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Rizzo on CF, 1B and what’s left to do

Dec 24, 2011, 3:00 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Mike Rizzo gave another endorsement for Adam LaRoche as his first baseman in 2012.

Last night's teleconference offered us beat writers a chance to ask Mike Rizzo about all angles of the Gio Gonzalez trade, but a few other topics were brought up and are worth sharing.

So consider this your last-minute Christmas gift: "Rizzo Unplugged"…

Q: Are you still pursuing a center fielder?
Rizzo: "We're always looking to improve our ballclub. We feel if the right fit for a center fielder — a long-term center fielder — came to us, we would certainly be aggressive and go after it, either via the free agency market or the trade market. We certainly haven't gotten off that. We still feel that's a need for us. We do feel we have in-house candidates for us right now that can fill that position very effectively, being Jayson Werth could move to center field and then we would open up a bigger pool of candidates for a corner outfield position. We feel that position hasn't really changed this offseason so far. Like I said, we're still looking for a long-term, permanent fit for us and we just haven't found that yet. We're still attacking all avenues to try to get one."

Q: What's at the top of your offseason checklist now?
Rizzo: "We'd like to do some subtle things. We'd like to improve ourRead more »

  1. natsfan1a - Dec 24, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    Geez, how typical for a guy, to wait 'til the last minute to shop. Kidding, it's just what I always wanted. How did you know? Happy holidays to you, Mrs. Z., and little Brian! :-)So consider this your last-minute Christmas gift: "Rizzo Unplugged"…

  2. ehay2k - Dec 24, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    Thanks Mark. As for "Rizzo Unplugged", it goes well with the picture. It's good to see a guy who's not afraid to go bald naturally.

  3. Feel Wood - Dec 24, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    "I think we're going to be looking at all aspects, and if something big that's acquirable is something that helps our ballclub and fits for us in the long-term, we'll certainly look into something like that."There's a guy named Fielder out there who fits this description to a T. So why is it that Mark Zuckerman thinks there's no way they're in on him?

  4. Just sayin' - Dec 24, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Rizzo: "We feel if the right fit for a center fielder — a long-term center fielder — came to us, we would certainly be aggressive and go after it, either via the free agency market or the trade market. We certainly haven't gotten off that. We still feel that's a need for us."Interpretation: We're not going after someone like Coco Crisp or Juan Pierre; they're not the 'right fit' and they're certainly not 'long-term' answers. The only other potential CF in the free agent market is Cespedes, Once he gets residency in the DR and the bidding starts, we'll decide whether to pursue him. We're also open to a trade for long-term center fielder. I'm not saying it will happen, but if the Yankees sign Cespedes, we'll inquire as to whether that put Gardner on the market. Ditto with whomever signs him. And, of course, if someone offers a good deal we've still got to find a solution for the Lannan-Detwiller problem. We can't very well keep both of them in the rotation, but they're too valuable as SPs to put into the bullpen. Lannan may help get us a long-term CF — along with another prospect or two.*************************************************Rizzo (in answer to the LaRoche question): "That is correct."Interpretation: At this moment, if you look at our depth chart, Adam LaRoche is our first baseman. You didn't ask whether we're discussing the Fielder option and I'm certainly not going to volunteer that information.

  5. oldguyjim waiting for Santa - Dec 24, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    Happy holidays to you Mark, Mrs. Z and Brian. This season is a time for reflection and optimism not only for all us Nats folks but the whole world. Enjoy the time with family and we can all tune on the Nats on Monday.

  6. sjm308 - Dec 24, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    So now people can stop talking about Juan Pierre and others as stop gap moves. Rizzo has made it clear, we are either going after the Upton/Bourn types or moving Werth (which actually would be a stop gap move). Nice to hear clear concise answers to the questions. That does not preclude him from going after Prince but he let us know who the first baseman is right now. I also think the wishful thinking of many on here about Desmond being moved was taken care of as well. I am still a fan of his and think this is an important year for him to prove he belongs. I will start to buy all the eggs in my area to prevent dfh from doing something rash.Finally, I wonder if Riggles and Rizzo ever put their heads together like he says he and Davey will concerning the bench. I love that they work in tandem and I am betting Davey has a huge say in most moves that are made. Probably not the draft but every place else.

  7. Mick - Dec 24, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    Me now thinks big boy is coming to Washington. Not sure if they will go for a CF and Nats may trust Desmond to now fill the leadoff role 1 more year.

  8. Mick - Dec 24, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    this is exciting stuff gang

  9. NatsLady - Dec 24, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    Apparently the only serious competition for Prince F is the Mariners… (How come they always have money?)

  10. #4 - Dec 24, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    I am pleased with the direction that Nats are going with the recent trade. I'm also less concerned than some about finding a prototypical lead off hitter . What does concern me a great deal though is going into the season with Jayson Werth as the CF. One of the glaring defensive weaknesses over the first few years in DC was the number horrible CF miscues that lead to soul-killing rallies by our opponents. I'm not just talking about dropped fly balls, but more about doubles and triples that an above average CF gets to. I found Werth's play in RF to be average at best. I believe he will be a much below average CF – something that will really cost the Nats. It will have both tangible and intangible impacts on the team, including making the pitchers less aggressive.

  11. Mick - Dec 24, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    As Tiny Tim said so many years ago, "God Bless us, everyone" Happy Holidays to all! BTW: Alistar Simms was the best Scrooge ever, his redemption is fills ones heart.

  12. Gonat - Dec 24, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    No way does Rizzo tip his hand on Prince. Strange that he said "long-term" on a CF then why has he been "in" on BJ Upton who is "short-term" unless an extension was simultaneously included.Happy Holidays to you Mark and your family and everyone here!

  13. Sunderland - Dec 24, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Great Rizzo picture. That was apparently taken while he watched Mark Lerner stumblin' and bumblin' in the outfield.

  14. NatsLady - Dec 24, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    #4, I too would be worried about Werth as the regular CF. Ankiel said he did "thousands of reps" to learn the CF routes (and he still took a few strange ones). Jayson's a hard, hard, worker but he's not as young as he used to be. He'll learn the routes and he has a good arm. It's too bad Ankiel is set on starting. The Nats should sign him so Werth can rest his knees. If Ankiel could improve his bat, he could start. I mean, why not?

  15. Wally - Dec 24, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    NatsLady said…Apparently the only serious competition for Prince F is the Mariners… (How come they always have money?)I am not sure they do. They just reported a loss of about $7m last year, and revenues have been trending down for the last couple of years. Blue Jays also are strongly implying they are out of it, Cubs look to be rebuilding and the Rangers are probably out due to the $120mish Darvish cost. There really isn't a clear home for him, which is one of the reasons why we keep being rumored to him.It would be incredible good fortune if he fell into our laps, like Dunn did. If the lack of market gets him to us for 5 years, that might be the final stroke of luck to put us on top (I am thinking of the end of the 2008 season playing out so that we 'make up' a few games on the Mariners to get Stras, and then Bryce being the number 1 guy the next year).Or, we could just trade to Werth to NYY for Texiera, and let the Yanks sign Prince. I know, fat chance. But if George was still alive, it would be exactly the kind of move he'd love.

  16. natsfan1a - Dec 24, 2011 at 4:02 PM

    Maybe it was after he read some of the armchair GM comments on here the day of the Gio trade. :-)Sunderland said… Great Rizzo picture. That was apparently taken while he watched Mark Lerner stumblin' and bumblin' in the outfield. December 24, 2011 10:42 AM

  17. Wally - Dec 24, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    Here are some bench options I'd like to see us consider:OF – Cody Ross, Andruw Jones, Fukudome, Ludwick, Luke Scott (hard to know what skills other than a bat we need, with the last OF spot undetermined).MI – Keppinger, Theriot, Ronny Ceceno, maybe O-CabCorner IF – Wilson Betemit, Eric Chavez, Dobbs, brad HawpeLots of these guys are probably holding out for starting jobs, but they aren't all going to get it. Cody Ross seems the most versatile, and I would throw a 2/$10m deal at him without any guaranteed spot, and see if he bites.

  18. Tim - Dec 24, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    We don't have a "Lannan-Detwiler problem". Lannan is the 4th/5th starter and Det is the long man… just like he was during last season before he started. When Stras hits his innings limit, Det will step in. We NEED a 6th starter (and probably a 7th) in case of injuries.For the ____nth time, let's groom Harper for CF. He is a natural. He's very similar to Josh Hamilton. I'd love to see that be the plan until Goodwin, et al are ready. Werth is over 30 and that'll be hard on his knees and legs.Happy Holidays Mark!BTW – that was a VERY short conversation with Rizzo.

  19. MicheleS - Dec 24, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    Mark.. any comment on the contract extension for RZim?Happy Holidays Everyone!

  20. Steady Eddie - Dec 24, 2011 at 4:43 PM

    Wally said: "… Bench options I'd like us to consider…. Ludwick…"Yes! More Ryans!

  21. Gonat - Dec 24, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    MicheleS said… Mark.. any comment on the contract extension for RZim?Happy Holidays Everyone! December 24, 2011 11:16 AM ___________________________________You look at what Jeter and JRollins went through to stay with their teams and the vitriol spewed with Pujols. Much better to do what Tulo and Braun did.This is a Troy Tulowitzki type of deal. Just do it!I also believe in a "Just Build It & They Will Come" scenario with the Nats. The Nats are a Prince & a Frog away from the post-season. The Prince is Prince Fielder and the Frog is turning the tide on injuries of years past.If you "Build it" which is a winner, the bandwagon fans will swarm on Nats Park. Not only do gate sales go up but then the Nats can hit their grand slam which is "Naming Rights" to the stadium of probably $10 million per year. The combination of both will pay for Prince Fielder's salary—-but—-you have to build it before they come!

  22. Gonat - Dec 24, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    @washingnats William Ladson: "#Nats rotation prediction: Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmermann, Wang and Detwiler. The Nats feel Detwiler is ready."Uh, where is John Lannan?

  23. BinM - Dec 24, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    First of all to family Zuckerman – Good Holiday! For the restofus: A higher OBP batter is needed at the top of the lineup. Whether it's in CF, at SS or 2B, it's needed desperately. I just worked through the top-5 hitters for for the Nats & Brewers, and no wonder Prince has looked so 'sexy'. MIL averaged roughly .365OBP in front of Fielder last year (Morgan / Hart / Weeks / Braun). Meanwhile, the Nats averaged .324OPB in front of Morse (Desmond / Werth / Ankiel / Zimmerman / Hairston); That's a runner on base a game to the better for Fielder & MIL. Wonder what the LOB difference was between Fielder & Morse last year?

  24. BinM - Dec 24, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    GoNat: The Prince may in fact be just a frog, after all. He was a member of an Offense-first team, and benefitted from a high-OBP in front of him in a 'hitters' park, driving up his perceived value. He's also repped by Bora$, who has set a high bar (10yrs, $25M per) for signing. Other teams have seen through the smoke-and-mirrors so far (including Rizzo & the Nationals), so why cave in now?

  25. Just sayin' - Dec 24, 2011 at 5:59 PM

    Tim said…We don't have a "Lannan-Detwiler problem". Lannan is the 4th/5th starter and Det is the long man…*****************************************************Tim – I probably should have written 'opportunity' instead of 'problem' in my earlier post. And I agree with you that the Nats need to be ready for (a) injuries, (b) ineffectiveness by one or another SP, (c) spot starts on double-header days and such, and (d) Strasburg's eventual shut-down around the end of August. But the reality is that the Nats have three left-handed starting pitchers and only room for two in their rotation (and, of course, Gio will be one of those). Given the number of teams still seeking SPs — and the inherent value of lefties — it would be a waste to stow one of them in the bullpen. The Nats willingness to trade Peacock, Milone, and Cole suggests they are comfortable enough with their current options (a mix of folks at various levels in their development) for the fill-in/spot-start role and that they'll bring one or more of their remaining prospects up as a fifth starter when Strasburg gets shut down and rosters expand. So use whatever value Lannan or Detwiler has before the 2012 season starts to acquire another OF bat. Although I take all Twitter postings with a large grain of salt, my guess is they work Lannan into a trade, perhaps packaging him with a middle infielder or an OF prospect (or both). In an ideal world (from the Nats' perspective), if a team like the Red Sox signs Cespedes, you seek Josh Riddick. Or Gardner, if the Yanks sign Cespedes — although that is more in the fantasy realm, I acknowledge. One potentially telling point that would be quite interesting to know — but we never will — is whether the Nats tried to include Detwiler in the Gio trade and the A's didn't want him, or whether the Nats insisted on holding onto to him because they really see him as a 2012 starter.

  26. BinM - Dec 24, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Gonat@ 12:23 – Ladson is a writer, not a GM; He's looking for a new storyline. IIRC, he was fairly supportive of Lannan in the past, but could now be seeking a new 'muse'.

  27. Unkyd - Dec 24, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    Mick said…As Tiny Tim said so many years ago, "God Bless us, everyone" Happy Holidays to all! BTW: Alistar Simms was the best Scrooge ever, his redemption is fills ones heart.December 24, 2011 10:37 AM——————-I'll echo both TT's sentiments, and the Sims nomination… Always have preferred that iteration to all others…Merry Christmas, to all!

  28. Gonat - Dec 24, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    BinM said… Gonat@ 12:23 – Ladson is a writer, not a GM; He's looking for a new storyline. IIRC, he was fairly supportive of Lannan in the past, but could now be seeking a new 'muse'. December 24, 2011 1:13 PM _______________________________I agree with you. Still wouldn't be surprised to see Lannan traded for the right deal. Any good 4 for 1 deals out there?

  29. Anonymous - Dec 24, 2011 at 6:55 PM

    Ladson out today saying Nats might trade Lannan and move Detwiler to the 5th starter slot. I wonder how much Lannan would bring in a trade. They could throw in Lombardozzi too. This teams desperately needs more offense than they had last year. Maybe Laroche will help but he's a very slow starter every year.

  30. Anonymous - Dec 24, 2011 at 7:02 PM

    Fielder is screwed because the Red Sox and Yankees aren't in the bidding. 10 years at $25 million per season is pure greed. Prince will be lucky if that fat body holds up for five years.

  31. Jim Kurtzke - Dec 24, 2011 at 7:13 PM

    Boy, there is something disturbingly Kastenesque about Rizzo. Lots of words that basically say nothing, combined with a dose of arrogance. Let's hope the results of his personnel moves back it all up. But I don't want to go through the holiday season on a down note. Happy holidays to everyone. And thanks to God for letting us see 2012.

  32. Anonymous - Dec 24, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    Finally, I wonder if Riggles and Rizzo ever put their heads together like he says he and Davey will concerning the bench.He did. Where do you think Ankiel, Cora, Hairston, in other words the defense and utility first over offense came from? Remember the commercial "some people call it small ball I call it smart ball?"; last year's team was built along those lines. Similarly Riggleman selected Broderick, Gaudin, and Coffey going with veterans over youth as per usual. Livo makes the rotation because of the 2010 return of the magnificent seven performance … again though Riggleman. Pudge : Riggleman. IN the end I believe Johnson is the better choice for managing the team at the major league level NOT because he is better at managing a game than Riggleman, (although there were often questions because Riggleman was so oriented toward defense as opposed to offense), but because he has a VERY STONG interest and inclination toward developing young prospects and finishing their education in the major leagues. He enjoys trying to fold them into the major league roster … trying them to see where they fit. Riggleman almost completely the opposite preferring to see veterans finish the season in September so that they would be willing to return to the team the following year. He did not want to lose them. If Riggleman were still in charge the recent trade likely would not have been made. Johnson showcased the players involved in the trade in September. On the other hand losing a player like Laynce Nix perhaps even Jerry Hairston may have hurt the Nats. And they did not lose him because of money. IMO Nats FO wanted to portray Rizzo as totally and completely in charge of creating the roster because that tone needed to be set. He finally was given the reigns from both Bowden and Kasten. Yet, as we have seen this year ownership still tends to still hold back some while asking for differing opinions. It seems likely that this will continue until real success is achieved.

  33. Anonymous - Dec 24, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    "reigns" = reins. Sorry BinM … ~smiles~

  34. Anonymous - Dec 24, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    Prince will be lucky if that fat body holds up for five years.The guy's physicality is costing him millions. Perhaps, like Dunn, he should go for a 2 year with the team of his choice. Lose the weight, change the lifestyle, pay a top-notch physical trainer that will whip him into superior shape. Then go for the 6 or seven year after 2 years.

  35. Tim - Dec 24, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    I doubt they are really looking to move Lannan given the lack of depth in AAA. There is no log jam at the back end of the rotation. They will most get starts from Stras, JZimm, Gio, Wang, Lannan, Detwiler, Stammen, Gozelanny, etc… This season.

  36. natsfan1a - Dec 24, 2011 at 8:10 PM

    Kinda nice fan pic/story re. Gio.

  37. whatsanattau - Dec 24, 2011 at 8:15 PM

    I like Lannan but would not be surprised if either he or Detwiler are traded this winter. We know they want at least two lefties, but if they move one of them they still have a number of backend guys to chose from off the free agent pile (including Livo). If either Lannan or Detwiler can help bring a centerfielder, they could simply back fill the extra starter. Merry Christmas.

  38. Big Cat - Dec 24, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    My interpretation of Rizzo is that barring a complete Harper meltdown in spring training, Werth is moving to center and The Kid is coming North with the big club. Also, his statement about the normal maturation of Ramos, Desi and Espy are right on the money. These 3 guys are the key for "is this team gonna compete?" So while it looks like Riz isn't doing much, he will be adding The Kid and Laroche to the lineup. To top that off, he has already added an all star left handed pitcher in his prime to an already very good rotation. Good job Riz……how many days till Spring?

  39. Dan - Dec 24, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    I don't know what the Red Sox would think of Morse as the masher in the middle of their lineup and whether they could be convinced to trade Ellsbury, but from a Nats perspective a Morse+ offer to the Red Sox for Ellsbury could solve some long-term problems. Werth could stay in his natural position; Harper in left; Rendon could compete for second or replace Zimmerman if he could not be re-signed; and first base would be left as the only opening.

  40. SonnyG10 - Dec 24, 2011 at 8:33 PM

    Happy Hollidays to Mark Z and family and to the rest of you Nats Insiders!

  41. Anonymous - Dec 24, 2011 at 9:06 PM

    I don't know what the Red Sox would think of Morse as the masher in the middle of their lineup and whether they could be convinced to trade Ellsbury, but from a Nats perspective a Morse+ offer to the Red Sox for Ellsbury could solve some long-term problems.Never happen. Then Nat technically have the guy who Ellsbury replaced on their roster in Mike Cameron. Morse for Ellsbury? You're kidding.They are all going to want what the Nats traded to the A's. AJ Cole, Peacock, Norris, Milone … what part of that doesn't anyone understand? The Nats aren't going to trade Morse … his value is far higher to the Nats than to another team at this point. He is the only true close-to-elite power hitter in their lineup. There is no other. He was their offense in 2011. Without Morse the offense wouldn't have barely been AAA level.IF he performs at the same level or above for another year hitting age 30 they might move him if Rendon looks ready. NOT FOR A CF.And they won't get much for Lannan. The Nats are the ONLY team that values John Lannan. Most every other team would look at him as AAA veteran depth. Again, the CF is going to come from inside the organization. Its what Davey Johnson prefers and its worked out for him throughout his managing career … go for the talent inside if you have it.They do:Roger Bernadina Corey BrownBrian GoodwinEury PerezMichael Taylor andperhaps Destin Hood.Goodwin and Hood are ranked B by Sickels and that's a very high grade.Taylor is ranked a CBrown isn't ranked but he is coming back from an injury filled season.Perez isn't ranked.And they may go for Cespedes because not only is he a potential solution but going for the Cubans is a way to quickly replenish a somewhat depleted farm system.

  42. Section 222 - Dec 24, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    Yeah, Rizzo sure put those Fielder rumors to rest didn't he? No way could he sign him now after that Q&A session. That guy is as honest as the day is long. Hmmm.Dec. 2009 — Q: So is Elijah Dukes still your RF for 2010? A: That is correct. Dec. 2010 — Q: So is Nyjer Morgan still your CF for 2011? A: That is correct.Merry Xmas one and all. May we find a Prince in our stockings tomorrow morning, or sometime in the near future. And let's be thankful that our promising young catcher is spending this Christmas safe and sound with his family. Viva Ramos!

  43. natsfan1a - Dec 24, 2011 at 9:50 PM

    Merry Christmas/happy holidays back at y'all!Agreed re. Ramos, sec222. The best move of 2011 was the one that freed him, imo.

  44. LoveDaNats - Dec 24, 2011 at 10:09 PM

    May all who frequent this blog find peace, love and happiness in this holiday season.Mark, thank you for all you do.

  45. Alistar Sim - Dec 24, 2011 at 10:27 PM

    Mick said… "Alistar Simms was the best Scrooge ever, his redemption is fills ones heart."I was the best. George was pretty good, too. Reggie was terrible.By the way. Who is Alistar Simms?

  46. Roberto - Dec 24, 2011 at 10:28 PM

    FWIW, Buster Olney says that "There is a broad assumption among a lot of baseball executives that eventually, Prince Fielder's most attractive offer will come from the Nationals — especially now that Washington has created a rotation core that will be relatively inexpensive over the next couple of years, with Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg."Man, from Olney's mouth to God's ears! Especially since I just made another installment on my partial season tickets: section 139, second row above the Nats' bullpen. Come on, Mike, I want some souvenirs for me and my son!Re: Lannan. The man is a clearly-better-than-replacement MLB starter. If he's your numbers 1 or 2 starter, as he was for us a few seasns back, you've got problems. If he's your number 4 or 5, you've got a playoff-worthy rotation. The issue with Lannan is whether his performance will warrant what he's likely to be paid in the next few years. Given the Joe Saunders boomlet, the answer in 2012 is likely "yes." Unless he makes another step forward in velocity and command, which is not out of the question, 2013 and beyond is still a question mark. In any case, Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Buon Natale, śubh krisamas, and all that great stuff to all of you in case I don't post between now and 12:01 a.m. tonight.

  47. Alastair Sim - Dec 24, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    That's "Alastair Sim."Damn autocorrect.

  48. Ztown17 - Dec 25, 2011 at 12:41 AM

    Merry Christmas natsinsiders! Hopefully santa will bring us Prince Fielder! Even if that doesn't happen, looks like we should have a very fun season headed our way.

  49. Anonymous - Dec 25, 2011 at 2:10 AM

    Looks like new Nat Gio Gonzalez has a Christmas message from Florida:@GioGonzalez47 Now that we are in the Nations Capital, we need a Prince. Come on Fielder!That makes two with Bryce Harper … Haven't seen anyone asking for Adam LaRoche?

  50. Sunderland - Dec 25, 2011 at 2:16 AM

    Never understodd why people expect honest and thorough answers from Rizzo. It ain't in hisbest interest to be honest. It's silly to expect him to be completely truthfull. What do you want? "Well LaRoche is here now, but Prince Fielder would have some advantages, although I really don't want to be hamstrung by a 10 year deal for a 300 pound first baseman. So if we can get Boras and Fielder to step down from their ridiculous 10 year / $250 million position, well yeah, we'll see if we can work something out. And then we'll probably try and move Adam. If not Fielder, Well then yes, we're 100% behind Adam LaRoche. Oh, oh, until the trade deadline of course. I don't want to mislead anyone."

  51. CN - Dec 25, 2011 at 2:33 AM

    Nice link natsfan1a, though I couldn't help notice that Gio was signing w/ his right hand??natsfan1a said… Kinda nice fan pic/story re. Gio. December 24, 2011 3:10 PM

  52. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 25, 2011 at 4:01 AM

    1a, thanks for the link. Happy Holidays to all. Stay safe and pass it on. And have fun out there.

  53. DL in VA - Dec 25, 2011 at 4:39 AM

    Re: Gio signing with his right hand, he also bats with his right hand. Maybe he's right handed! (Like CC Sabathia.)

  54. Drew8 - Dec 25, 2011 at 4:48 AM

    A peaceful and joyous Christmas and Hanukkah to all. Here is the great Alastair Sim. Enjoy.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxXpXmfabB8

  55. Constant Reader - Dec 25, 2011 at 4:48 AM

    Santa is still wrapping. Argh! But enjoying our holiday tradition of wrapping while watching Bad Santa. So, so wrong.Happy holidays to you all. Be safe out there. Thanks Mark for creating this place and to all of you for making this such an interesting site to constantly read (and occasionally post).

  56. Farid @ Idaho - Dec 25, 2011 at 4:51 AM

    I love Michael Morse–he's probably my favorite player–but I just have a feeling he's going to regress in 2012. Oh, he'll still have a good season, but more in the .275-22-80 range. So how about this:1–sign Fielder. Though Rizzo keeps saying LaRoche is his guy(and I love him too), me thinks he doth protest too much.Then, package (if you can find a team with matching needs)LaRoche, Morse & John Lannan for a combination of a top-quality center fielder (a Michael Bourn/B.J. Upton type)and prospects to help replace the guys sent to Oakland. I think a couple of guys similar to Tommy Milone and A.J. Cole would do it.I think Detwiler can pitch as well as Lannan last year (10 wins, 3.70 ERA) and trading him won't hurt the team. That starting five should be able to win 60 games (Strasburg: 13, Zimmermann:14, Gonzalez: 13, Wang:11, Detiler:9). The average of the top five starters for the four NL playoff teams last year was 64. So they are close. A center fielder and maturation from the young kids should put them close–assuming Harper can provide a .270-20-75 type of season.Here's hoping.

  57. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 25, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    Happy Holidays to the entire Nats Insider family.Here's hoping for a plentiful and joyous New Year.Sure would like to start the year off by welcoming Prince Fielder to D.C.

  58. natsfan1a - Dec 25, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    Yes, I noticed that, too, CN.CN said… Nice link natsfan1a, though I couldn't help notice that Gio was signing w/ his right hand?? natsfan1a said… Kinda nice fan pic/story re. Gio. December 24, 2011 3:10 PM December 24, 2011 9:33 PM

  59. natsfan1a - Dec 25, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    Ah, I should have read on to see this before posting. Thanks for the info, DL.DL in VA said… Re: Gio signing with his right hand, he also bats with his right hand. Maybe he's right handed! (Like CC Sabathia.) December 24, 2011 11:39 PM

  60. natsfan1a - Dec 25, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Oh, one more thing, here's the Yule Log. You can supply your own music.

  61. NatsLady - Dec 25, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    Happy Christmas–and Hanukkah–to all!

  62. Unkyd - Dec 25, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    ….sigh….. Love me some Beast Mode,'but i cant help wondering, how much high OBP CF could Morse, LaRoche and Lannan/Det buy……

  63. Joe S. - Dec 25, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    Unkyd:There's also Flores. There must be some reason Solano was put on the 40-man.

  64. Unkyd - Dec 25, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    Good point… Sure would like to keepDet and Lannan around awhile longer…

  65. Unkyd - Dec 25, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    Actually, I reckon Solano was cuz they realized Norris might be rollin'…..

  66. Anonymous - Dec 25, 2011 at 7:53 PM

    Then, package (if you can find a team with matching needs)LaRoche, Morse & John Lannan for a combination of a top-quality center fielder (a Michael Bourn/B.J. Upton type)and prospects to help replace the guys sent to Oakland.Sometimes I wonder if anyone here actually reads what these reporters type out in alphabets? Maybe they should try smoke signals?Uh Farid? Who is Brian Goodwin L/L CF ranked B by Sickels? BourneWho is Destin Hood R/R has the tools to play CF but still learning also ranked BWho is Eury Perez R/R Another guy who could play CF and because of injuries the jury still consider extenuating circumstances in the case of pure CF 5-tool Corey Brown whoalso happens to be left-handed?And then there's recently converted to CF Michael Taylor? He alsogot a pretty decent ranking from Sickels.I'll ask you what Davey Johnson keeps asking people, why are you going outside? Why must you go outside? When there are already prospects in place in the system? No one is going to accept a package of Morse, Lannan, and LaRoche. Rizzo will be lucky to get a ranked C level A ball prospect for LaRoche. Morse was the Nats entire offense in 2011. Unless you want to lose that you don't trade him. Perhaps, and that's an if you replace him in the lineup with Anthony Rendon at some point once Morse is over 30. He may not his as many homers … the doubles production was actually the more impressive part of his performance … but he WILL hit close to or over .300. He's been doing that fairly consistently in AAA and the majors.

  67. Nattydread - Dec 25, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    Rizzo's lifted eyebrow reminds me of John Belushi — who definitely would have traded for Prince.Seasons greetings Mark & Natosphere from Nattydread in Nairobi.

  68. #4 - Dec 25, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    OK.. here's some wild speculation based on nothing but a hunch.The Nats think that RZim is a 1B long term because of his inability to throw and stay healthy. As a 3B his numbers make him a cornerstone player. As a 1B, he's really pretty ordinary. Since they now don't need to budget lots of money long term to sign RZim and they have three front line pitchers locked up for several years, they will throw tons of money at Fielder and Cespedes. Rendon will be the long term 3B and RZim will be gone at the end of 2013. Rizzo has been mum on Fielder and Cespedes because he does not want to tip his hand or raise expectations. That would be dumb from a negotiating point of view.Merry Christmas.#4

  69. whatsanattau - Dec 25, 2011 at 10:38 PM

    Rizzo has not been mum about Fielder, he has publicly stated he is not pursuing him. He has publicly stated that signing Zimmerman is very important to the franchise. If Zimmerman has a healthy year he will be signed by February 2013 – a full season before he can become a free agent. Probably even if he does not have an injury free year. As for the infield, Rendon will fit in somewhere, but possibly not 3B. Some combination of Zimmerman, Rendon, Espinosa, Desmond, and Morse will likely man the infield in 2012-13. Maybe Lombardozzi fits in there somewhere as well. He also said publicly that they were still in pursuit of free agent options for CF. That could and should include Cespedes. If they outbid the Marlins and others for his services, he might yet get both his starting pitcher and his centerfielder. Then there is no place for Fielder to play for the Nats in 2011. I'm buying the party line. I believe Fielder is not the target. I believe they will sign Zimmerman in time, and I think centerfield will be solved by the end of spring training.

  70. sjm308 - Dec 25, 2011 at 11:58 PM

    Merry Christmas everyone!Count me as another gullable fan who tends to believe most of what Rizzo is selling. I realize they often have to play games when dealing with other teams and agents but I think he is serious about not having an interest in Fielder. I could go either way on this. I really liked what LaRoche brought on the defensive end in the brief time he was on the field, and he was playing hurt. I know he said it did not affect his fielding but I don't believe that for a minute. So I am perfectly fine with a healthy LaRoche. I did hear Rizzo talk about CF but there honestly are bunches of prospects coming up in the next few years. I also heard him say we would not go with a one or two year fix, so we either get one of the young kids out there in a trade or we see how our prospects develop. I have never heard him talk about trading Lannan or Detwiler or Desmond or Espinosa. I realize there were rumors about the Grienke trade but I never heard those confirmed by anyone so I am thinking that except for CF we have everything we need for the coming season. We will sign Zimmerman either before this season starts or after this season ends. Off to play with my new baseball cards. 2011 Topps Heritage and I drew a Strasburg and J. Zimmermann in my first two packs. A certain sign of great things to come

  71. Matk'd - Dec 26, 2011 at 2:38 AM

    SJM, after the Gio trade I fully believe he was prepared to cave on the Greinke deal a year ago based on what Greinke claimed where I believe he would have traded JZ, Espi and Storen + 1.Rizzo is a good amateur talent evaluator and contract negotiator. Basically a scout who has the call on contract negotiations. The rest, the jury is out but I dont like what I have seen.

  72. Anonymous8 - Dec 26, 2011 at 3:27 AM

    Mark Teixeira has 5 more years with his current contract with the Yankees. In 5 years Prince Fielder will be a year older than Pujols age this year which is 32 years old and still marketable for another 5 year deal if he can show he is in tip-top shape. The Dodgers ownership issue will have been solved.I could see Boras doing a 5 year $125 million deal to coincide with bringing the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox and maybe even the Cubs into the mix in 5 years. I don't think they will do a 2 to 3 year deal as some have suggested. 5 years is very smart although the risk is Prince totally breaks down and his worth drops to that of a player like Manny Ramirez….

  73. Anonymous - Dec 26, 2011 at 5:16 AM

    Matk'd,There were some comments that Desmond or Espi were going to be included in this deal by the "experts" as well, but as it turned out they were wrong. Since the trade for Greinke never materialized, we probably will never know what the deal was and just have the rumors to go by, but I truly doubt the deal you mentioned would have been considered. I don't think Rizzo likes to create holes in the major league roster and the deal you suggest would have created many holes. Is it possible one of the players would have been included? Absolutely, but not the package you suggested.

  74. Mississippi Snopes - Dec 26, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE:The most interesting line of analysis floating around is that the Nats did this deal to get the very cheap Gio Gonzalez in order to free up money for Prince Fielder. I don't buy that — it doesn't make sense with LaRoche at first and Morse ready to move there once Bryce Harper is called up. But it would be interesting.But, heck, let's drink the Kool-Aid and look at the rose-colored 2012 Washington Nats' roster and projected stats, without worrying all the caveats and footnotes about things like Gio's having the highest walk rate in the majors:SP1 – Stephen Strasburg – 2011 ERA 1.50SP2 – Jordan Zimmermann – 2011 ERA 3.18SP3 – Gio Gonzalez – 2011 ERA 3.12 (with a downward adjustment for the NL & "McCatty's magic")SP4 – Chien-Ming Wang – returns to his 2007 form – 3.70 ERA (with an NL adjustment down)SP5 – John Lannan – 2011 ERA 3.70BullpenCloser – Drew Storen – 2011 – 43 saves, 1.02 WHIP, OPS against .599Set-up man – Tyler Clippard – 2011 – WHIP 0.84, OPS against .5357th inning guy – Henry Rodriguez – 2011 – OPS against .596 (we won't mention his 2011 WHIP since McCatty's magic is going to cure that anyway)Long man/swing starter: Ross Detwiler – 2011 – 1.26 WHIP, OPS against .7041B: Prince Fielder – 2011 OPS .9812B: Danny Espinosa – 2011 OPS .737 + 50 points for a sophomore bounceSS: Ian Desmond – OPS somewhere between 2011's .656 and September 2009's .879 (this is my fantasy & I get to set the rules)3B: Ryan Zimmerman – OPS somewhere between his .834 career & 2010's .898LF: Mike Morse – 2011 OPS – .910CF: Jayson Werth – somewhere between his career OPS of .824 and 2010's .920RF: Bryce Harper – Mickey Mantle's 1952 OPS (his first full year) – .924C: Wilson Ramos – 2011 OPS – .779 PLUS fifty points for a kidnap rescue excitement bounceBench: Adam LaRoche – Career .815 OPS, Stephen Lombardozzi – career minor league OPS .780, Jesus Flores – maybe a shade below his 2009 OPS of .876 Throw in no injuries for DC, a slow recovery for Mr. Howard, Ozzie Guillen breaking Hanley Ramirez's jaw when he punches him for his bad attitude, and Jonny Venters' breaking his leg tripping over the walking cane that Chipper drops in agony from his latest hamstring tear — and WE WIN!

  75. Sunderland - Dec 26, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    Muddy Snopes – I love how you estimate Harper's rookie season. And it's kinda impossible to deny to kidnap bounce. But I respectfully think you got the Guillen / Hanley things wrong. Oney Guillen tweets some demeaning stuff about Hanley, and Hanley breaks his right hand punching out Oney, surgery. Oney presses charges but the DA decides punching out Oney is not really a crime.

  76. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 26, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    Sunderland…..that is precisely the scenario most Fish fans envision that will become the Train Wreck that is the Miami Marlins.Once they announced that they weren't interested in Prince after being dissed by Pujols, the knowlegeable Fish fan realized Lorios was up to his bait and switch routine. They can't give away season tickets.

  77. Anonymous8 - Dec 26, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    I will go a step further with the Marlins. If the season is a disaster, they will trade Reyes or Buehrle before their back-end loaded contracts kick in. It feels like a scenario I have seen before with them as some of their good players reach arbitration. Maybe this time it is different with them. Remember, the won the World Series 8 years ago and then broke up the band the following year!

  78. Big Cat - Dec 26, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    With all this talk about Tubby Fielder, let us not forget about one of our own…..Tyler Moore. It looks like a bottleneck has former in Syracuse between him and Marrero. One has to go. You would hate to have Marrero pinch hitting in the bigs. He needs to play everyday somewhere. Maybe a trade.

  79. Gonat - Dec 26, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    Mississippi Snopes, I think the Nats today are better than the Braves. The key in 2011 to beating the Braves was getting an early lead as to not try to beat them when they turn to their bullpen aces. Same strategy for 2012. The Nats starting rotation is better and I definitely feel even with LaRoche that the Nats have a better starting 8. Jair Jurrjens is on the trading block because even the Braves are worried that he is damaged goods. Derek Lowe is gone. They are relying on Tim Hudson, Beachy, Hanson and a Rookie (Minor or Teheran) to fill out their rotation or the 2 Rookies if Jurrjens is traded.Their slight edge is in the bullpen and if Davey changes with the times and mirrors what the Braves have stacked up, I think the Nats can be as good or better.To catch the Phillies will be the task. They may have lost Oswalt but they still are showing 3 Aces (Halladay, Lee, Hamels). Is this the year where adversity really strikes the Phillies? It's possible. The law of averages figures they will lose an Ace to a serious injury at some point. I will say this about their GM Ruben Amaro, he is not shy about loading up on July 31st so you never know what to expect at the trade deadline.If the Nats get Prince Fielder, the Nats will be the team to beat in the NL East. LaRoche can be traded to the Twins for Denard Span.

  80. Anonymous - Dec 26, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    The Nats right now have some of the same issues as the Phils – realy good starting pitching, a decent back end but an inconsistent offense to support that pitching. Our team is younger, though and could be on an upward trend in that department. The Phils are aging – what we saw in September from them could be the tip of the iceberg. The nl east could be very interesting this next season.

  81. Wally - Dec 26, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    There is a blog called Top Prospect Alert that has the Nats ranked with the 7th best farm system AFTER the Gio trade. Encouraging, although it seems a little high. Some oddities: Matt Skole jumps to 6, which surprised me, and Hood is 12th.

  82. Sunderland - Dec 26, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    I read the disclaimer, that explained some things."Disclaimer – I did not attend any minor league games this year, nor do I claim to have any scouting experience. These lists are the product of my own research of statistics and online scouting reports."The equivalent of you and me putting a top prospects list together for all 30 MLB clubs.

  83. Wally - Dec 26, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    Sunderland – yeah, not the highest profile guy. Still, better than being 25th.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 73 54 --
ATLANTA 68 61 6.0
MIAMI 64 63 9.0
NEW YORK 60 69 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 57 71 17.5
Through Friday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SAT: Giants at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Giants at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Mariners, 10:10 p.m.
Full season schedule

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

ON THE RADIO

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MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
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