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Plenty of contenders in NL

Dec 12, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT

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Dusty Baker's Reds and Don Mattingly's Dodgers each have made bold moves.

As much as the Nationals have been lauded in recent weeks for assembling a roster that is positioned as well as any in baseball to contend for a World Series title both now and in future seasons, it should be pointed out Washington is going to have plenty of competition to reach the Fall Classic out of the National League.

All around the NL, teams have been bolstering rosters and positioning themselves to compete for a championship in 2013. The Nationals are hardly alone.

The Dodgers have received as much attention this winter as anyone, and for good reason. Behind a new, deep-pocketed ownership group that includes Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten, L.A. is handing out nine-figure contracts like candy canes at an office holiday party.

The Dodgers already added high-priced players like Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Hanley Ramirez last summer. TheyRead more »

189 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. MicheleS - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    NatsLady, thanks for pulling that stuff on Bauer last night. Seems AZ got really impatient with him. Hope he blossoms in CLE.If Choo plays CF for the Reds, I don't think that is a plus move. He has only played CF a few times since 2006. The Dodgers still have Hanley and Beckett, so that will drag on them. In the mean time, the Phillies have done zip. The NL will not be a cake walk that's for sure. Just have to make sure that we make it to the playoffs.

  2. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    I'd also like to go on record that the Greinke deal will be bad for both parties, in the long run. I could see Greinke opting out in 3 years and "getting out of Dodge" so to speak.

  3. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    I saw that Greinke interview at his introduction. It was hard to watch at times. I did like how he talked about his game prep and that he is a student of the game.

  4. MicheleS - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    NJ.. Saw that he had the Opt out in 3 years. Talk about an escape clause! it's CC all over again – except I can see Greinke actually doing it.

  5. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    San Fran and the Dodgers play each other 18 times. The Nats play the Dodgers 6 times.

  6. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Slowpitch63, fangraphs.com is a good place to start. their glossary section explains most of the advanced metric they use and they have comprehensive stats on major league and minors (not advanced stats).

  7. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    What I found interesting was Greinke talking about the Dodgers lineup. He didn't say defense, just lineup. It seemed to me he was excited about how much tun support he may see which is what he has been used to since his Brewers days where he was the recipient of the most runs in support which equated to a robust Win %.

  8. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    If you have a chance watch and listen to Greinke talk about how he really liked the Dodgers lineup. Greinke didn't say defense, he said lineup and I took that to mean he was most excited about the potential run support and why shouldn't he be. When Greinke was with the Brewers he received the highest run support which helped him achieve his robust Win %.

  9. MicheleS - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Ghost, isn't Greinke more of a fly ball pitcher? That OF isn't bad for defense (not like ours mind you, but still okay) He probably took that into consideration.

  10. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    MicheleS, yes, he is a fly ball and K man. Susceptible for the big innings.

  11. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    The Reds upgraded nicely with Choo and Donald. Arizona retains JUpton. Seemed like they made out well in the trade.

  12. SlowPitch63 - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Thanks, Faraz, I'll check it out.Let's Play Two!

  13. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    who made out well? Arizona? they just gave up a #5 top prospect (and their top prospect) because he did not listen to their coaches for one year. even if there are attitude issues, you can't give up after just one pro season. and the return is an average SS plus two relievers I think. seriously I would have traded Lombo in a heartbeat if it meant we were getting Bauer back.

  14. Joe Seamhead - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    The Nats have a tough April schedule, with 15 games against the Braves, Reds, and Cardinals. It should show us right out of the box as to who we are, and how good we are.The Reds, though improved, have one thing tougher for them, schedule wise, as they only play the Astros one series, if I looked at the schedule correctly. Having the Astros in their division made for a few breather series last year. Dodgers, on paper look very formidable. We'll see if they can put it all together. They may have too many chefs, with too many ingredients, to come out with a good recipe for success. As to the Nationals, the Braves will again be the team to beat in the East. On paper the Barves seemed to have moved sideways to me. As to them winning the NL East, all I can say is that their fans don't deserve it after the debacle that they put on in the wildcard game.The Nationals still need at least one more lefty in the BP, and Burnette's shoes won't be easy to fill. Rizzo may surprise us all one more time. Otherwise, the team looks awfully good, though will have a different makeup with Span leading off, regardless of if ALR, Morse, or Moore plays first. Davey will show a different managing style, having the high OBP, speedy leadoff batter. The starting pitchers are as formidable as anyone else's in the East, maybe in all of baseball.To heck with Santa Claus, I can't wait for opening day!GYFNG!!!

  15. sjm308 - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    I agree that nothing is going to come easy, but after last season, its clear to me that the most important thing is just making the playoffs. If we achieve that goal then its just who has the hot hand. That means we either win the NL East or be one of the top 5 out of 15 teams in the NL. I think the other teams have some huge names but I did not see a lot of emphasis put on defense in this post and we shine there. The one team Mark did not name that scares me just a bit is Milwaukee. Not sure why but the Dodgers now join my list of teams I want to see fail. I guess I just dislike teams that go and spend huge dollars. When I was a kid, I loved watching the Yankees and did not realize how their payroll must have dominated, even back in the 50s. Now, not so crazy about them, the Angels, or the Red Sox.As always, injuries will play a key and that is something no one has control over.Go Nats!!

  16. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  17. Joe Seamhead - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    sjm, I don't know of a team that I could say definitively has a better total team defense then the Nats if ALR returns. I love Mikey, and Tyler, but I really prefer Roachy at 1B. I'd also wish for a more aggressive approach to holding runners and reducing the stolen bases against us. Last year we were very bad at that. Part of it was due to a continuity thing from injuries to our catchers, but a huge part was on the pitchers themselves. They need to really emphasize this shortcoming in ST, IMHO.

  18. SonnyG10 - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    A lot of NL teams improved, but they have to play against each other, so we should have some help there.

  19. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    Which is WHAT?Faraz, that's beneath you.

  20. UnkyD - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    Thank you, pkg…. I hate that epithet.

  21. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    OK, "retrograde," but Faraz is spot on about Cincinnati. I think they regressed — they had the opportunity to upgrade their OF this year and totally blew it and will probably lead baseball in "Doubles Against" in 2013. (Of course, it's possible that, in that ballpark, an OF of the DiMaggio brothers would make a difference.) And they won't have the Astros to pick on any more.

  22. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Well, no matter how fast a center fielder is, if he needs a ticket to catch routine fly balls, it won't help. Choo gets on base well enough, and he should catch what the ones you expect to be caught. He has a good arm, as I recall.

  23. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    delete that extraneous *what

  24. D'Gourds - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    I prefice this by reaffirming my confidence in Rizzo, but…I thought it would be vital to get another top notch starter like Dickey. The Dodgers and Reds improved their teams more than we did so far. In fact, I'm really not sure we've improved at all yet. Haren and Jackson are a wash. Werth played great at leadoff. And assuming we sign LaRoach, we'll lose Morse to trade for prospects. Morse is sucj a presence in the clubhouse and with the fans, it's a huge loss. If we don't sign ALR and keep Morse, we lose our biggest left handed threat and our infield defense will suffer. So are we better?

  25. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    The Dodgers' unlimited spending ability is very scary. They may end up being the only team paying the luxury tax this year — and may pay a tax in the $25MM+ range — and it seems to have no effect on their willingness to spend. They have some holes, several of which include Hanley Ramirez, but the best hope for the rest of the league is that Kasten's wizardry (in his own mind) at lifting dysfunctional franchises plays out as well in LA as it did in DC — and that the Dodgers turn into the Mets not the Yankees.

  26. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    That line about the DiMaggios should read "not make a difference." Never buy another Dell laptop.

  27. natsfan1a - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Say what?A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! said… delete that extraneous *what December 12, 2012 9:10 AM

  28. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    1a, I'm blaming my laptop, too.

  29. natsfan1a - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    I like to use that one, too. If I'm working on the desktop, it's my need for more coffee (at least in the mornings). That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :-)

  30. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    D'Gourds, I love Morse, but I'm not sure I agree he'd be such a loss. The fans will miss him–I'LL miss him–but it's not like they won't show up, or won't cheer for the other guys. Likewise, the team appears to be professionals who know the ropes. Everybody will move on. Now, if Span tanks, or gets hurt, that will be a problem.

  31. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    "I blame the laptop."Gulp. Bang.

  32. natsfan1a - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    [presses imaginary "like" button]

  33. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Theo, was it the '77 Yankees who were famous for needing 25 cabs after the game? It's possible the Dodgers could keep it together with a talented roster, but as a lifelong Giants fan before 2005, I am looking forward to watching that train heading for the washed-out bridge.

  34. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    The "tape" from the keyboard on the Dell laptop is not "connected" to anything. It is "pressed" between two metal plates. It may be in the correct position when it comes out of the box but over time the chance it is properly aligned is essentially random.

  35. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    I'm not sure about the '77 Yankees; that was my Orioles period. But I don't think we need to look back further than last year's Red Sox to find a precedent.

  36. MicheleS - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Hmm wonder what the hold up is with Napoli in Boston.. lord I hope it goes through.

  37. Feel Wood - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Hmm wonder what the hold up is with Napoli in Boston..Maybe they realized that LaRoche on the same contract terms would be a better deal for them.

  38. John C. - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    The '77 Yankees won the World Series; if they did take 25 taxis it didn't seem to matter.I had the same thought that Joe Seamhead did: any gain the Reds made in the offseason will be offset by not getting to play the Astros 15 times in 2013. The Reds still get to play the Cubs and Pirates a bunch, though. Of course, the Nats get to play the Mets and the Marlins (although even last year the Nats couldn't do better than 9-9 against the Fish).The Nats should be better than last year in a variety of ways. Full seasons from Harper, Strasburg, Zimmerman, Ramos and Werth (who still wasn't at full strength when he did play, as evidenced by his five home runs). Natural maturation of the kids, including (in addition to Stras and Harper) Desmond, Espinosa, Detwiler, Zimmermann, Storen, Moore, should also improve. Last year, Haren's worst season (12-13, 4.33 ERA, 176.2 IP, 1.291 WHIP) was pretty close to EJax's season (10-11, 4.01 ERA, 189.2 IP, 1.218 WHIP). Haren is likely to regress to his mean, which in his case means improvement as well. Even if it takes Ramos a while to get to 100%, the catching position will be much better with Suzuki and Ramos than it was much of 2012 with Flores and the revolving door of backups.The Nats have a very good chance to be better in 2013 than they were in 2012. But we'll see. Bring on Viera!

  39. Stroud steals second - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    Would Joe Mauer be an upgrade for us? What would it take to get him? It would be a salary dump for the Twins?

  40. 3on2out - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Joe Seamhead said: "Dodgers, on paper look very formidable. We'll see if they can put it all together. They may have too many chefs, with too many ingredients, to come out with a good recipe for success."I agree. It's a team assembled with a Dan Snyder-like "Fantasy" mentality. Winning cures many ills, but as Michele S implies, cancers like Hanley and Beckett can trash an immune system. I suspect the Dodgers to turn out to be far less than the sum of their parts.

  41. JD - Dec 12, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Faraz, I agree with you 100%. I can't believe they traded Bauer for a SS who is field only and a couple of relievers. This is a pitcher who was drafted no. 3 overall in a year which had : Cole,Hultzen,Rendon,Starling,Bradley, Bundy and many more. We could have put together something better for them. No?

  42. rmoore446 - Dec 12, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    The Braves worry me. As we all remember, they were very tough at the end 2012 and look improved for next season. I have Spring Training tickets for the late March game between the Nationals and Braves. I wish ST began tomorrow!

  43. UnkyD - Dec 12, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    Stroud…….what?! Why would we trade for a 20+million$$ a year player, at arguably our strongest, deepest position?

  44. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 12, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    "The '77 Yankees won the World Series; if they did take 25 taxis it didn't seem to matter."Yeah, that was my point–chemistry can be over-rated.

  45. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 12, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    "Would Joe Mauer be an upgrade for us? What would it take to get him? It would be a salary dump for the Twins?"No.Too much.Depends on who they got in exchange.You're welcome.

  46. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 12, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    So who did they pass on, when they drafted Bauer? That's the real discount, because they had to know the guy was going to be "challenging" to coach, when they picked him. Looks like, after a year of knowing him, they are cutting and running.

  47. Section 222 - Dec 12, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    A couple of people have mentioned the Reds not having the Astros in their division any more. I don't understand how that matters to the Nats, except for seeding purposes in the playoffs. Sure, they won't get as many breathers in their schedule (although traveling to Houston 3 times a year can't be that fun), but all the other teams in the NL Central are in the same boat. Choo slashed .283/.373/.441 last year, with an OPS+ of 131. And he hit 16 HRs Compare that to Stubbs' .213/.277/.333/61. I'd call that a serious upgrade. You have to figure Choo's HRs will go up too. That's a very dangerous lineup the Reds have, and their rotation is none too shabby either with Cueto, Latos, Arroyo, and Bailey, and Chapman waiting in the wings. If he turns into a legitimate starter, the Reds could be very, very tough.In another case of brilliant scheduling, we play all of our games against the Reds in April – away right after our Opening Day series against the Marlins, and then again in a four game series at Nats Park before the end of the month. So possibly the two favorites to go to the WS will play each other seven times in April and then won't meet again, if at all, until October.

  48. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 12, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Arizona for well over a month has been shopping JUpton and Bauer and tried denying it by saying GMs were contacting them. I'm sure that part is true but for whatever their reason, they have seemed willing to trade both and trading Bauer has proved the rumors accurate.I remember Bauer's pick in the 2011 Draft well. He was thought by many to be the 2nd or 3rd best College arm in the Draft alongside how you ranked Hultzen and Gerrit Cole. To walk from that pick less than 2 years later, says a lot about how the DBacks felt.

  49. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 12, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Sec222, as I said at 7:54EST, I think the Reds made out well in the trade.I don't know how they will align their outfield but agree with Ludwick, Choo and Bruce you would think Choo will be a CF. That's a poor fielding outfield. Maybe their speedy Hamilton will figure somewhere into the equation in CF.

  50. sjm308 - Dec 12, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Gorse Hackage: just got back on and was reading comments from the beginning. Thanks for the 8:50 response. Just read in the Post that a couple of the radio "talking parrots" on 980am are being suspended for remarks. Would love to live in a world where people are just a little more sensitive to others problems.

  51. Feel Wood - Dec 12, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    In another case of brilliant scheduling, we play all of our games against the Reds in April – away right after our Opening Day series against the Marlins, and then again in a four game series at Nats Park before the end of the month. So possibly the two favorites to go to the WS will play each other seven times in April and then won't meet again, if at all, until October.That would pretty much have been the case last season too, had both the Reds and the Nats won in the NLDS. The Reds were here for the home opener series and we played them there on Mothers Day weekend. In contrast, the Nats and Cards who met in the NLDS last year played all their games against each other in very late August and September.In 2012, the Nats were also done with the Pirates early and got the Rockies games all within a two-week stretch midseason. This year it will be Reds all early as you noted, and agin the Rockies games are all within a two week timeframe. It must be hard for the schedule makers to keep every home-and-home series spread out over the whole of the season.

  52. JamesFan - Dec 12, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Watch out for the Cardinals. They have great young pitching to back up their experienced guys. Regardless of what the Dodgers have done, I'm fine with the Nats' regulars with or without ALR going into the season. What I worry about is pitching depth if one of the 5 starters goes down and the quality of our bullpen given the quality of the starting rotation.

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

    Ghost, That's my point about Bauer. When The DBacks drafted Bauer at no. 3 he was already very outspoken about his approach, training etc; he is not un-coachable; he is just a very confident intelligent pitcher. When you are drafting at no. 3 you need to make sure you are comfortable with the person as well as the player; Seattle went with the safe pick (Hultzen) at no. 2 even though there were at least 4 or 5 players rated higher. I would still love to have this kid's future, including 6 years of team control. Good for Cleveland for landing him.

  54. Section 222 - Dec 12, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    Good point Feel. I'm sure the scheduling is a nightmare on many level. A monstrous jigsaw puzzle, though I imagine there is software than makes it a lot easier than we think. I just wish they'd pay a little more attention to spreading out the two series with the non-division opponents. At least a 6-week interval between them ought to be possible. Teams change a lot over the course of the year.

  55. Unknown - Dec 12, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    Zack Greinke has averaged 12 wins per season with an 8.9/2.3/8.0 slash and a 3.77 ERA since he became a starter (based on a 162-game average)Ross Detwiler has averaged 12 wins per season (again based on a full season) and a 3.28 ERA with a 8.2/2.8/5.7 slash in the last two years since he became a starter-only.No, Detwiler isn't Zack Greinke, but there isn't $25 million-per-year difference. Not even close. The Dodgers are now a lot like the Phillies, talented but laden with large imbalanced contracts. The Reds would scare me more than Los Angeles.Farid @ Idaho

  56. JD - Dec 12, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    The DBacks are now said to be unlikely to deal Justin Upton. What I think this means is that the Rangers are now likely going to sign Hamilton which means that the ALR situation is likely inching up to resolution.

  57. JD - Dec 12, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    JamesFan, I wouldn't automatically conclude that the Cards young pitching is great. Admittedly; they looked fearsome in the short series against us but that was still a small sample size from which to draw conclusions. I am also not scared by a rotation made up of aging veterans like Carpenter and Wainright; a mediocre Jaime Garcia and Lance Lynn.

  58. hiramhover - Dec 12, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    FaridI agree Ross is a solid pitcher, but your numbers are off. He pitched some in relief in both 2011 and 2012. When you subtract those appearances, his ERA as a starter rises to 3.48, and his K/9 rate is less than 6, vs more than 9 for Greinke, or 50% higher. Ross has outperformed his peripherals and more advanced metrics, which is a reason for caution.

  59. sjm308 - Dec 12, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    I would not use the word scared but I am impressed with (in order)The Braves – Giants – Cards – Reds – Dodgers.Seems to me if we have more wins than any two of these teams we should be in the playoffs for a second straight year and with Strasburg throwing at least two games in each playoff series I think our chances are improved from last year. Again, injuries scare me more than other teams.

  60. DaveB - Dec 12, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    In the past several years it seemed like there was an inevitable migration of top talent to the AL, at least partially because those teams had the "advantage" of being able to support older players / longer contracts with the DH position. This year that tide seems to have turned, as there seems to be much more top talent moving the other direction (e.g., Greinke, Upton, Choo, Span, Revere, Haren, M Young (ok maybe not "top talent" anymore), etc.). Should be interesting to see if this trend continues.

  61. John C. - Dec 12, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    Section 222 said… A couple of people have mentioned the Reds not having the Astros in their division any more. I don't understand how that matters to the Nats, except for seeding purposes in the playoffs.That's pretty much why the Nationals care; but then again we're all parochial here ;)My point is not that the Reds aren't a good team and a real contender for the pennant; they are. The question is, how good are they? I'd say they are a low/mid 90's win team. Yes, they won 97 games last year. But their pythagorean record was 91-71, and that was with getting to play a lot of games against two terrible teams (Cubs, Astros) and one collapsing team (Pirates). Yes, Votto got hurt and if he stays healthy a full season that will help. But the Reds caught lightning in a bottle with Frazier – I think Votto's return is essentially a wash with Frazier's regression. They had better health in the starting rotation than the Nats did – their top five starters made 161 of 162 starts in the season! Dusty Baker has a reputation for burning out pitchers, and it will be interesting to see how their staff holds up this year.The Reds are a good team, and should be contenders. But their success last year felt a little fluky and it will be interesting to see whether they can repeat it.

  62. greg - Dec 12, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    i wouldn't say the braves "added" upton as much as i'd say they swapped him for bourne. which doesn't necessarily make that an upgrade (not that the braves weren't legit before the swap). i don't know if michael young still is one of the best pure hitters. we'll see if last year was the beginning of the end or whether it was just an uncomfortable situation that he'll bounce back from. all of that said, the senior circuit is the better league right now and the nats will have much competition to get into and through the playoffs.

  63. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 12, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    sjm, I have to see if the Braves make any more moves to see if they are improved but I would say right now they are behind where they were last year based on injuries (McCann/Beachy) and losing Chipper and Bourn and Ross while gaining BJUpton. Yes, their bullpen may be better but I don't see them being as good in their rotation and they are losing depth. Hanson and Jurjjens still provided depth in their rotation and they now will have to rely on youth.

  64. peric - Dec 12, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    In spite of everything I'll go on record as saying that eventually I think we'll see Werth leading off again. I don't think the Span deal will pay off the way many people here believe it will. They are living on Jim Riggleman's island. I suspect we will see Davey try it and when it doesn't succeed he'll go back to what was working for him.

  65. peric - Dec 12, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    Hanson and Jurjjens still provided depth in their rotation and they now will have to rely on youth.As the Nats have been doing. The Braves do have some pretty good starting pitching prospects. The problem is they may not have the right manager to manage them as happened with the Nats pre-Davey.

  66. peric - Dec 12, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Not that you would ever show, but MicheleS, Kevin & I will be toasting another successful season at Justin's between April & Oct(and maybe even Nov!!!) I won't lose the bet but you are welcome to join us!Thank you for the invite SJM308. Not sure when it actually happens though … :) I appreciate the kindness.

  67. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 12, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    The Braves' bullpen may be better, but it was pretty good last year, so there isn't much to pick up, there.

  68. peric - Dec 12, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  69. peric - Dec 12, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    wouldn't say the braves "added" upton as much as i'd say they swapped him for bourne. which doesn't necessarily make that an upgrade (not that the braves weren't legit before the swap). Many people say that. But the same characteristics remain that existed when the Rizzo and the Nats were trying to acquire him. Look at the splits of Upton AWAY from home. That is, on the road, over the past 2 or 3 years. Then compare that to Bourn.The Braves may have potentially bought a huge upgrade in CF. Not McCutchen but the potential exists for same neighborhood statistically. Certainly better than McLouth (who is another CF that should have been listed) and others they've tried up to this point. Yes, there is a lot potential, or "ceiling". A lot of that depends on the manager, the clubhouse, and fans accepting Upton and his past warts. But even without meeting expectations Upton managed to be a key cog in every pennant race run the Rays have recently had. The potential means he can be a lot better.Whereas with Bourn what you see is what you get. No ceiling. No potential. Basically, a good fielding slap hitter.

  70. peric - Dec 12, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    Boras once compared Brian Goodwin to Bourn. Goodwin has produced power at every level he's attained. If that continues he could be more of an Upton and much less like Bourn. Some here have expressed concern relative to Brian Goodwin's makeup so another similarity to the Uptons. The Nats FO appear to have sufficient faith in Goodwin to eschew signing an Upton or Bourn, and saving payroll in an attempt to keep their solid young core. Goodwin could be considered a key part of that plan at this juncture.

  71. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 12, 2012 at 5:49 PM

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  72. Alphabet Soup Erik - Dec 12, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    I think the Braves bullpen is MUCH better than the Nationals (as currently constructed) and could very well make the difference in whether or not they win the division. We badly need a power arm in the back of the bullpen. Storen can be effective, but he is very hittable. Right now, all of the main 4 guys in the Braves bullpen are better than all 4 of the main guys in the Nats bullpen…and it isn't close.

  73. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 12, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    peric said… In spite of everything I'll go on record as saying that eventually I think we'll see Werth leading off again. I don't think the Span deal will pay off the way many people here believe it will. They are living on Jim Riggleman's island. I suspect we will see Davey try it and when it doesn't succeed he'll go back to what was working for him. December 12, 2012 12:30 PM I think Span will do a fine job based on what he is which is a light hitting OBP guy with some speed and excellent defense. This is the direction Rizzo chose to go for the next 3 years.I'm not sure what Davey will do with Span but my guess is he leads off against RHP and Werth will leadoff against LHP.The key I see for the Nats is HEALTH. The offense still did well last year with all the "sick" days they had: Werth missed 81 games, Morse missed 60 games and was hurt for much of his 102 games, Desi missed 32 games and Zim missed 27 games and was also hurt for many of the 145 games he played in. Also consider Bryce's callup, that Bryce didn't appear in 23 games.That's a total of 223 games not played in by star players which is the equavilent of losing a star player for 1 full season plus 37%. Also consider that Ramos had 137 games missed although you factor catchers around 30+ games anyway but still significant as the replacement players until Suzuki got going was an offensive drain.Span gives great outfield depth that the Nats have never had. They finally have 3 *plus* defenders in the outfield that can contribute offense.Again, the key is health.

  74. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 12, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    Gorse Hackage, Venters was hittable last year so they appear to have shored it up. Who knows, maybe this is the year that the extreme overuse of Kimbrel will bite them.

  75. peric - Dec 12, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    his ERA as a starter rises to 3.48, and his K/9 rate is less than 6, vs more than 9 for Greinke, or 50% higher. I look at his tRA which is around 4.14. Better than JZim as a starter.You are right about his K rate reliever versus starter. But his nB% (includes HBP and IBB) rises significantly in relief as well!His K percentage rate was about 15% compared to Stras at 30%His nB pecentage rate was about 8% compared to Stras at 8%.As a reliever the K rate rises to 20% but his nB rate rises to 14% which is 2n d worse of all Nats relievers.

  76. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 12, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    Also on the Braves, they stayed virtually injury free except Beachy and McCann and scheduled days off for Chipper. Freeman had an eye injury which sidelined him for a few weeks.Relatively speaking, the Braves were successful because they were healthy.Andrelton Simmons also flew below the radar mostly as a backup. I'm wondering if he will be pitched to differently in 2013 as I would expect him to be the leadoff and pitched to more carefully. The Nats have to solve Prado in 2013.

  77. peric - Dec 12, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    That's a total of 223 games not played in by star players which is the equavilent of losing a star player for 1 full season plus 37%. Also consider that Ramos had 137 games missed although you factor catchers around 30+ games anyway but still significant as the replacement players until Suzuki got going was an offensive drain.Good point about health. But Solano looked pretty darned good offensively and better defensively until his injury issues recurred. Jury is out on Leon I guess.They replaced Desmond with someone the Nats consider a starter: Lombardozzi. Werth was replaced with Harper/Morse/Bernadina/Lombo et al. Until Werth starting at lead off the lineup was considerably better without him. Once he moved to lead-off that all changed he became a key offensive asset at that point.They really didn't have a replacement for Morse or Zim … Tyler Moore was still learning left-field and didn't spend time at first base because LaRoche stepped up and had a career year which helped. The cortisone shot made Zim more the offensive player they needed. But if Moore had managed to get into the line up regularly I believe he might have done a good job of matching Morse's power numbers. So, it boils down to the bench: Brown, Moore, Bernadina, Lombardozzi, plus Tracy seem like a pretty fair bench if the prediction that Morse gets traded becomes a reality. I suspect we'll see Marerro and/or Rivero added to get some right-handed hitting in the bench mix. At this point you'd almost have to favor Rivero because of his ability to play multiple positions at a higher level than Lombardozzi.That's why Davey gets paid the big bucks. Not so much to create a starting lineup but to manage the bench, and the pitching staff in games.

  78. Section 222 - Dec 12, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    Span hit LHPs better than RHPs last year, albeit for slightly less power. I expect he'll lead off against both. Hopefully Werth will bat second. Of course things could change if Span is awful, but given his history, I expect he'll do fine and very much doubt that Davey will bench him or move him down in the order. Davey likes a set lineup and Rizzo has given him his leadoff guy.

  79. Doc - Dec 12, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    If Stan Kasten is leading the LAD charge to sign as many big ticket players as possible, then they are in trouble.Kasten is mostly a marketing guy, who wouldn't know a ballplayer from peanut vendor. My money is still on the Gigantes grabbing the gold ring in the NL West.

  80. Ron In Reston - Dec 12, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    Just my two cents:I see the Dodgers as this season's version of the 2012 Marlins, except with better pitching.And sign LaRoche, trade Morse for pitching prospects to replace the ones traded the last two years.Lineup:Span CF (L)Werth RF (R)Harper LF (L)Zim 3B (R)LaRoche 1B (L)Desmond SS (R)Espinosa 2B (S)Suzuki/Ramos C (R)That's the LRLRLRLR lineup that drives opposing managers crazy. Of course, it means Danny hitting lefthanded, which drives all of US crazy. But maybe he become this season's Desmond…we can all hope, right?

  81. Ron In Reston - Dec 12, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    *becomesStupid laptop ;)

  82. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 12, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    Peric, obviously the Nats replaced the injured players with other but the WAR replacement is never the same especially when you look at the end results of the various bench players that filled in were Negative WAR in Ankiel, DeRosa, Nady and Moore and WAR above neutral with Tracy, Lombo and Bernadina.Lombo can't compare to Desi's offense in 2012 and Flores wasn't close to being a #1.I won't do the math as it would be complicated and time consuming but I would think the net loss of over 1 1/3 full seasons lost by a conglomeration of those star players has be a significant loss of WAR in the 2 to 3 range.

  83. MicheleS - Dec 12, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    Sounds like the beat writers are at the lunch for Davey at the chamber of commerce and it's Typical Davey being Davey.

  84. greg - Dec 12, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    i'll give you that upton has more upside than bourne (if for no other reason than age), but until he actually realizes it for more than a month or two at a time, it's still "potential" and not reality. and given that he has six full seasons (and two partials before that), it's not the same kind of potential it once was. his overall stat line has been pretty consistent over the past three years, around 240/320/750. *can* he break out? he's only 28, so anything's possible. *will* he break out? i wouldn't bet $75 million on it.

  85. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 12, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    Sec 222, I still could see Davey going with Werth to leadoff against LHPs and moving Span down in the order. Maybe you are right and Span is in there every day in leadoff regardless.I like what I see and expect Davey likes his team just the way it is except with the bullpen.The big "if" is still on ALR and whether he comes back. If he doesn't, I think the Nats just look more RH but in actuality its the same as last year at the end of the season as the only 2 LHs in the lineup were ALR and Bryce and Danny who we can debate about his effectiveness as a LH batter.

  86. MicheleS - Dec 12, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    UpdateAmanda Comak‏@acomak Davey said last week he felt there were positive signs #nats could get something done w/LaRoche before Christmas. Not much new there.

  87. MicheleS - Dec 12, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    SO maybe I need to sweeten the bribes again. Mike Rizzo.. a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue has your name on it, IF you get ALR signed.

  88. baseballswami - Dec 12, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    I am not one of the fans that thinks the Nats have to win the WS every year or they are failures. I want our organization to be part of this conversation every year – one of the elite, top teams. Once you get into the playoffs, luck plays a factor, who is hot, who is injured. It's a crapshoot. The trick is to get to the post season as often as possible. I think the Reds have looked better than they are because of how many times they played the Astros. I think the giants and dodgers will slug it out against each other and so will the braves, nats and phils. It's going to be interesting to be sure.

  89. JD - Dec 12, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    Swami, You are exactly right in the 1st part of your analysis. I think the Reds are a very good team but with a challenging defensive outfield. They are adding Chapman to the rotation so along with Latos, Cueto and Bailey it gives them a very nice group of starters. I don't love what the Giants have done by giving mediocre players like Pagan and Scutaro big conracts based on the post season success and it always tough to gauge a team which throws big money at their problems; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't (I would still consider the Dodgers the early favorites in the NL west). I am not impressed with the Phills at all; one year older with a lot of potential and even likely injuries to their core. The Braves will be tough but I think they regressed some simply by losing Chipper Jones.

  90. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 12, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    come on Swami, I was at least hoping Nats set a record at winning most consecutive WS and while they are at it, they also get best winning percentage over a regular season. Have at least one month where they never lose a game (not counting march and october). hit 300 HRs in one season. as a team, Nats alone throw more than 7 no-hitters in one season. while all this is going on, Nats set some individual records also such as Harper hits 60 HRs or more in more than 3 seasons as a nat. SS strikeouts more than 350 hitters in one season. so on and so forth.when I dream, I dream big. :D

  91. SCNatsFan - Dec 12, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    Peric I don't share your distain for Span; I don't believe thay paid the price they did to get some one they hope will work out, they are sure of it. I'm more worried about Werth then Span; he just never seemed comfortable batting anywhere other then leadoff. No doubt the new lineup is going to need time to gel.

  92. JD - Dec 12, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    With the Nationals I think the overall picture is still a bit dicey. If ALR signs I think the overall improvement from Span over Morse based entirely on better defense is about 1 game; I also think that Haren is 1 game better than EJax. Let's also keep in mind that we had Nady, Ankiel and Tracy start a bunch of games until the lineup stabilized. There were also a handful of games lost by Henry which would have been wins with even average closing execution. This is not to say that the Nats will win 110 games in 2013; ALR is very likely to regress and there is a reasonable possibility that Desmond and Gio won't have the years they had in 2012 but going into the season I think the Nats are the most complete team with a good chance to at least repeat what they accomplished in 2012.

  93. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 12, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    Swami and JD, I am skeptical about Chapman as starter. He was fatigued last season towards the end. I hope he has built enough strength to last as a starter but if not, I would like Reds to do what Braves did with Medlen last season. They also have five starters under control right now (Bailey, Arroyo, Cueto, Latos, and Leake).I agree that the playoffs are crapshoot. matchups and streaks play a lot into it.

  94. blovy8 - Dec 12, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    The Reds are also getting smarter by moving Chapman into the rotation – that would probably help as much as getting Choo. I think time and injuries have cut into Choo's ability a bit. He's still decent, but no matter how they align their best outfielders, they are going to miss some plays.

  95. JD - Dec 12, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    SCNatsFan, You are correct about Span: 2011 WAR 2.2 2012 WAR 3.9 Michael Morse 2011 WAR 3.3 2012 WAR 0.6

  96. JD - Dec 12, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    Also to put some data on previous discussions: Bourne: 2011 WAR 4.1 2012 WAR 6.4 BJ UPTON 2011 WAR 4.1 2012 WAR 3.3 Which just goes to show you that you shouldn't have this type of comparison without considering defensive metrics.

  97. blovy8 - Dec 12, 2012 at 7:59 PM

    Span will help no matter where he bats, and I doubt he will care since he'll be on a winning club. I do think the Span/Werth/Harper/Zim/Morse/Desmond/Espy/Suzuki lineup makes sense. Span's low slugging style is fine with a the lesser OBP guys and pitcher/pinch hitter ahead of him most of the game. You'd be wasting more of Werth's or Harper's long hits.

  98. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 12, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    A few thoughts on Jayson Werth as lead-off hitter:– Recall that Mr. Werth was the lead-off hitter in just 38 of the Nats' 162 regular season games. He did quite well as lead-off (.388 OBP), but you can't really say the Nats had the season they did because Mr. Werth was leading-off. In point of fact, they had a great season despite the fact that the had to rotate the lead-off spot among multiple players. Mr. Werth proved the best (I don't think anyone would question that), but can you make a firm judgment that he's the better option (over Denard Span) based on 38 games and 170 PAs? And, for what it's worth, as lead-off in the game (i.e. in the first inning), Mr. Werth only hit .235, with a .316 OBP (admitted in a small sample size).– Recall also that one reason that Mr. Werth ended up as the lead-off hitter at the end of the 2012 season (apart from the team's inability to find anyone else who could do the job) was that his wrist injury was still healing and he wasn't able to hit for any power (initially, at least). To his great credit, he adapted to the role quite well, turning into something of a 'slap hitter' and drawing walks. But assuming he returns from the winter with a fully healed wrist, it's hard to imagine the Nats not wanting him in the 5th or 6th position in the batting order, where he can do more damage.– Note that Mr. Span — as the first batter in a game — has a career average of .251 and an OBP of .337 (in 549 PAs); leading off an inning he hits .268 with a .351 OBP (in 1041 PAs). Even in 2012, which many considered a down year for him, he hit .243 leading off games, although his OBP was only .287.– But, finally, note that Mr. Span does not have the kind of SLG numbers that Mr. Werth has (.389 vs. .462). Mr. Span would not fit as naturally into the 5th, 6th, or even 7th holes as Mr. Werth does. I'm not taking anything away from what Mr. Werth did as the lead-off hitter in those 38 games (plus five in the NLDS), but he was a temporary 'fix' for a problem that the Nats had experienced all season long (and in previous seasons). He was good fix, no question. But he was not a long-term fix. The Nats acquired Mr. Span to be that 'permanent' fix (i.e., two or three years), not to bat 7th or 8th.

  99. Section 222 - Dec 12, 2012 at 8:12 PM

    Well said and well supported Eugene. Werth's wrist may be at full strength. Time will tell. But I'm glad that the Nats lineup has enough power hitters that Davey won't feel like Werth should bat fifth and hope that his power returns. For me, Werth's biggest assets as a hitter are his ability to take pitches and get on base, not his occasional power. I like him batting second, giving Span lots of chances to get his timing down and steal, and/or hitting to the opposite field to get him to third base.

  100. Ron In Reston - Dec 12, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    JD–I read you and others saying ALR is "likely to regress". So last season he hit .271 with 33 HRs, 100 RBIs 76 Runs, OPB .343, SLG .510, with 35 doubles, 67 walks and 138 Ks.His career averages?.268, 27 HRs, 93 RBIs, 78 Runs, OBP .338, SLG .482, with 38 doubles, 61 walks and 141 Ks.If that's his regression, I'll take it, especillay since his defense won't regress at this point.

  101. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 12, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    Great job Eugene. What some are missing is the importance of Harp #2 and Zim #3 and not stacking 2 lefties together which may default back to Werth leading off.1 Werth RF2 Harp LF3 Zim. 3B4 Morse 1B5 Desi. SS6 Ramos. C7 Span. CF8 Espi. 2B

  102. Feel Wood - Dec 12, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    Taking last year's end of season batting order, sticking Span on top, sliding everyone else down one and pulling either LaRoche or Morse out (depending on which one leaves) yields something that makes a lot of sense. It keeps all the good things out of last year's order – Harper protects Werth, Zim protects Harper, Morse/ALR protects Zim, Desi in an RBI slot, L-R balance – and with Span at the top it adds the "second leadoff hitter" vibe that AL teams try to get out of the 9 hole. Remember, "leadoff hitter" only matters at the start of the game. After that, all that matters is the order. If Davey is sitting around writing lineups on napkins during the offseason, I bet this is the one that's coming up most often.

  103. TheManBearPig - Dec 12, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    JD, isn't the Span to Morse comparison based on WAR apples to oranges because of the positional adjustment? Dropping Morse out of the lineup for Span makes the Nats weaker on offense and Morse's defensive limitations were minimized because he played LF. Won't expect Harper's WAR as a corner outfielder be less than his WAR as a centerfielder (not less from 2011 to 2012, but less in 2012 as a corner OF than it would have been as a CF). I thought the Span move was a good one under the circumstances, but what I would have liked more would have been signing LaRoche early and keeping both he and Morse in the lineup in 2013, and looking to fill the CF position in 2014, possibly with a current prospect.

  104. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 12, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    At this point, I see the two-hole as being much less predictable and involving more permutations (RHP vs. LHP), dependent on whether Adam LaRoche (LH) or Michael Morse (RH) is the Nats' full-time 1B. Once that decision is made, things become clearer. But we're really talking about four different potential batting orders (with LaRoche vs. RHP, with LaRoche vs. LHP, with Morse vs. RHP, with Morse vs. LHP) not two. In all cases, however, I expect to see Mr. Span batting lead-off. But I've been wrong (many times) before.

  105. Feel Wood - Dec 12, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    But we're really talking about four different potential batting orders (with LaRoche vs. RHP, with LaRoche vs. LHP, with Morse vs. RHP, with Morse vs. LHP) not two. In all cases, however, I expect to see Mr. Span batting lead-off. But I've been wrong (many times) before.Since I've always found Eugene's affectation of calling ballplayers 'Mr.' rather annoying, I always wondered what the point of it was. Now I see. If the player is under contract and assured of a job, he's worthy of 'Mr.'; otherwise, he's not. Is that right, Mr. Eugene?

  106. D'Gourds - Dec 12, 2012 at 8:55 PM

    Span hits lefties and righties equally well.

  107. JD - Dec 12, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    TheManBearPig'Morse's defensive limitations were minimized because he played LF' I disagree with that statement. In fact I think inserting Span and moving Harper to a corner outfield position strengthens the entire outfield defense. My assumption is that Span replaces Morse in the lineup and in the field so it's not apples to oranges to compare their overall contributions.

  108. JD - Dec 12, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    Ron in Reston, As you yourself point out LaRoche's year was somewhat better than his career average across the board. Now he's a year older. I am not predicting that he'll regress but only pointing out that there's a very strong likelihood that this will happen.

  109. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 12, 2012 at 9:00 PM

    Feel Wood @ 3:48 p.m.: Not quite (and sorry to be annoying) — it's an old, ingrained habit, based loosely (although not perfectly, I assure you) on the style manual with which I grew up professionally.

  110. JD - Dec 12, 2012 at 9:04 PM

    Ghost, I think the lineup will be: Span, Werth etc. but there is one little problem with that; when you have a fast, good OBP guy leading off you would normally prefer a left handed hitter with the ability to shoot the ball through the hole; unfortunately with our lineup this doesn't work so well.

  111. sjm308 - Dec 12, 2012 at 9:04 PM

    What I want from this years line-up is some sort of consistancy. I realize there are injuries, rest days and left handed right handed matchups but I think once Werth settled into his spot and Harper settled into his spot, things really took off. Because of that, I like FeelWood's lineup with Span at the top and everyone else pretty much where they were but down one spot. Davey has talked about moving Harper into a position to drive in more runs and this is solved with him batting 3rd. You have great speed and base running with the first 3 guys and the big bats following.Ghost, I like your faith in Ramos but I just am not sure he will be back to 100% in April and also am not sure I would hit him 6th. What your lineup does provide though is great speed at the tail end and if our pitchers can bunt and Span and Danny are on, it creates a lot of havoc.How great to be thinking about lineups on a dreary day.Peric: as we get nearer to the actual season we will have to set that date at Justin's. Will be interesting to actually meet someone as contankerous as you.Seeing the Terps for the first time this season tonight. Should be fun.Go Nats!!

  112. NatsLady - Dec 12, 2012 at 9:06 PM

    According to Rosenthal's sources, Burnett's deal wasn't as much of a bargain as I thought. With incentives (110 games in 2014+2015). I'm not that much in favor of incentives since it seems to me that puts a little pressure on the manager to use the player. But I'm sure they put them in because of his injury history.Ken Rosenthal ‏@Ken_RosenthalBurnett guarantee with #Angels is $8M for two years. Maximum value, with incentives, is $13.25M for three.

  113. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Dec 12, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    I'm a little late to the party, but today's Post of the Day candidate is:Doc said… If Stan Kasten is leading the LAD charge to sign as many big ticket players as possible, then they are in trouble. Kasten is mostly a marketing guy, who wouldn't know a ballplayer from peanut vendor.And That Noted Baseball Expert Magic Johnson surely brings a lot of sabermetrics knowledge to the party too.Dodgers = 2011 Phillies. Donnie Baseball gets sacked by July 4.

  114. Gonat - Dec 12, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    JD, I think if Werth's power is back going Span to Werth to the 3 hole batter could be productive.

  115. NatsLady - Dec 12, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    JD, yes, that is what I had said the other day, that you might want a LH batter to follow your high OBP-base-stealing guy. It will be interesting see what Davey does.

  116. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 12, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    Mike Rizzo.. a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue has your name on it, IF you get ALR signed.The cool part is, they literally will put a name on it. Etch it right into the bottle.

  117. JD - Dec 12, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    NatsLady, Who is that LH batter? Harper? – do you really want him to shoot for the hole between 1st and 2nd or preferably the one between the right fielder and the center fielder? Espinosa? – maybe; this might be a way to have him focus on the game situation vs. the right field bleachers. LaRoche? – same as Harper? I think in the end Werth is still your best bet.

  118. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 12, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    One other wild card in the lineup mix: if Davey can't somehow get through to Espinosa, and he starts platooning him or just plays Lombo outright, then maybe he becomes your 2-hole switch hitter. Granted it would have to get pretty bad, like Guzman bad, for Davey to give up on Danny, but if. I can't imagine Danny will ever be a real contact, low-K guy, even if you transplanted Davey's brain into him.

  119. JayB - Dec 12, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    I do not see the Nats as the best line up or pitching staff. The moves made by Dodgers clearly make them stronger in aspect of the the game. For this coming year Rizzo has to react and sign ALR and a strong LF Reliever just to keep his team from last year in tact.This is why I was so angry this past year with the we are not going to go for it this year. It is turning out that last year was likely the best shot to win it all they are going to get unless they change their approach. The competition is improving and Nats to date have a weaker roster in my view with out ALR. Jackson and Harren a wash and LH holes in BP put them a step back from last year.Rizzo is not going to be able keep pace and build for the long term. Yes this a far better than 2005-2010…I was there for every game but their chance to win the WS is less now then last year. Given a few injuries in pitching (last year will not repeat itself where everyone was DL free), this team could not even make the playoffs let alone be the best team in the NL. Rizzo should react with force. Sign ADL and Replace LF Pen he let walk away over a few Million Dollars. He is pig headed and it is going to cost them a World Series or two in this window of 2013-2018. It already did last year.

  120. sjm308 - Dec 12, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    JayB – I appreciate your views even though you rarely give Rizzo any credit. I am wondering how it is Rizzo's fault that we did not get to the World Series last year. How is it Rizzo's fault that we had a two run lead in the 9th inning and our closer on the mound and could not hold that lead? How is it Rizzo's fault that the one year the team with the best record does not honestly get home field advantage? How did Rizzo fail us last year when we won more games than any team in Major League Baseball? I realize we are not World Champions but again, where are the details into Rizzo failing to achieve this?

  121. TheManBearPig - Dec 12, 2012 at 10:06 PM

    Gorse, the strikeouts seem to be the only problem with Espi's development as a hitter. Other than the Ks, he's about where Desmond was at the end of his second year, but with more HR. Compare Espi's July, August and September numbers with Desmond's 2001 2nd half – they're pretty similar (each with a +/-.750 OPS. I like Lombo a lot – as a bench player. If Espi's performance is poor enough to justify sitting him or platooning him with Lombo, we should expect to be chasing the Braves in September rather than the other way around.

  122. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 12, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    If Espi's performance is poor enough to justify sitting him or platooning him with Lombo, we should expect to be chasing the Braves in September rather than the other way around.That might well be true, although it's no worse than if he were injured and trying to play through it, I suppose, and they were able to get around that in the case of several players last year. I am hopeful, just not convinced. And FWIW, I don't think he is the same kind of hitter as Ian Desmond. Desmond's problem, actually, was almost the opposite–he was trying to shorten up, when he should have been swinging full out, which is what Davey changed in him, to obvious excellent effect. Danny is just the opposite, at least left-handed–he needs to relax, quit trying to hit six-run home runs, and go with the pitch more. IMO.

  123. JayB - Dec 12, 2012 at 10:14 PM

    Good Questions….Rizzo did not get a top pitcher…he got a .500 pitcher in JAX who helped lose that series as much as anyone….Rizzo did not go a Infield bat to replace the clearly slumping/K machine that was Danny E……Rizzo did not force Johnson to bench said K machine……Rizzo did not spend on a proven closer while knowing Storen would be out most of the year and had not post season experience….Rizzo solution….over use clippard after HROD blew up as we all new he would….he never ever should have been a part of any WS winning effort. Finally Rizzo did not have a plan that benefited the team with SS shut down….he just stuck to a plan that he put in place for a 80-81 team from the year before. He never changed course from we are not trying to win this year….that cost them big.

  124. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 12, 2012 at 10:22 PM

    Back to the original focus of this post, it's worth mentioning that the Braves appear likely to make one more significant move this offseason. They are looking to acquire either a LF or a 3B. Because Martin Prado can play either position, they'll go for the best pick-up they can get and then use Mr. Prado where they need him after that acquisition. It's unclear how much they're willing to spend (in cash or in a trade), but from reading their beat writer, MLBTradeRumors, and the like, it seems pretty clear that we should expect the Braves to have one more above-average player in their line-up for 2013.

  125. JayB - Dec 12, 2012 at 10:22 PM

    Example of what winning GM's do….Giants go out and get players who fill holes they have and pay them…..they win World Series. No Pence, no Marco…no win

  126. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 12, 2012 at 10:24 PM

    Doesn't most of that relate to the regular season, wherein they won 98 games, most in MLB, not the playoffs, which they lost for lack of one pitch from Storen?They didn't lose because of the lack of green, they lost because of an excess of it. Inexperience, not cheapness. And I can just see Rizzo telling Davey who to play. Yeah, that could happen.

  127. UnkyD - Dec 12, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    I notice that most of the proposed lineups have im at cleanup. He'd be terrific at cleanup, but he'll likely be the best hitter on the team, still, and that guyis often at #3. How bout dis:1)Span2)Werth3)Zim4)Morse/Adam5)Bryce6)Desi7)Catcher8)EspiStill breaks up the L/R, sufficiently, no?

  128. Don - Dec 12, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    Nice breakdown of the contenders in the NL (and you could argue that clubs like the Brewers and Bucs, though not world beaters by any means, are not going to roll over either). Walt Jocketty might be the best GM in the game. The Reds have put together quite a club over the last few years and they have young stars locked up for a long time and without spending like mad to do it.

  129. TheManBearPig - Dec 12, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    "I think inserting Span and moving Harper to a corner outfield position strengthens the entire outfield defense."Well, JD, there we agree. Where we disagree is that Span's overall contribution, offense and defense, will be more valuable than Morse's would be. I'm not going to continue to try to convince you (life would be less interesting if we all agreed on everything), and it's a moot point in any event – the Nats already have Span and they almost certainly won't have Morse as a LF, although Morse at 1b seems like a pretty good possibility. His value in that position will probably be greater than his value as a LF – he'll probably hit better (his OPS was better than 1.000 while playing 1b in 2011) and his biggest defensive limitation, range, shouldn't be a problem.

  130. TheManBearPig - Dec 12, 2012 at 10:47 PM

    Gorse, I agree with you regarding the differences between Espi and Desmond. My point was just that Espi showed improvement in the second half of his second year that was similar to Desmond's at the same point in his career. I think (and hope) Espi's July, August and September are a good indication of what we'll see in 2013. If he can cut down on the Ks, that will be a bonus.

  131. John C. - Dec 12, 2012 at 10:50 PM

    [Rizzo] just stuck to a plan that he put in place for a 80-81 team from the year before. He never changed course from we are not trying to win this year….that cost them big.JayB, we will never, ever know whether any of those moves you cite cost the team anything, because the only option we know about is what actually happened. It's always easy to argue "what if" because it is, by definition, irrefutable. And meaningless. FWIW, signing EJax was a "win now" move; sticking to a plan from an 80-81 team would have meant Lannan was the 5th starter. Brad Lidge was also a "win now" move that didn't work out. The dirty little secret of baseball is that not all "win now" moves actually end up helping the team in the short term or long term.Finally Rizzo did not have a plan that benefited the team with SS shut down….I'm not sure whether this is complaining about the shutdown or the planning around it. I'm guessing the latter; I've never seen any supposed "plan" for SS that keeps the innings limit in place that doesn't create more problems than it solves. The Braves left about 35 Medlen innings on the table, six or so starts that could have put them in front of the Nats heading down the stretch. They did have Medlen for the Wild Card game. They lost anyway. Which could just as easily have happened to the Nats even if the Nats had gotten the "top pitcher" that met with your approval.Rizzo did not go a Infield bat to replace the clearly slumping/K machine that was Danny E……Rizzo did not force Johnson to bench said K machine……Rizzo did not get an infield bat? For starters, as you note, he would have had to overrule DJ on the lineup even if he got one. DJ's history says that is not such a good idea. And if you'll recall, Danny actually picked it up in the second half; July (.300/.330/.490) and August (.259/.331/.420) were his best months. By the time he slumped again, the trade deadline AND the playoff roster deadline had passed. At that point a new player couldn't have helped in the playoffs. And the Nats finished with the best record (and #1 seed in the playoffs) even with Espinosa, so picking up the new player on waivers as Espinosa slumped in September would not have benefitted the team.Rizzo did not get a top pitcher…he got a .500 pitcher in JAX who helped lose that series as much as anyone….Ah, yes the "top pitcher" and "proven closer" argument. They always sound great in the abstract – "go get one." But when you hit reality – which pitcher? What closer? What do you have to give up? – things kind of melt away. But not for the internet commentator/fan. Did the Reds not go "all in" for the season? They lost. The Cardinals? They lost, too. The Phillies went "all in" in a huge way in 2011, as did the Brewers. They BOTH lost.I know that if you, I, or any number of commentators on this board had just been running the Nats last year they would have done much better than merely winning 98 games and pushing the defending WS champions to the brink of defeat in a five game series. But cut Davey some slack – as a ML manager, he is automatically one of the 30 dumbest people in the world. And cut Rizzo some slack – as a ML general manager, he's one of the next 30 dumbest people in the world. You can tell because any of us could easily have done a better job. At least in our own minds :D

  132. Section 222 - Dec 12, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    Kilgore's post on Davey's speech today is great. Worth a look. From that piece:“'Next year is going to be my last year and I’m going to go out with my fourth World Series ring,' said Johnson, ending his near 90-second acceptance speech, walking immediately off the stage to more applause."

  133. JayB - Dec 12, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    They lost because of JAX, Danny, and Burned up Clippard and a green Storen who had been for months. They lost because Rizzo refused to be flexible and set up a run at it all….teams that fill holes like Danny win. Teams who will holes like shutting down your best pitcher win….Rizzo did nothing to set up the team to win in Oct.More importantly he is saving a few bucks on ALR and LH Pen while other teams are getting better…..a lot better in the Reds and Dodgers case.

  134. UnkyD - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    JayB…..(shakes his head….)….

  135. flynnie - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    JayB said… Rizzo should react with force. Sign ADL and Replace LF Pen he let walk away over a few Million Dollars. He is pig headed and it is going to cost them a World Series or two in this window of 2013-2018. It already did last year. December 12, 2012 4:45 PM JayB, I assume you mean ALR and the left handed relief pitching. I think you're right about Rizzo. He had Stras and Harper handed to him. And I, too, disagree with his handling of the closer. Storen was not settled in from his injury. Davey was in such back pain that he removed himself from the dugout before the playoffs. Just letting Storen stay our there after he walked Molina and Freese, with the red-hot Descalso and Kozma coming up is inexplicable. Storen was allowed to blow a two run lead and allow two more! Davey had no one in the pen! Back pain? Pills to relieve back pain? A senior moment? I also think Lannan should've been given a shot at the Cards, who were a fast-ball hitting squad. With the Dodgers and their Wealth of Caesar, the Phillies (Holliday-Hamels-Lee-Kendrick) and the Braves, I don't like our chances as much as last year.

  136. MicheleS - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:15 PM

    MLB Network is showing highlights of the Angels press conference. I wish Sean the best of luck (and thankfully he is in the AL)

  137. sjm308 - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:15 PM

    JayBWho is your choice to lead our Nationals to the promised land?You sat through the dim years, who do you think could do a better job?I like Rizzo but don't really know who is out there.

  138. alexva - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:23 PM

    Clippard in playoffs 3.0 IP, 1H, 1BB, 5K, that's burned up? after a while it's stops being an argument and just becomes noise.

  139. flynnie - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:26 PM

    JayB said… They lost because of JAX, Danny, and Burned up Clippard and a green Storen who had been for months. They lost because Rizzo refused to be flexible and set up a run at it all….teams that fill holes like Danny win. Teams who will holes like shutting down your best pitcher win….Rizzo did nothing to set up the team to win in Oct.More importantly he is saving a few bucks on ALR and LH Pen while other teams are getting better…..a lot better in the Reds and Dodgers case. What he said. But, as the excellent Chase Hughes wrote, in Vegas Likes Nats for World Series, the Nats and Dodgers are tied for 1st at 17-2; Braves and Phillies 10th at 16-1. But the site referred to had the Phillies winning the Series in 2012. http://www.csnwashington.com/baseball-washington-nationals/talk/vegas-likes-nats-world-series

  140. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:28 PM

    I see JayB is flush with the Holiday Spirit.

  141. JayB - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:30 PM

    It is not as much who you go get as it is keeping who you had. Failing to bring back ALR and LH Pen arms…..just to save some money…..very pig headed…..very Rizzo….Replace Danny with anyone at all including Lombo and you have improved the team. Danny killed Nats in Sept and Oct….and yes Rizzo tells Davey….if you do not sit him I send him back to AAA….

  142. flynnie - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:37 PM

    I think "burned up Clippard" doesn't just refer to playoff numbers, alexva. It means Davey didn't dare let him close after what he'd seen the last few weeks of the season. Davey was content to allow Storen to set up until Clip burned out. So what were his options with the NLCS against the Giants in his grasp? Two run lead, top of the 9th, two out. Where do you turn when your closer can't throw strike three? It's Rizzo's job to stock the pantry. I would not be complainting about that inning if Davey had made a change – JZimm, Mattheus, Gonzalez, ANYBODY! I was screaming, "PULL HIM! PULL HIM!" I knew Storen was done. That may be the closest this team gets to the Series in 32 more years, when people will be quoting Boswell like they now quote Shirley Povish.

  143. Gonat - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:39 PM

    NatsJack, if JayB said it beforehand then fine but you can't say in hindsight "shoulda".I said it beforehand that I would have chosen Lannan over EJax and Lombo in front of Danny.

  144. Oldguy - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:39 PM

    I am going to revisit a post I made a while back. It was in the November blog "Go For Broke in 2013?" almost at the end. I said that it's very hard to win a world series, that it requires many things, including lots of luck. Here's part of it:Eight teams have never won a World Series. Nine other teams have only won one or two. The Cubs won both of theirs in 1907 in 1908. The Phillies have won two in 130 years. The Indians have won two, but their last one was 64 years ago. The White Sox, who have won three, won in 2005, but their previous win was in 1917. The Royals won theirs in 1985, the Diamondbacks in 2001 and the Angels in 2002. None of them have come close since. There have been some very good teams that did not win the WS. The collective record of the last 4 teams to go to their first World Series is 2-16.Here's paragraph from Boz: "Few World Series winners reach their goal without several colossal disappointments. The 1976-to-’83 Orioles blew a three-games-to-one World Series lead; won 97 and 100 games and didn’t even make the playoffs; missed the ALCS on the last day of the season; and required eight years of beating their heads against walls to win the ’83 Series."The Red Sox probably lost the 1946 series (which I remember) because Ted Williams got hit on the elbow four days before it started and could barely swing a bat.You can put all your eggs in one basket, but those eggs are awful fragile.

  145. flynnie - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    JayB – One thing I think might happen is that Espi will get better with one more year of play. Mike Trout 40 games in 2011: .220. 2012: .326, All-Star, Silver Slugger, AL ROY. Desmond got better the more he played, and I'm hoping the same for Espi.

  146. John C. - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    More importantly he is saving a few bucks on ALR and LH Pen while other teams are getting better…..a lot better in the Reds and Dodgers case.Dear God, how much money is this team going to have to spend before the "Nats R CHEEP" meme finally dies a long overdue death? They signed Werth, inked Strasburg and Harper to record breaking contracts, threw money at draft choices hand over fist until MLB got sick of it and changed the rules on them. They signed Zimmerman and Gio to huge contract extensions, and dropped $10 million on EJax last year and $13 million on Haren this year. And still it's not enough. Attack the moves for being dumb if you want, but the Nationals aren't a penny-pinching outfit.And that points up the fact that Rizzo isn't in the negotiations with ALR to try to pinch pennies; Rizzo has solid grounds to decide that he has better baseball options than to invest in LaRoche for three years. These include the wagon train of talent lined up at first base, from Morse through Moore to Skole (and poor Chris Marrero – remember him?). Heck, the cheap move would have been to not make an offer at all – just pocket the draft pick and put Morse at 1b. That's not what they are doing. They have made a substantial two year offer that will quite likely be the best offer that LaRoche gets. Remember, his last good season he became a free agent and couldn't get a decent offer; he went to the Nats as the last team standing.Frankly, I'm astonished that they are putting so much into the pursuit of ALR; at his age (33), I am deeply skeptical that he will produce at anywhere near the level that he did last year, and think that adding a third year would create a real risk of an albatross contract. Nor, given the volatility of relief pitchers, am I surprised that the Nationals didn't essentially put 3 years and nearly $13 million into the Sean Burnett pot. Chasing last year's results is a dumb way to put a team together, and that goes many times over for bullpen arms. As Branch Rickey (look him up; he knew more about baseball than anyone on this board) once said "I'd rather trade a player one year too early than one year too late."

  147. flynnie - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    Boz apologizes for Davey's game 5 top of the 9th. Phil Wood and Mike Wallace say that if Davey had it to do over, he'd have pitched Mattheus for Jackson, then Clip and Store with Gonzalez, who gets ready quickly, to get the final out which eluded Storen. And you walk Kozma to make Matheny pull Jason Motte, who mowed down Werth, Harper and Z'man.

  148. MicheleS - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:54 PM

    John C: Word!

  149. JayB - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:55 PM

    I agree on the game 5 Davey Melt down….said it then and often…ask anyone :) Davey lost that game….Rizzo lost the chance to win WS the month before.

  150. JayB - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:59 PM

    3yr for ALR or Sean B….how is that an albatross contract….you eat the money and trade him if you do not want him….better than Wang wasted $ (John L too)

  151. DaveB - Dec 13, 2012 at 12:18 AM

    The one point of JayB's that I agree with is that the Nats should be prepared to act at the trade deadline this year to fill any holes that develop. I like the team we have now (with either Morse or ALR, either Danny or Lombo), but mainly worry about the inevitable injuries or slumps that will occur. Last year there was little need at the deadline, as the injuries occurred early and people were coming back by the time July came around. The spots JayB thinks are weak now (e.g., Danny) might well surprise (just like the bench was a huge pleasant surprise despite his complaints about it last spring), but Rizzo needs to "keep some dry powder" to be able to respond if problems develop, and I think he is flexible enough to do that.

  152. flynnie - Dec 13, 2012 at 12:23 AM

    Gotta go – thanks for the stirring discussion, folks! Group therapy for that Game 5 – I'll need some more sessions.

  153. JayB - Dec 13, 2012 at 12:24 AM

    Rizzo flexible…….examples please?

  154. DaveB - Dec 13, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    Rizzo flexible:1. Signed EJax after he had said that the rotation was complete.2. Brought up Bryce earlier than he planned when injuries occured.3. Got Suzuki, despite an expensive contract, when Flores was struggling

  155. Alphabet Soup Erik - Dec 13, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    No team has ever won a World Series without a Hall of Famer (usually in their prime) on the roster…and most teams had more than one. Hopefully that will be Strasburg and Harper for the Nats, but I don't think either is in their prime quite yet, so the Nats may be still a year or two away. Getting pretty sick of reading about how much "luck" is involved in the playoffs…that is complete BS in my opinion. The Yankees and Cardinals couldn't have been that "lucky". Sure, some luck is involved…but great teams will win 2+ World Series. If the goal is to be very good, then luck will have to play a much bigger role. Great teams (Made at least 3 World Series in an 8 year span):Yankees 1923-28 (Won 3) (Lost 1)Yankees 1936-43 (Won 6) (Lost 1)Cardinals 1942-46 (Won 3) (Lost 1)Yankees 1949-58 (Won 7) (Lost 1)Dodgers 1959-1966 (Won 3) (Lost 2)Orioles 1966-71 (Won 2) (Lost 2)A's 1972-74 (Won 3)Reds 1970-76 (Won 2) (Lost 2)A's 1988-90 (Won 1) (Lost 2)Braves 1991-99 (Won 1) (Lost 4)Yankees 1996-2000 (Won 4)Cardinals 2004-2011 (Won 2) (Lost 1)With the young talent on this team, I would have to think that being on this list should be the goal. I don't see a lot of luck on this list.

  156. JayB - Dec 13, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    Harper earned his spot on the team in Spring Training….Rizzo had a plan to keep in in minors to save a year on the FA clock…..that was the plan and it stuck to it. Flexible would have been break camp with the best players….Harper was that clearly…instead plan was AAAA type instead of Harper.Suzuki contract is not bigEjax signing….who cares…his plan was not to allow Lannan to make team….he earned and he did not make it….Point of view is everything….your examples tell me Pig Headed not flexible…I understand you see it differently.

  157. MicheleS - Dec 13, 2012 at 12:57 AM

    Everyone needs to step back, rest your weary souls and watch the 121212 concert. It will do you some good (especially the cynical among us). It's starting with BRUUUUUUUUUUUUCCEEEEE!

  158. Joe Seamhead - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:04 AM

    A while back the Phillies gave Ryan Howard a five year, $125 million dollar contract tying him to Philly until 2017. How's that working out for them? Just saying.

  159. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:06 AM

    Observation: From about 4:45 p.m. (EST) onward, the discussion here has been couched in very specific terms (e.g., game five of last year's NLDS, Adam LaRoche's potential contract length, Danny Espinosa's skills) but it's really about the Nats' underlying philosophy. Because, from where the Nats are starting talent-wise and contract-wise, they have maybe distinct three options: (1) going 'all in' on winning a World Series in 2013, not worrying much (if at all) about 2014 and beyond; (2) focusing on winning a WS or two while Messrs. Harper, Strasburg, Gonzalez, and Zimmerman are still Nats; (3) building a franchise that's likely to be in the playoffs 7-9 years out of the next decade. In the third case, you assume that the playoffs are a crapshoot and that you maximize your chance of winning a WS by simply getting into the post-season as often as possible. And so the real question is which of those options is going to give you the best chance to win a WS or two (or maybe, just maybe — if you're extremely lucky — three)? My impression (I think it's pretty clear) is that the Lerner family is committed to some version of number two or three; maybe they even see them as a single option. But they're not interested — even given eldest Mr. Lerner's advanced age — in number one. Whether that's Mike Rizzo having convinced them of the rightness of that course or the Lerner family instructing Mr. Rizzo that that's their goal, I don't pretend to know. But if I were the Lerners, I'd be going with number three, accepting the fact that you can't guarantee a WS in any given year, instead seeking to be in the hunt year after year after year. And that means leaving some fans upset in any given year.

  160. flynnie - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:07 AM

    Speaking of the Top of the 9th game 5, Drew Storen, like Chad Cordero, closed in college. Chad had a brilliant, but short career because he had used up his arm in college. Storen had surgery last year. Does Storen need to be traded for his own good, and if you don't think so, remember Donnie Moore, Mitch Williams, Calvin Schiraldi, Bob Stanley, Mark Wohlers, and other closers who lost crucial games? Storen was chosen as the 9th pick in the same draft where the Angels picked Mike Trout at 25.

  161. DaveB - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:08 AM

    So we agree that point of view is everything … I think plan for Harper was for him to show results at AAA (and probably wait avoid Super 2 status), but Rizzo shifted as needed.I think he signed EJax as he determined that he was going to need to shut down SS and developed a plan to adjust (as you suggested he should) … didn't work out as well as hoped, but I give credit for going after itI think Billy Beane disagrees on whether Suzuki's contract was large for his declining numbers …But I enjoy the discourse and definitely prefer taking the more optimistic point of view.

  162. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    Sorry: "…three distinct options:…"

  163. Feel Wood - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:19 AM

    JayB said… Example of what winning GM's do….Giants go out and get players who fill holes they have and pay them…..they win World Series. No Pence, no Marco…no winAt the trade deadline, the Nats were in first place with the best record in baseball (or close to it). They had one hole in their lineup – catcher. Rizzo traded for Suzuki and filled it. They knew they would be shutting down their top pitcher in September. Rizzo had a proven major league starter cooling his heels in AAA to fill that hole. The Nats won the division and finished with the best record in baseball. There is nothing Rizzo could have done to keep them from losing the NLDS after they took it down to the wire, one strike away from winning, in Game 5.JayB is, as usual, full of it. Just a hater, nothing more. Pay him no mind.

  164. Gonat - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:19 AM

    Michele, Woo woo Hoo Hooo and I looking forward to 3 stupid dances on the mound in 2013!

  165. MicheleS - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:27 AM

    Gonat.. I will be on the mound with you WOOO HOOOing all the way! Nats in 2013! World Series and we win it for Davey!

  166. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:27 AM

    Alphabet Soup Erik: I agree with most of what you've written, but would note that you have to distinguish between the ways teams (including your great teams) were put together (and held together) before and after the advent of free agency. And I would also distinguish between teams (where the core stayed together for multiple years) and franchises. And there is some 'luck' (or, perhaps better said, some 'randomness') in there, e.g., the Cardinals' WS win in 2010. Also, you could have included the Cleveland teams of the mid- to late-1990s as a great franchise, which probably should have won another WS or two — they were unlucky or the victims of randomness (the 1997 Marlins).

  167. Gonat - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:40 AM

    This is what makes me nervous with reading about 1 1/3 season lost to injury by the stars last year and that doesn't include Ramos!I think you have to keep Morse and get LaRoche. It won't make Morse happy but there has to be a way to spread the playing time and its a $7 million insurance policy.

  168. Gonat - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said… The key I see for the Nats is HEALTH. The offense still did well last year with all the "sick" days they had: Werth missed 81 games, Morse missed 60 games and was hurt for much of his 102 games, Desi missed 32 games and Zim missed 27 games and was also hurt for many of the 145 games he played in. Also consider Bryce's callup, that Bryce didn't appear in 23 games.That's a total of 223 games not played in by star players which is the equavilent of losing a star player for 1 full season plus 37%. Also consider that Ramos had 137 games missed although you factor catchers around 30+ games anyway but still significant as the replacement players until Suzuki got going was an offensive drain.________________________________I meant to reference SteveM's earlier post. Blown away seeing that in context.

  169. Feel Wood - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:02 AM

    @AdamKilgore Davey says he's received "positive signs" from Rizzo that LaRoche will re-sign before Christmas.Interesting how a week ago Davey was personally going to do whatever it took to get ALR to sign a contract. He was going to drag all the cattle in the world to Florida in order to get LaRoche.Now he's content to wait on Rizzo, who seems to be the picture of disinterest in LaRoche. Looks like Davey's getting the message that LaRoche won't be back.

  170. natsfan1a - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:23 AM

    Wasn't sure where the MLB marketing email containing the following phrase was going at first, but it turned out to be merely dopey rather than creepy. Heh."Download Wrapp and hit a ho, ho homerun this holiday season!"

  171. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:28 AM

    does anyone know how to find out league average number for following data: K%, BB%, BB/K, Pitches/PA.right now I am using simple mean (as league average) for all players data just to see those with extreme P/PA (excluding IBB) what their particular ratios are. Likely to be high K or high walk guys I suppose.

  172. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:41 AM

    one dilemma is who should I include: I was restricting to players with 500 PA but problem is that is giving me only 9 players with WAR less than or equal to zero so it is not exactly league average habits I am capturing that I was hoping. I don't want to drop PA criteria down too low. what should be the reasonable PA cutoff?

  173. Scooter - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:01 AM

    Faraz, it strikes me that you could compute your first three numbers from the league totals in less than a minute.

  174. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    Faraz: That's all calculated for you, I believe. Look to the bottom of the list.

  175. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:28 AM

    What are you trying to find out? If you restrict it to players with lots of PA, by definition those should be the better players, or they wouldn't be playing so much. Are you trying to eliminate all the bench guys, injury replacements, guys on the bubble whose bubble burst, guys on the AAA shuttle, September callups? I suppose you could look at guys who appeared in X # of games, as opposed to using plate appearances. What are you trying to do?

  176. Scooter - Dec 13, 2012 at 4:04 AM

    Faraz, I guess I glossed over your second paragraph; I just re-read, and now I better understand what you're going for. Read When Samples Become Reliable, and use that to make a judgment as to where to set your cutoff. If I'm understanding you right, I'd suggest that 150 plate appearances sounds reasonable.Again, if you want a true league average — i.e., an average for the league — just use league totals for strikeouts, walks, plate appearances, and such.

  177. Scooter - Dec 13, 2012 at 4:15 AM

    Don't say I never did anything for you: here are the total pitches thrown in MLB in 2012. Also MLB average pitches per PA. There are similar pages specifically for the AL and the NL, if that's what you want.

  178. Scooter - Dec 13, 2012 at 4:20 AM

    Fun fact: looking at league totals, I noticed that pitchers faced 98,206 batters, while batters had 98,063 plate appearances. Is there any way a "batter faced" could not qualify as a PA? My best guess is, if two pitchers face the same batter (replaced mid-at-bat), both pitchers get a "batter faced." Anyone else?

  179. Scooter - Dec 13, 2012 at 4:21 AM

    fin

  180. sjm308 - Dec 13, 2012 at 4:27 AM

    Excellent reading as I return from the Maryland Basketball game. I can infer that JayB will never give Rizzo credit for any of our success. Flynie is still reeling from game 5 and is not a fan of Rizzo either but my question still went unanswered. No one can name another GM that would have done what Rizzo has done since taking over from Mr. Leather Pants. I agree that everyone makes mistakes and it is so easy to sit back at your computer with hindsight and make all the right moves but Mr. Rizzo and Davey and all our players led us to the best season I have ever seen. It did not end the way we hoped but what a great year and yet some people still bitch. Just amazing to me. I hope to be dancing with MicheleS and Gonat in 2013 but as long as we are competitive and have a shot, I am a happy man.Go Nats!!

  181. sjm308 - Dec 13, 2012 at 4:30 AM

    Gonat – you realize that by talking about keeping both Morse and LaRoche you join me in a very small and what NatsLady and others have called unreasonable group. Welcome to my dream!!Go Nats!!

  182. JayB - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Many of you know I am a Rizzo fan. He is a great GM. He has a blind side that I believe is going to prevent them from winning a World Series. He has built a team and will continue to build a team that will be in the hunt for playoffs year after year….think Pirates of the Bonds years….but he is too stubborn to make the moves needed to put them over the top in any single year. Last year he clearly did not intend to win it all and that came across loud and clear all year and even at the end. We all knew in July that this team had over achieved (hell yes it was fun!) and that the starting pitching health and skill level could not keep it up….and it did not. We all knew Danny E. was a huge hole not matter where you hit him in the line up and as playoff pitching with advanced scouting can to bare he was headed to that 2-25 with 17 k's or whatever it turned out to be. I know I though this and very likely said so but if not so be it…..I know I wanted big moves at July 31 and I know I was looking at Pen, Starter and Infield.Rizzo is a great GM and has built a good team. League is moving past him as he struggles even keep key players. Without ALR at first this team makes an additional 25 errors. Without his bat on the LH side….this line up is not balanced at all. Cost of ALR…and single extra year that you could eat if and trade him to Houston anytime. Do I love this team….clearly…Do I enjoy watching this team yes. Do I think Rizzo is doing whatever it takes to win a WS…no.

  183. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    JayB… Winning a World Series is a crapshoot. Being a perrenial team that let's you shoot craps is the goal.Please understand that.

  184. Gonat - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Good morning JayB

  185. Gonat - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Good morning NatsJack

  186. Gonat - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    sjm308 said… Gonat – you realize that by talking about keeping both Morse and LaRoche you join me in a very small and what NatsLady and others have called unreasonable group. Welcome to my dream!!Go Nats!! December 12, 2012 11:30 PM _________________________________After reading about the "star" injuries last year I changed my mind. I'm blown away by all the combined injuries and when you look at replacement WAR, the team was significantly weakened.Morse and Zim were both not even fully healthy the whole season and as we know, Desi was playing with that oblique issue almost the entire season.Its amazing that we had players gutting it out like that. Morse not only had his "lat" issue but also got hit on his wrist and hand and Zim had the AC joint issue.LaRoche and Bryce were probably the 2 healthiest players in 2012.

  187. JayB - Dec 13, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    Good Morning Boys,I do understand that winning WS does have luck involved and I agree that getting into the game is the most important thing.I also believe that the more talent and experience you have in the game gives you better odds of winning it all. I believe when you go into the playoffs you need make sure known problem area's that are likely to get exposed need to be addressed.Last year Danny automatic out wit a K no less was not addressed. SS shut down with AJAX as the replacement in a short series was not addressed. Pen with no closer who you could trust (been there done that type)…..not addressed.This off season Rizzo is just building ill will with ALR…pay the man for 3 years….use him for two and lets get this team moving forward.Side Rizzo issue….he falls in love with a high risk project like Wang and is blind the realities. Rizzo will run into a wall over and over and over again…..because he can not admit he was wrong. All GM's are wrong….WS winning GM's make course corrections much faster. HROD is the new Wang.

  188. Gonat - Dec 13, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    JayB, Davey/Rizzo choice was either Lannan or EJax for the 3rd starter. EJax didn't do what he was brought here for and that's why Rizzo didn't try to retain him for 2013. It was Davey, not Rizzo who used EJax in the relief appearance in Game 5 which was an odd move.Choices at 2nd were Lombo or Espi. It was Davey, not Rizzo, who sets the lineup.Closer? Storen was doing great down to the end. I can't fault Davey or Rizzo on this one.

  189. Gonat - Dec 13, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    Buster Olney ‏@Buster_ESPN Over the last week, have heard compliments from other teams about the way that the Cubs are methodically rebuilding, from the ground up. ______________________________Watch how long it takes the Cubs to get competitive and compare that to how Rizzo got the Nats to where they are 1 year ahead of schedule. Nobody in their right mind with all the injuries sustained would think the Nats could've done what they did.Then you look at the Royals who have blundered so many top picks and they aren't alone in that category.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 71 53 --
ATLANTA 66 60 6.0
MIAMI 63 62 8.5
NEW YORK 59 68 13.5
PHILADELPHIA 55 71 17.0
Through Tuesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Diamondbacks at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Diamondbacks at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
FRI: Giants at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Giants at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Giants at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Phillies, 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.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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

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