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Shields among Nats’ top targets

Dec 3, 2012, 2:15 PM EDT

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James Shields is 31-22 with a 3.15 ERA over the last two seasons with Tampa Bay.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Winter Meetings officially begin today, but with all the pertinent parties already in place last night the rumor mill started churning out juicy bits of information.

And with the Nationals garnering far more attention than in previous years, what quickly became clear was that Mike Rizzo is considering some very big names to fill the final hole in his starting rotation.

Though Rizzo could stick with the conventional path and sign one of several high-priced free agents on the market, he's also using the trade route to pursue a starter.

And perhaps his best possible trade partner is Rays general manager Andrew Friedman.

The Rays are loaded with pitching, but in their never-ending quest to keep payroll down are willing to listen to offers for their higher-priced starters. Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner David Price would beRead more »

  1. MicheleS - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    As one who loves Danny (and YES I know he needs to cut down on his K's)… this makes me happy.Ken Rosenthal‏@Ken_RosenthalMany #Nationals folks reluctant to trade Espinosa. “He will figure it out,” one says. “Lombardozzi is a good player, but he’s not Espinosa.”

  2. Dryw Loves the Nats - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    Michael and Danny both? NOT. OK.

  3. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    What that annymous source said. Lombo is no espinosa. he is able to put bat on the ball more often than danny but he has neither his defense nor his speed and power combo.

  4. JamesFan - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    I would feel better not re-signing ALR, keeping Morse and let Espi go in a trade. With Lombo, the Nats will have a better offense and still be the best D in MLB. I have no confidence that Espi will solve his strikeout, batting average problem

  5. hiramhover - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    Rays have reportedly signed Loney for 1B. That would seem to scotch the Morse part of the deal, no? Or would they still want Morse as a DH/back up?

  6. JaneB - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Argh. I prefer to live in the magical world wherein we keep all the guys I love and just add a new power arm. Every year we name our Christmas tree for the lost National player we will most miss. I don't want to name it Danny or Michael. But even more I don't want to name it ALR.

  7. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Nats all over the rumors.

  8. Teddy Rochlis - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    espi and morse for shields!!! not okay we can do better, i still believe in espi

  9. UnkyD - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Got new posted:hiramhover said…I'd hate to part with Espi, and the fact that the Rays front office–one of the savvier ones in baseball–would want him ought to serve as a reality check to some of our own fans, who tend to focus on his faults.December 03, 2012 9:10 AMUnkyD said…Excellent point, HiramHover…I see no necessity to trade anyone, other than Morse. Grab Greinke, Sanchez, or Lohse, bring Adam back, along with Sean and MGonz. There is kind of a salary window, for 2-3 years… Spend it.(I just know that, if I say it often enough, I'll convince Rizzo……hehe)December 03, 2012 9:39 AM

  10. MicheleS - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    Ghost, the question is will any of the rumors pan out? And MAYBE the Espi rumors are to knock some sense into him (she says hopefully).

  11. blovy8 - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    Eh, just sign the best free agent pitcher you can afford.The trouble is that I believe they are evaluating the players in a similar manner. I don't see how it makes sense to weaken the club in two spots to acquire a guy who's not cheap. You'd also have to believe Rizzo would give LaRoche a third year if Morse goes now. That could probably happen immediately, so Morse's part in the deal is easy.The Nats believe that Espinosa could be a future all-star, and maybe the Rays do too, but the salary difference in the deal really matters. If the clubs' valuation is similar to WAR, then the Nats give up more value as they gain and pay more salary. You'd almost have to believe Rendon will be your new 2B pretty soon to make up the difference, and there's no evidence Rizzo is planning that. This deal would kind of beget another deal, and take away a lot of flexibility without quite enough cost control on Shields have it make sense.

  12. TheRealFrankL - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    Rumorville! So funny to think that Joe "players won't want to sign with the Nats" Maddon might be eating his words a little more directly.I'm still mystified on how folks think that Steve Lombardozzi is going to fit into an every day role with the addition of Denard Span. You could maybe bat him second, but he doesn't fit at all in the 7 or 8 spot-and if you DO bat him second, you are now moving Jayson Werth down to the 7 or 8 spot, and that's a waste of a good batter.Danny Espinosa is a perfect fit for that part of the order, and just like Ian Desmond before him, he's right at the age where he's going to turn a corner. Way to early to give up on him. Lombo is great, but he's not a starter on this team. Unless, of course, you get Mr. Shields. I'd probably put up with the dip in defense and offense for him. (As if it were up to me).Also-Don't expect the Nats to move Morse until they know what is going on with ALR. Mike Rizzo does not count his chickens before they are hatched.

  13. JD - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    Espi and Morse is way too much for shields. In fact I think Morse straight up for Shields is a fair deal. I would also consider Helickson and Davis if the Rays wont do Shields.

  14. Section 222 - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    So the MLB Trade Rumors list of free agents shows that Lohse declined a qualifying offer. But Greinke, Sanchez, Haren, and Dempster are not so designated. Is that true? Can anyone confirm that signing any of those guys will not cost a draft choice?

  15. UnkyD - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    BTW… Espi won't lose any value this year, might gain a ton in value, and may bring way more, in trade, after next year, if Rendon's gonna be there, in '14. He'll still have YEARS of team control… Adam is the best thing to do at first, which keeps Zim on third, and necessitates moving a very good IF, next year…

  16. Section 222 - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    One year of Morse is worth two controlled years plus an option for a third of a super stud pitcher who was runner up for the Cy Young last year? I love Morse, but I don't think so. We'll be lucky to get a decent reliever or nearly MLB ready prospect in a trade for him straight up. The issue is not his ability or potential, it's that he's a free agent after this year.

  17. UnkyD - Dec 3, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    ….. For prospects! Since the lineup will be set, for a few years…..

  18. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Section 222, that is correct because new CBA ruled that players traded during the season are not eligible to be offered a QO.

  19. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    MicheleS said… Ghost, the question is will any of the rumors pan out? And MAYBE the Espi rumors are to knock some sense into him (she says hopefully). December 03, 2012 9:51 AM Go back to Rizzo's phone ringing from the DBacks and others. 2 names that other GMs are asking for in every deal Espinosa because he can play shortstop, 2nd and possibly even 3rd base and then of course Anthony Rendon.It doesn't mean any deal will get done but also keep in mind the gamble from the Nats that Espi's rope is getting shorter. He is a "K" machine and has not made good contact in high leverage situations enough. He was horrible in Spring Training and April through June. He improved in July and August then finished poorly and was even worse in the post-season.If the Nats hang on to him and he doesn't improve, his stock will drop. That's the gamble. Do you trade him now while others are willing to assume the risk?I think the answer is Yes.

  20. hiramhover - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Sec 222Under the new system, the player has to have been on your roster the entire year for the whole "qualifying offer" scenario to kick in (resulting in compensatory draft picks if the player declines). Greinke, Dempster, and Sanchez were mid-season trades.

  21. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    UnkyD said… BTW… Espi won't lose any value this year, might gain a ton in value, and may bring way more, in trade, after next year, if Rendon's gonna be there, in '14. He'll still have YEARS of team control… Adam is the best thing to do at first, which keeps Zim on third, and necessitates moving a very good IF, next year… December 03, 2012 9:57 AM I don't agree. If the Nats end up benching Espi in favor of Lombo (or later in the year Rendon), that will absolutely decrease his value.

  22. Section 222 - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    I knew I'd get an answer here quicker (or at least easier) than if I tried to look it up. Thanks guys. Sanchez looks awfully good to me.

  23. JD - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    Sec 222, Morse can be an extremely valuable DH. If you take away his negative value on defense he can easily be a 5.0 WAR player. In 2011 Shields put up great numbers but these were skewed based on an unsustainable BABIP of .258. In 2012 his performance was roughly the same but with a more realistic BABIP of .292 the results were less impressive. I thing Shields is a prime candidate to decline quickly and the Rays know this.

  24. hiramhover - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    Even as a K machine, Espi is a more valuable player than Lombo–which is a commentary as much on Lombo as Espi. Despite Espi's high K rate, their OBP's are virtually identically, and Espi obviously has a lot more power.

  25. The Fox - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Ghost said…Do you trade him now while others are willing to assume the risk?I think the answer is Yes. Yes is the correct answer if Shields is involved.The Nats would be trading from a strength infield and securing a pitch that fits this team like a glove.If Espinosa was only a second base man there would not even be a question here. Second base men rarely win you championships starting pitchers do. Or to put it more simply a very good staring pitcher is more important than a second base man and much easier to replace.I would be surprise if the Rays make this trade I think they can get more for Shields.

  26. Feel Wood - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Espi and Morse is way too much for shields.Okay, then trade Lombo and Morse. Why does everyone assume that Espi will be traded, even though it would pain the Nats to do it, and Lombo would then play second? Classic trade wisdom is that you deal from positions of strength, but that doesn't mean you deal from the top of the deck. If Lombo is good enough to be an everyday second baseman on a division champion team as all these rumors assume, then he's good enough for another team looking for a second baseman to acquire. Of course he's not as good as Espi, but that is counterbalanced by Lombo having one or maybe even two more years of team control. Don't be surprised to see Lombo go in a trade package even though all the rumors say Espi.

  27. JD - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Ghost, Put me down as someone who does not believe that Rendon will ever be converted to a 2nd baseman.I think there is a better chance for the Peric scenario with Rendon at 3rd and Zim at 1st and if ALR doesn't sign we may be heading in that direction faster than we think.

  28. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    Hold the presses, Peric says the Nats won't go with another Righthanded pitcher…..

  29. Mythical Monkey - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    I might very well be delusional, but I look at Espinosa and see him on the same development curve as Ian Desmond, only possibly even a bit better. Trading him along with Morse for two years of service from a 31-year old pitcher seems a bit steep, especially when (1) we're essentially looking for a fifth starter, and (2) there are plenty of free agents walking around.But while I (presumably) know more about silent movies than Mike Rizzo, he knows a lot more about baseball. I'm giving him the benefit of every doubt.

  30. JD - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    Monkey, I agree completely. I also think Shields is the wrong pitcher to pursue. I would go after Helickson or Wade Davis.

  31. Joe Seamhead - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    Am I the only one that finds the talk of trading Michael Morse distasteful?

  32. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    JD said… Ghost,Put me down as someone who does not believe that Rendon will ever be converted to a 2nd baseman.I think there is a better chance for the Peric scenario with Rendon at 3rd and Zim at 1st and if ALR doesn't sign we may be heading in that direction faster than we think.It all hinges on ALR. If ALR signs for 2 or 3 years, they won't hold Rendon back if he is ready plus he could easily do what Placido Polanco did and play at 2nd and move back to 3rd.Ken Rosenthal has reported previously as well as Jonathan Mayo that Rendon to 2nd is a strong possibility but he's yet to take a ball at 2nd.If ALR walks, I would say if Rendon is deemed ready, then I could see Zim to 1st and Rendon to 3rd.Just a lot of "ifs" there.

  33. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Joe Seamhead said… Am I the only one that finds the talk of trading Michael Morse distasteful?I was saying that last week and that was before Denard Span was acquired. Now its a new ballgame that if ALR is re-signed, there's no room for Morse and he isn't going to be a role player on this team.

  34. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    JD, as far as I know, we had a more experienced Hellickson but we non-tendered him. I wouldn't trade for Jeremy.

  35. hiramhover - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    "Distasteful"? Why? And why in Morse's case, but not Espi's, or anyone else's?

  36. Don - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Distasteful because it's a bad idea to trade hime, or becasue it is somehow not appropriate for the club to be thinking about moving the guy?

  37. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    Mythical Monkey said… I might very well be delusional, but I look at Espinosa and see him on the same development curve as Ian Desmond, only possibly even a bit better.I am probably the only one here who has said it publicly that there is NO WAY Espi is on the same development curve as Desi.Desi had a poor approach and was oppo crazy. His mechanics were good and Davey showed in August 2011 that Desi just needed some tweaking and it worked. I based my optimism before the season started to the way Desi ended the season. Espi on the other hand regressed.Espi has a poor approach, one of the worst contact rates in the Majors, #1 in K's in the NL, and thinks he's a power hitter.That's a lot to fix when you have a player that has always been a swing & miss batter. Espi is a streaky guy but must cut down on that swing and no derivate from that. Easier said than done.

  38. blovy8 - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    Espinosa has a lot of value because of his SS ability too. The offensive bar is set much lower at that position, and the market value this year is enormous since the best free agent is probably Stephen Drew. The Nats are probably getting less out of the guy than another team could.

  39. The Fox - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    Last year the National's starting pitching was healthy all year there is no guarantee that will happen again. Shields has made all his starts his entire career. Shields is a poor-man's Matt Cain and he greatly increases the chances the National make the playoffs. The Giant's can win the WS with Matt Cain they did not win the WS because they had Ryan Theriot and Marco Scutaro playing the infield. You can always find a passable 2nd base-man and still win a WS.Yes Espinosa can play SS but the Nat's don't need him to and he can more easily be replaced.If the Nationals think they can win the WS this year they make this trade.

  40. sm13 - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Shields is an excellent fit for the Nats — he'll eat up innings and he's a more consistant pitcher than EJax. The question is, how much to give up for him? If we sign ALR, then Morse is "expendable", despite the pain of losing a fan favorite who, one year soon, will hit 40 homers. Danny is another story — he is one of, if not the, best defensive second basemen in the league and probably saved our pitchers as many runs as ALR. Lombo is good, but he doesn't have the range and arm and power that Danny brings. We haven't yet seen Rizzo willing to give up two everyday players in a trade, so I'm expecting that he will want to add prospects to a Morse package.Tomorrow (or maybe later today), there'll likely be new rumours with new teams. This is a fun time of year!

  41. Positively Half St. - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    The Red Sox are on the verge of signing Mike Napoli. With all the catchers they have, it seems that they are signing him to play 1b. If that is the case, the chance of resigning ALR just went up.+1/2St.

  42. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    blovy8 said… Espinosa has a lot of value because of his SS ability too.That's the key as I wrote at 10:01AM EST that Espi's versatility to play shortstop raised his value and as you pointed out the FA market is devoid of top shortstops. Espi is still young and is under 4 years of team control and the biggest upside is if a team believes they can fix his offensive issues. Often times when a team believes they can fix a player is based on wishful thinking. The only thing we know is the future will play out Danny's full potential and nobody but Danny can fulfill that potential.

  43. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Positively Half St. said… The Red Sox are on the verge of signing Mike Napoli. With all the catchers they have, it seems that they are signing him to play 1b. If that is the case, the chance of resigning ALR just went up.+1/2St. December 03, 2012 10:43 AM ALR was never going to sign in Boston anyway and they know that. They had him once and traded him after 9 days.As I said after the season ended, it would be between Texas and the Nats where the best fit is for ALR. So far Texas is looking at other options first and if Texas somehow was able to re-sign Josh Hamilton, they won't need ALR.

  44. blovy8 - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Texas is probably the competition, they're closer to his ranch. I don't know that he's a guy they would go to three years with either though, they're pretty shrewd.If the Nats re-sign LaRoche, how about trading Morse to the Orioles for Matusz and settling on the Nats numbers for the MASN deal. There's your cost-controlled loogy and the cash flow to sign the young fellows to extensions.

  45. ejc - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    So, if a trade is going to happen it seems like it would be best to go all out and try to get David Price. Like most, I don't want to part with Espinosa (or Goodwin or Rendon for that matter) and think he's probably primed for a break out. But, if it's going to happen, might as well be for a guy that will give us the best rotation in baseball.

  46. Joe Seamhead - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    Aw, come on, I know there's now no room for Morse and ALR. I honestly have enjoyed Michael's smile and joy the past couple of years as much as anybody I've seen in ML baseball. That said, I also feel that we need ALR at first. He makes the not only the whole infield better, he makes the pitching staff better because they don't have to get more then 3 outs an inning with him there. A healthy Morse puts up more offense than Adam does, but I don't know that it offsets the costs in his defense. Also, can Michael stay healthy for a whole year? Davey has made it clear that he wants ALR back at all costs, which has certainly made an implied statement regarding Beast.Assuming he goes, I'll miss him,and how much he gave to the fans and to this club. Distasteful? It sometimes comes across like we're throwing out yesterday's leftovers, that's all.

  47. Section 222 - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    Remember when the Nats thought they could "fix" E-Jax?

  48. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    sm13, Lombo is an excellent 2nd baseman himself and won Gold Gloves in the MiLB. I have no issue with his range and his instincts are better than Espi IMO but clearly he doesn't have an arm like Espi and while a gun at 2nd is a luxury, its not a neccesity.Lombo's offensive numbers ended poorly due to lack of playing time. His RH slash is also poor and not sure how you improve that except more reps and better mechanics. Lombo also doesn't even have a full season of MLB ball either. I'm not 100% sold on Lombo at 2nd myself but I believe he can improve over what he did in 2012.

  49. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    Joe Seamhead said…Am I the only one that finds the talk of trading Michael Morse distasteful?No, you're not, Joe. Put me there with you. And to think, I just learned the words to "Take on Me."You can't trade Morse unless you are sure ALR re-signs, and there's every indication that isn't coming soon. Unless you're willing to put Tyler Moore at first base, which really isn't a bad Plan C.I love the idea of getting Shields. Maybe giving up on Espi too soon is a bad idea. But personally I'm a little tired of watching him fan time after time on that low and inside slider that practically hits his back foot as he whiffs. He's 175 Ks a year with great defense. I think Lombo is .300 with perfectly adequate defense.But nothing happens until the ALR domino falls. I can't believe Rizzo would pull the trigger on this trade until the ALR thing is settled.

  50. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    Section 222 said… Remember when the Nats thought they could "fix" E-Jax? December 03, 2012 10:53 AM Trying to improve on what Dave Duncan taught him was wishful thinking. When the Nats signed him, Rizzo said EJax could be more effective by some changes in his delivery and it didn't work. He actually got worse.

  51. MicheleS - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    Jon Morosi‏@jonmorosi Mike Napoli has deal in place with #RedSox. Source confirms @PeteAbe report of high AAV 3-year deal.

  52. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    Thanks MicheleS. I still don't think that changes anything with ALR's situation although now Texas has more need for offense without Napoli and possibly Josh Hamilton.

  53. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    from MLBTR: Rays Discussing Espinosa, Morse With NationalsBy Steve Adams [December 3 at 7:33am CST]7:33am: There is currently no traction in trade discussions between the two sides, tweets Olney.7:24am: Olney's colleague, Jayson Stark, reports that a source familiar with the talks says a trade sending Espinosa and Morse to Tampa Bay is unlikely despite the logical fit (Twitter link).6:41am: ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that Rizzo is aiming high in his talks with the Rays about their pitchers.Funny, Buster Olney in less than an hour shot down his own rumor. Strange.

  54. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Sounds like Texas is back in on this Justin Upton trade possibility which would give them the offense they need. The 1st baseman of the future for the Rangers is Mike Olt but he could be part of the trade.

  55. Don - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    I am guessing that Rizzo is shopping Espi and Morse all over Nashville right this very minute.

  56. Unknown - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    Mike Napoli signs for three years and $39 million with the Red Sox. It will take at least that much to sign Laroche.

  57. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Don said… I am guessing that Rizzo is shopping Espi and Morse all over Nashville right this very minute. December 03, 2012 11:21 AM I think you have it the wrong way. Teams are inquiring on Espi and Kilgore tweets 2 teams have inquired so far.

  58. Unknown - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    Yes, the "Espinosa and Morse is way too much for Shields" is correct, with one glaring exception.The Nats can afford it easily.If the Nationals sign ALR, which is likely as Boston's first-base need is now filled, the team doesn't need Morse. I love him but they don't need him. And Espinosa, well he is a tremendous defender but I don't want to count how many times Espinosa came to bat with runners in scoring position and less than two out and swish-swish-swish, strikeout on three pitches. In time, Lombardozzi will hit .290 with a .355 OBP, steal 20 bases and play outstanding defense.Remember between Espinosa and Lombardozzi, only one of them has won a Gold Glove and that was Lombo in 2011, garnering one-and-only Gold Glove for second basemen for all levels of the Minor Leagues. That's pretty good. The Nationals need to transition from a 194 home run, strikeout all the time team to a 160 homer team with more station to station capabiities.I mean, how many times did someone lead off an inning with a double to the wall and remained there for the rest of the inning? Span and Lombardozzi can help change that. Add James Shields to that and you've got an NL East repeat champion.Farid @ Idaho

  59. Feel Wood - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said… Joe Seamhead said…Am I the only one that finds the talk of trading Michael Morse distasteful?No, you're not, Joe. Put me there with you. And to think, I just learned the words to "Take on Me."The Michael Morse Nightly Karaoke At Bat (TM) was typically his worst AB of the game. Often the first baseman was fielding the throw on his groundout at the same time the last notes of the crowd's singalong were finally dying out. Even if Morse returns, he needs to be separated from that "feel good" singalong. Play it during the seventh inning stretch instead.

  60. peric - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    Its a simple case of the Rays unwilling to part with Price and the Nats unwilling to part a young player with perhaps the highest ceiling.Espinosa for Price with a couple of other players thrown in on both sides seems like a very fair deal. Both teams improve dramatically. The Nats end up with the best pitching rotation in all of baseball for years to come allowing plenty of time and patience for other possibilities working their way through the Nat's system. I don't see Espinosa going anywhere unless Price in involved. Nate Karns should be close to ready soon and hopefully he continues to have success as a starter. Giolito is next. The lefties Purke and Solis are going through rehab years and Purke's rehab may take longer than Solis will.

  61. Laddie Blah Blah - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    One of the few areas where the Nats are thin is at middle infield. They've got Danny, Desi and Lombo, and that's it. I don't think Rizzo would even consider trading any of them without a contingency plan to bolster that part of the team, should a deal be made for either Lombo or Danny. Desi ain't goin' nowhere. It was only a couple of years ago when the middle infield was the weakest part of the team, especially on defense (Guzman, Belliard, Lopez, Gonzalez) and seemed like an intractable problem, at the time. Rendon appears to be the only in-house resource available who is anywhere near ML ready, and he has not played a single inning at either middle infield position.I think the Nats are better off with Lombo than with Danny at 2nd base. Danny is a .220 hitter from the left side, and Lombo hits 60 points above that from the left side, where most of their ABs come from, regardless of their combined stats from both sides. Lombo gives them an extra bat from the left side that would be a real asset. He is a defensive downgrade from Danny, but when your weakest defensive link is a former MiL gold glover, there are worse things that could happen.But I don't see Rizzo leaving his team with only 2 viable middle infielders. Desi missed a month last year, and they filled in with Lomb by moving Danny to SS. Unless they think Rendon is ready to move over to 2b, or that someone else is further along than anyone here thinks, then Rizzo must have another move in mind to address that potential problem.Otherwise, Rizzo has already solved one of the two main weaknesses in the Nats' lineup, the defensive weakness in LF. The other, Danny's LH bat, would be addressed by making him someone else's problem, and putting Lombo (or, perhaps, Rendon) in his place, while getting a terrific upgrade for EJax (Shields).I would love that deal, if I knew whether Rizzo would be willing to give ALR 3 years, and if he had a workable contingency plan to restock the middle infield if he ships Danny to the Rays. He was reportedly willing to trade Danny to get Greinke a couple of years ago, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise to see him willing to deal Danny for Shields, now.The Nats do not need Morse. I must say, when I pointed out that Morse was the most tradable commodity the Nats had going into the post-season, I was roasted on this site, absolutely roasted. A few months later, and that opinion has become the conventional wisdom. It was an easy call then, and is likely to happen now, unless ALR walks.

  62. peric - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    Even if Morse returns, he needs to be separated from that "feel good" singalong. Play it during the seventh inning stretch instead.He still did better than Werth except in the OBP category and Jayson liked using the Caps rally tune? I think FeelWood is a pseudonym for HardHeadAndHeart.

  63. MicheleS - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    Washington Nationals‏@Nationals Hey #Nats fans, major offseason announcement coming up, stay tuned…

  64. peric - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    I think the Nats are better off with Lombo than with Danny at 2nd base. Danny is a .220 hitter from the left side, and Lombo hits 60 points above that from the left side, where most of their ABs come fromAsk any scout, any checker, anyone who really knows the game, anyone inside the Nats FO and the refrain will be the same: Lombo is a nice player but he's no Espinosa.Defensively how games did Espinosa save both because of his athleticism at second base and at shortstop in place of Desmond? Think about it. I still can't forget Riggleman's stubbornness about starting no range Guzman. And Lombo's bat isn't all singles like Guzman but he does remind of Cristian albeit IMO Lombo is a lot better.Espinosa is the better, higher ceiling player. If he were trade to the Rays and were still a prospect he would be their highest ranked player. If he is traded I hope they accept nothing less than what they need: a top left-handed starting power pitcher. If a trade is consummated it had better be for Price or for Matt Moore. NOT Shields.

  65. Feel Wood - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    "If the Nationals sign ALR, which is likely as Boston's first-base need is now filled"The Orioles non-tendered Mark Reynolds. Don't think they wouldn't want to have ALR playing first and launching bombs onto the Flag Court from the left side of the plate for the next three or four years. They were in on him two years ago but didn't have what it took to get him then. They know better now.

  66. peric - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    The Rays picked up Loney so … Morse as a trade chip to TB is definitely out.Another point to keep in mind. The more dramatic the improvements made to the roster by Rizz, the harder it will be for LaRoche to say no to 2 years with the Nats. He might get into 2 world series. Nice way to end a career.

  67. Don - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    Ghost — I simply don't buy the company line that Rizzo has Espi's back and that he's not shopping the guy (as Kilgore eseentially reports), merely taking calls from teams with interest. Rizzo seemingly never admits to shopping anyone. We know that Espi is to some extent expendable and has value and the club is in win now mode. I just can't see how the club would be passive after a 98 win season with the Stras shut down and the Span trade. Just hoping that some other club comes up with an idea that might work is not the way that Rizzo would be likely doing business right now. But, who knows.

  68. Gardner - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    Middle infield is not a position of strength for those who have said we would be "trading from a position of strength". Subtract Espinosa (who I think is a better defender than Desmond) and you have zero real backup at SS should Desmond go down. Also swapping Morse for Span and Espinosa for Lombardozzi could conceivably be a 40hr swing in the wrong direction. Isn't that how Davey likes to play the game?

  69. MicheleS - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    Interesting: MLB is trying to push for a sale of MASN:http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2012/12/03/Media/Fox-Sports.aspx

  70. Don - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    Peric — Morse could play LF or DH for Tampa, no?

  71. Feel Wood - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Rizzo seemingly never admits to shopping anyone.That's because he doesn't "shop" his players/prospects. He uses the opposite approach. He decides who he wants to get in trade, and then uses those players/prospects as necessary to get what he wants.You can count on the fingers of one hand the players that Rizzo has "shopped" since he became GM. Nyjer Morgan comes immediately to mind. Anyone else?

  72. BigCat - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    Major nats announcement coming in 5 minutes

  73. staring out the window waiting for spring - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    Anyone else?John Lannan.

  74. staring out the window waiting for spring - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    Ross Detwiler, probably.

  75. SCNatsFan - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    With all the talk of the players above you know Rizzo is just letting out the info he wants but no one – not even Mrs. Rizzo and, perhaps, the Lerners – knows what is on Rizzo's radar.

  76. JT - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    I was in the group (small as it may have been) that wouldn't have minded sending Espi and Morse to TB for Shields, but only if LaRoche agrees to the 2 year offer. Lombardozzi is a much better left handed bat than Espi and he doesn't strike out nearly at the rate of Espi. Lombos defensive skills may not be up to Espi standards but they're not that far off either. Rendon is working his way through the system at a good pace is will be joining the Nats, perhaps as a September call up and more next spring. Whatever Rizzo does he does after thinking things through, I'm ok with whatever he does, not that it matters any.

  77. Feel Wood - Dec 3, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    Gardner said… Middle infield is not a position of strength for those who have said we would be "trading from a position of strength".If you have three players who everyone seems to think should be everyday players – and Gold Glovers at that – for two positions, then that is definitely a position of strength.

  78. staring out the window waiting for spring - Dec 3, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    ARod getting hip surgery, again. Jeter out. What do you suppose the Yankees would give you for Espinosa?

  79. MicheleS - Dec 3, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    FAN FEST! And it's on a weekendWashington Nationals‏@Nationals You asked for it, you got it. #NatsFest 2013 is coming Saturday, January 26:

  80. natsfan1a - Dec 3, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    Thanks for the info, Michele. I believe that's the same day as the local SABR chapter's annual program, which I usually attend as well. hmmm…choices… :-)

  81. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    MicheleS said… Washington Nationals‏@NationalsHey #Nats fans, major offseason announcement coming up, stay tuned…December 03, 2012 11:37 AM They got you and some others real good on that one who thought it was a big trade or FA signing!Very welcome news on a real FanFest that isn't in the stadium.

  82. MicheleS - Dec 3, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Ghost.. I knew there was no way the PR would be doing a big FA signing or Trade. I have been hoping all along and pestering the Nats twitter account about a fan fest.

  83. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    MicheleS, this is real progress if they style a FanFest off of the best of the best which is St Louis as they bring in past and present players. It would be cool to get Frank Howard and Dick Bosman there alongside Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg.While some think all of this should be FREE, I think you get what you pay for. I would rather pay or donate to a charity if it means all the players show up. When I had no NL team I would travel to St Louis for their "Winter Warm-up". Quite the party! Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, and even Pujols showed up and his autographs were sold on a lottery basis to keep the lines manageable.I just hope Feffer has done his research as the previous NatsFests weren't too good.

  84. MicheleS - Dec 3, 2012 at 5:39 PM

    new post

  85. Dave - Dec 3, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    Fan Fest! Woo hoo! And in the winter, too! (Not on the weekday afternoon before the first game…duh.)Seems like most of the anticipatory trade musings here contain some version of the conditional phrase, "if the Nats can re-sign ALR…" and then proceed to unfurl a scenario of trading the Beast and Danny for pitching (Shields?). But I think noises made by LaRoche in the last 24 hours or so make clear that his deal, if there is one, won't happen for awhile.I'd be really surprised to see Morse as part of a trade deal, unless there really is a deal with ALR in the works right now.But I don't really know anything. Nor do most of us here.Incidentally, during about the last 1/3 of the season, we in section 313 started noticing that NL pitchers had seemed to get wise to Morse's fourth at-bat. They always threw him junk, and he always swung at it. "Take On Me" = guaranteed strike one.Love the song, but either Mike needs to get his timing better or he needs to ditch it for walk-up music.

  86. Gardner - Dec 3, 2012 at 5:57 PM

    @Feel Wood – I am not sure that everyone in the Nationals front office thinks that Lombardozzi can be an everyday player let alone everyone on this board. I for one don't think that second basemen win championships but if you peer beyond the 3 we are discussing the cupboard is bare.

  87. Water23 - Dec 3, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    Just for fun, How about Desi & Morse for Cano?

  88. Water23 - Dec 3, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    Or Morse & Rosebaum for R.A. Dickey. Imagine the Knuckleballer throw after Gio and before JZim.Wow, that would make other teams shake in their boots!

  89. Andrew - Dec 3, 2012 at 8:26 PM

    If offered Shields for Espinosa and Morse, Rizzo should not hesitate. Morse has exactly 1 good full season to his resume and Espinosa has 2 middling seasons to his credit. Nice players, but in exchange for a legitimate 2 or 3 proven pitcher with playoff experience you make that move. I doubt the Rays would pull the trigger.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 79 15.0
NEW YORK 76 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 85 20.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Sunday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (4) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 67 2.5
y-ST. LOUIS 87 69 4.5
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 71 7.0 --
PITTSBURGH 84 71 7.0 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 11.5 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Sunday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
Full season schedule

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

ON THE RADIO

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