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Friday news and discussion

Jan 14, 2011, 12:00 PM EST

I’m on vacation this week, but NatsTown never sleeps. So in my absence, please feel free to use this thread to pass along any news from today (and the rest of the weekend) and to discuss any other Nats-related topics of your choice.

I’ll be back Monday to catch up on the events of the week and provide details about the coverage plan for the 2011 season.

110 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Jim Webster - Jan 14, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    The national tragedy in Tucson turns out to have been a tragedy for the baseball family as well. It struck me that we might have crossed paths with John Green if he scouted in Viera. We mostly sat in Sec.109 and Sec.110 right behind a battery of scouts with radar guns. Perhaps NatsJack or others may have met him. See

  2. Peyton Dowdy - Jan 14, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    New blogpost on the value of Utility Players.

  3. Anonymous - Jan 14, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    Following on a discussion from yesterday: where is the best place to sit in Nats Park for someone who follows the game closely, keeps score sometimes, and wants to be around knowledgable fans? In my experience the 3B grandstand is terrible. Where should I get my seats?

  4. Jim Webster - Jan 14, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Anon832am try our Sec 313. Right below Mark's perch, inexpensive, and you can see the whole field. Some old regulars around too.

  5. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 14, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    My best experiences usually occur standing in Right Center field between the red porch and the Miller Lite pavillion. There are always die hard knowledgeable fans swilling beer (I used to be a beer snob but as my taste buds decline with age, Miller and Bud suffice)and complaining about whatever the current issue may be.

  6. erocks33 - Jan 14, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    I find anywhere in the "Infield Gallery" section (300 level, between 1st and 3rd base) is the best place to watch a game. I used to have seats in this section at RFK (there it was the 400-level) and at Nats Park and found that not only are the sightlines fantastic for watching and keeping score of the game, but that in general this is where most of the knowledgeable fans sit as well. Alas, financial restraints prohibited me from maintaining my season tickets last season and this season as well.

  7. natsfan1a - Jan 14, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    Let's see whether I can post without any mishaps this time. We've always tended to put together our own mini-plans, so we've moved about a bit. That said, I do like the Infield Gallery section, as well as the 400 seats above it, to the third base side of the press box. Overall, I tend to be a Veeckian Upper Deckian type (and I do keep score, literally if not metaphorically – okay, that, too, sometimes :-)).

  8. Peyton Dowdy - Jan 14, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    Looks like Jeff Francis is scratched off our list now. He signed with the Royals.

  9. sm13 - Jan 14, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    Another vote for infield gallery. We have a group that shares seats in 310 — great view of the whole field, direct sight line into the Nats dugout, and, especially valuable in the summer, the seats are in the shade from 2:30 pm or so on.

  10. sjm 308 - Jan 14, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    So, it looks like our group stumbled onto pretty nice seats. We were really not happy with the seats in left field. I had a hard time tracking the ball and there was no shade on the Sunday games. I am guessing we are going to love our seats in 308 and they were cheaper as well. I will miss moving down into the lower bowl seats after the 2nd or 3rd inning as Nat's Park continued to remain 1/2 full. Has anyone heard about this years Red Carpet Reward plan? That got me a bunch of extra games last year and I can't imagine them not continuing the plan.

  11. Not DC Tom - Jan 14, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    Picking up on DC Tom's Pitcher Pool from Monday:Pitcher Dead Pool StatusDC Tom: Jeff Francis – Oh, too bad DC TomPay to Play: Rafael Soriano – Sorry P2PThe rest are still in playKnoxville Nat: Jeremy BondermanSunshine Bobby Carpenter: Jon Rauchsjm 308: Kevin MillwoodScooter: Zach Day (still retired)Constant Reader: Dave BushLes in NC: Grant BalfourJD: Brad Pennypdowdy83: Chris YoungAnonymous8: Shawn HillAnonymous (Field Bet): Carl PavanoAndrew: Randy Johnsonnatsfan1a: Paul Lynde to blockSBrent: Walter JohnsonLuis: Chad Qualls

  12. JD - Jan 14, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Now that Francis signed with KC I think that there is no one left who is better than our guys. I would not spend any money on Millwood or Bonderman. The Soriano contract is nuts; $35 mil for a set up man? This is just the Yankees reacting to the fact that Robertson and Joba failed miserably against Texas and they had a wad of money burning a hole in their pants (Cliff Lee).

  13. sjm 308 - Jan 14, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    One other point that has nothing to do with anything. I am really excited about opening day this year for a couple of reasons. first and its sad this is first, there will be NO PHILLY FANS!! I still remember how upset I was with them booing not only our entire roster but Ryan as he accepted his awards from the previous year. It absolutely ruined what should have been a great beginning to the year. I am ok with us losing the game(not happy but ok) but the idiotic, drunken fans made it a horrible experience. Second reason is my son has moved back to the area and we will attend the game together. Can't get much better then that. His first game was at 18 months, right behind the plate at 3 Rivers vs the Dodgers. 30 years later he is still a huge baseball, Pirates/Nationals fan. sounds difficult but he got to see a great outfield of Bonds, Van Slyke and Bonilla and also got to see the Orioles way back when they were decent.

  14. Peyton Dowdy - Jan 14, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    SJM 308:Ahhh Andy Van Slyke. Talk about a guy who doesn't get talked about enough. Loved watching him play.

  15. Mark'd - Jan 14, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    I need in on the pool. Ben Sheetz

  16. Sunderland - Jan 14, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    The Soriano contract illustrates just how good Scott Boras is. Seriously. Dude is the best at his craft.

  17. John C. - Jan 14, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    What makes the Soriano contract even more insane is that according to reports it has an opt-out clause at every season. So it's essentially a three year contract if he underperforms (and thus has no reason to opt out). If Rivera gets hurt or retires and Soriano is lights-out in the closer role, he has the Yankees over a barrel.I like Cashman as a GM – he's really remade the Yankee farm system into a top system; they have a lot of young pitching talent right now. I even understand why they signed Soriano – it lenthens their bullpen, which may come in handy if their young pitchers struggle, rests a 41yo closer and provides an apprentice to the master (Rivera). But I do not understand why they signed this particular contract.

  18. natsfan1a - Jan 14, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    Just a reminder on the poll front. There's one guy who has yet to find a sponsor:

  19. JD - Jan 14, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    John C. Because they could not go through the whole off season without making one splash signing. It's in their DNA.

  20. Peyton Dowdy - Jan 14, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Natsfan1a, I would vote for the midget he had in the Boston clubhouse before voting for Pedro lol.

  21. NatinBeantown - Jan 14, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    I can't believe I missed the pitcher pool. Is it too late to get in on that? I'm taking Miss Iowa himself on a Minor League deal and a ST invite.

  22. SonnyG10 - Jan 14, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    I just read the article on Stephen Strasburg's rehab progress on the Nats web site. When he's healthy again I wonder if he will still throw his change-up pitch, since that's what blew out his elbow.

  23. DFL - Jan 14, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    Better to have JD Martin, Matt Chico, Ross Detwiler, Erik Arneson, Sharon Mairtis or even Craig Stammen than Bonderman or Millwood.

  24. Steve M. - Jan 14, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    NO, a big NO to Millwood. At this point beef up the bullpen and good Hairston.

  25. Steve M. - Jan 14, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    Sunderland said… The Soriano contract illustrates just how good Scott Boras is. Seriously. Dude is the best at his craft. S – I agree with you. That is crazier than paying Werth in comparison. Soriano was maybe worth 2 years at $8 million per season and nobody would have paid close to that so however Boras got the Yankees to pony up, kudos to them and just glad the Whites Sox didn't get him.I think the Yankees needed to make some kind of splash in Free Agency and that is the best they could do besides overpaying their own players.Who is taking Nick Johnson, Cristian Guzman, and Willie Harris? Anyone hearing anything?Also, what is the word on who Rizzo took off the 40 man?

  26. N. Cognito - Jan 14, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    SonnyG10 said… "I just read the article on Stephen Strasburg's rehab progress on the Nats web site. When he's healthy again I wonder if he will still throw his change-up pitch, since that's what blew out his elbow."Why not?A change-up doesn't put any more stress on the elbow than a fastball. Both pitches are delivered with the same arm/hand motion and speed. It's the grip on the ball that makes a pitch a change-up.

  27. sjm 308 - Jan 14, 2011 at 5:16 PM

    Just to clarify, I picked Millwood just to play DC Tom's game. He was certainly not my first choice but was someone left and I desperately want to win the lunch.I actually like the choice of Miss Iowa, I think he could actually help us, unlike the rest of what is out there. I also vote for beefing up the bullpen and letting the group we have at present dual it out in Vierra.

  28. Luis - Jan 14, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    I'm interested to see if LaRoche picks to wear #22 now that Wee-Willie will no longer be a Nat.

  29. erocks33 - Jan 14, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    scratch Brad Penny off the "still in play". He signed with the Tigers the other day.Put me down for John Maine. What the heck.

  30. Anonymous3 - Jan 14, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    I'll go contrary (yeah, yeah, the shock is killing you…) in the pool–nobody, they're done, and will add an infielder not named Willie Harris.

  31. Will - Jan 14, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    Sounds like Rizzo followed Mark's lead and took the week off, as Francis, Bloomquist, Soriano and Balfour agreed to deals with other teams.In my opinion, Francis was the biggest missed opportunity. He's a groundball pitcher (Rizzo's wet dream) and a lefty, who's already proven that he's recovered from his injuries (pitched 100 innings last year).As it stands now, of the 9 potential SPs next year, only Lannan and Detwiler are left-handed. That leaves us with the potential to have a very righty-heavy rotation, and it Lanna falters again, a potentially only righty rotation.Francis put up three very good seasons from 2005-07, before getting injured and missing parts of 2008 and all of 2009. His numbers are very similar to Lannan's except, that while Lannan's numbers tend to overstate his case, Francis' numbers conversely understate his talent. He also has better strikeout tallies and lower walk rates, which indicate less likelihood of a meltdown like Lannan's first half of 2010.Perhaps there is more to his injury than it appears, but it seems as if Rizzo really missed the boat with this one, especially when he only cost $2mil. I'm personally not confident with our rotation as it currently stands. Livan will regress quite a bit, but hopefully not back to his 2008-09 level (6.08 and 5.44 ERA). Hopefully, Marquis will improve, but even so, he'll still never be a good SP. Hopefully, Lannan will pitch like he did in 2007-09 and not like last season. Hopefully, Maya and Detwiler will prove to be capable major leaguers. Hopefully, Zimmermann will emerge as a key piece in our rotation of the future. But that's a lot of questions. There isn't a single pitcher that is guaranteed to put up solid numbers next year. As such, Rizzo should hedge this risk by giving himself as many options as possible.

  32. Peyton Dowdy - Jan 14, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    Will, if you were a free agent pitcher trying to re-establish your career would you go to a team where you will have to compete with pitchers (Wang, Detwiler, Maya, Stammen) or go to a team where you are guaranteed to get innings. Kansas City's pitching stay is even worse than ours and Francis could very well be their opening day starter if he is healthy.There is no proof we didn't try to match the $2MM that Francis got, sometimes it just isn't going to fall your way. This off season has been a huge reminder of that for us Nats fans.Did you honestly want Willie Bloomquist on our roster to begin with? He has around a .650 OPS every season and isn't really that good of a fielder. Jerry Hairston is a much better option if we have to sign a utility player. He carriers about the same speed as Bloomquist, plays better defense and has hit 10 HRs each of the last 2 seasons. Even more impressive is he has been on contending teams while Bloomquist has been putting up bad numbers in a low pressure situation like KC.There is no way we could have matched a 3 year $35MM deal for Soriano and the A's overshot Balfour's worth too. He has had 2 good seasons with a bad one in between them. He also would have cost us our 3rd round pick. He isn't a closer and is not much better than the options in house. If they are going to spend around $4MM or more on a reliever go get Fuentes who doesn't cost a pick.

  33. raymitten - Jan 14, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    Miguel Batsita just signed with the Cardinals. Are there any free agent pitchers that have fathers or uncles that once played in MLB? This seems to be Rizzo's MO — Werth's uncle, LaRoche's father. Jerry Hairston rumors too. I think he wants a competitive fathers/sons game as a promotion in '11. I also note that when I woke up this morning, food tasted better and the air smelled fresher knowing that Willie Harris was not going to be playing for the Nats in '11. Go get Hairston — he actually has the ABILITY to play multiple positions and just may make contact occasionally when runners are on base.

  34. Frank Wild - Jan 14, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    It just came to me that Mark Grudzielanek could fill the infield spare part job if he's still interested in playing major league baseball.

  35. Ballinonabudget - Jan 14, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    Luis said… I'm interested to see if LaRoche picks to wear #22 now that Wee-Willie will no longer be a Nat.Earlier today, Bill Ladson tweeted that Storen will wear #22.

  36. Harper_ROY_2012 - Jan 14, 2011 at 6:17 PM

    Whn you look at it from the Nats standpoint (298 losses) the Soriano contract is nuts but when you are "one player away" as the Yankees are it makes perfect sense, you take away the Rays best bullpen guy, you negate any bullpen the Red Sux have, that is enough to win the division. Cashman in no dummy he is a student of history and remembers that the Wetteland-Rivera combo is what made the Yankees great so now Rivera-Soriano will be great if not greater than that, well worth the money given their circumstances.

  37. John C. - Jan 14, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    @Will: Rizzo is on vacation, because he didn't sign everyone in sight this week? Seriously, do you really think the Nats need another relief pitcher (Balfour)? Who would cost them $8 million a 2nd round draft pick besides? Do you really think the Nationals should have gotten a different relief pitcher and matched the idiotic contract the Yankees gave Soriano? Oh, perhaps he should have thrown piles of money at a marginal starter recovering from injury? That would be Francis, who pitched barely more than 100 IP last year, had an 8-16 record over the last three years AND an ERA over 5.00 that isn't a Coors Field Effect – his ERA was higher (5.15) on the road than at home! He would have had to throw money, too, because the Royals offer a better chance at starting – after the Greinke trade their pitching is starting to look like the National's "y'all come try out" staff of 2007. The Nationals would have to bid higher to pay Francis for the uncertainty.The problem with "stockpiling options" is that every time you sign on of these guys you have to cut someone else, potentially losing them to another team. The salary cost is really only a secondary consideration at this point. The Nats still have to cut someone to get LaRoche on board, so look at the 40 man roster and think of the next two guys you'd want to get rid of. All that, and Francis just isn't that great an option (if he was, he'd have been signed last Fall). Just because another team signs someone doesn't mean the Nationals "lost out." The reflexive "something happened somewhere and therefore the Nats must have messed up" reaction is not only old, it's just getting kinda dumb.Oh, and if Willie Bloomquist is the answer, it was a mighty stupid question

  38. bgib - Jan 14, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    Considering the Nats history with pitchers, injurywise and unsuccessful rehabwise, if I was a pitcher I'd be pretty hesitant about coming to Washington, too.

  39. Anonymous - Jan 14, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    @ ballinonabudget – Storen changed arlier in the offseason from 58 to 25 so my guess Laoche is going to wear 25 as h did in Arizona.

  40. Anonymous - Jan 14, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    Is there going to be a Hot Stove event or a Fanfest this year? I thought they were in January last year.

  41. JD - Jan 14, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    What do you guys think of Johnny Damon to play left field for a couple of years until Harper comes up? (for about $5mil a year). I wouldn't mind a professional OBP hitter batting 1st or 2nd for us; the only drawback is that this would certainly take away at bats from Mike Morse. In case you are wondering; I am not at all sold on Bernadina as an everyday player.

  42. markfd - Jan 14, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    300 level behind homeplate 312, 313, 314 are the best spots to watch a game from.

  43. Slidell - Jan 14, 2011 at 6:55 PM

    Nats in Beantown 11:21— I'd take Miss Iowa over Captain Morgan. They both threw out "first pitches" that evening. She did much better; Morgan bounced his, maybe he had had too much of his product.

  44. NatinBeantown - Jan 14, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    I'll have what John C. is having.

  45. Peyton Dowdy - Jan 14, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    JD, Johnny Damon goes against the point of getting more athletic and the emphasis on fielding. Damon played in a grand total of 37 games last year in the field. He also was not productive with the bat either. Roger Bernadina hit more HR, stole more bases and drove in only 5 runs less than Damon. He also did all of that while getting roughly 150 LESS at bats than Damon. Not to mention he is a far superior defender, over a decade younger and far more cost effective. With all that said I don't know if Bernie is the real answer in LF but I am pretty positive Damon is not a better option. Not to mention Morse will see playing time out there as well hopefully.

  46. Sunderland - Jan 14, 2011 at 7:11 PM

    If we sign Damon to play left field, and use Nyjer in center field, then I could play right field and we'd have the 3 worst arms in all of MLB in our outfield!***John C, very nice post***

  47. Luis - Jan 14, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    Thanks Ballinonabudget. I just signed up for Twitter. Finally.

  48. JD - Jan 14, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    Peyton, Sunderland, You are probably right; I was just trying to envision someone better than Bernadina in left field; in fact I would probably be content if Morse was the everyday guy.

  49. John C. - Jan 14, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    @NatsinBeantown: That would be Diet Coke :)

  50. Link Appleyard - Jan 14, 2011 at 7:43 PM

    They oughta get that Italian kid from the San Francisco waterfront who dates that idiot actress Marilyn whatshername.

  51. SonnyG10 - Jan 14, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    N. Cognito, Hope you are right, but I read somewhere that the circle change, which Strawsburg throws, puts a screwball type torque on the arm which gives it the down and to the right drop. It is a great pitch in his arsenal so I hope he can keep it.

  52. N. Cognito - Jan 14, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    Anonymous said… "Is there going to be a Hot Stove event or a Fanfest this year? I thought they were in January last year."March 30th according to JD and other blogs.As far as the change-up, I was only comparing a straight change to a fastball.

  53. JaneB - Jan 14, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    Does it count in the pool to say we sign NO starting pitchers, and go with who we have? That's what I hope.We are in 131, down low. Wish we were one chunk closer to home plate, bit we blew that when we opted for seats higher up the first year of Nats Stadium.. But what I love about these seats is you feel the game, you hear it, you see the pitching from a cool angle. When we had the fancy seats with the free food in that "gift" they gave the STHers, I found out how much I loved our regular seats, if only because you are down in it. Smart people around us too. Finally. I am feeling a heart pang that we didn't keep Batista. Bad decision on Rizzo's part, I think…he was a work horse for us. But I'm glad the Cards got him, since they are my third team.

  54. Anonymous - Jan 14, 2011 at 10:31 PM

    Finally. I am feeling a heart pang that we didn't keep Batista. Bad decision on Rizzo's part, I think…he was a work horse for us. But I'm glad the Cards got him, since they are my third team.Again, it appears that job belongs now to Livan Hernandez. Both as a spot starter and long reliever Livo looks like he will be far more effective. Whether he begins as a starter or not eventually he will end up in this role and that is probably where he fits best.

  55. natsfan1a - Jan 14, 2011 at 10:40 PM

    Link Appleyard, I hear that the guy's brother hits the ball and makes it go. :-)

  56. Sunderland - Jan 14, 2011 at 10:50 PM

    peric, *again*, you're making a huge assumption that Livo is gonna be relegated to the bullpen. That ain't gonna happen this year. We need innings from our starters. Livo hurls innings. Livo's contract has incentives for starts and innings. They're not going to screw him by limiting his starts and innings.

  57. Rob Dibble's Ghost - Jan 14, 2011 at 10:53 PM

    The Mets must hate Willie Harris! But not enough to keep them from signing him, so he's moving to Queens. Watch him make some of those amazing game-saving catches against us…that will hurt.

  58. not peric - Jan 14, 2011 at 10:55 PM

    FWIW, JaneB, I'd prefer we had Batista also. Poor Rizzo though has to keep us to a 40 man roster, and it's tough deciding who to whack. Losing Batista is pretty well defined; you know what you have and are giving up. Losing one of the younger guys is a bit blurrier. Martin, Martis, Atilano, Detwiler, Stammen. These are the kinds of guys you'd have to be willing to give up to keep a Batista or a Peralta.Drafting and signing Strasburg and Harper is the easy part of Rizzo's job. These smaller, lesser decisions are the tougher ones.

  59. not peric again - Jan 14, 2011 at 10:57 PM

    I ain't the first one to voice this opinion, but I can't wait for the Willie Harris standing ovation his first game back at NatsTown.

  60. BinM - Jan 14, 2011 at 11:27 PM

    Again, the question for me is: Who caught the DFA / Outright release to make room for LaRoche? [Let it be Mock, let it be Mock, Please let it be Mock]. TWP had Gene Wang as the by-line for the presser summary; Kilgore is apparently MIA.

  61. Ernie - Jan 14, 2011 at 11:29 PM

    I will gladly applaud Willie when he returns. He left us with some great memories.I will also applaud when Willie strikes out and returns to the dugout. He left us with some other memories too…Interesting how many of us are up in the Infield gallery section. I like 310 as well. Out of the sun, on top of the action, a view down the right field line, and right next to Robert in 311–the man who will gladly let you know who is "now pitching, for your Washington Nationals…" I swear there is more personality in the upper levels of this stadium than in most other ballparks I've been to.

  62. Anonymous - Jan 15, 2011 at 12:01 AM

    "TWP had Gene Wang as the by-line for the presser summary; Kilgore is apparently MIA."Maybe Kilgore is DFA. Goodness knows he's not at a spelling bee.

  63. Feel Wood - Jan 15, 2011 at 12:13 AM

    So Robert is Announcer Guy's name? I've been running into him since my days in the 400 level at RFK. At first you think he's just some wack job, but actually he's a serious fan of the game. He's not just doing schtick, he wants to get it right. I've seen him scoop stadium announcer Jerome on announcing double switches. One time he noticed I was listening to the game on a transistor radio, so he asked me to tell him when they mentioned the attendance so he could get it down on his scorecard. (This was after they quit announcing the attendance on the big screen late in the game.)But by far my favorite Announcer Guy moment of all was the time he stood up before a game late in the season and said "Ladies and Gentlemen. The Washington Nationals can still win the wild card. We're still in the hunt!" When he sat down, I pointed out to him that mathematically the Nats could still win the division. He says back to me "I ain't goin' that far."

  64. Will - Jan 15, 2011 at 12:20 AM

    I don't know about you, John C. or Peyton Dowdy, but I would much rather have Jeff Francis over any of Brian Broderick, Luis Atilano, JD Martin, or Justin Maxwell, who all remain on the 40 man roster.Neither of the 4 mentioned players have proven that they're even adequate major leaguers. If you would like to argue otherwise, then best of luck with that.I don't think I've ever said Willie Bloomquist was the solution to our problems, but he would address a hole we currently have- that of another utility infielder. Espinosa is a huge question mark. After all, he hit .214 last season, in what was considered a successful first stint in the majors. What if Desmond or, god forbid, Zimmerman misses a month or two to injury. Who fills their place? You might be comfortable with a 5 man infield, but I defy you to find another team that has started a season with only 5 players capable of playing the infield.Bloomquist, Harris or whoever are capable utility guys, whose job it is to fill in wen necessary. We currently don't have that type of player. If you think we're ok just fielding a team of 24 players, think again. We still need another batter.

  65. Anonymous - Jan 15, 2011 at 12:40 AM

    This team isn't doing much just now, but others are. Zambrano is apparently still a fan favorite:

  66. John C. - Jan 15, 2011 at 4:04 AM

    @Will: Luis Atilano and J.D. Martin can give you the same thing that Francis would give you – a handful of starts with an ERA around 5.00. The difference is that Francis is older and has an injury history. In addition, it's not uncommon for a veteran to have a provision in his contract that, if the player is not on the club's 25 man roster, gives the player the option of becoming a free agent. Atilano and Martin don't have that issue. Broderick is a Rule V guy with some potential as well. Maxwell … …Oh heck, I can't think of anything for Maxwell, except that the wife of a friend of mine thinks that he is an adonis. He doesn't do anything for me, and I'm kind of hoping that he's let go to make room for LaRoche.I totally agree about the need for a utility infielder; I'm just rooting for the Nationals to sign Hairston :)

  67. Dave - Jan 15, 2011 at 4:11 AM

    I'm sorry to join in this thread so late in the day. If Mark has put up another automatic post-of-the-day for Saturday, I may have missed the whole discussion.But anyway, a couple of thoughts:As a long-time (going into my third year) STH in 313, I can heartily recommend it as the best seat in the house. Several of us score every at-bat (I score each and every pitch), and we can usually hear all the pressbox announcements from the official scorer and the team media guys as if they were intended for us. I'm in the middle of row D. Come on by and say hello!I am puzzled and a bit dismayed to note that the FanFest this year is on Wednesday, March 30. If there is some method in the Nats' madness at putting this thing in the middle of the week, I cannot see it. I won't be there, having to work as I do, but it better be pretty dern good to move it off a weekend day.And finally, Bob Adams, the scorer-announcer guy in 310, is one of the great features of the Infield Gallery. If anybody has ever seen his scoresheet, it is rather unique. I think he basically writes out prose descriptions of what happens, rather than using some kind of pictorial shorthand like most of us use. Nevertheless, he can tell you every important play. And yes, he very often knows what's going on with a defensive change long before the PA announcer and scoreboard operator do.Of course, the Nats Park scoreboard operation sucks big time, even after three years in the park, so it wouldn't take much to exceed that. But Bob does, anyway.Infield Gallery forever!

  68. Another_Sam - Jan 15, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    Dave – I've opined about the stunningly poor scoreboard operation often. Hard to figure how a major league operation is so far off the mark.

  69. Anonymous - Jan 15, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    I got a phone message yesterday morning from what I presume to be a ticket sales rep saying that he'd like to talk to me about resolving "issues with my account" that could improve my Nats park experience. (He helpfully gave me his "direct line" at the "front office".) As I don't have an "account" – they got my number because I bought the four game bundle to get into the Strasburg debut – I assume that the only "issue" is that there were so few households who bought tickets last year that they can personally call all of us. That said, I'm curious if A) anyone else got one of these calls and B) if so, whether they had a better offer than what the website offers the general public.

  70. Anonymous - Jan 15, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    Under the telemarketing law that went into effect several years ago, companies are not allowed to make those annoying phone calls to random people like they used to do all the time. They can only call existing customers. This is probably why the Nats telemarketer went to pains to mention "your account". You have bought tickets from the team in the past, and in that sense you are an existing customer. You have an account with the team. You're not just some rando they're calling up and annoying.

  71. Anonymous - Jan 15, 2011 at 4:02 PM

    Career ERAs for prospective Nats starters: MLB MINORSLannan 4.10 3.95 Wang 4.16 3.28 Martin 4.32 3.41Hernandez 4.39 4.35 Marquis 4.56 4.18Zimmermann 4.71 2.60Detwiler 4.74 3.79Chico 4.95 3.75Stammen 5.12 3.75 Atilano 5.15 3.93 Mock 5.17 4.09Martis 5.33 4.01Maya 5.88 3.38 My only point is this: When everyone here throws out names to be excludedfrom the 40 man, JD Martin gets thrown in the pile with all the other "refuse". He's a more effective pitcher than that.Livan's minor stats are from when he was 22 or less, and that was what? Last century?The name that sticks out to me as just better than mediocre at every level…is Jason Marquis. But we always pencil him in as a given starter, and throw JD Martin in the compost pile.Give him a break.

  72. N. Cognito - Jan 15, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    Another_Sam said… "Dave – I've opined about the stunningly poor scoreboard operation often. Hard to figure how a major league operation is so far off the mark."I tend to agree with you, but are they really that bad, at least compared to other ballparks? I have no idea. Still, they should be better. Maybe the problem is more to do with the scoreboard interface or the scoreboard software/hardware.

  73. sjm 308 - Jan 15, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    Bet you a Guinness that anon 1/15 at 11:02 is Peric

  74. Dave - Jan 15, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    @N.Cognito:"I tend to agree with you, but are they really that bad, at least compared to other ballparks? I have no idea. Still, they should be better."Yes, they really are that bad. The pitch count is very often not updated when a reliever comes into the game. About every other game, batter's statistics are not updated until well into the count–if at all. In short, one cannot count on looking at the Nats Park scoreboard to get an accurate account of the status of the game.

  75. Anonymous - Jan 15, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    No. Anon at 11:02 is not Peric.Send the Guiness to JD Martin in Syracuse.Go Terps!

  76. dj in Fl. - Jan 15, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    I agree with Jim Webster and Dave about section 313. We sat in front of Jim in row E 1 and 2, until we retired to Fl. Great seats and fans, lousy beer selection then, hopefull that is improved.Temp is rising quickly in central Fl. See you all shortly.

  77. Anonymous - Jan 15, 2011 at 6:48 PM

    peric, *again*, you're making a huge assumption that Livo is gonna be relegated to the bullpen. That ain't gonna happen this year. We need innings from our starters. Livo hurls innings. Livo's contract has incentives for starts and innings. They're not going to screw him by limiting his starts and innings.If you listen carefully to Rizzo he never mentions Livo first when he speaks about starters. He is usually an after thought? He is pretty consistent when he speaks of Zimmermann, Maya, and Marquis. Then Lannan. Mentions Detwiler … then Livo.I rather doubt Livo's contract has any of the incentives you mention. Remember, he had a minor league contract last year. It sounds to me like Sunderland is again blowing smoke.

  78. Anonymous - Jan 15, 2011 at 6:50 PM

    @Sunderland, Rizzo also prominently mentione Wang. If Wang, Zimmermann, Maya, Marquis, Detwiler, Lannan (just for starters pun intended) where do you put Livo in the bullpen? As the innings eater coming out of the bullpen.

  79. Anonymous - Jan 15, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    Again, the question for me is: Who caught the DFA / Outright release to make room for LaRoche? [Let it be Mock, let it be Mock, Please let it be Mock]. @BinM, Kigore is apparently on vacation like the Zuckermans. However, Tracee Hamilton has been seen at Nats park for the Nats introduction of LaRoche along with Gene.At this point you have to assume Rizzo may be working a trade to open the spot. Let's hope he succeeds and its a good one. Given Mock's potential I think he will still be there for ST 2011 but it will be his last if he doesn't produce. You could see a DFA before the season starts.

  80. Anonymous - Jan 15, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    No anon @ 11:02 is not @peric,But I entirely agree with him. JD Martin is a huge competitor. Its really why he is still in the mix and Rizzo can't relegate this soft-tosser to the trash heap.What JD Martin needs to do is learn the multi-speed curve and some of the other pitches in Maya's and Livo's repertoire. He clearly needs another pitch or two to get consistently past the sixty inning. Best thing he could is to learn Spanish and start talking to Livo, Maya, and Pudge about how this might be managed.

  81. Anonymous - Jan 15, 2011 at 7:04 PM

    Meanwhile,Big trade could be brewing … Zambrano? Shields? who?

  82. Anonymous - Jan 15, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    Since I spent the time, here are some Nats minor leaguers with their career ERAs. The thought being that I'm sick of hearing about the potential of pitchers with +5.00 ERAs, might as well talk about some guys who actually HAVE produced, albeit at lower levels.Alanis 3.08Milone 2.98Wilkie 2.91Clegg 2.85 Severino 2.77Meyers 2.72Wort 2.53Rosenbaum 2.19 Terps 48, Villanova 40 early second half!

  83. LoveDaNats - Jan 15, 2011 at 7:34 PM

    So, I guess the Mets don't hate Willie Harris all THAT much………. :)

  84. sjm 308 - Jan 15, 2011 at 7:59 PM

    I came up to the computer because the Terps are breaking my heart once again. I love how Martin battles and feel he should get another chance this year. I am guessing he will start in Syr. but might be the first call-up if something goes wrong. Guinness will be on me but it can't be at Nationals Park. We finally score after Villanova goes on a 19-0 run.Go Nats &Go Terps

  85. raymitten - Jan 15, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    Wondering what people think of Natsfest being on a Wednesday afternoon March 30 this year. I am pretty annoyed by it and likely will not attend unless it is at night. Most of us that have day jobs are going to have to take a day off from work the next day to attend Opening Day, and those of us going to spring training also need time off from work for that as well in March. Employers, no matter how undersanding, have their limits for granting leave. Kids are going to have to play hookey from school two straight days to go to Natsfest and Opening Day. It also seems contrary to the point of an off-season gathering — to get the fans some baseball experences in the dead of winter. This is a disappointment.

  86. Anonymous - Jan 15, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    So, who might the Nats being working with to hook up andget trade-wise?Jimmy Shields?Carlos Zambrano or blocked Ryan Dempster? CJ Wilson?Tim Hudson (far fetched I know)?Matt Cain (far fetched I know)?Jared Weaver (Boras client)?Wandy Rodriguez?Chad Billingsley?Cole Hamels (far fetched I know)?Chris Carpenter?Joe Blanton????

  87. sjm 308 - Jan 15, 2011 at 9:15 PM

    It is surprising, the date of Nats Fest this year, and I am not sure what kind of crowd they could hope to expect. Hard to believe this was a decision made on trying to increase interest in the team. STH that are not retired will be hard pressed to attend on back to back afternoons, and even if it is late in the afternoon it will be hard to bring kids. I don't have those issues, being retired, but surely the Nationals are not marketing toward my age group. This will probably be fun but I question the date and timing as well. It was fun last year sitting in our new seats out in the snow before heading in to listen to the experts and attendance was actually pretty strong. Am betting this year, not so much.

  88. JaneB - Jan 15, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    Anonymi at 2:04 and 3:02, more info please. WE are in the midst of a big deal trade? WHere are you seeing this and more to the point, WHAT are you seeing? I'm supposed to be focused on a writing project and…I'm not.

  89. Anonymous - Jan 15, 2011 at 9:49 PM

    Anonymi at 2:04 and 3:02, more info please. WE are in the midst of a big deal trade? WHere are you seeing this and more to the point, WHAT are you seeing?And so too are many other teams vying for exactly the same thing. The sense of impending comes from the fact the Nats have not announced who they removed from the 40-man for LaRoche. The point is there are still lots of possibilities. Have to wait for the drama to unfold before pronouncing judgement.

  90. Sunderland - Jan 16, 2011 at 1:49 AM

    Anon 2:04, aka peric is borrowing from a post I made this morning on NJ, pasted below.There's nothing to suggest a trade is immenent. It's just one of the option Rizzo has to explore as he works to clear space on the 40 man roster.*****The LaRoche signing is official, and we have to make room for him on the roster. Looks to me like it became official on 1/7/2011, and we would have had to DFA someone that day.When a team DFA's a player, they then have a 10 day period to decide what they're doing with him. During the first 7 of those days they can place the player on waivers, typically done in the hopes that he clears waivers and he can be assigned to a minor league club. (If, like in the case of JMax, he has no options left, he'd have to accept the assignment.)Also during the 10 day period the player can be traded. So perhaps Rizzo is trying to work out a trade. This trade doesn't necessarily need to involve the specific played that was DFA'd, because if the trade opens up a roster spot, then the player can be returned to the 40 man roster.So, Monday the 17th, we should know what's going on with the roster.

  91. Jim Webster - Jan 16, 2011 at 1:51 AM

    FWIW, interesting piece on Strasburg in San Diego Union today:

  92. JaneB - Jan 16, 2011 at 1:55 AM

    NY Times says Yanks will let Joba go. He could be so much better out if Bew York, I think. I want him for us.

  93. Sunderland - Jan 16, 2011 at 1:59 AM

    peric, you seriously believe Livo is working for roughly $1M and does not have incentives that will earn him more.And that Rizzo is intending to use him out of the pen with spot starts.

  94. Not Pretending To Be Annonymous - Jan 16, 2011 at 2:05 AM

    BTW peric, it's hilarious that you agree with me on NJ that a trade is a possibility (although I think it's slim), that you then borrow that and bring it here, and then hit me with "Sunderland's blowing smoke again".

  95. Anonymous - Jan 16, 2011 at 3:28 AM

    Not everyone who's anonymous is Peric….jeesh.

  96. Another_Sam - Jan 16, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    It's been so long since we've seen green grass and heard an umpire yell "Play ball" and we've quelled so much of our own bathwater that some have forgotten how wretched this staff is, and who the ace is: Livan. (Long sentence due to iPad.)I'm talked out. I'm ready for "Play ball."

  97. Your_Pedantic_Editor - Jan 16, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    quaffed. tykpo. iPad corrected, i guess.

  98. JaneB - Jan 16, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    Thanks Sunderland. I guess Mark will come back to a Piece of News on Monday. Man, I was reduced to talking baseball to my DOG, this time last year. Thank goodness for you all. She misses Adam Dunn, too, by the way.

  99. Anonymous8 - Jan 16, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    Twitter feed from Ken Rosenthal:Source: #Rangers offered Thome more than $4M. So, Thome turned down at least $1M to re-sign with #Twins for 1 yr, $3M. #MLB_______________________So players even turn down the AL Champs offering more money!

  100. Anonymous - Jan 16, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    And many who are anonymous could be @sunderland … or even BinM?

  101. Slidell - Jan 16, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    @ Your Pedantic Editor: I suppose Another Sam could have meant "swilled".

  102. sm13 - Jan 16, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    I'm a bit mystified about the March 30 NatFest date, as well. A Saturday in January was so much more convenient for fans, especially those of us who work and for kids that have to be in school during the week. This is one of a number of public relations mis-steps the Nats have made that result in lost opportunties to stir up some fan excitement during the offseason. Top on my list is the lack of a downtown or mall-based Nats team store. That concept served the O's well for many years — the Nats need to upgrade their community and fan outreach if they're going to increase ticket sales.

  103. BinM - Jan 16, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    Tracking back a bit, but here's what I think the Nationals would hope for from the current 'starting rotation'… Livo = 34GS, 210+IP, 1.40WHIP, 4.40ERA.JZimm = 25GS, 160IP, 1.36WHIP, 4.20ERA.Lannan = 32GS, 190+IP, 1.38WHIP, 4.25ERA. Marquis = 32GS, 185+IP, 1.45WHIP, 4.60ERA. Maya = 22GS, 130+IP, 1.46WHIP, 4.90ERA. Detwiler = 17GS, 120+IP, 1.50WHIP, 4.75ERA. Should one (or more) of the 'top-six' falter, then you look toward Wang, and whoever survives Spring Training (Atilano, Broderick, Martin, Martis, Mock), or one of the NRI arms for help.

  104. sjm 308 - Jan 16, 2011 at 7:40 PM

    BinM – care to venture a guess on wins for each of those young men?Thanks to everyone for keeping this moving, its great to come up every so often and read more baseball.

  105. BinM - Jan 16, 2011 at 8:14 PM

    @sjm: Wins can be arbitrary by their nature; Starting Pitchers lose a 2-hit 1-0 game, but win a 8-6, 12-hit game. That's part of why they play 162 games. Having said that, I'd venture the following W-L numbers for the current staff, as I've projected…Livo = 10-15 JZimm = 9-5 Lannan = 13-11 Marquis = 9-13 Maya = 6-7 Detwler = 3-6 That's a 49-57 overall from projected starting pitchers, leaving 56 games to be decided by the bullpen, or 'others' on the staff.

  106. Anonymous - Jan 16, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    Tracking back a bit, but here's what I think the Nationals would hope for from the current 'starting rotation'… Livo = 34GS, 210+IP, 1.40WHIP, 4.40ERA.JZimm = 25GS, 160IP, 1.36WHIP, 4.20ERA.Lannan = 32GS, 190+IP, 1.38WHIP, 4.25ERA. Marquis = 32GS, 185+IP, 1.45WHIP, 4.60ERA. Maya = 22GS, 130+IP, 1.46WHIP, 4.90ERA. Detwiler = 17GS, 120+IP, 1.50WHIP, 4.75ERA. I just read Patrick's quotes from Rizzo and Ladson's video on the starting rotation. Ladson starts with Lannan and never mentions Livo. Rizzo barely mentions him as well. IMHO, he is your fireman, your innings eater, the guy you call if one of the above falters. If I had to guess I would put money on Marquis. And one has to wonder if Wang will ever pitch again? Rizzo also stated that Garret Mock will be competing for a spot in therotation in spring training.Mock = 7GS, 56+IP, 1.54WHIP, 4.82 ERA.That said let's switch 'em.Lannan = (in the last 3 years 21, 19, 12) QS, WAR 0.3Mock = (4 -> 0 QS), 0.0 WAR JZimm = (6 -> 2 QS), -0.2 WARMaya = QS 0, -0.2 WAR Detwiler = QS 1, -0.4 WARMarquis = QS (21 -> 5) (career high of 21 in 2009), WAR -1.3 Wang = QS 0, WAR -2.1 (in the last year he pitched).Livo = International Rescue, Rescue 1. WAR 3.4, QS 22.Strasburg = 6 QS in 12 games, WAR 1.6 [Injured]Although QS is a stat that isn't considered as important for some ex-pitcher pundits I believe it should be the one to use to measure the rotation's improvement in 2011. You can't put it all on Stras or Livofor that matter. The other SP's clearly have to start pulling their own weight.

  107. BinM - Jan 16, 2011 at 9:09 PM

    Anon @3:29: If your're going to build a starting staff off of just Wins Above Replacements (WAR), you're playing fantasy baseball. Pumping QS (Quality Starts) numbers into that just confuses the issue, imo. If you want to use QS as a quantifying number for the Starting five, fine. Then it's Livo (22/33QS), Lannan (12/25QS), Marquis (5/13QS), Atilano (5/16QS), & JZimm (2/7QS), followed by JD Martin (2/9QS), Detwiler (1/5QS), and Maya (0/5QS), or Mock (0/1QS). WAR might shift things a little, but I'd still guess that Livo, Lannan, Marquis & JZimm would end up as the top-four available for 2011.

  108. Sunderland - Jan 16, 2011 at 9:52 PM

    peric, you think Rizzo does not mention Livo since he's planning on using him out of the pen.I think Rizzo does not mention Livo because the "context" is about improving the rotation. Rizzo is discussing how even though he is frustrated by being unable to acquire a solid SP this offseason, he still thinks we'll be improved.Why?Because Lannan will be improved, Marquis will be improved, Zimmermann, Detwiler, Maya, Wang.See, **in context** there's no reason to mention Livo since Livo was excellent last year.

  109. Anonymous - Jan 17, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    See, **in context** there's no reason to mention Livo since Livo was excellent last year.I'm not sure I agree Sunderland. He spoke of Garrett Mock and JD Martin in the same sentence/paragraph. He spoke of Mock competing for a rotation slot (even though he is terrible and has been … so much so that BinM keep hoping they DFA him) yet JD Martin he does not mention him for a rotation slot even though he too is recovered from surgery. Bottom Lining IT: Rizzo like many here does not believe in "soft-tossers". Its why I keep expecting Lannan to be packaged in a trade. Rizzo does not like soft-tossers as starters nor as relievers in the bullpen. The exceptions are excellent sinker ball pitchers … and perhaps Livo because of his multi-speed curves. NONETHELESS, Rizzo appears to have made it clear that he wants only power pitchers in his rotation … or at the very least NO SOFT TOSSERS allowing only for rare special exceptions.

  110. Anonymous - Jan 17, 2011 at 1:29 AM

    WAR might shift things a little, but I'd still guess that Livo, Lannan, Marquis & JZimm would end up as the top-four available for 2011.This might come true. But I would have to guess Maya will end up far ahead of Marquis and Lannan. Lannan and Livo (along with JD Martin and Tom Milone) are soft tossers with fast balls that top out under 89 MPH. Rizzo appears to share the same revulsion for this type of pitcher that many here do. For Rizzo clearly the best scenario given the current state of the rotation would be for JZimmnn, Mock, Detwiler to pitch 125-140 innings. Then Maya and Marquis with 140+. After that Wang (if available and effective). As soft tossers Rizzo probably envisions both LIvo and Lannan at the end of rotation used only if the others on the list falter and fail. Stammen, Atilano and Martin probably fall in this category as well. There is also Martis. They must all still win their jobs. No one should have a guaranteed spot in the rotation as did happen last year much to everyone's chagrin.





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