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Addressing the Fielder rumors

Jan 3, 2012, 2:11 AM EST

US Presswire photo
The market for free agent Prince Fielder hasn't developed as everyone expected.

Could the Nationals sign Prince Fielder? Sure. They've got the resources to do that.

Having the ability to lock up the biggest name remaining on the free-agent market, however, doesn't always lead to actually acquiring said player. Nor does it always make such a blockbuster move the right one.

For months now, every prominent national baseball writer out there has speculated Fielder will land in Washington. The rationale: The Nationals have plenty of money, are trying to push themselves into contender-status and have a history of signing players represented by Scott Boras to very large deals.

To date, though, this has amounted to little more than speculation and rumor. The only sources cited to this point have been "executives from other clubs" and "MLB officials" who say "word is spreading in theRead more »

143 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. joemktg - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:32 AM

    Well that's a bucket of ice cold water. Thanks…I think.

  2. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:33 AM

    I hear Fielder was back in the lobby of the Willard tonight.

  3. Will B - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:35 AM

    Mark – A few days ago, Ladson implied the Nats weren't interested in a Zim extension because of Rendon. Today, Ken Rosenthal floated the same idea in discussing a possible Fielder signing and what it meant for Zim. Have you heard anything to this effect? Thanks…

  4. UnkleWheez - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:38 AM

    I needed that

  5. Brad - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:40 AM

    If the Nationals had this capacity for deep thinking, they never would have signed Werth in the first place. I'd bet Fielder's a lock, and they let Morse walk after a massive regression this year.

  6. Gonat - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:40 AM

    5 years for Prince Fielder still makes sense even given your math.

  7. Anonymous8 - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:43 AM

    I think Morse has another good year and is part of the 4 man outfield. Its Werth who may be the player seeing less playing time.Morse can also give Prince some days off as his RH guy at 1st.

  8. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:51 AM

    Fielder is not signing for five years, thats really just not an option. Plus there is no reason to expect Morse to regress as he is only 29 and the year before last his numbers were relatively similar to last year's only over less time. Let Laroche play one year and get rid of him, let Morse move in at first, his best position, and let the outfield develop with harper and werth as well as a player to be named later. If the Nats are going to bring out big money don't use it at first with Laroche, Morse, Marrero and Moore all as potential options. A big addition in the outfield would be much more valuable.

  9. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:01 AM

    Winning changes everything. Let's say the Nats sign Fielder, they will be really really good – and young. The motivation will be to re-sign Zimmerman to keep the line-up intact through 2015 or so. UNLESS – Espinosa and Desmond break out in 2012/13 and Rendon tears up the minors. Then maybe they let Zimm go for financial reasons. I don't see it unfolding that way. More likely, they re-sign Zimm, trade Desi or Espy, and bring up Rendon to play 2B. No matter, I really like the pieces Rizzo put in place (with or without Fielder). They're gonna be good.

  10. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:01 AM

    "Anonymous said… I hear Fielder was back in the lobby of the Willard tonight."Pretty much sums up the evidence, right there.OOOOHHH but the captcha was "princ SF" !!!

  11. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:03 AM

    Hey, the captcha on a post is as solid a lead as any other we've had! And he'd be the New Big Mac. Would he wear 44?ROFL the captcha here was "dinger"I'm not making this up.

  12. Anonymous8 - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:06 AM

    Anon @ 9:51 "Fielder is not signing for five years, thats really just not an option."Why do you think Fielder hasn't signed yet? Nobody is offering 7+ years.I am all for signing Fielder to a 5 year deal. Any more than that just risks throwing large amounts of money away unless there's 5 years with vesting option years based on performance.

  13. Steve - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:12 AM

    Had we wanted to spend big, the options that made sense where1) Reyes … huge upgrade at shortstop2) Darvish/Wilson … money over prospects3) Trade Morse for a package and sign FielderWe ignored #1 for reasons that still mystify me. Davey is a motivator; he could've solved Reyes' issues.We went trade instead of free agent on #2 … I respect thatGiven that we did the trade for Gio without Morse; or for that matter didn't explore a trade of Morse+prospects to Tampa Bay for Shield/Upton; says we aren't moving Morse.All I see here is the hands of Boras at work generating rumors and the Nationals carrying a little water for Boras by not debunking the rumors publicly.Two more notes:1) Werth isn't making 20 million. He has a back loaded contract. Less than 17 now, more later. This is to the Lerner's benefit. All they have to do to come out ahead on the deal is bank the money they didn't pay up front and pay it out later. The Yankees, Angels, Phillies, … do not have the same club friendly deals (if you can call the Werth deal friendly).2) Zimmerman isn't going to get 20 million either. I love him, he is a great defensive 3rd baseman; but his injury history does not spell 20 million. He's more in the 15-18 range. Great place to be; but not the "Yankees only may compete" stratosphere of 18 million dollar Tleixara for example.Okay, 3rd point.I'd like to see the Nats extend Zimmermann almost as much as I'd like to see them extend Zimmerman. Can't let the arms sit out there forever. Clippard to. Lock them now and take some variables out of the future.

  14. Section 222 - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:34 AM

    Mark, you say that if the Nats are in on Prince then the Nats execs have been lying to beat reporters. First of all, it wouldn't be the first time. But as far as I can tell all the on the record comments so far have been answers to roundabout questions. "So, is it fair to say that ALR is your first baseman this year?" etc. If anyone has asked Rizzo point blank: "Are the Nats interested in signing Prince Fielder?" and he has answered "No," I sure haven't read about it. More importantly, I also think your three point analysis contains two serious misjudgments. (I totally agree that ALR is not the issue. His salary is chump change if the Lerners decide they want Prince.) The first is that the Nats or any team would not sign Prince because that would block Morse from assuming his rightful spot at 1B. Morse is ok on defense at 1B, but not so much better than Prince. And, much as I like Morse, Prince is a much better hitter. He's done what he's done for six years, Morse for one and a half. And he's younger. If they sign Prince, Morse plays this year in LF (with Werth in center, and Harper in RF for part of the year, maybe) and then they probably trade him. After another good year, his value hopefully will be sky high. Or if he's so good they want to re-sign him, they see if they can convince Werth to accept a trade since his playing time might be limited in future years if he can't play CF.Second, that signing Prince will keep us from re-signing Zim. If that's really the case, then the Werth signing was a colossal disaster. But I don't think it is. You have to spend money to make money, and the Lerners will make a ton of it if they sign Prince and the Nats are in the playoff hunt for the next four years, both from a sold out Nats Park and a new MASN contract. Plus, they stand a much better chance of re-signing Zim if we make a run at the playoffs this year rather than next and he sees the possibility of repeated shots at going to the World Series over the next several years as Harper and Strasburg hit their stride. Oh, and I almost forgot, the Lerners are BILLIONAIRES. None of this is to say that the we will land the big prize. A bunch of other teams could outbid us, and Prince will get to choose where he wants to go, and maybe DC isn't his top choice. (It's a big oversimplification to say that if the big four want the player they can have him.) But I'm just not convinced that the "drawbacks" you identify are all that serious. And it's really not significant that the Nats execs you're talking to aren't publicizing an interest in Prince, if they have such an interest. Why would they?

  15. Constant Reader - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:34 AM

    This is really well thought out Mark. However, I am going to side with Gonat and disagree with Anon 9:51. None of us knows how much the PF Flyer market has cratered. Mark all but says that Boras is ginning up the national media and certainly the Rosenthal piece this evening read as a Boras press release. Who is going to sign the PF Flyer for money remotely near Prince Albert money? Who has that kind of cash? If the Rangers sign Darvish, their out (and if they fail, I'll concede they sign the PF Flyer for Pujols money the next day). The Cubs? They look like they are going a different direction. The Mariners? Hope the PF Flyer enjoys toiling in obscurity and mediocrity. The O's? Insert uproarious laughter here.My point is this: I concur completely that everything Mark says makes absolute sense if we are talking about an 8 to 10 year deal well north of $200M. It also makes absolute sense that Boras is desperately trying to create the impression that the someone in the market will pay that by convincing other teams that the Nats could. But if the market has shriveled to the point the NO TEAM will be paying that much for the PF Flyer, we make a lot of sense for a 5 year deal at some ridiculous number like $27M per year with a player opt out in year three. I'll be back to say I was wrong when the Cubs sign him for more than $200M, but no matter how much he and Boras wants to say otherwise, I am betting the PF Flyer will take a short term max deal before he takes a longer term deal in a potential wasteland (with all due respect to the Mariners) for money that is closer to Werth/Crawford than Pujols.

  16. Gonat - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:40 AM

    MLBTR: 8:55pm: The Orioles have been talking to Crisp in recent days and they’re interested in signing him, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. However, it hasn’t been confirmed that the Orioles are the mystery team.Coco Crisp changed his Twitter pic to an Orioles little league photo.If he goes to Baltimore which is an East Coast team, I laugh at all the idiots on here for months that said he won't come East.Now then, what are the Orioles doing with him? Left Field or does speculation go nuts that the O's are trading Adam Jones?

  17. whatsanattau - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:47 AM

    I'm not prepared to believe the "not interested in re-signing Zimmerman" rumor just yet. It is certainly possible that the team is concerned about his ability to stay healthy and/or the value of his next contract vs the value of his performance, but I doubt their interest in re-signing him is tepid. And even if they are not sure right now, what if Zim is healthy and productive in 2012 and Rendon is not? Or, what if Rendon proves he can play other positions well? I am not naive enough to believe Zim will spend his entire career in the same uniform – those players are very rare. But I tend to think he'll get another contract if he has a good year in 2012.

  18. Young Pitchers - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:00 AM

    Can Zimm play LF?

  19. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:09 AM

    @Young Pitcher:If he can play first base we can have him, Fielder, Morse and LaRoche form the deepest bench in history at the position…

  20. Feel Wood - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:11 AM

    This is more about Michael Morse (and Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper). Common sense has said all along that Morse will wind up at first base at some point, either later this season or in 2013. That's because the Nationals believe Harper is nearly ready for the big leagues, and both he and Werth will have to play corner outfield positions. They may go with Werth in center field for one year, maybe two at most, but not more than that.There's no reason the Nats can't field an outfield of Morse-Werth-Harper for five years if they want to. You say Werth only has two years of CF in him. Why? He's not THAT old. Other CFers have played the position into their mid or even late 30s. Johnny Damon, Torii Hunter, Marlon Byrd. And why couldn't Harper play center after a few years, with Werth shifting back to right?Your whole analysis of why Fielder wouldn't be a good idea is based on assumptions that may or may not pan out. Morse could easily regress. Rendon may not make it. (Keep in mind, he has yet to play one inning of professional ball. He's at least as likely to be a flop as he is to be a stud.) Even Harper (shudder!) may not be all that. The Lerners may have to spend a lot of money. So what? They're nowhere close to the luxury tax threshhold, and they won't be able to spend as much on draft choices any more as they have been.You know what happens when you assume, Mark. You've built a house of cards with all those assumptions. I doubt that Rizzo and the Lerners are doing the same.

  21. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:31 AM

    Mark, What if by 2014 the Yankees are paying 3 more players $20M+ (after they re-sign Granderson, Cano, and Swisher)? The Red Sox may have added a few at $20M+ (Ellsbury, Pedroia, and a PTBNL) by then as well. By 2015, how much will Josh Johnson, and maybe Hanley Ramirez be costing the Marlins (in addition to Reyes and Buehrle)? Will the Phillies really let Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley (let's say he returns to his previous form), and Hunter Pence all go instead of paying them $20M+?My point being that having 4-5 $20M+ players may be less hard to imagine in 2014 then it is now. So Zimmerman, Fielder, Werth, Strasburg, Morse, Zimmermann, Gonzalez and Harper might all get paid, especially if the Nats have won the World Series a few times by then!Glad its not my money….jindc

  22. Jim Kurtzke - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:38 AM

    All this points to a short-term contract for Prince. On Zim, the argument is that Werth is like a Matt Holiday contract…one they didn't have to do, but did, and prevented them from resigning the franchise player. Somehow, I don't see the Lerners playing that card.

  23. Tom in AR - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:42 AM

    All things being equal, I would rather plug in a great centerfielder to pair with Harper and Werth, and put Morse at 1st, where I think he was a good defender and would only improve over time. If there was a guy like Matt Kemp or Andrew McCutchen available, then it would be worth a discussion. I definitely think that would be the better lineup defensively.Prince can only play first in the NL, the thing is, if we could get him at a reasonable salary, I think he has enough talent that you make everyone else work around him. A lineup with Desmond, Espinosa, Zim, Fielder, Morse, Harper, Werth and Ramos would be incredible (looks to me like easily 200+ HRs). Sub in the potential of Rendon at one of those middle infield positions and it gets even better. Maybe Harper can learn to play centerfield eventually. He certainly has speed and a great arm. If Fielder can be had for 5 years 130 million…well, I would certainly be willing to spend the Lerner's money for that. That doesn't preclude a Zimmerman extension. Maybe the problem is when Morse comes up for free agency in a couple years. Still, it seems like there would be more money in the coffers with the run of World Series victories we would be on.

  24. Whatsanattau - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:05 AM

    After everything said and done to date, I don't believe the team will settle for a below average outfield just to get Werth, Harper, Fielder, and Morse in the same lineup. Regretably, Morse would eventually have to go if Fielder is signed. The team will stick to the plan to put a superior defender in CF. I don't think the Lerners are sacrificing 2012, but I think they are trying to build a dynasty. Fielder is a win now move that potentially hurts the dynasty. I will cheer for him if he comes but I prefer a different strategy.

  25. Nattydread - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:13 AM

    Common sense says the Nats are not a contender in 2012 with incremental improvement of the existing set of players. Pitching is almost awesome (thanks to a trade that cleared the cupboards), but pitching was good in 2011. Our hitting was poor at best. So surely we can agree that, if the Nats REALLY WANT TO MAKE A RUN in 2012, they have to make a move. Hope wont do it. Leave aside CF for a second and think batting.Free agent moves are made based on who is available, not only on what teams want. PF is in the upper echelons of this years class, and he is the ONLY remaining big impact offensive player. So the Nats are definitely kicking the tires.Agree with Mark that this is not about LaRoche. He is a journeyman.Agree with Mark that this is about Morse, Werth and Harper. Raise your hands if at this time last year you considered Morse a first baseman. In truth, we stumbled upon Morse' skills at 1B and he will be fine as a place holder in LF. With all of Rizzo's skills, he was never in the 1B plan before 2011. He is a very pleasant 1B find, yes. If the Nats are on the PF Flyer, Morse's value to the team changes as Harper blossoms. Obvious.Marks 3rd point is what this is about: The never-ending dance between player/agents and owners over player values and contracts. Boras and Rizzo are at their ends of the table and are both playing a game. Pundits rightly point out that the market has partially collapsed for PF, leaving the Nats in a very good position to be the buyer, maybe even at better terms. They are doing their job — and the rumors have some grounds.If the Nats sign Fielder it does three things. It makes them a contender today. Fact. It saddles them with a contenders problem: how to keep players happy and manage ever rising payrolls. Good problem to have from the fan perspective, especially for a team historically in the bottom half of MLB team salary. It also means they have to figure out what to do with the extra parts that the addition of a superstar forces (Morse is a bargain, I love him, but he's not a superstar). Another good problem.Sail on good ship Nats sail on!

  26. tayo - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:16 AM

    Even if we can Field a Werth Harper Morse outfield for 5 years, Another question is where would or leadoff hitter come from/what position does he play if Desi or even Lombadozzi do not pan out at lead-off? Fielding this lineup prevents us from getting on the Free agent Center fielders from next years class who are more equipped to play center field.

  27. Farid @ Idaho - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:19 AM

    I'm very impressed with the depth of knowledge of most Nationals' fans as shown here. I enjoy reading the comments as much as I do Mark's stories.Right now, even without Fielder, the team's offense should be impressive next year. No one would be surprised if numbers like these push the team into the post season:1B–LaRoche: .265-23-952B–Espinosa: .255-24-70 (25 steals)SS–Desmond: .270-12-55 (20 steals)3B–Zimmerman: .290-28-110LF–Morse: .285-25-95CF–????RF–Werth: .275-24-80 (20 steals)C–Ramos: .270-20-65I think of these players, Espinosa has a chance to really shine, maybe something like .265-27-80 along with a Gold Glove. And Ramos reminds me of Johnny Bench. No, he's not going to be the next Bench, but I think he's capable of 25 homers and 80 RBI every year. That said, with the improved rotation and power offense (6 guys capable of 20+ homers), why not put someone like Rick Ankiel out there in center every day for his glove and occasional power until Bryce Harper is ready.Had Ankiel gotten 550 at-bats last year, he would have hit .239 with 30 doubles, 15 homers and 57 RBI. Bat him 8th and he'll be a quality placeholder until Harper arrives.

  28. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:38 AM

    I have a hunch that Mark wouldn't be quite so categorical in debunking the Fielder rumor if he didn't have an exceptionally well-placed source (one of the four men he mentioned in the article perhaps?) telling him off-the-record that that Nats absolutely are not in the Fielder hunt. Some of the commenters on this board seem to forget that on the record comments are not the only way that sources communicate with journalists. It occurs to me that the Nats front office may have a certain interest in pleasing Boras by not publicly debunking the rumors, but may also have an interest in not letting Nats fans' hopes for a Fielder signing skyrocket only to be disappointed. What do you do? Voila, off-the-record call to Mark Z. with some inside info to corroborate Mark's independent analysis that the Fielder signing doesn't really make sense for the Nats' strategy. If my supposition is correct, it would be unethical for Mark to say so, since off-the-record means you can't print any hint that you have a source telling you. And of course I could be wrong, and Mark may just have a strong case built on his own analysis and a very good sense of front office thinking generally. But I notice that there's absolutely no wiggle room in Mark's post. No journalistic get-out-of-jail-free-if-I'm-wrong comment like "…of course you can never really know for certain what may be going on in Ted Lerner's mind, and anything can happen in baseball…" Telling?

  29. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 7:34 AM

    1st Werth cannot play CF. He may pretend to play CF in 2012, but that's not a good idea. Playing him there for 5 years is a comical suggestion.2nd Prince will not sign a 5 year or less deal. I'll eat my hat if he does. He probably won't sign a $200mm deal, but Boras has found ways in the past to amaze me.3rd Werth has negative trade value right now. No team would touch that contract. The signing was seen as a big overpay the minute the ink dried.That said, this team is good enough to assess where they are mid-season for a trade without Prince. That financial commitment and risk for Prince is too much after the Werth signing. They need to get a real CF so Werth doesn't have to be there. They should try getting Parra in a trade.Also Farid, you should really go by triple slash #'s. There is so much missing in your assessment. No offense. RBI's are really a useless stat when we have so much better ones nowadays.

  30. Will - Jan 3, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    In 2011, the Nationals' payroll was $63.9mil. The average league payroll was $92.9mil, which should be expected to rise slightly each season.At worst, the Nationals should have a league average payroll- up there with the Texases, Colorados and Atlantas of the league.That means the Nats can add about $30-40mil before money starts becoming scarce. Fielder will cost anywhere between $20-30mil depending on the years. We will need to sign a CFer in 2012, who will cost $10-20mil annually. Zimmerman is looking to get a raise of about $5-7mil annually. Not to mention Morse, Zimmermann and Clippard, who are nearing free agency.With Fielder, we're looking at a 2013 payroll of about +$45mil, putting us around $110mil, probably slightly above average by then, but without several key pieces not locked up to extensions.Without Fielder, we're looking at an $85mil payroll, below average, but with a chunk of change to keep Z'nn and others around for several more years.I don't feel passionately either way, but I think all this discussion, though, does highlight how big of a mistake the Werth signing is- it severely limits our roster flexibility, and we're stuck with that dud of a contract for 6 years, further constraining our payroll flexibility.

  31. Will - Jan 3, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    Mark, I'm not so sure point #3 is that much of a concern.Zimmerman is owed $12mil this season, and $14mil next year. Yes, he'll probably command a contract somewhere around $20mil per season, but that's only at most $6mil more than he'll be making in 2013. It doesn't seem to be that much of an added burden. It's like not having a Jason Marquis or Adam LaRoche on the roster (both of whom have/had added little to nothing to the team).It's not like he's going from league minimum to $20mil overnight. He's already very well paid, and stand to make about 50% more.I wouldn't be surprised to see him sign a deal similar to Werth's- something like 7/$130, which would pay him $18.5mil annually. Nothing to scoff at, but only $4.5mil more than what he'd be making next year.

  32. Constant Reader - Jan 3, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    Anon 2:34 said …2nd Prince will not sign a 5 year or less deal. I'll eat my hat if he does. He probably won't sign a $200mm deal, but Boras has found ways in the past to amaze me.So let me see if I can do some math this early in the morning. Let's say the max offer on the table to go eight years is $20M average annual. That's $160M. Could Boras convince the PF Flyer that this is his better case alternative? He signs a five year, $125M contract with an opt out in year three with the Nats. He then comes out again in year three having already made $75M, and signs a six year deal with the rejuvenated Mets or Dodgers for six years at $27.5M a year. Over nine years, he makes $240M versus taking $160M right now. He risks a lot of cash to be certain, but not really that much. It's $125M guaranteed with a shot to make $240M versus $160M guaranteed now.Again, it's early in the morning, but I don't think I am weaving a tale as outlandish as some of the trade suggestions we see around here.

  33. Will - Jan 3, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    I agree that an opt out clause is likely given the lack of demand, but I think it's extremely unlikely that any team would sign him in his age 31 season for 6 years and make him the highest paid player in the game. That would be silly to do today, much less in 3 years. He's simply not that good. There's half a dozen better batters than him. Factor in defense, his weight issues, and that he plays a non-premium position, and he should be anywhere near the top 10 highest paid players. It makes sense to give him a short term deal, but to pay him like the best player in the game during the twilight of his career would be the same terrible mistake the Yankees are now dealing with with ARod, and the Phillies with Howard.

  34. Joe S. - Jan 3, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Fielder makes sense at five years at a reasonable salary if we can turn Morse and Lannan and Flores into a good CF with some team control. (I wouldn't trade McCutcheon for those three, but maybe the Pirates would.) He makes sense at two years at any salary if Boras thinks the market will be better for his client then. The talent logjam would be tolerable in the short term.

  35. Constant Reader - Jan 3, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    I see your point Will and concede that six years at $27.5 at age 31 is strong (and which is why almost none of us want the Nats to go eight years on him right now), but goodness knows how crazy the Mets, Dodgers or Cubs will be to make a splash then. And for him to lose money on my hypothetical, you'd have to bet he won't be worth $85M in total contract value at age 31. Mark's analysis makes sense of you are looking at the PF Flyer for a very long-term deal. I'm just not convinced such a market exists today.

  36. UNTERP - Jan 3, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    For some reason I think many of the folks in the blog are being facetious. Too much talent? Really? You can never have too much talent at any position in any sport. That's the kind of problem you want. Remember 2007 and 2008? I would have taken two Pujolses and two Fielders all playing First Base. And I'd take three Zimmermans. I'd be surprised if the Nationals don't sign Fielder, two years, five years, or seven years…

  37. psdfx - Jan 3, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    I love this board… and I love the Nats. I've read every post basically since Mark started Nats Insider, and I post here occasionally.Re: PF I am totally undecided about whether it is a good idea or not, but I'm inclined to think this single thought: *IF* it can be done in a way that doesn't make it impossible to keep our own young rising stars (whichever ones we deem important to keep), I think I like it.But I want to know if any of you can relate to what I *feel* about this (feel as opposed to think)… I will be a passionate fan next year and beyond, no matter what (unless Angelos buys the team somehow—wait, banish the thought). That said (here is the feeling I'd like to hear your thoughts on), if we *do* get PF, I will probably find a way to attend 4-5 more games this coming season than I would have if we don't. I can't tell you that I'd be any more passionate about the team with PF on board, and my history as a long-suffering DC sports fan suggests I am neither a front-runner nor fair-weather fan — but I would be more motivated to get to the Park more often (as opposed to recording it on the DVR or watching it live).Can any of you relate?

  38. Sunderland - Jan 3, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Constant – You'd have to assume that three years down the road the only teams interested in a long term deal for Prince would be AL teams (you know, like the Astros). Unless of course the NL adopts the DH by then (shuddering as I typed this….)

  39. natsfan1a - Jan 3, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    Anon@12:38 said…"But I notice that there's absolutely no wiggle room in Mark's post. No journalistic get-out-of-jail-free-if-I'm-wrong comment like '…of course you can never really know for certain what may be going on in Ted Lerner's mind, and anything can happen in baseball…'Telling?"But Mark did say this: "So what's really going on? Are Nationals execs flat-out lying to beat writers? Are national baseball writers either getting duped or simply spreading the same rumor and chatter that apparently is sweeping through the sport but doesn't appear to be grounded in any factual evidence?Here's the trouble we all face when trying to decipher what is taking place behind the scenes during one of the stranger Hot Stove Leagues we've seen in quite some time: There are only a handful of people out there who truly know what is happening. There are perhaps a couple of executives at the highest level of the Nationals franchise. There are Boras and perhaps a couple of his top lieutenants. And there is Fielder himself.Everyone else is merely speculating or spreading whatever tidbits of information they've read or been told. It's like an endless circle of rumor that is stuck on one track and can't change course."farther down in the post, he said this:"There are some factors to keep in mind when deciding which rumors to believe and which ones to dismiss."and finally this:"In the end, the only ones who truly know if the Nationals are going to sign Fielder are the Nationals themselves."

  40. MicheleS - Jan 3, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    psdfx..Signing PF won't change my ticket purchasing. I have already committed to a 21 game plan (Sec 134 row MM). I did that based on my excitement for how good this team might possibly be next year. Any other games I go to besides that will depend on the opposing team or who is pitching (Like Stras – I know.. I am a groupy!)

  41. Constant Reader - Jan 3, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    You are right Sunderland, and I actually hadn't thought of it that way. At age 31, six years is more likely to come from the AL, and I named a bunch of NL teams. Very good catch. I'll still argue that his risk isn't that high to think he won't be worth at least $85M at age 31.Total agreement with you on the DH my friend.

  42. Nats1924 - Jan 3, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Mark -Bill Ladson on Nats.com shoots down a possible extension and notes the Nats have already decided to go with Rendon instead of Zimmerman at 3rd?I always thought Rendon is insurance to Zimm signing elsewhere in '13(Yanks)- But isn't this premature to say the Nats brass have already decided this?http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20111220&content_id=26212872&vkey=news_was&c_id=was

  43. Tim - Jan 3, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    I agree it's all speculation now, but hey, it's fun.I don't Mark nor any other reporter will find a Nationals source to confirm this story. That would feed the frenzy and drive up the eventual price. The Angels came in under the radar in landing Pujols and the Nats, unsuccessfully, are trying to do the same.I haven't seen anyone mention the new TV contract that the Lerners will benefit from that's coming in 2013. That will make this deal doable and probably make Zim doable in 2013, too. Providing Zim doesn't get hurt this year, the Nats will extend him and trade Rendon for a piece. Or as Rosenthal's article speculates (and that's all it is), they'll trade Zim and eventually count on Rendon at 3B. Then they'll have $$$ for Bourn, if he doesn't sign an extension in Atlanta first.

  44. Nats1924 - Jan 3, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    And Note – Nats will sign Fielder to a 5yr/$150M with a mutal option after the 3rd year

  45. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Most of the talk about putting this guy there, or switching this guy here always seems to come back to Werth. How we can't do anything with him cause of that albatross of a contract. He was absolutely horrid last year at the plate, looking totally lost up there. What do we do with him if he starts out 2 for 30 with 15 k's or something of that nature. I think this Rizzo signing is gonna come back to haunt us many times over.

  46. Nats1924 - Jan 3, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    This "albatross of a contract" was a big part of the reason why things turned around for the Nats and won 80 games – Second most since 2005

  47. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    "Zimmerman figures to command $20 million per season himself over at least seven or eight years."I think that is Zim's dream, not the reality. Only the iconic A-Rod has gotten those kind of coins playing 3B, no one else is in the ball park. Zim's injury history does not help either. Evan Longoria reaches FA too in 2014, btw, and guys like Youk and David Wright may be out there too (both have club options for 14). There's juts not much reason at all for the Nats or Zim to be thinking extension right now. He needs to establish his value, the Nats need to figure the market price and there's a lot of time left. And in the mean time, the Nats need to maintain the flexibility to trade the guy, if by some odd chance that might make sense to them.dfh21

  48. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 3, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  49. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    There might be something to Ladson's piece — the Nats may know something about Zim's arm that the rest of the world does not. Ryan was still having trouble in September getting the ball across the diamond. He might be moving to 1B or LF in the next couple of years.

  50. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Nats 1924 said…Mark -Bill Ladson on Nats.com shoots down a possible extension and notes the Nats have already decided to go with Rendon instead of Zimmerman at 3rd?I always thought Rendon is insurance to Zimm signing elsewhere in '13(Yanks)- But isn't this premature to say the Nats brass have already decided this?Except that's not what Ladson wrote. "Are the Nationals in talks with Zimmerman regarding a contract extension?""No. Zimmerman has two years left on his contract, and by the time it expires, Anthony Rendon could be ready to take over the third-base job."That sounds more like "wait and see" to me, not that they've decided.At the top of the same article, he also wrote"Who is playing first base for the Nationals?Without a doubt, it's going to be Adam LaRoche … There are many fans who want the Nationals to sign free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder, but he is not on the team's radar screen."FWIW

  51. Drew - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    It would be exciting to have Prince Fielder in the lineup, but I'm starting to think about the first rule of poker: Greed kills. I wouldn't want to do anything that prevents the team from locking up RZim and giving the club the best chance to sign Strasburg and Harper for the long run.If these things are not mutually exclusive, then, Prince come on down.(By the way, for the new year I'm dropping the vestigial 8. The Post appended it to my name a couple of years ago, when I became the eighth "Drew" to register, but there's little reason to post over there nowadays given the cumbersome site and the level of discourse.So, like TAFKAP, the artist formerly known as Prince, I leave the symbol to Blovi8, Anonymous8 and Jennifer 8 Lee. Enjoy.)

  52. JamesFan - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    This is the best analysis of the impact of a free agent signing I have read anywhere. What a great post. What this points out is that the fans cannot have it both ways. If the Nats sign Fielder, it will definately affect the ability to keep players in the future like the Zims, Stras, Morse, Wang if he hold up, Harper. All these will be big extension contracts in the future.

  53. Theophilus - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    1. Boras is a stone cold liar. No team has an interest in hyping the Nats as a stalking horse. Ergo, any "ML executive" who says Nats are the leading candidate is repeating a rumor spread by someone else, and the most likely source is Boras himself. It follows, therefore, that — probably w/ Rizzo's/Lerner's tacit consent — Boras is the one floating the Nats as a contender, trying to drive up the overall market to get the kind of deal he wants, likely w/ an American League team.(Talk about the Lerners being the richest owners in baseball ignores things such as the Mariners being owned by Nintendo of America, which can certainly match their checks dollar for dollar. And they really do need a 1B.)2. Economics strongly argue against tying up payroll in Fielder. The critical date is 2014, which will be Zimmerman and Morse's FA year, absent an extension. Everyone agrees the Nats' expect their year to be 2013. That means the Nats either (A) extend Zimmerman and Morse or (B) let them walk at the end of 2013, because you can't trade either of them in the middle (or even the Spring before) of the season in which you think you are going to win all the marbles. So you would indeed end up w/ three players earning a minimum of $65 MM PLUS Morse PLUS they need to be thinking about early extensions for Strasburg, Zimmermann and maybe Espinosa and Ramos. PLUS, Werth can't play CF for more than a year or two (not to mention mediocre corner OFs) without the pitching staff totally crumbling. So somewhere in there the Nats have to find the CF Unicorn everyone's been dreaming about unless one of the minor leaguers emerges. I could see a scenario where the eight position players, not including pitchers, were drawing close to $115MM. I just don't see Fielder happening. If it does, the Nats will be crawling a financial tightrope for years.

  54. The_Dash - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    I just wanted to endorse this statement. You guys (and gals) all rock and I'd love to debate the Nats over a beer with any of you (including Mark!). Farid @ Idaho said… I'm very impressed with the depth of knowledge of most Nationals' fans as shown here. I enjoy reading the comments as much as I do Mark's stories.

  55. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    I think another important aspect of all this is Boras represents Fielder, Werth, Strasburg, Harper and Rendon. I think in order for him to maximize each of their future contracts, and if he really is trying to sway the Nats to Fielder, then he AND the Nats would discuss options that include an opt out for Fielder in 3 years as well as potential future scenarios that would include the others.I firmly beieve that the odd man out, should the Nats sign Fielder, is Morse. Laroche is out almost immediately.

  56. DFL - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    I would like to read a survey about team improvement in wins with respect to signing a big bat. More than likely, there are more cases like Dave Winfield and George Foster than Reggie Jackson. Jackson improved an already fine Yankees team in 1977 and helped put them over the top. But pitchers Don Gullett and Mike Torrez also were added in 1977 to that Yankees team. 1977 was Ron Guidry's first complete year in New York. So even Jackson wasn't the whole story and perhaps the Yanks of 1977 would have won the World Series without Mr. October.The Angels won 86 games last year. Will adding Pujols add ten wins and propel Los Angeles into the playoffs? We'll see. Same with Fielder. How many games will Fielder add to whichever team receives his services? Or to attendance?

  57. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    Everyone talks about Prince Fielder as if he's some huge upgrade over Laroche.Assuming he doesn't see a huge regression in his numbers, Laroche is really not THAT much worse offensively than Fielder is. He's usually good for 20-25 HRs and 80-100 RBIs, and his glove is infinitely better than Fielder's. All things considered, I really only see Fielder as a slight upgrade over Laroche, and definitely not worth the potential problems he might create in the near future.Go with Laroche for now and take a major defensive upgrade over a middling offensive upgrade. A good leadoff stick (or really, any consistent offense) is the more pressing issue, though I'm still hopeful that Desmond might be the answer there.

  58. Feel Wood - Jan 3, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Everyone talks about Prince Fielder as if he's some huge upgrade over Laroche.LaRoche is a pretty good baseball player. Fielder is a game changer. That's a rather sizeable upgrade.

  59. Section 222 - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    "Everyone talks about Prince Fielder as if he's some huge upgrade over Laroche.What Feel Wood said."Assuming he doesn't see a huge regression in his numbers, Laroche is really not THAT much worse offensively than Fielder is."Why would we assume he won't have that regression? First of all, he was a pretty good hitter from 2006-2009, with an OPS+ of 130, 109, 122, and 122. But his OPS+ in 2010 was only 106, despite hitting 25 HR. (Slashline was .261/.320/.468.) So he already regressed that year, and now he's coming off major shoulder surgery. Are you really going to bank on 20-25 HR and 80-100 RBI? Yikes.Prince's OPS+ for 2006-2011? 110 (his rookie year), 157, 130, 166, 135, 164. No regression there.

  60. jcj5y - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    I'm pretty skeptical of a long-term deal for Fielder, but his three best fWAR seasons are 5.1, 5.5 and 6.4. LaRoche's three best are 2.3, 2.4 and 2.5. Three wins a year is a massive upgrade, and that's assuming that LaRoche is ever going to be that good again. (Fielder is five years younger.)

  61. Steve M. - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    I have been following NatsEnquirer's coverage of Fielder for a few weeks. Yesterday before Ken Rosenthal posted about "opt out", NatsEnquirer had already floated that.With all the fun time we spend talking about the Prince F'Bomb, chances are less than 50% he comes to DC. Too many variables and Boras stacks the deck for his client. Wouldn't surprise me at all after Boras laughed about a notion of a 3 year deal that he would turn it around on a GM and ask for a 7 year with an opt-out anytime after 3 years.

  62. Will - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    Anon 9:43,Adam LaRoche has been worth 4.9 WAR over the past 4 seasons.Prince Fielder was worth 5.5 WAR just last year.What isn't there to see? Fielder did in one season what LaRoche couldn't do over 4. "Slight upgrade" is the understatement of the century.That said, I'm not convinced Fielder is what we need right now.

  63. PAY TO PLAY - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    Will, I read on USA Today MLB payrolls that Opening Day payroll was $68 million for 2011 and 2010 was $63 million.

  64. Binx Bolling - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    Remember, the chief reason for the rise of the Nats since the doldrums of 2007-2009 is that men like Steven Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman are doing the pitching instead of Matt Chico, Odalis Perez and Tim Redding. John Lannan is no longer staff ace as he was in 2008 and 2009 but a man in competition for a back-end starting job.Another thing to think about is that arguably two of Ryan Zimmerman's three best years at the plate happened during the nadir of Nats baseball. Despite injuries that reduced his playing in 2010 and 2011, the Nats have steadily improved.

  65. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    That said, I'm not convinced Fielder is what we need right now.You can't always get what you wantYou can't always get what you wantYou can't always get what you wantBut if you try sometimes well you just might findYou get what you need

  66. Young Pitchers - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Can Morse play 3B?

  67. Constant Reader - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    Just a reminder … Boz is chatting in a few minutes. I threw a question in there to see if he will explain the pre-Xmas Bipolar Boz nonsense. Very interested to see if he makes any effort to explain his Rizzo is in control chat, his Lerners are cheap column and of course the 'don't spend money on PF' column a week later.

  68. Unkyd - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    I love me some Keef…..

  69. Steve M. - Jan 3, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    Notes on Prince Fielder, the Nats pitchers last year held Prince to his 4th lowest offensive output.Reasons to love Prince is how he smashes the Phillies, Mets and Marlins. Prince lifetime against Roy Halladay has a .462 batting average. Last year against the Phillies in 7 games .423/.531/.538/ 1.070 slash line.Worst is against the Braves with no offense against Beachy in only 2 games against him, and against Tim Hudson .208/.296/.333/.630. Also, not great against O'Flaherty and Venters.3rd highest OPS was against the Marlins! .304/.448/.870/1.318Other notes are he went to High School near Viera and lives off-season in Orlando, FL.

  70. waddu eye no - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    and as for beating a dead horse:http://posttrib.suntimes.com/news/9729440-418/state-senator-wants-rules-for-national-anthem-singers.htmland the captcha is "polotyr"is that what ralph lauren puts on his car?

  71. jeeves - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Mark said there were only three teams that have three players with salaries that would equal the Nat's top three of Werth, Zimmerman, and Fielder. What he didn't add is that while many other Yankees, Phillies, and Red Sox players also have quite high salaries, the rest of the Nat's team are relatively inexpensive. And will be for a few more years. Overall the Nat's payroll would hover (even with the 'three') just over one hundred million. A third of all major league teams would still have a higher payroll and the Nats wouldn't be even in the stratosphere of the top four or five, not for at least four years or more.All that being said does not mean i think we should sign Fielder, but we'd be far from the luxury tax if we did.

  72. Roberto - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    Whats makes this so hard to pin down is that the three principals our host mentions come with big question marks.The Fielder one is obvious: his body and the related question of how he will age. Zimmerman: does a Tulo-type extension make sense in his case? I know that sounds like heresy but hear me out: in two of his six seasons he has missed at least fifty games. While he is a magnificent fielder, he occasionally experiences the throwing equivalent of the "yips" which has some people wondering if he might move to first. If that's the case, then his bat is not worth Tulo-type money. Then there's Rendon. If he lives up to scouting reports, he projects to be noticeably better than Zimmerman with the bat and a better-than-average third basemen with the glove. If he progresses quickly through the minors, don't be surprised if you hear rumblings about the extension talks not proceeding as well as people hoped. It's cold sounding but it's a business.Finally, there's Morse. I have no doubt that he's the real. The question is: for how long? How much of a commitment do you want to make to him on the basis of 1.5 seasons?

  73. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    The smartest thing the Nats could do would be to sign Fielder and use that to land a much better 3year TV deal, then having a much stronger fan base and tv ratings to leverage a MUCH better deal after three years.also, I agree that worrying about paying stras, harper, etc big money in three or four years is a great problem to have. That means that Strasburg's not injured or a kerry wood-esque flame out, and that harper has met even 80% of his hype. That is a great "dilemma" to face, especially since this is baseball and if you're an owner (much less the richest owner) and you're not prepared to pay to keep your young superstars that have turned your franchise into contenders, you should not be allowed to own a team.Also, for those pushing the "wait and we can get a great hitting/fielding lead off CF next year" I would point out that even BJ upton doesn't fit that mold. The days of Kenny Lofton-type players is over. Teach desmond or espinosa to be more selective at the plate and get on base.

  74. Mark'd - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    I kind of get the feeling that Ryan Zimmerman thinks his value is greater than Longoria and Tulowitzki. I dont see it. If Rendon was ready now, this could be real interesting.

  75. JaneB - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    What a great post, and discussion. It never occurred to me, Steve M, to look at how Prince hits against our division. Thanks for opening up the way I look at things. Actually, lots of you do that, and often. As for whether Prince changes my attendance at Nats Park, I would be at every game if my finances and life could manage it. We will sell about 20 tickets in the full season to friends before the season starts, and my husband is looking fir someone else to come in and buy some seats. But I am rooting against it. I made 57 last year and want to do better this year.Capcha is alllin…is that me or the Lerners?

  76. Constant Reader - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    I may be the only one that cares, but Boz slipped it in pretty quickly, and not overtly. Paraphrasing … after his Monday chat when he said Rizzo was in charge, word started circulating among baseball insiders that the Nats had the 4-for-1 Gio deal in place and that Nats ownership couldn't / wouldn't pull the trigger. Ba-da-bing, ba-da-bang, the scathing Lerners are cheap column appears. Of course he may have only heard it from Rizzo and is now doing cya for the GM by saying "For 48 hours before the trade, the industry was buzzing that Nats FO couldn't get a 4-for-1 deal approved."

  77. Section 222 - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    Ladsen has good sources and often is the first to get the scoop. But his analysis and opinions are often pretty humorous. What he says about Zim's extension seems meaningless to me. This is the best one though:"6. Who could be the Nationals' breakout player in 2012? As long as he throws strikes, reliever Henry Rodriguez could be the guy."Sounds alot like something he might have written in 2008. "If Austin Kearns can get going, he could hit 30 HR this year."

  78. NatsLady - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    People, forget Harper–the minute he is eligible he will be gone. We can keep him through arbitration–and if he performs, that will be some $$– but not "BIG" money.Also, Stras. Again, I doubt we keep him past arbitration. Not because he has his eyes on the Northern Star, but because he's a West Coast boy and he's going to want to go home and there will be teams there with money.The thing that might keep them is we have just won a pennant (or WS) in 2014 or 2015 and are looking to repeat. And if we are in the playoffs in those years–that's PLENTY of money.Priorities: get a contending team. Get Fielder. Not saying make a terrible business decision, but, now that we have Gio, 2012 and 2013 are in sight. The money will come.

  79. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    This is a little dated (Dec 8), but change a few names, and it sounds awfully familiar:Prince Fielder Rumors: 10 Reasons Not to Count out the San Francisco Giants

  80. Steve M. - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    JaneB, you are welcome. I think the teams you face 18 times a year deserve the highest weighted average—-good & bad.Prince crushes 3 of the 4 teams in the NL East which makes him all the more valuable. Another note is Prince Fielder is the BEST hitting LH batter against LH starters. .338/.404/.617/1.021 Not so great against LH relievers when they replace a RH starter. Not sure why that is.Notes above on Beachy and Tim Hudson, they are both RH pitchers. Go figure.

  81. Diz - Jan 3, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    I heard on MLB Radio today a point that PF won't sign anywhere until the Rangers work out Darvish.Boras wants them to be in the bidding if the Darvish deal falls through since they will have the money. So, they say nothing happens til the "Darvish" month is up.

  82. Wally - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    I agree with Jeeves – the money issue on Prince isn't whether three guys each get $20m, it is do the Nats see themselves as a $110m payroll team (and can they make it work with half tied up in 3 guys). Answer should be yes, given the size of the DC market, but the TV deal may restrict them (even with the bump coming, it is a below market deal on a revenue source that is increasingly a bigger piece of the pie).So I think that they can make it work to sign Fielder and also re-sign Zim, but it requires them to continue to build a good farm system so that they can get future contributions from pre-arb level guys when their non core guys start getting really expensive. Plus, agents can get very creative with deferred money to stretch out the tight years.Go for the Prince.

  83. The Joker - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    It's not my money, only those one-percenter Lerners. Sign Fielder to 8-$170 million. Re-sign Ryan Zimmerman at 8-$170. Sign Coco Crisp to a deal he can't say no to- 5 years-$50 million. It's just money. Who do the Lerners think they are- Henry Potter or Ebeneezer Scrooge? Everything for everybody, like the 1938 reformed Scrooge says. I don't care about no 2012 recession that might drain tens of millions from the Lerners. I demand a winner, a winner now, even if I don't have season tickets and don't go to the park except when I get free tickets.

  84. Steve M. - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    Diz, that makes perfect sense except Daniels is saying the Darvish deal is moving ahead nicely and it would put the Rangers in a very bad situation internationally to back out on the deal.Could Boras be showing the Rangers the error of their ways on why Darvish is just over-paying and Prince Fielder makes more sense over the years? That wouldn't surprise me at all if Boras has laid that out for the Rangers.Personally, I think the Darvish deal is super risky given the $51 million spent on Day #1. Then the annual salary goes on top of that. The Rangers will probably backend a lot of Darvish's salary making it somewhat more cashflow effective. Lets say it is $10 million 1st year, $12 million 2nd year and $14 million 3rd year to start with.Thats $87 million over the 1st 3 years and an average of $29 million a year. The longer the contract, the lower the average. Still, the Rangers have to outlay that $51 million immediately. A 6 year deal averaging $17 million a year would average $25.5 million which is almost exactly what Prince would cost them for a 6 year deal.Boras is probably telling the Rangers they can get Prince for only $25 million a year on average and save in the short-term! Such a bargain!Personally if I'm the Rangers, I go with Prince Fielder as they have the AL advantage with the DH and they have other options at pitcher.

  85. Mark'd - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    Sounds like Boras needs another team in the bidding. Doesn't surprise me at all that he would wait on Texas. If they sign Darvish, Boras loses a lit if leverage.

  86. Tom in AR - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    Sunderland mentioned the DH above. As I think about it, I would not be shocked if within 1-2 years MLB removes the disparity between leagues. Even now, with increased interleague play, we are going to see more use of the DH. And though I personally like to see pitchers batting, I have a hard time imagining the DH going away. I don't think the union would go for it, I don't think fans in general would want it, I don't think TV execs would allow it. Nothing to bank on, but it would solve the outfield logjam. And it would make a long term deal with Prince less problematic (although we would miss Matt Stairs at the DH).

  87. MicheleS - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Constant.. Boz answered your question"Thomas Boswell :As I wrote in my column after the Gio trade, a lot happened on Tuesday and Wednesday. Or I found out a lot of what had been happening in a fairly short time frame. You always keep reporting. The industry was buzzing. And it wasn't a happy buzz. Baseball lifers talk to baseball lifers. And the words gets around about who's happy and who's very unhappy that they are being blocked from acting. I called somebody in another city on another subject, the conversation turned to the Nats and that led to other calls.You change your mind when the facts change or your knowledge of them changes. The Nats now have a happy face for the New Year. As they should. "

  88. BullpenCatcher - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    Sounds like Boras PR to me, but I do not think the counter-argument that it is assumed that Morse moves back to 1B in 2013 is based in fact at all. we shall see what happens with Prince and then judge until then my mind is wide open!

  89. jcj5y - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    I love Boz. His response essentially said that Rizzo allowed it to become known in the industry that he was being blocked by ownership. Boz found out when he was talking to someone else. He wrote it up. Who knows if that changed the Lerners' minds, or helped. But it didn't hurt. (The story also makes me wonder how much of this Rizzo planned and how much was just fortuity.)

  90. Steve M. - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Mark'd said… Sounds like Boras needs another team in the bidding. Doesn't surprise me at all that he would wait on Texas. If they sign Darvish, Boras loses a lit if leverage. January 3, 2012 12:16 PM Its a valid point if Texas doesn't sign Darvish then the Nats know Boras is bluffing on what he has.I almost think Boras may be close to panic mode as the timing is so wrong for many teams.Keep in mind the rumor that "East Coast" Prince Fielder supposedly isn't thrilled about playing in Seattle. The Cubs probably aren't spending the money with all the big contracts they are eating and the Cubs need to see what shakes out in a potential Garza trade. The Dodgers just spent a ton on Matt Kemp and don't have new ownership in place. The Yankees and Red Sox are set with what they have as are the White Sox and Angels. I'm sure Boras is trying to persuade teams.

  91. NatsLady - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    This was alluded to by another poster, but I want to bring it up again:The Nats need to not think of it as a "TV" deal, but rather, as a "media" deal. With MLB.tv and the "cable/satellite" companies, I don't know how much flexibility they have, but I would SERIOUSLY pay for a package where I could watch baseball games like I do Netflix, on ANY device that gets the internet. I can (and do) carry a portable TV but it's not a CABLE TV, so what use is a cable TV network??? They need to get rid of the local blackouts on MLB.tv, and just monetize those games, because blacking out the game DOESN'T make people go to the stadium, and why they black out AWAY games mystifies me… again, get off the TV bandwagon. Think video–get that video out there and accessible, and you will drive up interest in the product (if it's good product).They have to recognize that the video experience and the stadium experience don't compete with each other, they complement each other.

  92. Feel Wood - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    Sunderland mentioned the DH above. As I think about it, I would not be shocked if within 1-2 years MLB removes the disparity between leagues.Yes, but it could be just as likely that they would do it by eliminating the AL DH as it is that they would do it by adding a DH in the NL. Keep in mind that unlike when the AL added the DH back in the '70s, such decisions now have to be made with the consent of all MLB owners and not on a league basis as they used to be. The forces that favored the addition of a DH in the AL were two: the AL was by far the weak-sister league back then and needed to do something to ramp up attendance, and the players union favored it on the theory that it would give a dozen or more high-priced players a few extra years on the tail end of their careers. But now the two leagues are pretty much equal (okay, maybe the AL is slightly ahead) and the current pattern in DH use is not to have a single guy on the team who is nothing but the full-time DH. Many teams treat it almost as a platoon position, meaning that there are not all that many high-paying DH jobs to be preserved. The players might well decide that they'd be better off with elimination of the DH in favor of adding a 26th man on the roster. And the AL might decide that games would still be just as exciting and not nearly as long if there was no DH. Pitchers certainly would come out heavily in favor of there not being a DH.But whichever way this is decided, it will take more than one or two years for it to happen. MLB does not make decisions quickly, especially with Selig as commissioner.

  93. NatsLady - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    Sorry about the split infinitive.The Nats need to think of it not as a "TV" deal, but rather as a "media" deal.There, that's better.

  94. Ray - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    Ladson mixes his opinion and fact together, so its difficult to really know if he is reporting what he feels are facts or just his opinion. He says YES! Werth will definitely do better next season, as he says that the team is not negotiating with Zim. He also says one article that LaRoche is 'without a doubt' the first baseman in 2012, and then in the next article goes on to report on interest in Fielder. At least he hasn't mentioned re-signing Willie Harris in the past week. I agree with Mark that Fielder is about Morse. The only way signing Fielder makes any sense (and then just barely) is that the Nats believe that Morse cannot repeat his 2011 numbers. Otherwise, in 2013, you have Fielder, Morse, Werth and Harper all vying for one 1b and two corner OF spots.

  95. PAY TO PLAY - Jan 3, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    Thomas Boswell :As I wrote in my column after the Gio trade, a lot happened on Tuesday and Wednesday. Or I found out a lot of what had been happening in a fairly short time frame. You always keep reporting. The industry was buzzing. And it wasn't a happy buzz. Baseball lifers talk to baseball lifers. And the words gets around about who's happy and who's very unhappy that they are being blocked from acting. I called somebody in another city on another subject, the conversation turned to the Nats and that led to other calls.You change your mind when the facts change or your knowledge of them changes. The Nats now have a happy face for the New Year. As they should. – January 03, 2012 12:13 PM

  96. Feel Wood - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    They need to get rid of the local blackouts on MLB.tv, and just monetize those games, because blacking out the game DOESN'T make people go to the stadium, and why they black out AWAY games mystifies me… again, get off the TV bandwagon. Think video–get that video out there and accessible, and you will drive up interest in the product (if it's good product).MLB.tv (a wholly-owned subsidiary of MLB) is not doing the local blackouts to protect stadium attendance. They are doing them to protect the local TV contracts that bring in big money to their teams. If fans can watch a local team's game on MLB.tv, then they no longer need to watch it on their local cable channel. If enough fans start doing that, then the local cable channel sees its ratings go down and starts asking itself why it's paying all that money to the baseball team to show its games.The same problem exists on the radio side, but it's at such a small scale compared with TV that any revenue MLB loses by making local radio broadcasts available on internet stream is basically chump change. Compared with sports on TV, sports on radio is a dying medium.

  97. Eugene in Oregon - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    Whatever metrics you consider most reliable, if the Nats want to win more games in 2012 (and beyond), the Nats need to score a lot more runs than they've been scoring. And to score more runs, they need another solid run-producing player.Of the free agents still available, Mr. Fielder is the only one who consistently creates and generates runs — and lots of them — whether you prefer old-school counting stats or opt for more-advanced 'weighted' stats.I love pitching and defense, but — at this point in the Nats' evolution — those are the two fundamental points in this discussion.My hope is that they sign Mr. Fielder and then work the details around him. While issues such as Mr. Zimmerman's extension, Mr. Harper's call-up date, Mr. Morse's future, expectations for Mr. Rendon, and plotting the payroll in the out-years are certainly more than just 'noise,' they're still issues that can be finessed.Procuring an impact player like Mr. Fielder is an opportunity that the Nats shouldn't squander.

  98. Wally - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    Well, to change topics for a minute, here is a blurb from Baseball Prospectus that ranked the A's top prospects. AJ Cole is #1 (in a top 10 system). Not a backhanded complaint on the Gio trade, just passing it on as an interesting tidbit.Prospect #1: RHP A.J. ColeBackground with Player: Industry SourcesWho: He’s a prototypical starter drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by the Washington Nationals. Cole was traded to the Athletics in the Gio Gonzalez deal, and has everything you want in a future major-league starter: size, stuff, and feel for the mound. In his full-season debut in 2011, Cole showed off his combination of polish and power, striking out 108 Sally League hitters while walking only 24.What Could Go Wrong in 2012: As with any young pitcher climbing the ladder, each step will bring new challenges and adjustments. In 2012, Cole will need to continue his sharp command while focusing more attention on the development of his changeup. With good arm action and precocious command, Cole isn’t likely to fall apart by throwing more changeups. But the changeup is a feel pitch, and it takes time to gain command of the nuances of its utility and execution.I doubt the plus (to plus-plus) fastball is going away anytime soon, and even though his slider can get a bit slurvy, it is still ahead of the developmental curve. However, offenses could exploit Cole’s changeup in 2012. Left-handed hitters tuned him up pretty good in 2011, and could be especially adept at taking advantage of Cole’s changeup until it shows more deception.In the end, I think a few bumps in the road will be a very good thing for the soon-to-be 20-year-old, as failure and adjustment to failure are what separate guys with a legit future and guys who once had potential. Cole has a very bright future, and I think he’s the top prospect in a system that looks like one of the game’s 10 best farms.

  99. Tom in AR - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    Feel Wood. I agree, it could go the other way. I just don't think it will. You offer valid reasons, but I think the biggest factor is a desire for more offense (chicks dig the long ball). As far as how quickly MLB moves, there are some pretty significant changes coming down the pike with increased interleague play in 2013. That is only going to raise pressure to standardize the two leagues.

  100. NatsLady - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    Mark Z– here is a request:(1) in layman's terms, what are the key aspects of the MASN media deal? Years, money, etc.(2) how do ratings affect the deal, both current and projected?(3) what elements of the deal are currently being litigated (if any) and what elements are subject to arbitration, and when?(4) what forms of "media" are locked into the deal, and how free are the Nats to explore other options?What is the relationship of MASN to broadcast TV (Sunday afternoon broadcasts), to the local and national cable/satellite networks, and to MLB.tv? (5) who will be our radio and video people this season?

  101. N. Cognito - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    If the Nats are in discussions with Fielder, in the end, I don't think Fielder and the Nats will agree on the length of the contract.

  102. Wally - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    Here is another tidbit from our prospect past:@Kevin_Goldstein Not really. I know one scout who's still on him. RT @Drewboke: @Kevin_Goldstein was Smolinski close on your marlins top 20?42 minutes ago

  103. NatsLady - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    Feel Wood– people don't have cable like they used to. I don't. Three things led to my dropping cable:(1) analog to digital–I now get a MARVELOUS signal from the local broadcast stations;(2) internet–I do a lot of my viewing on my computer and other devices; I don't even have a standalone TV, I have an antenna device hooked up to my computer.(3) mobility–I want to watch when I am NOT at home.The cable companies do not lose subscribers because of the availability or lack of baseball games. They lose them for the above reasons. MLB and the Nats need to sell the cable companies on deals like the Yankees have where subscribers can get access to baseball games online.People don't want to be tied down to cable wires or satellite hookups. Period. I'm willing to pay money for sports viewing, yes. But they are NOT making it available to me!!!

  104. DFL - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    Just did a little research on rolly-polly type players that I could remember. Boog Powell's peak years were at age 27 and 28. Greg Luzinski's, Kent Hrbek's and Cecil Fielder's were at 26 and 27. Frank Howard's were 31 through 33. However, few left-fielders covered less ground than Hondo. I'm old enough to remember.

  105. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    Does Frank Howard count as rolly-pooly? Was he not just simply huge? 6'7", but I don't think he carreid a lot of extra weight, did he?dfh21

  106. Steve M. - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    Wally said… Well, to change topics for a minute, here is a blurb from Baseball Prospectus that ranked the A's top prospects. AJ Cole is #1 (in a top 10 system). Not a backhanded complaint on the Gio trade, just passing it on as an interesting tidbit.Still tough to swallow.

  107. Mick - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    As I said a week ago, me thinks big boy will be a Nat in 2012!

  108. Feel Wood - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    there are some pretty significant changes coming down the pike with increased interleague play in 2013.Do the numbers before you start reaching conclusions. Having one interleague game a day across a 162 game season actually results in around 90 fewer interleague games than are in the current schedule. It's not increased interleague play, it's more spread out interleague play.

  109. St. IgNATius - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    This post and all the comments have reached into every aspect of the team and organization.Couple of points and questions:- Someone said Harper has a great arm and great speed. These are vital for a CF. However, I think he has an average arm and average speed. Am I right?- Are we all sure Harper is ready to face lefties in the majors?- Is there any reliable information to support the statement (made by management) that LaRoche is 100 percent? Major shoulder surgery is a killer; I don't think he'll ever be 100% again.- On the MASN deal, I only want one thing: For Nats replays to follow Nats games. I don't want O's replays after Nats games, and I don't want replays of DIV 3-C college football games after Nats games. I want Nats replays after Nats games. Mark is this possible?- I read the Boz chat from this morning. It is amazing how many of the questions pertain to the Nats–they far out-number the questions on the Hypeskins or any other DC franchise. To me this is a good thing. I know it is a function of the questions Boz selects, but I still think it is indicative of the opportunity the Nats face–the chance to own the Washington area for a generation.

  110. DFL - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    The legend of Frank Howard was that he ate two steaks, a dozen eggs and a milk shake for breakfast. He was more big than rolly-polly which is why his decline was later.

  111. Feel Wood - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:39 PM

    People don't want to be tied down to cable wires or satellite hookups. Period. I'm willing to pay money for sports viewing, yes.If they ever do eliminate the local blackouts, be prepared to pay a lot more for MLB.tv. Someone has to cover the revenue that teams wouldn't be getting any more from NESN, MASN, etc, etc, because fans are no longer watching their broadcasts. And that someone will be you.

  112. Exposremains - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    I think the biggest difference is that this time around the Nats have leverage to negotiate with Boras. They can say unless you meet our price its not gonna work, we have Laroche and Morse. We'll give the money to Zim and move Morse to 1st.This was not the case when they were trying to get Werth or Tex.

  113. natsfan1a - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Not to generalize my own experience to others, but I didn't get cable until the analog to digital switch came about.NatsLady said… Feel Wood– people don't have cable like they used to. I don't. Three things led to my dropping cable: (1) analog to digital–I now get a MARVELOUS signal from the local broadcast stations; (2) internet–I do a lot of my viewing on my computer and other devices; I don't even have a standalone TV, I have an antenna device hooked up to my computer. (3) mobility–I want to watch when I am NOT at home. The cable companies do not lose subscribers because of the availability or lack of baseball games. They lose them for the above reasons. MLB and the Nats need to sell the cable companies on deals like the Yankees have where subscribers can get access to baseball games online. People don't want to be tied down to cable wires or satellite hookups. Period. I'm willing to pay money for sports viewing, yes. But they are NOT making it available to me!!! January 3, 2012 1:14 PM DFL said…

  114. natsfan1a - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    Also, granted I'm a Luddite but I much prefer watching baseball from a comfy seat in my basement viewing lair to sitting in my office chair and watching on the computer, or on a mobile device. (Of course, I also still have a landline. :-))

  115. natsfan1a - Jan 3, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    Whoops – forgot to trim this, which had nothing to do with my post: "DFL said…"

  116. Section 222 - Jan 3, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    NatsLady makes a very important point about the likelihood of keeping Zim, Stras, and Harper for the long term. Not very likely. The only thing that could change that dynamic is if we start winning, consistently and soon. The idea of waiting, waiting, waiting until all the homegrown parts fall into place at the right moment will lead only to slow improvement, and likely no pennants, until one of those parts takes the bigger money and leaves. Then it will be back to another "Plan." It's like the Bridge to Nowhere.We're lucky enough to have wealthy enough owners and a large enough market that we don't have to play the Oakland or Tampa Bay or Kansas City game of trying to hit the lottery once every two decades. The resources are there to combine a great farm system with smart free agent signings and be a perennial contender like the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Rangers etc. Time to get on the Prince bandwagon!

  117. NatsLady - Jan 3, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    MLB.tv is about $120 per year, and you get all the games except local blackouts. $120 per year is 3 baseball games at the stadium. If they raised it to $200 per year, and included all local games and devices, fine. I'm not watching games on cable anyway, so they would be gaining a viewer.

  118. NatsLady - Jan 3, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    Maybe 2 games if I splurge on food (I budget $50 per game, approx. counting transportation and trinkets. I like to buy stuff at the stadium…)

  119. Constant Reader - Jan 3, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    MicheleS and Pay To Play … I did not miss that he took my question, I just had to run to lunch. Was it Rizzo or Beane that started spreading the word that eventually got back to Boz that caused him to punch the 'Lerners are cheap' button? He didn't give that away, but it does make everything clearer.After several column inches on the Lerners being cheap, we now know this was his real message on December 19:"However, here’s what’s worse that not opening the checkbook for free agents — and it’s what I suspect is happening now. If your baseball people say: “We finally have the prospects to trade for a key piece. We’ll have to give up lots of promising cheap labor and we’ll have to pay the new star immediately. But it’s the right move,” then the owner should say, “Yes!”A timely “yes,” a strong predisposition to trust the recommendations of top executives, is exactly what the Lerners have never provided the Nats. It remains their flaw. It’s always the same: Start from zero and build an ironclad logical case, full of slides and graphics, so Ted will cut the check. Many who’ve worked for the Nats say the same thing, in the same words: Their toughest negotiation isn’t with agent Scott Boras but with Ted Lerner."Then on the 23rd, he wrote this …"On Tuesday and Wednesday, the industry outside the D.C. area was buzzing: When are the Nats going to pull the trigger — on anything? It’s always like this with them. Why build a good farm system if, just once, you won’t do a prospects-for-star trade with a poor team? The Nats baseball people are “anguished and distraught” they can’t get a big deal approved.This familiar pattern, with half the offseason already gone and a four-for-one trade (with a throw-in minor leaguer from Oakland) probably floundering, precipitated my column Thursday. When the Gonzalez deal was done the next day, I shook my head. And grinned."Very interesting to see it all laid out in retrospect.

  120. Steve M. - Jan 3, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    Feel Wood said… If they ever do eliminate the local blackouts, be prepared to pay a lot more for MLB.tv. Someone has to cover the revenue that teams wouldn't be getting any more from NESN, MASN, etc, etc, because fans are no longer watching their broadcasts. And that someone will be you. January 3, 2012 1:39 PM If you require a local TV feed (MASN)of the actual game on MLB.TV then they can watch it with the commercials, advertising etc. the same way the DirecTV MLB Ticket works when you watch other teams games you get the choice of the home or road TV crew broadcast with the commercials the people in those cities are viewing. Even DirecTV blacks you out for Nats home games and redirects you to the MASN feed which is fine when I'm at home. The problem is when I am traveling I rely on MLB.TVAll they need to do on MLB.TV is use the exact MASN Broadcast and not go to dead airspace between innings or show the occassional MLB.TV ads. It should mean more revenue for everyone I would think.

  121. Feel Wood - Jan 3, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    MLB.tv is about $120 per year, and you get all the games except local blackouts. $120 per year is 3 baseball games at the stadium. If they raised it to $200 per year, and included all local games and devices, fine. I'm not watching games on cable anyway, so they would be gaining a viewer.They don't care about you. They care about all those other people who are watching games on cable now. The day that MLB announces that those local games are no longer blacked out on MLB.tv is the same day they tell all their local TV partners that no one will be watching them any more. (It's not hard to rig your TV set to play content off your computer or iPhone, y'know.) Then, as soon as it's time to renew their contracts those local providers will be telling the teams that they're no longer paying up. That's tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars per year that those teams would no longer be getting. Why is so hard for you to understand why MLB is not going to shoot itself in the foot just to make your life better?

  122. jcj5y - Jan 3, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    @ St. IgNATiusHarper has a plus-plus throwing arm (hit 95 from the mound when he was 16) and slightly above-average speed, which is expected to become closer to average as he fills out. But I haven't seen anyone suggest that he could handle CF in the majors.

  123. Wally - Jan 3, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    I would also be interested in these answers. Does anyone know if it is already available somewhere?NatsLady said… Mark Z– here is a request: (1) in layman's terms, what are the key aspects of the MASN media deal? Years, money, etc. (2) how do ratings affect the deal, both current and projected? (3) what elements of the deal are currently being litigated (if any) and what elements are subject to arbitration, and when? (4) what forms of "media" are locked into the deal, and how free are the Nats to explore other options?What is the relationship of MASN to broadcast TV (Sunday afternoon broadcasts), to the local and national cable/satellite networks, and to MLB.tv? (5) who will be our radio and video people this season? January 3, 2012 1:07 PM

  124. fpcsteve - Jan 3, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    natsfan1a, I love your Luddite claim. Love it. What a great blog. It's a well-read crowd that hangs out here. But there would be no Nats baseball in Nebraska without technology. Wheat and tares…

  125. Feel Wood - Jan 3, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    All they need to do on MLB.TV is use the exact MASN Broadcast and not go to dead airspace between innings or show the occassional MLB.TV ads. It should mean more revenue for everyone I would think.Follow the money. If they do this, then the local cable companies will lose subscribers. This will cause them to quit paying as much to carry the RSNs such as MASN. In the case of MASN, they probably would quit carrying MASN2. The RSNs will suffer decreases in viewership that will result in lost advertising revenues. This will cause the RSNs to quit paying as much to the teams. It's entirely possible that they could develop an MLB.tv pricing model that would cover these lost revenues, but extremely hard to predict in advance how much lost revenue they would have to cover. So why upset the apple cart of the current model when you don't know what you'd need to do to right it?

  126. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    NatsLady makes a very important point about the likelihood of keeping Zim, Stras, and Harper for the long term. Not very likely. The only thing that could change that dynamic is if we start winning, consistently and soon.And Boz did the same in greater depth is in chat. The problem with Boz's analysis is that he didn't consider something Mark Zuckerman first reported on: that the Nats can no longer receive the revenue sharing revenue stream by maintaining the payroll in the lower third. The new CBA has precluded that as a profit center for the Lerners.Their only choice now is to produce a winner and renegotiate the TV/media contract. Apparently due to the Angels and Texas new TV contracts the Lerner's can now go to MASN and do that. It also does open the option for the Lerner's to opt out.The other things Boz failed to consider especially in the case of Zimmerman was Anthony Rendon and the potential he has. The Nats really could conceivably sign Fielder and then replace Zimmerman with Rendon to keep the payroll below 100 million. IMO they pay Werth, Fielder, and Zim. If, for example, they traded Morse for Upton they would save money because Morse as a big power bat projects to have a higher salary. They can certainly drop 5 million by getting rid of Lannan (whom Boz also mentions) and that would likely HELP not hurt the roster. In other words there definitely are ways to fit Fielder for 5-7. No doubt. As to 4 years in the future with Stras and JZim … well … as Boz put it 100 million plus payrolls are usually reserved for teams with ardent fan bases and large TV contracts. The Redskins are horrible, the Bullets or Whuzzards are as pathetic as always. The Caps aren't going anywhere. Enter the Nats. Perhaps by producing a winner now the Lerners increase the gate by 3 million. Its certainly possible given the potentially exciting young team the Nats FO appears to be creating? They would just need a new TV contract either with MASN or some other entity like CSN. And improved marketing to create that ardent fanbase.

  127. Steve M. - Jan 3, 2012 at 7:45 PM

    Feel Wood, thanks for making that point at 2:20.If you think that the shift in dynamics would be large enough to cause the cable and DirecTV, DISH and FIOS to change what they pay MASN per household if MLB.TV got local broadcasts, then that would make sense. I am sure it would lessen some demand from the mainstream providers but would people actually cancel their subscriptions to those providers? If the TV ratings counted MLB.TV then the advertisers shouldn't care. There is a technology called SlingBox tat gives you your home providers signal which sends whatever you can watch on your TV at home to your hand-held or laptop. With Slingbox and the MLB Ticket you don't need to pay for MLB.TV I wonder if they will figure a way to scramble that technology.I also thought MLB.TV lessens the resolution if you go to full screen? I get 720dpi to 1080dpi on my computer in the small MLB.TV window using their NextGen software, but I get decreased resolution on full screen as I have a Hi Def laptop. I am thinking if I did hook my computer to my TV I would sacrifice picture quality. I will actually have to check that out because last week I have made my computer screen my actual HD TV.

  128. PAY TO PLAY - Jan 3, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    Constant Reader, I like how you read between the lines for Billy Beane as the leak on the slide show exhibits but how did that turn back into the Lerner's are cheap if it was all about the Gio Gonzalez trade?

  129. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 7:53 PM

    I agree with Mark that Fielder is about Morse. The only way signing Fielder makes any sense (and then just barely) is that the Nats believe that Morse cannot repeat his 2011 numbers. Otherwise, in 2013, you have Fielder, Morse, Werth and Harper all vying for one 1b and two corner OF spots.I disagree with this. I think its more about having more than one effective bat in the lineup. Last year the Nats had ONLY ONE and that was Morse. This year they are likely MORE CONCERNED with whether Werth and Zimmerman come back close to 2010 levels? Can you really rely on Ramos and Espinosa improving? NO. Not if you are serious about producing a winner.The other problem is the lack of left-handed impact bats. Everyone loves Harper but he will be a rookie and you can't expect too much … one need only look at Jason Heyward and he had far more minor league experience than Harper. Even projecting Harper doing well as Boz did would not be enough. As someone said in his chat adding Fielder would move the Nats offense to about average given best and worst case scenarios. Its enough to get them to the playoffs with pitching and defense. Boz actually came out with 93 wins and tore up the paper. I'd project it using bRAA and pRAA, which are park and defense neutral. Last year the Nats defense was above average. Moving Werth to CF and Morse to LF could change that. Acquiring BOTH Fielder and Upton should improve it. Losing Lannan and Livo from the rotation should improve the pRAA and get the Nats up to about average starting pitching. Even while adding Detwiler and Wang (questionable). Relief pitching should see improvement to average if Burnett comes back from a really miserable year … otherwise it could remain below average no matter what Clippard and Storen do. Getting close to average would be enough to get the Nats to the playoffs given Atlanta and Florida are going to be about the same and Philly continuing to decline. Philly should win the division however.

  130. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    There is a technology called SlingBox tat gives you your home providers signal which sends whatever you can watch on your TV at home to your hand-held or laptop. With Slingbox and the MLB Ticket you don't need to pay for MLB.TV I wonder if they will figure a way to scramble that technology.The Slingbox content sucks. And it is very flakey. MLB.TV has superior quality content: HD. But it too can be flakey. Its actually worse viewing it on my iPhone that 2 years ago. I would say that I would still pick it for the price over Slingbox hands down.

  131. Feel Wood - Jan 3, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    NatsLady said…Mark Z– here is a request:(1) in layman's terms, what are the key aspects of the MASN media deal? Years, money, etc.It's very simple, really. All MLB teams sell their TV rights to a network or networks for as much money as they can get for them. Some teams (e.g. Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles) actually own their own networks, so obviously that's where they sell their rights. Other teams like the Angels and Rangers make big money deals with some local or regional network for their rights. Whatever the market will bear. But the Nats can't do that, because the agreement with Angelos makes them minority owners of his network and stipulates that they cannot sell their TV rights to some other network, e.g. CSN. But the Nats are still entitled to payment from MASN for their rights, and it is supposed to be at a fair market price. There was an agreement for a number of years at a price/year that is now up for renewal. What MASN has been paying the Nationals is considerably under fair market value compared with what other teams in other markets are getting for their TV rights. If MASN (i.e. Angelos) and the Nationals cannot agree on new contract terms before next season, it will be decided by arbitration. Either way, the Nats TV revenues are expected to increase substantially.(2) how do ratings affect the deal, both current and projected? They are a factor, just as in every other market. But not the only factor.(3) what elements of the deal are currently being litigated (if any) and what elements are subject to arbitration, and when?See above, although I've never seen any reports on what the time table is other than "before next season."(4) what forms of "media" are locked into the deal, and how free are the Nats to explore other options?What is the relationship of MASN to broadcast TV (Sunday afternoon broadcasts), to the local and national cable/satellite networks, and to MLB.tv?The Nats have no other option besides MASN, unless an arbiter decides to break the MASN agreement. Over the air rights are sold by MASN to stations like DC-50 after the fact. MLB.tv is a league-wide arrangement. Single teams cannot deviate from it.(5) who will be our radio and video people this season?There has been no indication that radio will be anyone other than Charlie and Dave. The team sells its radio rights independent of the TV rights. As for the TV announcers, it's likely that they're waiting until after the deal is done to announce them. One would have to assume that if MASN ends up paying more money to the Nationals for rights they will need to seriously up their game to recoup the revenues. Perhaps multiple announcer teams a la what they do with the Orioles, better pre and post-game shows, etc.

  132. Steve M. - Jan 3, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    Here's the interesting part of the MASN deal w/ Angelos and Lerner that I think I understand. They split profits now on a sliding scale. I think Angelos is taking 77% and Lerner has 23% of the profits after their current TV rights deals are paid to each team. Right now I understand MASN, Inc. turns a small profit. Does that sound right?Any guaranteed rights fees are paid as negotiated in this new re-set or it goes to arbitration. If MASN, Inc. makes a profit then they split the profit at the 77/23 split. If the new media deal causes MASN, Inc to lose money then they split the loss 77/23This isn't like the FOX Media deal with the Angels where the Los Angeles FOX Sports West deal has other programming on that station like Comcast does here in DC with actual sports local news and other decent programming. MASN's current programming outside of baseball and some college football and basketball and the John Riggins show stinks.It wouldn't surprise me that if the Nats got the new larger TV Fee deal that it wouldn't push MASN, Inc into a loss. Its a double whammy to Angelos because now he has to fund 77% of the loss but the Nats would have to fund 23% of the loss. Still, it is possible that there is a net loss.I'm not sure you can count on a huge TV revenue increase because MASN is so bad. The Nats best option would be to hope they can opt out and then negotiate with CSN Washington or create their own alliance with FOX.

  133. PAY TO PLAY - Jan 3, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    Feel Wood, I think radio time is purchased by the team and then the team is responsible for selling the radio advertising. Isn't it usually a loss to most teams for local radio?

  134. Anonymous - Jan 3, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    This would be a mistake. If they are going to spend that money then it should be on Cespedes (admitedly risky, but potental large payoff)and then make a run at Matt Cain in 2013. A rotation of Stras, Zimm, Gio and Cain would be the best in baseball. A world series victory would follow.

  135. Feel Wood - Jan 3, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    They split profits now on a sliding scale. I think Angelos is taking 77% and Lerner has 23% of the profits after their current TV rights deals are paid to each team. Right now I understand MASN, Inc. turns a small profit. Does that sound right?Actually, I believe it is a split in ownership percentage of MASN that adjusts on the sliding scale, i.e. the Nationals will always be minority owners but their percentage of minority ownership will increase over time. Theoretically that would to equate to a split in profit-taking, but profits can be held within the corporation and not paid out directly to owners, right? One would hope that MASN is making a profit, but who knows? Clearly the rights fees paid to the Orioles and Nationals are an expense item – one which is due to go up a lot.

  136. Feel Wood - Jan 3, 2012 at 8:35 PM

    Furthermore, if MASN should lose money in any given year I doubt the Nats are on the hook for it. They are basically stockholders in a private corporation, and if a corporation loses money in a given year individual stockholders do not pay that burden directly. The company has to borrow money to cover the losses, or take it out of hide, etc. The stockholders end up absorbing the losses whenever their shares are sold due to reduced stock valuation, or they may lose it all if the company goes bankrupt. At any rate Angelos is the one at risk here. IIRC, the agreement started with the Nats owning 10% and it goes up over 20 or so years to a maximum of 30%. So right now they own maybe 15%.

  137. natsfan1a - Jan 3, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    The Sports Business Journal had a piece on the MASN contract a few months ago.

  138. Wally - Jan 3, 2012 at 9:11 PM

    natsfan1a – thanks for the link, that was very helpful.So it looks better than I thought: the Nats get an annual fee, plus have some equity (admittedly small and never getting big). So maybe future payrolls aren't as hamstrung as I thought.But if I am Angelos, I strongly consider forcing a sale of MASN now, particularly while I can sell Nats coverage too. These rights are huge right now (ie sellers market) and his equity percentage is just going to continue to reduce over time without any additional compensation.

  139. natsfan1a - Jan 3, 2012 at 10:16 PM

    You're quite welcome, Wally.

  140. Anonymous - Jan 4, 2012 at 1:19 AM

    I think if the Nats would sign Fielder, it would hasten the possibility of giving Ryan Z. his contract extension. Morse is no match offensively to what Fielder would provide. Both Morse and Prince are so-so defensively, but LaRoche is on the downside of his career and no one knows if he can come back from last year's horrific season. Let Morse walk when he becomes a free agent. Here's a vote for signing Fielder now and letting the Nats contend this year, instead of waiting to seriously contend in 2013 or 2014.

  141. Catcher50 - Jan 4, 2012 at 2:31 AM

    FYI, the MASN contract is redone every 5 years. It's been 5. Nats' share is expected to double or triple this year.

  142. bobfromalexandria - Jan 4, 2012 at 2:41 AM

    Great discussion!Re Zimmerman — he has said he wants a career with the Nats, and there is reason to believe him. His mother has multiple sclerosis and they are very close. The family is from Richmond. The Lerners have also shown themselves to be charitable people.Also, when Alex Rodriguez signed with the Yankees, he got more money than Jeter. Ask about this, Jeter said, "some things are more important than money." Zimmerman has not yet fully developed his potential as a regional spokesman. Harper, Strasburg, however great their potential, are not yet proven stars much less as "if the franchise." I think it's in everyone's interests for Zim to stay, whether he reups in one or two years.

  143. Anonymous - Jan 4, 2012 at 3:58 AM

    Nats Sign Fiedler…blOs sign Crisp. Nats trade Lannan & Morse to Baltimore for Adam Jones?

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