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Go for it now? Or go for it in 2013?

Dec 21, 2011, 12:00 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Roy Oswalt would help the Nationals in 2012 but probably leave after one year.

For seven years, we've heard the Nationals espouse a plan of action that has been focused far more on slow-and-steady progress than immediate success. Every move the franchise has made — especially in the three years since Mike Rizzo took over as general manager — has prioritized long-term benefits over short-term satisfaction.

Along the way, we've all pondered the same question: When will it be time to attempt to win now, to "go for it" without fear of sacrificing the future?

For the first time since the franchise arrived in town, the answer isn't crystal clear. No previous Nationals roster has remotely been ready to contend, so it was foolish to believe one or two key additions would turn a last-place club into a potential wild-card winner. But now, it's fair to raise the question.

On the heels of a surprising 80-win season, and with loads of young talent both on the current big-league roster and on the cusp ofRead more »

163 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Sunderland - Dec 21, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    If Oswalt is going to sign for 1 year, the first thing he needs to decide is if he is willing to switch to the AL. I am betting he is not. Too much risk that he has some issues adjusting to switching leagues. If he is trying to re-establish his long term value, he will stay in the NL.He also will not want to be far from home, he will want to avoid a left coast team. And he'll want to pitch for someone who can contend. And Philly, which passed on him for $14M, is out. And it would be best to avoid hitters parks like Wrigley, Coors and the Great American Ballpark.Ideal for Oswalt would be Atlanta and St Louis. STL needs bats for more than it needs another SP and I'm guessing is not really in the picture. Same with ATL, who is actually looking to move Jurrjens.Summary – I think he will see DC as a good option, perhaps his best.

  2. MicheleS - Dec 21, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    Good Morning Mark.. Wishing you, Mrs Z, and Brian a Happy Hanukkah!I for one can't wait to see how this plays out. Like you said, this is the first time that this team might actually contend. Think of all the stinker seasons (except the first half of 05) we have suffered through and now finally we are on the verge!If Oswalt is willing to do a 1 year deal, then maybe, I would love to hear what our options are with Saunders and or the Trade for GIO is a possibility. Rosenthal said last night that the Nats were pushing hard on Gio. Also, on MLB Radio yesterday (yes, I am a Dork who listens) one of the commentators (not named Bowden) said the Nats were in Love with their prospects and maybe they over value them. Which is probably true, but when you have that attachment of drafting/developing, you kind of want to see it play out. Lord knows we bicker about this subject constantly on this site.

  3. Will - Dec 21, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    Good points Sunderland.I'm not totally convinced the Nats need Oswalt, but signing him to a 1 year deal does make a lot of sense. Who knows how Wang returns. He wasn't, by any measures, good in his time last season. If that project doesn't pay off, the Nats could be in a tough situation. Detwiler, Milone and Peacock are just about ready, so I'd like to see them get a real chance to prove themselves. But then again, we're good enough to contend now, albeit with some necessary additions (such as more/better outfielders).

  4. Constant Reader - Dec 21, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    Happy Hanukkah Z Family! Mark, you really do a terrific job of posing the questions during the off-season that make us all think.I've never understood how you make the "go for it" argument in '12. If you know your best pitcher is not going to pitch after Labor Day, how serious can you be about a post-season run? Insert Cardinals and Adam Wainwright here. If nothing else changes, next off-season, we will be looking for a #3 (although yesterday there was a strong sentiment around here Peacock will be that guy), a CF, and a LF/1B (assuming LaRoche gone). The need to re-sign RZim hits the front burner on high. And not to start a "Lerners are cheap" conversation, I don't think it is realistic that all four of those get solved with a checkbook.I'm not anti-Oswalt, but it seems to me we ought to solve one of those coming problems/opportunities THIS off-season.

  5. Will - Dec 21, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    Mark, I'm not sure how much we can factor in next year's free agent crop to this year's plans.Of the SP you mentioned- Zack Grienke just last year refused to be traded to Washington. Has he made a 180 in just 20 months??The Giants have made resigning Cain and Lincecum their top priority. To the point that they're sacrificing offense again this season. They have tons of money to spend, but intentionally did not resign Beltran or go after Pujols or Fielder because Cain and Lincecum are up for big paydays. I'd be surprised if Cain make it to free agency.Cole Hamels is in a similar situation to Cain. I doubt he leaves the Phillies. They still have some money to spend. I doubt they'll just let Oswalt and Hamels walk.Then the other guys you mentioned have team friendly options. No way to do Angels not pick up Haren's $15m option. Peavy is an injury mess and likely a reliever from here on, but Shields is an interesting trade candidate.Likewise for the CFs. Upton will hit free agency, and perhaps Bourn too. But choosing not to fill a gaping hole in the middle of the outfield on the chance that we'll sign one of two players next season is the same mistake that the Nationals made by placing all their eggs in Buehrle's basket.If Rizzo is going to field a major-league quality outfield, he's going to have to make some tough decisions that will likely see several prospects out the door.

  6. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    There's nothing wrong with being "in love with your prospects" as long as they are quality and exhibiting a natural progression in their developement.It's the ones that seem to plateau somewhere along the high "A" ball level that tend to clog up a system. Our scouts and coaches along with other scouts tend to see these guys at different places in their developement. I'm not sure the Nats have had quality prospects long enough to be able to make that determination. I have no problem overpaying for Oswalt for one year. I actually think it's the best scenario for the Nats.Gio Gonzalez falls in that typical A's pitcher category that gets moved just before he gets figured out by everyone, or developes arm issues, or more likely loses what little command he exhibits. And the Nats surely do not need pitchers that have command issues.Nope… give me Oswalt for a year or even Saunders for 2 years and let's develope our own arms a little longer.Oh yes…. bring on Fielder and we can count ourselves as definitely in the mix for a playoff spot.

  7. Sunderland - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    Constant Reader – When you wrote "Insert Cardinal and Adam Wainwright here" – Were you talking about 2012, and how Wainwright will be limited? Supporting your arguement?Or were you talking about 2011, and having no Wainwright at all? Shooting down your own arguement since they won the WS? Honestly – I'm not sure which you meant.

  8. Will - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    Sunderland, I had the exact same question.

  9. Will - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    The interesting thing about the postseason is that you only use 3/5ths of your rotation. Let's say we signed Oswalt, we'd have Zimmermann, Oswalt and the best of Wang, Lannan, Detwiler, Milone or Peacock. One of them is bound to have had a very good season (it doesn't matter that it's equally or more likely that one or more had a terrible season).The loss of Strasburg wouldn't be devastating. Yes, it would hurt, but it wouldn't kill an hope. The offense, however, probably will.

  10. Gonat - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    The thoughts on not trading off a group of Nats prospects for a Gio Gonzalez is my thoughts also. Plus, I believe you have to neutralize the stats more for pitchers that come from a pitcher's park. The points on A's pitchers like Zito and Mulder are very key to A's issues on trades.If the Nats don't get Prince Fielder then Michael Morse moves to 1st base next season then I am fine waiting for Michael Bourn for next year in Free Agency if Rizzo will overpay some! After reading the comments on Beltran, that makes a lot of sense to have him as we don't know when Bryce Harper will be ready. Beltran may make the most sense.A 1 year deal on Oswalt is fine or a 3 year deal on Joe Saunders. Lannan only has 2 years left under team control and Wang is a 1 year deal. Saunders could be bridge the gap and hopefully make Stras, JZim, Saunders a great 1-2-3

  11. Tim - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    I've wanted us to stand pat, because I think we're wild card contenders right now. However, we have an opportunity to land Prince Fielder, and move us into an elite catergory with one move.Starting pitching: we have a #3 starter right now, and his name is Peacock or Milone. Our starting pitching, although murky right now, will be clear by July, only to be uncertain again as Strasburg nears his innings limit.I AM concerned about our bench. We need to round up some talent. Dobbs would be key when Zim goes down (notice I didn't say "if"). Get Ankiel. He won a game or two with his arm last year and at least one with his bat. We need a defensive replacement for Morse at least.Bottom line: get Prince and watch Nationals Park fill up with excitement and capacity crowds.

  12. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    The we're oh-so close to being good SOON, that we should not risk ruining the future potentially being good by actually being good in the present argument that Zuck hints at is loser. The Nats roster has never been close to being a winner because the club's management has never assembled a quality roster, though it has had opportunity and resources to do so. The club has not been making every move to create some down the road unstopable every year club, it has been pinching pennies.At the end of the day it is all about the money. If the Nats trade away some prospects for a legit MLB talent, then down the road in order to replace the production of the players that they have moved it may then cost more money to do so. Or if they ink a big FA at a high slaary, are they willing and able to pay the cost for that talent now. That's it. Follow the money. The Nats are a club that has never been in the top TWENTY in terms of payroll depite the rich market, the nice revenue and the new park. The "go for it" or wait decisions are the very hard ones for the clubs that have payroll constraints. Ask yourself, why have the Nats not gone for it to date? Every other club that throws open the doors of a new park does (and with prolonged success). It is simple. The Nats do not want to spend the coins to build a winner. They need to simply put our money (we pay the top third in the Bigs ticket prices for their bottom third payrool) where their mouth is and get us a club that can contend now. All of this jazz that Zuck echoes about how the never-arriving future is so bright and it is so fragile and special that we had better not tinker with it has to stop. The summit does not come to the climber, the climber reaches for it. They can afford to trade away pieces AND they can afford to take on FA contracts. And they can do both without hamstringing the future that Zuck so passionately, yet amazingly patiently, awaits. And they can do that right now. The only thing holding the Nats back from having a legit chance in 2012 (and beyond) is management's reluctance to make it happen.dfh21

  13. Anonymous8 - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    Tim, you may be one of the few that sees Milone as a #3. Most see him as a dependable #4 or #5 and there is still nothing wrong with that. Peacock could be that mid 3.50 ERA guy as a steady #3.If the Nats can get Prince on a 3 to 5 year deal at 1st base, go for it. He is a force to be reckoned with. A contract longer than that will be a noose around the Nats neck.Yes, the bench needs help. I would rather see Lombardozzi and Bernadina and Flores and spend the money for a Nix type LH and a big RH bat. The bench could change if Bernadina is the starting CF then Rizzo can put the RH Mike Cameron on the bench to play vs. LH pitchers.

  14. Gonat - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    dfh21, trading prospects for a Gio Gonzalez who will cost $4 mill is not a "spendy" move so why do you equate not doing that as a money saver? Gio Gonzalez is a Arb Eligible player with controllable dollars.The Nats payroll will organically grow based on their own players being arbitration eligible.

  15. sjm308 - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    I think the bench problem will be the easiest to fix. These guys all want to start and just have to see that there is little market for that and then Rizzo can strike. He might already have 3 of his 5 pieces with Flores, Lombardozzi and Cameron. I hate to think about Bernadina/Cameron as our CF options so Beltran is looking better and better to me with Werth/Cameron in CF. I also was one who wanted to wait and not trade our prospects and after looking at the ratings and grades for our top 20 prospects it appears that Sickel also has a lot of love for our youngsters. Since Oswalt & Saunders will just cost money I pick them over Gio. I am guessing we will lose someone off this list sooner than later but I don't want them leaving for him.Finally, if we can get Fielder for just a few years, I will be thrilled as I think this moves us even closer. I honestly think we can contend right now but any of those pieces would be like icing on the cake.

  16. FS - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    interesting that three out of four names mentioned as FA CF options are african americans. the other is also of foreign descent.anyways, we should be able to sign Oswalt now. Wait for Upton's arbitration case and let him see become a burden on Rays' budget before prying him away from them for couple of minor leaguers. meanwhile build a good bench of whatever you think suitable. whether we contend or not, depends on how these players fill the expectations of them. I can see it happening on paper.And while we are doing all this, let's get Ryan to an extension.

  17. m20832 - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    Since the Nats needed a CF, was Cuddyer on Rizzo's radar? Kilgore reports he signed with the Rockies.

  18. UnkleWheez - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    Zack Grenke did refuse to be traded to the nats, but it was because he wanted to win. The Nats would have had to give up a lot. If they have a good year, and things keep looking up, he could sign in DC.

  19. MicheleS - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    NatsJack.. count me in the "Loving the prospects" Camp. Milone had me on the first day and Peacock's story with his Dad (whom I saw the last month at Nats Park) just adds to my love! I know that others will question me, but I love the kids and want to keep them!!! But I trust Rizzo – he knows more than I do.And if Fielder is in the mix, so be it. Not sure we need him, but having that bat would be great.Mark Z.. must be laughing to see all of us pine for Fielder…

  20. Anonymous8 - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    The Sickels report came out late afternoon yesterday.http://www.minorleagueball.com/2011/12/20/2650433/washington-nationals-top-20-prospects-for-2012

  21. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    Gonat… as for payroll, you've described the plan…. and I can't help but think expanding the payroll through free agency is tied directly to the new TV contract. Both will occur in due course, despite whatever dfh21 thinks.The roster has been developed methodically and professionally.

  22. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    Gonat: I am all for them making a move for Gio. It makes sense both in terms of winning now and being good for years to come. Which is why it will be a costly trade for hte club that makes it. And I think that they could still add a big FA bat. Beltran to play RF on a 2 year deal? Another quality pen arm? Sure. Fielder for the 7+ years and $170M? Why the Hell not. Talk about the contract being a dog down the road is just saying we'll be carrying some bloated contract for a guy not worth it in 5-6 years from now if we ink him that long. So what! So THEN we won't have as much chance for the playoffs as we will in the interim of having the guy? Then the payroll might be high and keep us from being able to compete the same way we have not been able to compete to date with a low payroll? They have the resources both in terms of money and talent on hand to do a lot more right now. They just need to make it happen.dfh21

  23. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    MicheleS… I'm a big Peacock fan, as well… When I saw the interviews with his parents, I just figured there was a big 18 wheeler parked outside the stadium that they were staying in while making a delivery up I-95 somewhere.

  24. Anonymous8 - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    Sickels top rated Minor League pitcher is: A.J. Cole, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B+. I really believe in his upside. Needs to build stamina and refine his changeup, but if it comes together he could be a Top 20 pitching prospect next year, perhaps more. (This grade is very likely to be revised to a straight B+ once I do some comparisons)_______________________________________This is why you don't trade the future and Cole, Peacock and Purke have to be off-limits.

  25. lesatcsc - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    I'm not sure it's an either or proposition, at least not as far as Oswalt is concerned. With the right offer, Oswalt can be had for 1 or perhaps 2 years without sacrificing any prospects. It makes the club instantly better, provides them with the veteran ace role model they've been seeking and leaves the future untouched. No worries for the young pitchers, 2 of the pencilled-in members of the rotation would be free agents again next summer. Other than money, I see no down side. Ditto with Carlos Beltran. 1 or 2 years simply adds a bat and depth to the OF but doesn't really block anyone. It also means that the Nats would have the luxury of keeping Mr Harper at AAA for most of the season; something that will be good for his development and for the team's control of him in the long term. In other words, both moves cost only money and do not change the longer term outlook or strategy.Adding Fielder is a horse of a different colour. Fielder would be a long term commitment (although probably not 10 years any longer) and changes the future layout of the team. It means Morse never moves to 1B, so a decision will have to be made at some point about the direction the team will take in the outfield. Still, it may be a very nice problem to have.I think trading a pile of prospect for Gio would be the antithesis of what the Nats have been trying to do. It does potentially sacrifice the future when it simply isn't necessary. Either Oswalt or Saunders can fill the void for the upcoming season, and there are 3 or 4 very promising arms on the horizon. If I'm Rizzo I don't make that deal every day until hell freezes over.A wild card is Cespedes. If the Nats think he's ready now, he might be a better choice than Beltran. If they don't, then go with Beltran, Morse and Werth in the OF for the upcoming season and save the money. Only Rizzo knows what the Lerners are willing to spend. If the resources are there I think he should do what it takes to land either Oswalt or Saunders first and Beltran or Cespedes second and see if Fielder can be had on terms the Nats can afford both next year and into the future last. Then I would add several operators to the ticket office to handle the increased volume of ticket orders.

  26. jd - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    I think that the org pitchers the team is in love with aren't necessarily Peacock, Detwiler and Milone but rather: Cole,Meyer,Purke and Solis who are all at least 1 maybe 2 years away. In this context it makes perfect sense to go with short term solutions such as Oswalt or Saunders and why 4 years of Buehrle would have been a mistake. I think Peacock has a good chance to develop into a solid mid rotation starter while Milone and Detwiler probably top out as bottom of the rotation starters like Lannan. If the Nats want to jump right into contention they need to sign Price Fielder; I think they would be in on him if they didn't have $10 mil tied up in LaRoche.

  27. Section 105 - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    I also think Oswalt for 1 year makes almost too much sense to ignore. Among other things, he will be very motivated to have a good season so he can go out and get his last big contract at the end of the year.By the way, can't help thinking that we picked up the wrong fallback plan for CF in Mike Cameron. What would have been wrong with Endy Chavez for one year? Seems he'd be better in every department – even power, these days, as Cameron's is totally gone. I'm sure the front office is still working, but so far the bench moves (additions and subtractions) have been puzzling.

  28. Binx Bolling - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    The concept on whether Starting Pitcher X is a # 1 or # 3 or # 5 is a little silly. Unless injured, a # 5 will start about the same amount of games as a # 1. That said, the 2011 Phillies had arguably as Starters 4 # 1s and a youngster who has the making of becoming a # 1. Yet the Phillies lost when their # 1s did not quite pitch like # 1s in the playoffs. For history's sake, I scanned the 2001 World Series winner Arizona Diamondbacks. For Starting Pitching, they had 2 # 1s in Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, a # 5 in Miguel Batista and 3 mediocrities who would be out of baseball within a couple years. What stat cruncher would have thought that the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks would wear a crown while the 2011 Phillies would be baseball bridesmaids?

  29. Unkyd - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    dfh21:"The Nats roster has never been close to being a winner….."—————-80-81. Close

  30. Bowdenball - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    Sees like the answer is obviously 2013 to me. The free agent class is a perfect fit for the Nats' needs. The Nats should get their first fully productive seasons out of both Harper and Strasburg. And just as importantly, the Phillies will really be starting to show their age. It means asking a very patient fan base to wait one more year again, but next year is such a perfect fit that hopefully they can do it.Will:Greinke has actually said that part of the reason that he turned down the Nats' trade offer is that he saw Washington as a possible free agency destination and he didn't want to weaken the team. So no 180 necessary, he's already a fan of the organization. There's also the fact that he chose the Brewers so he could compete, something the Nats couldn't offer. In 2013 those roles will be completely reversed.

  31. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    Oswalt for 1 year makes a lot of sense for the Nats, no doubt. But Roy coming here does not likely make so much sense for him. Yanks, Red Sox, Cards, Tigers, maybe back to the Phils, etc. The winners. Those clubs will have the best chance to land the guy. Why would he not on a 1 year deal go for a club with a real chance to win the World Series?dfh21

  32. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    Unkyd said… "dfh21:'The Nats roster has never been close to being a winner…..'—————-80-81. Close"Zuck backs me up: "No previous Nationals roster has remotely been ready to contend . . ."dfh21

  33. Gonat - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    jd said… I think that the org pitchers the team is in love with aren't necessarily Peacock, Detwiler and Milone but rather: Cole,Meyer,Purke and Solis who are all at least 1 maybe 2 years away. In this context it makes perfect sense to go with short term solutions such as Oswalt or Saunders and why 4 years of Buehrle would have been a mistake.I think Peacock has a good chance to develop into a solid mid rotation starter while Milone and Detwiler probably top out as bottom of the rotation starters like Lannan.If the Nats want to jump right into contention they need to sign Price Fielder; I think they would be in on him if they didn't have $10 mil tied up in LaRoche. December 21, 2011 9:09 AM _________________________________jd, I don't know if this is a change in your thinking. Good comments except they can trade LaRoche for a prospect and eat part of his salary. I wouldn't let LaRoche's contract stand in the way of getting Prince Fielder. It isn't like they have 3 years of LaRoche left.

  34. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    There's no reason to treat 2012 vs. 2013 as an either/or question.Purely from a pitching standpoint, money spent on a one-year rental of Oswalt would help achieve both goals — it would allow the Nats to field a more competitive team in 2012 (perhaps vying for a berth in the new two-team wild card format) and it would give the younger pitchers another year to develop in preparation for 2013 (and beyond). The only way an Oswalt contract would be a negative is if it were preventing the Nats from signing a pitcher of roughly the same caliber (e.g., Buehrle) to a mutli-year deal. But that doesn't seem to be an option anymore (unless you consider Saunders a realistic two- to three-year addition).More important, however, remains the question of how to increase run-support for the pitchers. Simply hoping that last year's line-up will have a healthier — and thus better — 2012 may get you some additional runs, but to be truly competitive the Nats need a lot of additional runs. History suggests that Harper alone isn't going to do that, even if he makes the opening day roster. Whether they go with Fielder or Beltran or take a flyer on Cespedes or someone else, the Nats need to add at least one more good, solid hitter and run generator to the line-up. Not just 'bench strength,' but someone who is a legitimate MLB starter. And just like with the pitching staff, you don't have treat it was an 'either 2012 or the future?' question. You can achieve — or at least try for — both.

  35. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    Does anyone think Roy Oswalt wants Ian Desmond botching double play balls behind him and getting on to a .298 clip at lead-off? He aint coming here.

  36. DL in VA - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    "Bottom line: get Prince and watch Nationals Park fill up with excitement and capacity crowds."Absolutely! Chicks dig the long ball… and so do Washingtonians. I keep telling my friends that tickets are going to be much harder to get when we have fielder playing every day. Think about the Strasburg effect every fifth day, and what would happen if we had something like that every day. Hell, I might have to go to Philly to watch the Nats play!As for Greinke, DC has to be on his radar. But, was he better than Lannan last year? I'd rather have Gio or hometowner Saunders.

  37. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    I like it. Beltran and Oswalt. Both are doable. Both are short-term and don't block young guys next year. Neither interferes with getting a Zimmerman extension by tying up enormous resources. Young pitchers will get their chance this year when SS hits innings limit. Strasburg, Zimmermann, Oswalt, Wang, LannanDesmond, Beltran, Zimmerman, Morse, LaRoche, Werth, Espinosa, Ramos

  38. erocks33 - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    If Oswalt can be had on a 1-year deal, then the Nats MUST sign him now. Now, I'm not sure what the new collective bargaining agreement states, but if after next season the Nats offer him arbitration and he declines, would the Nats get any draft picks?? I would assume that Oswalt would garner the "Type A" status (or however the new agreement will characterize it as), so if that's true, then the Nats get the veteran for one season AND get a draft pick or two. How can that be a bad idea??Also, keep in mind that not only will Strasburg be on an innings limit, but so too should Wang. He hasn't pitched much for the past 3+ years, so I can't imagine he'd be able to go above 150 innings this year, so it's more imperative for the Nats to have that veteran innings-eater this season.

  39. Anonymous8 - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    Oswalt will be 35 y.o. and the writing on his wall is 1 year deals. It shows the GMs are skeptical of paying $14 million a year on a 2 year deal with a pitcher with back problems. If he can only start 15 games he has basically cost you $28 million.With all that said, he is a 1 year fill-in. Saunders makes much more sense to bridge 2 to 3 years for the Nats and at lower dollars. With Saunders, the Nats are probably set for 2013 as Peacock/Milone/Purke can compete for the 5th spot. Lannan leave after 2013 and that's where it gets real interesting as AJ Cole will certainly be ready by then.

  40. Gonat - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    Anonymous said… I like it. Beltran and Oswalt. Both are doable. Both are short-term and don't block young guys next year. Neither interferes with getting a Zimmerman extension by tying up enormous resources. Young pitchers will get their chance this year when SS hits innings limit. Strasburg, Zimmermann, Oswalt, Wang, LannanDesmond, Beltran, Zimmerman, Morse, LaRoche, Werth, Espinosa, Ramos December 21, 2011 9:26 AM________________________________I like your thoughts, I prefer Saunders as he is LH and 4 right-handed starters isn't a great mix. If you can't get Saunders, then yes, get Oswalt.

  41. Avar - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    agree w/ erocks. If Oswalt wants a one year deal, the Nats need to pay him whatever he wants to get him. Will add so much depth to an already decent-looking rotation. There is really no risk for a one year deal. If he won't re-sign, fine.

  42. Water23 - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    I like the idea of adding either Oswalt or Saunders. We have potential and they would be a nice addition. Add to that Stras innings limit, Wang's 1 year deal and a real question as to whether Ross is a SP, they should solve that problem. As to improving the bench, how about adding a good clubhouse guy who has power and a good OBP. He hits lefty and play excellent defense. Ohh, we have him in Adam LaRoche. The Nats want to flex their muscle then go after Fielder and use LaRoche as often as possible.

  43. erocks33 - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    Anonymous said…Does anyone think Roy Oswalt wants Ian Desmond botching double play balls behind him and getting on to a .298 clip at lead-off? He aint coming here.———————————————–Jimmy Rollins last 3 seasons leading off for the Phillies:.255 / .316 / .403 (averaged 128 games per season)Ian Desmond last 3 seasons:.262 / .304 / .387 (averaged 110 games per season)Ian Desmond leading off:.278 / .314 / .405 (52 total games leading off)Not saying that Desmond will ever be as good as Rollins was, but one of them is getting older and the other one may be about to hit his stride with DJ at the helm.

  44. Anonymous8 - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    erocks33, awesome comparison!

  45. Anonymous8 - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Just posted on MLBTradeRumors, within the week we will either add Beltran or cross him off of our list:http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/12/carlos-beltran-decision-expected-this-week.html

  46. lesatcsc - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    Anon 9:23Man, that's pessemistic. How about the three potential gold glovers manning the other three infield positions and a catcher that throws out more than his fair share of base-stealers. Oswalt will probably be more concerned with run support than defence. If he knows they're serious about Beltran or Fielder, DC would be a good fit for him. He would be the openning day starter here. Anyways, it's probably all about the money – offer enough and they will come.

  47. Avar - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    Sorry Blink but you are wrong here. On most teams a #5 SP will start only half as much as the #1. The Brewers were an exception last year. But look at SP for the playoff (or close) teams last year (or any year) and you will see that most of them have their #5 start about half as many. Sometimes a third, sometimes two-thirds but rarely the same.Most teams use off days to effectively use a 4.5 man rotation. It's hard to find 5 SPs that you want to keep rolling out there.

  48. jcj5y - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    Oswalt on a one-year (or even two-year) deal has always been my favorite idea for the Nats' rotation. I still think he has more upside than Buerhle, if he's healthy. Given the team's pitching depth, I would take the risk on upside and use Detwiler (though they may have to trade him) Peacock or Milone if Oswalt falters. They also have Gorzy, Stammen and Maya as short-term solutions if the injury bug really hits.I agree with others who are saying that the Nats can go for it in both 2012 and 2013. The whole idea of building for the long-term is that "going for it" is an every year proposition. If there is a deep pool of talent–and there now seems to be–you can stay competitive every year.One last thought on going for it this year. Of all the centerfield options that have been suggested, the Nats' best outfield may well be Morse-Werth-Harper. The team, and I think Davey especially, really seem to believe that Harper can play in the majors at 19. My guess is that it's more likely than not he starts in right on Opening Day.

  49. The Fox - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    The buzz the Nationals would get from the signing Oswalt would probably pay for half the contract. They were willing to give Buehrle 13 million but Oswalt would be too expensive?If the Nationals sign Oswalt 3 things could happen and 2 of them are good.1. Oswalt could pitch poorly or could be injured. You would still show the players and fans that you want to win and attract future FA.2. Oswalt pitches well but the team does not respond and still is not in contention. If this happens you could trade him to a contender and get a really good prospect.3. Oswalt pitches well the team stays in contention for a wild card the whole season. This would give the team invaluable experience for 2013 and it would also show you how your players respond to playing in games that mean something.Peacock and Milone may turn out to be fine pitchers but rookie pitchers not named Gooden or Valenzuela rarely make a big difference and I've never seen film of Grover Cleveland Alexander.

  50. natsfan1a - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    Having a winning record does not necessarily mean being in contention, particularly in our division. Just saying…Anonymous said… 'The Nats roster has never been close to being a winner…..' —————- 80-81. Close" Zuck backs me up: "No previous Nationals roster has remotely been ready to contend . . ." dfh21 December 21, 2011 9:21 AM

  51. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    erocks33 – no, not such a great comparison. One of them has been an MVP and won Gold Gloves, been al All Star and played to Silver Slugger levels, hit 30+ HR's won the World Series and the other is clanking gloved, swing and miss Ian Desmond.

  52. NatsNut - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    jcj5y said… Oswalt on a one-year (or even two-year) deal has always been my favorite idea for the Nats' rotation. I still think he has more upside than Buerhle, if he's healthy._______________________________The Phillies would have kept him IF HE'S HEALTHY. That is where all the skepticism is. That's why he is still on the market. It is a gigantic IF. I would be disappointed IF Rizzo fails again on his off-season goal of adding a veteran 200 innings #3 type pitcher. You now have 2 to choose from: Saunders & Oswalt. It was by pure luck after the Nats lost out on Buehrle that Saunders comes available and the great thing about Saunders is that he is an unrestricted Free Agent!Rizzo: CARPE DIEM, Sieze the Day! Give NatsTown something to really celebrate because nobody is jumping up & down about Mike Cameron. No need for press conferences on Cameron.

  53. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    NatsNut…. The Phillies dumped him because it would have cost them $14 Million.They have other issues like signing Rollins (which they did) and trying to renegotiate with Cole Hamels (which won't happen).

  54. Feel Wood - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    As to improving the bench, how about adding a good clubhouse guy who has power and a good OBP. He hits lefty and play excellent defense. Ohh, we have him in Adam LaRoche. The Nats want to flex their muscle then go after Fielder and use LaRoche as often as possible.Fielder has never played less than 157 games in a season – and that 157 was in his rookie year, 2006. Typically he plays 161 or 162. Other than DH in interleague games, he has never played a position other than first base. Likewise, LaRoche in his eight year career has never played a position other than first. So what you're suggesting here is not realistic.

  55. NatsNut - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    NatsJack, I thought it was $16 million but they would have kept him if they thought he was going to be healthy.I think Oswalt's 1 year deal will end up near $14 million.

  56. Gonat - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    That's correct, the Phillies declined Roy Oswalt's $16 million option and his buyout was $2 million. They did try to negotiate a lower priced deal for 2012.http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7145048/roy-oswalt-brad-lidge-2012-options-declined-philadelphia-phillies

  57. erocks33 - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    @Anon 10:00 — All-Star is a popular vote. Not typically awarded by merit.30 HR's was in 2007.I'll give you Rollins' dominance over Desmond on defense (and I did say that I didn't think Desmond would ever be as good as Rollins *WAS*), I was just pointing out that one player's offensive numbers were declining, while the other just may improve.

  58. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    Yes… I believe it was $16 Million… but bottom line… It was about the money… not the back.

  59. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    I don't think it's an either/or situation. Rizzo is building a team/organization that can compete for multiple years, even if the players change from one year to the next.Agree with most commenters that Oswalt would be a great gamble for one or two years. Disagree on Fielder though. Seems like the FO wants to move Morse to 1B in 2013, which then frees up a spot in the OF for Harper and that elusive CF/leadoff guy (Bourn in 2013?) Also, Rendon could be ready by 2013, depending on how this season goes. So, the 2013 roster could look something like this:Michael Bourn – CFEspinosa – SSWerth – LFZimmerman – 3BMorse – 1BHarper – RFRamos – CRendon – 2BPitcherThat lineup has some serious potential and could be fairly stable for 3-4 years (assuming they lock up Morse and Zimmerman).

  60. lesatcsc - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    Why is it that MLB rumours only mentions the Nats in connection with Dobbs? Do they know something that we don't?

  61. Gonat - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    http://jon-heyman.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/33714192/33978369Latest on Prince Fielder & Nats are front and center on this. I think it comes down to the Nats, Brewers, Mariners and Blue Jays. With Boras pushing things, I could see the Nats victorious in this one unless Rizzo snags Beltran this week.

  62. jcj5y - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Oswalt is gone from the Phillies because they didn't want to spend $16 million given that they already have three aces, multiple huge contracts on the books, and other holes to fill, in addition to the risk that Oswalt isn't healthy. It's not as simple as "they would have picked up his option if they thought he was healthy." The risk of his back being injured is going to be factored into the value of whatever contract he gets. It's all a question of how much risk teams are willing to take.I'm opposed to Saunders. If they sign someone, I'd rather it be someone who could really be a #3, or maybe even better. Saunders isn't that. If you can't sign upside, just use the depth they have. I'd rather see what Detwiler and Peacock have than spend money on Saunders.

  63. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Ian Desmond's numbers have no place to go but up, how could he not improve on a .298 OBP with a gazillion K's and no power, yet still play? He's just not a good player. How many thousands of AB's do the Nats need to give the guy to prove that he can't hit?

  64. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said……. and I can't help but think expanding the payroll through free agency is tied directly to the new TV contract.**************************************************NatsJack,Can you elaborate on the 'new TV contract'? My understanding was that the Nats were locked into the MASN deal in perpetuity. And while I believe the revenue stream will increase a bit each year — and that the Nats have hired some hot-shot consultant to push their case — they will continue to receive less than they could on the open market. Also, I understand that the Nats' ownership percentage increases incrementally each year, but with a 30 percent (or so) ceiling.Are you talking about the consultant's efforts to increase the yearly payment? Or are you talking about the need for the Nats to buy out the entire MASN arrangement (which would be quite expensive on a one-time basis, but I believe beneficial to the franchise in the long-run)?

  65. The Fox - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Yes I believe NatsJack is correct it was the money risk for the Phillies. 34 is not old for a pitcher the Phillies signed Moyer when he was 44 and he helped them win a World Series. Pitchers are not like batters, age is not the major determining factor skill is. Oswalt led the league for lowest whip when he was 32 and his SO/BB is still about 3 to 1. 75% of Oswalt is better than most teams number 3 pitcher. If the Nats don't make an offer of at least what they offered Buehrel for a year they either know something is physically wrong with him or they are not serious about winning.

  66. Anonymous8 - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=rolliji01&t=b&year=2010Rollins is 33 years old and his 2010 was a disaster. Injured most of the year and played in 88 games. He was on the DL twice.Look at his batting average plummet after May 21st.Jimmy Rollins could be a real issue for the Phillies if he can't stay healthy. His desire may be to try to over-achieve but his body is barking loudly that he isn't nearly the player he once was.

  67. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Eugene in Oregon…. yes… what I meant was there is an effort to elevate the TV revenue stream and there is a relationship between that and signing free agents.

  68. Nattydread - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    With Johnson on a short term contract, you'd think they'd push hard to compete in 2012.First base is not necessarily secure. All we've heard about LaRoche is that he'll be 100% in April. I don't believe it, and maybe the FO has second thoughts as well. After an entire year off, how likely is it that he recoups his career norm? Isn't is also likely that he may be on a downward skid?Fielder-Nats rumors are heating up for a reason. My bet is that Boras has been having that conversation with Rizzo and Johnson. Also, Rizzo desperately wants to make a splash and he missed his chance with Buerle.There were FAR TOO MANY one run games last year. Fielder would be the competitive jolt the Nats offense needs.

  69. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    A bad Jimmy Rollins is still better than an average Ian Desmond. Ian Desmond is the poster child for this organization. Always a comer, never arriving. Look how athletic he is, at his raw skills! We need to nurture this kid as our every day SS, forever if it takes that long, the losing can go on in the mean time. Someday he's gonna be great! Someday. Third place might be the best the Nats do for a long time.

  70. natsfan1a - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    And now for something completely different. sec3 mentioned a Santa Baby reprise the other day, but the muse just didn't show up. However, I did happen to find this transcript of a recent Rizzo encounter with some agents and GMs at the winter meetings.I really can't stay (But Rizzo, it's cold outside)I've got to go ‘way (But Rizzo, it's cold outside)This evening has been (Been hoping that you'd drop in)So very nice (I'll hold your wallet – cold as ice)My owners will start to worry (Mikey R, what's your hurry)Mark Lerner will be pacing the floor (Listen to the fireplace roar)So really I'd better scurry (Mikey R, please don't hurry)Perhaps a hairy chest for the bench (Something like a young Mench)The media might think (Rizzo, it's bad out there)Say, what's in this drink (No cabs to be had out there)I wish I knew how (You could use a CF now)To break the spell (I'll take your hat, your head looks swell)I ought to say no, no, no, sir (What would you ask for your closer)At least I'm gonna say that I tried (What's the sense in hurting my pride)I really can't stay (Rizzo, don't hold out)Ahh, but it's cold outside (Rizzo, it's cold outside)I simply must go (But Rizzo, it's cold outside)The answer is no (But Rizzo, it's cold outside)This welcome has been (How lucky that you dropped in)So nice and warm (Look out the window at that storm)The fanbase will curse and flame (Cheers if you sign a big name)Talk radio will fuel the hate (With Prince you’d get quite the gate)The media will laugh at me (They’re bored if it’s not a Yankee)But maybe just a few minutes more (Never such a blizzard before)I've got to get home (But Rizzo, you'd freeze out there)Say, lend me your coat (It's up to your knees out there)You've really been bold (I thrill to see your billfold)But don't you see (How can you do this thing to me?)There's bound to be talk tomorrow (Think of my life long sorrow)At least there will be plenty implied (If you caught pneumonia and died)I really can't stay (Get over that hold out)Ahh, but it's cold outside (Ooh, Mikey, it's cold outside)

  71. jcj5y - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    Signing Fielder would be the ultimate "go for it" move. But it really doesn't make sense long term, at least for the years and dollars Prince is likely to get. There's just too much risk of underperformance at the end of the deal.Heyman is reporting that "signs" point to the Nats keeping Fielder on their "radar." That sounds like a rumor, at best. Heyman is a good reporter, but he's also connected to Boras. He's been pushing the Fielder/Nats angle all winter, and no one close to the Nats is buying it. Boras needs to create a market for Fielder, and that's what he's doing. But I not going to believe the Nats are serious on Fielder until I hear it from Zuckerman or one of the other Nats' writers.

  72. Constant Reader - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    Playing catch up. Will and Sunderland, good to hear from you. I brought up the Cards just to acknowledge the obvious counter factual. It isn't an iron law, but losing your best pitcher on Labor Day is not your typical pathway to the World Series.The point I was trying to introduce yesterday is that there is typically a correlation between qualifying starters and success. This past season, Texas had five and StL had four. In our two best years ('05 and '11), we had three each of those years. In the remaining five years we have had six total qualifying starters. No one knows what will happen, but I'm in the camp of folks who thinks it is not realistic to think Peacock or Milone will be #3 starters throwing 180 innings in 2013. I will be the first on the board to admit I was gleefully wrong if that turns out to be the case.

  73. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    natsfan1a — that was awesome!dfh21

  74. Gonat - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    The Nats scored 710 runs in 2009 with Zim, Dunn, and Willingham for 133 games and a 1/2 season of Nick Johnson and 47 games with Nyjer at leadoff.Zim, Morse, LaRoche and Werth are probably better as a group. The main difference was in 2009 the leadoff spot had a slash of .293/.356 giving Zim and Dunn numerous RBI opportunities.If the Nats offense can generate 710 runs in 2012 and keep the pitching to the same ERA, the Nats had in 2011, then this team has a great chance at post-season.

  75. Sunderland - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:08 PM

    Just to clarify Oswalt and Philly and money, his 2012 option was for $16M, but by declining that option they had to pay him $2M, so really they decided they did not want to spend $14M on him.And the hope (aka popular opinion) among the Philly faithful is that they made that decision to use that money to re-sign Cole Hamels.

  76. Tcostant - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    Sounds like the Nats are making a hard push for Gio. I like it.http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/washington-nationals-pitcher-gio-gonzalez-mlb-baseball-free-agent-hot-stove-121911

  77. Feel Wood - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    But I not going to believe the Nats are serious on Fielder until I hear it from Zuckerman or one of the other Nats' writers.When it comes to transactions like FA signings and trades, Zuckerman and the other Nats writers seem to be the last to know – or at least the last to report. One gets the impression that they don't really do the traditional reporter's job of working sources, i.e. talking to GMs, players, agents, etc, on a regular basis, gathering rumors, truth or even "no comments" from both sides, and then distilling all that into published reports. Instead, they just offer their own opinions, like Mark's "it makes no sense for the Nats to sign Fielder" and refrain from other reporting on the process until a deal is announced – often from the Twitter feed of a national reporter who has been working sources all along.Here's a case in point. Some commenter here yesterday said Fielder had been seen in DC over the weekend. The guy seemed pretty cocksure about that, but for all we know he could be a flake. But why hasn't Zuckerman or one of the other beat writers tried to track down that rumor and find out if it's true? That's what reporters do, right? Apparently not here.

  78. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    Even if Prince were here, it wouldn't mean anything. Boras is trying to drum up competing bids, because that's his job. Would you really put it past him to send Prince on a short vacation to see the White House, have dinner in Georgetown, make a day of it–just to make it look like the Rizzo is the one blowing smoke about signing him?

  79. The Dude Abides - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:24 PM

    Tcostant…. you're linking a 2 day old Ken Rosenthal report? You've got to do better than that.

  80. natsfan1a - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:24 PM

    Glad you liked it, dfh. :-)

  81. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    Trade for Gio, sign Roy and Prince, donate Lannan and LaRoche for a tax write off, and let the fun begin!

  82. Feel Wood - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Knowing whether or not Fielder was actually here is just a data point, nothing more. But if there's a rumor out there and it's not tracked down, we don't have that data point. In all of this Hot Stove League discussion, data points are all anyone has, up to when a deal is announced. And who should have the most data points in the discussion? Reporters. Why? Because that's their job, and you would hope they would want to be as credible as possible and do their job as well as possible. Except the reporters who cover the Nationals apparently don't.That is my point, which you seem to have missed.

  83. NG - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:32 PM

    erocks33 points out the best reason to sign Oswalt to a one-year deal: it's a perfect opportunity to "game" the new Free Agency system. Here's a summary of the new system: "Starting with the 2012-2013 off-season, the entire Elias-Type A-Type B ranking system has been scrapped. Instead, teams that offer a contract with an annual average value of more than $12.4 million to a free agent from their team will receive a first-round draft pick as compensation if that free agent signs elsewhere. The $12.4 million figure is the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players in the league. That figure will rise yearly as salaries rise. A team that finishes in the bottom 15 in the majors cannot lose a first-round draft pick."Source: http://mlb.sbnation.com/2011/11/22/2576566/mlb-labor-deal-cbaWe would not lose a pick if we signed him, we get exactly the kind of pitcher we need to add to the rotation (and especially lets us give Peacock a year at AAA to see if he can repeat the success he had this year — if so, he immediately slots into the rotation in 2013) and if we offered him a contract next year and he goes elsewhere, we would get a first round pick as compensation.

  84. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    The time is NOW. Seven years is long enough to wait. Zim could be gone in a couple of years–especially if Rizzo is handling the negotiations. I say again–the time is now. That is a no brainer!

  85. Unkyd - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    Lovin' the Loesser, 1A!!!

  86. Steve M. - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    I don't like the idea of going all in on Gio Gonzalez. He's got very good numbers in Oakland. AL numbers usually translate better to the NL. The big issue is Oakland pitchers don't translate well after they leave Oakland. To give up any more than spare parts that could be made available like Detwiler and Lannan and a backup catcher becomes prohibitive to the plan of building from within the Nats system.The Sickels report should be a reason for celebration of all the depth from within the system.With Saunders and Oswalt available along with Beltran, those are the pieces to the puzzle without giving up any Nats players.

  87. Steve M. - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    Sec 3, My Sofa said… Even if Prince were here, it wouldn't mean anything. Boras is trying to drum up competing bids, because that's his job. Would you really put it past him to send Prince on a short vacation to see the White House, have dinner in Georgetown, make a day of it–just to make it look like the Rizzo is the one blowing smoke about signing him? December 21, 2011 11:20 AM Sec3 is spot on. Prince could have been in Washington to see the Nutcracker on a paid vacation from Scott Boras -or- he could have met up with Rizzo/Lerner at Jayson Werth's home.If Prince signs a contract with the Nats, everyone will point to this weekend as the clandestine meeting time.If Boras was trying to stir up the bidding war by giving Prince a trip to DC, he didn't do a good job as no major "rumor" reporter picked up the lead. My theory is Prince was here and was keeping it low-key sort of the same way Boras kept the Jayson Werth meetings secretive. I didn't believe the Nats were a player on Prince Fielder until they didn't get Buehrle. I now believe the Nats are looking at adding offense and Prince is the best player available.If the Nats get Prince Fielder then Adam LaRoche becomes a tradeable piece to teams like the Cubs, A's, Mariners, Orioles, Rangers that need an upgrade at 1st base.

  88. Steve M. - Dec 21, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    Slash Reed Johnson off of our bench list as the Cubs re-signed him.

  89. jcj5y - Dec 21, 2011 at 5:00 PM

    I would love to hear more about the inner-workings of reporting from Mark or someone else, but my strong impression is this: The Nats' writers have excellent sources within the organization, probably much more reliable than what the national writers could come up with. This makes the beat writers better sources for what the Nats are planning/hoping to do (e.g., the local writers were exactly right about the Nats valuing Buerhle; Kilgore was the only one to figure out that the Nats didn't bid on Darvish).The Heymans of the world have better sources in the MLB offices and with the player agents. Because those sources are more likely to leak actual transactions, the Heyman-types are usually the first to break free agent signings, etc. But for the same reasons, they are also more likley to report agent-generated rumors about team interest.That's why I'm looking to Mark and his colleagues/competitors to report on what the Nats are trying to do this winter. Even though when they actually do it, Heyman will probably break the story.Mark, I really would enjoy hearing your perspective on this. It would help us all filter the numerous rumors and reports we hear all year round.

  90. Gonat - Dec 21, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    SteveM, I agree with your theory on Prince Fielder. I think it is for real and probably hinges on less years. Ted Lerner hasn't been scared off by big contracts but he is smart enough to see that Prince's girth is not conducive to a favorable long term deal.

  91. Mark Zuckerman - Dec 21, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    jcj5y: Your observations on the dynamic of local beat writers vs. national writers are quite astute.

  92. Wally - Dec 21, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    I think that 'going for it' should be thought of in terms of a 3-5 year window of opportunity, not a specific year. Too many random events can influence results in a specific year. And I think that the Nats are entering their window period, in terms of controlling core players and the skill of those players, plus I don't think that they should just automatically assume that RZim stays (or that they'll pay what they need to for him to stay).So I have convinced myself that Fielder makes sense, if we can get him for 7 years or less. I generally really dislike these long term deals and feel like they have a <20% chance to work out for a team, but Fielder should be an elite hitter for the next 5 years, at least, and while we may be fine with Morse sliding to 1B in a year, that scenario isn't worth passing on Fielder.Think about this: its mid September at Nats Park, 2-2, bottom of the 8th, 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Doc on the mound, and we have Zim, Prince and Morse coming up (Lonely Boy playing in the background, … I can keep going)

  93. Don - Dec 21, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    There are a lot of names thrown around on these boards with an awful lot of enthusiasm for players that might not work out. The truth is we have two known starters, Zimmermann and Lannan. Strasburg is coming off his injury and likely won't be back to form until somewhere near the all-start break, then shut down in September. Wang looked better during his last few starts, but he is a crapshoot, let's say 50/50 he is able to be effective. We have Detwiller, c’mon everyone, there is a reason he was in the pen. He played better in his later starts, but let’s not kid ourselves, the track record isn’t positive. He always does well for a few starts…Finally, we have Peacock and Milone. AA and AAA pitchers who did well in a handful of starts. That hardly qualifies them as true as MLB pitchers. By my math of these seven we have 2-2.5 sure things (Zim, Lannan and Stras) and a whole lot of wishful thinking. I believe you have to sign Oswalt. Odds are Wang or Detweiler are going to blow up and we will need a proven pitcher to pick up the pieces. He will also be good in a very young rotation to help the long term pieces grow. I don’t like the idea of our rotation hinging on pitchers coming off of major injuries, mixed track records and no MLB experience. And I certainly don’t want to be talking about how great the bullpen has been in picking up the pieces of a blown up starting rotation…again.-Don

  94. Steve M. - Dec 21, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    jcj5y, I think Mark has journalistic integrity and follows very closely to those princples.Ladson will grasp at any straw and bought the Oswalt rumor a month ago hook line & sinker where clearly Buehrle was the target.Kerzel (the new Goessling) seems to work angles and rumors. I think Amanda Comak probably does one of the best jobs getting quotes nobody else does and a couple of key games got her colleague to get quotes from the other team the Nats faced. That is the part I always liked from NYC writers, they get quotes from numerous players and the competing teams players. How great would it be when Stras and JZim pitch a gem to get reaction from the other teams batters.

  95. Wally - Dec 21, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    jcj5y said…I'm opposed to Saunders. If they sign someone, I'd rather it be someone who could really be a #3, or maybe even better. Saunders isn't that.Bless you, jcj5y. For such an intelligent group of posters, I continue to be surprised at the near-unanimous love for Saunders. I don't think he would even be one of the 5 best starters on the roster right now, and I mean in 2012 performance, not potential

  96. Wally - Dec 21, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    Don – I am all for siging Oswalt, but this just isn't supported by any facts: Don said…Strasburg is coming off his injury and likely won't be back to form until somewhere near the all-start break…. Stras put up 1.50 ERA, 1.28 FIP and 12K:1BB in his rehab stretch from TJ surgery. If healthy, he isn't going to need much time to round into form

  97. jcj5y - Dec 21, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    Thanks, Mark. I find the behind-the-scenes aspects of a reporter's job quite interesting. You and all the DC-based journalists do a great job covering the Nats. I have a feeling that you're all going to get a lot more national interest in your work over the next few years.

  98. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    There's nothing wrong with being "in love with your prospects" as long as they are quality and exhibiting a natural progression in their developement.Really important point hidden in this by Natsjack. Sickels ranks 3 players (a 4th if you include Harper) who are "potential" CF's C or above. In fact he ranked Brian Goodwin and Destin Hood B which is extremely high. Eury Perez didn't make it but Michael Taylor did.There is a lot of rationale behind NOT GETTING a CF from outside at this point in time. Particularly given the free agents that will be available next season. At that point the internal CF picture should be a lot clearer.But when it comes to pitching as we've seen … Rizzo is right you can never have enough.

  99. Feel Wood - Dec 21, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    Mark Zuckerman said… jcj5y: Your observations on the dynamic of local beat writers vs. national writers are quite astute.Which says to me that the local beat writers are really nothing more than spokespeople for the Nationals company line, be it the official line from a team source who's willing to go on record or the back-channel line from a source who speaks on background – or perhaps even a rogue or disgruntled employee. And that's a shame, because operating in that manner often does not end up in reporting the truth. No one expects local reporters to have sources all over the map like the national reporters do, but they should still be working sources outside the team when something affects the team, in order to establish the credibility of the team source. For example, Mark, say all of your team sources swear up and down that the team is not in play for Major Free Agent X, so you report that. Then you get a tip that this free agent was seen in DC. Why aren't you calling that free agent's agent and asking for confirmation or denial of that tip? The answer would shed light on whether your team sources are telling you the truth, or are just playing you or feeding you spin. Don't you think doing things like that would increase your own credibility as a reporter?

  100. Steve M. - Dec 21, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    Wally & jcj5y, Saunders has been a 3.85 ERA in the NL. That's a #3 pitcher. He has also averaged over 200 innings per year the last 4 years when you factor in post-season. He is left-handed and dominant on the road where the Nats have been weak. He is also 30 years old and lives in the Washington DC area.Saunders has more upside than Oswalt. For Oswalt we just hope he can give the Nats a full season of 3.69 ERA which is what he had last year. Saunders ERA last year was the SAME at 3.69 and Saunders pitched 212 innings.I would take either Oswalt or Saunders and the edge goes to Saunders as he is left-handed. The real upside on Saunders was his road 3.14 ERA and .230 BA on the road. Saunders is also 30 years old which is a good age to sign him to a short-term deal.

  101. Mark'd - Dec 21, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    SteveM, thank you again for reminding me why the Nats should look to Saunders first. Oswalt's durability and money are 2 main factors that have to be in the equation.

  102. Wally - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:06 PM

    SteveM – I know you like him (and you were one of the guys that I was thinking about, whose posts I almost always agree with except here), but looking beyond ERA, virtually every other stat shows him to be a back end guy, at best, and I think you look to find a back end guy that makes the minimum or close to it. I haven't looked at his NL-only stats (although his best year, by far, was 2008 for LAA), but in his career, he is a 4.16 ERA guy, with 4.50ish FIP/xFIP. In 5 big league season, he reached 2 WAR just 1 time (in 2008).And while I think it makes sense to see if a guy was hurt by his home park to see if his stats are misleading, I think singling out his 2011 road stats, when he has pitched 5 big league seasons and 70% of that time in another home park, is too small a sample size.But even in those 120 innings of 2011 road starts, I think that his ERA was very lucky. He had a 5.10 FIP and 4.58 xFIP in those same starts, and his BABIP was .225 with a whopping 84% Left on Base %. Those are way, way better than his career averages (.289 BABIP and 72% LOB), or even his 2011 averages. He actually walked less and struck out more batters at home (on a rate basis).I don't think that the advanced stats always tell the best story, but I do think that they provide some insight to Saunders in this case. It is clear that you and others don't agree, which is fine, but it is why I think that he is just a guy, definitely not a #3, and I would rather go with any of our young guys at the minimum.

  103. PAY TO PLAY - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    Does anyone know the history of Saunders in Anaheim? I remember that he was an All-Star pitcher then struggled the following year while still having a very good W/L and was named in many trade rumors. The following year he was traded mid-season to Arizona.His numbers got better in Arizona overall but as mentioned his stats at Chase Field were not good. Chase Field is a hitters park especially for RH hitters (not great for LH pitchers). Saunders road record is extremely encouraging and I think he is below the radar as most see a 3.69 ERA and see a middle of the rotation starter.

  104. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    Bazooka Joe for Falls Church eh?Advanced park and defense neutral stats paint a very different picture Steve M. :Joe Saunders: 196.7 xIP, tRA 5.16, pRAA -18.9And you wonder why AZ let him go? Why the whiz kids GM's haven't signed him yet? He is John Lannan. And the Nats already have one. Tommy Milone projects to be a far, far better pitcher. I'll takeTommy Milone and you can have Saunders.Now onto former top ace in baseball Roy Oswalt? Remember, he was injured and had the giant tornado demolishes his small town drama.Roy Oswalt: 146.7 xIP, tRA 3.10, pRAA 19.5Sorry but that **IS** an ace top-of-the-rotation starter no matter how you cut it.John Danks, Gio Gonzalez, David Price … sure … but Saunders no.

  105. jcj5y - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    Number 3 starters don't get non-tendered by their teams, as Saunders did. If you just think Oswalt is injured/done, OK, but there's no reason to believe that Saunders has "more upside" than a healthy Oswalt. I take upside to mean the best reasonably imaginable scenario. For Saunders, it's what he did last year. For Oswalt, it's either what he did in 2010, the last year he was healthy (211 innings, 2.76 ERA, led the league in WHIP), or his career numbers, which far exceed Saunders' best single year.

  106. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    "Why aren't you calling that free agent's agent and asking for confirmation or denial of that tip? The answer would shed light on whether your team sources are telling you the truth, or are just playing you or feeding you spin."Not to speak for Mark, but "asked and answered." In that scenario, the free agent in question being in DC is a celebrity sighting, nothing more. Gossip page stuff.

  107. Unkyd - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    Feel Wood 12:44…. Merry Christmas to you, too…. That's just so sad. As if you have any clue who Mark calls to confirm or deny… Are you tapping his phone, or do you have his Rolodex on your desk. I'm hoping someone has hijacked your handle, because I've not noticed this kind of petty pissiness in your commentary, before this. Agree or disagree, and strenuously, as we all do, but if you're so concerned about Mark's "creditability", there's plenty of other places to follow the team.

  108. gonatsgo - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    It depends on what "going for it" means. Does it mean a good solid over 500 season and threatening for the wild card? That could be , what, 88 games? Well within reach I think. Does it mean getting into the playoffs this year? If you think it means winning the world series then – no, not yet. To me, we continue to progress and each season is better than the one before it – steady progress. If everyone on our roster right now played up to his potential, then we would not need one more thing to be that good. This is becoming do-able, but people ( maybe with the initials JW) need to step up and do the job they are being paid to do.

  109. baseballswami - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    The real "if" factor is health – not controllable and can have a major impact on any team. Just ask the Giants what losing Buster Posey did to them.

  110. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    Michael Bourn – CFEspinosa – SSWerth – LFZimmerman – 3BMorse – 1BHarper – RFRamos – CRendon – 2BToo many right handed hitters and only one left-handed hitter. I don't think Bourne nor that lineup will ever happen not with Brian Goodwin drafted, Destin Hood improving, Perez and Michael Taylor moving up the pipeline.Pitcher

  111. Wally - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    MLBTR: Nationals Pushing Hard For Gio GonzalezBy Ben Nicholson-Smith [December 21 at 11:57am CST]WEDNESDAY, 11:57am: Trying to trade for Gonzalez is the Nationals' top priority, says MLB.com's Bill Ladson. According to Ladson, Brad Peacock and Derek Norris are two of the players the Athletics are looking at in a possible four-for-one deal. Nothing is imminent yet, as the Blue Jays and Red Sox are also "heavily in the mix."

  112. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:26 PM

    If Ladson's the source … and he is the **local** Nats beat reporter for MLB? Where's Mark on that rumor?

  113. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    washingnats #Nats actively pursuing A's ace Gonzalez; A's would like Peacock, Norris; Oswalt is not on radar screen — for now tinyurl.com/7maw4hc #MLBI hope that Oswalt is just on the back burner because they could definitely use both … especially if Peacock is bundled in the trade.

  114. Steve M. - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    Wally, thanks for your thoughts and you definitely are correct overall career picture is Saunders is a #4 pitcher. I use trends up & down which point to a players next step and team he goes to. Switching teams is always risky business due to so many factors. Most players after an off-season move to another team don't do as well the following season. That's "most", some do better. Garza, Werth, Dunn, Crawford are examples of players that did worse. Trend on Saunders I believe he would do better going to a better home pitchers park. I think Prince Fielder will do worse on a move to Chicago Cubs for instance and slightly worse in Washington. I expect Buehrle to have a slightly better year in Miami. I think Gio Gonzalez will do worse on a move to a neutral or hitters park.

  115. Feel Wood - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    Not to speak for Mark, but "asked and answered." In that scenario, the free agent in question being in DC is a celebrity sighting, nothing more. Gossip page stuff.Oh, I see. So if a reporter had confirmed that Ted Lerner, Mike Rizzo and Jayson Werth were all seen in California at the same time in November 2010, that would be just a celebrity sighting? If a reporter sees Theo Epstein in a Chicago Starbucks in October 2011, that's a celebrity sighting, nothing more? Good thing that real reporters gather their data from more than just the company sources, or Richard Nixon might have finished his second term as President, reading the gossip pages and laughing all the way.

  116. Unkyd - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    And then Ladson goes on to assert that Gio would become the Nats Ace… just pencils him in…no "in the mix" stuff. I'm ok with getting Gio, at a reasonsble price, but foes anyone else think he starts, opening day?

  117. Wally - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    Unkyd said… And then Ladson goes on to assert that Gio would become the Nats Ace… just pencils him in…no "in the mix" stuff. I'm ok with getting Gio, at a reasonsble price, but foes anyone else think he starts, opening day?I am with you, Unkyd. No chance unless injuries knock out Stras AND JZimm

  118. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:39 PM

    I'm ok with getting Gio, at a reasonsble price, but foes anyone else think he starts, opening day?Opening day? Likely not. Know anyone else on the staff his age that has pitched 200 innings? Unless they also sign Oswalt (which they should make every effort to do if Peacock is included in the trade) there's your ace until Stras finishes the recovery protocol and/or Zimmermann reaches his full potential.

  119. blovy8 - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    No, this is the problem with Ladson. You end up having to filter out some of his weird opinions to get any substance.

  120. Nats fan in NJ - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    Ok, maybe I'm totally off my rocker, but what if we go get Gonzalez, sign Oswalt for a 1-year, $10M contract AND sign Fielder…I'd hate to pay the price we'd need to for Gio, but think that if all 3 of those were to happen, I'd be ok with it.I'll put down the crack pipe now…

  121. Unkyd - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:45 PM

    NJ: get one of the pitchers, and get Beltran and Fielder, and I'm happy!!!

  122. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    I'll put down the crack pipe now…If all three happened? One could say that expectations would be very high throughout baseball for the Nats. Especially if Harper makes the starting lineup as well. But there's still the Phillies, Braves and Marlins to contend with. The Marlins do have a very young and talented club. The Braves aren't as young but they are good. And the Phillies are oldest but right now the best. The NL East would be on National TV a lot I imagine?

  123. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    Here it is THE BIG Move!!!#Nationals have claimed 3B Carlos Rivero off waivers from PHI. The 40-man roster is currently at 37.How come you're not reporting it Mark? ;) ;) ;)

  124. blovy8 - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    NJ, if the Nats feel like the revenue stream will support it, they could be a 100-120 million budget team and do that. Some guys will even be more likely to re-sign if they push the plan forward a year and pony up, and become more visible playoff contenders. The thing is, even if they give up four guys in this potential deal, they'll still have some really good prospects left. I'm just not sold on a guy who walks so many batters. I know it's better to have a guy who's performed well in the majors for a couple of years, but that wild approach just is an ulcer waiting to happen.

  125. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    Carlos Rivero AA shortstop (are they trading Desmond?)wOBA .346, bRAA 1.7, 2.1 WAR in AA ball.

  126. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:56 PM

    No, Gio would be the Ace if he's acquired. Stras is on the innings limit and they want to protect him from the mantle being on him to carry the clb and JZim is not an Ace at all at this point in his career, much less compared to both of these other guys. They'd sell out Opening Day — and not to Phillies fans — and then sell out day 2 with Stras.dfh21

  127. blovy8 - Dec 21, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    Oakland has Pennington already who's pretty much Desmond.

  128. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:02 PM

    Rivero is 6'3". 38 doubles and 16 homers in AA/AAA in 2011. Sounds like another Michael Morse with a far lower BA and bRAA.

  129. blovy8 - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    I think J Zimm would get the nod opening day before Gio if you're trying to milk the Stras attendance angle in that case given how he carried the staff last year.

  130. Unkyd - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    Yeah……. Oswalt, Beltran, and Fielder…all FAs, ENORMOUS shot in the arm, offensively, quality depth in the OF (particularly with Beltran to DH, next year!), and solid help fir the rotation, still leaving opportunities for the Baby Hurlers to show their stuff…. Could we make a better hail than this? It keeps our powder dry, and all our chips are still in the bank… Show of hands, before I call Rizzo's office?

  131. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    NJ, if the Nats feel like the revenue stream will support it, they could be a 100-120 million budget team and do that.They can't go that high because Angelos owns the media. Unlike other teams they have far less control of that aspect of the revenue stream. They only receive 30%. Angelos still has a noose around DC's neck. People really should be blaming him and not Ted Lerner. And according to Mark the Nats can no longer get the shared revenue for having one of the lowest payrolls. That changed with the new CBC. So, they have no choice but to WIN to put fannies in the seats and to get revenue from nationally broadcast games while attempting to market MASN as much as possible to eke out what they can from that 30%.

  132. blovy8 - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:16 PM

    I don't buy into that kool-aid – they can afford 100 million. This isn't Pittsburgh or KC, even with the short end of the cable deal.

  133. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:20 PM

    Gio Gonzalez has put together 2 good years in Oakland. Oakland! Big deal. If he did those 2 years in Philadelphia, Atlanta, LA then we would be more excited. The hype machine is starting, rev your engines. I would be more excited about getting Oswalt than Gio Gonzalez.

  134. Steve M. - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    blovy8 said… I think J Zimm would get the nod opening day before Gio if you're trying to milk the Stras attendance angle in that case given how he carried the staff last year. December 21, 2011 2:03 PM Totally agree except the Nats start on the road so it may not line up perfectly and you may get Wang or Lannan starting Opening Day in Washington. Kind of putting the cart before the horse a little anyway.

  135. blovy8 - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    Wonder why we weren't in on Reed Johnson, he can fake center, right?

  136. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    Totally agree except the Nats start on the road so it may not line up perfectly and you may get Wang or Lannan starting Opening Day in WashingtonYeah. Remember 2009 when the Nats opened on the road and we got Daniel Cabrera pitching the home opener? Good times.

  137. lesatcsc - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    Why Rivero? Do we have no one to play 3B at Syracuse? Hard to fathom why they filled up a spot on the 40-man with this guy. After 6 years and 2450 ABs in the minors, he's a career .258 hitter. He has a grand total of 27 ABs at the AAA level and a .185 BA. I guess this lumps him in with all those other minor moves that have more to do with filling rosters in the minor leagues than anything that will ever effect the Nats.Only 4 days left until Christmas and the Nats stocking is still empty…

  138. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    Getting Gonzalez would be huge. Cole Hamels is going to get well north of $20M/yr for many years in 2013; having a comparable guy year to year at a lot less money gives the Nats a chance to compete for a while. Stras and Gio would be a very nice and very inexpensive, all things considered, 1-2. dfh21

  139. blovy8 - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    Ugh, just the fact that at least ten Nats pitchers would have to get hurt to stick someone on the mound as bad as Cabrera is reason to be happier.

  140. MicheleS - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:39 PM

    1A.. that was a masterpiece!!!!And for those of you wondering about the opening day starter. Davey was on the Radio and said unless there is a blizzard in chicago, it's Stras

  141. Nattydread - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:44 PM

    Very interesting discussion today on whether or not the Nats are in on Fielder.Rizzo was clear that he wanted a CF and #3 pitcher. He hasn't been overly successful. We missed our big pitcher opportunity and this year there aren't many CFs around at all.Just Fielder who would completely change the offensive situation. No more small ball needed.Mark — I'm a huge fan. But in the case of the Nats FO, aren't there some things that just aren't leaked, even to you. I would guess that, if he is after Fielder, Rizzo is playing coy.When lemons are all that's available, smart juicers make lemonade. And Boras is waiting to sell them lemons!Guess we'll know in a few weeks.

  142. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:44 PM

    And for those of you wondering about the opening day starter. Davey was on the Radio and said unless there is a blizzard in chicago, it's StrasBut with Gio a 200 ip top-of-the-rotation pitcher Stras would still be #3 until next year. He has an innings and pitch count limitation this year. That's would be #3 for now.

  143. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:50 PM

    I have noticed that Mark is extremely up front about some things but extremely quiet about others. I think he's protecting his access. I'm quite certain that Mark knows quite a bit more than he can allow himself to put in print. On the MASN front, yes, this is ENTIRELY on Peter Angelos, and he should be the target of your ire. What we need is someone with big pockets (Comcast Sports Net? Fox?) to come in and buy out the Nationals position. There is no reason on earth that the Nats should have to share their television revenues with the Orioles, who haven't put a good product on the field in a decade.

  144. blovy8 - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:51 PM

    Stras is a #1, Gio is not a top 10 pitcher like him. 200 innings will mean something in September, but not in April. The best guy goes first unless it's a seniority/respect thing.

  145. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:51 PM

    Why Rivero? Do we have no one to play 3B at Syracuse? Hard to fathom why they filled up a spot on the 40-man with this guy. They lost Antonelli. Lombardozzi could play third but he would mostly likely be at shortstop with long-time farm hand Seth Bynum at 2nd. So in point-of-fact SYRACUSE DOES need an infielder or two.The guy is still young at 23. He hit 18 homers and 38 doubles last year between AA and AAA. That was a huge leap from his previous performances at the lower levels. Its a gamble by the Nats.

  146. Feel Wood - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    But with Gio a 200 ip top-of-the-rotation pitcher Stras would still be #3 until next year. He has an innings and pitch count limitation this year. That's would be #3 for now.It's a rotation, not a depth chart. Doesn't really matter what order they put them in, they all have to pitch their games and try to win. Likewise, who gets called the "ace" matters not a whit. It matters even less than who gets to be the Captain of those teams that even have a captain. No pitcher is going to get to wear the "A" for "Ace" on his jersey.Bottom line, they need five (or preferably more) good starting pitchers, and it's the sum total of the goodness they get out of those guys that matters. Not who gets designated #1, #2, etc.

  147. blovy8 - Dec 21, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    Yeah, I think that deal is ripe for renegotiation, but there was a time when the guaranteed payment was looking pretty good given the Nats' ratings. If the team is better and the ratings go up, the revenues should for both clubs anyway, if the ad time, etc. can be sold for more. The Nats could also reopen naming rights for the park if they were in danger of not turning a profit. Who cares what the place is called? I know the new CBA screws them pretty badly, but if you're going to be considered a top half market, you better figure out how to get revenue to reflect that and be able to spend accordingly. The product has to get better on the field to be able to sell it, that's getting closer to happening, at least.

  148. Gonat - Dec 21, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    Nattydread, its that old saying about Want & Need. The Nats needed to get a few players they didn't get. Now they see they have done nothing and Fielder is still available. Rizzo has to explore it. Still a long shot.

  149. Gonat - Dec 21, 2011 at 8:05 PM

    Feel Wood said… It's a rotation, not a depth chart. Doesn't really matter what order they put them in, they all have to pitch their games and try to win. Likewise, who gets called the "ace" matters not a whit. It matters even less than who gets to be the Captain of those teams that even have a captain. No pitcher is going to get to wear the "A" for "Ace" on his jersey.December 21, 2011 2:55 PM__________________________________Post of the day to Feel Wood for this gem. I am still laughing about the "A" as I think about some book I had to read about a Scarlet A.

  150. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    Bottom line, they need five (or preferably more) good starting pitchers, and it's the sum total of the goodness they get out of those guys that matters. Not who gets designated #1, #2, etc.Actually, dude, it does. Guys at the front-end usually pitch more innings than the guys toward the rear. Those are the guys who normally get skipped for off days, rain etc. They aren't expected to go deep into games. The bullpen picks them up. Strasburg needs those off days and skips this year. And certainly the Nats will use them to their advantage where he is concerned …Now, as to needing more pitchers. The Nats have had a revolving door of pitchers up and down the rotation. I guess its what you're used to. This will be the first year where they didn't have to rely on Livan Hernandez to anchor a rotation with a bevy of fresh from the minors pitchers. Many of whom are now gone from the organization. They need stability at the top of the rotation to win. Period.

  151. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    Gonat — Feel Wood's post would be great, if it were true. It really does matter who starts the most. The order is a big deal. The sum total they get from the group is not what matters, it is what they get and can bank on getting from a guy every 5th day. They don't take the average value of the starting pitchers for a club and award the wins and losses. And it is at least arguable that you'd prefer a couple of real studs at the top over 5 average guys.dfh21

  152. Feel Wood - Dec 21, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    dfh21, if they have two studs at the top of the rotation, they are (according to you) guaranteed two wins every five days. That's a .400 record, which is good for last place. As I said, that's not what matters, and nor does it matter what order you put the pitchers in the rotation. What matters is that you have a rotation that's strong from stem to stern. Doesn't have to be equally strong from one man to the next, it needs to be strong overall. The sum total needs to be strength. A rotation of five John Lannans is better than Spahn and Sain and pray for rain. In the regular season anyway. Postseason is a different story, of course.

  153. natsfan1a - Dec 21, 2011 at 9:16 PM

    Thanks, Unk and Michele.In other news, imo Anon@2:50 makes a good point about protecting access. No doubt there's a balancing act involved for all beat writers, and I think Mark does a great job.

  154. Don - Dec 21, 2011 at 9:16 PM

    Wally Said:Don – I am all for siging Oswalt, but this just isn't supported by any facts: Don said…Strasburg is coming off his injury and likely won't be back to form until somewhere near the all-start break…. If I remember right pitchers coming back from TJ surgery get their velocity back first and their control about 9 months later. 9 months will be right around the AS break. Remember Zimnn, he had a few amazing outings at the end of 2010, but didn't look great until the around 1/2 way through the 2011 season.Maybe Strasburg won't have these problems, but I wouldn't count on it. If he comes back at near 100% I think he will be the outlier. On top of that he is still shutdown in September. I wouldn't change my 2-2.5 starting pitchers comment, I believe it is still valid based on the surgery he is coming back from.Even if we say Stras is 100% on opening day my other points still stand. We need some vets in the rotation.-Don

  155. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 9:17 PM

    Feel Wood — like I said, it is arguable whether you'd want 2 studs and some also rans over a bunch of average guys. What is really not up for debate is that the order of the rotation, who gets the most starts and the seocnd and third most, etc., matters a ton. The stern is not as important as the stem. The front does most of the work in the rotation, it needs to be better than the back, which has less opportunity.dfh21

  156. Mark'd - Dec 21, 2011 at 9:18 PM

    I only disagree that you want to spread out your lefty pitchers to 2 and 5 or 3 and 5 so you try to get a LH into each series.

  157. Steveospeak - Dec 21, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    I would def. sign Oswalt for a year, rather than trade Peacock/Norris/etc. for Gio Gonzalez. I like Gio, but that is pretty pricey for a guy who isn't even making league minimum. The FA market is pretty deep next year, and there should be plenty of options. And if Oswalt can help the Nats get closer (say 85+ wins), it could help look favorably for perspective free agents.I also wouldn't trade Peacock for anything but an absolute stud (i.e. part of a McCutchen deal). He's gained to much prospect value these last two years, that next season he could be either ready for your rotation, or some other team is offering to trade a Gio Gonzalez type plus additional players for Peacock.

  158. Anonymous - Dec 21, 2011 at 10:02 PM

    Thanks natsfan1a. Heck, if I had known I'd get a positive response, I would have signed my name!As for Gio, what IS he making? If he's not that expensive (in terms of salary) it can up our rotation while still leaving us room to add some bats. I like it! I think. I'm on the fence. -SRANF(Semi-regular Anonymous Nats Fan)

  159. Feel Wood - Dec 21, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    dfh21, there are 162 games in a year. If you have five starters who manage to last all season, they will start 33, 33, 32, 32 and 32 games each. Perhaps a rainout or an off day allows a start to be skipped, so one or two of them gain a start and someone else loses one. Still, you have roughly 30 starts apiece for each guy. Order does not matter!

  160. DL in VA - Dec 21, 2011 at 11:33 PM

    This is an argument that can be quantified:2011 Nats "Rotation":Lannan – 33Livo -29 (Opening Day Starter)Zimmermann – 26 (innings limited)Marquis – 20 (traded)Wang – 11 (return from injury)Gorzo – 15 Detwiler – 10Others – 17Let's compare to 2010 "Rotation"Livo – 33Lannan – 25 (Opening Day Starter)Stammen – :::35:::Atilano – 16Olson – 17Marquis – 13Strasburg – 12Miss Iowa – 1Others – 28So, no, a five man rotation does not result in anywhere near an even split amongst the starters. For one, the Nats use lots of starters. Secondly, I don't think anyone is going to realistically say that Craig Stammen was the Nats #1 in 2010, yet he had the most starts. There are lots of factors that come into play. That's why I put "rotation" in quotes.

  161. lesatcsc - Dec 21, 2011 at 11:56 PM

    Feel Wood:It's an interesting premise so I decided to see if statistically it held up. Acknowledging that there are a lot of ways to approach the 30 starts per guy question, and while interesting, it's not so interesting that I was willing to spend hours looking into it, here's what I found.No team in MLB had 5 SPs with 30 or more starts. (Tex came closest with 4 at 30 + and 1 at 29)2 Teams had 4 SPs with 30 + (Det was the other, their 5th starter had 19)8 teams had 3 SPs with 30 + starts. The rest had 2 or 1 (Nats for eg)So, in no case did a team start 5 guys 30 times each , and only 1/3 of teams managed to get 30 + starts out of as many as 3 SPs. Interestingly neither of the teams that started the same 4 guys 30 or more times landed in the top 10 in pitching based on ERA (Tex was 13th and Det 18th), although the top 2 teams had 3 SPs that started 30 or more times and SF had a 4th SP that started 28. Take what you will from this. While I think you're right, having 5 guys that can all start 30+ games is ideal, in practice not one of the thirty teams managed it. When I looked at most teams there was a significant drop off in starts between the 3rd SP and the 4th SP and a huge drop between 3rd and 5th.

  162. Feel Wood - Dec 22, 2011 at 12:32 AM

    Take what you will from this. While I think you're right, having 5 guys that can all start 30+ games is ideal, in practice not one of the thirty teams managed it.Of course not. Injuries, unexpected suckage, innings limits and other sh*t happens to even the best-laid rotation plans. Which is why I said above that you really need more than five guys. But there are still only five slots in the rotation, and you can't order them #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5 and claim that the order matters at all. You need quality in all five slots, even if some slots are filled by only one guy and others are filled by more than one over the course of a season. All of this talk of "who's the ace" and "Lannan is only a #5 starter not a #3" is all just so much BS.

  163. Harper_ROY_2012 - Dec 22, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    You should go for it every year! This happy loser image this franchise has had in its previous and current incarnation needs to change!

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 58 48 --
ATLANTA 58 51 1.5
MIAMI 53 55 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.0
PHILADELPHIA 48 61 11.5
Through Thursday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 12:35 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.

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