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MLB Rumors: Around the N.L. East

Dec 23, 2012, 1:00 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today Images

Washington Nationals

The Nationals and Adam LaRoche continue to talk, but how close they are is hard to tell. If there really is a Christmas deadline then we should see something go down in the next few days. It is, though, a self-imposed deadline at the end of the day.

In their search for a left-handed reliever, J.P. Howell is still out there and mutual interest is said to exist. But right now, half-way through the offseason, Howell is the best lefty reliever still available on the free agent market.  He’s also just 29 and probably wants a multi-year deal.

Earlier this week it was reported that five teams are looking into Howell and that could drive the price up. If Howell’s demands are too high, the Nats’ need for a lefties in the bullpen could be solved whenever the first base situation is settled via trade.

Another lefty possibility is Mike Gonzalez who had a comeback year of sorts in Washington in 2013, but the Reds are also interested. This was reported by Jim Bowden who knows both organizations very well.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phils may be looking to add a familiar face in Raul Ibanez, a member of their team from 2009-11. They are the only National League team being linked to the 40-year-old so it would seem like an outside possibility he signs with his former team. Ibanez is probably best served as a designated hitter at this point in his career.

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  1. Joe Seamhead - Dec 23, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    I read that Raul Ibanez signed with Seattle. The Phillies have improved, but the outfield of Ruf, Revere great glove but a noodle arm, and the platoon of Mayberry and Brown is a pretty mediocre defensive outfield. The Ruf kid can flat out crush the ball though.Thanks for a new posting, Mark!GYFNG!!!

  2. Gonat - Dec 23, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    Joe Seamhead, I can only hope that the scouts will find the holes in Ruf's game. He did look like Babe Ruf for a while. The strange thing is the Phillies don't even seem to be sold on him as the rumors swirl that they want another LF.

  3. Gonat - Dec 23, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Interesting to read about Hairston who is another butcher with the glove. In 773 innings last year his UZR was a -2.4At 33 years old he will probably continue to lose range.As a pinch-hitter against LHP, he was excellent.

  4. hiramhover - Dec 23, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    GonatHairston is no defensive gem, but "butcher" seems a bit harsh. His UZR/150 was slightly negative: -4.9 last year. Morse, by comparison, was -16 last year.

  5. Gonat - Dec 23, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    hiramhover, Hairston was a -20.2 UZR/150 in 2011. He will regress.

  6. Gonat - Dec 23, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    hiramhover, I saw him make mis-reads on balls that went over his head. Those don't show up as errors and he had a + error rating which makes the overall UZR look better. He's just not a good outfielder. I made no comparisons to Morse, you did.My first post was simply to Mark's talking about all the interest in him and to point out he is not a good fielder and will probably also regress given his age.Not sure why anyone pointing out another outfielder's defense has to immediately draw a comparison to Morse.

  7. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 23, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    Ruf strikes me as the sort of OF who needs to wear a batting helmet when he jogs out to his position.

  8. MicheleS - Dec 23, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    Sorry, but this is a HOLY BLEEPIN! Contract for SwisherMark Feinsand‏@FeinsandNYDNBREAKING: Nick Swisher has agreed to a four-year, $56 million deal with the Indians. Vesting $14M option for a 5th year could make it $70M.

  9. MicheleS - Dec 23, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    and this still is the reason that Adam hasn't gone to another team:Buster Olney‏@Buster_ESPNThe draft-pick compensation really hurt Nick Swisher's free agency. BOS, TEX would have been natural fits otherwise; instead,he goes to CLE.

  10. Gonat - Dec 23, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    MicheleS, yep, huge deal and they will be disappointed in what they get out of him. He played much better in NY then before he got there and most of that was due to you couldn't pitch around him in that Murderers Row they had.If Cleveland is looking for him to be a star and carry that team, I don't think so. I'm sure he will be good, just not great.

  11. hiramhover - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    GonatThat 2011 figure came in all of 193 innings. In 2010 in 655 innings with the Pads, he was -1.6 UZR. Put the three together, and you get something like -5 UZR/150.So, like I said: he's not a good OF. He's somewhat below average. But "butcher" ought to be reserved for something worse than that.

  12. rogieshan - Dec 23, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    We are seeing the new, mandatory spending limits in the MLB draft having a direct impact on free-agent signings. Teams are now reluctant to forfeit their high draft picks because the system implemented (assigned value to each pick in the first 10 rounds and team pool limits-penalty)makes it nearly impossible for high-end talent to 'slide' into later rounds. The days of premium prospects falling into the lap of teams like the Yankees are over.

  13. JamesFan - Dec 23, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    Trading for a lefty reliever does not make much sense to me unless the trade is for a low minor league player(s). Trading a potential or real regular for a relieve makes no sense.

  14. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 23, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    Well, they got Burnett for Hanrahan. For Stanton some years back, they got 2 guys you never heard from again, from Boston. So it varies. Even one year of Morse should get, well, a strong package.

  15. Joe Seamhead - Dec 23, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    Michael Morse had a kaleidoscope of injuries last year, starting with his shoulder, then his hamstring, then his wrist and hand. He was the slowest he has ever looked in the outfield. I'm not saying Morse was ever a very good outfielder, but he did go from Aug 15, 2005 until June 30th, 2011 without being charged with one error. That was 214 games, 764 chances and four different positions played during that time. That's not chopped liver, folks. He may not be pretty, but he also wasn't as ugly as some, but, he historically got the job done. I also question some advanced stats that were quote last spring that said Morse was a much worse first baseman than Adam Dunn. I hear crap like those stats and I have little confidence in many defensive "advanced stats."As to Ruf, he stinks in the outfield, but his natural position is blocked by the guaranteed contract of Ryan Howard at first base. Ruf did crush the ball everywhere, at every level that he played last year, all the way through winter ball.If he continues to hit like that somebody will find a place for him.

  16. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 23, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    I remember Jerry Hairston for this DP: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=15404933&c_id=mlbWhat a wonderful play by everyone involved! Even chase utley who tried his best to take Hairston.

  17. sm13 - Dec 23, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Lot's of strange FA signings this winter. Swisher for a potential $70m for a non-contender — that is beyond reason. Cody Ross for 3 years to AZ, which has a surplus of outfielders — seems nonsensical. I'm glad that we've stayed out of that mess. Let's hope the LaRoche thing settles one way or the other in the next few days, so we our '13 team is settled.

  18. sjm308 - Dec 23, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    not a huge deal but thanks CHASE for the two new posts

  19. natsfan1a - Dec 23, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Thanks, sjm. I was about to point that byline out. :-)

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 96 66 --
ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
NEW YORK 79 83 17.0
MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE

NL WILD CARD GAME
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)

NLDS
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
*if necessary

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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