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Top 5 offseason storylines

Sep 30, 2011, 4:16 PM EST

US Presswire photo
Davey Johnson’s status is priority No. 1 for the Nats this fall.

For the Phillies, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Yankees, Tigers, Rangers and Rays, the postseason begins today. For everybody else, the offseason has commenced.

Which means the Nationals need to get to work addressing all of their various issues between now and Opening Day 2012.

They need to decide who will manage the club next season. They need to decide which of their pending free agents they will attempt to re-sign. They need to decide which free agents from other clubs they will attempt to pursue. They need to make sure their injured players are healing and rehabbing on schedule. They need to keep tabs on anyone playing fall or winter ball.

Baseball, of course, has become a year-round sport. There’s no such thing as a quiet offseason anymore. So with that in mind, here are the top five issues facing the Nationals before pitchers and catchers report for spring training…

Obviously, this is priority No. 1, though it shouldn’t be a terribly complicated process and it shouldn’t take very long to be completed.

Davey Johnson wants to return. Mike Rizzo loves Davey Johnson. The team responded well to him, especially down the stretch. He’s already got the framework of a contract in place that will pay him a nice
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  1. Mark Zuckerman - Sep 30, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    FYI: I know some of you have had trouble posting comments over the last few days. As best as I can tell, this is an issue only for users of some versions of Internet Explorer. It doesn't appear to be a problem if you use other web browsers such as Firefox, Safari or Chrome.If you're still unable to post, please send me an email ( with a detailed explanation of what happens when you try to comment and what version of what browser you use. I'll pass those along to our technical folks at CSN, and hopefully we can figure this out.Thanks for your help.

  2. sjm308 - Sep 30, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Mark:Is it because we have RZimm under contract until 2013 that you don't consider that a top story line?? I have always thought that is the number one thing I would like to see happen this off-season. I realize we have to get a manager but to me, Zimm being here for 7 more years sets the table for all the other stuff.Really good thoughts on how important the AFL is for our team this year. If Rendon and Harper show well it will allow Rizzo to concentrate solely on a veteran pitcher. Playoff talk – pretty bold move for the Rays starting a pitcher with just one major league start but I like it. If he wins its gravy and it allows them to rest their big guns after a crazy race to the finish. Not sure any team would like to face SS & JZim next year in a best of 5.

  3. natsfan1a - Sep 30, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    Thanks, Mark. Will be interesting to see what develops in the offseason.As to postseason games, I may just have to add Jim Leyland's Tigers to my rooting list in addition to Joe Maddon's Rays. Given this exchange as quoted in an AP story, I'm feeling some Luddite solidarity with Leyland. ;-)Leyland and his Detroit Tigers already were assured a trip to the postseason. But the 66-year-old manager was riveted in his office, watching Boston and Tampa Bay play their games.Leyland turned to Tigers coach Lloyd McClendon for help."Trust me, I don't have one, but McClendon has one of those fancy things you can watch. I don't know what they call it. Playman," Leyland said Thursday.An iPad, actually."I could see it. Then it went out because of the satellite or something. I don't know, it came back on. You could hear it, then you could see it again," he said. "It was great. We were talking back and forth."

  4. natsfan1a - Sep 30, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    Oh, wait. The Tigers are facing the Yankees. Of course, I'll root for them. Duh.

  5. Anonymous - Sep 30, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    >> Former manager Jim Riggleman preferred athletic, versatile bench players who could fill in at multiple positions.<<…which perfect explains Matt Stairs' presence on the roster.

  6. Anonymous - Sep 30, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    Anon945, I expect to see Rendon and Harper in starting lineup at Nats Park next year right after pigs flyover in formation in opening ceremony.AND… Teddy will win. Book it. Mark it. I be here to chortle in your ear when it happens Webster … Ha! And yes it'll be Zim at 2nd base. Why? Because Rendon is a consummate hitter THE BEST college hitter in over a decade according to many scouts. It makes NO sense to switch his position his first year in the majors. Ryan Zimmerman has been having problems at third with his throws. He has made a bunch more errors this year. A move to second, even if temporary may help him. Plus, the guy is a consummate pro who could make the change and make it work at an elite / ALL STAR level. Yes, Rendon at third base. Book it, mark it.

  7. Anonymous - Sep 30, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    I still don't get defending Jim "Wrong Way Peach Fuzz: smart ball" Giggleman. He was wrong and his .443 lifetime winning percentage goes a long way to underscore that fact? The only excuse for Riggleman longing may be Jen who appears to have a romantic crush on the guy.

  8. rogieshan - Sep 30, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    I sincerely hope the team seeks a better option than to leave Desmond in the leadoff spot. Although his baserunning and plate discipline have improved, it is still far from what the Nats need to compete at a higher level.

  9. Big Cat - Sep 30, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    Was reading Kilgore in today's WP and almost fell over when I read that Rizzo had offered the Royals Zimmerman, Storen and Espi for Greinke. Had Greinke ok'd the deal, it would of went thru. Are you kiddin me? That would of decimated us. Sometimes the best trades you make are the ones you don't make.

  10. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 30, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    Several deep-pocketed teams (most notably and obviously the Red Sox) will also be in search of starting pitching this off-season, which will certainly skew the free agent market, but might also open up some possibilities for trades. While I could easily envision the Nats letting Lannan go in a trade, I'm not sure who he might bring in return. Would the Red Sox or Yankees be willing to give up a decent OF (Riddick? Gardner?) for Lannan plus one? I have my doubts, but you never know.I could also envision one of the wealthier teams in search of a #3 or #4 starter dangling a bigger offer in front of CMW's agent than the Nats are willing to make (yes, I know the Nats have exclusive rights until just after the World Series concludes, but his agent will certainly be 'evaluating' the market).Finally, Harper's (and/or Rendon's) potential notwithstanding, the Nats definitely need another outfield bat to think seriously about contending for a playoff spot next year. Morse could easily be moving to 1B in 2013, opening up LF. And if Rendon develops quickly, he was drafted for his bat — not his glove or arm — and the Nats will find a place for him (mostly likely 2B or LF, as needed).Lots of possible permutations out there, lots of time before Spring Training, and lots more words to be written in this (and other) blogs…

  11. Grandstander - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:05 PM

    Mike Rizzo emphasizes pitching and defenseDavey Johnson emphasizes the 3 run homerMike Rizzo + Davey Johnson = Earl Weaver? Also, does anyone have a list of who's eligible for arbitration? I can look over stuff later but if someone had something handy, I think Clippard is arb. eligible and he should be in store for a hefty raise following his All Star season.

  12. Mark'd - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    I don't see Manager as #1 as we all know it is Davey. I am with SJM that Zim can't be a distraction going into 2012 with less than 2 years remaining on his contract. No reason not to make that the priority for October 2011.I like your #5 issue as Davey has to construct a bench in his vision and be accountable for it. During losses Davey was a excuse machine on his bullpen and bench.

  13. Scooter - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    Big Cat, if that's the first you heard of the proposed Greinke trade, I kinda have to wonder whether you ever read anyone else's comments here (which raises the question of why I'm even saying this …), because, dude, you are not the first to say this.In hindsight, yeah, all those guys had pretty good seasons, so I'm glad they stuck around.

  14. Navy Nats Fan - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    Big Cat, to pile on, the offer was Zimmermann plus two, not Zimmerman plus two. Still a bad trade, but a HUGE difference.

  15. Scooter - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:26 PM

    Ha! I didn't even notice the Zimmer-person confusion. I assume it was a typo.And I just looked at my comment again, and it I think it reads a lot less kind than I meant it. Didn't mean to imply things can't be brought up again.

  16. Scooter - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    Although, now I think about it, some folks might want to think about limiting themselves to grinding a particular axe no more often than, say, once a week. So, if you say on Monday that Rick Eckstein HAS TO GO!!! NOWWW!!!!!, then you have to wait till the following Monday to call for his job again.But that's just the one guy. I mean, for the rest of the week, you can still ask that other coaches or players be fired, DedFA, drawn and/or quartered, or ground up and used for next year's Nats Dogs. You just gotta wait on Eckstein.Anyway, it's a thought.

  17. Scooter - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    Oh, and DUDE — don't even get me started on how annoying it is when the SAME PERSON has like THREE comments in a row. Getcher own blog, why don't ya? Give somebody else a chance.

  18. NatsLady - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    It's OK, Scoot. Someone once told me I should be limited to three posts a day…. sniff, sniff. Enjoy yourself.

  19. natsfan1a - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:54 PM


  20. natsfan1a - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:54 PM


  21. natsfan1a - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    A day? What are they, the Posting Police? :-)Anyhoo, I done with posting for the afternoon, as I'm off to see Moneyball as an early birthday treat. Yay! (Of course, I've set the Recordman thingy for the games tonight.)

  22. natsfan1a - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    Except for self-corrections:I done with posting for the afternoon ^mlater, gators

  23. natsfan1a - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    Crud.natsfan1a said… Except for self-corrections: I done with posting for the afternoon ^'m

  24. Scooter - Sep 30, 2011 at 7:02 PM

    natsfan1a said… I'm off to see Moneyball as an early birthday treat.Oh, man, now I'm totally envious. I wish I had a birthday. 😦

  25. Big Cat - Sep 30, 2011 at 7:16 PM

    I knew Riz was talkin to the Royals but didn't know he was trying to pull off a Denny McLain trade. I would of been raising the roof if I had heard about it.Eck still gotta go. I will say it again next Fri at 3:15. Expect it

  26. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 30, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    Three posts a day??! Luxury!We got one post a week, AND we had to share it with neighbors on t'other side, WITH their dogs and all. And when it was done, we had to dig our own holes for the new post!Three?! Ha!

  27. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 30, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    Don't cry Scooter. You can of a birthday someday…

  28. JaneB - Sep 30, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    I also thought that "re-sign Zimm" would be # 1 or 2 on the list. I hope it's at least #2 on Rizzo's list, before he goes off and buys anybody. And may we launch spring training without Tampa Bay's Upton. I wonder how many Caribbean Islands are being visited by Nationals today?

  29. JaneB - Sep 30, 2011 at 7:32 PM

    Sheesh. Didn't Scooter just HAVE a birthday? Does he need one every month?

  30. Les in NC - Sep 30, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    Another Nats Insider Top offseason story is the progression of a certain baby Z. Keep us posted Mark, we really would like to know!

  31. Scooter - Sep 30, 2011 at 7:56 PM

    JaneB said…Sheesh. Didn't Scooter just HAVE a birthday?No.

  32. baseballswami - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    I agree that the manager issue is not an issue – if so, it's the worst kept secret in baseball. Getting Ryan Zimmerman long-term is essential. So – we can only post our negative, obsessive comments once a week? I am so sure that it's been over a week since I mentioned how much I really don't like Davey Johnson and wish they would get a younger manager that could stay with the team for a while. ok, done now for a week. 4:10 next Friday. He will probably be official by then. And — Mark, it's way past time for some new pictures of the little one! Finally – don't wait until your birthday to go and see moneyball!

  33. Anonymous - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:22 PM

    Okay so I felt a real tug at the ol' heart watching to the thank you sent by the Nats to the fans via email. Yes, they did have a great year. It was a godsend losing Jim Riggleman as the manager … nice guy not a good major league baseball manager period. I guess I have to thank my lucky stars that we all weren't forced to live through another season followed by an offseason of deepest, profound discontent. Thank you Nationals for changing that completely the opposite way.

  34. SonnyG10 - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:41 PM

    My first priority will be to watch a replay of the final game about ten times. What a pleasant way to end the season.

  35. Jeeves - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    I love you girls. That's all I can say. Well, not quite. That was a completely platonic comment. I'm seventy, after all, and have a lovely wife to boot. Now I'm going to refresh that delicious Merlot from the Okanagan Valley.

  36. jd - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:59 PM

    Sec 3,You had neighbors. You were lucky; we had to give away our one post to the robbers but we were happy to have robbers to keep us company.

  37. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    Well, when I say neighbors, it were really just a marauding troop of rhesus macaques, but they were neighbors to us!Captcha: "sperners" … that's what we called the monkeys! The Sperners! Didn't like anything, just hooted to "fire this one, release that one" all night, every night. And they spelled it wrong.

  38. Betsy - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    Franconia as manager…Davey as consultant or…GM…

  39. Jim Webster - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    Rays 6-0 after 3. Why was it we want CJ Wilson?

  40. dryw - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:43 PM

    SonnyG10, I like your priority. I didn't get home til after Stras left the game, so watching reruns definitely sounds like a great option to me! Five months til pitchers and catchers report?

  41. Mark'd - Oct 1, 2011 at 12:17 AM

    Jim Webster, just came to post the same thing about Mr. Wilson. That HR lefty on lefty to Damon in the first was bad. BJ Upton with an uninspiring 1 for 4.

  42. ehay2k - Oct 1, 2011 at 12:27 AM

    Mark Z., Terry Francona, now available, has won 2 WS in the past decade. Is he now on the short list for managers? What about for 2013? DJ isn't going to manage forever.

  43. ehay2k - Oct 1, 2011 at 12:30 AM

    Oh, and can we also get a new hitting coach?

  44. natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2011 at 2:21 AM

    I lol'd and lol'd at this (Wait. Did I spell that right?)Sec 3, My Sofa said… Well, when I say neighbors, it were really just a marauding troop of rhesus macaques, but they were neighbors to us! Captcha: "sperners" … that's what we called the monkeys! The Sperners! Didn't like anything, just hooted to "fire this one, release that one" all night, every night. And they spelled it wrong. September 30, 2011 5:31 PM

  45. natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2011 at 2:31 AM

    Oh, and cheers, Jeeves. :-)

  46. Golfersal - Oct 1, 2011 at 4:14 AM

    Mark you missed out on one important item, getting Ryan Zimmerman a better contract. Of course it's easy to pass over, he is signed through 2013 but you can tell my the way Zimmerman talks with writers that he would really like to take care of it now instead of next year or the year after.I see no reason to give Zimmerman a long term contract in the nneighborhood of what Werth got, maybe even more that gives him 8 to 10 years making sure that most of his career will be played in a Nats uniform.Really think this is one of the important items that Rizzo needs to take care of before Viera next year

  47. Gonat - Oct 1, 2011 at 4:21 AM

    Anonymous said… I still don't get defending Jim "Wrong Way Peach Fuzz: smart ball" Giggleman. He was wrong and his .443 lifetime winning percentage goes a long way to underscore that fact? The only excuse for Riggleman longing may be Jen who appears to have a romantic crush on the guy. September 30, 2011 12:57 PM ____________________________________Periculum, you are a broken record. Also your reference to Jen is a low blow.Do you have anything to add except bashing a guy who is gone? Pathetic.

  48. natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    Speaking of team wealth/markets, the Times had a piece about how tickets sales and tv ratings were up in September.

  49. Theophilus - Oct 1, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    Riggleman is old news; as folks in DC say, "Live with it." Riggleman had a better record than Johnson. Riggleman saw that it was his job to win games, hence things like batting the pitcher in the 8-hole. Worked, didn't it? Johnson saw that it was his job to set the table for next year. Hence being patient w/ Desmond, Wang, Detweiler, et al. Worked, didn't it?Are the Nats better off in the long run w/ Johnson? Absolutely. But Riggleman's record w/ Washington doesn't qualify him as a "bad manager."As to Francona, last time I looked, Johnson had the same no. of World Series rings and the second best winning pct. in baseball and had done it w/ five teams. Francona got a veteran team w/ five or six bona fide superstars to tune him out. Get real. People really ought to be embarrassed to make that suggestion.

  50. Anonymous8 - Oct 1, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    Francona would have to adjust to the National League also which is a big adjustment but I would still say NO. The Nats don't need a manager who got his hardware (rings) with a Top 5 payroll.Now if Joe Maddon was available, in a heart beat!

  51. natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    I second this comment from Les. :-)And not to dis Davey, but I've always liked Joe Maddon.Les in NC said… Another Nats Insider Top offseason story is the progression of a certain baby Z. Keep us posted Mark, we really would like to know! September 30, 2011 3:47 PM

  52. natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    Another attendance/ticket sales piece (from the Examiner

  53. Anonymous - Oct 1, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    I'd be curious to know what the organization's projected timetable for Rendon is. Zimmerman made it to the major's pretty quick IIRC, and Rendon was arguably the better college player.How quickly the nats expect to get Rendon up and what position he is going to play are questions that have to be addressed before deciding which players to acquire this off season.





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