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What can Nats expect from LaRoche?

Jan 24, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Adam LaRoche appeared in only 43 games last season due to a shoulder injury.

As Prince Fielder's never-ending search for a new club threatens to enter its fourth month — did you know he officially became a free agent on Nov. 3? — the man who was supposed to be the Nationals' first baseman in 2011 and for now is supposed to be their first baseman in 2012 has been lost in the shuffle.

Adam LaRoche is the forgotten man in this saga, signed for another season at $8 million but left twisting in the wind as the Fielder saga continues to drag on.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson have said all the right things about LaRoche, repeatedly praising the veteran and insisting he remains their starting first baseman for the upcoming season. All of that, of course, could be thrown out the window if the Nats somehow emerge as Fielder's new employer. (Please note nothing has happened to suggest that's on the verge of becoming reality. Fielder simply remains unsigned, and the Nationals are one of several teams linked to the slugger.)

Let's assume for this discussion, though, that Fielder doesn't end up in a curly W cap. What can the Nationals reasonably expect to get fromRead more ยป

  1. NatStat - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Even if OK physically, LaRoche, being in the last year of his 2-year deal, is probably only on the roster till an ASB trade.If PF is signed, seems like LaRoche would be good bench strength???

  2. Nattydread - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Mark — a lot of analysis there. Thanks. A couple of things:1. Adam left the Nats "twisting in the wind" by not disclosing that he had a major injury. How is it that, with all of the multi-million dollar agents, consultant doctors and equipment, the Nats cant seem to figure out when someone has a season-ending injury until its way too late.2. The Nats player "recovery" record is spotty. "Hope for the best but expect the worst" is what I say. 3. I will cheer for Adam with all of my Natty enthusiasm if he is on first base. But I'll call him a bum if he puts up another stinker of a season — and be demanding Morse on first. Call me a fair weather fan.4. Have you seen Prince's stats? They were pretty consistent in 10/11 as well as the 5 years before!

  3. FS - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    I hope we don't have to trade AL this season. Let's hope we stay competitive and hunt for a playoff spot.

  4. MurrayTheRed - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    Mike Rizzo doesn't like fat guys! There is no way we sign Prince Fatboy. I would bet on it.

  5. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    How about a good prospect in return!Lipty,

  6. 320R2S15 - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    8M bench boy? Kidding right? I don't believe our owner should or will pay for PF. Let's just move on with what we have without the complecation of the PF issue. To tell the truth, I would rather have AR at first in 2012, then move RZ over there in 2013(ot trade him).

  7. natsfan1a - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Yes, unfortunately, I was counting off the months just the other day (somebody please make it stop — I'm tired of waiting for the PF Flyer to drop).In other news, is there some way we can get the comments back to the previous letter and line spacing? This one's hard on the eyes (or at least on these eyes).– did you know he officially became a free agent on Nov. 3? –

  8. sjm308 - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    I liked what LaRoche brought defensively and I am not sure how an injury like that affected his fielding but I do know that not since Nick Johnson have I seen a player save so many errors in such a short time.Not much talk about how our two young middle infielders are still not that consistent with their throws and we all know that Ryan had troubles early. I think Zimm has it solved but the jury is still out on Ian and Danny and LaRoche would be a big help there.I am fine either way with Fielder but I don't believe for a minute LaRoche will be on our bench. How can he be a late inning replacement when you would be taking a possible at bat away from our most potent offensive star? If we do sign Fielder the best case scenerio for LaRoche is to have a great spring (he is a notorious slow starter) and that we are able to trade him before the season for prospects to a team like Detroit who just lost Martinez. In some ways, if LaRoche is healthy, this is a win win for our lads. We either get a huge boost defensively (plus hopefully another solid bat), or we get one of the top offensive players in the league. Hard to argue either way.

  9. MFG - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    Nattydread – I don't think it's fair to blame LaRoche for playing through the injury last season. I seem to remember it being discussed in spring training, and then a decision was made to play through it. So the team definitely knew about it, consulted team doctors, and decided it was in the best interest of the team for Adam to try to play through the injury, especially after Zimmerman went down in the first couple weeks.We have to assume that LaRoche passed his physical before signing in the winter. It would be idiotic for the Nats to give the guy $16 million without a clean bill of health first. An injury can happen at any time, and I am giving LaRoche and the Nats the benefit of the doubt that he injured his shoulder at some point after passing his physical and signing the contract.

  10. #4 - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    With all due respect, I don't understand how anyone can say "I'd rather have LaRoche at first that PF". It's like saying "I'd rather have John Lannan as my #1 starter than Tim Lincecum."

  11. Gonat - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    I am hoping Adam LaRoche is in great shape and we get to see his offensive talent on display. Before you pounce, I'm not expecting 40 HRs, I'm expecting 20+ and 90 RBIs and some clutch hits + that great defense. Isn't that what the Nats paid for last year?

  12. Rabbit - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    Whew, with this font and line spacing, it is tiring to read all the comments. I'm doing a lot of skimming now.

  13. Nats1924 - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    I doubt Prince signs with the NatsWith all of this silence, it seems Boras is really struggling to find a home for his #1 client With ths bing the case, Fielder will resign with the Brew Crew on a 1year deal

  14. NatStat - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    The kind of injury that LaRoche had/has didn't happen over night. It had to have been noted during his physical (like Jason Marquis')but Rizzo preferred to ignore it, like he ususally does. Nothwithstanding JZim's and Stras' TJ stuff, Rizzo mostly has never seen an injury that he doesn't think that a player can't play through. It's not his money anyway.

  15. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    I think it is reasonable to expect LaRoche to perform well in the middle of the order. 25 Hr/90 RBI/.275/.350/.490 something like that maybe. And his glove is as solid as anyone's.Middle of the order bats are not scarce for the Nats right now. I don't know who the club thinks can be the table-setters for this club. Desmond is something between iffy and a long shot to succeed at lead off and there's really no one suited for the 2 hole. If the Nats can manage a lineup that gets production from the top 2 spots, then Zim, LaRoche, Morse, Werth and Espi might throw up a lot of crooked numbers.dfh21

  16. SilverSpring8 - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    Mark, thanks for this great analysis.

  17. gonatsgo - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    There will definitely be some major rust. How many at bats has this guy had in the last year and a half ? He hasn't faced live pitching consistently since 2010, having not played much at all last year. He is not going to magically be the player he was 2 years ago. He may be good the second half 0f 2012, but I would not count on right away. They also may need to baby him a little at first to make sure all is well. Being in shape athletically does not necessarily make you sharp at your game. One month of spring training will help but not make up for such a long time off.

  18. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Rabbit – yes, this text is very hard to READ!

  19. Bowdenball - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    The reason we can't pencil LaRoche in for those numbers is that there's no way to know if his shoulder is 100%. Every possible source of information about his health has motivation to lie- LaRoche to convince the team of his worth, the Nats to up his trade value if they get Prince and to make the fans optimistic, and so on.There's also the fact that he's at the age when most major leaguers start to decline, which would be a reason to project a slight downward trend even if he is 100%.

  20. Rich - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    You guys are complainimg about the comments, bit this site is finally optimized for mobilefor. Love it.

  21. Joe Seamhead - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    I have a theory regarding the Nats and Fielder: Rizzo, the Lerners, and Scott Boras have a great relationship. Boras represents a sizable number of players in the organization. I am beginning to believe that Boras is using the Nats, with their cooperation, in leading other teams to believe that the Nats are major players in the PF sweepstakes, when in reality they are not.. I don't see the team signing Prince unless there is already a deal in place for the 8 million dollar Adam LaRoche to go somewhere else. Adam was the last 1B free agent before last season. There would be very limited interest in a player that has health questions with his salary. Fielder is pretty unlikely to come here.The idea of a slow starter like A.L. being a 8 million dollar bench player is extremely remote.

  22. Section 215 Row A - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Excellent point, gonatsgo. And not only may Adam struggle getting back to his previous level of production, he may not get there at all. The increase in strikeouts in 2010 could be a harbinger for his future offense. He is 32 now…(3 years past his prime?)…he is definitely on the down slope….

  23. natsfan1a - Jan 24, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Off topic but nice update on the Chief at the Nats Enquirer site (link at left). Includes an update on the summer baseball camp, for whose who were interested in details.

  24. jd - Jan 24, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    Bowdenball said:'There's also the fact that he's at the age when most major leaguers start to decline, which would be a reason to project a slight downward trend even if he is 100%.' Bingo !!

  25. Theophilus - Jan 24, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    SOs w/ Diamondbacks were due to a viral infection that affected the whole team. With Mark Reynolds, J. Upton and Chris Young, and others, the D-Backs overwhelmed the league in the no. of strikeouts. They had six regulars w/ more than 100 Ks. Possibly following direction, or lack of it, from the manager who was desposed in favor of Gibson at the end of the season to swing at everything above their ankles and below the hairline. They were awful.

  26. Mark Zuckerman - Jan 24, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    Ugh, sorry about the small font and line spacing. Don't know why this has happened again, but I'll look into it and see if I can fix it.

  27. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    Agree, great analysis. Isn't LaRoche 32? Doesn't seem that old.

  28. The Joker - Jan 24, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    LaRoche is as likely to be the Nats first-baseman on September 1, 2012 as Billy Cundiff is to being the Ravens placekicker on September 1 , 2012.

  29. NatsBrat - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    Good point Joker!Maybe LaRoche and Cundiff could trade places.As far as LaRoche being too expensive to sit on the bench, Nats have already paid him $8mm to sit around the clubhouse for a year!It'd be like a promotion.

  30. Section 222 - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    Interesting analysis, but I have to take issue with this: "So, there's no reason we shouldn't be able to pencil in LaRoche for roughly 25 homers, a .270 average, a .340 on-base percentage and a .475 slugging percentage in 2012."Actually, as Bowdenball suggests, there's a very good reason not to pencil in such a good season: He's coming off of major surgery and he hasn't performed at that level since the second half of the 2010 season. And remember he's a legendary slow starter. He may very well have numbers that project out to nothing close to what we're supposed to confidently pencil in by the time the ASG rolls around and the Nats have to seriously consider dealing him. I'm not expecting much at all from ALR this season except for good defense. I just hope that DJ is ready to pull the trigger and move Morse to 1B as soon as Harper comes up to stay, or even before if ALR slumps too badly. And for goodness sakes, don't keep him in the cleanup or #5 spot if he's hitting under .200 after several weeks.

  31. bobn - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    SF papers say Gomes will sign with A's…good place for him, hope he does well.

  32. CN - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    Just read that the new Astros owner is considering changing the team's name. I can't help but think what might have been had the 'Stros relocated to N VA back in the 90s. Moot point, since I love me some Nats (via Montreal)…http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7494785/new-houston-astros-owner-jim-crane-mulls-name-uniform-change

  33. HHover - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    As to LaRoche's age–32 ain't that old compared to some of us, perhaps, but it is past the average baseball player's prime (late 20s). But at least according to Bill James and other stat types, not all skills age at the same rate. Speed and BA are "young player" skills–they drop more quickly than "old player" skills like power and walk rate. Judging by that, there's no reason to think LaRoche's particular skill set will plummet at age 32–*if* he's really healthy.

  34. jd - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    HHover, Not suggesting it will plummet but there's a very strong likelihood that his numbers will start a slow decline.

  35. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    The Nats owe LaRoche $9M ($1M buy-out for 2013). Presuming no PF Flyer, given the guy's copnsistent track record and reported clear bill of health and those coins, I just don't see the club giving the guy a short leash. And it would be out of character for the organizaton, which has a history of letting guys play through prolonged "slumps" to start running with the hot hand now. Look at the tolerance they have had for Desmond to date, and they never dropped Werth to 7th in the order once last year and he only batted as low as 6th for a handful of games, as much as he was struggling. dfh21

  36. jd - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    Everyone is also assuming that Werth will revert back to his Philly numbers but history does not normally support this theory. Most players don't reverse their declines at the age of 33 (there are exceptions – David Ortiz) but I wouldn't hold my breath. Wouldn't we rather have PF than JW for the next 6 years?

  37. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    So, jd, we should expect Werth (he's the same age) to steadily decine too? Yikes.

  38. Tcostant - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    You know, the fact is that LaRoche is just a place holder, either for PF or Morse once Harper comes to the bigs.But Fielder is so good and so young (and fat I know) that I would suggest extenting two offers to Boras; one for three years at high dollars ($80M to $85M) and one for five year at lower aver age dollars ($110M to $115M). No opt out, if you want the option to leave after three years; take the shorter deal. That is it, we can see there is no market for him; why go longer?I actually think what someone suggested makes sense; that he goes back to the Brewers on a one year deal. They won't need to pay the NL MVP for a third of the season and could likely fit him in, and the draft choice will just come next year.Stay firm and keep to Rizzo word of signing him only if it's a good deal for the Nationals.

  39. Section 222 - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    Yes @dfh21 there is a history of long leashes that hurt the team (except when it comes to Michael Morse at the beginning of last year.) LaRoche was given one and it definitely played a role in the Nats lousy play in April and May. He was still batting cleanup when he finally fessed up that the shoulder was hurting his performance. His slashline at the time? .172/.288/.258. Does anyone think he deserves a long leash this year just because of his salary?

  40. HHover - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    jd – Agreed–it just seems to me that the importance of that slow decline due to age is a lot less than the importance of concerns about his health.FWIW, Bill James projects LaRoche at .255/.333/.445, and 11 HRs–but that's also projecting him with fewer than 300 ABs. That's a good bit more pessmistic than our host.

  41. HHover - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    As for WerthAs long as I'm citing the Bill James projections, he has Werth at .259/.360/.451 and 23 HRs. Not a return to his Phillies #s, but a significant rebound from last year.

  42. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    Hey, let's just hope the Nats' powers-to-be sign PF. It would mean huge crowds in 2012 and many, many years to come. I agree with others, LaRoche should have stepped up and revealed his injury. Prince would rock Nationals Park! An outfield of Morse, Werth and Harper isn't so bad. Also, the National League may have the DH in a year or two. Afterall, Houston is moving to the American League and the playoffs are expanding. Change isn't so bad, is it?

  43. Drew - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    Disclaimer: The following is not about politics.The never-ending Fielderama needs Richard Douglas LLamas. He's the guy who stood up in the Senate gallery during President Clinton's impeachment trial and shouted: "Good God Almighty, take the vote and get it over with!"

  44. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    "Does anyone think he deserves a long leash this year just because of his salary?"The thing is, it doesn't matter what "anyone" thinks; it only matters what Rizzo and Johnson think. It's January, we've got nothing better to talk about, and we can and will go on at great length about whatever, but that has precisely zippo to do with what actually happens. Just sayin.captcha is "sumor"–so the software agrees, let's have some more.

  45. Steve M. - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Anonymous said… I think it is reasonable to expect LaRoche to perform well in the middle of the order. 25 Hr/90 RBI/.275/.350/.490 something like that maybe. And his glove is as solid as anyone's.Middle of the order bats are not scarce for the Nats right now. I don't know who the club thinks can be the table-setters for this club. Desmond is something between iffy and a long shot to succeed at lead off and there's really no one suited for the 2 hole. If the Nats can manage a lineup that gets production from the top 2 spots, then Zim, LaRoche, Morse, Werth and Espi might throw up a lot of crooked numbers.dfh21 January 24, 2012 8:17 AM Nicely said. 1st base wasn't an off-season priority until Boras sucked Lerner into the vortex on this Fielder thing. LaRoche hopefully gets us the numbers you quoted.If you don't get Prince, I'm not sure the team moves up 10% in run production which probably won't get the Nats to the promised land of playoffs.The issue I have is Werth should be a #6 batter on this team and a new CF should've been the #1 or #2 in the order.Off season goal was to get a Buehrle/Gio type and at the expense of the Farm system accomplished that.2nd goal was a high OBP outfield bat. That hasn't happened although still thinking Rizzo hasn't given up. The problem I have is I would have over-paid for Buehrle or gone after Joe Saunders to save the prospects to use on a trade. I am certain the Royals would have traded Alex Gordon for a similar Gio package. As I thought the Royals weren't able to do a Gordon extension as was rumored and they are far apart for his 2012 contract just to get him signed before arbitration.Still hoping the Rays need to shed payroll and would be willing to trade Upton just to dump salary.

  46. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    I honestly don't get all the regarding LaRoche's defense. He does have a good glove, but his range is nothing to write home about, which hurts his overall 1B defensive ability.His defense rates slightly BELOW average over his career (-1.9 UZR). The past couple years he has been slightly above average. Everyone should go look at fangraphs and check him out in more detail.Fielder's 1B defense is worse than LaRoche's obviously (-6 UZR vs -1.9 UZR) but his bat more than makes up for his defense… which is reflected in his WAR. Fielder has averaged 3.8+ WAR over the last 6 years (5.1 WAR over the past 3 years). LaRoche has averaged 1.5 WAR over the last 6 years (I didn't count last year)Basically, LaRoche is a an MLB average first baseman. Prince Fielder is on the cusp of an ELITE first baseman. And Prince is 5 years younger.No contest in my book… regardless of his weight- sign the PF Flyer.ejs1111

  47. Steve M. - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    natsfan1a said… Off topic but nice update on the Chief at the Nats Enquirer site (link at left). Includes an update on the summer baseball camp, for whose who were interested in details. January 24, 2012 9:02 AM Thanks for the heads up. Nicely written article. I will comment myself on there about the PF (potential fail) of the Nats if they don't honor that man the right way. I don't think throwing out the 1st pitch is enough. The way Jim Bowden dumped the Chief like yesterday's trash is unforgiveable unless he treated the team and fans poorly like Nyjer Morgan, and we all know that wasn't the case with Chad.I think Chad Cordero deserves a real tribute to where he throws out the first pitch just before game time so the stadium is filled to see it and he gets a standing ovation like he deserves. I feel very strongly about that.

  48. Steve M. - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    ejs1111, there is no doubt about the overall upgrade of Prince over Adam. I think it is even larger than that. The intangibles you get from Prince is how he elevates everyone else around him in the lineup. Its something hard to put your finger on the value of that. Fielder should make Ryan Zimmerman look closer to Ryan Braun's output.

  49. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    It might be the 2013 season by the time Laroche has full strength back in his shoulder. If the front office was convinced that he was 100% for 2012, I doubt they would be interested in PF. Besides, Laroche has a history of hitting .150 the first half of each season and .350 the second half. Who needs that???

  50. Section 222 - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    Sec3MySofa said: "The thing is, it doesn't matter what "anyone" thinks; it only matters what Rizzo and Johnson think."Is that really the thing? You could say it about 99% of the topics discussed here – potential trades, FA signing, lineups for next year, etc. etc. I'm sure not holding my breath for my opinion to influence what Rizzo and DJ think or do. Nor are any of the other commenters that I'm aware of. We just enjoy the fray and are interested in what others think. Or we're practicing until we get that big break to play a manager or GM on TV.

  51. Phil Dunn in Vero Beach - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    Price Fielder will put people in the stands; he will broaden the fan base. The Nationals need that big time. Now is the time to strike and I hope Rizzo and the Lerners realize that. The Phillies are getting old and the Nationals have a once in a decade chance to become the cream of the crop in the NL East. Just do it!

  52. Wally - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    Well, as the offseason starts coming to a close and the remaining FAs are finding teams, I am going to repeat a comment that I made yesterday and a few other times: I feel like the Nats have done a poor job of improving the bench. OF: presumably Davey has convinced Rizzo to go with Werth in CF and bring up Harper early. OK, I am game but what is the fallback plan if Werth wears down, or more likely, gets hurt due to the extra wear and tear of CF on his body. How about if Harper struggles? How about if Laroche isn't really healthy,and Morse has to play 1B? Who are getting these ABs in the OF? Are we really going into this season of raised expectations and hope with Bernie and Cameron realistically getting a combined 600-800 ABs? That just seems like a poor fallback plan to me, especially when a guy like Cody Ross is there for a $3m base salary.MI: what if Desi or Espy get hurt, or one of them can't hit .200? I don't think the latter is likely, but it isn't out of the question either. Are we really ready to give Lombo a full time role? Plus, don't we want him playing every day somewhere until that time? PH: if DeRosa isn't over his injuries, is there anyone on that bench that scares you? Especially with Flores probably not getting the call because he is there in case Ramos gets hurt during the game. Kind of worry that this causes a rift between Davey and Rizzo, because it seemed like Davey had clear expectations in this area that cannot have been met.The offseason isn't over, but it is drawing to a close. Wilson Betemit and Cody Ross were two guys that I thought would fit well on the bench, but they are gone now. Keppinger or Theriot could help too

  53. MicheleS - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    Wally… Ross has a better chance at starting in Boston, so I think that is why we lost out to him. Our OF is too crowded right now and Cody wants a chance to start (not that I blame him). On the Bright side… we are 26 days away from Pitchers and Catchers reporting…

  54. phil dunn in Vero Beach - Jan 24, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    Bowdenball said: <>Absolutely correct—-and don't forget that Laroche continually lied big time about his condition negatively impacting his play last season until he finally gave up, told the truth, and underwent season ending surgery. He can't be trusted. Beyond that, he probably knew he was severly damaged goods when he signed the $16 million two year contract because he had should problems at the very beginning of spring training. That's called deceit.

  55. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    There is absolutely NO COMPARISON between Prince Fielder and Adam LaRoche and it all starts with their AGES! Some prospects don't get started until they are Fielder's age. I believe this may be more about Mark Zuckerman being WRONG about the Nats pursuit of Prince Fielder from the beginning. Asserting all along that the Nats weren't looking at him that they were going to go with LaRoche. If the Nats do sign PF and go after Upton following? Mark is going to look awfully silly … ;) Either way you were wrong Mark.

  56. Exposremains - Jan 24, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Even if Laroche's shoulder is 100%, he's been removed from baseball for a year. That's the problem. Isn't that what happened to Flores? At best, I think we can expect Laroche to go back to his career numbers by August. How many times in the past 7 years we've been told that player X is healthy and will be great and one month into the season everybody starts making excuses for him and then he's day to day and then he's on the 15 day DL and you know how the rest goes.

  57. Sean Kelly - Jan 24, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    Couldn't agree more with Phill Dunn @11:49am.Just a few additional thoughts about NOW being the time to make a move on Fielder. Not only does this makes sense concerning the aging Phils up the road, but this area is at a crossroads for sports period.The Wizards just fired their coach (mercifully) and there are no signs of improvement or even hope fo them for the foreseeable future. People are questioning the remaining window for the Caps for a title (although I hope they make a push and respond well to Ovi's suspension). The Redskins are the same Redskins that have disappointed for 20 years. The Ravens' window is closing with the age of their core players. The United will never push past cult following.There is an opprtunity for this team to capture the hearts and interest of millions of fans in the area. I'm not saying it will happen, but if the O's are merely posturing with PR saying they want Fielder and don't get him the disastification and stigma with current ownership could turn many of the Batlimore faithful away. I wasn't originally on board with snagging Fielder because the Morse switch makes sense long term both financially and how it concerns developing and keping youth, but considering the impact and draw it will have I think it needs to be done. We are on the precipice of great things for this franchise and ownership has a shot at making this a truly great baseball city with a fanbase that can be as impactful or more than the TV deal. Get it done.

  58. The Great Unwashed - Jan 24, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    NatStat said… The kind of injury that LaRoche had/has didn't happen over night. It had to have been noted during his physical (like Jason Marquis') but Rizzo preferred to ignore it, like he ususally does.————————————————————————How do you know that? Are you the assistant GM? Do you have Ted Lerner's ear? If so, are the Nats signing PF? If not, why do you think you can make opinion into fact? Do tell.

  59. NatsLady - Jan 24, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    Does anyone know if the box office is open? I am thinking of a partial season ticket plan, since you get 13 games for the price of 12. But the fees eat up what you save, so I'd rather make a run over to the Park.

  60. NatsLady - Jan 24, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    Also, does any "Insider" know when the auditions for the National Anthem will take place. Last year it was in March, but they have already posted auditions for the Nats Pack…and, I believe, the Racing Presidents, though I'm not sure about the latter. I have a student who would very much like to audition and I plan to go with her.

  61. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    NatsLady, why don't you (a) check the Nats web site and (b) follow the information thereon: "For Nationals Mini Plan Ticket Information, call 202.675.6287(NATS), option #1 then option #2 or e-mail us at ticketinfo@nationals.com."?Or you could just believe me. Is the box office open? Ya, sure.

  62. Chubby Cox - Jan 24, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    The Wizards finally put Flip out of his misery. Thank goodness. He is a good man who deserved better than these dogs. Namely the Big Three of Young, Blatche and Dum-Dum McGee

  63. NatsLady - Jan 24, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    Anon@12:53 Yeah, I could do that… :)

  64. Rat Man - Jan 24, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    When does Grunfeld, the painter of the masterpiece called the Wizards, get fired? Best they rid themselves of Blatche, McGee, Young, Lewis even if they get nothing for them.

  65. natsfan1a - Jan 24, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Who are these Wizards you speak of? I never did read any of the Harry Potter books so I have no idea. ;-)

  66. natsfan1a - Jan 24, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Hey, NatsLady, if you haven't called the ticket office yet, may you could also ask when they'll be making the (smaller) flex plans available. 'kay, thanks. :-)

  67. Steve M. - Jan 24, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    Phil Dunn in Vero Beach said… Price Fielder will put people in the stands; he will broaden the fan base. The Nationals need that big time. Now is the time to strike and I hope Rizzo and the Lerners realize that. The Phillies are getting old and the Nationals have a once in a decade chance to become the cream of the crop in the NL East. Just do it! January 24, 2012 11:49 AM They struck gold with Strasburg and they couldn't figure out how to broaden the fanbase much with him. Maybe because he is a pitcher going every 5 games, maybe because the team wasn't that good in 2010.Forget the marketing of PF Flyer, I just think the Nats management lacks the people in place and the system to capitalize on what they have right now which includes: Bryce Harper, Strasburg, Beast Morse, RZim, JZim, Gio, Ramos, Espi, Clip, Storen and even Werth.The comments on NatsEnquirer about Chad Cordero coming to Washington this summer and needing a proper tribute tells me they can't grasp what they have when it is sitting there for the taking.Someone used the terms bureaucracy, red tape, lack of empowerment. That could be part of it if you have to funnel everything through a micro-managed system. What is a Chad Cordero night going to cost you? NOTHING but comp'ing Chad a few tickets. You get a sponsor to pay for the giveaway caps or bobbleheads and reap the rewards of a huge crowd. They can't even grasp that. The only thing I see is if the Nats win and get the local media attention making them the hot ticket in town, the fans will come like they started to during last years win streak. If Prince Fielder helps the Nats win, the bandwagon fans will jump on the wagon otherwise I don't see Prince putting many more butts in the seats.Until the Nats internal culture changes, it would take more than Prince Fielder to change things until there is consistent WINNING WINNING WINNING WINNING

  68. Mark'd - Jan 24, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    SteveM, they need to hire Boras full time and let him market his players to the Washington DC people. That guy can clearly sell horse manure to a cow manure farmer.

  69. Steve M. - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    I don't know what the Nats will get in increased TV revenue but I will go back to a discussion on if they sign Prince Fielder, the increased exposure should net the Nats a favorable window of opportunity to do a stadium naming rights deal.Okay, they won't score an 8 digit a year deal but if they can't at least match the $4 million Sun Life deal the Marlins had at one time that would be pathetic. Capital One Bank at Nationals Park has a nice ring to it. They can call it the COB and it would pay for around 20% of Prince Fielder's income.http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2011/09/19/In-Depth/Naming-rights-deals.aspx

  70. NatsNut - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:06 PM

    Anyone else see Ken Rosenthal's latest? I don't have any more opinions because I'm as Prince Fielder-ed out as Mark is, but curious what ya'll think.

  71. Feel Wood - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    No naming rights deal and just calling it Nationals Park sounds even better. Money isn't everything. Some of the best and most classy teams in baseball have not succumbed to the naming rights plague, e.g. Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, even Orioles. The Nationals can hold their heads high having no naming rights deal.

  72. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    Fell Wodd — that is rich. How can anything sound better to Ted Lerner than something like $200M for naming rights?

  73. Wally - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    NatsNut – this?@Ken_Rosenthal Ken RosenthalSources: #Marlins, #Orioles not in mix for Fielder. #Rangers out, per @BNightengale. Barring surprise, #Nationals appear favorite. #MLB

  74. Steve M. - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    Feel Wood, I don't disagree about the naming rights for the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs who play on hallowed ground. The Whoreoles would do it if Angelos got his price and I expect the Dodgers will definitely do it when they get new ownership. I think the only reason the Nats have done it is because they haven't gotten their price.

  75. Just wonderin' - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    On naming rights: What about "Boras Field at Nationals Park"?

  76. PAY TO PLAY - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    Gio Gonzalez news conference tomorrow. Wonder if Prince Fielder will stop by.

  77. Feel Wood - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    A $200 million naming rights deal for the Nationals is not going to happen in this economy. And Ted Lerner is too classy a guy to sell naming rights on a yearly basis for chump change like the Dolphins have done with their stadium that the Marlins have been playing in.

  78. PAY TO PLAY - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    Just wonderin' said… On naming rights: What about "Boras Field at Nationals Park"? January 24, 2012 2:17 PM He's already asked for that. LOL

  79. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    I've got it: How about calling it "Prince Field?"

  80. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:22 PM

    sign PF, and trade Morse to Tampa for Upton. That would be a great team.

  81. Section 222 - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    I'd prefer Capitol Records Park myself. But we'll probably end up with Exxon Mobil or Fannie Mae. A local business would be best. The Ben's Chili Bowl?

  82. lesatcsc - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    How would PF help the Nats? Runners on 2nd and 3rd, two out, RZim at the plate, LaRoche on deck. How often do teams pitch around RZim to get to ALR? I'm thinking very often. Same situation, PF on deck, RZim gets heat in the strike zone, PF gives him a high five as he crosses the plate while fans outside the ballpark rush after the ball. It's a no-brainer. PF isn't just better than ALR, he makes players like RZim better.Someone commented that Ross wouldn't sign with the Nats because the Nats OF is too crowded. Huh? They may be the only team in baseball right now that only has two bona fida OFs, one of whom is likely to play the wrong position (actually, if you buy the Morse is better at 1B argument, both the Nats OFs on openning day may be playing the wrong position). There isn't a thinner OF anywhere. The Nats need to sign a decent hitter that isn't a complete defensive nightmare to a lucrative one year contract; then Harper makes it when it makes sense, not because there simply aren't any other alternatives. Bernadina and Cameron are not viable alternatives. If Harper comes up in late June and tears it up, you either have a great bench bat or a trade asset, if he isn't, you have someone that can help offensively all year. I sure hope they are holding off making a move to get that guy in the hope that PF will sign and they can get an OF in a deal for ALR.

  83. Wally - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:43 PM

    Twitter world abuzz with Nats & Fielder on an 8 year deal (and not that crazy guy from Sun night, he says O's).Les – 100% with you on the OF, and Fielder doesn't really change that point about the OF, unless Adam L can play CF.

  84. Steve M. - Jan 24, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    I am hearing Fielder to the Tigers but a buddy of mine in the know says its the Nats but looks like it is happening today.

  85. Steve M. - Jan 24, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    The Prince Fielder to Washington is OVER. The Tigers just coughed off the cash. Mark Zuckerman was right as usual.

  86. Anonymous - Jan 24, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    Heyman just tweeted Tigers. He's not a buddy of mine, but I'd say he's in the know.

  87. Feel Wood - Jan 24, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    Mark Zuckerman was right as usual.No, Zuckerman was wrong. He maintained from the beginning that the Nats would not be in on Fielder. Clearly they were in on him all along. Just weren't successful in the end. Zuckerman never predicted that.

  88. Steve M. - Jan 24, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    If Fielder went to the Marlins or Orioles I would have come unglued. I'm ok with this. 9 years for an average of $23 mill per year is just nuts.Now the Nats need to finish Plan C which is extending Ryan Zimmerman and keep negotiating with Morse now and try to add a couple more years to his deal.

  89. Steve M. - Jan 24, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    I am more upset overall that without Prince the CF spot is more exposed and you can't rush Bryce Harper if he isn't ready. The offensive run production is crucial to the Nats pitchers so they aren't struggling with 1 run leads or those pesky 2-1 deficits.At least now that the Prince drama has ended, the Nats can move forward and if a deal comes up for them to take, do it.

  90. jd - Jan 24, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    Steve M.I agree with you 100%. I pushed for a PF signing but not for 9 years. Anything more than 6 is ludicrous. Still it's a better deal for the Tigers than the Nats have with Werth. So it's LaRoche at 1st and Morse in left for starters with a black hole in center and Werth in right. When Harper arrives LaRoche leaves maintaining the black hole in center. More work for Rizzo. If not now then at the trade deadline or next off season.

  91. natsfan1a - Jan 24, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    I'm fine with no Prince, and more than fine with all of the related rumors/speculation being done. Good luck to Nats Insider Dawn and her Tigers now that they've taken a PF flyer. :-)(And were the Nats really in on it, or just part of the noise generated by Boras and company?)

  92. Steve M. - Jan 24, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    natsfan1a, that's a great question. I truly believe that the Nats were "in" for several weeks and were also Boras's fallback safety net. Worse case he does a 7 year with an opt-out or 5 years at $25 mill per year and Boras comes out smelling ok.With this Detroit deal, the yokes on them. Another case of way over-paying. Detroit probably bought that fake BS yesterday of an imminent signing with the Nats at 8 years. I didn't buy that for second.Back to Plan C

  93. natsfan1a - Jan 24, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    Or plan CF.

  94. Mich9 - Mar 29, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    google knows it :-D

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 58 47 --
ATLANTA 58 49 1.0
MIAMI 53 54 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.5
PHILADELPHIA 47 61 12.5
Through Wednesday's early games

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

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

ON THE RADIO

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

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