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AFL season wraps up today

Nov 17, 2011, 12:00 PM EDT

US Presswire file photo
Bryce Harper impressed at the plate but remains a work-in-progress in the field.

The Arizona Fall League's regular season wraps up today, and since the Scottsdale Scorpions will finish last in the three-team East Division, no members of the Nationals organization will be participating in Saturday's championship game.

Which means this afternoon's finale against the Mesa Solar Sox will be Bryce Harper's last opportunity to make an impression on the diamond until he arrives in Viera in February for big-league spring training.

Not that Harper feels any pressure to do something special in his fall finale. The 19-year-old has already more than made a name for himself over the last month and will close out his AFL season with some impressive stats.

Entering today's game, Harper is batting .322 with six homers, 26 RBI, a .392 on-base percentage and a 1.003 OPS that ranks 10th in thisRead more »

  1. JaneB - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    I never even head of the AFL till last year…I know, what kind of baseball fan AM I? But I love reading about the baby Nats as they grow up. GYFBG!Speaking of babies, aren't we due for a newer photo of the Baby Insider?

  2. sjm308 - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    Martin is an interesting case. I realize that ERA for a relief pitcher is not what should be used to measure success. I am not one who goes diving into Baseball-reference.com to find all these amazing stats to tell me what I need to know, I just find that stuff out here from others. But I do know that Martin pitched well all season long in the minors, he was chosen for the AFL, and it looks like he pitched well there. I am interested to see if he will be blocked by all of our other terrific arms in the bullpen. I believe he is older (26 or 27) but that shouldn't make a difference in the pen. I don't think he is a hard thrower so he might have a long career ahead of him. Just another positive problem for our FO to have.

  3. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    The AFL just does not move me much as the hot stove is heating up at the same time. How these low level prospects fair against other low level prospects in a small number of opportunities is not all that telling. Anyway, I want to see the Nats make some bold moves this off-season. They have money, they have some talent to trade, they have glaring holes to fill and they are as close to being a contending club as the have ever been. They have all kinds of directions in which they can go right now to improve the club in a way that makes 2012 a season Nats fans can see as the breakthrough. Rizzo needs to make it happen. 2012 will be his third starting roster; given the tools he has to work with, if he cannot deliver an Opening Day roster that has a legitimate shot on paper for 2012, then the Lerners need to fire him and find someone who can get it done. It is time to start winning.dfh21

  4. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    For the uninformed…. the AFL is a showcase for the TOP PROSPECTS, not low level as stated by a certain previous poster. SHEEEESH!

  5. Feel Wood - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    2012 will be his third starting roster; given the tools he has to work with, if he cannot deliver an Opening Day roster that has a legitimate shot on paper for 2012, then the Lerners need to fire him and find someone who can get it done. It is time to start winning.dfh21Um, perhaps you haven't been paying attention.2009: 59-1032010: 69-932011: 80-81Looks like a strong upward trend to me. You don't "start winning" by flipping an on-off switch. Becoming a winner is a process, and Rizzo and the Nationals are on the right track.

  6. Gonat - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    I believe Walters was sent in place of Rendon and that was probably a wasted spot as Walters was overmatched in the field and at the plate. He has 6 errors and hovering on the Mendoza line.Norris has made 7 throwing errors to go with a handful of passed balls. I can understand passed balls when you don't have a familiarity with the pitcher, but 7 throwing errors?

  7. baseballswami - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    At this time of year it is particularly interesting to try and guess what is going on in Rizzo's mind. Is he waiting to see what Miami (!) does? Is he waiting to see how things are playing out? Will he shock us anyday now with some great big signing? Or will he hold firm? I find myself wanting something to happen, even though I know that the best course may be to wait and see where things are headed with trades and free agency. I would make a terrible GM – not at all patient enough. Good thing rizzo has the poker face.

  8. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    I would make a terrible GM – not at all patient enough. Can we have a bronze plaque of that over the door to this place, for pretty much everybody?

  9. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    I can understand passed balls when you don't have a familiarity with the pitcher, but 7 throwing errors? Trying too hard to impress, maybe? Don't know what the specifics on the errors were, but the team got off to a bad start–maybe learning not to force the issue. Just a thought. Not good, but a good lesson to have behind him.

  10. natsfan1a - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    JaneB, the AFL hasn't been around all that long, anyway (less than 20 years, I think).I'll probably watch some of the AFL championship game because it's real-time baseball, as it were. After that I'll be reduced to baseball books, MLB Network shows, and the odd Caribbean Series game (if I can find any of them on tv), and my baseball memories. Sorry, but the hot stove just doesn't do it for me. Sigh. But at least we're not moving to the AL. I feel for Astros fans. And I vote "yes" on the Baby Insider update.

  11. Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    2012 is not the year, 2013 is. However, I believe 2012 will be better thant 2011 and that is something to look forward to. I will be ever so bold and predict we Harper in NATS Park this coming September.

  12. natsfan1a - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    But…but…I don't play an armchair GM, even on tv…hmmm…maybe the plaque could refer to armchair managers as well? :-)Sec 3, My Sofa said… Can we have a bronze plaque of that over the door to this place, for pretty much everybody? November 17, 2011 8:21 AM

  13. Just sayin' - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    baseballswami said…At this time of year it is particularly interesting to try and guess what is going on in Rizzo's mind. Is he waiting to see what Miami (!) does? *******************************************************************As someone predicted a few days ago, the Marlins' offers for Pujols and Reyes seem to have been low-ball publicity stunts. That is, if you can call numbers with at least seven zeros in them 'low ball'…but they're certainly not big enough to catch those particular would-be fish…

  14. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    The AFL is full of guys who are not that close to the bigs. I should have been more careful with my words – they may be top prospects but they are heroes in the low minors at this point. Maybe some of then are going to be stars in 2014, but that's then and this is now. The GM meetings start now.Talk of the trend for the Nats going in the right direction is meaningless. The D-Bax of 2011 finished first, though the D-Bax of 2010 finished dead last. The object is to win, not to trend upward toward winning. Each club is different to some extent every year and they start with a clean slate, of course, and play games against the other newly adjusted clubs. The only trends in baseball are that clubs that win tend to keep winning and teams that lose tend to keep losing. Winning clubs generally make adjustments to keep winning. The Nats need to take the step and build a club that can win. Is it unreasonable for me to want them to assemble a roster that can win after 7 years of losing to beat the band? Given the pieces they have (and ones they can move), and the money they can spend, what rational reason can the Nats possibly give us at this point for not being able to get it done? What you can judge Rizzo on is the quality of the roster he produces based on his constraints. He cannot change everything and everyone over night, but this is his club now — this will be his third Opening Day in control. Having finished almost at .500 for the first time since 2005 is not really telling of anything. Having some players who can win in 2012 and beyond is. Rizzo needs to land the leadoff guy, he needs to land front end SP and he needs to assemble a lineup that can score and a bench that can contribute. All of those things can be done in any number of ways. It is well beyond time for them to give us a club that has a chance to win. If Rizzo doesn't get it done in some way shape or form that leaves a fan like me thinking "this 2012 club could win the Wild Card, who knows" then he will have failed.dfh21

  15. Paul - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    "The AFL is full of guys who are not that close to the bigs. I should have been more careful with my words – they may be top prospects but they are heroes in the low minors at this point. Maybe some of then are going to be stars in 2014, but that's then and this is now. "–dfh21, I am so glad you are not the GM. I am not going to address most of what you are saying because the the first line of your post is so wrong. Just google "Arizona Fall League" to see what the eligibility criteria for it is. Majority AA and AAA players, generally considered a 'finishing school' for top prospects. Granted, a prospect is a prospect and may never make it, but we are not talking about guys that are far away here. Virtually everyone that is sent to the AFL has a legit chance to play in the bigs the following year. "Organizations annually send a pack of their better prospects here, and since its inception in 1992 the fall league has produced 1,900 major-leaguers, including nine MVPs, three Cy Young winners and 169 All-Stars."Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/sports/diamondbacks/articles/2011/11/07/20111107arizona-fall-league-producing-big-talent.html#ixzz1dyJx3CZ6http://www.azcentral.com/sports/diamondbacks/articles/2011/11/07/20111107arizona-fall-league-producing-big-talent.htmlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arizona_Fall_League

  16. sjm308 - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    dfh: he might be failing in your eyes but as a fan who has watched losing baseball since 1950 I am excited about the direction Rizzo is taking this club. You might not care about trending but any trend away from losing is actually fine with me. I have watched this club go from the dreggs of the NL with absolutely no help from MLB and a disfunctional GM to one that now has certain pieces in place and it continually adding more. Your glass is obviously half empty while mine is half full (and getting more full by the day). I also don't want to quibble about the AFL, its a nice idea and gives our prospects a chance to keep playing. I would be interested in seeing how many players from last years AFL roster will be on the major league roster this spring. I do agree that most are still a year away but its certainly top talent in each clubs minor league system.I do agree with you that certain clubs expect to win and make those adjustments each year. I want to see us in that group starting this year and for years to come. It will mean an entirely different mind-set for me as I have been happy to just watch major league ball again. Go Nats!!

  17. Feel Wood - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    It is well beyond time for them to give us a club that has a chance to win. If Rizzo doesn't get it done in some way shape or form that leaves a fan like me thinking "this 2012 club could win the Wild Card, who knows" then he will have failed.dfh21Ah, I see. You want a team that is consistently winning the title of "Offseason Champion." Actual regular season results mean nothing to you. Might I suggest you start following the Redskins?

  18. Big Cat - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    I saw a lot of Norris in Potomac a couple years ago. I wasn't very impressed. Then last year he hit a robust .201 in Harrisburg. Yet there he is, high on the "prospect" list. Must be good defensively

  19. Anonymous8 - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    Big Cat, it had been suggested before that Norris be primed for 1st base as he is almost 23 years old. Rizzo has spoken of his progress behind the plate defensively. I would say that progress was regress given the 7 errors in 20 games for a catcher is troubling. He made major strides in his approach at the plate in the AFL showing everyone he could hit for average. Yes, small sample size but he is also facing up and coming starters. That is a positive.

  20. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    And for all those people so upset with Rizzo for trading Alberto Gonzalez, the Padres have set him adrift. Wow! (tongue in cheek)How deep must the Padres be to let a Gold Glover and dynamite bench player like that go, huh?

  21. greg - Nov 17, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    add me to the chorus disagreeing with dfh. someone else said well when they posted three years of results all trending upward significantly. and cherrypicking one "worst to first" situation in arizona doesn't really change that story. if the team regresses, then i'll be unhappy. if they continue this trend, we should have winning baseball in 2012 and playoff baseball in 2013. considering where the franchise is coming from, i'll be happy with that. i think it's unrealistic to put playoff expectations on rizzo in 2012. certainly possible, but not a reasonable expectation.

  22. MicheleS - Nov 17, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    NatsJack.. any update or scuttle butt on the Spring Training move? I know that FL is broke, but I hope they don't move out to AZ

  23. Theophilus - Nov 17, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    Lemmee start the armchair GM wheel spinning this a.m. I saw the announcement that the Cardinals will start Daniel Descalso at 2B next season. That suggests Skip Schumaker is available to y'all's fantasy leadoff hitter/CF for the next couple of years, at a reasonable price. Not saying he'd be my choice but maybe he'd fill some folks wish for a Punch & Judy CF until Taylor/Goodwin/Harper are ready to take over in a couple of years.

  24. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 17, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    Michele S….Story here is that they are good for this year and 2013. I just don't see a move to Arizona as feasible as the 2 furthest east teams training there are Cleveland and Cincinnati.There are a couple of locations in Central and West Central Florida rumored to be interested. One is Osceola County where the Astros train and the other is Hillsborough County (Plant City) where the Reds used to train.

  25. Natslifer - Nov 17, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    Very dramatic DFH. But for me, you have two posts with a lot of opinion and very little to no data. Here's the way I look at it:- We've improved 10 games apiece in the last two years- Our farm is now stocked at a competitive level with the top half of MLB- Our pitching (even if we do nothing) on paper can get us a winning record. Rizzo says he wants another pitcher and we should look for him to get that. But on paper it can support a winning record as-is (7th in the league).- We need to score 90-100 more runs in '12 to make the playoffs. So how do you do that? Again, on paper, we should be much better offensively by having Werth at his historical contribution, Zimmy unhurt, and LaRoche contributing normally. But Rizzo wants to find a center fielder who hits too. Makes sense to me. Do we need a prototypical leadoff hitter? It'd be great but every move has to be done in the reality of today so who is that? No one jumps out at me as the silver bullet – and I really don't want to get stuck with a huge contract for someone like Reyes or Upton that becomes a big negative when they're hurt or turn into a bad apple.I'm going to watch these guys till I die (hopefully many decades from now) and I'm very happy with steady progress every year.Stop the generalizing and say how you'd do it – then you can criticize Rizzo when he doesn't do what you recommend.

  26. Drew8 - Nov 17, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    Kilgore's got a very interesting piece out of the GM meetings in Milwaukee. Rizzo is targeting a center fielder, most likely in a trade. He says the cf needs to be an accomplished offensive and defensive player, but doesn't have to hit leadoff. He and Davey are OK with Desmond leading off if it comes to that. Between the lines, it sure sounds like Rizzo is targeting B.J. Upton.From Kilgore's piece:"As Rizzo has bounced trade ideas off of other clubs – 'foundation-laying things,' he said – his main focus has been finding the right fit to deal for a center fielder. The Nationals have been clear their top priority is acquiring a center fielder, and despite an expanded set of free agent center fielders, Rizzo believes the player will come in a trade.“We’re open to acquiring a player any means we can,” Rizzo said. “I still think the logical way would be a trade route. That’s not to say that something else wouldn’t come up later on.”One of the players unlikely to be available in a trade is Denard Span, the Minnesota Twins center fielder and on-base force the Nationals nearly plucked at the last trade deadline. Twins General Manager Terry Ryan indicated he is not willing to trade Span or Ben Revere, another speedy outfielder.The Nationals hope to upgrade at the top of their lineup, where their leadoff hitters had a league-worst .285 on-base percentage last season. Still, finding a center fielder who bats leadoff isn’t a necessity for them.“I don’t think it’s a big priority,” Rizzo said. “He needs to be a two-way player, offense and defense, a well-rounded type of guy. To be a prototypical leadoff guy that kind of slaps the ball and runs, we’re not that specific.”

  27. JamesFan - Nov 17, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    I don't get the Rizzo/Lerner skeptics. When you compare Rizzo to every gm in every sport within 100 miles of this place, he's a hall of famer. He has turned this franchise from a scrap heap to one loaded with very young first class talent. The Nats should contend in 2012 (I'm not a wait til 2013 guy), and he has made minimal mistakes in a profession that is loaded with them. The Lerners have left the professionals to build the team, but have provided the resources needed to get quality players. It ain't perfect, but it never is in baseball.

  28. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 17, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    Stop the generalizing and say how you'd do it – then you can criticize Rizzo when he doesn't do what you recommend. Assuming, of course, that what one recommends actually could have worked, and one bellies up for the crow casserole when that dinner bell tolls for thee.

  29. FormerCubsFan - Nov 17, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    I think we've waited too long already. If Rizzo doesn't win a world series by mid-May, June at the latest, he should be kicked to the curb, and the club blown up and started fresh.

  30. natsfan1a - Nov 17, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    Thanks to Michele S for the ST reminder (only 95 more shopping days) and to NatsJack for the update (ah, Plant City, source of delicious strawberries…:-)). Speaking of food items, awwww….do we have to have crow casserole again? I'm soooo sick of that. How about BBQ wings this time?

  31. Drew8 - Nov 17, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    Just to stir the pot, some blogger has a long piece here about possible Rays-Nats trade scenarios. Disclaimer for GONAT: Yes, we know about Upton's pending free agency. Any deal would be predicated on Upton signing an extension with the Nats.(FWIW, I wouldn't be crazy about dealing A.J. Cole.)http://isportsweb.com/2011/11/09/trading-b-j-upton-to-the-nationals-would-be-a-good-move-for-the-rays/

  32. Unkyd - Nov 17, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    I was all set to take dfh's arguments apart, but I find I'm just a voice in the chorus, thankfully. This team should improve noticeably, results-wise, without making a move, for the several reasons mentioned above. I am not against making a move, or two…just against spending more than a prospect or two, at this time. Again, another year of evaluation and improvement on the farm, could possibly yield an embarrassment of riches. Next winter seems to be the time to make the Big Deal….

  33. Shoshana - Nov 17, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    My husband and I were in Arizona last week to watch AFL leagues (and have a bit of a vacation). This is our second year doing so. A bunch of points to mention: Yes, some of the AFl players will never see the bigs, but plenty have a chance to make the big league roster this year. Some of the names of folks who played last year in the AFL: Brandon Belt (Opening Day 1st baseman for the Giants), Josh Collmenter (pitcher for the Diamondbacks, not sure if he started the year in the big or was early call up), Freddie Freeman (Braves 1st baseman), Brandon Beachy (Braves starting pitcher), Dustin Ackley (Mariners 2nd baseman), Eric Hosmer (Royals), Ben Revere (CF, Twins). Of the Nats players, Cole Kimball, Brad Peacock and Stephen Lombardozzi saw some time in the bigs. Sure there are some lower level players in the AFL but there is also plenty of high quality playing. Derek Norris' errors: I saw at least one, and another that could have been an error if he had thrown the ball. Both were on steal attempts. IN the first case, Norris threw the ball but the fielder didn't cover the base quick enough. In the second, Norris recognized that the fielder was there and never threw the ball. Now, it could definitely be said that he could work on recognizing when not to thrown the ball, which I put all on him. The passed balls is also some on which he should work. Hmm, now that I think about it, I think I saw an error from him when he had a passed ball (and the AFL players will run on "passed balls" that are fairly close to the plate) and then tried to throw the runner out at second. His throw was not, as you say, on target (a little airmailed, if I remember correctly). Zach Walters: Poor guy was smacking the ball often. It was just right to the fielders or high pop-ups. I'm fairly sure that he had a few strikeouts, but it seemed that most of his at-bats were balls put into play. His field was okay. He didn't make any amazing plays but didn't seem to miss most routine ones (he wasn't 100% but I can't really remember when and under which circumstance he ran into an issue). We came late to Wednesday game, which was when Solis was starting so we missed seeing him pitch. He had a brace on his arm at Friday's game (he was tracking pitches from the stands on Thursday and Friday) and told us that he was "just a little banged up". We did see Lehman, Martin and Purke pitch though. I look forward to watching their progress. I really can't speak highly enough of going out to Phoenix to watch AFL baseball. Tickets are $7/game, you can sit wherever you want in the stands (although the scouts tend to take the area right behind home plate), you can interact with the players a bit, you have a decent chance of a foul ball (with a little effort), you meet great people (locals and non-locals) and you get a chance to see some of the up-and-comers of baseball. Plus, for the most part, the weather in Phoenix this time of year is beautiful (although it is a desert, so the nights can get cooler).

  34. Mark'd - Nov 17, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    The Kilgore article if accurate gives away too much information especially if BJ Upton is the target. He is a rumored non-tender which only gives the Nats incentive to trade little for him to control getting him as an Arb-eligible instead of a Free Agent.If it is BUpton, that trade should happen quickly as the Rays are clearing space on their 40 man.

  35. Sunderland - Nov 17, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    Hey, I got nothing useful to add, but I did want to say hello and show off my fancy new whateveryoucallit over there on the left.Shoshana, thanks for the recap and info.

  36. Feel Wood - Nov 17, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    The Kilgore article is nothing but Kilgore's own personal speculation about Rizzo's plans. Notice that he has no direct quote from Rizzo that ties all those other quotes to a centerfielder specifically. When interviewed directly, like on MLB Network the other night, Rizzo typically says nothing beyond that he is "looking to add an outfield bat."

  37. natsfan1a - Nov 17, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    Awesomely awesome.I'll second the thanks for Shoshana's report.Sunderland said… Hey, I got nothing useful to add, but I did want to say hello and show off my fancy new whateveryoucallit over there on the left. Shoshana, thanks for the recap and info. November 17, 2011 11:38 AM

  38. NatsLady - Nov 17, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    whateveryoucallits are fun, maybe I should fool around with mine. Very bored during the off-season, waiting for trades and acquisitions. Is there a way to watch VZ winter ball online?

  39. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    Some of you guys have the stench, that foul, moldy, disgusting stink, of Royals fans. It’s as if people in here are thinking we should lavish our prospects with big love and hope they ALL turn into Hall of Fame players, as the big club flounders around until the magic day when they all blossom simultaneously — we cannot part with any of them for the shallow, unreachable as we have not trended close enough to it yet, ideal of actually having a winning big league team in our big money market. Hell no. Wait and wait and wait, and keep expectations low, keep actions timid, Rizzo should just plot a course to respectability (do not fly too close to that sun Mike!) no matter that most of the Division may steam right by us; we’ll all have hope for that ever in the far distance summer to come along when all of the accepting mediocrity provides a chance for us to be winners, when all of our AFL heroes will come to save us from the big, bad (yet always finding a way to be very good) Phillies and Braves (if somehow a bunch of other clubs stumble terribly and we get lucky as can be, or something). Come on guys. Someone above was saying that the club needs only very minor adjustments. Really? Listen, if they trot out the same club they have now in 2012, they finish at best 3rd again. Are you guys actually OK with that? Trying not to finish last is not the same as trying to win. They need to try to WIN.I am never empirically right about anything, and I am wrong, empirically wrong, a lot — but on this I am dead right: if Rizzo does not assemble a roster that has a chance to win the WC in 2012, then he should be fired. His job is to build a club that can win. He knows what he needs in order to adjust the club to have a real chance and he has resources to do the work. Why should Nats fans expect anything less than a team that has a real chance to contend in 2012? dfh21

  40. Feel Wood - Nov 17, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    I am never empirically right about anything, and I am wrong, empirically wrong, a lot — but on this I am dead right: if Rizzo does not assemble a roster that has a chance to win the WC in 2012, then he should be fired. His job is to build a club that can win. He knows what he needs in order to adjust the club to have a real chance and he has resources to do the work. Why should Nats fans expect anything less than a team that has a real chance to contend in 2012? dfh21How do you determine before the season even starts that whatever team Rizzo assembles has a chance for anything? And you want to base his firing on that?I say we banish you from this blog on the chance you may be an idiot.

  41. greg - Nov 17, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    if it stays healthy, with no improvements the team is borderline already. a full season of zimm, a(n almost) full season (160ish IP) of strasburg, a full season (no innings limit) of zimermmanN, the potential of 25/75 from laroche… that could be worth another 5-6 wins. which puts us w/in 4-5 games of the WC. what he can do though the hot stove isn't only based on what he wants to do, trade partners have to agree and not be outrageous, FAs have to agree to come here, etc.. i'm willing to be patient and see what happens. if it turns out there was an opportunity to make a good deal that he blew, i'll bash him for that. but i'm not going to jump on him for not making hypothetical deals that may not have been possible to begin with.

  42. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    Hmmm, people are getting awfully ornery early this year?Yes, I know dfh21 and the rest you want to see your hard earned cash placed in season tickets produce a winner. Same old litany that its taken too long given they started in 2005. Well, you could be a Redskins fan with Dan Snyder, or a Whizzards fan?Personally, I like the approach of building the strongest possible farm system that is able to produce a winner year-in and year-out. That does take years. Rizzo's mantra where he states he won't make any major moves unless the impact the club over the long-term and not just this year is exactly the right approach to take. Its nice that he has a manager and front office that are with him 110% on that. ALL completely enjoy developing the younger prospects and then getting to watch them succeed!That's the way to get it done. That is what the AFL is all about where a system's top prospects are showcased against all of the other top prospects. So, let's stop whining. Have to admit Rizzo sounds awfully confident … could he get a Borjous? And not break the farm he has so painfully built almost from scratch? Or is he again thinking BJ Upton who would not be a bad choice given the current choices for CF in the system. The best two fielders are likely Brown and Curran. Its still a question as to whether Brown will hit major league pitching (I think he can) but Curran does not look like he will ever be able to do it. So, like it or not haters BJ Upton would be a significant upgrade BUT like Borjous he bats right. They need more left-handed bats like well, Bryce Harper. So, Mark will you be surprised if Davey decides to keep Bryce on and have Bo Porter finish his outfield training in the majors in major league games? Both Johnson and Rizzo have stated that currently their goal is to develop the youth and create a winner using their skills.I think there is a better than 80% chance that Harper starts for the Nats in the outfield … at the very least in June.

  43. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Feel Wood — answer this idiot's question: why should we expect anything less than a team that has a chance in 2012? Then you can and banish me from your blog kingdom.dfh21

  44. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    And keep this in mind: Curran and Brown both bat from the left-side.

  45. MicheleS - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:02 PM

    Wow.. really testy today (on both sides).NatsJack.. thanks for the info…Not sure which site I would prefer.. Mom lives near New Port Richey, so close to her would be great, but would also like them to be closer to other teams (and not just one or two)RE AFL: yes there are some big league prospects that are there for finishing school and some who have no business being there. I think we could say the same about the big leagues too.. Did you see the Astros this year… Geesh, beyond Pence/Bourn, that team was barely Triple A.RE: Rizzo, not willing to call for his head on the platter, not after pulling off Werth last season. I would hate to play poker with him. I understand why some are saying keep and some are saying trade. We have seen these guys come up and have an attachment to them and want to see them develop. I for one am not willing to throw any player out (YET) for last years performance. We have know IDEA what went on in that clubhouse the first half of the year. And Lord knows we have all questioned the previous managers capabilities. That being said.. I give DJ and Rizzo this year to groom and develop with a CHANCE to make us a WC contender. Espi/Desi and others really responded to DJ the last month or so.RE Bryce: So debating whether he should be with us at beginning of the year or at AAA. First off, based on economics, I don't see him coming up here until after he clears Super 2 Status. But If they want to give Bo a project to see how he is with developing a young talent and to possibly groom Bo as DJ's replacement – I am okay with that as well. I think Kilgore said someone on the staff will replace DJ either one of the guys they have now and the mysterious bench coach. Now if the bench coach isn't one of the guys currently on the staff, may I suggest Ryne Sandberg?

  46. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:02 PM

    Feel Wood said:I say we banish you from this blog on the chance you may be an idiot. Chance? I don't think it's a chance, I think that one is pretty clear to us all. He is.He gives all of anonymous posters a bad name.

  47. tayo - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    I can only hope Rizzo is reffering to Borgias when talking about the preliminnary trade discussions in Milwaukee. It is not span because The new GM says he wont be traded. I certainly hope its not Upton since he could be avialable soon without giving up any prospect. The only person I can think of right now is Peter Borgias, or is it someone else?

  48. Theophilus - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    Another guy who might be available is Dexter Fowler. The Rockies, however, appear to need position players more than pitching. They've got at least three, maybe four holes in their day-to-day lineup. Might take a three-way deal w/ KC or some similar team to get the Rockies the power hitter they need.

  49. tayo - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    Also we are not ready to trade prospects yet. Yes we have a top 5 farm right now but we are not yet in a position to just give up prospects because we have to assume that some of our current prospects might not pan out. The time to trade prospects is when we are still reasonably guaranteed a top 5 farm even after the trades and while accounting for potential bust of some of our prospects.

  50. Tom - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    Greg – I think an almost full season of Strasburg is worth 4-5 more wins by itself. Let alone Zimmermann another year removed from TJ and without an innings limit, Zimmerman for a full season (cross your fingers), plus Werth and LaRoche returning to career numbers. I think this team already can compete for a wild card, and if we can add a couple more pieces, then we should be totally in the mix.

  51. Theophilus - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:23 PM

    This "produce a World Championship or walk the plank" stuff has me really wondering why I've been bothering w/ baseball the last 40+ years. Since 1968, I haven't gone to a game where the home team ended up winning the World Series. (Tigers stopped winning until long after I had moved to DC, Orioles didn't win after '83, which was before I bought a share of six seats (for ten years). Where does this sense of entitlement come from? If you think it's because you bought a season ticket then — please — don't buy season tickets anymore. I'd hate to have you so overwrought and depressed 19 years out of every twenty. I go to watch Baseball, and because baseball is the only game where you can both watch and have a three-hour conversation with the person(s) in the adjacent seats. If I demanded a statistical probability of a Nats victory, I never would've bought a ticket. It would be nice to see them win — '68 was a great year. But for a while it will be nice that they don't embarrass themselves on a regular basis.

  52. Eugene in Oregon - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    I actually think the more interesting (and hopeful) point in Kilgore's piece — which I just had a chance to read — is that other teams are now approaching Rizzo to inquire about trades FOR some of the Nats' players. In any negotiation (baseball, real estate, oriental rugs, or arms control), it's always much better to be the one receiving the opening offer than the one initiating the discussion. The Nats certainly have some pieces that they can deal, but let the other GMs tip their hands first. As I wrote the other day, Rizzo would be negligent if he didn't listen and consider the entire equation.

  53. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:33 PM

    Theo — just for the record, when I use "WC", I am talking Wild Card, not world championship. My demand is that Rizzo puts a club on the field that has the pieces in place for an objective observer, say some MLB Network talking head, to say in late March "The Nats are a legitimate contender for 2012, based upn the moves Mike Rizzo made this off season." After 7 years of being a full STH, am I not reasonably entitled to that?dfh21

  54. Just sayin' - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    Without making any FA or trade moves, the Nats' play-off chances just got a fraction better…From MLBTradeRumors: "Commissioner Bud Selig announced that MLB will add two Wild Card teams — one in each league — for a total of ten playoff teams. Selig remains hopeful that the change will occur in 2012."

  55. natsfan1a - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:45 PM

    No more than entitled any season ticket holder for the other 29 teams, imho. You pays your money and you takes your chances.After 7 years of being a full STH, am I not reasonably entitled to that?

  56. natsfan1a's proofreader - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    transpose "than" and "entitled"?

  57. natsfan1a - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    um, yes, thanks. :-)

  58. Wally - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    I read Rizzo's quote the same as Drew8 – that he was referring to BJ Upton. When he backed off the leadoff hitter, I just don't know who else fits that category. Marlon Byrd? He's ok, but really just a stopgap. I am not an Upton fan, but it does seem like having him and CMW on the same team opens up a lot of headline possibilities.Shoshanna – thanks for that account from the AFL, it was very interesting. That was encouraging about Walters. My in laws live there, so I have always wanted to go see the AFL. Maybe I will now, especially that my son is 5 now and willing to watch for at least 1/2 an inning.dfh21 – well, I'll take the unpopular position. I think that he has a plausible position (I am going off his first post, not the later ones). I think that the Nats are close enough in talent to face the legitimate question this offseason whether they should go for it now, or give it another year. We have rehashed the 'wait another year' side quite a bit, but I see the argument to go for it as follows: we have two healthy, top starters to lead the rotation, and a couple of other decent guys; we have a premier 3b that may only be with us two more years; ditto for our best statistical hitter last year; we have several quality role players that are in their prime (and soon to be in decline); we have several up and coming young guys that should keep getting better; and we have a relatively low payroll that can afford some big additions, especially if they are short term (2-3 years). PLUS: baseball isn't really sport where a team incrementally improves over a 4-5 year time frame because (i) players get hurt, (ii) others don't develop like you think they are going to, (iii) players from other teams sometimes take huge leaps forward, (iv) sometimes the game changes and your roster needs to be overhauled and (v) you don't always get to keep the players that you want to keep. So teams should go for it when they have a reasonable supporting cast of talent and the payroll flexibility that adding two or three guys will incrementally increase the odds of making the playoffs. Because you never know what the future will hold. If you build for the playoffs in 2014, you may find that Zim is gone, Stras blew out his shoulder and Rendon never made it, and so you are looking at a 3-5 year cycle to get back to the position that you are in currently. I think that is the argument. I don't know if it is the winning one, but there isn't a definitive answer, since it involves judgment. But I think wanting the team to go for it now is a reasonable position to take. I don't agree with dfh21 that Rizzo is a failure if he decides not to go for it, because it isn't a slam dunk to me that is the right thing to do, but I think the basic position is plausible. Personally, I have flip flopped most of the winter on what I think the Nats should do. I am probably 52/48 in favor of teh go slow approach and giving it another year. But there are lots of time where I feel like 'Sign Oswalt, Beltran, Crisp and one of the 2d tier closers, and then let's get on the bus for Philly'

  59. Unkyd - Nov 17, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    GREAT discussion!!! I'm not ready to call anyone names, merely for disagreeing with me, but it would be nice to not be compared to midwesterners with personal hygiene issues….(really, if you need to cast aspersions on entire other fan bases, to make your point, perhaps you might re-evaluate your persuading skills?). It's a simple, and not at all personal difference of opinion: most of us think a wild card run is POSSIBLE with a healthy, and more experienced version if our current roster. A couple of reasonable moves, of course would improve the odds, but competition should be fierce, at ST in '13. No need to stick our tongues out and get all poopy, is there?

  60. Hopeful for 2012 - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:00 PM

    Ummm…so what if Harper is making errors in the OF, did the horrednous fielding of Desmond over a 6 year period prevent him for being the starting SS at Nats Park…NO! This kid is 19 and he can hit and did so off some of the best young pitching prospects (many 1st round picks) who will undoubtedly be in the majors in a year or two. Will he have 0-4 nights at Nats Park, sure but so could anyone else in the lineup. There is not much out there for free agent CF or trade-worthy CF that would be a game changer in the Nats lineup but BHarp in CF or RF andbatting 7th in the lineup will be a game changer, so hoopefully he comes in with the right work ethic in the spring and proves the doubters wrong and gets a spot in the OF at Nats Park.

  61. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    If, by "objective observer," you mean a disinterested educated one, I still say it doesn't matter, because they are wrong, every year, pretty much. Sure, not all the pigs are blind, and they do root up a truffle now and then, but the only thing that affects the standings is actual wins and losses.That's why they play the games. If I told you this time last year–heck, three months ago–the Cardinals would be the wild card, nevermind win it all, you could have given me 100 good reasons why that was nuts. But I never would have done that, because it WAS nuts. And you can do that with most seasons, since Doubleday. Atlanta "should" have been the wild card, but the baseball gods turned their backs on the Braves. Nobody said, wow, what rotten luck, let's let them be in the playoffs anyway.The Nats, as is, with average luck, are close to a .500 team, and it doesn't take much more than that to be competitive. With good luck, they might be there now. Or Rizzo could find and sign both Joe Hardy and Sidd Finch, but I'm not counting on it.

  62. Feel Wood - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    Feel Wood — answer this idiot's question: why should we expect anything less than a team that has a chance in 2012? Then you can and banish me from your blog kingdom.dfh21Who says they don't have a chance right now? The 2011 Nats team was eliminated from the wild card race just about the same time as the team that went on to win the World Series was being declared to not have a chance.If you're trying to avoid the idiot label, I'd say it's too late. You don't have a chance.

  63. Feel Wood - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    My demand is that Rizzo puts a club on the field that has the pieces in place for an objective observer, say some MLB Network talking head, to say in late March "The Nats are a legitimate contender for 2012, based upn the moves Mike Rizzo made this off season." After 7 years of being a full STH, am I not reasonably entitled to that?dfh21Larry Bowa, an MLB Network talking head, is already saying that, and Rizzo hasn't even done anything yet.I think you need to apply the first rule of holes. When you find yourself in one, quit digging.

  64. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:39 PM

    Wally — thanks for doing much more justice to my earlier post than it deserves. To be clear, I am not looking for Rizzo to bet the literal farm on a 2012 run. I am looking for him to assemble a team that has a real chance to win. He has not been able to do that to date (for a stack of reasons which are now mostly gone). Last year's club had no real chance — no true lead-off guy, rookies at 2B and C, no Ace, iffy/old bench, serious question marks at several positions (Morse, Desmond, Morgan). Given the nice pieces they have in place for 2012, Rizzo has to plug the glaring holes and give the club a shot at being this year's D-Bax. As an example, they have to get a lead-off man. Maybe by trade, maybe FA, but they have to get someone. It can be a one year rental or a long term solution, an OF a middle infielder, whatever, Rizzo can go in whatever direction he likes, but they have to have a guy who passes the laugh test at lead-off for 2012. If Rizzo does not get someone on the roster who can lead off, or some platoon of guys, then he's failing. He has to put the club in a position to have a legitimate chance to win. Why me taking that stance is provocative in here, I am not sure.dfh21

  65. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:46 PM

    Feel wood — if Larry Bowa says that in March, then great. dfh21

  66. fpcsteve - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    I'm with natsfan1a and Theophilus. 1) There are no guarantees except the absence of a sure thing. That's life. 2) And three hour conversations with other baseball fans is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening. But based on their recent progress, it seems likely that the Nats will be competitive into August, maybe September. Somebody referenced Fowler. I don't knnow what we have that the Rox need/want, but I saw Fowler for a season at Tulsa (AA), and he is a great talent.

  67. Gonat - Nov 17, 2011 at 7:57 PM

    Bryce Harper 1-1 batting .330 now

  68. Section 222 - Nov 17, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    I'm going to add my voice to the very small chorus of posters that are supporting dfh21. It's not that Rizzo is an idiot, or that his approach is all wrong, or that we have all the answers. It's about how high we set our sights. We've improved by 10 wins each of the last two years. If we do that again, we're a 90 win team with a shot at the playoffs. That's what I think the goal should be — not to tread water until the mystical 2013, which will then become 2015 or 16 if a key player gets hurt or doesn't perform up to expectations. I think the Nats are close enough that Lerners (who are BILLIONAIRES, I will remind you again) should open their wallets if there is a path to a playoff contender through free agent acquisitions. Frankly, I'd rather do that than trade away some of our top prospects. But I will trust Rizzo on the best way to build a winner. I'm just not willing to be patient anymore. Ryan Z. isn't getting any younger, neither is Werth (and he better deliver more this year than he did last), neither is Morse for that matter. There is no reason that with the right acquisitions this team can't contend starting next year for quite a few years to come. End of rant. And please note that I did this without suggesting that anyone should be banned from this blog if they disagree.

  69. MicheleS - Nov 17, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    Here is a link to a good article on security.. interesting insights into what the leagues providehttp://espn.go.com/espn/commentary/story/_/page/johnson-111116/wilson-ramos-kidnapping-send-message-us-sports

  70. UNTERP - Nov 17, 2011 at 8:28 PM

    Folks here ignore me so it's like I've been banned since with clairvoyance I have the Nationals losing in the 2012 WS, and then winning the next seven from 2013 through 2019. Much worse than my prediction is that I actually believe it :-)

  71. baseballswami - Nov 17, 2011 at 8:44 PM

    Lots of grouchi-ness today – baseball withdrawal. I feel it. On winning — I love to watch baseball and have a home team. I also hate losing a lot of games and I especially hate watching bad baseball. As long as I feel that an effort is being made by the organization to build a good team and I feel that the team itself is playing good baseball and showing me a full effort for my dime, then I am ok with wherever the chips fall. I don't necessarily think that the team is a failure and not worth watching if we don't make the playoffs. Making the playoffs would be waaaaay cool , though. As for Harper and Norris making errors — AFL is a good place to make mistakes and learn from them. Also — all the good players have made a lot of mistakes in their first few years in the bigs. We are probably going to watch Harper make some real big ones in the next couple of years. Comes with the territory. It's a process. I really miss watching the Nats every day……..

  72. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 17, 2011 at 8:47 PM

    that's not clairvoyance, that's precognition. Clairvoyance is seeing things at a distance, when they are happening. See, you're not ignored!

  73. Unkyd - Nov 17, 2011 at 8:47 PM

    The interesting thing here, to me, is that everybody on this post basically agrees that the team needs to add a couple of pieces to take themselves to the next level, which is: playing meaningful games, deep into Sept. '12, followed by the expectation of advancing in the playoffs, in '13. Dfh, the only thing innyour initial comment that excited anyone, was the intimation that Rizzo fails if the opening day roster doesn't meet with our approval. I induce, from the last few seasons results, that Rizzo and Davey will make the moves that will make us all happy, but it won't be money in the bank, come April… That's all.It has always amused me, highly, when folks disagree, so loudly..;-)

  74. greg - Nov 17, 2011 at 8:48 PM

    i don't think people counseling 'patience' are saying 2012 should be a throw-away, rebuilding year. i know i'm not. but there's a difference between saying "we want to continue improving as we did the last two seasons" and saying "rizzo better make improvements so we make the playoffs this year, or he's failed." as pointed out by 222, if we continue at the same improvement rate (10 games), we're at the WC threshold. but i don't want rizzo to look at this as a "playoffs or else" year, because that's how you make foolish deals that you regret down the line. while the window is rarely big, you only take the crazy chances as it's closeing, not right as it's opening.

  75. Unkyd - Nov 17, 2011 at 8:51 PM

    Meant to say "when folks AGREE. So loudly"…GYFNG!!!!!

  76. Unkyd - Nov 17, 2011 at 8:53 PM

    Well put, Greg

  77. Unkyd - Nov 17, 2011 at 8:58 PM

    hehe… captcha: untorn…. How I hope my bowel is, after next Tuesday's colostomy…sigh… (insert humor on aging here…) :)

  78. Scooter - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:00 PM

    I just have a couple quick hits:NatsLady: espn3.com (that will redirect you to the new URL, which I can't remember). Pick your sport (baseball) from the drop-down list, pick Replays, and see what games they've got for you. There's usually a Venezuelan game or two.Wally, not sure where you live, but the P-Nats are a good place to take a kid. My 5-year-old daughter has been going with me for a couple years now. Family-friendly entertainment between innings; cheap, so you don't feel bad about leaving early; and they've got bouncy houses. We like to go on Sunday afternoons.And hey, how come UNTERP never posts in here any more? I haven't noticed his name in ages!

  79. UNTERP - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:03 PM

    Sec 3, My Sofa said…thanks for correcting me, I think. I'm not sure that I'm not seeing things from a distance. It's all about perspective. dfh21I'm not ready to fire Rizzo whether he makes moves or not, since sometimes the best move is not making any. Also, since the Nationals are going to lose the 2012 WS, it doesn't matter what he does. It's already done :.)

  80. Anonymous - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:29 PM

    The Nats were at the WC threshold last year in early July. Rizzo did nothing until they fell out of contention and then, for some reason, traded for Gomes. He's traded for Ramos and Morse, great stuff, but signing Werth for all that money?, and the Pudge deal was not worth it, and the Marquis contract was a loser, and Wang played for us for a couple of years for no results, Kennedy?, Maya?, Stairs?, and Rizzo botched the Dunn trade deadline in a monster way, he missed Chapman by a mile and he really wanted that guy too, and he could not land an Ace last year when he told the whole world that was his goal, and sending away Hanrahan looks pretty bad in hind sight, I guess, and the Willingham trade is something they might regret right now too, and his man-crush on Desmond has not quite worked-out yet. Purke and Rendon and, of course, Harper look very good, and Peacock and some other kids are looking good on the farm, so that's good for Mike. Hmmm. Does anyone kow if Ryan Zimmerman thinks Mike is a genius? If Ryan is not convinced that Rizzo is a winner, then he'll be playing someplace else in 2014. Rizzo had better hope these guys start winning sooner than later.

  81. natsfan1a - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    Woo hoo! Saved by the new post. (I hope you meant colonoscopy rather than colostomy, Unk. Either way, good luck.)

  82. David - Nov 17, 2011 at 9:36 PM

    This is a late response to Anon 8:54. Sure its possibly for teams to go from last to first. But I'd wager that the teams that do that… don't stay at the top for very long. I bet the average finished for the year after giong from first to last would be 3rd place in the same division. Whereas a team like the Braves on the 90's or the Phils of the late 2000's were built from the ground up, took time to get to the top, and then stayed there. The Dback are not built to stay at the top! They play in a weak division, and will probably go back to being mediocre next year.

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