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Ready to ignite the Hot Stove

Nov 28, 2011, 11:00 AM EST

US Presswire photo
B.J. Upton could be available via trade, or perhaps as a free agent in a few weeks.

One week from today, the baseball world will converge on the massive Anatole Hotel in Dallas for this year's installment of the winter meetings. In theory, the Hot Stove League has been in season for nearly a month now. In reality, it's about to be ignited at last.

The Nationals have always entered the winter meetings with an idea what they needed, but they've perhaps never had objectives as clear-cut as they will this year. It's no secret what general manager Mike Rizzo wants: a veteran starter and a center fielder who ideally would hit leadoff.

There are a few other needs — another arm or two for the bullpen, not to mention several bench pieces that could prove important — but those are more likely to be filled later this winter after the big-ticket items have been plucked off the shelves.

So the Nationals' focus over the next 10 days or so figures to be on those two primary needs. Their paths to acquire each, though, mayRead more »

118 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. joemktg - Nov 28, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    MZ: will you be covering the meetings in Dallas?

  2. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    What will Santa bring us in our stocking this year? Waiting anxiously…

  3. Doc - Nov 28, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    I feel better this year, over last year, with Davey, and his analytics, being more directly involved with any potential Rizzo FA signings.Let's also hope days of ST sore 1B shoulders of A. LaRoche and bone chip elbows of J. Marquis, after being cleared by medicals, are over!Really looking forward to next season.Goooooooooooooooo Nats!!!

  4. Natslifer - Nov 28, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    Hey Mark – I'm just curious… any update on Rendon?

  5. Gonat - Nov 28, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    The Tampa Rays traded John Jaso their sometimes starting catcher yesterday. It would seem they need at least 1 catcher in a trade.

  6. Mark Zuckerman - Nov 28, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    Joemktg: Yep, I'll be at the winter meetings as always.Natslifer: Nothing new to report on Rendon. According to Rizzo, he completed his throwing program in Viera last month, will go through a typical offseason and will report to spring training ready to go.

  7. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    150+ K's, only an OK glove and a questionable track record for giving his best effort? I like the durability, but maybe it's because he does not try as hard as the next guy? I am not too excited about the possibility of Upton coming to DC at the price they'd likely have to pay to get him.dfh21

  8. MFG - Nov 28, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    I don't really like the idea of Upton either. I'm waiting for Rizzo to pull another rabbit out of his hat. Maybe a trade for Brett Gardener or Peter Bourjos.

  9. Anonymous8 - Nov 28, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    I like the group the Nats put together and not a BJ Upton fan even trading JFlores straight up. I can't get his loafing after balls over his head out of my mind. The vision of Nyjer slamming his glove on the ground in CF as Adam Jones got an inside the park HR is horror enough for Nats fans.A buddy of mine in Tampa rationalized that Upton's 1/2 speed is like most guys full-speed. So what, it is the signal it sends especially when you have guys like Espi and Desi that still run out ground balls full speed.

  10. Gonat - Nov 28, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    Anonymous said… 150+ K's, only an OK glove and a questionable track record for giving his best effort? I like the durability, but maybe it's because he does not try as hard as the next guy? I am not too excited about the possibility of Upton coming to DC at the price they'd likely have to pay to get him.dfh21 November 28, 2011 8:05 AM ________________________________Agreed. A team needs chemistry and Brett Gardner is that hustle guy that would add to this lineup. I have also heard Coco Crisp would be that type also.

  11. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    Jayson Werth stepped in as the behind the scenes leader whether we like it or not. Nyjer found that out in Spring Training and so did Riggleman.WWJD as in What Would Jayson Do with CF? I don't know if he would like BJ Upton based on his past.

  12. Theophilus - Nov 28, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    Read an article once that said you can learn everything you need to know about BJ Upton by comparing his salary to his brother's: BJ $4.8MM (2011); Justin (6 years, $50MM).

  13. Mark'd - Nov 28, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    Werth is the prez of the Fraternity. Hazing is tough.

  14. JaneB - Nov 28, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    I am also in Just Say No to BJ camp. I'm only now realizing I will be out of the country with (a self-imposed) limited ipad/iphone access, during the time of these meetings. Hmmmmm….I hope I have the self control to NOT check hourly, because it will lead to me checking on email, too. A high class problem to have, I realize. I also realize that "good news" is likely to come only at the expense of losing players I care about, like Desi and maybe Clip. It seems likely that Jesus could go, too. Maybe they will make some big move before I get on the plane Sunday.

  15. PAY TO PLAY - Nov 28, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    The Rays aren't flush with outfield depth themselves which makes trading or non-tendering Upton a curious move. You just have to wonder for 2 seasons the Rays have been rumored to attempt to trade BJ Upton with no success. Why have the Rays presumably wanted to get rid of him?Upton is either going to get worse or better with a move to a new team. Like the comment above on 150+ K's, that could get worse also.The Dec. 12 non-tender deadline for arbitration eligible players may bring other opportunities. I think Rizzo should roll the dice.

  16. Bowdenball - Nov 28, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    I don't understand how people can say "no" to Upton without knowing the price. Makes no sense.He has value, there's no denying that. The only question is whether we'd have to give up more value in salary or organizational depth than we'd get in return. Even if you think you know one side of the equation (BJ's value) how can you make a blanket statement without knowing a single thing about the other side of the equation?

  17. Avar - Nov 28, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    The fact that the Rays are going to non-tender him says a lot. I am totally opposed to acquiring Upton, BJ that is. I'd love to have his brother. I'd rather take Coco Crisp than Upton. I'll be very surprised if Rizzo gets Upton.

  18. Bruce B - Nov 28, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    I think I can motivate Upton just like I motivated Ovechkin.

  19. Binx Bolling - Nov 28, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    Better Ben Zobrist than Upton. Walks a lot. Smart. Versatile. Can hit lead-off for the Nats. Why not trade Lannan and someone like Tyler Moore and/or Corey Brown for Zobrist?

  20. FS - Nov 28, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Given what few options and limitations we have, BJ might be our best option to play CF and lead-off. He may not have typical lead-off numbers, but there is potential for that. Crisp is not leaving West Coast, or so I keep hearing. We already have a SS so no point in signing Reyes, even if we ignore his injury history and bad attitude. DeJesus is an option I guess. Anyways, I leave all that upto our GM and FO.Meanwhile, is Jose Lopez an option for bench player?Also while we wait for any Nats news, do you know the FA this off-season with most home runs?

  21. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    In addition to all of the foregoing concerns with Upton, there is the fact that he is not a high OBP guy, which I thought Rizzo had acknowledged the team needed. Moreover, putting him in center locks Desmond in at leadoff for the foreseeable futire, where he might well end up being the single lowest OBP guy in the league.Simply put, acquiring Upton for anything more than a song sends an unmistakable signal that Rizzo does not value OBP when evaluating players.

  22. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    My only concern about Upton is he is not a leadoff CF, if Rizzo is going to sign a CF he needs to be a leadoff guy, otherwise move Werth to CF and play someone else in RF.

  23. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Nov 28, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Answer to FS 10:24Josh Willingham.

  24. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 28, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    Who is Jose Lopez? I sure hope you weren't meaning Felipe Lopez….

  25. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 28, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Or the Jose Lopez of the .298 OBP for his career.

  26. Steve M. - Nov 28, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    Bowdenball brings up a good point on valuing BJ Upton. Still, there are some that just don't want him even if it was giving up Cutter Dykstra in trade.The Rays are smart enough to know that something is better than nothing in a trade. They have to trade BJ Upton by December 12th or offer him arbitration or non-tender him or sign him to a new contract as those are the Rays 4 options and options 2 and 4 don't seem likely.Someone said before that BJ Upton just doesn't look like a happy person (see picture above). Looks can be deceiving and maybe it is just his personality. Not everyone looks as happy almost all the time like Michael Morse (newly engaged to be married). I don't know the guy (Upton) but there has to be (besides money) a reason why the Rays supposedly want to trade him and not retain him.-If- Upton was traded or signed here after a non-tender, before signing on the dotted line I think Rizzo would have to be crystal clear what his expectations are and HUSTLE is an all the time thing here. That won't change his K rate but sure may change BJ Upton's approach to the game.BTW, I'm still thinking Coco Crisp is a better move as mentioned above team chemistry always has to be considered.

  27. Theophilus - Nov 28, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    "Bowdenball" likes BJ Upton. How appropriate. Probably liked Jose Guillen, Elijah Dukes, too. Likewise Anonymous whose "only concern about Upton" is that the guy is no leadoff hitter.Somewhere in time, you people need to learn to subordinate your desperation to win — and that is what it is, desperation, and it has just as much hope — to the satisfaction of fielding a team of players who you can actually support. There's absolutely no fun in watching a player who (A) is as likely as not to strike out trying to hit a five-run homer and (B) is such a knucklehead that you secretly hope he does just that.BJ Upton couldn't lead the '27 Yankees to a pennant. Sign him and get a walking hemorrhoid. Please, let him "find himself" in some other town.

  28. Steve M. - Nov 28, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    FS said… Given what few options and limitations we have, BJ might be our best option to play CF and lead-off. He may not have typical lead-off numbers, but there is potential for that. November 28, 2011 10:24 AM There's part of the problem. BJ Upton you would think fits the protypical mold for a leadoff guy in the Alfonso Soriano type. Problem is, BJ never adapted to leadoff and his numbers in any given season are small sample sizes at leadoff.If that is your thinking that he will be a leadoff here than the Nats should pass on him. It is changing too much too quickly with Upton's game. Also remember this, if he comes via a trade he is a 1 year player. By the time Davey is finished experimenting with BJ in the batting order, his time in Washington will be over.

  29. JamesFan - Nov 28, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    Upton is an option, but I certainly hope not the first option. Crisp would be better and I would prefer to see an up and coming young guy than a 100 plus strike out machine with an attitude.

  30. Theophilus - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    Steve M — Didn't see your post until after I finished mine. Do you honestly think Joe Madden doesn't insist on "hustle . . . all the time?" (Compare, for example, to Longoria and Zobrist.) How on earth do you think giving Upton more money (espec. in arbitration) would change his attitude?

  31. PAY TO PLAY - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    Theophilus, in a debate on the side of Just Say "No" to BJ Upton, you win the debate with that post at 10:53 and that is a very strong argument for not doing it for even Cutter Dykstra which in a small irony would make Nyjer=BJ.I would rather go with a combo in CF of Bernadina and Werth with Morse in LF and bring in a corner outfielder who is RH and can platoon with Prince Oppo Boppo in June 2012 as the starting outfield on July 1 2012 will be Morse, Werth, Harper.

  32. natsfan1a - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:02 PM

    I've never met Upton, so I have no idea whether or not he is (or has, for that matter) a hemorrhoid. I'm also not inclined to give a lot of weight to rumors or secondhand reports. (Likewise, I'm not a mind reader, so I don't have much of a clue who is or is not desperate for a winner, unless they tell me so point-blank.)But I digress. I've not seen all that much of Upton on the field, certainly not enough to evaluate his worth, even if I was of a mind to, which I'm not particularly. That, and stats kinda bore me. What's a fan to do? Guess I'll just have to trust the GM, scouts, and miscellaneous FO types to know what they're doing. 😉

  33. JaneB - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    bowdenball, I say "no" based on a few factors, whatever the price. Including a $1 deal like we sold Nyjer for. (1) I like our current options, odd as they are, better. Rather have us get Ankiel back for C and keep Desi in lead off. (2) The Rays have been shopping this guy for two years, seems to me. No one has bitten. Must be a good darn reason. (3) Whomever we'd give up will be someone who could have made us better. Instead, that guy will make the Rays better while we make no actual progress with him. (4) There is at least one other high profile guy — Crisp — still on the market. Probably other lesser known but still better options for us. I see BJ as acquiring all the bad parts of Nyjer. Maybe we'd get the good parts, too for a while. But all in all, I stand pat, and know that Werth is heading C when the Prince of Oppoboppo comes up in June.That's why. I know you disagree, and that's fine by me. But I did have actual reasons, no matter what the price tag is.

  34. Steve M. - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Theophilus said… Steve M –Didn't see your post until after I finished mine. Do you honestly think Joe Madden doesn't insist on "hustle . . . all the time?" (Compare, for example, to Longoria and Zobrist.)How on earth do you think giving Upton more money (espec. in arbitration) would change his attitude? November 28, 2011 11:00 AM Of course Maddon insists on hustle. He is one of the top Managers in the game. That begs the question, can you change BJ Upton? It isn't like Maddon chose Upton, he was there when Maddon took over. When the dugout dust-up happened in 2010 between Upton and Longoria, Maddon handled things behind closed doors.

  35. Bowdenball - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Theopilus-I don't see how you can take what I said and conclude that I "like" Upton. What I said was a simple face- he has value and you can't dismiss a player until you know what value you have to give up in exchange for him.Regarding your silly comments about him dragging down his team and being a "walking hemorrhoid" and that he "couldn't lead the '27 Yankees to a pennant," and all that stupidity: you realize he's been on the same miracle Rays team that won the 2008 AL pennant (guess the rest of that team was better than the '27 Yankees?), made the playoffs in 2010, and caught the 2011 Red Sox from nine games back in September to make the playoffs. But otherwise, sure, great theory about him dragging down the rest of his team.

  36. Theophilus - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    Thank you, JaneB

  37. FS - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    NatsJack, I meant Jose of .298 career OBP. I think as someone off the bench, he should be OK. He also covers all IF positions. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me, incorrect answer. And I meant most career home runs.Steve M, what I am trying to say is that there is hope Davey may not need to experiment to begin with. He has decent OB skills and good enough speed, in addition to some power and good defense. No doubt he comes with baggage, and the move could possibly not work, but I think there is more chance it works than it does not.

  38. Bowdenball - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    Jane B:1. I know people like Ankiel because he makes for a good story, but he's awful at the plate and will be 33 next year. He has value as a bench player if you need a HR or a defensive replacement, but playing him every day is a recipe for disaster. If you don't like Upton it makes no sense to prefer a guy who is far less productive in almost every sense of the word.2. The Rays were in pennant races while they shopped him, so I'm guessing they were asking a lot. You can't know if the fact that he wasn't traded is meaningful unless you know what they were asking in return.3. Yes, that's how trades work. If it was always a bad idea to trade away players who might get better elsewhere there would be no trades ever in the history of baseball. So I don't know what your point is there.4. Crisp is already less productive than Upton (lower OBP, lower slugging, worse fielder) and will be 33 next season. I'm not saying I want us to give up a lot to get Upton. But if you can get a 4+ per season WAR guy just reaching the peak of his career who fills a huge void on your team at the right price, you do it. Only question is if the price is right. And since none of us know the price, I don't know how we can say it's a bad idea.

  39. Steve M. - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    Mark Z, do you have an estimate of what BJ Upton's arbitration pricetag will be? He made $4.825 in 2011. I have heard $7 million.If Bryce Harper progresses, the 2012 outfield could be Morse, Werth, Harper.In 2013, Morse may move to 1st base where the outfield on Opening Day could be Harper, CF, Werth.Crisp looks like a much better stop-gap and probably at a lower price in 2011 than a potential BJ Upton signing. Crisp also becomes a Plan B for leadoff.

  40. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    I think Bowdenball was just saying Upton is an upgrade and at the right price it wold be a good move. And he is certainly an upgrade over the Nats' current options. He may not be ideal for leadoff but he certainly doesn't "have to" bat leadoff. He could hit 7th or 8th.Just imagine, they trade Desmond and Norris for Upton, sign Reyes….and?HA don't want to scare people.

  41. Steve M. - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    FS, leadoff is a mind-set. The Nats even tried Jayson Werth at lead-off for 12 games and he batted .163 with a .281 OBP and it really messed with his game. The least stressful positions in the lineup are the 6th and 7th spots in a NL lineup. Managers say even the 8th spot in a NL lineup takes a player suited well for it.Now Upton spent most of his time in the 6 hole and slashed .215/.303/.380/.684 Interestly, Upton killed it in the 2 hole in 23 games last year slashing .356/.462/.644/1.106 It begs the question, why move him out of that spot in the lineup?He only hit leadoff 2 games in 2011.

  42. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:43 PM

    I'm a big fan of "chemistry" and I think "makeup" issues matter. That said, they can still be over-rated. While Maddon is obviously a good manager, so is Davey, and Johnson brings a track record of success with not-choir-boys. I'm not worried about Upton's attitude, but I do think they'd put more runs on the scoreboard by adding a >.350 OBP leadoff hitter than with .250/.340/.415-20-70 hitting fifth or sixth, but still without somebody on base, assuming they can't do both.

  43. PAY TO PLAY - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:43 PM

    @Anonymous said… Just imagine, they trade Desmond and Norris for Upton, sign Reyes….and?HA don't want to scare people. November 28, 2011 11:37 AMAre you for real? People are talking about trading Cutter Dykstra for BJ and you are talking giving up the Nats starting SS and the best catcher in the Nats farm system for him.

  44. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    No, it doesn't.

  45. FS - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    Steve M, how can you ignore the fact that Crisp does not want to leave West Coast? I guess money could be one of the reasons to convince him but his OB skils (let's not forget his injury history) are not all that impressive in comparison to BJ.Also RZ has connections to Upton family because he played with his brother and BJ in same little league. Our franchise player vouched for him few months ago. Besides Rizzo knows the Upton family well. I won't deny BJ has better numbers at other positions than lead-off (he has hit lead-off more than any other position) over his young career. However, I think it is worth a shot. The guy is talented offensively and defensively. Like I have been saying, we may not have much options either way.I think we should pull the plug on this trade. I would rather try to get this guy in FA but if we can get him for a Flores (not sure about their interest in catchers since Rays just signed Jose Molina but did trade Jaso yesterday) or someone before all FA drama, that could work.

  46. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    Can't trade Desmond without knowing they're going to sign Reyes, and that's not possible in that order.

  47. Bowdenball - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    Anonymous 11:37- exactly. He's a good baseball player. To decide you don't want a good baseball player on your team before you know what it will cost to get him makes no sense.As far as the attitude and chemistry issues- if they didn't drag down the Rays, who have been on an amazing run for the last four years, why would they drag down the Nats? I'd love for the Nats to have the same kind of "clubhouse issues" the Rays have been having recently.

  48. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    " Anonymous said… No, it doesn't."You know what? We could care less.

  49. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 28, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    Upton is not the must-have guy they can't risk losing to another team, and so they over-pay out of need. Rizzo may have felt Garza was such, and that still didn't go through. They want another good starter because, well, who doesn't? But they need to score a lot more runs, and you can't hit three-run doubles with nobody on.

  50. S. Clemens - Nov 28, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    Anonymous said… " Anonymous said… No, it doesn't." You know what? We could care less.Think of it as the linguistic equivalent of hustle. Play the game the right way. Or continue getting struck by lightning bugs. It's always a personal choice, ain't it?

  51. Will - Nov 28, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    In over 700 plate appearances, BJ Upton has batted .250/.331/.399/.730 leading off (slightly worse than his career .257/.342/.416). That's nothing that will set the world on fire, in fact, compared to 2011 NL average at leadoff (.269/.331/.401/.732) it's uncannily similar.However, compare that to the status quo, and Upton is a vastly better option. Ankiel, Desmond, Bernadina and an assortment of others managed a measly .226/.285/.347/.632. JaneB, why do you prefer not changing something which is quite clearly broken?Bowdenball has it right. BJ Upton is not a great player. He's an average lead off hitter and good centerfielder. It's not worth mortgaging our future to acquire him. But if the Rays are only asking for Cutter Dykstra, then why on earth should we not acquire him?I'm just glad we're leaving negotiations to professionals on this one.

  52. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 5:16 PM

    Bowdenball, its okay to trade players away who might get better if they are traded to the other league. As far from you division as possible. Either way, Upton is better than Morgan hands-down. The curious thing about Upton was how much better his stats were in away games versus home games. Have to imagine the stats might improve in DC working for someone his family knows and trusts. And I believe Natsjack is right if Rizzo is going to give away a chunk of the farm the Rays will have to part with a starting pitcher. Same is true for the Angels … but the Rays need MI and Desmond fits the bill. The Rays need catching. The Rays need relief pitching. The Rays need a first baseman and a DH. However, it seems like there might be other teams who can give the Rays close-to-ready prospects that they might prefer more? And Brett Gardner? I don't think the Nats will be dealing with the Yankees.

  53. Strunk and White - Nov 28, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    That, or fundamentals.S. Clemens said… Think of it as the linguistic equivalent of hustle. Play the game the right way. Or continue getting struck by lightning bugs. It's always a personal choice, ain't it? November 28, 2011 12:03 PM

  54. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    BJ Upton 2011 AWAY:.275/.360/.841 ISO .206 17 SB 6 CS; 12 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR 51 RBIThat's a hell-uv-a lot better than Desmond and Espinosa at lead off or anywhere else in the batting order.Quit the belly aching.

  55. PAY TO PLAY - Nov 28, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    Anon @ 12:26, I don't think anyone is arguing Upton's potential. It really is a chemistry clubhouse issue with me and not giving up more than Cutter Dykstra in a trade.

  56. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    sorry to rain on the parade but the Rays will not be trading Upton for Flores or Norris, they just signed Jose Molina as a backup and are looking for a proven starting catcher and are only willing to give up wither Niemann or Davis for that proven starting catcher.

  57. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 5:55 PM

    Werth should keep his mouth shut until he learns how to hit a baseball. His 2011 performance was a pathetic embarrassement.

  58. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 5:58 PM

    You can add first base as a position of organizational depth since we have four of them on the 40-man roster, if you count MikeyMo as a first baseman.

  59. Mark'd - Nov 28, 2011 at 5:59 PM

    Anon, you have no idea if the Rays came calling for Flores or Norris and were told NO. I think Rizzo has quickly learned a lesson in the GM world, trade from a position of strength. The Rays are not in a position of strength on Upton. If they haven't traded him by Dec 12th, they may have to non-tender him and the other 29 GMs all know that.

  60. blovy8 - Nov 28, 2011 at 6:02 PM

    I think if they trade Desmond, then Lombardozzi would play second until Rendon arrives rather than signing Reyes and keeping Espinosa at 2b. Upton for lesser prospects is a good stopgap for a year, but I would think the Nats aren't seriously dealing until TB proves they're willing to offer him arbitration in a few weeks. A TB/DC trade could be attractive to Upton, since he would have a chance at a contract offer/extension if he plays well and fits in with his Tidewater buddy and the new team, while there's no chance of that in TB. Whatever his issues, I think you will get the best effort from BJ since $$ in free agency in 2013 will be at stake.Also, signing Molina is not going to block any other catcher TB manages to settle for – the options for picking up a "starting" catcher are about as good as getting a leadoff hitting CF. He'll only be starting until someone who can hit comes along, which could easily be Flores, honestly.

  61. Noirelune - Nov 28, 2011 at 6:05 PM

    You know, the best Christmas gift a Nats fans could ask for, is a centerfield-leadoff hitter.A don't think the Nationals should aim toward Upton.Let me think : How about acquiring Andrew McCutchen from the Pirates? I know, I know the Pirates would ask a LOT. But we have a LOT to give for this kind of big star.I think we can afford to send them two pitchers (Lannan and a top prospect like Solis or Ray) and Jesus Flores.What do your think?Paul, Québec, Canada

  62. PAY TO PLAY - Nov 28, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    blovy8, just my opinion, teams that are in off-season playoff mode aren't going to take a chance on moving a college SS who excelled at 2nd to SS for a Minor Leaguer to move into the 2nd base spot. Too much risk there so many facets.It is so far fetched that it probably isn't even worth the discussion.On a more interesting front, Ed Wade the GM of the Astros was fired today. Probably one of the worst GMs in my opinion. They seemed to be the development system for the Phillies and the Braves.GMs that consistently make poor trades don't keep their jobs.

  63. blovy8 - Nov 28, 2011 at 6:17 PM

    That's a good point made about 1B too, the Rays are probably not going to get as lucky with Kotchman, even if they re-sign him. But there are always guys around for the minimum there, and I don't know that any of our depth is worth more than a little piece in a larger deal.

  64. blovy8 - Nov 28, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    Pay, they would be playing Espinosa at his proper position at short, he's been having to adjust to 2b in the majors. If Desmond is a .260/305/390 below average fielding ss, then he shouldn't really be holding back even a player with Lombardozzi's track record. But the Nats clearly like Desmond more than Espinosa for some reason. I think it's more illogical to fall for a recent month of productivity versus his entire career than worrying about replacing his production if Lombardozzi can't cut it.

  65. FS - Nov 28, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    Noirelune, they would want more than that. Instead of a big leaguer, they could ask for couple more prospects and I don't blame them. For Andrew, they deserve that. also we will have him for four years so Pirates will definitely ask for a lot.let's sign Webb to a minor league deal. That guy has been injured too long. I remember when he used to pitch a CG, SO consistently. I hope he bounces back.Answer to my earlier question is Vlad with 449 HR. Next Q: Who was the winning pitcher in game 7, 1924 WS?

  66. Bowdenball - Nov 28, 2011 at 7:02 PM

    Pay to Play and others-I've said it several times and I haven't gotten a response, so I'll ask once again:If BJ Upton presents clubhouse/chemistry issues, why didn't they affect the 2008-2011 Tampa Bay Rays?

  67. Bowdenball - Nov 28, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    Noirelune:I think if we offered the Pirates Lannan, Solis and Flores for McCutchen we'd be the joke of the winter meetings and would probably get laughed at any time we tried to propose other trades.McCutchen is a star who his under contract at a relatively cheap price until at least 2015. We'd probably need to at least include Zimmermann in a package to get him, along with some other pieces.

  68. erocks33 - Nov 28, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    FS said… Next Q: Who was the winning pitcher in game 7, 1924 WS?————————————————-Was it Livo??

  69. PAY TO PLAY - Nov 28, 2011 at 7:11 PM

    Bowdenball, a fight in the dugout didn't affect the Rays clubhouse chemistry? That was brewing for a long time.That is enough to tell me BJ doesn't play well with others?Look, I grew up in a rough area and saw kids moved around from school to school for not playing nice with others. I'm not saying BJ is a bad kid but in the baseball world, the guy has a rep. Luckily it didn't rub off on his brother Justin.Is it really worth taking a chance on messing up a good thing?

  70. natsfan1a - Nov 28, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    Choo choo…chugga chugga—-FS said…Next Q: Who was the winning pitcher in game 7, 1924 WS?

  71. Bowdenball - Nov 28, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    Pay to Play-Did it negatively impact the Rays' performance? Kinda seems to me like it didn't. The Rays have been the biggest overachievers in baseball for the last half-decade. I don't care if he spends his off days trying to nail his teammates' wives. Whatever he was doing in Tampa clearly didn't hurt the club on the field, so I don't see why you think it would hurt the club on the field in DC.

  72. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    How about picking up Xavier Paul, not as a starting solution but for depth in the OF because our best hopes for OF help will probably start in AAA (Harper) and AA (Hood).Pirates Release Xavier PaulBy Tim Dierkes [November 28, 2011 at 1:19pm CST]Today's minor moves…•The Pirates released outfielder Xavier Paul, who cleared waivers, tweets's Jenifer Langosch. She adds that he cannot technically re-sign with the Pirates until May 16th. Paul, 26, was designated for assignment earlier this month. He posted a .254/.293/.349 line in 251 plate appearances for the Pirates this year.

  73. Mark'd - Nov 28, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    Bowdenball, His caught stealing in the playoffs was a big mistake in that series. None of us know what impact a player out of sight has on his clubhouse, heck its hard enough to decipher stats and scouting reports.

  74. Bowdenball - Nov 28, 2011 at 8:39 PM

    Mark'd:Plenty of players make mistakes in series. That's not a clubhouse/chemistry issue.My point is that people are afraid Upton would have some sort of negative impact on the clubhouse that would be reflected on the field, as if he hasn't been on a professional baseball team for many years already. And his team has been the biggest overachievers in baseball for several years now. Personally I think clubhouse and chemistry stuff is totally overblown. But if I'm wrong and it does matter, I don't know why we don't want whatever it is that the Rays have been getting for the last five years. Clearly whatever he does off the field hasn't been hurting the team's performance on the field. They're the most remarkable success story in the game in recent history, considering the payroll and their division.

  75. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 28, 2011 at 8:45 PM

    None of us know what impact a player out of sight has on his clubhouse, heck its hard enough to decipher stats and scouting reports. Wait, now we are supposed to be literate, AND know what we're talking about?? Man, this is a tough room.

  76. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 28, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    Don Cornelius?********************************** Choo choo…chugga chugga —- FS said… Next Q: Who was the winning pitcher in game 7, 1924 WS?captcha: "fecke"The brother was many things, but feckless was not one of them.

  77. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    I read a post somewhere suggesting that the WhiteSox might want to move Carlos Quinton. Would that be an option to Upton? Even after Ratso hosed the Sox in July 2010, they still might be open to dealing with him.

  78. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 28, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    Carlos Quentin is probably very available, but he's strictly a corner OF/DH type, and no improvement on BJ Upton.

  79. The Joker - Nov 28, 2011 at 9:25 PM

    The White Sox have hinted at taking Doug Slaton off the Nats' hands for Adam Dunn.

  80. natsfan1a - Nov 28, 2011 at 9:48 PM

    Nah, this guy was taller. Now I have this theme in my head, though. (Not that I'm complaining, 'cause I kinda like the beat.)Sec 3, My Sofa said… Don Cornelius?

  81. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 10:08 PM

    sorry to rain on the parade but the Rays will not be trading Upton for Flores or Norris, they just signed Jose Molina as a backup and are looking for a proven starting catcher and are only willing to give up wither Niemann or Davis for that proven starting catcher.@Anon,I guess you didn't see the post about Upton's AllStar level stats in AWAY games. Well his home stats were quite the opposite. Really pretty miserable and eminently non-tenderable. Albeit not even close to Adam Dunn. Clearly, Upton is less than enthusiastic about playing in TB's park if it isn't TB the town. The Rays have a choice. His numbers were good enough to net him 7-8 million in arbitration. That's a lot given that David Price is also due a similar salary after arbitration. Add in the free agents they probably must sign and that payroll zooms up to the Nats level or slightly above. Upton is gone before the end of the winter meetings. That much is clear. The TB FO has been instructed to slash the payroll so …

  82. Anonymous - Nov 28, 2011 at 10:10 PM

    How about picking up Xavier Paul, not as a starting solution but for depth in the OF because our best hopes for OF help will probably start in AAA (Harper) and AA (Hood).The Nationals already have Roger Bernadina, Corey Brown, and they may re-up Laynce Nix. He wouldn't fit with Harper likely to make the roster latest by June.

  83. Gonat - Nov 28, 2011 at 10:44 PM

    I just got home and almost the entire thread has centered on BJ Upton instead of overall Hot Stove previews.1. My take on it is clubhouses aren't "Frats" and not everyone will get along as buddies but everyone has to get together as teammates. 2. The results on the field are what count the most unless you are the guy causing fights and getting opposing pitchers headhunting for your teammates because of your poor behavior.3. Intangibles like hustle set a tone for the team which is why a guy like Brian Bixler and Roger Bernadina get higher marks than what the stat sheets show.That "2 hole" stat that SteveM posted above for BJ Upton is very interesting. After reading everything, it is a tough call and still the toughest call starts with what it costs to get this player and if there are better options out there.Of other interest will be the guesswork when BHarper is to arrive as that has to be factored in. When BHarp34 arrives, he isn't coming to sit on the bench. The BHarp factor has to be considered. Coco Crisp to me projects as a starter and a good choice off the bench if BHarp comes here in 2011. Hypothetically, what happens if you get Upton to go along with Morse and Werth and BHarp34 is called up, who sits?

  84. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 28, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    Hypothetically, what happens if you get Upton to go along with Morse and Werth and BHarp34 is called up, who sits? Include LaRoche, and it is the one who is hurt, or not hitting, otherwise Harper doesn't get called up, unless it *is* to sit, watch, and learn.Oooh, captcha was "pateam" — a message from beyond, an omen of a deal?

  85. joemktg - Nov 28, 2011 at 11:34 PM

    @Ken_Rosenthal reporting Nats interest in Fielder. Love this time of year…

  86. Anonymous8 - Nov 29, 2011 at 12:14 AM

    joemktg, Prince Fielder is a Boras client and Mike Rizzo will be in the deal. It doesn't mean the Nats will get him and it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY. The Brewers will make a bid. I don't think it is a big deal.

  87. Gonat - Nov 29, 2011 at 12:36 AM

    I'd rather roll the dice on this Yeonis Cespedes player after a PED test.

  88. Gonat - Nov 29, 2011 at 12:38 AM

    Now for Ladson on Yeonis Cespedes,@BillLadson: "I have never seen Cespedes play. However, last week, I spoke to an opposing scout who felt that Cespedes is not as big league ready as reports have indicated. The scout believes Cespedes will have problems hitting breaking balls and should start his professional career in Double-A. Based on published reports, it appears that the Nationals are trying hard to acquire Cespedes' services. I hope to know more once the Winter Meetings start in Dallas on Dec. 5."

  89. Gonat - Nov 29, 2011 at 12:41 AM

    Do you think Coco Crisp could help the Nats? He is a free agent and I don't think he would cost a lot of money for even a two-year contract. — Bill P., Arlington, Va. @BillLadson: I don't see Crisp coming to the Nationals. Cespedes is probably the only free agent the Nationals will have interest in, as far as playing every day in center field. If Cespedes is not acquired, I see Rizzo making a trade for a center fielder. Before the non-waiver Trade Deadline this past season, the Nationals had interest in B.J. Upton of the Rays and Denard Span of the Twins.

  90. JaneB - Nov 29, 2011 at 12:59 AM

    Didn't we learn out lesson with Maya? Sounds like we should hope they lose out to some other team, if they are serious about Cespedes.And how is Denard Span doing? And the baby pitcher who was hit by that come backer this summer — Giants, I think? I heard a story on NPR about the return of Sidney Crosby to that ice sport, after almost ten months of no play. Made me wonder about these guys.THIS capcha: winta. The time of year when we make some sort of spectacular deal that doesn't involve us losing Morse or Clip. Or Storen. Or any Zimmermen. I hope.

  91. Gonat - Nov 29, 2011 at 1:04 AM

    Pirates say they are willing to listen to teams about Andrew McCutcheon and Huntington goes on to say they would have to be blown away to make a trade.

  92. NatsNut - Nov 29, 2011 at 1:36 AM

    I am very nervous about any kind of trade talk because it means inevitably losing someone I'm attached to. But Andrew McCutchen? My favorite. I'm very attached to my right arm and I'd trade it for him.

  93. Wally - Nov 29, 2011 at 1:41 AM

    Well, I hope this doesn't become a widely followed trend.Jane B said ….I am also in Just Say No to BJ camp Love the idea of going after McCutchen. The consistent winners, like Yanks, Phils, Redsox, would look to fill a big need like this with a top player, not a stopgap (unless they had a Harper kind of prospect who was a year or so away).Big price though – would you trade Desi, Detwiler, Peacock, Taylor and Norris for him?

  94. NatsNut - Nov 29, 2011 at 1:49 AM

    @Wally,Yes to all of them (I'm not as attached to them). Like Jane B, a spectacular deal would be fine that doesn't involve us losing Morse or Clip. Or Storen. Or any Zimmermen.

  95. Unkyd - Nov 29, 2011 at 1:49 AM

    Wally… I think so….Cespedes sounds interesting, too…This is fun!

  96. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2011 at 1:50 AM

    otherwise Harper doesn't get called up, unless it *is* to sit, watch, and learn.Precisely what Davey Johnson plans if you listen to what he says.

  97. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2011 at 1:52 AM

    Cespedes will be just another wheel in the cog that Rizzo is putting in motion: to go with Eury Perez, Brian Goodwin, perhaps Destin Hood and there's still Corey Brown. Just as with catching, MI, and pitching. Collect as many top potentials for a weak position as you can and wait for them to show you they are ready in the minors. That appears to the Nat's cornerstone strategy. Now its CF turn.

  98. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2011 at 1:54 AM

    Upton and Ryan Zimmerman played AAU baseball together in the VA Beach area. Not many MLB players more talented than BJ Upton. Don't think that he has reached his ceiling yet. Depending on what the Rays are seeking acquiring BJ may make sense.Pilchard

  99. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2011 at 1:57 AM

    Hypothetically, what happens if you get Upton to go along with Morse and Werth and BHarp34 is called up, who sits?La Roche gets traded. Morse moves to first. But they still do have Marerro and Moore?Some trades are going to occur starting at these winter meetings. That's a given.Not sure what Cocoa Crisp buys you that Desmond leading off doesn't and again Upton has the better stats and is the better fielder and they need a great fielder in CF if they are going to put Bryce Harper in LF. Crisp doesn't even make a very good stop-gap given that you already have Bernadina and Brown already in the fold.

  100. Wally - Nov 29, 2011 at 1:58 AM

    Unkyd – I think I'd pass on Cespedes, if his rumored asking price of $30-60m is true. Same for Darvish, if he is posted. I don't think these guys should get paid like proven major leaguers (yet). I know others feel differently, but that is where I come out.I am also not crazy about these Prince Fielder rumors, but at least he has proven himself at the highest levels.

  101. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2011 at 2:04 AM

    NatsNut – Zimmermen – very funny, and very efficient. I can see having more than one Gomez, Jones, or a set of brothers, but 2 players named Zimmerman(n)? Very quirky indeed.

  102. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2011 at 2:14 AM

    I am also not crazy about these Prince Fielder rumors, but at least he has proven himself at the highest levels.First thing I've heard that actually makes sense … Buehrle doesn't make a lot of sense unless they plan on divesting themselves of Lannan. No he doesn't get a slot over out-of-options Detwiler at this point pundits! What are you thinking? And the CF thing almost seems like a smoke screen at times except when "logical move to fill is a trade" per Mike Rizzo. But going for the solid, dependable left-handed power bat to go in tandem with Bryce Harper and switch hitting Danny Espinosa? Now that makes an abundant amount of sense. All the stats appear to indicate that Nationals Park favors left handed hitters. Both Rizzo and Johnson have made points of noting the dearth of solid left-handed hitting in their lineup. And La Roche is just a 3 month rental at this point … and he could have a steep decline.

  103. ehay2k - Nov 29, 2011 at 2:35 AM

    Funny blog headline: "The Nats Blog Nationals Have Had Heavy Talks With Prince Fielder, Why It Makes Sense"It makes sense because he's so damn heavy. The only thing that would be fatter than Prince would be his contract. Plus the Natsgotta eat LaRoche's. This is all window dressing for Boras' benefit.I would be all for a stop-gap OF like Crisp, or trading for a longer term player like McCutcheon, as long as we didn't give up too much. We still need depth, as last year's injuries demonstrated. So giving up all our MLB-ready prospects is probably not a good move. But where we have depth aplenty – 1b and pitching and catching – we should deal. I am also not interested in watching malcontents or players who give half-hearted effort, or just plain don't get it. We got rid of FLop, Dukes, Milledge Morgan , etc.

  104. NatsNut - Nov 29, 2011 at 2:40 AM

    Thanks, but Jane B gets credit for calling them "Zimmermen". I laughed out loud.

  105. Andrew - Nov 29, 2011 at 3:01 AM

    McCutcheon rumor snuffed out already:

  106. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2011 at 4:19 AM

    Looks like Chris Marerro tore his left hamstring in winter ball. He won't be ready for spring training. I think that means Tyler Moore moves ahead of him and is ensconced at first base in AAA Syracuse.Ladson seems to think that the Nats are now interested in Mark Derosa as a result?

  107. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2011 at 4:38 AM

    I am also not interested in watching malcontents or players who give half-hearted effort, or just plain don't get it. A malcontented BJ Upton in small-market fan bereft Tampa Bay was better than an inspired Nyjer Morgan. Enough to be an important cog that propelled the Rays to the playoffs. And the Rays and their fans know it!Doesn't it make you wonder what Upton might be like playing for his hometown team in front of hometown fans?

  108. Drew8 - Nov 29, 2011 at 6:28 AM

    Patrick Reddington of Federal Baseball passes along a fun, upbeat interview with Michael Morse Monday night on MLB Network.I know Mark has shot down the Fielder to D.C. stuff for eons, but just in case there's anything to it, Morse has an interesting comment.• On the Prince Fielder rumors and having to play left if the Nats did sign Fielder: Michael Morse: "Oh my gosh! Are you kidding me? I mean, I'll catch. I'll pitch. Whatever it is. If we can get our hands on Prince. That is huge. Especially in our division. And especially with the lineup we have. We have [Ryan] Zimmerman. We have Werth. We have a lot of power righties and to put him in there? He's a monster. He's a game changer at any time of the game." The point being: Michael Morse, what a guy.

  109. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2011 at 7:01 AM

    I know Mark has shot down the Fielder to D.C. stuff for eons, but just in case there's anything to it, Morse has an interesting comment.Ladson says it could happen — via twitter. Rizzo's smokescreen and subterfuge surrounding the search for the CF and then Buehrle appears to have fallen. But, then it only makes sense given a lineup bereft of left-handed hitting outside of Harper? And that Fielder is a Scott Boras client and that the Nats have treated Boras and his clients well? La Roche is an expensive backup but one that would be far better than Mark DeRosa? He won't be happy about it but he'll be paid 9 million to be that hairy chested guy sitting next to Davey Johnson. Guess Mark was and is wrong.

  110. Drew8 - Nov 29, 2011 at 7:03 AM

    Yo, Santa, will Prince fit down the chimney?2b Rendoncf Werth3b Zimmerman1b FielderLf MorseRf Harperss EspinosaC RamosP StrasburgGoodness. That lineup would sell some tix.

  111. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    It is going to be more like:CF Span2B DeRosa3B Zimmerman1B LaRocheLF MorseRF WerthSS EspinosaC RamosP Stras

  112. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    Anon 8:01 – what are you smoking this morning?

  113. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    I think that 8:01 Anon might be close. Harper is not in DC until the All Star break, Rendon is not likely going to be in DC at all in 2012 (Lombardozzi is a better bet) and Mark DeRosa makes sense for the Nats (a guy they can get on the relative cheap and who can play multiple positions). And I think that Fielder in DC is as likely as Fielder anyplace else, but the Nats seem to be more likely to spend the extra coins on starting pitching than another Werth-like deal. And, I am rolling here, LaRoche is the best current option at cleanup. Who knows, Anon 8:01 might be smoking some of the same stuff Rizzo's toking.dfh21

  114. Andrew - Nov 29, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    While I like all the optimistic talk to get a Prince Fielder, there's a guy named Ryan Zimmerman who should be tied up sooner than later before Rizzo writes another big contract.

  115. Anonymous - Nov 29, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    If they ink Fielder to $200M+ then Zim is likely traded away, only so many monster contracts that the club will carry and if they can get a Mark Teixeira like haul for Zim they'd have to consider the move.

  116. Drew8 - Nov 29, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    My "Santa" projection really is aimed at 2013. Harper won't be up until the second half of 2012 and Rendon won't be up until 2013.I'm just looking forward to having a high on-base percentage guy at the top.I don't know whether the Fielder stuff is serious — it's basically the Rosenthal report echoed all over as Gospel.Two things: There don't seem to be many suitors for Fielder. I doubt the Mariners would put up that much green. Cubs, maybe, but they've still got that big Soriano contract. Do the Rangers need another big bat. Really?The cautionary concern is that the Nats would be looking at some huge contracts — Werth, re-upping Zim, Fielder, then future efforts to lock up Strasburg and Harper.In the words of that famed scout, Ella Fitzgerald:You'll find out as sure as you liveSomething's gotta give, something's gotta give, something's gotta give.

  117. Water23 - Nov 29, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    With the market a little softer than Fielder/Boras thought, there is a win-win possibility for the Nats & Fielder. How about a 3 or 4 year $65-90 Million dollar deal. Fielder gets a chance to dominate on a team on the rise and then go back on the market at 31/32. Also, it sets the high yearly average salary that he wants. The Nats get a dominant lefty hitter during his prime. By then, the Nats will have figured out the value of Harper, the Zimmermen, Strasburg, Morse and the MI. Just a thought.

  118. masturner - Nov 29, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    What about Norichika Aoki for leadoff..and sign a nice CJ wilson..or go cheap and sign Kuroda for 2 years. I'd also stay away from span/upton and try trading for Burbon(Texas needs pitching) and Rios (has to bounce back, and chi may want to trade him(only if the price is right)..or if you want the future CF and deal has to be done with Tampa..give up alot for Jennings. I can see trading one Desmond or Espinosa, Catcher and legit minor league starter for Jennings. Just a thought. If I we're tampa..I'm not trading Jennings.





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