Skip to content

Can bullpen thrive without closer?

Jan 25, 2011, 2:24 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Drew Storen converted five of seven save opportunities last season.

The unquestioned strength of the 2010 Nationals was a bullpen that managed to post some of the best numbers in baseball despite also logging the most innings in baseball.

Nats relievers churned out 545 2/3 innings (an average of 3 1/3 innings per game) yet collectively recorded a 3.35 ERA that ranked fifth in the majors.

With most of the key participants returning — particularly Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Sean Burnett — there’s every reason to believe the Nationals’ relief corps will once again be the team’s biggest strength in 2011. There is, however, one potentially glaring hole that could sidetrack the entire endeavor: The lack of an established closer.

Can this bullpen survive, and even thrive, without a bona fide closer? Read my full article on

  1. John C. - Jan 25, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    This time last year, the Nats didn't have an established closer either – Capps was coming off of a lousy year that got him non-tendered. The closer spot was going to be a competition between Capps, Bruney (spit), and Clippard. This year it's a competition between Storen, Coffey, Burnett and Clippard.I do think that the job is Storen's to lose, but there are no guarantees. I didn't see Capps's season coming, or Bruney's meltdown. I think that the bullpen is going to be fine. Now, if we could just figure out how to score enough runs to give the bullpen a lead to work with …

  2. Steve M. - Jan 25, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    I agree with John C. The bullpen last year looked like a joke on paper at this point in 2010. Now you have a proven core. I'm probably the only saying this that I think Detwiler should be in the 'pen as the long guy, lefty specialist, and spot starter.Riggleman will have to appoint 1 guy as his closer. Henry Rodriguez seems my choice right now but let Spring Training decide it. The competition will be tough as you have added Rodriguez, Todd Coffey, Elvin Ramirez, Chad Gaudin, with all the returning players. Stammen was the weakest link of the returning players so unless he has added something to his repertoire I think he finds himself back in AAA.

  3. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 25, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    Detwiler has to prove he can pitch for an extended period of time like maybe 25 starts at Syracuse. If he's successful there, then maybe he can actually be of some use to the big league club.

  4. SCNatsFan - Jan 25, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    To answer can the bullpen thrive, I think it can if you assume one of the many live arms we have in the pen steps up and takes the job. I don't see one guy getting the bulk of the saves over the season; I see Riggs going with the hot hand, and with this many arms someone will have to be hot for most of the season. While it would be nice to have one of these guys establish themselves at the 9th inning guy I think its just as important that the guys pitching the 7th and 8th do their jobs; as a whole we need the pen to be what it was last year for this team to have any growth towards any spot other then 5 in the division.

  5. Jaxpo Nat - Jan 25, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    Anyone who didn't see Bruney's meltdown coming wasn't paying attention the previous couple seasons. Worst Rizzo signing ever, and the way he was hyped was insulting to Nats fans' intelligence. And I said this before the season as well. I'm hoping Coffey isn't Bruney 2.0, but I'm a tad suspicious. Fewer walks, at least.

  6. Steve M. - Jan 25, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    A followup on Capps. Last year we were all concerned that Rizzo got Capps off of the trash heap and the bullpen was going to be a disaster.In the end, Mark eloquently describes it so well "The unquestioned strength of the 2010 Nationals was a bullpen that managed to post some of the best numbers in baseball…"It is the starting rotation that most are questioning this off-season. Just hoping like last year with the bullpen that Rizzo knows what he is doing. With Maya, Detwiler, Wang, and some of the Minor Leaguers in the hunt, I am hoping that there is enough there if a Bruney situation arises in the rotation to take swifter action and make a change.

  7. N. Cognito - Jan 25, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    When you sign relievers with high walk rates, you're playing with fire. When you sign relievers with really high walk rates (Bruney), you're an arsonist.

  8. DFL - Jan 25, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Due to the mediocrity of the starting pitching, middle relievers bear a large burden on the Nats. A closer will either be established early or we'll see closer by committee. Look for an overworked bullpen that sags by mid-year. An Orioles-like collapse in late summer is not out of the question.

  9. Anonymous - Jan 25, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    Closer. The final double-switch frontier for Jim Riggleman. Expect it.

  10. JD - Jan 25, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    I think that the anointment of a closer is overrated; unless you have a Rivera you don't need to pigeon hole yourself into a rigid routine. Use the best reliever for a given situation based on performance and matchups and live with it.

  11. Mark'd - Jan 25, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    N.cognito and others are correct on Bruney. The one weakness in the past years has been taking quick and decisive action when you have a dud.Someone on this Opening Day roster will be the Bruney and Rizzo has to act sooner than later to avoid the meltdown DFL talks about.

  12. NatinBeantown - Jan 25, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    JD – I'm not sure I agree. I understand the statistical argument for blowing up the conventional use of relievers, but I think that "comfort level" and established roles have a lot to do with success for bullpen guys. I think the role of the mid-inning "fireman" reliever to get a critical out with men on base is a very different situation than closing out a game and starting the ninth, and I think having some expectation of when and how one is used is helpful to most relievers (really, to anyone). I've read dozens of quotes where relievers and managers prefer established roles–just as long as they know that by excelling they have a chance to be "promoted" to the latter inning situations.

  13. Anonymous - Jan 25, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    no one in favor of converting Storen to a SP? yet?

  14. Doc - Jan 25, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Closers are made not born, so I think that finding someone like they 'found' Cappps last year will happen in ST. It'll be interesting to see how Ramirez and Rogriguez shake out–both are prototypic closer types, both have live fire, and both were lights out in the Winter League, and got better control of their BBs.I really hope Ballystar has a ST like he had at the end of last season. He also has a real shot at the closer's role, IMHO. I don't think, even with the apparent strength of the BP, that it's realistic to expect them to eat as many innings as last year. The SPs need to pitch deeper for our BP to be as outstanding as it was last year.But yeah, on paper, the BP looks outstanding.Goooooooooo Nats!

  15. Anonymous - Jan 25, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    Mark -Congratulations on your new job – I'm really happy that you'll be able to provide the kind of excellent coverage you've had for the last year going forward. With that said, one non-substantive quibble. Rather than posting "teasers" on NJ that drive clicks to CSN to see the full article, considering CSN bought NJ, maybe you could talk to your new bosses about cross-posting full articles to both, like Posnanski does with his SI work and his blogspot site. I find NJ FAR, FAR preferable as a site to read – it loads faster, it's less bogged down with unnecessary applets, it looks much cleaner on a mobile device – I often read you on an Iphone. Understand why they might want you to drive clicks, but if they own NJ, they own my eyebals whether or not I'm clicking on CSNWashington.Anyway, that tech note aside, congrats again, nad great work, as usual.

  16. John C. - Jan 25, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    @DFL: I agree with your point about mediocre starting pitching being likely to be a problem for the Nats in 2011. But why would the bullpen collapse from overwork in 2011 when it didn't in 2010? As mediocre as the starters look for 2011, they are still more likely than not to surpass last year's dreadful crew. The bullpen wobbled last year mid-season but righted itself. While an Orioles-like collapse is theoretically possible, it's really unlikely. As in, I think a winning record and a 100 loss season are about as likely on either end of the expectation curve.

  17. SCNatsFan - Jan 25, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    I still think if Flores shoulder is healed then Norris and a reliever, like Clippard, get packaged for pitching; might include one of the other starters to up the ante and get a better return as we don't need to aquire another #5 starter to muddy the waters.

  18. James - Jan 25, 2011 at 5:05 PM

    +1 on the pure cross-posting. NI loads faster for me too. Also, it does not appear that there is a core "Mark at CNSwashington" URL address, where specific articles would be indicated by appended parts of the URL toward the end.Also, I note that the closer-by-committee approach has the hidden benefit of encouraging optimal use of matchups in high-leverage situations, in lieu of having to save a certain arm for the 9th inning, regardless…

  19. DFL - Jan 25, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    John, although there was no real collapse in the bullpen in 2010, as you say, it did decline at mid-season, probably due to overwork. Of course, nobody could have expected Tyler Clippard to pitch as he did early for the whole season. And Capps was traded. In 2010, the Nats made major improvements in relief pitching and, although Ian Desmond made too many errors, at shortstop. Stephen Strasburg pitched well in every game he started and showed that he can be an ace. That the team improved only by 12 games was largely due to near-poor starting pitching.

  20. Anonymous - Jan 25, 2011 at 5:16 PM

    I believe the "established closer" is unnecessary and in many cases detrimental. If I have Mariano Rivera or Dennis Eckerlsey, he's my closer for sure. But for every Mariano Rivera there are dozens of Jose Mesas or Joel Hanrahans getting the ball in the ninth because "they are the closer", and then a manager who should know better gives them the ball and watches them throw away a lead. Forcing the designation "closer" on somebody is a mistake. If someone pitches their way into the role, ok… I think the Nats have a lot of arms to work with here. Let the cream rise to the top.

  21. Theophilus - Jan 25, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    All relief pitchers are over-rated, if judged on what they did last season. As a group, they are wildly inconsistent from one year to the next. The previous year's Gagne becomes the next year's Gagne. What distinguishes the Nats 'pen, and gives reason for hope, is relative youth (only Slaten, I think, is over 30), meaning — he said with his fingers crossed — less chance of injuries, over-use. Hopefully either Rodriguez or Ramirez (or both) takes over Clippard's seventh inning role, Clippard moves up to 8 and Storen closes, Balester manages the 6th and Burnett gets out all the LH pinch-hitters — and the Nats have a core that holds together for 3-4 years. However it is almost inevitable that one or more of that bunch is going to blow something out or otherwise have an abysmal season.

  22. K.D. - Jan 25, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    Having been out of town over the weekend I wanted to add my congratulations to you Mark, for this new chapter in your professional life. Also, kudos to CSN for recognizing the worth of what we Nats fans enjoyed last year. Looking forward to reading Nats news in both formats.

  23. natsfan1a - Jan 25, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    To chime in on the NI/Comcast site front, I'm happy to click on over to read the pieces on Comcast, but I'm less inclined to comment there because it looks as though I'd need to create an account and in the process give them my name, date of birth, and other info. I appreciate the fact that I don't need to do that here. I suppose I could just make [stuff] up, though. :-)

  24. Anonymous - Jan 25, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    What happens if they take Storens plus command of five pitches and make him a starter?

  25. Nats fan in NJ - Jan 25, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    So, a couple items have been posted recently that have me scratching my head. One is Storen as a SP. Has that been given serious thought by Nats management? Second is the Carmona rumors. I'm still in love with the guy I saw help pitch the Indians past the Yanks a few years ago in the playoffs; he could be a good one for the right price.

  26. Anonymous - Jan 25, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    I agree with NatsJack in Fla. Detwiler has a lot to prove. Now, it may be the case that he does that just in time for the trade deadline and ends up replacing someone who is traded or becomes part of a trade himself. But it looks like Rizzo is going to follow through on his commitment to competition and results. So, NatsJack is right; Detwiler has to prove that he can pitch for more than just a month or so in a season.fpcsteve

  27. Mark Zuckerman - Jan 25, 2011 at 5:42 PM

    To those asking about the cross-posting between here and CSN, thanks for bringing that up. It's something I need to discuss with the CSN folks, but I think we can work out a scenario that benefits everyone and makes it easiest for everyone to find the newest articles.

  28. Anonymous - Jan 25, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    The whole key to the season for the Nats is will the bullpen be pitching an average of 2 1/2 innings this season or 3 1/2 like last…

  29. Sec3MySofa - Jan 25, 2011 at 6:06 PM

    As John C points out, this time last year, Capps was a somewhat dubious reclamation project (show of hands–who posted something optimistic about him at the time? Bueller?), and the apparent strength of the team was … wait, it'll come to me …Oh, yeah — Strasburg and Wang coming on in June, if the team survived the first six weeks' schedule from hell, which looked v. unlikely. As a wise man once said, "In baseball, you don't know nothing."

  30. Steve M. - Jan 25, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… Detwiler has to prove he can pitch for an extended period of time like maybe 25 starts at Syracuse. If he's successful there, then maybe he can actually be of some use to the big league club. Yes, that is the conventional wisdom which wastes more of his career in the Minors where you will find out what we have known that he doesn't have what it takes at the MLB level to pitch quality starts in any consistency.Where he can be useful is in the bullpen and being a lefty just raises his value. He did a great job in 2010 out of the bullpen.I think Rizzo needs to make a decision on this guy sort of like what they did with Clippard and Stammen.

  31. Doc - Jan 25, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    Storen as a SP? Might have some merit, particularly if the BP seems to sort out as well as it seems to be heading. He might have to take a quick trip through the minors to re-work his pitch pacing and timing.

  32. Steve M. - Jan 25, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    and add Balester to my thoughts along with Clippard and Stammen.

  33. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 25, 2011 at 6:50 PM

    Storen has been a closer since his days in the In Utero League. He'd need a lot more than a "quick trip through the minors" to change that, which would be a waste of time and assets unless he crashes as a closer.

  34. Slidell - Jan 25, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    Perhaps someone more up-to-date can straighten out someone who has been around awhile. I always considered relievers as would-be starters who could not reliably get through a lineup more than once, for whatever reason. Also, I've always thought of a closer as someone with maybe 1 real good "out" pitch and a bit of extra nerve who can reliably work it all for 4 or 5 batters (which is why I never understood Hanrahan's anointment). The game seems to have gotten a lot more complicated and specialized over the years.

  35. Anonymous - Jan 25, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    Yah, the Joba Chamberlain experiment didn't go too well.

  36. Souldrummer - Jan 25, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    @DocI see no reason to convert Sotren to a SP at this point in his development. He made progress as a reliever. You drafted him to be a closer. You still need a closer, and you have more than enough back end depth in the rotation. If he doesn't cut it as a reliever and doesn't show that he can be a closer in the next two years, then you consider using an option to stretch him out in the minors as a last chance kind of option. But for now he's the closer of the future, and I hope that he gets a chance to close next year with guys like Balester and Rodriguez nipping at his heels.

  37. PAY TO PLAY - Jan 25, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    Slidell, Hanrahan had closer stuff but was way too inconsistent. He threw in the upper 90's and his out pitch was his biting slider. Problem is that his slider usually didn't bite and many times hit the dirt for a Wild Pitch and his 97 mph heater didn't have much movement and would be deposited in a gap but his biggest problem was he walked too many with the Nats.With the Pirates he has shown better control and had 6 saves for them last year with his lowest WHiP of his career.

  38. JD - Jan 25, 2011 at 7:32 PM

    I am sorry but I think the concept of 'defined roles' is nonsense because your job whenever you get in the game is to retire hitters; this is why I have always objected to a manager's reluctance to use his top reliever in a key game situation which is not in the 9th inning. I have seen many games lost in the 6th and 7th inning by mediocre pitchers while better ones are sitting around in the bullpen spitting sunflower seeds. I do see a difference between starters and relievers; starters need several out pitches to maneuver through a lineup several times and they also need to finesse their energies. Relievers can get away with one or two quality pitches and they can go all out every time. Drew Storen probably does not have enough pitches to start or he would start; there is much more money to be made as a starter than a reliever.

  39. Anonymous - Jan 25, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    Here is a quote from the Chicago Tribune: "Scouts from the Yankees and other teams needing starting pitching could spend a lot of time watching the Nationals this spring. Gorzelanny joins an eight-man competition in which perhaps only Jordan Zimmermann and Yunesky Maya are assured spots. John Lannan, Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis, Ross Detwiler and Chien-Ming Wang are all expected to go to Florida healthy and ready to pitch in the majors. … "Imagine. Other teams trying to pick up talent from the Nationals ! Okay, who should we pluck from the Yankees' system?

  40. Scooter - Jan 25, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    JD: You won't catch me agreeing with the defined-roles trope. But, I have heard one very logical and plausible explanation for it: preparation time. There's a paper floating around somewhere; the author spoke to relievers and learned that they mentally and physically prepare as the game progresses. Knowing that they're usually used in about the 6th or 7th inning (for instance) gives them a target. To me, it sounds a bit like the extra time starters take to warm up.

  41. Nats Rising - Jan 25, 2011 at 8:44 PM

    Mark,I just heard an ad on ESPN 980 with your name featured prominently in their advertising for in depth Nats coverage. A good thing for baseball coverage in the area.I know you were interviewed there with some degree of frequency last year. Are they truly expanding their Nats coverage?Congratulations on your new gig. Hopefully, it's a sign of increasing Nats coverage in general.

  42. MGG - Jan 25, 2011 at 8:45 PM

    I think that closer by committee and whoever is "hot" at the moment will work out better then someone who is labeled and stuck as closer. On another point I've heard from different sources that the Nats are looking at trying to trade for Fausto Carmona, anyone else heard anything about this? I don't know much about him but his salary seems to indicate he is a top of the rotation guy (maybe a #2 with his ERA of 3.77) would this be a good move for the Nats if they don't give too much away?

  43. Mark Zuckerman - Jan 25, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    Nats Rising said…Mark, I just heard an ad on ESPN 980 with your name featured prominently in their advertising for in depth Nats coverage. A good thing for baseball coverage in the area.I know you were interviewed there with some degree of frequency last year. Are they truly expanding their Nats coverage?Didn't realize they were already running promos on-air! Yes, it's true. I've signed up with 980 to make daily appearances on their various shows during baseball season. I'll also be co-hosting a couple of special baseball shows with Andy Pollin (dates TBA) and will be sitting in the studio with the Sports Reporters from time to time as well.

  44. JD - Jan 25, 2011 at 8:57 PM

    MGG, Don't get fooled by the ERA; the peripherals are less rosy. 5k and 3BB per 9 innings isn't great. The BABIP is .287 which indicates that he was very lucky in 2010. Conclusion; decent but not top of the rotation guy. Don't give away pitching prospects or Derek Norris for him. I would do a one for one for Marrero.

  45. Tcostant - Jan 25, 2011 at 9:02 PM

    You know I've someone on these boards yearning for Grady Sizemore, well I found this little tidbit on the World Wide Web today:

  46. Theophilus - Jan 25, 2011 at 9:11 PM

    Mark — Glad you will be regularly on WTEM. Their baseball coverage has been less robust than their coverage of WWE and UFC.

  47. Theophilus - Jan 25, 2011 at 9:24 PM

    As to where your "best" reliever fits, I don't think any manager believes his "best" pitcher should be the closer.Don Stanhouse and Randy Myers were successful closers for B'more (for a time) but scared the pants off O's fans any time they were in the came. Capps is another example. He put three guys on base, maybe let in a run or two, got three guys out, and took home the save. That is not someone you want coming in w/ runners on second and third in the sixth or seventh inning of a close game.Moe Drabowsky was great for the O's in 1966 (and several years after) and successfully negotiated a big raise for 1967 by showing he led the league in "Non-productive Outs." I.e., outs where (A) nobody got on base; (B) no base runners advanced or scored. That is the guy you want in a crisis. During his hot streak in the middle of the season, Clippard was that guy. As the season wore on, his command faltered and he put more batters on base (and grooved more fastballs).

  48. SCNatsFan - Jan 25, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    Capps always made my heart skip a beat whenever he closed; for the most part he always started a fire then put it out, like the game he struck out the side after loading the bases. If Ramos turns out to be nearly as good as we hope then we got a steal for Capps. Will be interesting to see who unexpectedly steps up in the bullpen like Clippard and Peralta did, and conversely see who falters like Walker and Bruney did.

  49. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 25, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    The other thing is, lights-out closers are rare–far fewer than 30 at any given time, and guys who can do it more than one or two years running are rarer still. So by definition, not every team has one such, and has to get by with something less than a guaranteed save. And those other guys with the bats are getting paid a lot of money, too. So if a few guys get on, even if a couple of them wind up scoring, the closers only job is to get the save–if he does that, he's good. Criticizing him for doing it imperfectly is probably not realistic.

  50. BinM - Jan 26, 2011 at 1:24 AM

    Going into Spring Training without a bona-fide closer isn't the worst thing in the world. You hope that one of the possible on-roster candidates (Storen, Burnett, Rodriguez, Carr, Kimball, Severino) steps forward, or you look to teams like TOR, who seems to be collecting them like frangible pieces (Dotel, Fransisco, Frasor, Rauch), poised for a trade. BTW, the BlueJays could use short-term help at 1B/CF. Anybody see a possible match there?

  51. BinM - Jan 26, 2011 at 1:58 AM

    @MarkZ (aka blogmaster): Glad to hear 980 is amping up their baseball coverage, but have mixed emotions to hear you'll be doing pieces with Pollin & Sczaban(sp?) on "The Sports Reporters" during afternoon drive time. Since the Danny acquired his "Red Zebra" network, those two have given short shrift to other professional sports, focusing heavily on Football overall, and the NFL team representing DC in particular (I wonder why?). The network has just recently given regular air-time to the Caps with regular 6-minute spots to Alan May, and an occaisional spot from Boudreau or Green; They still allot no regular time for the Wizards, or other local pro teams. Good luck fighting upstream against the near 7/24 current of Redskins coverage.

  52. Anonymous - Jan 26, 2011 at 4:05 AM

    No, the Nats will flounder without a veteran proven closer, Storen is a year away.

  53. JayB - Jan 26, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    Holding Rizzo accountable……At last years season ticket holders lunch and fan fest (which they are ducking by the way) I twice heard Rizzo say he made the decision himself without lack of resources to pass on A. Chapman…that is not increasing the bid…He said he did not believe the player was worth the money and that he had better places to spend the money…..Really Mike?…..looking back now we see Chapman in the top 10 or MLB prospects and Rizzo's better move?…….Maya and Martin?????what happened to Martin…he was a "great find" who was ready to pitch and contrite at the MLB leve NOW…..While I like Rizzo's direction I do no like being lied to and I do not like bad moves that hurt he team….Not getting Chapman at this time last year and then selling a bill of goods that he was happier and the team was better off with the saved money and Martin and Maya…..Not true.

  54. Anonymous - Jan 26, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    JayB said… Next DFA options are clear as posted before Martis move. Rizzo is doing the right thing by targeting what is left of Jimbo's players. Maxwell, Atilono, are easy next choices and Mock and A Servernio are after that. I love Rizzo's frank lines about getting tired of watching guys who have proven they are just not progressing….Maxwell is that guy.IF Rizzo makes more trades and gets some real starting pitching in for this year then this roster is starting to look like a real team. I like the emphases on speed, defense and character. Rizzo clearly is looking for real baseball players not toolsy types who are in it for a paycheck and never loved playing the game even as a high school player. The above was posted 2 days earlier. Talk about a Hate/Love/Hate relationship.

  55. JayB - Jan 26, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    Like I said, Like what he is doing but he needs to be accountable…either he is lying about have all the resources he wants to sign Chapman but deciding that Martin and Maya were better or he failed to make a good evaluation….My strong feeling is he is lying and I do not like that….Whoever evaluated Martin needs to be fired if they said he would help right a way in the MLB Pen…which is what was said….my question to any who have seen him…..where is he and what happened to him.

  56. Matt - Jan 26, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    I'm glad the Nats don't have a $30 million set-up man.

  57. JayB - Jan 26, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    He is a 22 year old 100 + MPH left handed pitcher who would be a starter in our system..Reds have all the starters they need and are going to the Playoffs already…different story here right?…….his $30 Million is over several years and it would be no different that a extra 1 overall draft pick without any cost other than money they have failed to spend over 5 years of losing…..get a clue.

  58. Matt - Jan 26, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    Chapman is a (maybe) 22 year old with a herky-jerky injury prone delivery with control problems. Walked nearly 5 batters per 9 innings in the minors (95 inning sample size), including 14 wild pitches. Was better in the pros (3.4 BB/9) but on a much smaller sample, just 13.1 major league innings last year.If Chapman was good enough to start for the Reds, he would be starting, and they would trade one of their other starters. There is a reason they don't want him in the rotation, most likely his propensity for wildness.I'm not saying the Nats couldn't use him. They obviously could use Chapman, that's why Rizzo offered him $25 million. If memory serves, Rizzo said he thought he had the highest bid. He was wrong, he didn't lie. Maybe he should have bid $100 million to make sure he had the highest offer?Either way, I really hate posters who whine about past moves made or not made, money spent or not spent. Rizzo improved the Nats by 10 games last year with no real RF, a 2B combo that slugged a combined .330, a 1B that was learning the position on the fly, and a makeshift rotation after injuries/ineffectiveness hit Marquis and Lannan.I expect the Nats to improve by at least another 10 games in 2011, putting them at 79-83. With a little luck, they can get to .500.

  59. JayB - Jan 26, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    Rizzo said Maya and Martin were Major international signings that would help right away in 2010…..Wrong in a big way…he is accountable for under bidding a guy like Chapman and replacing that failed opportunity with a cheap alternative that provided nothing to the team. Reds are not going to put a raw 22 year old from Cuba with into a rotation what is already proven playoff ready…..That is why they have Chapman in the Pen…he would be developing in AA as a starter with Nats….like he should be with this team instead we have Maya and Martin for $3.5 million over the two years….that is being penny wise and pound foolish….a common tread with Nats.

  60. N. Cognito - Jan 26, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    Another thread ruined.

  61. JayB - Jan 26, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    Facts are facts….if you want a thread that only looks at all the great aspects of a 300 lose team over 3 years let me recommend one…..Nats320 is in need of posters.

  62. Matt - Jan 26, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    I'm sorry you feel Rizzo betrayed your trust by putting a positive spin on a free agent signing. He probably should have said something like: "We have some extra cash lying around, so we are just going to give it to this no-talent bum and see what happens." I'm sure that would have gone over real well with the fan base. It's called PR.Whatever you think of Rizzo's skills as a general manager, he is not actively trying to make the team worse. I am 100% confident he is trying to build a winner. Whether he is going about it the right way is open for debate. So far, all he has done is inherit a team that was coming off back-to-back 100-loss worst-team-in-baseball seasons, and improve that product. I expect more of the same.

  63. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 26, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    Everything I've seen either implied or assumed the Chapman side never shared Cincinnati's number–like Boras did with Werth, they just said "We'll take it" and that was that. No one had a chance to up their number. Assuming that is the case, $25MM was a perfectly good bid to put in. And if that is in fact what happened, apparently they learned their lesson, and spent it on Werth. Personally, I think you're over-hyping a middle reliever, but time will tell.

  64. N. Cognito - Jan 26, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Don't confuse opinions with facts.

  65. SCNatsFan - Jan 26, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    The sad part is the Nats naysayers will point at not signing Chapman for the next (insert large number) years as why Rizzo is doing a horrible job. Rizzo, like all the GMs outside of Cincy, put a number on what they thought was reasonable; we, like every other team except the Reds, didn't get him. Get over it. We didn't get Grienke, De la Rosa, Garland, Pavano, Zito, Texiera, Crawford etc. etc. but life goes on. The sae posters who keep bringing this up wouldn't say a word if Chapman was a bust or blows out his elbow… they are just looking for negative things to say and if it wasn't Chapman they would just be picking at another scab.Look at virtually any baseball website and see who writers pick as the team having the best offseason and the Nats are mentioned more times then they are not. Seems like people in the know agree with the direction Rizzo has the team pointed.

  66. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 26, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    Just because somebody disagrees with Rizzo's assessment of Chapman doesn't mean Rizzo was wrong. But even assuming for the sake of argument Rizzo came on TV today and said, "Jaybee is absolutely right, we should have paid Chapman $40MM. I blew it." The guy pitches for the Reds now. It's over. Done. No second chances here, move on. Dead horse. RIP.

  67. Jaxpo Nat - Jan 26, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    Have to say I'm a little floored by the news that Grady Sizemore has been discussed. What an addition he would be! But I have to believe it would take half our farm system to get him… and the Indians don't need a catcher (Norris). Guessing Detwiler and a couple more prospects would be involved. Nothing likely to come of it, but oh to dream of replacing Morgan with Sizemore… sigh…

  68. Anonymous - Jan 26, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    The Chapman "negotiations" were conducted via a sealed-bid process, not the typical highest-bidder auction. Don't know why it was done that way, but it was. Maybe that's how the agent wanted it. But what that meant was that every team that wanted in on Chapman had to come up with their bid in a vacuum, not knowing how high other teams might go. Rizzo's bid of $25M was plenty high enough. Indeed, everyone in the entire world of baseball was amazed that the Reds bid more. Had the Nats had the highest bid at $25M, they would have been amazed that the Nats were paying that much. So it's completely idiotic for anyone to imply that Rizzo did anything wrong or underbid in any way for Chapman. But what can I say? JayB is an idiot.

  69. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 26, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    N. Cognito…. Thanks. I've decided to treat him as Peric…. to be ignored. Spring is for "hope eternal" and for once, other teams are picking up our cast offs. As stated the other day, the Mets are actually looking at Willie Harris and Mike O'Connor as viable options for their 25 man roster. And the lowly Mariners think Adam Kennedy is an improvement.No longer is first base considered to be a 4' x 8' area to be defended and throws from the infield don't have to be in a 4' x 4' window. Where the catchers position was looked upon as a weakness, we now look at is a place of strength.The two areas of question are CF and the lead off spot (looked upon as one item) and the closer roll. The closer roll can be fixed but I don't see anything on the horizon to fix the CF/lead off issue.Starting pitching will be sorted out during Spring Training and while I realize it isn't a position of strength, it certainly holds much better options than we've previously experienced.It's even been noted in one national publication that teams such as the Yankees and anyone else with openings in their rotation look no further than Viera for a possible solution when training camp cuts are made!No… I hold no false pretences on anything more than 8 or 9 game improvement with someting approaching .500. Over/under at say… 78 games. This would set up for another exciting off season next year and a real shot at closing in on play-off contention. Again… "hope springs eternal".

  70. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 26, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    "Like I said, Like what he is doing but he needs to be accountable…either he is lying about have all the resources he wants to sign Chapman but deciding that Martin and Maya were better or he failed to make a good evaluation…"And I wouldn't bring up "accountability" if I were you; you absolutely owe Rizzo an apology for calling him a liar. You know nothing of the sort. Facts are, he clearly had the resources if they did offer $25MM–nobody's idea of pocket change–and if his assessment of the player is that they guy isn't worth $30MM, he certainly hasn't been proved wrong so far.

  71. Theophilus - Jan 26, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    Talking heads on MLB Network last night (re Top 50 Prospects) said Chapman won't be a starter — ever — because of command issues.Also on MLB Network last night, someone suggested Texas might trade Mike Young. Anyone wanna talk about what the Nats could afford to give and Texas would take in order for Young to play 2B for a year or two?

  72. sunderland - Jan 26, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    NatsJack, do you give Corey Brown any chance to impact CF and leadoff in 2011?

  73. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 26, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    Sunderland… I can only hope. I'll have to see him in Spring Training and go from there.

  74. MM - Jan 26, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said…"…throws from the infield don't have to be in a 4' x 4' window…" Just curious: Adam D listed at 6-6; Adam L 6-3. do you think Adam L could've saved the few high throws from our FOTF like Adam D did last year? There's probably a good 6-in difference in there when fully stretched.

  75. N. Cognito - Jan 26, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    MM said… "Just curious: Adam D listed at 6-6; Adam L 6-3. do you think Adam L could've saved the few high throws from our FOTF like Adam D did last year? There's probably a good 6-in difference in there when fully stretched."Dunn vertical leap: 0"LaRoche vertical leap: 7"Advantage: LaRoche

  76. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 26, 2011 at 4:08 PM

    N. Cognito… Another good call.

  77. erocks33 - Jan 26, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    @MM — and its not just about the vertical leap/stretch. LaRoche will be able to scoop more balls thrown in the dirt than Dunn could ever dream of. Playing 1B is mostly about having good footwork on and near the bag. LaRoche will look like frickin' Baryshnikov compared to Dunn's fire hydrant impersonations …

  78. MM - Jan 26, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 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: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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

Follow us on Twitter