida for the past 35 years, I've paid what ever it cost to go to a Tampa Bay Bucs game or a Tampa Bay Rays game without consideration for the cost of the "product on the field". And believe me, the difference in the product has varied greatly but the cost has always been "what the market will bear".I treat the cost of Nationals games the same way. When I buy my tickets, I know I'm probably not rooting for or watching a play off contender (yet) but feel that the price of entertainment is acceptable for the market place.

  38. Doc - Dec 21, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    With all that moolah, why didn't they go after Carl Crawford, in addition to signing Werth, and additionally keep Dunn. Werth is real good, but Crawford was the prize!Now they are struggling to sign a 1B guy.

  39. Steve M. - Dec 21, 2010 at 8:06 PM

    Bowdenball, I think your point is made but again the off-season isn't close to over yet so we are having this discussion at Phase 1.5 at this point.I remember having similar discussions at this time of the year in 2008 and in January 2009 the Nats signed Adam Dunn. It is too early to criticize the payroll rather know where the team is at as a discussion point.My biggest issue comes with how Rizzo painted himself in a corner declaring a #1 starter as the primary goal in a market that is thin. Like MJAMES said, nobody wants another nightmare like the Colon trade.That potential Greinke trade would have been a disaster. Rizzo is best served pulling back and concentrating on his 1st baseman and getting a solid #3 pitcher who I think is Carl Pavano. He should then look to trade with the Royals some back of the rotation pitchers for Lorenzo Cain and other Royal prospects or see how he can pry away Yonder Alonso from the Reds.

  40. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2010 at 8:07 PM

    Perhaps Bowdenball would be happy if the team set a base ticket price and then charged fans extra to leave the stadium after a win, and even more if something really notable like a no-hitter happened, and raised their basic cable TV rates in the same fashion. (If you watch a game and they win, it turns into a pay-per-view!)Would that make more people come to games, to turn it into a gambling exercise like that?

  41. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2010 at 8:13 PM

    "Here's another chart that goes beyond payroll and demonstrates that our ownership group spends the third-lowest percentage of revenue on baseball-related expenditures in the league, ahead of only the scam in Miami and the Padres:https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0Ai7jvL72qriOdEdFcWs2TjVlOUV3MXI0YXVJY0gtalE&hl=en#gid=0"Ooooooooo, he has some random unsourced spreadsheet. He MUST be right.

  42. Bowdenball - Dec 21, 2010 at 8:18 PM

    Anonymous 3:07:I'd be happy if our ownership spent around 90% of revenue (which is comprised largely of money paid to the club directly or indirectly by fans) on the baseball product. That's the league average. We spend just over 80%. It seems like a reasonable request. If you disagree, fine, but there's no need to spew nonsensical strawman arguments in your disagreement. Explain to me like an adult why you think I'm wrong to expect ownership to spend the same percentage of revenue on improving the product as the rest of the league.Steve M.- you're right, of coruse. I reserve final judgment until the end of the offseason.

  43. Bowdenball - Dec 21, 2010 at 8:21 PM

    Anonymous 3:13:What's with the combative tone? I'm a longtime Nats fan and reader/poster here who is making a reasonable point. I give the team and the front office credit when it is due. You're acting like I'm some idiot Phillies fan interloper.I believe the spreadsheet derived from the Forbes' annual "business of baseball" data.

  44. Kenz aFan - Dec 21, 2010 at 8:22 PM

    phil dunn said… Werth addressed a hole that didn't exist.I beg to differ. Last season, five different players combined to hit .248 have an on base percentage .327 and slugged for .439 and had an OPS of .767, while Werth hit .296, had a .388 OBP, slugged for .532 and had an OPS of .921. Werth offers better and more consistent number on both offense and defense.For what it's worth, right field wasn't the Nats worse position last yes, Center Field was.

  45. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 21, 2010 at 8:24 PM

    And still is.

  46. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    "I'd be happy if our ownership spent around 90% of revenue (which is comprised largely of money paid to the club directly or indirectly by fans) on the baseball product. That's the league average. We spend just over 80%."Well, it's doubtful that they get the largest portion of their revenue from fans. $25 million or so each year comes from MASN, and it's a fixed amount, not something based on how many fans are watching which cable system. More people watch the O's than the Nats on MASN, so arguably that money is coming from O's fans. Then they get another $20-25 million or so as luxury tax from high-spending teams like the Yankees. So it's entirely possible that their payroll already represents 90% or even more of the revenue they obtain from Nats fans like yourself. You happy now?

  47. PAY TO PLAY - Dec 21, 2010 at 8:39 PM

    Kenz aFan is exactly right. Luckily this season Rizzo took care of getting the outfield in a better situation compared to last years disaster.Spring Training will prove a lot if either Nyjer or Bernadina don't perform as there is more depth with Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel, and Corey Brown is on the 40 man.The bench is now stocked well and the only problem I see is Gonzalez and Morse as the only backup infielders as Lombardozzi isn't on the 40 man.The bullpen hasn't defined the closer role yet and there is plenty of competition for a few spots so this will be interesting along with the back-end of the starting rotation.Lastly of course is 1st base. Drama, drama, drama, as this is taking a long time but as mentioned Dunn wasn't signed until January 2009.Of course all could change if Rizzo pulls off another trade!

  48. Bowdenball - Dec 21, 2010 at 8:43 PM

    "You happy now?"Not really, no. Bottom line is that, assuming the data is correct, Nats ownership is spending a lower percentage of thier total revenue on the baseball product than virtually everyone else in the league. I'd like to see fan expenses lowered accordingly until this number is more in line with the league average. It seems like a reasonable request, given the fact that baseball team ownership has long been considered to have a stewardship/public trust element to it (reflected in things like the antitrust exemption, stadium financing, etc.).People seem to think my posts are angry. I'm not angry. I'm just a fan and a season ticketholder who thinks this is as good a place as any to ask some reasonable questions.

  49. Golfersal - Dec 21, 2010 at 8:53 PM

    All I can say is Cheap, cheap and more cheap.As I write this it looks like Brandon Webb will be a Ranger and Adam LaRoche will be a Os. Yes we got Werth but got a lot of Rick Ankiel and Henry Rodriguez, not the type of players that are going to sell season tickets.Whatever happen to Rizzo's statement that he was going to sign a starter and relief help (guess that's Wang and Rodriguez) and replace Dunn (guess that's Werth).So according to my scorecard the Nats have gotten rid of Dunn, Willingham and relief pitcher Peralta who was impressive but we let go to the Marlins. In return we get Werth, Ankiel and Rodriguez, frankly about the same as the team was that lost 93 games.But as you point out, the Nats will save money with the 2011 team.What a shame and Merry Christmas to all us Nats fans.

  50. N. Cognito - Dec 21, 2010 at 9:01 PM

    Bowdenball said… "I'd like to see fan expenses lowered accordingly until this number is more in line with the league average. It seems like a reasonable request, given the fact that baseball team ownership has long been considered to have a stewardship/public trust element to it (reflected in things like the antitrust exemption, stadium financing, etc.)."That is your opinion. It is a fact that some people share your opinion. Other than as it pertains to operating a successful business, it is not a fact that they have a stewardship/public trust element.Baseball teams are first and foremost a businesses. Always have been. You could look it up.

  51. Bowdenball - Dec 21, 2010 at 9:11 PM

    N. Cognito:While baseball is of course first and foremost a business, it is absolutely a fact that there is a stewardship/public trust element to baseball independent of business concerns. Language to that effect can be found in the jurisprudence protecting baseball's antitrust exemption. What's more, the Lerners have referred to it as such:http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcsportsbog/2010/05/mark_lerner_calls_ownership_a.htmlAnd even if this viewpoint is naive, my point about baseball expenditures as a percentage of revenue does not depend on it. The bottom line is that the Nats' ownership appears to be putting far less back into the product than the average major league club. That's relevant information regardless of whether they're obliged to do better as public stewards or merely should be encouraged to do better by their customers.

  52. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 21, 2010 at 9:18 PM

    You guys are giving me a headache! All I want is a serviceable first baseman with some pop in his bat and a bonifide starting pitcher. Lee or LaRoche and Pavano will do. Golfersal… we already have Brandon Webb… we just call him Chien Ming Wang.

  53. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2010 at 9:21 PM

    Whatever happen to Rizzo's statement that he was going to sign a starter and relief help (guess that's Wang and Rodriguez) and replace Dunn (guess that's Werth).See Nats aggressive pursuit of Cliff Lee and Zach Grienke. I bet they have other poles in the fire. Relievers? Why do you think they were ready to trade Storen? What the bejeesus do you call Henry Rodriguez and Elvin Ramirez? One guy throws in the triple digits? Yeah, they didn't sign a Matty Capps but do they really need one? I'm not so sure? Werth fills the hole in right field. He doesn't replace Dunn. My guess is that will eventually be Prince Fielder or a high close to MLB ready first base prospect. Derrick Lee for one or two meanwhile. Willingham's replacement is likely going to eventually be Harper, Justin Upton, or BJ Upton. Getting a top of the rotation starter is still the highest priority item. Thus the pursuit of Cliff Lee against all odds. Thus the almost trade for Grienke.Next?

  54. Golfersal - Dec 21, 2010 at 9:33 PM

    One thing that we should point out for season ticket holders.The Nats have given us some price relief, they have a frequent fan package. Last year for example I had club level seats that cost $7,200 and was given a choice of other free, yes free seats. I took one game in the Presidents Club (cost $600 for two people, free for me) and one Diamond Club ($350 for two, free again). I also got 29 club level seats ($3,190, free for me) which were closer to home plate but seven rows back (no complaints). Now I wasn't able to sell these seats, but I was able to sell my seats and sit in the free seats so I did very well and my season ticket costs went down considerably. They have the same plan this year so the Nats have given us some ticket refund opportunities for season ticket holders.

  55. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2010 at 9:36 PM

    The Nationals have done plenty of things to cause people to believe they are cheap.Here's an example. TThe most cost effective way to acquire talent, by far, is the draft. Yes, we spent "record money" on Strasburg and Harper, but had we acquired them any other way the'd have cost a ton more. Via draft, they were bargains.So in 2009, after selecting Strasburg, the Nats went cheap. They drafted based on a budget, trying to select guys they could sign under slot.Storen is a nice player, but a closer the 10th player taken in the draft? The Nat's signed him about 20% below slot. Next pick Kobernus signed at slot.Next pick Trevor Holder, who was completely surprised to be taken so early, signed at 60% below slot. (IIRC, he was drafted in the 10th round the previous year)These are all good players. But there would have been little risk in letting Holder slide another round or two.Good news is that this seems to be a thing of the past, in that there was no evidence in the 2010 draft of keeping to a budget.Another example, the Nats spend less on payroll for managers and coaches than almost any other team. They are targeting these low cost people for a reason. They are good enough, and they will work for well under the league average. They are hiring managers and coaches within a budget, and very obviously a small budget.

  56. Sec3 My Sofa - Dec 21, 2010 at 10:02 PM

    Anon 4:36, to be fair, that doesn't take into account that draft position is a rough estimate at the very best. They might simply have assessed his worth more accurately, or they might have had intel that another team was interested and the draftee would NOT, in fact, necessarily be available at the next pick. Just a thought.

  57. Sec3 - Dec 21, 2010 at 10:04 PM

    "The Nats have given us some price relief"Not to mention keeping all those seats available in the lower bowl for us $10 tickets.

  58. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2010 at 10:12 PM

    sec3, absolutley could be (especially if his agent was Boras!)Said ESPN.com's Keith Law, "Nobody saw him as that type of pick.""You know, I was just extremely excited, and shocked, honestly," Holder said. "I felt like I won the lottery, honestly. It was the coolest thing in the world. I just wasn't expected it at all. I had an idea I would go somewhat early, but no idea it would be in the third round."

  59. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2010 at 10:22 PM

    @anonymous 5:12PM,Holder is still progressing through the minors. Making improvements at each and every level. He is now ahead of 4th round pick McGreary. Ahead of first round pick Josh Smoker? Is he any worst than Cole KImball was at this stage in his minor league development? Than high draft pick Adam Carr? However, in 2009 it was still Bowden's cronies making the calls on draft day. It was likely done by committee with Stan, the Lerners, everyone putting in their two cents. ONE STARK difference: RIZZO managed to sign the bulk of them creating a huge disparity with what had occurred in the past under Bowden who always failed to sign most of his picks. Not just #1 Crow. That hurts a franchise worst than just about anything else just for the reasons you gave in your earlier post.

  60. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2010 at 10:32 PM

    Anon 5:22, it's not about whether Holder (or Storen for that matter) is doing well. It's about whether the Nats drafted with a budget, selecting players earlier than they needed to in order to save money. In the case of Holder, if you make an assessment based on what we know, you'd kind of have to say yes, they did draft him earlier than they needed to, and as a result they saved about $400,000 in bonus money by getting him to sign at 60% under slot.If Rizzo had to draft within a tight budget, I think he did well.

  61. sec3 - Dec 21, 2010 at 10:47 PM

    Except you can't know when they "needed" to. Just because he wasn't projected to go earlier doesn't mean everyone else abides by that. Just sayin. Your point, anon 5:32, I believe, is that they passed on other players because they didn't want to pay them a bonus. Well, that may be. I don't know. But $400,000 doesn't seem worth all the fuss.

  62. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2010 at 11:28 PM

    It wasn't Bowden's fault that Crow didn't sign. Lerner was the one who didn't commit the funds to sign Crow.

  63. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2010 at 11:32 PM

    sec3, not disagreeing. It just looks to me like that is what they did, but of course we can't know. In 2009, after Strasburg they spent $1M under slot on the draft.In 2010, after Harper they spent $1M+ over slot. (maybe a lot more, I don't know).So regardless, it might be that Rizzo was able to convince the Lerners that spending money in the draft is the smartest money you can spend.I was just trying to point out some areas where a logical and thoughtful person might perhaps come to the conclusion that the Lerners are cheap. Some evidence (inconclusive as it is) that they kept a tight budget on the draft and on managers and coaches.Thanks for letting me play.

  64. Doc - Dec 22, 2010 at 12:54 AM

    @ Mark 12:12 PM Small point, but still worth commenting on IMO. The bit of trivia on Ankiel, and the HR he gave up to DLee demonstrates what makes this blog a lot of fun. Also, demonstrates how many commenters to this blog are in control of many stats, which when everybody contributes a piece here, and a piece there it becomes a whole story.

  65. Anonymous8 - Dec 22, 2010 at 1:57 AM

    Doc – I just red through all the posts of the day and really enjoyed that Ankiel/DLee trivia too.I am glad you took the time to recognize what is so special about this blog which is Mark Zuckerman and his commentors! This blog is definitely the best in the Natsmosphere!

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 96 66 --
ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
NEW YORK 79 83 17.0
MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE

NL WILD CARD GAME
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)

NLDS
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
OCT. 7: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
*if necessary

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.

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