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Waiting to pounce

Dec 4, 2012, 1:29 AM EDT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Nationals did very little on Day One of the Winter Meetings. They signed Zach Duke to a one-year, big-league contract. They signed Bill Bray to a one-year, minor-league contract.

But it's still probably fair to say the Nats emerged victorious at the Opryland Resort for one major reason: The market for Adam LaRoche continued to shrink while the pool of available starting pitchers remained deep.

Both were positive developments for Mike Rizzo, who has the ability over the next few days and weeks to really position his team as World Series favorites entering 2013.

Rizzo described his approach to these meetings as "keeping a low profile," but perhaps the better phrase would be "waiting to pounce." That applies both to LaRoche and his pursuit of a fifth starter toRead more »

  1. realdealnats - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:37 AM

    And another thing…..

  2. MicheleS - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:46 AM

    5 years ago, biggest move was Elijah Dukes. All I can say is thank the LORD we have come this far. NO rejects, no bad character guys, and we are attractive to all the free agents. Got to love it.

  3. Candide - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:50 AM

    Gotta figure the Rays want to deal. This might well be their year to go all in, with the Sawx a mess, Baltimore not there yet, and the Yankees going tick…tock… The AL East race might well be between the Rays and the Jays. So you have to figure TB is going to be looking for that piece or two.

  4. Candide - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:52 AM

    MicheleS said…5 years ago, biggest move was Elijah Dukes. All I can say is thank the LORD we have come this far. And thank Mike Rizzo while you're at it.Wow… just look at the mess this team was the day Bowden left. Now it's arguably the best-run organization in the game.

  5. ehay2k - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:53 AM

    Wow Mark, you played the Dukes card? Way to rub then salt into a long-suffering fan's wounds! :-)longSeriously though, it is absolutely amazing how far the Nats have come in such a short time. Granted, losing 100+ games a year can help stock the talent cupboard with talent, but someone had to make, the develop and trade, the picks. Serious organizational swag there. So, as the winter meetings move along, I have the utmost confidence in Rizzo's team. Makes it easy to relax and smile, and wait for Mark's wrap up post, or the bird cage version of events. No need to check the tweeter every 10 minutes. :-)

  6. SCNatsFan - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:56 AM

    How much better life is now that FAs want to come here

  7. ehay2k - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:03 AM

    Wait, I thought some baseball guru said no FA's would want to come to DC? ;-)

  8. Gonat - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:04 AM

    Steve Melewski ‏@masnSteve Not only are the Orioles not in heavy on Adam LaRoche, they have not even spoken with his rep today. Earlier report was totally inaccurate. _____________________________Earlier report just more of Peter Angelos bulls—

  9. MicheleS - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:07 AM

    Gonat,You called it. Like the O's are in on Hamilton too. what a crock of poop.

  10. sjm308 - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:37 AM

    How exciting to be a nationals fan right now. We are far from finished with business and the Orioles have basically done nothing but talk.I realize that we did not get Jackson until Jan. but I would love to have that starting pitcher situation taken care of before Christmas. I actually think we need several starters but I also realize that the ones we stash in Syracuse will not be high profile. I do not want to rely on Maya,Garcia or Perry if there is an injury. I am not predicting an injury next year but it was amazing how all of our starters made it through with few issues. I think Jordan and Gio each took one start off last year with arm issues. Can't imagine it will be that easy next year.Go Nats!

  11. staring out the window waiting for spring - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:50 AM

    If the starter is here by Christmas, what will we do all January? He needs to be here by March 30.

  12. Joe Seamhead - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:52 AM

    Going back to the bullpen…though he is a RH, is Cole Kimball not inthe equation? I haven't heard his name mentioned since the AFL, where he may not have excelled , but he did seem to be on the road back. Anybody?

  13. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:03 AM

    The next time Kimball pitches in Nats Park will be in an Old-Timers game.

  14. MicheleS - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:06 AM

    JoeS.. here is the latest on ColeStenson Award

  15. Gonat - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:15 AM

    MicheleS said… Gonat,You called it. Like the O's are in on Hamilton too. what a crock of poop. December 03, 2012 9:07 PM ___________________________________Feelwood says I have to stop my hatred for the Orioles. They are a bunch of phonies and liars to their fanbase. I haven't been following them long but its so transparent and apparent.

  16. Joe Seamhead - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    Thanks for the Kimball link, Michele.What are you basing your statement on, Theo? I was un the impression that the signs were pretty encouraging regarding Cole's comeback.

  17. Joe Seamhead - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    under the impression

  18. MicheleS - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    After seeing Christian Garcia come back from two TJ's, you can't count out Cole. Granted, the shoulder is a worse problem to recover from, but so far signs are progressing. I wouldn't expect him in 2013 at all, but maybe 2014 if you keep your fingers crossed.

  19. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:24 AM

    @Joe, I wouldn't rule Kimball out of the BP mix at all. I loved his arm, he's on the mend, apparently works hard and it's just a matter of time.

  20. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:32 AM

    Joe S. — In the first place, I don't think Kimball was ever going to be a major league pitcher — walked as many as he K'd (11 in 14 innings), which was pretty much on a par w/ wildness in minors; don't know why anyone thought that made him a hot prospect, unless he was somebody's nephew. Then he got hurt, missed a year. When he came back, couldn't throw a baseball thru a wet paper towel. In AFL, continued to have control/command issues (18 hits, 9 BB in 15 innings). That's what.

  21. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:33 AM

    We had Garrett Mock here once, don't see how we need someone pretending to be him.

  22. Feel Wood - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:39 AM

    Feelwood says I have to stop my hatred for the Orioles. They are a bunch of phonies and liars to their fanbase. I haven't been following them long but its so transparent and apparent.Yeah, they lied to their fans clear up til the minute they were eliminated from the playoffs. Which was oh, about five hours before the Nats were eliminated.You don't have to like the O's. You can even hate them if you want to. But you can't deny they're doing what they need to do to win. So they didn't talk to LaRoche today. Big deal. They may have talked with him yesterday, and they can still talk to him tomorrow. Until he finally signs somewhere, there's as good a chance he'll sign with the O's as there is he'll sign with the Nats.

  23. MicheleS - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:39 AM

    Theo, gone are the days of Garrett Mock. Cole will have to prove he can do this in the minors before he ever gets up to the Nats.

  24. Joe Seamhead - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:54 AM

    We'll see, Theo. I'm pulling for the kid. 14 innings certainly wasn't enough of a sample size for me to draw any conclusions before his injury.

  25. peric - Dec 4, 2012 at 4:57 AM

    Clearly Kimball is still rehabbing. Given his surgery it may take some time … hopefully not CM Wang time. The Nats still need two lefty pitchers: a top power arm starter and a decent power armed back-end reliever. Whether they manage to acquire these two difficult additions isn't easy to predict.

  26. Unknown - Dec 4, 2012 at 6:15 AM

    I keep checking the Nationals' websites looking for that "wowzer" trade that is going to make the team certain World Series champs in 2013. But sometimes, the best trade is the one that was never made. I was a 14-year-old Senators' fan when I woke up one morning and read in the Post that the Senators had traded for former Cy Young Denny McLain.I didn't much think about who they gave up at first, but it slowly dawned on me.Eddie Brinkman, starting shortstop and near Gold GloverAurelio Rodriguez, starting third baseman with both power and defenseJoe Coleman, starting pitcherJim Hannan, solid reliever/5th starter.McLain went 10-22 (it's really sad that I don't have to look any of this up) for WashingtonColeman won 20 games for the Tigers and Brinkman and Rodriguez provided enough offense and superb defense as the Tigers won 91 games and finished 2nd in the AL East. Part of me wants the Nationals to trade Danny Espinosa, Michael Morse, Roger Bernadina and Anthony Rendon to Tampa for David Price. But then again, we won 98 games last year with these guys. Maybe they should keep them. Farid @ Idaho

  27. 320R2S15 - Dec 4, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    there's as good a chance he'll sign with the O's as there is he'll sign with the Nats. you got no cred with me anymore….

  28. Gonat - Dec 4, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    320R2S15 said… there's as good a chance he'll sign with the O's as there is he'll sign with the Nats. you got no cred with me anymore…. December 04, 2012 7:35 AM __________________________________Yah, Feelwood is a little "testy" for his Orioles and even blinded by the facts to make a statement like that.This isn't the probability of flipping a coin, its a player wanting a specific team and that team wanting him. So long as the Nats still want LaRoche back for 2 years, the Nats are the clear frontrunner. Once the Nats close the door or LaRoche states he wants another team, we know the end result.

  29. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 4, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    Let's see. Both Rizzo and LaRoche discuss openly that they are close but still discussing years while both the Orioles and LaRoche's camp state unequivocally that there have been no contract discussions at all.But you are right. Until he signs I guess the chances are equal.

  30. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 4, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    And isn't year 3 the time frame when Showalter's snideness starts to wear on the players?

  31. NatsLady - Dec 4, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Farid–agree. I think you have to be very careful about trading a list of everyday players and a top prospect for a pitcher who could get injured tomorrow, and who only goes every 5th day. You notice that the Gio trade was three pitchers and a catcher, different story. Great as Price is, I wouldn't spend the remaining chips. My feeling is if Rizzo loses out on Greinke or Sanchez, then go for a lower tier guy, stretch out Garcia, Perry and Duke (as is planned), see how a mix-and-match rotation does in the spring, what injuries crop up, and save the big chips for July if needed. Garcia, Perry and Duke will be motivated for a shot at the rotation, and motivation is a good thing.

  32. NatsLady - Dec 4, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    NJ, probably. But Davey's intensity could wear on players also. Hopefully he will step back in the spring and have the relaxed humor he had, and then up the intensity in the stretch–just like he did last year.

  33. Gonat - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    Lombo caught a lot of crap from TyMo and Morse last night for rooting for the Redskins since he grew up a Ravens fan.Seems Morse also ribbed Strasburg for rooting for the Skins also.Bryce Harper's Twitter "splash" page is Washington DC as the backdrop w/ Bryce & RGIII. Bryce was a devout Cowboys fan.I wasn't into the Redskins or the Ravens until I moved here and like them both now, but I can't imagine people who saw the embargo on Washington DC by Peter Angelos and the strong-arm tactics to deny the Washingtonians a team an endearing quality. Angelos is a dictator and a greedy empty soul. He did it all in the name of more money. It had nothing to do with Baltimore as Baltimore and Washington are 2 distinct and seperate geographical metro areas. It was all over greed.If Feelwood doesn't see the connection of Angelos to that team he loves in Baltimore, I will never agree with him and his ridiculous statement on LaRoche shows that.

  34. Don - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    I think that it is a mistake to consider Texas out of the running for ALR. If Hamilton ends up going to another club, they will be in need of some reliable LH power and they have the money and a very good chance to be playoff-bound too. We'll see.

  35. Gonat - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    To further the point, Dan Snyder may be a lot of negative things but he never blocked the Ravens moving 20 miles up the road into Baltimore or demanded special treatment from the NFL. Also, Steve Bisciotti the owner of the Ravens asked Washingtonians to like the Ravens as their AFC team and many did that.I think if a new owner took over Baltimore and got a fresh start that people in the B/W region could soften up to support 2 teams since 1 is NL and 1 is AL.

  36. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    Me too. I have no real animosity for Baltimore other than Angelos. I like the Ravens and root for them as my AFC team.And you are right Don. As long as Hamilton isn't back with the Rangers, they remain in play somewhat for LaRoche although Oult has been ticketed as the 1st baseman for them.

  37. Gonat - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Don said… I think that it is a mistake to consider Texas out of the running for ALR. If Hamilton ends up going to another club, they will be in need of some reliable LH power and they have the money and a very good chance to be playoff-bound too. We'll see._____________________________It seems ALR is low on their priorities now as they appear to have made Josh Hamilton #1 but clearly that can change quickly.

  38. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    I don't like football.anyways, no new rumors involving Nats?

  39. Feel Wood - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… Let's see. Both Rizzo and LaRoche discuss openly that they are close but still discussing years while both the Orioles and LaRoche's camp state unequivocally that there have been no contract discussions at all.But you are right. Until he signs I guess the chances are equal. December 04, 2012 7:46 AM NatsJack in Florida said… And isn't year 3 the time frame when Showalter's snideness starts to wear on the players?You can scoff all you want, you can hate Angelos all you want, but don't let it blind you to the fact that the Orioles are capable of doing things to make themselves better. They are not a dysfunctional organization like the Marlins. Maybe they were once, but they're not any more. Sure, the rap on Showalter is that he wears thin after a few years. But isn't that also the rap on Davey Johnson? If the perception of Davey can change, so can the perception of Buck. And if LaRoche to the Nats for two years is enough to make everyone happy, why hasn't it happened yet? All it will take is one team to offer three years, and he's gone. There's as good a chance of the Orioles doing that as anyone else. They haven't ruled it out. The Nationals have.

  40. Gonat - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    Here's the link to Harper's Twitter page. Nice photo of him and RGIII and a nice morning message.https://twitter.com/Bharper3407

  41. fast eddie - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Re: Laroche, I'm with Feel on this one.The O's are a definite option because they're within commuting distance for Adam–he keeps his house, same schools for his kids,etc. It's a factor in his decision. If nothing else, he can use it as leverage with Rizzo.

  42. Gonat - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    fast eddie, nobody said they aren't a factor but the O's aren't "in" on him so it really doesn't matter right now. The Orioles could still offer him 3 years and LaRoche could still say NO. The biggest leverage is the unknown team as we saw with the Detroit Tigers on Prince Fielder last year.And as far as the commuting distance, that isn't ideal for his 10 year old son for those night games. Its probably 1 1/2 hours back to Northern Virginia from B'more.

  43. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Feel… I hear you but Davey wears on his bosses while Buck wears on his players. Maybe Buck has mellowed. I know the recent interviews I've seen and heard makes it sound like he has.At 70 (next month) and announcing his retirement from managing, Davey should be alot of fun this season.

  44. Feel Wood - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    If Feelwood doesn't see the connection of Angelos to that team he loves in Baltimore, I will never agree with him and his ridiculous statement on LaRoche shows that.I wouldn't call Angelos a good owner, and even if I was an Orioles fan (which I'm not, and never really was even during the 34 years when they were the only MLB team near DC) I wouldn't like Angelos. He clearly fought against a team coming to DC because it would be bad for his team, the Orioles. But just because there is a team in DC now does not mean that everything Angelos does to make the Orioles better is an attack on DC. If he signs LaRoche, he's doing it to make the Orioles better, not to stick it to DC. Why is it ridiculous to face the reality that he could actually do that?

  45. Feel Wood - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    fast eddie said… Re: Laroche, I'm with Feel on this one.The O's are a definite option because they're within commuting distance for Adam–he keeps his house, same schools for his kids,etc. It's a factor in his decision. If nothing else, he can use it as leverage with Rizzo.LaRoche does not have a house in the DC area and his kids don't go to school here. He lives in DC from April through October, probably rents a place. If he does sign with the O's, he's not going to rent the same place he did when he was a Nat.The only Nats players who live here year-round are Zimmerman, Werth and Lombardozzi. Davey and the coaches don't live here either.

  46. Gonat - Dec 4, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    http://www.masnsports.com/steve_melewski/2012/12/video-orioles-are-not-in-on-adam-laroche.htmlAlso, the rumors have the Orioles putting Chris Davis at 1st and trading for a DH or a LF. Their hottest rumor is trading for Billy Butler of the Royals and giving up a starting pitcher.The Orioles didn't pursue LaRoche 2 years ago when he was 31, not sure why that has changed now.

  47. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Given Reynolds' production defensively and offensively from 1B, I am surprised they did not bring him back.

  48. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    Faraz, can you say K machine.

  49. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    By the way, great game last night with the Skins. With the Skins and Nats improvement, Washington is proving Wilbon wrong. If Leonsis will spend some money on the Wiz!

  50. JamesFan - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    If it's down to the O's and Mariners, ALR will probably return to the Nats. Neither one is a big money club, and the O's are no sure thing to repeat last year's run. Texas is another matter. If they go after him, ALR might be gone.Not sure I'm ready for Moore to be full time at first.

  51. staring out the window waiting for spring - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  52. Gonat - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… Given Reynolds' production defensively and offensively from 1B, I am surprised they did not bring him back. December 04, 2012 9:02 AM ________________________________Besides the K's, there were 9 million other reasons he was non-tendered. Same ole Orioles. Money first, winning secondary.

  53. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    Actually, dumping Reynolds is a sign the Orioles are to be taken seriously. I think their first priorites are DH and LF; Davis seems more-than-adequate at 1B. Unfortunately/fortunately (depending on your perspective) they seem to be deluded into believing some of their starting pitchers have trade value.

  54. JD - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    Gonat, Reynolds isn't worth 9 mil regardless. 0.5 WAR is Worth about $2 mil.

  55. JD - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    ALR is a free agent and until he signs with anyone I'm not buying that anything is a done deal. I don't care what a player says leading up to the actual signing; players don't normally leave any money on the table. All the talk about kids schools etc is nonsense. The type of money these guys earn can put the kids in a great school wherever they are.

  56. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    Of course he was not worth $9 million but they could have worked out a cheaper deal i think.JD, WAR is accumulative over the course of season so the reason he would be worth only 0.5 WAR is because he must have negative WAR for late start to hitting wise and playing 3rd base in the beginning of the season. Just as a 1B, I would be interested in looking at his WAR.

  57. JD - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Faraz, At 1st base his UZR was still -3.8 which is dreadful. I think his best position is DH.

  58. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    Faraz — You're falling under the tyranny of nos. and the illusions arising from a brief hot streak. Defensively, you don't want Reynolds on the field, anywhere. Offensively, you don't want him striking out 200 times a year. The deal he signs — Marlins seem like a fine, dysfunctional fit — will be for maybe $2MM plus incentives, and he'll be on the bench by the All-Star break.

  59. peric - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    Given Reynolds' production defensively and offensively from 1B, I am surprised they did not bring him back. The O's finished extremely well surprising everyone. Other than Weiters they need Markakis with help from Davis. Looks like Showalter may want another left-handed presence at first base … other than Davis who may best fit coming off the bench, there's Avery. Maybe that's enough so maybe they feel they can do a lot better for a lot less. Salary wise Morse would fit there model. I just don't see the Orioles EVER talking to Rizzo about any player. Angelos would never allow it.

  60. Feel Wood - Dec 4, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    I just don't see the Orioles EVER talking to Rizzo about any player. Angelos would never allow it.LaRoche is a free agent. The O's don't have to talk to Rizzo about him. The fact that he was once a Nat won't stop them from signing him. It didn't stop them from signing Nick Johnson or Luis Ayala.

  61. peric - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    LaRoche is a free agent. The O's don't have to talk to Rizzo about him.Last I looked Michael Morse was still under Nats control. LaRoche would be a far more expensive option than Morse. Morse would fit better in both Angelo's and the Ray's payroll model. They like cheap.

  62. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    LaRoche also perfectly fits Camden Yards' 318-foot RF fence. In that park he'd hit 40 HR a year.

  63. UnkyD - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    Gonat said…To further the point, Dan Snyder may be a lot of negative things but he never blocked the Ravens moving 20 miles up the road into Baltimore or demanded special treatment from the NFL. Also, Steve Bisciotti the owner of the Ravens asked Washingtonians to like the Ravens as their AFC team and many did that.——————Not Snyder, Gonat, but the memory of Jack Kent Cooke is still widely reviled, among Bal'mer sports aficionados….:http://www.marylands-team.com/2011/unlocking-the-ravens-redskins-rivalry/

  64. Water23 - Dec 4, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    So, just a thought, why not keep Morse and sign ALR. Yes, it may be ugly in April but as Rizzo showed last year with keeping Lannan he is OK with that. The benefit is that since players do get hurt or regrees then Morse is there to balance out the risk. Remember how good Jason Heyward was in his 1st yr and then regressed in the his sophmore year. Or how Werth was out for a few months, Zim was out for a while, ALR was out for most of 2011? This all makes me think that when you are a premiere team and for $6 Million you can have a top backup why not spend the money?

  65. UnkyD - Dec 4, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Morse is a top starter, not necessacarily a top back up. I seem to remember that he got cranked up, offensively, after he became an everyday player…

  66. mick - Dec 4, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    we need to be cool and calm…. add one more starting stud and one more stopper, looks like we will re sign ALR, let's keep this team intact and lets roll in 2013. I hope Grienke is not the one, i really think he has major issues that could hurt the Nats chemistry

  67. mick - Dec 4, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    I agree with Feel Wood about Angelos. He is a petty and very small and in the end he will destroy what good the O's did in 2012

  68. mick - Dec 4, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    I know Gonat, Ghost, Joe Seamhead and #4 are DC guys…. how is Coach Buddy Burkhead doing?

  69. Unknown - Dec 4, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    I was a little disappointed at first with the signing having hoped for something a little more "splashy."But I looked up his stats and I think this was in fact a splashy signing.Since 2005, when he became a full-time starter, Haren has averaged:14-11, 3.66, 8.7/1.9/7.6In his National League years, he's been even better:16-10, 3.23, 8.0/1.6/8.7If he pitches like he did last year, he's no worse than Edwin Jackson was last year. If he returns to his pre-injury form, he's a #2 starter.So I'm a happy camper.Now we're hearing that Morse is probably going to be traded for "bullpen depth."Well, that certainly isn't sexy, but if getting two or three top-of-the-line relievers for Morse happens, I'm comfortable that all is well.Farid @ Idaho

  70. natsfan1a - Dec 4, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    That's right. Pounce, baby, pounce. :-)

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