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Aggressive Marlins mean business

Dec 2, 2011, 12:00 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Heath Bell just signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Marlins.

When Jeffrey Loria insisted earlier this fall he would be opening up his checkbook in an attempt to lure anyone and everyone to his newly renamed Miami Marlins franchise, skeptics questioned whether the blustery owner would actually stay true to his word.

Well, it certainly looks like he is. The Marlins appear to be serious about making a big-time splash this winter.

First came the hiring of Ozzie Guillen as manager, then recruiting trips to South Florida by some of the biggest names on the free agent market: Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle. Then last night, the Marlins consummated their first significant deal of the offseason, inking closer Heath Bell to a three-year, $27 million contract.

Now, you can question the wisdom of shelling out $27 million for a 34-year-old closer who just posted the lowest strikeout numbers (7.3Read more »

  1. MurrayTheRed - Dec 2, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    I think even if they get Albert and Reyes they will still be behind the Nats for the NL East title. But they can really hurt our chances at a wildcard spot.

  2. gonatsgo - Dec 2, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    I know that I harp on this subject, but the NLEast is pushing out the ALEast as the toughest division in baseball. Just look at the pitching depth – nleast may have more hitting, maybe , but the pitching does not compare when you look at starters, middle relief and dominating closers across the board – Bell, Storen ,Kimbrel and now Papelbon. It looks like if you are in the nleast in 2012 you better do your scoring in innings 1-7, even 8 looks grim because of the dominating set up guys, or else you are pretty much finished.It just makes me a little more concerned that we talk endlessly about cf and lead off and another starting pitcher, when what we really need is more hits, stolen bases, rbi's and runs. This is going to be very interesting. It will also be interesting to see where Reyes, Pujols and Fielder end up and to see if they pull a Dunn or adjust. Seems like a lot of times when guys change franchises they struggle – (see Werth, Jayson).

  3. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    This is bad, really bad. The Fish have talent all over the diamond, they have key pieces all over the place. They are in at least as good a positon as the Nats, and their young, coming stars are further along, Stanton, Johnson, Morrison, Sanchez, Sanchez, Bonafacio, Buck, etc. The Lerners went decidely low payroll when they opened their new, publicly financed park. That decision has hamstrung the club's development to a snail's pace. The Marlins look to be taking a more traditional, spend some money and generate fan insterest approach. They may not ink Reyes or Pujols, but adding Aramis Ramirez makes them contenders in IMHO. Hell, with the roster they have right now, they are better on paper than the Nats. Rizzo has to get it in gear. 4th place? Are the Nats going to slide backwards in 2012? In 2 years when the Mets are back to their spending ways and maybe the Phils slide to the middle of the pack, are the Nats still going to be HOPING to finish third?Nats management needs to step up their game and speed the Plan along in a big way.dfh21dfh21

  4. natsfan1a - Dec 2, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    Will there be a special feature that goes off when he slides into the mound?

  5. DFL - Dec 2, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    If the Marlins sign Reyes, do they move Ramirez to third or second or do they trade him?

  6. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    In 2 years when the Mets are back to their spending ways and maybe the Phils slide to the middle of the pack, are the Nats still going to be HOPING to finish third?Nats management needs to step up their game and speed the Plan along in a big way.Pay attention, dude. The Nats already finished third in 2011. The plan is speeding along fine. Perhaps you need to chill out and tone down your chicken little game.

  7. MicheleS - Dec 2, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    1A.. what will we do with out Coffey Time? ;-)I think they could get Reyes, he wants to play down there, but I seriously doubt they get Albert. And Not sure Heath Bell is the closer he USED to be. dfh21.. I agree, NL East is definetly becoming the beast.

  8. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    Wow, big move by the Marlins, I suspect Reyes and CJ Wilson will follow. The Marlins are getting better, scary! Mr. Rizzo pull the trigger now on Buehrle and have the check book open for Cespedes, the neighborhood just got a bit tougher!

  9. Unkyd - Dec 2, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    ARRRRGGGH!!!! MAN THE LIFEBOATS!!!!! SAY YOUR PRAYERS!!! STRIKE UP THE BAND AND PLAY THAT DIRGE!!! THE FISH OVERPAID FOR AN AGEING, IF ACCOMPLISHED, CLOSER!!!! PLEASE, SOMEBODY TALK ME ON FROM THE LEDGE!!!!Until we can do something (other than sign every single FA worth having) to affect what every other team does with their rosters, I'll be focusing my Karmic Energy on Rizzo and Davey's actions and efforts….GYFNG!!!!!!!!!(do I really have to wait 80 more days? The gorse is getting seriously out of hand, around here…….)

  10. Gonat - Dec 2, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    I won't be impressed until they make a big signing like Jose Reyes, Prince Fielder, CJ Wilson, Mark Buehrle, Roy Oswalt or Albert Pujols.

  11. natsfan1a - Dec 2, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    Atta way, Unk. I like your attitude! Have you put a gorse-hacker on your Xmas list? It's the best thing for out-of-control gorse. ;-)

  12. Jamie Tallman - Dec 2, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. MFG - Dec 2, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    @dfh21I have to disagree with your analysis of the Marlins players vs. Nats players:C – Ramos vs. Buck – advantage Nats1B – LaRoche vs. Sanchez – advantage Marlins2B – Espinosa vs. Infante – advantage Nats3B – Zimmerman vs. Dominguez (from Marlins website depth chart) – advantage NatsSS – Desmond vs. Ramirez – advantage MarlinsLF – Morse vs. Morrison – advantage NatsCF – ? vs. Bonifacio – advantage Marlins (but this could obviously change depending on who the Nats sign. That Bonifacio for Willingham and Olsen trade is looking terrible for the Nats. It all depends on how H-Rod turns out at this point)RF – Werth vs. Stanton – advantage MarlinsSo the Nats win C, 2B, 3B, and LF, with CF to be determined.RotationNats – Strasburg, Zimmerman, Wang, Lannan, PeacockMarlins – Johnson, Nolasco, Sanchez, Volstad, HandThis seems pretty close, although I think Lannan and Peacock (or whoever ends up in the #5 spot) are much better than Volstad and Hand.Advantage Nats.BullpenDo I really have to go into it? Even with the Marlins signing Heath Bell, he is 34 and coming off the worst K/9 rate of his career (7.3). Storen had a 8.8 K/9 rate last year.Advantage Nats, not even close.The Nats are a better team and last season proved it. The Marlins are paper tigers. I don't think they will sign any big name free agents the rest of the off season. They are just talking a big game to try to drum up fan interest. The Nats will win at least 85 games in 2012, while the Marlins will struggle to win 75.Oh yea, and the Nats have some guy named Harper waiting in the wings.

  14. DCTom - Dec 2, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    If the fifth-place Marlins want to spend their money on a closer, let them.They have a solid core of Hanley, Stanton, Logan Morrison, Josh Johnson and Anibel Sanchez. But the rest of the everyday line-up? Replacement level. They have a ways to go, especially up the middle. How long are they going to keep Johnson, Hanley, and Stanton away from the Yankees, Red Sox, etc.? Not likely in time.They're not a bad team, but the Nats are far better positioned to take over from the aging Philles.

  15. MicheleS - Dec 2, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    And one other thing.. the Marlins HAVE YET TO PROVE they can actually DRAW a crowd! Just look at the Nats last 3 game attendance (what was actually in the stands not the paid attendance) and what the Marlins actually had in the stands. If they don't come, Luria will gut the team.

  16. Tcostant - Dec 2, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    Hey DFL -What I've read is that if the Marlins sign Reyes they will move Ramirez to third. Ramirez is said to be not thrilled with the idea, but would do it if the team can get a Reyes talent.Doesn't anyone else think that the Phils over paid Papelbon now? I mean I rather have Bell with this contract than Papelbon at his. I'm just saying…

  17. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Guys, the Marlins have everything the Nats have and more: they have multiple options at lead-off and they have depth. They don't have a ways to go. The only glaring weakness they have is 3B and they do not owe a 32-yr old Jayson Werth $110M through 2017.dfh21

  18. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    It's tough to know how Bell will do in Florida. His numbers were definitely down last year, but some of that comes from playing for a crappy team that gave him fewer save opportunities and brought him in in a lot of tough situations. His K numbers were WAY down, though, and that's got nothing to do with his team, and it's concerning for a pitcher his age. It's definitely not a stretch to say that Storen will have better numbers than Bell across the board in 2012.

  19. Diz - Dec 2, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Seriously though, going forward can't be any worse than our record versus the Marlins the last few years. I haven't done the research, but we must have like a .350 win percentage against them the last 5 years or so.So, it really doesn't matter who they get. We can only go up as far as I'm concerned.Diz

  20. Steve M. - Dec 2, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    dfh21, the Nats on paper are a better team and the Marlins are a dysfunctional bunch. Josh Johnson is a true Ace if he can stay healthy. Adding a closer to replace a closer isn't going to change them much. I agree with GoNat that if the Marlins get one of the key players in Free Agency then we need to have a new conversation. This is just a conversation starter and glad they spent $9 mill per season on a closer who is on the other side of 34 y.o. with declining values away from a pitchers park. The Marlins in their minds have the Nats number. The good news as I see it is that Ted Lerner will also see that the Marlins are stepping up in a smaller market and maybe the Nats will get a little more aggressive.

  21. John C. - Dec 2, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    I am starting to think that, the day after the Nationals win the World Series, dfh will be posting here explaining why the Nationals are being outmaneuvered by the Phillies, Marlins, Braves and Mets and are DOOMED.I also tend to think that closers are overpaid and overrated, so as a Nats fan I welcome the fact that now two teams in the division have overpaid free agent closers.

  22. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 2, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    Speaking of pitchers' parks, any early guesses on how their new park will play? They gave to fit the team to that, to some extent.

  23. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 2, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    *have to

  24. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    Guys, the Marlins have everything the Nats have and more: they have multiple options at lead-off and they have depth. They don't have a ways to go.And what have the Marlins done so far this offseason? Flipped managers and signed a closer, that's all. So if they now have everything the Nats have and more, then presumably they did last season as well. Yet somehow the Nats finished third, ahead of the Marlins. I guess that's why they play the games, instead of matching rosters and payrolls against each other on paper, huh?

  25. DCTom - Dec 2, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    dfh21That's crazy talk. In long term, John Buck is the same as Ramos? Omar Infante same as Espinosa? Gaby Sanchez and his .786 career OPS at first base? And what depth? Donnie Murphy and Scott Cousins?They have Stanton, Hanley and Morrison — those are the only two regular position players that are better than their equivalents on the Nats. Their starting pitching is good but surprisingly aged — Johnson is 27 with two major injuries already, Nolasco and Sanchez both 28. And none of them are under contract or club control beyond 2013.

  26. PAY TO PLAY - Dec 2, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    If you used the Nats vs. Marlins in head-to-head comparisons of course the Marlins would look better on paper. In the overall 162 game season, the Nats are the better team. That could change if the Marlins shock us all and get a pick 'em from Jose Reyes, Prince Fielder, CJ Wilson, Mark Buehrle, Roy Oswalt or Albert Pujols. This is a good warning shot to the Lerners and Rizzo that they can't settle for the 2011 status quo and basically do nothing.It may be time to revisit Jose Reyes as a possibility. I didn't like his injury history but if he did go to the Marlins, it wouldn't be good for NL East balance.

  27. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    27 is aged?Ok, the Nats MAY have better pieces on paper if you count Harper and some other prospects in the wings, but the Marlins have a for-real club right now, forget about adding Reyes, and they have no bad contracts. They have at least 2 guys credible to lead-off, Infante is a true no 2 (a guy who has hit .320 in the bigs and who has maybe the best glove in the game at 2B), uber-stud Ramirez at 3 (maybe his health is an issue, but not much more than Zim's ever is), uber-stud Stanton to clean up, quasi-stud Sanchez at 5 (he almost won ROY in 2010), stud Morrison at 6, whomever you want to play 3B at 7, and Buck who's a 20 HR C hitting 8. That lineup has speed and power and guys who hit for average, and should score. No? The rotation and pen are both very good. No? Yes.Rihgt now, the Marlins are going to be in the thick of it in 2012 as much as the Nats will be. And they have less holes to fill as the Nats have no lead-off man and no real number 2 in their lineup. dfh21

  28. Steve M. - Dec 2, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    Keith Law ranked his under 25 year olds and here's where the Nats were ranked: Stephen Strasburg, No. 8, Wilson Ramos, No. 27, and Danny Espinosa, No. 44 KLaw's comments on Wilson Ramos: "Ramos… had a great, largely unnoticed rookie season for the Nationals, helping on both sides of the ball. He's a solid receiver with a strong arm and consistently high caught-stealing rates (43 percent across his minor-league career, 32 percent in the majors in 2011).At the plate, he was never a big power hitter in the minors, but has good loft in his swing and a very strong front side that helps him drive the ball effectively, so even his 2011 power breakout probably isn't a ceiling. He may never post a high OBP, but a catcher who hits 20 homers with plus defense and an OBP in the .340 range is a borderline All-Star."

  29. MFG - Dec 2, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    And somehow, with a lineup full of "studs" the Marlins managed to lose 90 games last season, scoring a grand total of one (1) more run than the Nats, who had a "weak" lineup without a true leadoff hitter, Jayson Werth hitting well below is career average, and their best hitter missing almost three months of the season.Oh yea, and the Nats have Harper waiting in the Wings.

  30. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    Marlins pitchers own the Nats and the Padres as a whole had a down year, so do not blame Heath Bell for that, he is still one of thepremier closers in the majors and is only 34, Mariano is 42 and still mystifying hitters. Regarding the bench, Ozzie like Davey loves a good versitle bench, so I would not be surprised to see them competing for some of the same free agents that the Nats are to fill out their roster. Loria is a showman he knows getting some Latin players into the new Little Havana ballpark will have that place rocking night in and night out, it will be like when the Expos players saw the Opening Day crown at RFK in 2005, they had never seen so many fans!

  31. PAY TO PLAY - Dec 2, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    From Jon Heyman, The Nationals will push for C.J. Wilson, they want a left-handed starter and Wilson appears to be their top target.

  32. Boomer - Dec 2, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    Is it a coincidence that A 7-11 is robbed in Canada by a man wearing a Curly W Nats cap, the same day that Garrett Mock is signed to play in Canada?

  33. Steve M. - Dec 2, 2011 at 4:02 PM

    P2P, if the money was comparable to Mark Buehrle, it makes for an interesting conversation. The Yankees supposedly are out of the CJ Wilson sweepstakes.

  34. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 4:14 PM

    MFG — Why learch so far to put the Fish down? Ok, they lost 90 games (we lost 81), and the run scoring was very close (though the difference in stadiums might have something to do with that) — but head to head against the Nats the Marlins managed pretty well last year. We have Harper in the wings, they have Stanton in their lineup — he's 22 and under control forever too. They have recent or future All Stars at almost every position and they are not an aging team. I am not saying that the Nats such, but I am saying that the Fish are good. And who knows what will happen, of course, but they look like they will be good for years to come. The Nats cannot stand pat and expect to beat that club, forget about what needs to be done to compete with the Braves or Phils.dfh21

  35. jeff1824 - Dec 2, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    We couldn't beat the fish before – probably can't beat 'em now. I'm always gonna be more worried about who we sign than who they sign. Objectively it looks like an overpay for an old closer. I'm getting a sinking suspicion we are going to go all in on Fielder.

  36. MFG - Dec 2, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    DFH – I do not expect the Nats to stand pat. I expect them to sign a veteran starting pitcher, and acquire a legitimate center fielder, just as Rizzo has said all off season. As I said before, I do not expect the Marlins to sign any of the big name free agents (Pujols, Reyes, Fielder, Wilson, Buehrle, Oswalt). The Nats and Marlins records last year speaks for themselves. I think the Nats will improve with a healthy Zimmerman and Strasburg, and I expect the Marlins to be about the same.Nats final 2012 record: 88-74Marlins final 2012 record: 73-89

  37. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    Jeff — I think that it will be all in on Wilson, that Rizzo will trade for the CF lead-off guy and maybe ink a Cuban OF too (there are like 3 of them that Rizzo supposedly likes). dfh21

  38. Farid Rushdi - Dec 2, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    C.J. Wilson scares me. With only two years of history as a starter, 2012 could bring either a Cy Youngish performance (18-8, 2.76) to Washington or something reminiscent of Livan Hernandez, say 11-12, 4.20. Mark Buehrle, though without Wilson's upside at this stage of his career, has been historically good throughout his career. Over his last four seasons, he's averaged 14-11, 3.50, 9.9/2.0/4.8.Compare that to John Lannan's last four-year average: 9-12, 4.00, 9.4/3.3/4.8. Not as much difference between the two as one would think.Either way, if either Wilson or Buehrle sign with Washington, I have to believe that Lannan leaves as part of a package for that coveted starting center-fielder. Personally, I'd much rather go with Roy Oswalt on a two-year deal, allowing the next wave of pitching prospects a place in the rotation in a couple of years. And if they get Oswalt, they probably keep Lannan.Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Oswalt, Lannan and Wang is a formidable rotation. Come 2013, Wang would be gone and replaced by Brad Peacock or Tommy Milone. The person I look forward to watching on the DC bump is Daniel Rosenbaum.In two years, he's gone from the Gulf Coast League to Harrisburg. In 58 starts, he's 18-14, 2.35, 7.6/2.4/7.4. I just don't want to lose roster spots to these long-term contracts given t6o veterans who may, or may not, produce.

  39. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    Ok, so the Nats get healthy and improve with Zim and Stras, but the Fish don't do the same with Hanley and Josh Johnson?

  40. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    Uber-stud. Quasi-stud. Stud. Is that some of them newfangled saber stats you're talking?And who would have guessed that Heath Bell is such a big draw for the Latinos in Miami?Captcha = 'cocanity.' Write your own punch line.

  41. PAY TO PLAY - Dec 2, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    jeff1824, I am also wondering if the Nats do nothing in the outfield and go with Prince. If they are looking at adding snap, crackle and pop, there is nobody other than Pujols to do it.

  42. PAY TO PLAY - Dec 2, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    DesmondUpton/BernadinaZimFielderMorseWerthEspinosaRamosStrasburg, JZim, Buehrle, Lannan, WangTed Lerner goes for the $100 million payroll and adds Fielder and Buehrle and Rizzo trades Cutter Dykstra for BJ Upton.

  43. MFG - Dec 2, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    Farid – I see the similarities between Buehrle and Lannan, but I expect a slight bump in all statistics from Buehrle if he moves to the NL. Oswalt's back problems scares me. Buehrle has never missed significant time to injury and does not rely on an overpowering fastball.I agree with you that Wilson seems like a bust waiting to happen.Right now, I'm hoping for Buehrle.

  44. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    "Farid Rushdi said……Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Oswalt, Lannan and Wang is a formidable rotation…"Has JZimm done enough to be slotted ahead of Oswalt or even Wang/Lannan? Stuff/talent aside, has he shown enough to convince you he's a 'no-doubt-about-it-#2'? I missed most of his dominate starts so I'm bias but from what I saw he's quite inconsistent for a #2.

  45. blovy8 - Dec 2, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    I think the point was Zimmermann figures to post better numbers than Oswalt, maybe even in innings pitched at this point.I agree about being wary of Wilson. It seems like the leftiness of the Phillies lineup is overstated. Howard is really the only guy on that club that can't handle them.

  46. Scooter - Dec 2, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    Sec3, the Fangraphs "librarian" speculated about the Marlins' new park recently and guessed it might be a bit more pitcherish than Dogfish Head State Farm Dan Marino Park Stadium. He points out — correctly, I think — that air currents are a very important known unknown.And here's David Pinto's very quick take on the matter.

  47. SonnyG10 - Dec 2, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    One thing I definitely do not worry about is Rizzo standing pat. I think he will forever try to improve the Nats. I just hope the mistakes are minimal so we don't go backwards, and with the talent we have in the FO to evaluate players, I fully expect most of our trades and acquisitions to work out for the better.

  48. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    Every club has talent in the front office, our guys are not geniuses compared to the field. What will make the difference is them making a commitment to win now. The ever-coming bright future for the Nats needs to get here.

  49. Just sayin' - Dec 2, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    Boomer said…Is it a coincidence that A 7-11 is robbed in Canada by a man wearing a Curly W Nats cap, the same day that Garrett Mock is signed to play in Canada?**********************Actually, I think that guy was wearing the Nats cap that Kimball dropped in the trash on his way to Toronto — before being reclaimed and returning to Washington…

  50. Avar - Dec 2, 2011 at 6:05 PM

    The closer role is a pet peeve of mine. I reject the notion that the 9th is any harder to get through than any other inning. So, the Marlins just paid $9m to a guy will pitch about 4% of their innings. Or look at WAR, Bell's was 0.5 last year. So they just paid $9m for half a win!!!Let them! I don't think they are even a single win better w/ Bell than they were last year and now they are out $9m. I love it. If they get Reyes or Pujols or Buehrle, that's different but I love this start, it's good for the Nats.

  51. jeff1824 - Dec 2, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Doesn't a long-term deal to Wilson block the path of the likes of Purke, Cole, Solis, Meyer, Peacock and Milone?Doesn't a Fielder signing block the path of…crickets.If it's my money I lock in Fielder and let the pitching develop.

  52. Jon Heyman - Dec 2, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    I'll let you all in on a secret. I tweeted that C.J. Wilson thing as a favor to his agent. I do that a lot.

  53. gonatsgo - Dec 2, 2011 at 6:48 PM

    The Marlins are a curious team. They look good on paper but always seem to have trouble actually playing as a team. The combination of Ozzie, Hanley and perhaps Reyes could be really interesting. Add the Ozzie/Lomo match-up to that mix – maybe they will be fine but they seem to have put together a troublesome chemistry. One of the things I like about the Nats is that they all seem like pretty stable people. We have definitely had some head cases pass through here.

  54. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    I picked the Marlins to win the division last year. They seemed to have the talent but injuries to top guys like Josh Johnson, manager issues, Hanley Ramirez issues, put the kibosh on the their year. Dark horse pick. They no longer have elite talent … I guess Loria is attempting to buy some.Doesn't a Fielder signing block the path of…crickets.Tyler Moore and Michael Morse? But the difference again is the left-handed bat which is also ranked tier1 elite and Fielder is in the top 3 with Pujols and switch hitting teammate Lance Berkman. For the NatsFO and Davey Johnson having an elite left-handed (or switch-hitting) bat younger than 30 is all important and really it has been: see Nats outbid the field for Mark Texiera.If it's my money I lock in Fielder and let the pitching develop.I suspect Rizzo and the Lerners will attempt to do just that. But I can't see them going for more than 5 years as they did with Werth for obvious reasons.

  55. jd - Dec 2, 2011 at 8:41 PM

    Here is Keith Law's take on the Bell signing with which I agree completely:" Bell was one of the biggest potential disasters in free agency this year as a reliever who appears to be at the end of his peak period after spending several years benefiting from one of the best pitchers' parks in baseball. And in Bell's case, the benefit from the park was even more significant because of his style of pitching: He throws relatively hard, but it's a straight fastball and he tries to pitch with it in the upper half of the zone. He has a curveball but uses it more to change eye levels, a deception strategy that hasn't exactly kept hitters from putting the ball in the air against him the last few years. That trick works in Petco with someone like Cameron Maybin covering a ton of ground in center. We don't know how Boondoggle Stadium is going to play yet, but the Marlins had better hope it's an extreme pitchers' park — and had better think about finding a legitimate center fielder as well. Considering the short peaks of most relievers' careers, and the limited value they can provide working just 60-65 innings a season, giving Bell three years at $9 million per is, at the least, a poor use of taxpayer money."

  56. Wally - Dec 2, 2011 at 9:51 PM

    I agree that the Bell signing isn't too troublesome. They have a lineup that is potentially very dangerous, though. Some risk, either injury (Hanley) or bounceback (LoMo), but adding Reyes to that lineup could make it very troubling.Starting pitching looks like their biggest area of concern. Hopefully it stays that way."suparcop" was the word of the post. Not sure what to make of that. Reyes?

  57. HotStove2012 - Dec 2, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    Looks like Jair Jurjens is available for the price of a young outfielder and shortstop. I am happy to send Mr. Bernadina and Mr. Lombardozzi to Atlanta for a guy whose season average projects at 15 wins with a 3.40 ERA (per MLBTR and Baseball Reference)

  58. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    Doesn't a long-term deal to Wilson block the path of the likes of Purke, Cole, Solis, Meyer, Peacock and Milone?Depends on the term doesn't it? The only pitcher the Nats offered a pretty lucrative 4 year plus contract was Zach Grienke. Do you think Wilson is in the same tier as Grienke? No way.The time frame will be the stumbling block for the Nats with these free agents. If its a young pitcher like Grienke they'll offer the moon and the stars … if the guy is over 30 they appear to get very frugal … the lone exception that is a positional player named Jayson Werth. However, his signing was meant to act as a signal to players, agents, and the rest of baseball. It worked.

  59. Anonymous - Dec 2, 2011 at 11:08 PM

    Right now, I'm hoping for Buehrle.I'm still hoping for Shields and/or David Price. The Rays need to unload payroll so … however Price and Upton are the big ticket items on their payroll. The Nats could use them both.

  60. Rabbit - Dec 3, 2011 at 1:53 AM

    I love it, I love it, I love it!!!! What an exciting division we are going to have for years!!!! GO NATIONALS!!

  61. Tim - Dec 3, 2011 at 4:36 AM

    "Doesn't a long-term deal to Wilson block the path of the likes of Purke, Cole, Solis, Meyer, Peacock and Milone?"Don't count your pitching tallent before it is ready. Wilson is what Purke, Cole, etc.. might mature into in a few years if everything goes well. I wouldn't worry about blocking young pitchers with tested top of the rotation vets like Wilson.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 77 57 --
ATLANTA 71 65 7.0
MIAMI 68 68 11.0
NEW YORK 63 73 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 62 73 15.5
Through Saturday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SUN: Nats at Mariners, 4:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

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

ON THE RADIO

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

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

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

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