Skip to content

The revised state of the farm system

Dec 27, 2011, 12:00 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Bryce Harper still remains as the organization's top prospect.

Last week's acquisition of Gio Gonzalez cost the Nationals four of their best prospects: right-handers Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole, left-hander Tommy Milone and catcher Derek Norris. And in the immediate aftermath of the trade, skeptics wondered whether a Nationals' farm system that had slowly developed into a respectable entity had just been ransacked beyond repair.

To be sure, it's difficult to pluck four top prospects out of an organization and expect there to be enough depth already in place to cover those losses. But the cupboard isn't entirely bare for the Nationals. There's actually quite a bit of elite talent still in the system, especially in the pitching department.

Yes, Peacock and Milone were two of the organization's most-advanced pitching prospects, and Cole had perhaps the best pure stuff out of anyone in the system not named Stephen Strasburg.

But don't forget the Nationals acquired a pair of highly touted, college pitchers in the early round of this summer's draft in Alex Meyer and Matt Purke. Meyer, the 23rd overall pick in the country, just came off aRead more »

195 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. alexva - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    If you follow prospects, albeit watching their stats more than in person, you get anxious to see them in perform on the big league level. They often burst on to the scene with an impressive debut followed by a gradual decline (Stammen and Balestar come to mind). The fact is that most don't become stars and only a few become regulars. That is what makes the trading of these players easier to swallow. That and #1&2 on your revised list.

  2. MFG - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    "skeptics wondered whether a Nationals' farm system that had slowly developed into a respectable entity had just been ransacked beyond repair."Beyond repair is an interesting way to look at it, as Rizzo will get to draft a whole new crop of future Nats in June. Rizzo has shown that he prefers college, close-to-MLB-ready, pitchers early in the draft, so I would expect Peacock and Milone to be replaced by new, top-level college talent. As Mark stated, the loss of Norris isn't terrible, since the Nats have a future All-Star in Ramos, and several other young catchers in the pipeline.This is how good organizations use prospects. Develop as many of them as you can, keep the gems (Zimmermann, Espinosa, Rendon) and trade the not so shiny ones for established major league talent. The A's are hoping that one of the four turns out to be as good as Gonzalez, and that the other 3 contribute to the major league roster in some way. However, if Gonzalez contributes to a playoff-run in the new few years, then I think the trade will have been worth it to the Nats.

  3. funkyalligator - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:30 PM

    Indeed the only prospect from the trade that I do have slight misgivings about was Cole but he won't be in the majors for several seasons and the Nats needed the starter now. Milone was eh and Peacock still needs a fair amount of work(remember he hasn't been pitching that long and still needs a consistent 3rd pitch). None of those 4 was drafted higher than the 4th round I believe that is a testament to how well the Nats have drafted. A season or two in the minors for meyer, purke and turnbull all of whom had at at least 2 years of college under their belt…plus the other arms already in the natssystem make the trade that much more acceptable. Without such a n amazing draft this past year I doubt this trade would have been made.

  4. Sunderland - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    "Without such a n amazing draft this past year I doubt this trade would have been made."Fair statement, for sure.And given the new rules of the draft and slotting, it's fair to wonder what future drafts will be like. We're not going to be getting the obvious #1's any more, so no more Harper and Strasburg talent. And with the financial constraints of the new MLB draft rules, we can't ever have a haul like we did in 2011, getting 4 first round guys because of our willingness to spend money.But if there's anything right in Rizzo's wheelhouse, it's the scouting and signing of amateurs.

  5. funkyalligator - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    Let's also not forget the two prospects that were picked in the rule 5 draft, that's two more pitchers that were plucked out of the prospect pool. I for one aplaud the way Rizzo has managed to rebuild the farm system in such a short time. Remember the days when shiron martis was a starting pitcher for the Nats? Enough said.

  6. Joe S. - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    It might be worth pointing out that the Nats are a strong scouting organization now. Scouting doesn't mean all that much in the first round–you didn't have to know anything about baseball to pick a Strasburg or even a Rendon. But it gets really important in the lower rounds. And there are a lot more lower than upper rounds. Few high school pitchers pan out, but good scouting raises the odds that you will get that pitcher.

  7. sjm308 - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    I believe the new CBA also affects the amount that can be spent on players from Cuba & the DR. Not sure about how it will affect the Japanese system but that is broke big time anyway. Sunderland is correct, we had a huge haul this past year and that will be a thing of the past. No more signing a #1 talent in the 3rd or 4th round for #1 money. We also will be drafting in the middle of the pack or maybe further down than that, but I am not worried about that too much since Rizzo will evaluate talent about as well as anyone. We just will have NO shot at that great player who is #1 or 2 on everyone's list, he just won't be there for us. I guess my point is, since its still not my money, why don't we go ahead and gamble, sign the CF from Cuba at a ridiculous price, let him start in AAA to make sure he makes the adjustment and then bring him up when he is ready. It strengthens our farm system even more, its the last time a team can probably get someone with just a huge amount of money and while most of the deals with Cuban players have not worked that well, its still worth a shot since we honestly have no one right now. I realize Goodwin and maybe even Brown can still make an impact someday (and for Brown, hopefully soon), but if we have two or three great CF in a year or two how great is that?

  8. Natslifer - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:58 PM

    Happy Holidays everyone.Mark – Couple of questions for you:- Have you heard anything about Rendon? The guy hasn't thrown a ball at full strength in over a year and a half by my calculation and I'm skeptical he's going to make it back without surgery.- If Cespedes were on the list, where would you slot him?

  9. Gonat - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    Problem is that there are no top pitching prospects ready to make the leap to the Majors. I agree with BA and Sickels on Peacock & AJ Cole and believe both have very good potential.Lets hope Meyer and Purke have great years in the Minors.

  10. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    I think everyone will discover that Robbie Ray will rise to the forefront and take the place of Cole in our system. He's 19 and left handed and all the projectability that Cole had, just not quite as top end on his fastball.

  11. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    If you have any doubt at all about Rizzo's ability to find talent where other's don't look – just remember that he is the one that found Jordan Zimmermann in Wisconsin. It is my understanding that no one else was really looking at him seriously. It's been a while but I remember hearing that Rizzo was the only guy that showed up there to watch him pitch and immediately knew he wanted him. I am sure that you all will correct my memories on this one.

  12. Anonymous8 - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    Sheinin wrote "While the longtime scout in Rizzo bemoaned the “painful” cost in homegrown prospects that it took to land Gonzalez"As Mark showed above, the entire landscape of the farm system has changed in 1 day.While the scout was on one shoulder telling him to do it, the smart GM in the suit holding 2 Aces a Jack and a 8 was whispering that Beane was bluffing and holding only 1 decent card and NOT to make the deal.In the end, the scout did the deal and got ripped off. This wasn't a trade for a known commodity like Roy Halladay. Oh yah, the Phillies got Halladay and traded Travis d'Arnaud (still in minors), Kyle Drabek (nothing so far) and Michael Taylor (nothing so far) for Cy Young/No hit Halladay. Halladay is a Cy Young and thrown no-hitters and the best of the best while what they traded will probably amount to not much.My father used to say just because your friend jumps off the roof doesn't mean you do it. That's my comparison to the Latos deal. When did the price for semi-star pitchers go so far? Uh, just recently and just because the Reds made a bad trade didn't mean Rizzo had to bend over in the same fashion.Keep in mind that Roy Oswalt and Joe Saunders were both available for nothing more than cash.Also for anyone thinking they saved a ton of cash with Gio, keep in mind all the bonus money the Nats paid AJ Cole last year and Gio will cost the Nats over $4 million this year.

  13. Will - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    Rizzo was also the only guy interested in Trevor Holder in the 3rd round in 2009.Rizzo isn't some scouting god. He's just been lucky enough to have more money to spend than most other teams, which allowed him to draft consensus top players like AJ Cole, Robbie Ray and Matt Purke. I could have done the same thing with no scouting background and just a copy of Baseball America. We all knew those guys were very good- it was just a matter of paying them enough money to get them to skip college.My question is- how many players did Mike Rizzo draft that didn't go for way above slot, and have turned into legitimate prospects?Brad Peacock in the 41st round? That was in 2006. Credit goes to Jim Bowden.I count: Lombardozzi and Milone. Am I missing anyone else?

  14. Sunderland - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    Anonymous8, check your facts. The Phillies trade for Halladay involved them dealing Cliff Lee as well. Maybe that was just a throw in, a little piece not worth mentioning.

  15. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    How many of you have actually seen Gio Gonzalez pitch? I hear references to great curve ball, 93MPH fastball, and the fact he was an All Star and all that is true.Let me remind you that even Jason Marquis was an All Star. Every team has to send an All Star.The metrics to judge Gio Gonzalez is how you look at the glass, 1/2 full or 1/2 empty. His numbers suggest he is a #2 pitcher but his walk totals and control problems suggest Beane may have wanted to go in a different direction possibly with that sign you see on the road "Danger Ahead".This guy will frustrate the bajeebers out of you with his wildness. It just wasn't a trade you make or needed to make with Oswalt still available and even that Joe Saunders guy.

  16. Sunderland - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    Will said… Rizzo was also the only guy interested in Trevor Holder in the 3rd round in 2009.Great comeback. However, it seems to me after picking Strasburg he was drafting to a budget, not to a scouting report. Even Storen was drafted based on budget, but at pick #10 he could still get good talent. By the time he got to pick #81, with a tight budget, he had slim pickings.I'm laying that one on the Lerners and budget, not on Rizzo and scouting.

  17. MFG - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    Halladay also had a full no-trade clause with the Blue Jays, and stated that he wanted to be traded to the Phillies. That really puts the Phillies in a position to not offer blue-chip prospects, even I think Drabek was considered a top-prospect at the time of the deal. Halladay would not have accepted a deal to the Nats, even if the Nats had been able to come up with a better prospect package at the time.To continue your card analogy, the GM has to play the cards that are dealt to him. Rizzo wanted a left-handed pitcher to slot between Strasburg and Zimmermann. Buehrle was Plan A, but plan A didn't work out. Gonzalez was Plan B and Rizzo pulled the trigger. As of right now, none of the players the Nats traded away have accomplished anything more than a cup of coffee in the majors, a .210 batting average in AAA, and one season at single-A. Time will tell if they develop into perennial Cy Young and MVP candidates, but I think if Rizzo thought any of them were going to turn into Roy Halladay, he wouldn't have traded them away so easily.

  18. Mark'd - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    Sunderland, you have your facts wrong. Cliff Lee was traded to Seattle.

  19. Will - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    I just realized both Lombardozzi and Milone were drafted in 2008, when Bowden was still GM. Granted, Rizzo was Scouting Director. Take that FWIW.I'm playing the Devil's Advocate a bit here. But I do think some people have elevated Rizzo's scouting talent to some mythical level.When drafting on a budget, Rizzo has shown he's quite limited in finding talent. In 2009, after the two consensus first rounders, the greatest talent is Michael Taylor or Danny Rosenbaum, decent talents, for sure, but nothing special.Then in 2010 and 2011, Rizzo succeeded solely because he had the financial flexibility to basically draft every player who had fallen from the first round because of signability issues. It's not a very difficult thing to do.I'm much more interested to see how Rizzo fares in future drafts, now that he is obligated to reign in spending. I don't think we're going to see anywhere close to the same talent coming in each draft. However, whatever losses we see there, might be made up for in an International Draft. Since we've made like one international signing in 5 years, any help there is an improvement.

  20. Neal - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Neal - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    Will….how about Drew Storen? 1st round compensation pick (No 10), same year as Strasburg. Signed at or below slot. There are probably others as well.

  22. natsfan1a - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    Eh, you guys figure it out. My brain hurts.http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/20091217_Halladay_officially_becomes_a_Phillie.html

  23. Sunderland - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    Mark'd – It was a three team trade. Cliff Lee to Seattle was part of the deal that brought Halladay to Philly. They landed Halladay only because they were willing to give up Cliff Lee, and a ton of Philly fans were less than geeked about the deal.

  24. MFG - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    Thanks natsfan1a.When it became clear that he would waste his prime years with a rebuilding team, Halladay's favored destination quickly became Philadelphia. He did not expect the Jays to trade within the American League East to the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox. The Los Angeles Angels pursued him, but they hold spring training in Arizona, and Halladay preferred to remain with his wife and two sons during February and March. The family lives in Odessa, Fla., just a few miles from the Phils' spring complex in Clearwater.For all those reasons, Halladay, who had a full no-trade clause, said yesterday, "This was my choice."—-It's probably pretty easy to trade for a Cy Young winner when there is no legitimate competition.

  25. jcj5y - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    One other point about the farm system needs to be mentioned. I think the player development part of the system is both key to facilitating this trade and to rebuilding the system after it.Peacock was a low-rated prospect with a good arm before last season. It's been reported that he made some changes in his delivery, and then took off. That's player development. Cole, likewise, had big question marks when he was drafted (the biggest reason he fell to the Nats in the 3rd round). When he got into the system, he blossomed.Now the question is who can take a step forward in 2012. Meyer, who has a great arm, is an obvious candidate to improve with professional instruction. Two of the system's best athletes, Hood and Taylor, already improved significantly in 2011, and may be due for breakouts. I'm also still curious to see how Tyler Moore performs at AAA. Moore is the hitting version of Milone; never much respect from scouts, but he keeps hitting 30 HRs.If I'm right and the Nats have figured out something about player development, it's potentially even more important than drafting talent for keeping the system in good shape.

  26. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    From SportsIllustrated:All that remains to complete the blockbuster three-team trade involving the Phillies, Blue Jays and Mariners is for physicals for all the players involved to complete the deal that was originally agreed upon Monday and involves two Cy Young winners changing teams. As part of the trade, Halladay will be going from the Blue Jays to the Phillies, and Cliff Lee will go from the Phillies to the Mariners. Six prospects and cash are also involved in the trade, which has yet to be finalized due to its complexity, and may take at least one more day to be completed. Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/baseball/mlb/12/14/phillies.halladay.lee/index.html#ixzz1hkDVgHrl

  27. Water23 - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    So a thought about farm systems, if they decide to acquire Fielder would moving LaRoche to a team like the Rays work? They seem to need a 1B and his it the type of high OBP good defender they like. What would you get back?

  28. Wally - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    I think that Rizzo has done a good job scouting, and not just because he has drafted a few guys that fell for sign ability reasons. Granted, he got enormously lucky to be in a position to draft Stras and Harper (Stras especially), but looking at the scouting/player development function over the last few years, here are the guys that have come up through the system to contribute (I think Rizzo had this responsibility under Bowden): Storen, Stras, Espy, Desmond, Bernadina, JZimm, Lannan, Kimball, Balestar, Stammen. On top of that, he developed enough guys to acquire Tyler Clippard, Morse and Ramos (ok, Ramos doesn't really fit here) and, of course, Gio. Plus, the farm system after the Gio trade will still likely be top 15 (that is my guess).He certainly has missed on guys too, but this is a kind of game where it's about batting average, and objectively he has done well.

  29. Wally - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    From Buster Olney, Part 2. This time ranking bullpens. This one feel closer to my own view. But one thing is certain, it appears that Mr. Olney likes our pitching.8. Washington NationalsThe Nationals finished fifth in the majors in bullpen ERA, and lot of that success was because of the work of Tyler Clippard, who had an 0.84 WHIP and held opponents to a .535 OPS. Clippard had the lowest BABIP among relievers with at least 60 innings last season, at .187, or almost 100 points lower than in 2010, a sign that there could be some regression in 2012. But either way, Clippard is an effective set-up man for Drew Storen, good anchors for what should be a good bullpen.

  30. Anonymous8 - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    Anon @ 9:15, thanks for the replay on that. Each was still their own trade as I showed on Halladay for the 3 players.My point is the price went up all of a sudden based on Latos and neither Latos or Gio are the best of the best like Roy Halladay.Rizzo should have told Beane not a chance was he trading Peacock & Cole in the same deal. He could have done a 4 for 2 and thrown in a 24 year old High A guy like Gilliam + Peacock, Norris and Milone.Other choices were Wandy Rodriguez and Joe Saunders for left-handed #3's. There were other options that would have cost a lot less.

  31. Gonat - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    Wally, Desmond and Bernadina pre-dated Rizzo. Rizzo came to the Nats at the end of July 2006 under Jim Bowden. Those players were already in the system.

  32. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Wally, batting average? Rizzo's swing & miss on his biggest deals make his reverse OPS horrible since you would weight him on dollars spent and his 3 misses on his biggest Free Agent deals: Werth, Marquis, and LaRoche. While it wasn't Rizzo's fault Marquis and LaRoche lost serious time to injuries, the report card based on averages still has to include the entire picture.I think Rizzo is a very good scout in the Draft which fits the Lerner's strategy of building from the Draft and paying the price. Still, he gets high marks because he had so many high draft picks.Jordan Zimmermann drafted in 2007 has turned the highest dividends so far. A true Ace.

  33. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    I think Pudge qualifies as a Rizzo swing and miss at the money he got too.

  34. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    Zimmermann counts as a Bowden find. Rizzo cannot get credit for good stuff when JimBo was the man, unless he gets the blame for the bad stuff too.

  35. MFG - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    Rizzo also deserves credit for picking up Capps after Pittsburgh non-tendered him, and then flipping him to the Twins for Ramos.

  36. Wally - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    Gonat – I know, but I lumped them together because I have always felt that it is difficult to separate scouting from development when knowing which was primarily responsible for having a player become a major leaguer. Was Peacock primarily a great scouting find, or a player development success? Hard to know, but I think the answer is both.So because I think Rizzo had responsibility for both from the get go, I lumped everyone. Might be too favorable for Rizzo, but it was easier to come up with a list that way.Anon @9:40 – I was only commenting on acquiring amateur players and developing them, not trades. I mentioned Clip because he traded a guy that he developed for an unproven guy so I thought it was close enough.

  37. TimDz - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    @ jcj5y: What question marks did Cole have? They surely weren't related to his stuff. The reason Cole fell to the 3rd round (even though he was projected to be a late 1st round pick) was due to the fact that he had signed a letter of intent to play ball at The Univeristy of Miami. Was that the question mark?

  38. CBinDC - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    What about the player not getting named later, you know whatz his name, player number two in the trade, he looked to have some good stuff out of high A for Oakland does he count in the rankings? What is his name, hmmmmm, oh well you know, you can look it up.

  39. lefty1950 - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Couple of posters stated that Oswalt and Joe Saunders were still available and we should have selected them over Gio. I am not a big fan of either because I believe that both Oswalt and Saunders are not the same pitchers they once were. Gio is younger and has more of an upside than either Oswalt or Saunders. It will take 2 – 3 years to see who got the best of this trade.Only 54 more days until spring training starts; cannot wait.GO Nats!

  40. jcj5y - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    Every player not named Strasburg is a player development success if they make it to the majors. No one is big-league ready from day one. The farther you get from the top of the draft, the more credit (I think) has to go to player development. Someone like Peacock, drafted in the 41st round and barely a prospect until the Nats changed his delivery last year, is a paradigm of player development. Norris is a great development story too—few thought he could catch in the majors when he was in Hagerstown, but today he's seen as a potential above-average receiver.It seems to me that if the Nats can keep drafting high-ceiling talent and developing it into players with real big-league skills, they are going to be successful for a very long time. The more I think about it, the more I think that's the real story of their success in re-building the minor league system.

  41. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    I give Rizzo credit for inking a non-tendered Capps and later flipping him for Ramos, nice move. But Rizzo added only Capps, Pudge (as a back-up for a lot of money) and Marquis (an innings eater) along with Brian Bruney and Adam Kennedy to that lousy 2009 club. Was anyone shocked that the Nats finished last again in 2010? Rizzo's record as GM is spotty on all fronts but for the draft (and the draft is the easiest part to feel good about for all clubs as everyone loves their picks until proven wrong, which takes years).

  42. jcj5y - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    Regarding Cole, BP ranked him 4th in 2011, noting that he "scuffled at times this spring but didn't change his price tag, leading to a drop to the fourth round." The same write-up said "[h]is gap between what he is now and can be is larger than most million-dollar arms." I'd call those question marks. It's not like the guy was a nobody, but there was a reason teams didn't want to pay him $2 million.

  43. SpashCity - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    Rizzo gets credit for improving the team, period. It is ridiculous to expect him to turn the mess that Bowden/MLB left for him into a playoff contender overnight. Rizzo took over the team at the beginning of 2009, granted under the "interim" title. So the vast majority of that 103-loss disaster of a season falls on Bowden.The next year, Rizzo improved the team by 10 wins, and followed that up with the 11-win improvement we saw in 2011.I like the trajectory Rizzo has the team on and I expect it to continue. It would have been difficult for any general manager to turn the team around faster than Rizzo has, especially when starting with a barren farm system and often-stingy owners.

  44. Mick - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    Looking for 84-88 wins in 2012, anything less would be unaccetable

  45. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  46. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    The team went from consecutive 100+ loss seasons, and virtually no farm system to speak of, to all-but-.500 and in third place, and a respectable system with enough "inventory" to have made this trade (ill-advised or not), in two years. If Rizzo doesn't get credit for that, who does? Not a rhetorical question–who *do* you think is responsible?

  47. Occupy Half Street - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    Here here! I will not accept fewer than 88 wins. If they don't win at least 88 games, I will just act as if they did, and continue to believe they did. Either that, or I'll fire Mike Rizzo.

  48. Hopeful2012 - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    This trade certainly did not elave our cupboards bare all it did was accelerate the development levels of our pitching and catching prospects. Prior to this trade and the Rule V draft the Nats would have had to do some fancy juggling to manage all of the prospects at the proper minor league levels. As Mark said, Purke, Meyer, Solis and Ray (three lefties by the way) can spread their wings. I would suspect Solis will start at Harrisburg and while Purke and Meyer will start at Hagerstown and Ray will get a bump to Potomac. Also, do not forget Dan Rosenbaum in this mix and I have not given up on Stammen who will be 28 when the season opens.As far as catchers go, I do not expect Derek Norris to be catching much if at all for the A's, Billy Beane will have him working at 1B and the OF. Sure we will miss Norris as far as depth but with Ramos and Flores (although I am sure he will be traded between now and the trade deadline in July) he was not going to see Nats Town any time soon. Solano fits the proottype for a good back up and Maldanado can nuture the young guys as the come up through Syracuse. I hope this means Sandy Leon gets a bump up to Harrisburg and the Freitas gets most of the reps at Potomac so they both continue to develop, I think they both can be major league catchers someday. This will also let Nieto resume hios development in Hagerstown.Ironically, I am more worried about position player development this year!1B – Beyond Marerro we are pretty weak at 1B throughout the organization assuming we have Moore start at AAA and Souza at AA.2B – Lombo may or may not make the big league club but beyond Kobernus 2B looks weak down the line.SS – Even weaker than 2B, hopefully Walters or Hague step up their development big time.3B – Technically we have Rendon here but I assume he will be starting lower than expected in the organization this year and work on multiple positions as his arm strengthens (3B/2B maybe even 1B or LF). I think he starts in Hagerstown.OF – Obviously BHarp is the #1 guy in this realm, if he does not make the team out of camp (I give him a 60/40 shot of that happening), but that aside the cupboard is pretty bare. Unless Xavier Paul blossoms at AAA the next should start at Harrisburg with Destin Hood. Goodwin will be seeing his first action and while I think he could handle Potomac I think field conditions will start him in Hagerstown. Michael Taylor could be a stud or a dud, I think with Goodwin in the system they bump him up to Potomac but will probably be leap frogged by Goodwin next year.

  49. David - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    what's the story of Goodwin? I never hear anything, status or health, about him. he hasn't played professionally yet. what gives? where will he start 2012?

  50. Harper_ROY_2012 - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    I too am worried about the OF prospects, beyond the Chosen One I think SWAG is the #2 prospect!

  51. Mick - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    trying to understand the Rizzo critics?? Are they nuts?

  52. DaveB - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Yeah Anonymous (9:55am), that Langerhans for Morse trade was a real stinker too… for Seattle.How can you blame Rizzo for the results in 2009? The GM for that entire off-season was Jim Bowden. Nonetheless, that lousy 2009 team netted the Nats Bryce Harper in the 2010 draft, I'll take that trade-off.Rizzo also rebuilt an atrocious bullpen that Bowden left him with after spring training had already begun in '09, so he rebuilt it during the season, an especially tough task.No GM scores perfect on every move he makes, but I'm willing to wager that Rizzo will be named Executive of the Year sometime in the next three seasons, just watch.

  53. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    trying to understand the Rizzo critics?? Are they nuts?JayB is.

  54. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    OK, that was just pointless and out of nowhere.

  55. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    There is no trajectory for the club in terms of Wins. Past performance is not indicative of futre returns. The roster may have been improving steadily but there is no trend.Anyway, Mike Rizzo needs to be judged the way that all GM's are judged: did he do enough good work over a reasonable time period to put his club in a position to win and to have flexibility in the future to stay relevant given his economic contraints. It's very hard to tell what constraints Rizzo works in (the club is wicked cheap on one hand, but they go for Werth on the other). But, the long and short of it all for me is that Rizzo's been at the helm for several years now. This is his club. He needs (and the Lerners need to be on board for the coins needed) to deliver a 25 man roster in 2012 that has a legit chance to be in the playoffs. He's pretty close to getting that done.dfh21

  56. Sue Dinem - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    The link in the name is to our 2012 Watchlist prior to the trade, so folks can see who's on our radar. It's going to have to be revised obviously.I think the name that Mark may be overlooking is Danny Rosenbaum. Sickels himself calls him "Milone II," though he lacks Milone's pinpoint control (but throws harder). The similarity is in that both southpaws just. get. guys. out.

  57. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    CBinDC said…What about the player not getting named later, you know whatz his name, player number two in the trade, he looked to have some good stuff out of high A for Oakland does he count in the rankings? What is his name, hmmmmm, oh well you know, you can look it up.Robert Gilliam, and not really.

  58. DaveB - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    CBinDC, I read somewhere since the trade that Robert Gilliam projects to be a middle relief guy if he makes it to the Majors, not enough repertoire to be a starter, and not enough 'shut-down' stuff for the back-end of the 'pen.

  59. Wally - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    Going back to Mark's post on the state of the farm system, I would disagree that pitching remains a strength. I would say that it has potential but is clearly an area of concern. Injuries are major concerns for Purke (hasn't shown he is over it) and Solis (how bad is it). Solis is particularly disappointing, since he was showing improve velocity and raising his ceiling. And MeyeR has upside but risk. He could be Josh Johnson or Andrew Brackman. So I like these guys and are glad they are in the system but they have work to do to get to where Cole or Peacock were.

  60. Feel Wood - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    There is no trajectory for the club in terms of Wins. Past performance is not indicative of futre returns. The roster may have been improving steadily but there is no trend.But, the long and short of it all for me is that Rizzo's been at the helm for several years now. This is his club. He needs (and the Lerners need to be on board for the coins needed) to deliver a 25 man roster in 2012 that has a legit chance to be in the playoffs. He's pretty close to getting that done.Dude, you have a seriously warped perception of reality. 59 wins to 69 wins to 80 wins is indeed a trend, by the very definition of the word 'trend'. And the team under Rizzo is trending up. Meanwhile, there is absolutely no way to judge whether a 25 man roster has a legit chance to be in the playoffs. How do you quantify that? Are you going to base it on the preseason Vegas betting line? Because that's probably the only quantification there is on whether a roster has a chance to make the playoffs or not. You're going to use that to decide whether or not Rizzo is doing a good job?Get real. Any decisions on Rizzo's future will be made based solely on W-L record, as such decisions are always made, barring scandal or other such anomaly.

  61. Theophilus - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    Apart from Harper and Rendon, there aren't any position players in the farm system that look like sure-fire major league starters. That may be enough, subject to what happens if somebody gets a serious injury or a whiff of free agency. But it pretty much rules out any more deals of prospects for immediate help.What is a bit unsettling is the apparent lack of any development from the DR. The only player w/ any notoriety is Perez, who seems to be developing into the next Willy Tavares.The Nats need to do much better in the International development field, and I don't mean Cubans.

  62. Joe Seamhead - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    I just hope to hell that Gio doesn't get hurt. If he, with all of the hard breaking curves that he throws, were to blow out his arm…I still think we gave too much for an "ok" established starter. Calling in the dogs and selling a big chunk of the farm for Gio is just a very high risk, IMHO. I pray that it works out to be one of the best moves that Rizzo ever made and that I'm eating crow for the next few years.

  63. JamesFan - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    Rizzo and the Nats are doing some things that I really like. (1) They are focused on drafting, player development and building from within. (2) The trades all make sense from a team progress standpoint. They aren't trading just to make splashy deals. (3) Generally, they are avoiding the huge free agents. I'm not in the buy Pujols/Fielder camp because the long-term cost is too high and I do not think that these steps guarantee success. (4) They don't seem to panic but make considered moves.No GM is perfect–not possible–but I am delighted with the way Rizzo is building this team. Frankly, I think it is more exciting to be a Nats fan in 2012 than a Phillies fan.

  64. Steve M. - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    I agree with Feel Wood. Trending is following a predictable curve and it is clearly up.Percentage wise the curve may not rise another 16% because the offense is still not greatly improved. If the Nats get Prince Fielder, I see another double-digit percentage improvement for 2012 from 88 to 93 wins. I am hoping the Phillies have hit their zenith and will drop 10% this year.If you go by pythagorean, the Nats wins in 2010 was low which distorted the increase being so large from 2010 to 2011.

  65. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    Here's his stats:Robert Gilliam

  66. Steve M. - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    Sue Dinem, thanks for some optimism on Danny Rosenbaum!I saw this great Twitter back to Mark Z."NatsHR2Win: Sorry, Billy Beane got Cole in his stocking. It pays to be naughty."

  67. Steve M. - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    Keep in mind also that if the Nats get Cespedes he would likely start in AA and vault to the top of the Farm system.

  68. Steve M. - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    Sec 3, My Sofa said… Here's his stats:Robert Gilliam December 27, 2011 11:33 AM To call that trade a 4 for 2 really isn't fair to Beane. Getting this throw-ins which is basically what Cutter Dykstra was for Nyjer Morgan is just a body.Might as well throw-in something the Nats could use like bubblegum and sunflower seeds.Gilliam is 24 years old in High A ball with a 5.00+ ERA. It just doesn't sound promising.

  69. Unkyd - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    dfh21 said:There is no trajectory for the club in terms of Wins. Past performance is not indicative of futre returns. The roster may have been improving steadily but there is no trend.——————————Like your posts, and prolly don't disagree about 1/2 the time…also concede that on a digital level, there is done truth to this comment. Having said that, when you have as many young guys, figuring to continue improving, as well as serious talent ready to add to the mix, as this team does, your argument seems semantic: Clearly, this team, and the organization as a whole, is improving, and pretty much any indicator you'd care to cite, should bear this assertion out. Still trending up, Baby!!! GYFNG!!!!!

  70. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    There are just so many things that are unpredictable – LaRoche goes down after a terrible performance and look what Michael Morse does. Can't wait to see what happens next!

  71. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:54 PM

    Check out the era's in the California League. It's a notorious hitters league.

  72. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    Unkyd — appreicate the nice words, but there is more than a done of truth to the notion, it is objectively true. The Nats record in 2009 has nothing to do with whatever record the club may have in 2012, of course. The same way the 2010 and 2011 records have zero influence over the wins and losses that the club has in 2012. It is simply wrong to think that the club is on some trajectory based on past win-loss records. The improvement in the standings can be looked at as being indicative of the club having a better roster and thus having a better chance to win going forward. But that is a far cry from extrapolating out on a line what the club will do based on past performace. People who don't get that are ignoring logic.dfh21

  73. Steve M. - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    Anon @ 11:53AM re: Michael Morse. Hate to say it, I have been talking up Michael Morse for 2 years and so have many others. He is a talent and in a comfortable place for the first time in his career. My comment a year ago for the key to Michael Morse was cutting down on his slumps. Michael was very streaky hot, and then would go into a deep funk. This year he started out in a slump and then never looked back and seemed to put it all together.On the same thoughts, I like the RH version of Danny Espinosa. I really hope Danny can cut down on that long LH swing where he picks up more contact.The one area where we will see improvement is these young guys that Davey is mentoring and that is Wilson Ramos, Ian Desmond, and Danny Espinosa. With regards to player development within the system, Davey sees far beyond what I see which gives me that optimism that the offense as it stands will be better in 2012 with the improvement of the young core. Davey has a very active role behind the scenes.

  74. Feel Wood - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    Gilliam is 24 years old in High A ball with a 5.00+ ERA. It just doesn't sound promising.Check out the era's in the California League. It's a notorious hitters league.The fact that he's 24 and still only in High A ball is what doesn't sound promising, no matter what his ERA is. That's Smiley Gonzales territory for a "prospect."

  75. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    See, here's the thing about Gilliam (sight unseen by me).Rizzo: Look, we can't go 4 for 1. It looks bad and the fans on Nats Insider will revolt.BB: OK, look around our system, we got plenty of dreck.Rizzo: How about that guy Gilliam down in A-ball?BB: Yeah, he's not going to cut it. Rizzo: Deal. (Smiling as he thinks of how well his system develops pitchers.)

  76. Steve M. - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    dfh21 said:There is no trajectory for the club in terms of Wins. Past performance is not indicative of futre returns. The roster may have been improving steadily but there is no trend.By definition, a trend is a movement toward something in a particular direction. Statistical modeling to guesstimate what will come next is a type of trending using historical analysis.If you don't think that taking rosters and evolving them with systematic improvement isn't mutually inclusive to where you can see trends, I disagree with you. Not sure I would use your word 'trajectory' but the trend is up for sure.You take all the intangibles of chemistry and team philosophy and management and their influence on the players and year to year if you are keeping most of the same group you are tweaking it. The Phillies, Braves and Nats ended up where most had predicted it in order. The Nats did slightly better than the consensus guesses which was around 75 to 78 wins.The same will happen for 2012 and I believe some will pick the Nats for 2nd place if the Braves do nothing.The Arizona Diamondbacks were the surprise team of 2011. They put in a new manager and new philosophy. That was a surprise. Everyone thought they would do better. Their trend was up and the line went straight up. You have every year positive surprises and disappointments. When the Red Sox with all of their fortification didn't make the playoffs with a trend line up and similar expections, they become a big disappointment hence all the firings.

  77. SpashCity - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    dfh – I see your point, it makes sense that 2009's record does not directly relate to the 2012 record. It is similar to saying that the 1998 Expos has nothing to do with today's team. But, you have to admit that back to back season's bleed into each other. The GM tries to build on what succeeded in 2011 for 2012. By the same token he tries to subtract those parts of the team that failed or were not up to his standards. Successful GMs are those that can identify and improve on areas of weakness from one season to the next, which most likely results in an increased win total. The worst parts of 2009 were removed and replaced with better talent, leading to a better record in 2010. The same can be said from 2010 to 2011. Rizzo is counting on 20 starts from Strasburg and 30 starts from Gonzalez being an improvement over the starts the Livo and Gorzelanny made last year. If the GM's attempts to improve the roster from one year to the next fail, the team will most likely win fewer games the following year, and several years of repeatedly lower win totals (a negative trend if you will) will lead to the GM being fired.

  78. Feel Wood - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    It is simply wrong to think that the club is on some trajectory based on past win-loss records. The improvement in the standings can be looked at as being indicative of the club having a better roster and thus having a better chance to win going forward. But that is a far cry from extrapolating out on a line what the club will do based on past performace. People who don't get that are ignoring logic.dfh21 What you're spouting is not logic. Extrapolating out on a line based on the trajectory of past performance is exactly the technique used in any kind of scientific analysis where predictions of the future need to be made. Instead of using that technique, you advocate predicting that a team will perform better if it has a better roster. That's fine as far as it goes, but how do you quantify that one roster is better or worse than another? Saying that "the team will be better when I say its roster is better" has no logical basis at all. It's about as subjective a method as can be found.

  79. PAY TO PLAY - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    Spash City, I remember in 2009 going into 2010 we were saying the only way to go was up. I think attitudes have changed also. This team used to have a bunch of guys here on 1 year deals just cashing a paycheck. There is finally some continuity going year to year where you can see things evolving.dfh21 has been in Baltimore too long and is finding it hard to believe. I think may of us feel that way that we are standing on a mountain and looking up!

  80. PAY TO PLAY - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    Trend: A pattern of gradual change in a condition, output, or process, or an average or general tendency of a series of data points to move in a certain direction over time, represented by a line or curve on a graph.

  81. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    Feel Wood. To quote a great Nats Insider poster: Dude, you have a warped sense of reality. 59 wins to 69 wins to 80 wins gets us how many wins this year? 92? And then 105 in 2013, 119 wins in 2014?!?The only way that the club can be predicted is by looking at its parts relative to its opponents and the schedules and making some assumptions based on present and future considerations. NONE of what happened last year matters at all. There are not anual record dots to connect in a line. There just aren't.dfh21

  82. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    Guys, take a math class will ya, dfh21 is right.

  83. Steve M. - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    PAY TO PLAY said… I think attitudes have changed also. This team used to have a bunch of guys here on 1 year deals just cashing a paycheck. There is finally some continuity going year to year where you can see things evolving.December 27, 2011 12:30 PM The change of attitudes is an intangible. I will use a 5 letter word that some won't like: W-E-R-T-HJayson Werth if nothing else brought a winning attitude here. The guy got used to winning and even though he didn't lead by statistics, behind the scene he was leading in other ways.Jayson Werth will have a very big influence when Prince Oppo Boppo arrives.

  84. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    The trade doesn't occur if Riggleman manages to the end. There is no way that Peacock, Milone, Lombardozzi, Marerro, and even Detwiler get a chance with the big club. For good or ill.

  85. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    Sadly, we dont need Prince…This is coming from a Prince lover (the artist n player).Harper is supposed to be our Prince/Stanton, once in a lifetime power hitter. That said, its now need for Prince. Also, if we have Prince we cant aquire Soler/Cepedes. Also, we are stuck with Morse Werth n Harper for the outfield for the next 5-7 years!!!Lipty,

  86. SpashCity - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    Obviously the win total is not a linear trend. It is more of a parabolic curve. Eventually it will level off between 95-105 wins (if Rizzo's master plan works). Similarly, poorly run teams (like the Orioles) do not continually get worse and worse until they lose all 162 games, they level off in the 95-105 loss range. Teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, and more recently the Angels and Phillies, have sustained success because they are continually trying to improve the team (through the draft, trades, and free agency), but the team's win totals obviously do not keep increasing until they are 162-0. However, the Nats are clearly improving from one year the the next. I believe that the moves Rizzo has made over the past three years have directly led to the improved win totals, and I have no reason not to trust that his decisions this off season will lead to another improvement in 2012.

  87. UM grad - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    Anonymous @ 11:58 am: "Unkyd — appreicate the nice words, but there is more than a done of truth to the notion, it is objectively true. The Nats record in 2009 has nothing to do with whatever record the club may have in 2012, of course. The same way the 2010 and 2011 records have zero influence over the wins and losses that the club has in 2012. It is simply wrong to think that the club is on some trajectory based on past win-loss records. The improvement in the standings can be looked at as being indicative of the club having a better roster and thus having a better chance to win going forward. But that is a far cry from extrapolating out on a line what the club will do based on past performace. People who don't get that are ignoring logic."I'm not sure that you understand what the word 'trend' means. A trend is a pattern or a general direction. To go from 2 consecutive 59-win seasons, to a 10-game improvement at 69 wins, to an 11-game improvement to 80 wins over 4 seasons is clearly a trend. What else could one call it?

  88. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    One thing is certain the Nats defense and pitching improved in 2011. Because their offense was pretty miserable with the lone exception of Morse. So, in a real sense the smart/small ball did work up to a point. However, without Morse the record likely ends up 10 games or more below .500.There's a balance that needs to be struck and the Nats are nowhere near that right now. They do need more offense … they needed more / better offense when Zim, Dunn, and Willingham were the #3, #4, #5.

  89. jeff550 - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    My new Nats top 50 prospects1. Bryce Harper2. Anthony Rendon3. Matt Purke4. Robbie Ray5. Alex Meyer6. Destin Hood7. Brian Goodwin8. Sammy Solis9. Steve Lombardozzi10. Michael Taylor11. Tyler Moore12. Chris Marrero13. David Freitas14. Eury Perez15. Kevin Keyes16. Wirkin Estevez17. Jeff Kobernus18. Danny Rosenbaum19. Matt Skole20. Rafael Martin21. Zach Walters22. Blake Kelso23. Rick Hague24. Jason Martinson25. Randolph Oduber26. Pat Lehman27. Kylin Turnbull28. Justin Bloxom29. Taylor Jordan(this was before I found out he needed TJ)30. Sandy Leon31. Cole Kimball32. Hector Nelo33. Josh Smoker34. Paul Demny35. Adrian Sanchez36. Taylor Hill37. Brian Dupra38. Christian Garcia39. Atahualpa Severino40. Marcos Frias41. Jeff Mandel42. Joe Testa43. Neil Holland44. Matt Swynenberg45. Ben Grisz46. Zech Zinicola47. Erik Arnesen48. Cory VanAllen49. Ben Graham50. Paul Applebee

  90. Feel Wood - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    Guys, take a math class will ya, dfh21 is right.I tried, but all the math classes for the spring semester at Bizarro U are full already.

  91. Steve M. - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    dfh21… The only way that the club can be predicted is by looking at its parts relative to its opponents and the schedules and making some assumptions based on present and future considerations. NONE of what happened last year matters at all. There are not anual record dots to connect in a line. There just aren't.dfh21 December 27, 2011 12:37 PM In a 16 game NFL season, I think you have to compare the opponents and schedule.Baseball has 10 times the amount of games and while you are looking at strength of schedule, the most important determination is did the Nats improve their roster from 2011 to 2012?If your answer is yes, then the team's trend is up.It is difficult to look at the Nats vs. the Yankees in 2012 because you don't know right now in a 3 game series if you will face CC Sabathia or their #3, #4, and #5 pitchers. In football, if I see the Packers as an opponent I know I am predicting that game to be facing Aaron Rodgers. This is why baseball is such a different game to predict. When you face the Phillies, Braves, Marlins and Mets 18 times a year then you can figure you will face a Roy Halladay on average 4 times a year and the same for their #5 starter.

  92. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:59 PM

    Also, we are stuck with Morse Werth n Harper for the outfield for the next 5-7 years!!!Prince or No they ARE STUCK with Werth and Harper for the next 6 years. Werth at 7 years appears to be a major misstep … and doesn't at all fit Rizzo's rather consistent pattern of what he likes … and Boras direct dealings with ownership might have been involved.Werth for more than 4 years really doesn't fit the overall model. Now Werth is an odd piece that will continue to block developing prospects like Destin Hood, Brian Goodwin, Michael Taylor, etc. for at least five years more.

  93. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    And if the Nats did get Cespedes to go with Hood, Goodwin, Taylor, Perez, and perhaps even Kobernus and Hague … Werth will continue to block the development of top outfielders. Its not a pretty picture.

  94. MFG - Dec 27, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    According to dfh, Werth's past performance has nothing to do with how he will do in 2012. So he is just as likely to his .330 with 45 homers as he is to hit .230 with 15 homers? Is that right dfh? I'm a glass half full guy, but it seems like we will just have to wait and be surprised.

  95. PAY TO PLAY - Dec 27, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    SpashCity said… Obviously the win total is not a linear trend. It is more of a parabolic curve. Eventually it will level off between 95-105 wins (if Rizzo's master plan works). Similarly, poorly run teams (like the Orioles) do not continually get worse and worse until they lose all 162 games, they level off in the 95-105 loss range. Teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, and more recently the Angels and Phillies, have sustained success because they are continually trying to improve the team (through the draft, trades, and free agency), but the team's win totals obviously do not keep increasing until they are 162-0. However, the Nats are clearly improving from one year the the next. I believe that the moves Rizzo has made over the past three years have directly led to the improved win totals, and I have no reason not to trust that his decisions this off season will lead to another improvement in 2012. December 27, 2011 12:51 PM You are of course correct on the percentage change year over year in getting much above 95 wins. For dfh's point on opponents, the Houston Astros may lose 120 games in 2012 to where inter-division opponents will feast on them. If you don't think that is a boost to the Reds and Cardinals and Brewers in 2012, watch and see. There is an instance where playing 18 games against a horrible team will make a difference in opponents on a schedule.

  96. Wally - Dec 27, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    Interesting debate. I can't help think that some of you are talking past each other, though. Of course, looking back the last few years, the trend is up. That is just a fact, not an opinion. But equally true, to me, is the fact that those trend lines (and rates) don't automatically apply to next year. First and foremost, it isn't the same team from year to year. The players change (players representing fully 33% of our innings pitched in 2011 will not pitch for us in 2012) but also the players that stay from year to year also change their performance levels, either because of changes internal to them, or to their environment. So they are not necessarily the same player as the 2011 version – or said more crudely, it isn't stratomatic baseball. And lastly, not all wins are created equally. Going from 59 to 69 is easier than going from 80 to 90. Much easier. So saying we are on a trend line towards 89 wins because of what happened the last few years just doesn't seem logically sound, to me. I believe that the right way to guess how good your team will be is to build up the wins from scratch each year, not take last year's numbers and add and subtract guys (no offense to your previous post, Mark).But when I read your comments, it seems like you all know and acknowledge that and are really arguing over how good is the roster, and how excited we can reasonably get. Yikes, good luck with that, and I'll keep reading to see how it turns out. All I know is that I would feel better with the Prince o' DC on the roster than its current version.

  97. UNTERP - Dec 27, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    My trajectory has the Nationals going to the Worlds Series in 2012 and losing it, and then returning in 2013 and winning it, followed by six more consecutive World Series, concluding an eight year run of World Series appearances and winning seven. Do the math or the statistics. That's seven straight World Series Championships. This is the formula that is used: Σ Nāts = WS WōN * 7

  98. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    UNTERP said… My trajectory has the Nationals going to the Worlds Series in 2012 and losing it, and then returning in 2013 and winning it, followed by six more consecutive World Series, concluding an eight year run of World Series appearances and winning seven. Do the math or the statistics. That's seven straight World Series Championships. This is the formula that is used: Σ Nāts = WS WōN * 7This made my snarf cherry coke all over my desk at work. Thanks a lot bro…

  99. Steve M. - Dec 27, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    Wally said…And lastly, not all wins are created equally. Going from 59 to 69 is easier than going from 80 to 90. Much easier.Absolutely. Go through Mark's WAR analysis. Getting to the "playoff level" is the toughest climb. It still doesn't change the projected trend which is up. Nobody is saying the Nats will increase another 16% and using Mark's WAR analysis it would take Prince Fielder to get the Nats to that level. The Phillies will probably trend down in 2012 and still make the playoffs. They won 102 games in 2011 so even if they fall 7% they are still at 95 wins.

  100. Steve M. - Dec 27, 2011 at 6:55 PM

    I liked the weekend discussion and the rationale Boras may use for a 5 year deal on Prince Fielder to draw in the Yankees (after Teixeira), the Red Sox, and possibly other big market teams like the Dodgers, Cubs, and White Sox after the 2016 season. Prince will be 32 years old if he does a 5 year contract with the Nats. Its a win-win all around and a 5 year $126.1 million deal may get it done.

  101. Sunderland - Dec 27, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    Jeff – I had Arnesen at 48 and VanAllen at 47.But I think you had it right. My bad.Captcha – capplessRizza and Ramos made us all cappless

  102. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 27, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    Wally said…Interesting debate. I can't help think that some of you are talking past each other, though …. But when I read your comments, it seems like you all … are really arguing over how good is the roster, and how excited we can reasonably get. And at the end of the year, the team that actually wins the most games will finish in first place, and the team in the playoffs that wins its last game will win the Series. Everything else is just sitting around spitting tobacco juice at the hot stove. Which is more fun than that sounds like, actually. But still…

  103. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:04 PM

    Steve M. said…I liked the weekend discussion and the rationale Boras may use for a 5 year deal on Prince Fielder to draw in the Yankees (after Teixeira), the Red Sox, and possibly other big market teams like the Dodgers, Cubs, and White Sox after the 2016 season.Prince will be 32 years old if he does a 5 year contract with the Nats. Its a win-win all around and a 5 year $126.1 million deal may get it done.Well, he'll be 32 whether he does that deal or not [ ; ) ], but I think this is also a reason why he might not accept fewer than five years. At which point I still don't understand who people think will play center field in 2013-16 out of Morse, Werth, and Harper.

  104. SpashCity - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    If the Nats sign Prince to any deal longer than 2 years, Morse has to be the one to go.

  105. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:08 PM

    I prefer bRAA and pRAA to war … mostly because these stats are park and defense neutral (while WAR isn't) and seem to give a far better perspective on where a team is at.I provided this argument for the acquisition of Prince Fielder on Amanda Comack's blog using bRAA. It shows that both the Marlins and the Nats need Fielder as a means to get right into the thick with the Phillies and Braves. However, it is interesting that while the Marlins went full bore for right handed elite hitter Pujols they aren't taking the same tact with left-handed elite hitter Fielder. The Adam Dunn effect more than the Cecil Fielder effect I suspect?Without Michael Morse their offense was beyond pathetic. They probably would have ended up with another 90-100 loss season. Let's do a quick comparison using park and defense neutral stats.Michael Morse: 575 xIP, .393 wOBA, 36.3 bRAARyan Zimmerman: 440 xIP, .360 wOBA, 15.2 bRAA That's pretty much the entire offense all others were too close to average or way belowaverage to have any kind statistical effect.Nats overall: wOBA .312, bRAA: -40.1 [pretty miserable!!!]Nats 2010 overall: wOBA .319, bRAA: -31.8 [still miserable!!]You could look at last year's Werth and Zimmerman and say hmmm:(probably what Nat's mgmt. were thinking when they signed Werth)2010 Ryan Zimmerman: 603 PA, .398 wOBA, 37.9 bRAA2010 Jayson Werth: 651 PA, .396 wOBA, 39.5 bRAABUT both are RHB's to go with a right handed Michael Morse. And youwould still be miserable overall without a Morse repeat and dramatic results fromsay Bryce Harper (only LHB), Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos, and the bench. The bRAA could still end up as a large negative number otherwise.Let's look at the aging Phillies:2010: .331 wOBA, 31.1 bRAA2011: .321 wOBA, 5.9 bRAAHunter Pence [RHB]: 236 PA, 0.415 wOBA, 19.5 bRAARyan Howard [LHB]: 644 PA, 0.352 wOBA, 17.8 bRAACarlos Ruiz [RHB]: 472 PA, 0.350 wOBA, 12.1 bRAAJohn Mayberry [RHB]: 296 PA, 0.360 wOBA, 10.3 bRAAChase Utley [LHB]Domonic Brown [LHB]The Braves:2010: .338 wOBA, 66.5 bRAA2011: .316 wOBA, -19.2 bRAAFreddie Freeman [LHB]: 635 PA, 0.354 wOBA, 18.6 bRAAChipper Jones [S]: 512 PA, 0.360 wOBA, 17.7 bRAABrian McCann [LHB]: 527 PA, 0.352 wOBA, 14.5 bRAADan Uggla [RHB]: 672 PA, 0.342 wOBA, 12.9 bRAAJason Heyward [LHB]The younger Marlins:2010 : .320 wOBA, -28.0 bRAA2011: .314 wOBA, -31.0 bRAAMike Stanton [RHB]: 601 PA, 0.373 wOBA, 27.6 bRAALogan Morrison [LHB]: 525 PA, 0.349 wOBA, 13.3 bRAAGabby Sanchez [RHB]: 661 PA, 0.341 wOBA, 12.1 bRAAEmilio Bonifacio [S]: 641 PA, 0.339 wOBA, 10.4 bRAAHanley Rarmirez [RHB]Note that the Marlins and Nats share a common characteristic:a dearth of strong left-handed bats. But the Marlins have LoMo.The Nats have LaRoche:Adam La Roche 2010: 615 xIP, .370 wOBA, 0.00 bRAAPrince Fielder: [LHB]: 692 xIP, .407 wOBA, 49.9 bRAAClearly, the Marlins and the Nats both appear to need Prince Fielder in orderto advance to the next level. The Nats even more so because they appear to be gambling on more unknowns in their lineup. AND the Nats have adecidedly weak left-handed presence in their lineup. That could lead to a4ht place finish in the competitive NL East. Perhaps even last.St. Louis Cardinals overall: wOBA 0.349, 151.9 bRAALance Berkman [S]: 583 PA, 0.426 wOBA, 52.0 bRAAMatt Holiday [RHB]: 512 PA, 0.409 wOBA, 39.3 bRAAYadier Molina [RHB]: 515 PA, 0.366 wOBA, 20.2 bRAAAllen Craig [RHB]: 219 PA, 0.410 wOBA, 17.1 bRAACarlos Beltran [S]: 179 PA, 0.396 wOBA, 11.8 bRAAJon Jay [LHB]: 500 PA, 0.346 wOBA, 11.2 bRAA

  106. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    WAR analysis is just dumb. What was the WAR win prediction for the D-Bax last year? Or for the Twins or Chi-Sox? Did WAR analysis predict the Braves or Red Sox would fold like lawn chairs? That the Pirates or Tribe would be adding players at the deadline? The world is not static. The game happens.

  107. Steve M. - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    Sec 3, I take hollow victories and the positive outlook gives me hope. I see people more pissed when they are the World Series loser than if they were a fan of the 2011 Baltimore Orioles still living like its 1970.Funny how people all approach their fan perspective.At the end of the day, there are still some in Baltimore that think their modern day orange clad "ornithology" is the same team as they watched 40 years ago. There is almost nothing except geography and the name/logo on the front of their jersey that ties these teams together from decade to decade any more.

  108. Unkyd - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:16 PM

    TACK TACK TACK!!!!!!

  109. Roberto - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    The idea that either Saunders or Oswalt are somehow equivalent to Gio Gonzalez is baffling. Saunders is — forgive the repetition — an older, softer-throwing, possibly more expensive version of John Lannan.Oswalt is 34, has made several trips to the IR in recent seasons, and likely will cost for one season season what Gonzalez will cost for three. As for the farm system: we traded two players with no real future on the Nationals, a pitcher whose best possible role might be in the bullpen, and a young pitcher with lots of upside who is, at best, 2-3 years from the bigs. We still have a corner outfielder not named "Harper" whom Fangraphs believes is poised for a breakout year in AA (Hood), a close-to-the-bigs hitter whose scouting reports read "multiple batting titles," "an on-base machine with 20-25 HR power" and who plays excellent defense at a premium defensive position. And then we have the kid from Vegas. Throw in Goodwin, Meyer, Purke and some sleepers like Taylor, and the idea that Rizzo gave away the farm to get Gonzalez is odd, to say the least.

  110. PAY TO PLAY - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    Anonymous said… WAR analysis is just dumb. What was the WAR win prediction for the D-Bax last year? Or for the Twins or Chi-Sox? Did WAR analysis predict the Braves or Red Sox would fold like lawn chairs? That the Pirates or Tribe would be adding players at the deadline? The world is not static. The game happens. December 27, 2011 2:12 PM And thats what makes the game fun. The unpredictablity in it. Nobody saw the Arizona DBacks run coming just like San Diego's the year before.Almost every year has a few suprises and a few shockers.If the Nats made the playoffs in 2012, I don't think people would be shocked.

  111. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    Steve M. said… Sec 3, I take hollow victories and the positive outlook gives me hope. I see people more pissed when they are the World Series loser than if they were a fan of the 2011 Baltimore Orioles still living like its 1970. Funny how people all approach their fan perspective. At the end of the day, there are still some in Baltimore that think their modern day orange clad "ornithology" is the same team as they watched 40 years ago. There is almost nothing except geography and the name/logo on the front of their jersey that ties these teams together from decade to decade any more.Ummm…Ok. I don't disagree, but I have no idea why you're telling me this.

  112. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:20 PM

    At which point I still don't understand who people think will play center field in 2013-16 out of Morse, Werth, and Harper.In 2013 perhaps Werth. But clearly none of the above? The point is the Nats have internal solutions that should be considered … before trading for the CF that Rizzo likes and losing even more of a farm system that has finally pulled itself up from JimBo's incompetent management to an ill considered trade.At this point having Jayson Werth in the outfield at all beyond 2013 looks like a bad move. Morse is a different story but … even as the original Morse fan who took all of the grief about Morse being a AAAA player (hey I was right AND you were decidedly wrong) I realize that if Rendon is everything the scouts say and he is ready … he would replace someone and that might just be Michael Morse. And it would make sense for far too many reasons to argue against it.The same is true for the CF. Johnson needs to look at Brown, Goodwin, Perez, Taylor, perhaps even Hood if he is now mature enough to learn the position. And as someone pointed out next year Upton, Victorino, etc. will be available as free agents. I see nothing wrong with signing Cespedes but the only problem is the guy he would most likely replace would be right fielder Jayson Werth and with a seven year contract that ain't about to happen. The real fly in the ointment will continue to be Jayson Werth … now and into 2015-2016.

  113. Feel Wood - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    Prince will be 32 years old if he does a 5 year contract with the Nats. Its a win-win all around and a 5 year $126.1 million deal may get it done.Boras won't do a 5 year deal for Prince. He'll do an 8, 9 or 10 year deal with an opt-out clause after 3 or 4 years, like he did with ARod and Sabathia. That kind of deal puts the long-term risk on the team rather than the player, since the player still gets paid for the out years if his performance in the early years does not live up to the contract. A pure shorter-term contract like 5 years puts all the risk on the player. Boras is all about minimizing the risk on his players, and some team will go along with that approach. They always do.

  114. Wally - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    Steve M. said…I liked the weekend discussion and the rationale Boras may use for a 5 year deal on Prince Fielder to draw in the Yankees (after Teixeira), the Red Sox, and possibly other big market teams like the Dodgers, Cubs, and White Sox after the 2016 season. Prince will be 32 years old if he does a 5 year contract with the Nats. Its a win-win all around and a 5 year $126.1 million deal may get it done.OK, I am in. I'd even go to 5/$130m, so he and Boras can safely crow at him being the highest paid 1BSec 3, My Sofa said…At which point I still don't understand who people think will play center field in 2013-16 out of Morse, Werth, and Harper. If Harper or Werth can't handle CF, Morse or Werth can be traded. If Vernon Wells can be traded, so can Werth even if the Nats have to eat some salary. And I love Morse, so trading him may sound harsh, but the team would be dealing from a position of strength, and if you had to choose who is the more valuable player between Fielder and Morse for the next 5 years, Fielder seems like the better choice. To me, 5 years is a no brainer, 7 years makes me uncomfortable but still willing, but 10 years and I am out. I would happily be wrong, but I don't see 5 years getting it done.Anon @2:08, really liked that analysis

  115. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    even as the original Morse fan who took all of the grief about Morse being a AAAA player (hey I was right AND you were decidedly wrong)What did I ever say about Morse being AAAA??

  116. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    What did I ever say about Morse being AAAA??Meant "you" in the third person context as in the blog. Not anyone specifically. Just in general. Sorry I wasn't clear.

  117. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:44 PM

    One can only hope that Werth can and will produce like Ibanez did for the Phillies up to age 38.

  118. SCNatsFan - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:46 PM

    I'm not read to give up on Werth yet despite the horrid year. Outside of Morse he had no one else in the lineup to protect him for most of the season; even Nix, I believe, hit cleanup for us. Give him a full year of Zim, a healthy LaRoche and Morse around him and see what happens. Sure, there is a chance last year wasn't an abberation but there is a better chance that it was just that. All of you who think he's done will happily jump back on his bandwagon if that's true.

  119. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    Werth for Vernon Wells … I didn't see that coming. although…

  120. Mark'd - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    Boras is hoping Ted Lerner will bail him out on Prince and it won't happen. There is no long-term deal for Prince even after Albert was snagged. Maybe 7 years which puts Prince at 34. Not a great longterm market for grossly overweight baseball players seems to be the story now. Still think if NYY was in the bidding, could make it a different market.What do they say, timing is everything? Much better in 5 years.

  121. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    Werth for Vernon Wells … I didn't see that coming. Werth is in better shape, is a better fielder and even hit better than Wells last year? Otherwise, its close to an even exchange.But, from Rizzo's perspective its Borjous. That's where a good year from Destin Hood in AA might help. Best to wait and see. Because if Trout is their CF then …

  122. David - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    I'll post this again… what's the latest with Brian Goodwin? Does anyone have any idea where he will open the season? And how come the Nats have been very quiet about him?….

  123. Mark'd - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    Werth is realistically untradeable. Not even Werth writing about.

  124. Roberto - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    IMO, giving Cespedes 5 years/$40 million or more, as is being speculated, is a bigger risk than giving Fielder $125 million or so over the same period. Cespedes is 26 and will need at least most of 2012 before he can contribute at the MLB level. Even then, no one in their right mind thinks he can approach Fielder's kind of production, which will commence on Opening Day, 2012. In fact, I'm trying to think of a Cuban defector, other than Livan and his half-brother, who performed at a moderate-to-high level for a sustained period of time.

  125. Wally - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    I don't think that there have been many successful Cuban trained position players who have been successful here. At least I can't think of any.Speaking of Cuban emigres, there is supposed to be a Cuban pitcher whose name escapes me that is good. Bryce Harper tweeted that he was the 2d best pitcher that he has ever faced. Omar something? Anyone hear of him?

  126. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    List of MLB players from Cuba

  127. Sunderland - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:17 PM

    Alexei Ramirez, White Sox SSAveraged .335 in Cuba, and hit 20 HR’s in a 90 game season, a rate of 1 HR for each 4.5 games.In MLB, has averaged a .279 BA, and 69 HR is about 600 games, a rate of about 1 HR for each 8.7 games. (unscientific, but you get the gist).I think dropping $20M+ on Cespedes is exceptionally risky.

  128. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    Trade Lannan, Laroche and Marrero for Ichuro. Takes Seattle out of the Fielder sweepstakes and gets him to the Nats for a little less money. Lineup of Ichuro, Werth, Zim, Fielder, Morse, Espy, Dez, and Ramos.

  129. Minervino (Minnie) Mendoza - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:24 PM

    When it comes to signing Cuban players, you gotta draw the line somewhere.

  130. Ichiro - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    Who is "Ichuro"?

  131. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    In the end, the scout did the deal and got ripped off. This wasn't a trade for a known commodity like Roy Halladay.Halladay is right-handed. Gonzalez is left-handed. There is marked difference. In the NL East from Rizzo the GM and the SCOUT's perspective lefties are key. And that's been the case with Rizzo from the beginning. Less so for Riggleman. Making Johnson GM added a greater sense of urgency to the left-handed dilemma. Johnson first recalled Detwiler, and then Milone just for that reason.Speaking of MIlone, they still do have Danny Rosenbaum who will be entering AA this year. He has added velocity and still learning to control it but like Milone he is still very good at just getting hitters out. He will be in line for a call-up.Bottom line the Nats went into this offseason with only 2 priorities from their Manager reinforcing what their GM has felt all along:1. Left-handed top of the rotation starter: Gonzalez is much like Randy Johnson who spent five or more years mastering his control. But he did become an ace.2. Left-handed power hitter for the heart of the lineup. Other than Harper. Dunn's replacement.

  132. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    Making Johnson GM added a greater sense of urgency to the left-handed dilemma.Err manager … he said sheepishly … although truth be told Johnson basically is an assistant GM.

  133. natsfan1a - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    Yabbut, could that be called a trend? (Sorry, couldn't resist. Okay, back to cat-sitting now.)UNTERP said… My trajectory has the Nationals going to the Worlds Series in 2012 and losing it, and then returning in 2013 and winning it, followed by six more consecutive World Series, concluding an eight year run of World Series appearances and winning seven. Do the math or the statistics. That's seven straight World Series Championships. This is the formula that is used: Σ Nāts = WS WōN * 7 December 27, 2011 1:32 PM

  134. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:43 PM

    Ichiro. I should check spelling before posting. He is in last year of his deal with Seattle who is going nowhere. Seattle may look to save some money and Ichiro may want to play for a franchise that can win. He has no trade rights which he'd have to waive. Nats would have a great defensive right fielder with Werth moving to CF and we would have one of the top leadoff guys of all-time. I think last year was a fluke for Ichiro on offense.

  135. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    PROJECTED NEW TOP 10secondary sort on Minor league performances plus Sickel's grading taken into account1. Bryce Harper A2. Anthony Rendon. A-3. Stephen Lombardozzi B-4. Destin Hood B-5. Robbie Ray B-6. Alex Meyer B7. Danny Rosenbaum C+8. Sammy Solis B- (injuries)9. Matt Purke B- (injuries) 10. David Frietas C+11. Chris Marerro C+12. Michael Taylor C+13. Rick Hague C (injuries)14. Matt Skole C15. Jason Martinson C16. Tyler Moore17. Wirkin Estevez18. Kylin Turnbull19. Cole Kimball (injuries)20. Jeff Kobernus

  136. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:53 PM

    Ichiro is now 38 years old.Cameron is 40. The Nats already have one of those.

  137. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:56 PM

    Although I'm sure Michael Morse would enjoy having his old teammate back. (Ichiro)

  138. Wally - Dec 27, 2011 at 9:00 PM

    We have talked a lot about the Nats spending patterns, and I thought that this chart about average payrolls was interesting (saw on MLBTR)American League: $104.7MM per team AL East: $119.6MM per team AL Central: $90.5MM per team AL West: $103.9MM per teamNational League: $95.8MM per team NL East: $105.9MM per team NL Central: $90.8MM per team NL West: $88.5MM per team

  139. Wally - Dec 27, 2011 at 9:02 PM

    I should have included this, too. Nats came in at $72mFigures are for 40-man rosters and include salaries and pro-rated shares of signing bonuses, earned incentive bonuses, non-cash compensation, buyouts of unexercised options and cash transactions. In some cases, parts of salaries that are deferred are discounted to reflect present-day values.

  140. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 27, 2011 at 9:15 PM

    Also on MLBTR:File under "What could possibly go wrong?""The Mets sent R.A. Dickey's agent a letter to warn that they can void his contract if he's injured climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in January, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal. As GM Sandy Alderson noted, that hasn't dissuaded the 37-year-old knuckleballer."

  141. natsfan1a - Dec 27, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    Haven't seen him lately, but he also may need to get a shave and haircut so as not to be mistaken for a Yeti.

  142. DaveB - Dec 27, 2011 at 9:41 PM

    Anon said: "Bottom line the Nats went into this offseason with only 2 priorities from their Manager reinforcing what their GM has felt all along:"You got the pitcher part right but the other off-season priority (straight from Rizzo's mouth many times) was a centerfielder/lead-off batter, not a power-hitting lefty for the middle of the order.

  143. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 9:51 PM

    You got the pitcher part right but the other off-season priority (straight from Rizzo's mouth many times) was a centerfielder/lead-off batter, not a power-hitting lefty for the middle of the order.That's because you weren't listening to Davey Johnson who isn't all that interested in subterfuge. He ALWAYS stated that he didn't want or need a CF or lead off hitter. He wanted to see what he had within the organization first before going outside. As far as I know he hasn't excluded anyone including Corey Brown.Johnson did want MOAR left handed starters. He brought up Detwiler AND Milone. He personally recalled them not Rizzo. Johnson also said he wanted more power from the left-side, thus his inclination to give Harper a try-out to see if he is ready. Johnson liked Nix but he no longer has him. So? They need left-handed power.Oh and last I looked Rizzo had almost completely reversed course on the CF as the top priority and is talking about Werth in CF … just as Johnson wants.

  144. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 10:00 PM

    If anyone thinks Davey Johnson wants Ian Desmond leading off for his club, you are nutso. Davey is smart enough to say geat things about his current guys, and he's not dumb enough to believe — no matter what he might say — that Desmond can find 1st base enough times to end up at home plate enough to justify leading off.

  145. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    The power hitting lefty for the middle of the order might just be Harper, no?dfh21

  146. Sunderland - Dec 27, 2011 at 10:26 PM

    I fully agree with Anon 4:51 /5:00. I'll go so far as to say he was ahead of the curve on this. (It would be so much easier if this partiular anon had a name, such as peric for example. Now that guy, peric, was also way ahead of the curve on Michael Morse).Johnson threw Werth into CF for a reason last season, and he figures he can get by in 2012 with Werth in CF, and maybe put in Cameron as a defensive replacement and bring any one of the 3 outfielders to the bench.And it would be too much (IMO) to drop Harper in the lineup as the main power lefty. Harper and LaRoche, not so good. Harper and Fielder? That's just fine.

  147. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 10:37 PM

    If anyone thinks Davey Johnson wants Ian Desmond leading off for his club, you are nutso. Davey is smart enough to say geat things about his current guys, and he's not dumb enough to believe — no matter what he might say — that Desmond can find 1st base enough times to end up at home plate enough to justify leading off.So, if that's true Mr. anon then how is that Davey Johnson moved Desmond all the way from 8th where Riggleman had banished him to batting first for most of the last part of they year? Hmmmm? So, Davey is dumb but he appears to know a great deal more about baseball than you do because both Desmond's BA and OBP skyrocketed.Meanwhile, back at the ranch … er well on the farm as they say there is this guy named Stephen Lombardozzi a top 10 Nats prospect and switch-hitter who also happens to be very good at leading off. He finished the season in Syracuse.Apparently, Dumb Davey Johnson likes him too and has stated that if he came up with the 25-man roster he would have to play him … a lot. Hmmm he must be really, really dumb eh?

  148. Roberto - Dec 27, 2011 at 11:22 PM

    "Minervino (Minnie) Mendoza said…"¿Quien es “Minervino? Mis padres me llamaron Cristobal Rigoberto. One place I definitely draw the line in signing Cuban ballplayers is making aure I have the the right Mendoza, although in this case, Minervino Mendoza couldn't have been much worse that Cristobal Rigoberto Mendoza. Or Adam Dunn in 2011.

  149. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2011 at 11:51 PM

    Riggleman gave Desmond a shot at the top, he hit mostly 1 or 2, but he was beyond terrible. They had to drop the guy down in the order, he's lucky he did not get demoted. In April and May he K'd 50 times in less than 200 AB's, with 7 XBH all in April, 0 HR's and hitting at a .217 clip. And his glove was terrible too. Ian killed the club last year. It was great that he started to hit over the last half of the season but not so great that he did not get anything figured out until right about the time when the Nats were out of the race. Desmond turned it on in the second half and maybe he's turned the corner and is capable of hitting .280+ and getting on to a .340 clip, but those kind of numbers would be outliers for his career. He's likely not the lead off man for a winning baseball club.

  150. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 28, 2011 at 12:24 AM

    "Minervino (Minnie) Mendoza said…"¿Quien es “Minervino? Mis padres me llamaron Cristobal Rigoberto. "The Right Mendoza" sounds like it should be slang for something, maybe "the straw that stirs the drink," as Reggie used to call himself.Oh, and I think they mean this guy. Who isn't Cuban, btw.

  151. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 28, 2011 at 12:28 AM

    Oh, ding. They meant THIS guy. Please tell me that was a deliberate pun.captcha="chyspo"I think he played for them.

  152. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 12:51 AM

    Desmond turned it on in the second half and maybe he's turned the corner and is capable of hitting .280+ and getting on to a .340 clip, but those kind of numbers would be outliers for his career. He's likely not the lead off man for a winning baseball club.Oh gee Mr. Anonymous you still think Davey Johnson is dumb eh? Or you haven't been paying attention? -100 for your comment for not paying attention.It was Davey Johnson's idea to put Desmond at shortstop. Riggleman wanted to make him a utility guy. The only reason Desmond is starting or getting a shot at leadoff is because Davey Johnson (then a consultant) kind of insisted. And Rizzo went with it.So, I guess we'll have to see who is dumber? You? or Davey Johonson. I am betting on the former.

  153. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 12:56 AM

    The power hitting lefty for the middle of the order might just be Harper, no?If you want to rely on a rookie and put all the pressure on the crown jewel of your organization from the get-go? Sure. In Nats park (which favors lefties) and in the NL East its probably better to have more than one. Especially if one is a rookie 19 year old who is still developing.

  154. Gonat - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:22 AM

    You all laughed at me last week on Prince for 3 years. Gammons quoting GMs think Prince at 3 years for $26M a year. I know Steve M. is saying 5 years. This will be real interesting if the Nats are in.pgammo Peter Gammons Several gm's think Boras could do a 3 year Prince deal @ $26M per year, go back on the market @30 and beat Pujols' AAV

  155. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:32 AM

    I don't remember laughing at you. In fact I don't remember you….

  156. Roberto - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:41 AM

    "Oh, ding. They meant THIS guy. Please tell me that was a deliberate pun."That's who I thought, too. Only his name was Saturnino Orestes. Saturnino? Saturnine, what a name! Actually it was my great-great grandfather's. No wonder he left Spain!

  157. MicheleS - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    Gonat.. saw that Gammons tweet. It must mean that there is not a lot of interest for Fielder and Boras can't get a long term deal. If he goes for 3 or 4 years, that would be interesting. When do the Red Sox and Yanks (and Dodgers if they ever get cleaned up) need a 1B? That is what Boras is hoping for. NO big market teams with big payrolls are bidding.

  158. Gonat - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:53 AM

    Boras is shooting down the 3 year theory as if it is ridiculous. Boras is backing himself in the corner. 5 to 7 years may get a higher total but doubt they will want to pay $26m per year. 5 years at $110 million vs. 3 years $78 million. I don't see a big 7 year deal. I think he will get 5 years done or 7 at a lower value than Pujols.

  159. #4 - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:54 AM

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/12/yakult-swallows-sign-lastings-milledge-.htmlWow!A sad reminder of the JimBo era.#4

  160. Gonat - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:58 AM

    MicheleS, Teixeira will have 5 more years left. The Red Sox of course have Adrian Gonzalez but could also use a DH. Adrian Gonzalez is only 2 years older and his contract goes through 2018.

  161. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 2:11 AM

    Several gm's think Boras could do a 3 year Prince deal @ $26M per year, go back on the market @30 and beat Pujols' AAVFive would be just about right … that's when the decline would begin. And unless Prince changes his lifestyle (physicality) he won't beat anyone and especially Pujols.

  162. Anonymous8 - Dec 28, 2011 at 2:24 AM

    Could this be the time Boras looks bad? Fielder plays at a high level for now. A severely obese athlete just scares off bidders to go longer terms.

  163. Big Cat - Dec 28, 2011 at 2:49 AM

    Yes Roberto, I to can see Destin Hood having a break thru season in AA this year. I saw him a lot in Potomac last year and while he only hit 13 homers there, I saw him launch a few to right center, no easy chore for a right hander in Potomac since the ball just doesn't carry well there. He could be a sleeper in 2013.

  164. Section 222 - Dec 28, 2011 at 2:51 AM

    My theory is that Anon 5:37, Anon 6:51, Anon 7:51, Anon 7:56, and Anon 8:32 are the same person. Sir, I congratulate you on making my head spin.

  165. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 2:57 AM

    well, not 8:32. I'm a smarty pants but not bohemian.

  166. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 28, 2011 at 3:38 AM

    We should all post as Anonymous on April 1.

  167. sjm308 - Dec 28, 2011 at 3:53 AM

    sofa:as much as I have railed against the anons (not all but most) that is a great idea. Problem is, at my age I will forget but I will count on you reminding me.

  168. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 4:33 AM

    I'm anonymous of Nazareth! And so is my wife!

  169. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 7:20 AM

    Could this be the time Boras looks bad? Fielder plays at a high level for now. A severely obese athlete just scares off bidders to go longer terms.5'11" 300 pounds. That's cruciate ligament surgery within a year or two. Once the wheels go the hitting probably will too. Its worth risking for 3 years with a team out clause as a contingency for the above. The Nats do need that bat. But Boras now says the pundits who said he would consider a shorter term are a bunch of drunks. So … if that's the case he could end up in Baltimore as a resurrected Boog Powell. He weighs as much but is a lot shorter … ;) If that's the case then a safer bet for the Nats might be to trade for Seth Smith. A decent left-handed bat that can either be a bench backup and spot starter. Not the best fielder in the world but the guy is a decent hitter with decent pop. A cheaper and better Laynce Nix … except he would require trading more prospects … He's only 28. Yes, stats appear to indicate that they would surely still need Harper's bat in the lineup in either scenario.

  170. sjm308 - Dec 28, 2011 at 7:24 AM

    Hey its me Sofa? I can be you … or sjm308? But in the end I am still one of the anonymii … unless someone has the link (as Mr. sec3mysofa does) then you should consider yourself anonymous. Sorry but that should be made very clear to from this post.

  171. April Fools in January 2012 - Dec 28, 2011 at 7:26 AM

    Hey Nob, he Bob, the Mirkwood spider …

  172. Pater Noster - Dec 28, 2011 at 7:28 AM

    I'm anonymous of Nazareth! And so is my wife!Don't annoy me son!

  173. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 7:37 AM

    Seth Smith left-handed bat: defense and park neutral offensive stats.533 PA, .345 wOBA, 11.6 bRAA. Better than anyone the Nats had last year with the exceptions of Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman. Bench+ guy. They aren't going to find a left-handed hitting CF unless Corey Brown is a 2012 epiphany and/or Brian Goodwin is a miracle prospect … so … perhaps this guy combined with Harper?

  174. Pirate baseball - Dec 28, 2011 at 8:19 AM

    What happens to a Pirate when he gets throw out of the Pirate Navy?He joins the Arrrrrrrrrrrrhhhmy.

  175. Pirate baseball - Dec 28, 2011 at 8:20 AM

    What do you call a Pirate that crosses the ocean twice without taking a bath?A dirty double crosser.

  176. Pirate baseball - Dec 28, 2011 at 8:27 AM

    Why did the Pirates hoist the anchor by hand?They didn't have any wenches.

  177. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    How much does corn cost at the Pirate market?Buccaneer.Ok, what's with the Pirate stuff?dfh21

  178. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    Not sure, dfh, but they do spell awfully well for being so drunk, don't they?

  179. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    OK, in no particular order . . .Prince is not going anywhere for 3 years.Riggleman wanted Desmond to be a utility guy, but Johnson talked him out of that? I did not know that. I presume that would have meant that Riggs wanted Espi to SS and maybe a platoon at 2B last year? That would have worked for me. Desmond is just not that good of a SS and he does not hit for avergae or power and his OBP skills are woeful. I'm with the Anon above, I am hoping hat the plan is not for Desmond to be the lead off guy. That's Bad Idea Jeans.Can Seth Smith play CF? If not, then I don't get the need to trade for a guy like him this year. They'd have to give up a lot for him only to have play part time, no?And I will spare you the Pirate booty pun that I was going to insert here.dfh21

  180. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    How much crack do you have to smoke to put such mindless comments on a baseball blog?A lot

  181. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:19 PM

    I gotta start proofreading — my typing is awful. Sorry all.dfh21

  182. Sunderland - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    BTW, not sure if this is common knowledge, but both Clippard and Jordan Zimmermann are classified as Super2's, and as such will get nice raises this year.The cut off was 2 years, 146 days, and Zinn was the last to qualify at 2 yrs 154 days.A full season is somewhere between 178 and 183 days, depends on scheduling variances each year.Drew Storen is at 1 year 140 days, and is certainly on the bubble for qualifying next year. The new CBA has changes that shortens up the qualifying period, getting more guys to qualify, so he's pretty likely to also qualify and get a decent raise next year.http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/10/price-porcello-among-27-to-reach-super-two-status.html

  183. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    Re – lead off. We have the same problem at lead off that we have had at several other positions. The organization puts someone out there (berni in cf, a cast of several at lead off) and they just don't let them learn the position. Playing any role or position in baseball takes a looooong time to learn, not a month or two. Even rick ankiel – sure he strikes out a lot , but he is a relatively inexperienced hitter – having been a pitcher before.There is just no opportunity given for a learning curve. If you really expect Desi to lead off then he has to be put there for at least a full season and he won't actually be good at it for several seasons. At Lombardozzi has some experience. It really irritates me when they appoint someone and say it's their spot ( bernie again) and then pull them when they don't perform like a veteran right away. Again – it takes multiple seasons, not games, to really learn a role or position. There is no instant gratification in baseball. To quote Annie Savoy –"it's a non-time kind of time"

  184. NatsLady - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    Yes, I knew that about Clip and JZimm getting super 2 status. Congrats to them, both, and don't spend it all in one place.

  185. MFG - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    "It really irritates me when they appoint someone and say it's their spot ( bernie again) and then pull them when they don't perform like a veteran right away. Again – it takes multiple seasons, not games, to really learn a role or position."This is a great philosophy…in single A ball. The Nats are at a point where they are on the verge of contention. If the organization thinks a young player has the skill set to be an effective lead off hitter, it can afford to have that guy struggle to learn how to work a pitch count in Potomac. But the Nats are not in a place to have people learning on the job. If they think Desmond can do it, then I will support that decision, because Davey Johnson and Mike Rizzo have forgotten more about baseball than I will even know. But they are also smart enough to know that the team can not realistically contend with a lead off batter with a .295 OBP. If Desmond doesn't prove that he has improved his ability to get on base and work pitch counts, then the team must make a change.

  186. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    Anon 8:38 — learning the position is what the minor leagues are for. The MLB club is not the place for guys to be figuring out fundamentals of the game. The club, finally on the cusp of looking like it can win, can't plug some guy in an important role and risk losing until he figures it out. dfh21

  187. natsfan1a - Dec 28, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    I'm thinking more like February 2.Sec 3, My Sofa said… We should all post as Anonymous on April 1. December 27, 2011 10:38 PM

  188. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    After we all post an Anonymous, we can launch Occupy Mike Rizzo's Office until he reveals his master plan, including why he is waiting to offer Ryan Zimmerman an extension.

  189. Annie Savoy - Dec 28, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    "even though it seems like baseball is a linear game 'cause of the lines and the box scores an' all–but the fact is that there's a spacious-"non-time kind of time" to it."

  190. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 28, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    natsfan1a said… I'm thinking more like February 2.Sec 3, My Sofa said…We should all post as Anonymous on April 1.Split the difference, and let's declare February 29 "Anonymity Day."

  191. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    If the Nats get a legit lead off man, then I am all for an Occupy Half Street movement.

  192. MicheleS - Dec 28, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    Just heard the Rizzo is going to be on ESPN 980 at 10:30.. Hopefully Loverro will grill him…

  193. Anonymous - Dec 28, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    Loverro is a paper tiger if ever there was one. All bite in print and when no one is around, but gushing praise when face to face wit the guy whom he needs to come on the program for his ratings. Go figure.

  194. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 28, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    Oh, and there's a new post

  195. Jim Kurtzke - Dec 28, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    All I can say is that Gio better be pretty darn good

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 75 56 --
ATLANTA 68 64 7.5
MIAMI 65 66 10.0
NEW YORK 62 70 13.5
PHILADELPHIA 60 72 15.5
Through Tuesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Nats at Phillies, 7:35 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Mariners, 10:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Mariners, 9:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Mariners, 4:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 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

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

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

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

Follow us on Twitter