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The ever-shifting NL East

Nov 8, 2011, 12:00 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Ozzie Guillen and Jeffrey Loria are attempting to turn the Marlins into winners.

The natural order of things in the NL East hasn't changed much in recent years. The Phillies have owned the division since 2007. The Braves have sat one notch below the last two years. The Marlins have typically finished in the middle of the pack, with the Mets landing in fourth place each of the last three seasons. And then there were the Nationals, who until this year held a death grip on last place.

That may all be in the process of changing, though, and the NL East may be preparing for a seismic shift of power.

We all know what the Nationals have done (and hope to continue to do) to thrust themselves into the conversation. But be careful not to sleep on the Marlins, who are attempting to take a similarly major step forward in 2012.

There's a pretty positive vibe around South Florida these days. A new ballpark on the old Orange Bowl site is nearly ready for business.Read more »

  1. joemktg - Nov 8, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    "…don't be surprised if there's a fairly significant shift in power structure in the NL East next year, one that could feature the Nationals in a prominent manner."Jeez, that sounds damn good.

  2. Joe Seamhead - Nov 8, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    Gosh, Mark, you say it much more eloquently than I do! GYFNG!

  3. joemktg - Nov 8, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Looking forward to next season's drama in Miami. Loria + Ozzie + FA acquisitions + team "chemistry" + subsequent expectations = what could go wrong? Fantastic fodder forthcoming.

  4. baseballswami - Nov 8, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    I would love to see our division be the one where, on any given day, anyone can win. I love it that in September, all the games not only have meaning, but are critical to the post-season. I see every game in our division – and that's a lot of games -as a full-out battle. Can't wait to see what all of our teams do in the off-season. If the Marlins get Pujols, I will be up all night crying – as if we didn't have enough trouble with the Fish already….

  5. MurrayTheRed - Nov 8, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Sounds good to me. How good a fit is Y. Cespedes for us? CF with power and speed, how would he be as lead off?

  6. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 8, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    Jeffrey Luria couldn't stomach class acts like Joe Girardi or Freddie Gonzalez. That's why he brought in Ozzie Guillen. They are a match made in ….. well, you know.Over/under on the length of the Loria/Guillen marriage is what, 1 season? It's kerosene, meet lighter, in a fire works storage shed.

  7. LoveDaNats - Nov 8, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    This sounds so optimistic! I love the way the Nats keep coming up in conversations on MLB channel….and always in a good way. I fully expect contention in 2012.Call me cautiously optimistic, however. This time last year the talking heads were sure the Phillies would take the 2011 Series.

  8. Gonat - Nov 8, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    Yesterday we spoke about the Orioles and their tactics of getting in low ball bids on Free Agents and then coming up empty in what is nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt. I have this feeling that Miami Marlins are doing something similar with Pujols and Jose Reyes. Those would require long-term commitments and tons of cash.What I see the Marlins doing is creating buzz NOW for season ticket sales and corporate suite sales. Brilliant, and most FISH will buy it hook, line and sinker! By mid-December, my guess is they will have signed 1 2nd tier Free Agent and maybe the Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes as he fits more of a need for them.If I am wrong and they sign Pujols, Fielder, or Reyes or CJ Wilson, I will do what Baseballswami said "If the Marlins get Pujols, I will be up all night crying – as if we didn't have enough trouble with the Fish already…."

  9. Will - Nov 8, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    Gonat has a point. Because why on earth would the Marlins be talking to Jose Reyes? If there was arguably a more similar player to Reyes, it would be Hanley Ramirez. They're both 28 year old shortstops, who've battled injuries (one more than the other), are very quick on the bases and can hit for considerable power (again one more than the other).It's even more bizarre when Ramirez still has 3 more relatively affordable years on his contract.Or perhaps, the Marlins are anticipating another firesale, where they sell off Ramirez, Morrison, and whatever other players they might have with some value to bankroll the addition of a high-priced free agent like Reyes.

  10. Will - Nov 8, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    The Braves are the team to be concerned about. They have far too many young pitching prospects, as well as several very useful batters like McCann, Freeman, Uggla, Heyward and Bourn.The Phillies are aging fast, the Marlins are a joke and have little talent coming through the pipelines to restock their extremely questionable current roster, and the Mets are in a financial mess and need to begin rebuilding.A 2013 Wild Card doesn't look too unrealistic.

  11. Anonymous - Nov 8, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    I am not buying talk of the Phils falling down due to rust. Why should they implode but the Yanks or some other super deep-pocketed club not be expected to crumble? The Phils will sign one of the big FA SS and will add an Aramis Ramirez or a Josh Willngham and bull pen help too. Polanco might be their utility guy –they have those kinds of coins and they will spend them. The Phils have the money to reload and relaod and they seemingly have the skill to do so effectively. dfh21

  12. Will - Nov 8, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    No one is counting the Phillies out, especially not this season. I think they'll finish first or second, for sure. The key is the years following that.Hamels becomes a FA in 2013, so it's no given they resign him. Halladay will be 35 next year. He's only going to get worse. Lee is 33; the same goes for him.Howard's numbers have dropped off substantially. All he was ever good for was a bunch of HRs, but his ISO has consistently dropped from .346 in 2006 all the way down to .235 last year. Now he'll miss a large chunk of 2012, but still be guaranteed $125mil over the next 5 years. Chase Utley is still very good, but he too will be 33, and not getting any better.So that leaves them with a very good Victorino and Pence, an underperforming Domonic Brown, and a good closer in Antonio Bastardo. Their farm system is barren, after they mortgaged their future for Halladay and Pence, so their only option is to buy a bunch of free agents, as you mentioned. The problem is they currently have the second highest payroll in baseball ($165mil), but the Yankees, they are not. I think it will be very tough for them to sustain their level of play, and do it while keeping their payroll at least constant if not decrease it substantially (closer to $100mil), especially when Rollins, Hamels, Victorino and Madson are all going to cost big bucks over the next 2 years. The problem is further complicated by the fact that Ruben Amaro is the GM, and he can't perpetually rip off the Astros.

  13. yankish2 - Nov 8, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    The Marlins may be a joke and Luria/Guillen may be a match made in wherever, but the fact remains; until the Nats can beat the Marlins reaching the playoffs will remain a dream. We have got to be able to split the 18 games with them. Has that ever happened?

  14. MFG - Nov 8, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    A new CF option for the Nats: The Giants' Andres Torres.Since the Giants traded for Melky Cabrera yesterday, Torres could be non-tendered. He could be the table setter the Nats are looking for in CF.

  15. Anonymous - Nov 8, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    Will — that is a great breakdwown, but I am still thinking that the Phils avoid the meltdown. They can see the same trends you do. They have shown an ability to trade for talent, to sign FA's and to develop it from within and they spend big money to win. Teams that send big money to win, and that do find success, as a general rule continue to win. I like the odds for Phillie to remain a winner for years to come.dfh21

  16. Just Sayin' - Nov 8, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    .244/.318/.403 = Andres Torres' career slash line.Torres had one sort-of-good year in San Francisco and it got some attention because they won the World Series (on pitching, not hitting).

  17. yankish2 - Nov 8, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    How does Torres help us beat the Marlins?

  18. MFG - Nov 8, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    @just sayin' – I'm not saying Torres is the long-term answer in CF. The last 3 years his OBP has been .332. It's not great, but not terrible either. As the Nats stand they are going into the season with Desmond as the leadoff hitter, who only posted an OBP higher than .332 for a season once in his career in the minors and never with the Nats.Torres could be a better fit for the Nats than Sizemore (injury questions) and Upton (not really leadoff material), especially if its just for one year, and then they can try to find another guy next off season. There just aren't a lot of good leadoff-hitting, CFs out there this year, and I think Torres could be another option.

  19. greg - Nov 8, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    will, it's altogether possible the fish are looking to move hanley to 3b. they have a huge hole there and hanley is not that good defensively at SS. moving him to 3B and bringing in reyes would strengthen two positions for them.

  20. Mark'd - Nov 8, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Will said…"The problem is further complicated by the fact that Ruben Amaro is the GM, and he can't perpetually rip off the Astros."The trade for Oswalt where they gave up JA Happ which seemed fair and then Happ gets to Houston and self-destructs. The Pence trade was for decent prospects but Phillies got a steal. I thought the Braves getting Bourn was a lousy deal for Houston.I was wondering if Ed Wade thinks he's the farm system for the NL East and if so, why hasn't Rizzo gotten his fair share?

  21. Natslifer - Nov 8, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    I think DFH has this one right:- Phils won't stand still and are at the Bo Sox/Yanks level of "spend big for the best players and always be at/near the top of the division" – it'd take a lot of mistakes at the GM level for them to drop to the bottom of the division.- Mets seem like the only team that can be predicted to be at/near the basement in 2012- I agree with everyone that beating the snot out of the Fish on a regular basis will be one of our key metrics in '12But it'll be a much fairer fight than it's been since we've been here.(and Mark… one editorial request. I'm a sample size of one here but I grew up a Reds fan, moved to Atlanta for 8 years, and came here 17 years ago. I dislike Peter Angelos immensely for keeping baseball away for so long. It was interesting reading all the comments yesterday in the amount of emotion that went into it. But then look at them – about halfway through they stopped being about the O's and went back to a discussion of the Nats and other things happening around the league. So here's my request… I really, really don't want to read anything about the Orioles. I could care less about them. And comparing us to them is completely meaningless. The only thing we have in common is geography. And unfortunately, that creates a lot of wasted emotion instead of good analysis that's the norm for this site. We need to stay away from all the Trolls on this site and bringing the O's into the mix only invites them to come.)

  22. Steve M. - Nov 8, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    I talked about this the last few days of the mixed signals from the Braves on their future direction of whether 2012 is a rebuilding year or a season where they will be trying to win the NL East.Then you get this from Jon Heyman: The Braves are looking for a Zack Greinke-like return in a deal for Jair Jurrjens.It doesn't make sense to me that they would move Jurrjens unless they were concerned about his health as their pitching staff would become Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy and adding rookies Teheran and Minor.Tim Hudson will be 37 years old, Hanson is coming off injuries himself in the 2nd half of the season, Beachy is a solid #3 and Mike Minor wasn't overly impressive in his starts. Teheran is a top prospect and you don't know what you will get as he has been erratic at times. The Braves also had similar to the Nats a lot of OBP problems with many of their players. Their starting SS had an OBP of .270 and Heyward's BA/OBP was .227 /.319 and Prado was .302, Uggla .311, and Bourn was .321.They have a great bullpen. Other than that, I think they have lots of issues including who is going to play 3rd base if Chipper isn't healthy. Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla were their only players to appear in at least 150 games in 2011.

  23. David - Nov 8, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    one thing the Fish have going for them is their Miami location. i think its pretty easy to attract older players to the Miami sun… like going to college in New Orleans. kind of sells itself. i liked the comment about Luria and Guillen. lol… i think that will last about 1 and 1/2 seasons.

  24. PAY TO PLAY - Nov 8, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    NatsLifer, FWIW, I agree with you on the team to the North. The less, the better unless we are talking about a trade for Adam Jones. FWIW, Michael Morse and Adam Jones were Minor League teammates in the Seattle system and have remained good friends. Maybe Duquette would be willing to do a deal. Jones is in his 2nd arb year and a Free Agent after next season. He's not a leadoff guy, but a solid upgrade and would cost the Nats a pitcher in trade.

  25. Steve M. - Nov 8, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    From MLBTR: The Nationals "plan a major push" for free agent righty Roy Oswalt, and Rosenthal considers the Rangers another potential player. Nats GM Mike Rizzo explained his interest earlier this month. Oswalt's agent Bob Garber told Jon Paul Morosi, "With Roy, home and family are very important to him. It would be a bonus to be close to home, but nothing is off limits, in terms of either coast or the Midwest. Ideally, yes, it would be great to be close to home, but it's not going to stop us, if it's the right situation. His goal is to get the ring. He doesn't have any jewelry right now. He's made a lot of money. At this point, it's about the ring. That's what he wants to take with him." Oswalt lives in Mississippi.

  26. Will - Nov 8, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    Greg, moving Hanley to 3B isn't a bad idea, in fact it makes a lot of sense. But given the Marlins history, and lots of noise about Hanley's bad attitude, it sounds like they're looking to trade him.They still have to pay him $46.5mil, and looking back on his 2011 season, he might not be worth that over the next 3 seasons. It sounds like they're trying to cut payroll again, especially with another untradeable $27.5mil tied up with an injured Josh Johnson.The Marlins overtures sound much more like an empty gesture to appease the fans, rather than a real attempt to make a big splash, and I think their 20 year spendthrift history supports that.Just because Miami was dumb enough to give Jeffrey Loria a free stadium doesn't mean he's going to change his habits. And why should he? He's guaranteed to make money through the revenue sharing scheme by keeping his payroll down. If the Marlins payroll increases too much, then they'll receive less of the revenue shared, and Loria will receive less profit.

  27. DFL - Nov 8, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    Lannan and Clippard for Adam Jones? Is it worth the offer?

  28. Anonymous - Nov 8, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    If Oswalt's goal is to get a ring and he's going to sign with a club that can get hom one, then he's not coming here. Bottom line is that the Yankees or Rangers could use him. dfh21

  29. Feel Wood - Nov 8, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    Steve M. said… From MLBTR: The Nationals "plan a major push" for free agent righty Roy Oswalt, and Rosenthal considers the Rangers another potential player. Nats GM Mike Rizzo explained his interest earlier this month.You need to click a few links and read the backstory on this. Rizzo never explained his interest in Oswalt. He laid out what he's looking for in a FA starter, as reported by Zuckerman, Kilgore et al. In a separate report, unsourced, Ladson said the Nats are interested in Oswalt. MLBTR put the two together and is reporting that Rizzo is laying out a case for Oswalt, which is not true at all. Two rights make a wrong.

  30. SonnyG10 - Nov 8, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    Well, I hope Miami is just blowing smoke about the FA signings…they have been so tough for us to beat. Regarding the Phillies, I don't think they will collapse right away, but I don't need for them to. All I need is for our improvement and their demise to be sufficient for us to beat them regularly. Maybe that happens in 1012, but surely by 2013. We do need to improve our scoring if this is going to happen.

  31. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 8, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    I don't need the Phillies to collapse. On the contrary, I want to see them finish in second, one game out of the Wild Card. Losing three straight to the first-place Nats, here. For the next several years.

  32. Will - Nov 8, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    To be fair, we were only 7-11 vs Florida this season. Could have been worse, like 2010 (5-13), 2009 (6-12), 2008 (3-14!).Regarding Oswalt, the rumors seem to stem from Rizzo's comments on wanting a "leader"."We want a guy that has shown he's a good leader, that can win in the big leagues," Rizzo said. "It's not about having the best stuff. It's about being able to pitch 200 innings many, many times in your career.”Besides Oswalt, Mark Buehrle is pretty much the only other guy who would fit that description (probably even better than Oswalt, for that matter).

  33. PAY TO PLAY - Nov 8, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    DFL, no way would I make that deal to include Clippard. I think Lannan for Jones straight up is the most I would go and was thinking more Detwiler + HenRod for Jones.

  34. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 8, 2011 at 4:54 PM

    Why trade Longball Lannan to an AL team? You're losing half his game!

  35. Steve M. - Nov 8, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    Will, I 100% agree with you on Buehrle and think Rizzo made an oops. He perfectly described Buehrle and then to throw off the scent someone gave Ladson a bone on Oswalt that he is being pursued.The Yankees want CJ Wilson so the Nats will have to fight it out for Buehrle or Oswalt. The fallback is probably Edwin Jackson or tap the Houston Astros in a trade for Wandy Rodriguez.Here's something interesting. The Oakland A's are losing their entire starting outfield to Free Agency as Crisp, DeJesus and Willingham all depart.Rizzo has an opportunity to maybe trade again with the A's and send them Bernadina, a catcher, and a middle infielder for either Gio Gonzalez or Brandon McCarthy. Gio Gonzalez doesn't get much press but he is a better #3 than any of the names we have discussed lately and 3 years of team control. For those FIP, WHIP, and IP people, Brandon McCarthy has better Sabre numbers and is a Free Agent after next year and had a breakout year. He is a 1 year pickup and wouldn't cost as much in trade.

  36. Mark'd - Nov 8, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    The A's arent spending money until they get their stadium deal finalized. Both Gio and McCarthy will be due large arbitration salaries and they can probably only keep one.I still think Billy Beane got the better of the Willingham trade. If Rizzo goes back to them for a pitcher he needs to stand firm on the trade.

  37. Anonymous - Nov 8, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    Steve M — not a bad notion, Jesus Flores, Bernadina and a low prospect for Gio? Who knows. dfh21

  38. Steve M. - Nov 8, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    I proposed Brandon McCarthy last month as a potential never thinking Gio Gonzalez would be available. He may actually have 4 years of team control left instead of 3. For the Sabre guys, McCarthy had better stats. Gio was an All Star and will demand a big package. Depending on the price, both intriguing and Ken Rosenthal says the Red Sox are already inquiring on Gio.I would think that Rizzo would have more to offer in a trade as the Red Sox are getting thin on prospects.http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/11/as-will-listen-on-anyone-but-weeks.html

  39. jd - Nov 8, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    Steve M. I am hearing 4 years and $64 mil for Buehrle. I don't know; that's too many years and too much money for my taste.

  40. jd - Nov 8, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    I think the problem with FA pitchers is that the Yankees and Red Sox are desperate for starting pitching this year not to mention Texas. Now that Miami is in the mix for every FA the price is in the stratosphere. The trade option may have to do but if we are also acquiring a CF via trade we have to careful not to overpay with prospects (don't trade Norris).

  41. Steve M. - Nov 8, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    CAA is touting a cool factoid on Mark Buehrle. He is 24-6 W/L record vs. NL teams in interleague but we had that fact months ago!Astros still contemplating whether they would trade Wandy Rodriguez. Sports Business Journal now says the Royals aren't looking to sell naming rights to the NatsInsider well named KC Masterpiece.

  42. jd - Nov 8, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    Steve M. I saw Gio pitch several times against the Yankees and they hit him around pretty good. He was a 3.5 WAR pitcher but his BABIP was unsustainably low. I like McCarthy's numbers better all around and he was a 4.7 WAR and his BABIP was actually higher than in the previous few years. Beane understands the value of good starters and he won't give either away for a package headlined by Bernadina and Flores; he would want more.

  43. Steve M. - Nov 8, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    jd, here's my thinking. Get the starter in a trade and Coco Crisp in Free Agency. I don't think you can do 2 trades and deplete top prospects. You always have to be ready on July 31st with trade bait -if- you are on the verge of a playoff run.Gio Gonzalez and Wandy Rodriguez will be the 2 most talked about players in trade and will require several players in return. I don't like 1 year rentals but if you got Brandon McCarthy on essentially a 1 year deal where you give up a catcher and Bernadina for him, I think that may be a decent deal and McCarthy with a good year should yield at least a Type B rating in Free Agency as compensation back if he goes to Free Agency or possibly Rizzo finds a way to extend him. Its not ideal, but a decent deal to bridge the gap to 2013 where Strasburg doesn't have innings limits and you have Strasburg, JZim, Lannan, Peacock and 1 opening.

  44. Steve M. - Nov 8, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    jd, McCarthy walks next year regardless and they aren't keeping him. He had a breakout year. Even for them he is a 1 year rental. They need outfielders, catcher if they trade Kurt Suzuki who stunk anyway last year, and could use a middle infielder. I don't think the Nats overpay in a trade.If you are going to overpay, do it in Free Agency where it will cost cash and not prospects.

  45. Natslifer - Nov 8, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    We are not going to start the year with 4 righties and 1 lefty (IMO). We have 3 righties locked in for the starting rotation. Unless we're worried about Wang's health, Oswalt, Darvish and any other top tier righties are red herrings.

  46. natsfan1a - Nov 8, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    I wish to associate myself with the comments of my esteemed colleague from the great state of, um, the sofa.Sec 3, My Sofa said… I don't need the Phillies to collapse. On the contrary, I want to see them finish in second, one game out of the Wild Card. Losing three straight to the first-place Nats, here. For the next several years. November 8, 2011 11:47 AM

  47. CUBANO22031 - Nov 8, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    Mark Zuckerman – What are your thoughts on Yoenis Cespedes? could be be an answer in a couple of years when the Nats mve Bryce to LF and Morse back to 1B?

  48. Steve M. - Nov 8, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    I am just thinking through if Rizzo will be the "early worm" this year. Last year, his first big move was on December 5th when he signed Jayson Werth.This year's baseball Winter Meetings are held in Dallas, TX and running from Dec 5th-8th. I have to wonder if we will wait another 30 days for Rizzo to surprise us or if he gets going earlier.

  49. HabsProf - Nov 8, 2011 at 7:46 PM

    As a former Expos fan, I can not help but boil when I see Loria's smug mug smiling on this page. Please, someone, please, wipe that grin off that s.o.b.'s face. Now.

  50. Anonymous - Nov 8, 2011 at 7:49 PM

    I , myself, wonder if Rizzo ever sleeps and if he does, what he dreams about…

  51. jd - Nov 8, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    HabsProf, I feel the same way. The Expos should never have gotten into a situation where the sold the team to someone who didn't care about Montreal. There was money in Montreal to keep the team (Peladeau, Bronfman, LeVesque etc) but no one wanted to build the down town stadium and keep the team in Montreal; what a shame.

  52. Wally - Nov 8, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    I like McCarthy better than Gio, although Gio would be worth getting too. I don't think Flores gets it done, but Bernie, Norris and Lombo probably do. I'd make that trade.I also still think that CHW are going to make either Danks or Floyd available, and think that Danks would fit really well. Probably a little more needs to get it done, maybe Detwiler instead of Bernie. I would do that one too.If Torres is non tendered, I think that he is worth a flyer, unless we make a trade for someone, or sign Crisp.4/$64m for Buehrle (or any FA pitcher other than Wilson) is too rich for my blood.Loria < Angelos.If this is going to be the volume of posts and commentary, the offseason is going to go pretty quickly. Let's keep it going.

  53. Rizzo's dream-catcher - Nov 8, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    Anon @ 2:49,Rizzo's Free Agent Dream (1): Grady Sizemore's agent calls and says "Grady is willing to take a one-year, minor-league deal for $1.5m, with a club option for a second year at $2.5m because he always wanted to remain in the Expos organization."Rizzo's Trade Dream (1): Brian Cashman calls and says "We need a lefty starter and we've always liked Lannan. How about we swap Brett Gardner for him, straight up?"Rizzo's Free Agent Dream (2): Albert Pujols calls and says "I've always wanted to live in Washington, but I also want to be fairly compensated. How about six years at $20m/year? With a mutual option for a seventh and eighth year? And, as part of the deal, I get to stick around the Nats as a coach after my playing career ends."Rizzo's Trade Dream (2): Boston's new GM calls and says: "I found a yellow sticky that Theo left. It says 'trade Jacoby for Jesus'. Theo knew what he was doing, so can we swap Ellsbury for Flores?"

  54. jd - Nov 8, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    Wally, It may be just me but I,m not throwing in Norris into any package that does not include an A type prospect. I am telling you he will come back and haunt us if we do it.

  55. jd - Nov 8, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    Wally, Keep in mind that we have really good pitchers a year or 2 away and we are just looking to bridge the gap to them and contend in 2012. I don't want to give away the farm on this basis.

  56. Exposremains - Nov 8, 2011 at 9:33 PM

    Don't forget that Selig knew very well what he was doing when he made Loria the owner. it was part of Selig master plan to get rid of the Expos.

  57. Wally - Nov 8, 2011 at 9:35 PM

    JD – when you say an A type prospect, do you mean an ace? If so, while I like Norris too, that is too high a standard. A pitcher like McCarthy or Gonzalez (or Danks, Billingsley, …) could give us a 3-5 year stretch of 4-5 WAR seasons. Not ace level, but very good and worth a lot.I see Norris' ceiling as a Mike Napoli type, which is a very good position player but he has something less than a 100% chance of reaching that and best case, it doesn't start for a few years yet, while the pitchers that we are pursuing will give those performances immediately.So maybe those pitchers aren't the right ones, either because they are a longer term fix than we need (as you say), or maybe just not high enough quality (I think that they are, but it is a judgment call and I can see the other side of it). But I think that given our organizational strengths and weaknesses, we have to be prepared to give up a good prospect at a position of depth for something we need, and Norris is the perhaps the strongest example of that.

  58. NatsLady - Nov 8, 2011 at 10:36 PM

    Tyler Clippard tweeted that he was named Nats pitcher of the year!!! (Hope that's true, he said his father told him…)

  59. jd - Nov 8, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    Wally,I don't mean an ace I mean someone else's AAA young stud outfielder or something like that. I don't want to lose our top prospects when we have people like Cole, Solis, Meyer and Purke coming. If only one of this group materializes we are pretty set. If more than 2 materialize will have a surplus which is not bad.

  60. JD - Nov 8, 2011 at 10:42 PM

    Nats Lady, Good for Tyler; he had a great year.

  61. JaneB - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:07 PM

    "Lannan and Clippard for Adam Jones? Is it worth the offer?"Absolutely pasta NOT! Clippard for no one. No trading Clip. We will need him in the playoffs. Next Year.

  62. Gonat - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:36 PM

    NatsLady, Nats staff and broadcasters and journalists voted Michael Morse the Nats MVP and breakout player and Tyler Clippard the Nats Pitcher of the Year.

  63. Big Cat - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:46 PM

    What is the word on Alex Meyer? Was he in Florida? Is he in Arizona? How is he doing?

  64. jd - Nov 9, 2011 at 12:32 AM

    JaneB, I understand the love for Clippard but please consider this: 1) When opponents hit the ball into play against Clippard last year they hit .197 vs. .284 the previous year – this just a function of luck. .197 is 100% not sustainable. 2) No reliever no matter how good is worth as much as a solid everyday player so you don't have to worry the Orioles won't make that trade. Please don't read this as a criticism of Clippard; I think he's great but I think relievers can be replaced whereas everyday players are hard to find.

  65. Anonymous8 - Nov 9, 2011 at 12:47 AM

    jd, pitchers with deception, movement, high velo, get a higher level of balls in play not contacted with the optimal area of the bat. Clippard has made his own luck. In fact how many hits were dinks and doinks?Stats are great when used with visual observation known as scouting.

  66. gonatsgo - Nov 9, 2011 at 1:45 AM

    Tyler Clippard is just good, not any luckier than anyone else and we need to keep him. I absolutely do not think he can be easily replaced – that good relievers are a dime a dozen is a dangerous myth. My favorite games are Zimmermann to Clippard to Storen. I plan on watching them for a long time.

  67. Mark'd - Nov 9, 2011 at 1:51 AM

    Anon8, thanks for setting Mr. JD straight. Guys like Clippard and Venters were plain nasty when they had their stuff and the BABIP was reflective of their nasty factor. Venters was .240 as he had a poor Sept. I just think Clippards BABIP will be dictated by how good his stuff is and over a full season, luck in both the good and bad direction is neutralized.

  68. Anonymous - Nov 9, 2011 at 2:16 AM

    Himm on Rizzo's dreams I suspect he would be thinking seriously, very seriously about an outfielder named Peter Borjous or BJ Upton. Both young with significant ceilings. Both can play any outfield position including CF.Have to wonder about the possibility of Fielder or Pujols … would Rizzo prefer Fielder because of the left-handed stick a huge upgrade over left-handed LaRoche … however a downgrade fielding-wise? Pitching I think its Grienke or Cain. Although there's some speculation that Lincecum might be available.

  69. Anonymous - Nov 9, 2011 at 2:18 AM

    However, Johnson's dreams may be more valid. Johnson likes what he sees inside the organization. He just may nix the new outfielder and convince Rizzo that he has what he needs. Morse LF, Werth CF, Harper RF

  70. Gonat - Nov 9, 2011 at 2:34 AM

    For the previous comments on Clippard, this year he made his own luck.I watched Brian Kinney's new show Clubhouse Confidential and he did a segment on the value of relievers especially in the post-season and how the game has changed. He said that in Japan that the Manager will pull the starters much quicker and go to the bullpen which is what this year's postseason was reminiscent of.Instead of weakening the bullpen, it seems Rizzo should be strengthening it further.The Nats led the Majors in Blown Saves and most of those happened in innings 6 to 8.

  71. MicheleS - Nov 9, 2011 at 3:22 AM

    1A.. I second your motion to be associated with our esteemed colleague from the great state of, um, the sofa.As always.. the Sofa is brining it.Gonat.. saw that segment as well on MLB… I remember hearing years ago, that games are won or lost in bullpens. Which is why I think that Davey wants an A (Clip/Store)and a B (Burnett/HRod???) bullpen. We need to keep our strengths.. not weaken them. I can't believe that I just referred to HRod as a strength. I must be getting loopy from not being able to watch live games

  72. Rabbit - Nov 9, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    I hope a lot of the free agents are signed by the NL East. It will be nice to see them play the Nationals on a regular basis. GO NATS!!!!!

  73. natscan reduxit - Nov 9, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    … you should be ashamed of yourselves for placing an image of Jeffrey Loria on your web site where young children might see it.Go Nats!!

  74. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 9, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    "early worm"???

  75. natsfan1a - Nov 9, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    The one that the (early) bird doesn't catch, maybe? Nah.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 55 43 --
ATLANTA 54 46 2.0
MIAMI 47 52 8.5
NEW YORK 47 53 9.0
PHILADELPHIA 43 57 13.0
Through Tuesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Nats at Rockies, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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