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Most significant moments: The shutdown

Dec 27, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT

USA Today Sports Images
Stephen Strasburg was forced to watch the season's final month from the dugout.

As we count down the final five days of 2012, we're also counting down the Nationals' five most significant moments of the year. It all culminates on Dec. 31 with your vote for the most significant moment of 2012. But first, we begin with Moment No. 5: The shutdown of Stephen Strasburg…

Everyone knew it was coming. Mike Rizzo had made it clear as far back as Sept. 2011, saying the Nationals would hold Stephen Strasburg to an innings limit the following year, shutting him down before season's end.

Nobody, though, could have known just how big a deal the Strasburg Shutdown would become, perhaps the biggest story in baseball through late-summer and early-September.

And when it finally occurred on Sept. 8, with manager Davey Johnson pulling the plug sooner than the club initially planned, reactions and emotions ran the full spectrum, starting with the player at the center of all the hubbub.

"I don't know if I'm ever going to accept it, to be honest with you," Strasburg said hours after learning of the decision. "It's somethingRead more »

146 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. MicheleS - Dec 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    And the best news about this, it's not happening in 2013. Hope to see Stephen live up to all his potential this year.

  2. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 27, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    don't think there was any way to avoid that. and those of us who SS more often than national writers, saw that he was kind of going back and forth between good and bad starts later in the season. Like Michele, no need to worry about that in 2013.

  3. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Another significant moment: new batting practice caps (with ratings). :)first-look-new-mlb-batting-practice-capshttp://espn.go.com/blog/playbook/fandom/post/_/id/16228/first-look-new-mlb-batting-practice-caps

  4. stublues33 - Dec 27, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    My two thoughts are that there was a great difference between Nats fans (especially here on NI)and baseball/sports fans in the national media. I think we had all seen how this worked with J. Zim. Also, it engaged the casual or new fan at my work. It was a compelling topic, and I think it combined in an unexpected way with Harper's arrival and the championship level of play create buzz and enlarge the fan base.Complements of the season to one and all here at NI.

  5. baseballswami - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Davey never let JZim go past six last year. More of that with Stras also???

  6. JayB - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    It was a huge impact on the team and playoffs. It did cost them the win. Davey should and likely would have bumped AJAX to pen not Det based on how they were pitching.And yes…I would have done the same thing once they decided not to give him 4 or so skipped starts in July and August. That option might well have been the best. But on this one Rizzo gets a pass from me.

  7. Feel Wood - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    baseballswami said… Davey never let JZim go past six last year. More of that with Stras also???Selective memory on your part. Nine of JZim's 32 starts he went 7 innings or more, 12 times he threw 100 or more pitches. That's in the 30% range, far from never.

  8. 3on2out - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    This was a significant moment for the talking heads and know-nothings throughout country. It was not a significant moment for Nats fans. It was planned well in advance, was based on the best medical advice available, was an established process. (see Zimmermann, J.) And on top of everything else, Strasburg was clearly running on fumes. I know NatsLady was kidding but the new (ugly!) BP caps are more signifcant. Whatever the other four moments are it's hard to imagine any less significant than the "shutdown."

  9. JamesFan - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    Davey tends to hook every starter at 6 innings. That's why our pen needs to be great to win.

  10. Joe Seamhead - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    Mark said:Would Strasburg's presence have changed the outcome of the NLDS? We'll never know.I don't think that there is any question that with a healthy SS the Nats would have gone to the World Series, but to any objective observer it was obvious that his tank was down to fumes in September..I expect Stephen to be an absolute terror to the opposition in 2013.

  11. natsfan1a - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    I'm with Faraz, stublues33, and 3on2out. Every time we talked baseball late last season my younger brother, who follows the White Sox, would bring up the SS shutdown and how it must have the Nats fanbase up in arms. Um, not really, but he was getting a different story from the national media.On another note, nice Times piece on the recent USO tour.

  12. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    Could anyone have missed the uproar over whether Griffin should have been pushed out on the field for Cleveland after damaging his lateral collateral ligament? (Sounds like a Gilbert & Sullivan song.) Exactly the same issue: Play him or risk a career damaging injury. Again sanity prevailed, but in Griffin's case the national media (a good majority) were clamoring for the Redskins to sit him down for Cleveland, and many of them for Philadelphia.Utter, total hypocrisy. And I'm not completely certain why.

  13. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    JayB, it might have been, but not clear. You also have to factor in whether you want Stras to have two months' less offseason rest. In my opinion, those first half wins were a big factor in the Nats NOT being Atlanta and only making it to the play-in game, a game in which Medlen pitched and they still lost. Davey said all along he wanted to win the Division, not "just" get to the postseason. If JZ had won his game, the Nats would have gone to the NLCS. Same for EJax and Storen. There were a lot of chances.

  14. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Theo, right. The irony was not lost on several of the DC writers and many commenters.

  15. baseballswami - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Feel wood- JZim's longer outings must have been first half. Seems that down the stretch Davey did everything he could to conserve his innings. JamesFan-agreed that Davey pulls pitchers quickly. He loves to use the bench for offense and to keep the bullpen involved. I think we must be right up there with bullpen innings. Sometimes people criticize our pitchers for not going deeper into games but it's really just Davey's style. Must have a good bullpen. Wish the ALR/Morse stuff was settled.

  16. Gonat - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    baseballswami said… Davey never let JZim go past six last year. More of that with Stras also??? December 27, 2012 8:00 AM __________________________________That's not true. JZim went into the 7th inning 12 times last year. He never came out for the 8th any time last year. Strangely in 2011 JZim went into the 7th inning and beyond 13 times and even had a complete game 1-0 loss against new Nat Dan Haren in which JZim gave up no earned but took the loss.

  17. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    swami, Red Sox fans are hot for LaRoche, if I am reading blogs and Twitter correctly. They expect him to put up monster numbers (yes, I did that) in Fenway. Numbers like 3/42 and 3/45 are being thrown around. No way Rizzo will match that, with Morse as an alternative and Moore, Marrero, Skole in the pipeline.

  18. JayB - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    Man it sucks….I am just not over the playoff melt down. So many ways to have won that game. How did all of them get missed. Really Davey's lowest moment in baseball. How he does not regret or even re live it now is amazing…..likely why he is a great manager….but I really hope he does learn from mistakes make.

  19. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    I think there were a variety of reasons Johnson pulled his pitchers early: (1) Strasburg's innings limit; (2) G. Gonzalez's control tended to wander later in games; (3) Zimmermann, I think, was being conserved, just like Strasburg, but w/out an innings cap; (4) Jackson, most times, was behind if not lit-up; (5) Detwiler had no experience pitching beyond five innings.Yes, Johnson likes to use his pinch-hitters. But with the starting pitchers he had there wasn't much choice. He wasn't just "keep[ing] the bullpen involved," he was over-using it, and the effects on Burnett, Clippard and the injury-rehabbing Storen showed it at the end of the season.God bless the Cubs; they're going to be self-flagellating themselves before the season is three months old.

  21. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    JayB, I really try not to think about it–but I'm not over it either. It bothers me that three of our best players went down like sheep in the bottom of the ninth, too.

  22. JayB - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    oh stop please…I blocked that part out….such a defeated look in their eyes……not sure if all of them will ever recover….or that they ever had it…..(Drew Storen) (talks a good game but…..)

  23. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    JayB, it's a new year. Jayson is NEVER going to let them forget it. #InJaysonITrust LOL.

  24. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    baseballswami, keep in mind that JZim had shoulder tenderness in June and had arm fatigue in mid-August. He didn't look the same really from August on even though the boxscores looked good.Keep in mind JZim was on SI's CY watchlist in July and finished July with a 2.28 ERA which was 2nd best in the Majors.JZim finished the regular season with 195 2/3.

  25. sm13 - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    I hope this is our last discussion of the Shutdown. Rizzo made the right decision for the long term health of Stras and the franchise. As others have said, it was clear in August and September that Stas was spent. Om April 1, he'll be on the mound at Nats Park expecting to pitch 200+ innings and with his experience in 2012 as his foundation and motivation.

  26. JayB - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    I agree that that is the way to approach it…..talk about it all year…do not push it to the back….point it out in the similar situations in Spring Training, in April and August…..make it so old hat that when time comes again in fall (hoping Oct.) that every last one of them is so sick and angry about hearing it they perform this time.

  27. Don - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    To me, Rizzo blew this one. I understand the logic he employed, but I don't agree with it. Chances to win a World Series do not come around much and God forbid that Stras's arm gets balky anyway despite having been shelved for controversial reasons.

  28. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    My last comment went to SPAM!

  29. natsfan1a - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    Update from MLB Trade Rumors on Red Sox and LaRoche vs. Napoli.

  30. Feel Wood - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    The Orioles can target Morse all they want, but they're not getting him unless and until LaRoche signs with the Nats. And that ain't happening.OTOH if they want LaRoche all they have to do is sign him. That could very well happen.

  31. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    JZ went 7 innings three times in September. Here are his game stats.JZimmermann game loghttp://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=zimmejo02&t=p&year=

  32. JD - Dec 27, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    The idea with JZimm was that Rizzo et. al wanted to keep his innings at around 190. It's not true that once you shut a pitcher down he is limitless the next year. The current philosophy which is pretty much universally followed is that you ramp up your young pitchers gradually. Expect Strasburg to be at around 6 innings most of this year because the Nats will want him to get to 190 comfortably without any shut down discussion; JZimm should be pretty limitless this year and I hope to see a bunch of 8 to 9 inning games from him.

  33. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    I think JZ got a little tired in the heat of late July and August but was better in September. I heard some echoes of players saying they needed to be in better condition for the season this year. Hopefully, that mean they recognize that post-All-Star-Game is IMPORTANT!! What a change from our history…

  34. baseballswami - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    JD – when I started the conversation about JZim, my intent was to point out that even with no innings limit, they won't let any of the younger guys make a huge jump. Watching the games, it seemed to me at the time that Davey was holding JZim back somewhat. Especially as the season wore on.

  35. flynnie - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Would Strasburg have made a difference in the playoffs? Look no further than the clubhouse, where a couple of his teammates, who know better than we, said that with Stras pitching they would have come back from St. Louis up by 2 instead of needing a win to stay alive. The 1st playoff game was a win that didn't look like it was going to happen, with Gio walking batters in the 5th and the Cards up 2-1 until the top of the 8th when the Nats made it 3-2 on 2 unearned runs driven in by Tyler Moore with a Texas League bloop to right. Storen saved that game – barely – starting off with a long fly ball to left that he and I thought was gone. The player's comments were made after they were down 2-1, with the embarrassing shellacking of J. Zimm that ended up 12-4 and EJax that ended up 8-0. I'm not so sure about Stras,but he'd pitched well, 2 hitting them for six innings and shutting them out on Sept. 2. But Gio and EJax pitched well then, too. J.Zimm blew a 4-0 lead and the Cards ended up winning 10-9 on Sept. 1. Looking at Bruce Bochy's decision to pitch Zito, one wonders if Lannan could've beaten the fast-ball hitting Cards. Also, blowing that 6-0 lead is Davey's lowest moment with the Nats, particularly Game 5, top of the 9th.

  36. flynnie - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    JayB said… Man it sucks….I am just not over the playoff melt down. So many ways to have won that game. How did all of them get missed. Really Davey's lowest moment in baseball. How he does not regret or even re live it now is amazing…..likely why he is a great manager….but I really hope he does learn from mistakes make. December 27, 2012 9:08 AM And now we are goint to attempt a repeat with ALR as a Ranger of Red Sox and balls that were outs last year zinging past 1st, resulting in extra outs and fewer Curly W's.

  37. flynnie - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:19 PM

    Ranger OR Red Sox.

  38. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    Flynnie, if I'm reading you correctly, I'm in your camp. Bring ALR back and get that solid infield defense. Maybe not at 3/42, that is extreme. But within reason. Pitchers can feel confident. That is good.

  39. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Also, I hope no one, NO ONE, is going to boo Storen in his first appearance. Best thing we can do is give the guy our support.

  40. Feel Wood - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    If anyone does Booooooooooooooooo Druuuuuuuuuuuuuuu, how would we know?

  41. Theophilus T. S. - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    Any player who said the team would have "come back" with Strasburg is only excusing the rest of the team's failure to perform. Admittedly they would have been better off sending Jackson to Viera but they had plenty of opportunities to win that series and, collectively, blew it.

  42. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said… My last comment went to SPAM! December 27, 2012 9:42 AM thanks for un-spamming!

  43. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    baseballswami said… JD – when I started the conversation about JZim, my intent was to point out that even with no innings limit, they won't let any of the younger guys make a huge jump. Watching the games, it seemed to me at the time that Davey was holding JZim back somewhat. Especially as the season wore on. December 27, 2012 11:04 AM They will have a Stras plan. They probably won't make it public. Have to keep him fresh for the post-season.32 starts averaging 5 1/3 to 5 2/3 sounds about right to keep him under 180 innings.

  44. JayB - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    From J Sickles….OUCH…Rendon has fallen badly and trades have really emptied the farm…..That is why last year was not a oh well we were not trying to win year……and neither is this year…sign ALR and keep Morse….get a LH relief and stop pinching pennies….this is likely the best shot since last year. Which was the best chance…all healthy minus SS.There are 39 players.One Grade B+Four Grade B-Eight Grade C+19 Grade CSeven ungradedSome of the Cs may end up as C+, there are a lot of borderline grades here. I have NOT graded letters G and H.

  45. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Theophilus T. S. said… Any player who said the team would have "come back" with Strasburg is only excusing the rest of the team's failure to perform. Admittedly they would have been better off sending Jackson to Viera but they had plenty of opportunities to win that series and, collectively, blew it. December 27, 2012 11:33 AM The only pitcher who performed as a starter in the post-season was Detwiler. Stras has to take Game 1 which should hopefully take the pressure off of Gio. When Gio isn't relaxed, he can't get his curveball to dance. Its a 'touch' pitch and when he starts nibbling with the fastball, its going to be a long day. He has to add the slider to his repertoire.JZim was over-throwing and didn't have his movement on his pitches and the Cardinals are dead-red fastball hitters. They ate him up.EJax looked intimidated and failed at what many promised was why he was here which was big game pitching. That's why he wasn't brought back.Detwiler was brilliant and looked like the ace of the staff.

  46. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    Feel Wood said… The Orioles can target Morse all they want, but they're not getting him unless and until LaRoche signs with the Nats. And that ain't happening.OTOH if they want LaRoche all they have to do is sign him. That could very well happen. December 27, 2012 9:50 AM Of course they want Morse. Who wouldn't!

  47. Feel Wood - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    JayB said… this is likely the best shot since last year. Which was the best chance…all healthy minus SS.For someone who claims to watch all the games, you sure do miss a lot. Zimmerman either out or underperforming due to injury until he got the cortisone shot at the end of June. Morse out or underperforming for weeks at a time. Desmond out from the ASB into late August. Bench players like DeRosa and Tracy out for weeks or months. HRod's poor performance likely due largely to injury. And the list goes on. Strasburg was by far not the only one with "health problems."

  48. John C. - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    Flynnie, could you point me to where one of the Nats' players (other than maybe Mark DeRosa) said anything about Stras pitching? Not only do I not remember that, I would have been shocked to see a player essentially trash Jordan Zimmermann like that. I am so over the Strasburg shutdown. After carefully thinking through all the alternatives I agree with it; I believe that the Nationals made the best decision that they could among the available options. But either way, let it go or at least just shut up about it. Every time I hear someone say "it would have made a difference, the Nationals would have won" I immediately know that I can safely disregard that person, because they don't know what they are talking about. The most anyone can reasonably say is that it might have made a difference.This is also true about Game 5, by the way. The only thing we know is that the way it played out the Nationals lost. All of the geniuses who know what Davey should have done would be making similar complaints if Davey had done it exactly the way they now advocate – if it hadn't worked. "How can you take your closer out with a two run lead and put [Mattheus, etc] in there? That's why you have a closer, dangit!" "Pull your 20 game winner because he's battling so you can put in [Stammen, Gorzelanny, whoever]? You have to dance with them what brung you!" That's managing 101! He blew it!" That sort of thing. Predictable. And boring.That's baseball, and that was 2012. I'm done with both of those "issues." On to 2013!

  49. JayB - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Zimm is always hurt…that is as good as he gets…..ever….Bench…you know what I think of Rizzo's bench strategies each year…find the cheapest minor league deals for washed up vets you can…..HROD is junk…..over all the health that really matters is starters and that was the best it will ever get.

  50. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    NatsLady said… Flynnie, if I'm reading you correctly, I'm in your camp. Bring ALR back and get that solid infield defense. Maybe not at 3/42, that is extreme. But within reason. Pitchers can feel confident. That is good. December 27, 2012 11:25 AM Pitchers better feel more confident. An outfield of Bryce Harper/Denard Span/Jayson Werth could possibly be the best in the National League and definitely the best the Nats have ever had.This team is upgraded to the best they have ever been on defense even with Morse at 1st base IMO.There has been a Bermuda Triangle in left-center where the Red Porch meets the visitor's bullpen. That area will be well defended now which will cut down on the doubles and triples.Have faith in Rizzo, he knows what he's doing!!!

  51. Alphabet Soup Erik - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Harper/Span/Werth may be the best defensive outfield in the NL, but they could also be one of the worst offensively. Harper is still just 20, so who really knows what he is going to do next year and neither Span nor Werth have any power at all. It will depend on whether or not those two guys can hit .300 with a ton of walks because if they don't, they are not very valuable to this team. Another reason why losing LaRoche or Morse could be very problematic.

  52. John C. - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Bench…you know what I think of Rizzo's bench strategies each year…JayB, the Nationals' bench last year was a key element in their success. Chad Tracy, Roger Bernadina, Steve Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore all were contributors. Nats pinch hitters led MLB in hitting (.288), for cryin' out loud!What do they have to do for you to approve?

  53. Feel Wood - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    Haters gotta hate.

  54. John C. - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    It's amazing to come in here at lunchtime and read the negative comments. You'd never know that objective sources view the Nationals as being in the highest echelon of contenders, that they are the envy of the league for having young, talented, team controlled players across the board. Nope, to the Legion of Doom all is horror and chaos, the team is in disarray, untalented, injury prone, etc. It's amazing. The LoD told us all summer that the Nationals were just terrible, mentally fragile and about to implode. Every month something would happen and the LoD would trot out their expectorations – and the team would disprove them again and again. In a way, having the LoD weighing in already on 2013 is comforting. Given their track record, it's an even more reliable indicator of impending success than Vegas making the Nationals co-favorites. :)

  55. JayB - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    Bench last year did do well in the second half…once Rizzo Vets of DeRosa, Rick A. and Carroll types got pushed aside.Hope if Rizzo does feel he MUST HAVE DeRosa type it is as a new Base Coach or second hitting instructor.

  56. JayB - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    We shall see….competition is much stiffer this year in the NL…..This team may have trouble winning the Wild Card if health of starters does not hold as it did last year.

  57. JD - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    John C. I tried to have this discussion with JayB last year. I asked him who he would have signed for the bench if he were in charge? He offered up Beltran and Cuddeyer; nuf said. Every team signs it's share of Jason Michaels, Mark DeRosa, Xvier Nady (who was BTW on the roster of the world champs last year). Normally you stash these kind of players in AAA to act as sort of a taxi squad to be used in case of injuries. It's not about the money; bench players by definition are inferior to every day players or they would be every day players. The projected bench of: Ramos,Bernadina,Tracy, Moore and Lombo is actually exceptional IMO.

  58. natscan reduxit - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    " … culminates on Dec. 31 with your vote for the most significant moment …"… you don't need to wait any longer. Easily the most significant moment was the sinker Drew S tossed to Descalso in the top of the inglorious ninth.… but like everything else in life, that was not the end of the world. So …Go Nats!!

  59. SCNatsFan - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    I agree with the above; after the season we had I'm amazed at the amount of negativity towards this team in here. As a long suffering Expos fan this offseason has been the easiest one for me (expect for the wait to get back at it); usually it had been looking up the guys we signed because I never heard of them.

  60. Don - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    Well, it is kinda about the money. Werth is not riding the bench, even if Bernadina or Moore out-plays him.

  61. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    DeRosa looked great in Spring Training and got hurt. It was a gamble and didn't pay off. They got rid of Nady and the bench was immediately upgraded and was a strength IMO.We're looking at Ramozuki, Bernie, Lombo, Moore and Tracy. The only question mark is whether Tracy is fully healthy. He was amazing until he hurt his groin last season.

  62. JD - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    'We shall see….competition is much stiffer this year in the NL…..This team may have trouble winning the Wild Card if health of starters does not hold as it did last year.' The same can be said for every team. IMO Atlanta is a rang worse this year ( minus Chipper and Bourne but plus BJ Upton); they also got tremendous starting pitching from Medlen, Beechy, Maholm and Minor in the 2nd half; this will be very tough to repeat and can you imagine if they lose one of their key relievers to injury? Philly is one year older and have replaced Victorino and Polanco with Revere and Young. THe odds of that bunch staying away from the DL arent very good. The Mets and Marlins have worsened substantially (both in full fledged rebuilding modes). I don't want to sound cocky but I have to think that the Nats go into 2013 as fairly solid favorites to win the division. no?

  63. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    SCNatsFan said… I agree with the above; after the season we had I'm amazed at the amount of negativity towards this team in here. As a long suffering Expos fan this offseason has been the easiest one for me (expect for the wait to get back at it); usually it had been looking up the guys we signed because I never heard of them. December 27, 2012 12:45 PM On the negativity scale, this is nothing compared to 'in game' threads.A lot of constructive comments and a few that are pessimistic but I would say if the Braves do nothing else this off-season that the Nats have improved above the Braves.Rizzo has to add 1 lefty to the bullpen and some arms and a couple veterans to AAA and the Nats are ready for Spring Training.I truly expect a MVP type season from Michael Morse and I expect 2013 to be even better for the Nats starting rotation.

  64. Don - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    JayB has a point, though the cynical nature in which it is presented masks it some. The Nats are not going to run away with the NL in 2013; they need to go out and perform. The ball bounces funny ways and clubs can go from worst to first and back again pretty easily. The Angels looked like a lock last winter. The Nats need a healthy Zim, a progressing Harper, an All Star caliber Jayson Werth, the rotation to be dominant, etc. Lots of moving parts. They are beyond doubt a very good club on paper, but they have to play the games and Rizzo has to pay attention to the standings this year and add what might need to be added along the way. We'll see.

  65. Tcostant - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    Stra saga is over, I'm looking foward to next year. Could Rizzo have done somehing different sure; but I think they were disitions that neded to be done earler like starting his season in May or the pen early. But I'm a beliver in the shutdown overll. It is over, looking foiward to a Jzimm liked improvement from Stras and can't wait for 2013. The fact I was able to fill all my season tickjet group slots before the nhew year shows that others can't wait either.

  66. John C. - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    Don said… JayB has a point, though the cynical nature in which it is presented masks it some. The Nats are not going to run away with the NL in 2013; they need to go out and perform.True, but obviously so – so it adds nothing to the conversation. It's going to be true for every team in every season. There is a dream scenario and a nightmare scenario for every team. Suffice it to say that there aren't many teams that wouldn't give their eye teeth to be able to swap their troubles for the Nats right now.

  67. peric - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    I am not in a hurry anymore. I don't care which way it gets resolved now. All the opinions expressed herein show me there will be good and bad with any decision. GYFNG!!!Farid said…I'm thinking it doesn't much matter who will play first for the Nationals. Sure, LaRoche's defense is superb and might add a win or two, but over a 162 game season I'm not sure it would be a difference maker.In the end this whole soap opera is more about Rendon than it is about LaRoche, Morse, and Moore who would all be perfectly fine at first base. But Rendon is a guy Natslady is going to love because he'll come out of the box fielding a whole lot better than Desmond did at short in his first major league season. Can be likened more to Espinosa defensively. And he comes with an offensive approach that always generates a high OBP and 20+ home run power at some point. LaRoche gets 2 years only because they won't have room for him after than. In Morse's case he might just still fit because of the flexibility he has in terms of the positions he can play. But, as Mark pointed out he hasn't exactly been a model when it comes to injuries. And that ladies and germs is likely why he was so interested in the PEDs. Not to give him an edge but to keep him on the field! Seriously!So, I do expect Tyler Moore to be involved in a trade at some point soon once all of the dust has settled. He's clearly more of an impact hitter than Marerro but Marerro fits the bench role. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

  68. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    Don said… JayB has a point, though the cynical nature in which it is presented masks it some. The Nats are not going to run away with the NL in 2013; they need to go out and perform. The ball bounces funny ways and clubs can go from worst to first and back again pretty easily. The Angels looked like a lock last winter. The Nats need a healthy Zim, a progressing Harper, an All Star caliber Jayson Werth, the rotation to be dominant, etc. Lots of moving parts. They are beyond doubt a very good club on paper, but they have to play the games and Rizzo has to pay attention to the standings this year and add what might need to be added along the way. We'll see. December 27, 2012 12:56 PM "…but they have to play the games and Rizzo has to pay attention to the standings this year and add what might need to be added along the way."That part of your post is right on. Add but also addition from subtraction.Rizzo can't play favorites nor can Davey and they may have to hurt some feelings. They may have to sit a guy who isn't performing as well, much like Bochy did with Tim Lincecum who wasn't in their starting rotation but then came up huge out of the bullpen.On my Spring Training watchlist is HenRod, Danny, Tracy and Haren. From there July 31st is the date to see if any holes need to be plugged.

  69. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    What do they have to do for you to approve?Win the World Series no later than April 1.As opposed to the 29 other teams. Well, ok, not the Orioles. But 28 others. Most of the league is above average, you know. Rizzo must spent the money to guarantee 100 wins without actually playing any games.Just look at the Phillies–why, if they hadn't had injuries, they'd have won 100 games last year. Jimmy Rollins said so, and he knows a lot more about baseball than we do. OK, maybe he was doing his Jimi Hendrix impression at the time, and was stoned. It doesn't matter how nutritious beans, hard boiled eggs, and sauerkraut are, nobody wants to sit next to that guy during, or after, dinner. Yes, it's a normal bodily function; yes, maybe it does make *you* feel better. But it's not entertaining after the first couple of times.

  70. peric - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    you sure do miss a lot. Zimmerman either out or underperforming due to injury until he got the cortisone shot at the end of June. Which is why Zimm is moving to first base, remember? Hopefully, we'll get a full year of his bat again before he kills himself at third.As for DeRosa that was Davey's idea JayB. Plain and simple. He's the one who reached out with a phone call. Not Rizzo. DeRosa replaced Marerro who tore his hamstring reaching at first base for a throw in winter ball last year. Marerro was going to be the bench bat.

  71. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    This is what passes for having a point these days? "They have to score more runs than the other team!"?P. catches a lot of crap while making a great deal more sense than that.

  72. peric - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    Commentary from an O's blogger on LaRoche/Morse for them.Bloggers can smoke their stuff and drink their Koolaid but Angelos will never deal with Rizzo and the Lerners. That one can just about take to the bank. It seems like the MASN deal is going to get a lot uglier before it gets better don't you think?

  73. peric - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    P. catches a lot of crap while making a great deal more sense than that.Hmmmm …. well let me add one more thing. Its my impression, even with Goesling who claimed that Rizzo made every decision {WRONG Ben. He just isn't that egotistical. Look at who he hired to work with him? Do you think they would have come if he were Ben?) admitted that Riggleman had the most input about the makeup of his bench.If you are going to complain about washed up veterans like Wille Harris, or Rick Ankiel, et al then you are going to have to point to Riggleman first JayB. And the same is most definitely true with Davey. If anyone has the ego problem its Davey but like it or not, even you JayB must admit the guy can walk the walk. Here you are complaining about moves he made in the playoffs. Bitter. I'm sitting there at the same time watching the master at work using every inning as a teaching tool for his young players like Storen. Preparing them to become the very best in the game period. Knowing well in advance that the Nats would be back on a regular basis. Have to admit I like his style and as a long suffering Nats fan who has known only bitter disappointment and losing? I want multiple winning seasons. It would have been nice to crush those damned Yankees in the series … it would have been poetic justice. But, Davey took the risk knowing full well that his boss is in his 80's wanting to get a world series ring. Maybe Davey likes this set up and thinks this will keep old Ted kicking a lot longer with the excitement of seeing the young players advance and eventually dominate? Who knows? We'll see but I suspect if he's still up to it and his wife is still game we might see Dave for yet another year to refine top prospect Anthony Rendon's schooling.

  74. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    Peric, the MASN deal is already ugly and yes, it will get uglier. I don't know if MASN operates on a calendar year end fiscal year or not but my limited knowledge says that the accounting department will have to make an entry on the books with a conservative estimate of 2012 fees in dispute as a liability and fee expense.That is probably good for Angelos as my guess will be that no dividends will be paid to the Nats for 2012, but there will be a huge windfall at some point coming. It could take years to resolve this and if I am reading the tea leaves correctly, Angelos will accumulate cash in MASN with no payments except the annual rights fee on the previous schedule just to piss Lerner off even more.

  75. Don - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    John C. — I hear you, saying they have to go out and play is not so valuable. But, I meant to infer (though failed to do so) that a healthy Zim, a progressing Harper and an All Star caliber Werth are each not exactly dead-bolt locks for 2013. The club can't have some kind of hubris. They need to keep making adjustments. And adjustmens to the plan are not Rizzo's strong suit. Rizzo has not shined mid-season. He could not trade Adam Dunn, he could not manage his manager Riggleman, he had media issues regarding Eckstein, he bumbled all around DC about Stras and the shutdown last summer. (At the deadline Rizzo was telling people he had a magic number of innings in his head, the exact number of innings it would be, and on the same day he was saying on MLB network that the club was going to consult with the medical team and review his stressful innings to make a determination, that it was a process. Stras being shut down in some large part for mental fatigue is nonsense. He was not crumbling under the pressure; he had a couple of bad outings (with a Quality Start in between btw) right before they shut him down. Not some steady, obvious decline. The jazz from Rizzo about there being no real difference between 159 or 165 innings of Stras and such was worse — the difference was a Division crown or having to play for the Wild Card when Rizzo said that stuff. One win might be the difference — 6 innings of Stras. Anyway, Rizzo knew Stras was going to be shut down, and with 60 games to go and with his first place club, which had struggled to score runs and which was about to lose its Ace, he stood pat at the deadline. The club he assmebled in the Spring was going to be the club he took into the last 60 games. He had a plan and he was going to stick to it, no matter what the standings were. I think that he was wrong and I think that he (and his club) regrets that he did not do more when he had the chance.

  76. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    I think we did infer that from your implication. I don't agree that it's hubris; it's more likely a considered risk, like those every team in every sport at every level takes.

  77. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  78. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    The club won 98 games and the division. Cherry-picking mistakes, if they were mistakes, is not criticism, it's rote fault-finding of a successful GM. EVERYBODY successful makes mistakes by the barrelful.

  79. peric - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    I think that he was wrong and I think that he (and his club) regrets that he did not do more when he had the chance.Well, then you'll have to say Roy Clark was wrong. Minitti was wrong. Ted Lerner was wrong. Scott Boras was wrong. And that the combined expertise of the Nat's medical staff and Stras's surgeons were wrong. You are nothing short of arrogant beyond belief!Because you had damned well better believe Rizzo had consensus and in point-of-fact used that consensus and all of the pros and cons when Stras's father asked him why he was being shutdown? And Stras's father came away convinced along with the CONSENSUS opinion. Rizzo does not work in a vacuum the way JimBo used to. And JimBo used to play a lot of hunches and makes guesses. When Rizzo says he does his due diligence you had damned well better believe him! Its why he has a guy like Roy Clark and JimBo didn't. Roy Clark would never be asst. GM to JimBo. NEVER. Just for that reason. People need to stop blaming Rizzo for doing the right thing. No one liked it, least of all Rizzo and Davey but it had to be done. Did YOU DON expect the Nats to be in first place with the best record in baseball? DID YOU? Were you that prescient? I doubt that Rizzo was that arrogant. He knew he had a special core of young players but he was probably thinking they were still 1 or 2 years away. Everyone underestimated and continues to underestimate Davey Johnson MLB manager. They did the right thing for Stras and for the team.

  80. JayB - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    Don Says….He had a plan and he was going to stick to it, no matter what the standings were. I think that he was wrong and I think that he (and his club) regrets that he did not do more when he had the chance. Exactly….I see Rizzo doing the same thing again this off season…..he has a plan for ALR and he will stick to it no matter what the rest of baseball is doing or what his team needs change to over the winter/spring.Rizzo at his worst.

  81. peric - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    And I don't always agree with Rizzo. I don't like the Span move for example. But, I do believe Rizzo discussed this thoroughly and did his research. Its not like he hasn't been burned by the likes of Jason Marquis, for example. And Nyjer Morgan. If anything those mistakes are likely to make his FO better at making tough calls not worse. But I still don't believe that adding a slap hitter over someone like Morse is the right move.

  82. peric - Dec 27, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    Rizzo at his worst.Or Rizzo at his best JayB. You are treating him like another JimBo. Rizzo is definitely NOT a Jim leather pants segway Joy riding Bowden. He IS NOT.

  83. Feel Wood - Dec 27, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    JayB at his usual. Haters gotta hate.

  84. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 27, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    He has a plan he spent a lot of time developing, with a lot of smart people. If they don't pan out, as even the best plans don't always pan out, then he was stubborn. If they do, then he was visionary, and persistent. You can't always judge outputs by outcomes, even though that's how we keep score.

  85. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 27, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    "They" being "a plan." sheesh.

  86. peric - Dec 27, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    And I think there is a possibility that Dan Haren move could end up as Brade Lidge redux. But in both cases its not like they didn't have backup plans even when things got very dicey losing both Storen and Lidge. In the case of Haren they do have Christian Garcia, Zach Duke, and Craig Stammen as potential #5 starters; in AAA they'll have former system top pitcher Bradley Meyers, Jeff Mandel and Tanner Roark cooked and ready. with top prospects Nate Karns, Matt Purke Sammy Solis bringing up the rear.Now compare to what it was like under JimBo and Rizzo's first season or so afterward. That's how many good possibilities for FIFTH starter that they have. Keep in mind Detwiler does have the talent to pass Gio Gonzalez on the depth chart if he keeps after it.. So, even if this happens they will still have pretty decent backup.

  87. Don - Dec 27, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    peric — give me a break. No, I did not expect the Nats to be in first at the break last year, but they were there. The problem with Rizzo was that he purposefully ignored the standings and went along with his business as if they did not matter. Guys like Leo Mazzone think Rizzo is nuts because there is at least some evidence to support the notion that he might not be acting wisely. His shutdown of Stras was not by some monster consenus, if it were then there would not be so much controversy about it all over baseball. And club after contending club made adjustments at the deadline last year in hopes of getting the players they needed to win a Series, but not Rizzo. Is it your contention that he was saving up his moves for some future time when the club's core of young talent would be more likely in preseason estimations to be where it was then situated — first place? I guess the 2012 club and guys like LaRoche and Gorz and the other vets were not worthy of winning it all, is that it? Listen, I don't "blame" Rizzo for this or that, the club would not even be close to winning without him — but I think he was wrong to shut Stras down the way he did, I think that he was wrong not to be more aggressive when his club had a chance and him ignoring the standings is something close to insane. He needs to make some adjustments.Am I wrong to think that Rizzo had better hope this club catches lightning in the bottle again this year, that Stras does not get hurt or pitch ineffectively despite the shutdown, or he's going ot be known as the guy who punted on third down when it was time to go for a city's first ring since before he was born?

  88. John C. - Dec 27, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    JayB said …Exactly….I see Rizzo doing the same thing again this off season…..he has a plan for ALR and he will stick to it no matter what the rest of baseball is doing or what his team needs change to over the winter/spring.Rizzo at his worst.The LoD is very good at providing general advice – "Rizzo should have got somebody!" being just one of them. They never mention who Rizzo should have acquired, or how Rizzo should have convinced the other GMs to go along with this plan, or what the team would have to get up to make this deal. The adage "sometimes the best trades that you make are the ones that you don't do" never occurs to them. From the LoD perspective it's a win-win; no matter what Rizzo does they get to criticize. If Rizzo sticks to "the plan" (if it exists) and the Nats don't win, then Rizzo is stubborn and foolish. If Rizzo had made a move and it didn't work, why then Rizzo panicked and paid too much for too little and was foolish. It's a narrative infinitely conformable to different sets of facts. Brilliant!A thought for the LoD:It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.-Theodore Roosevelt

  89. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    We are lucky we have Rizzo. Yes, he makes mistakes and, yes, he gets emotional and dumps Nyjer Morgan for Cutter Dykstra, not to mention that pitcher (Cabrera?) he traded because he "got tired of watching him." But on the whole, he thinks things through, has a plan, and pretty much sticks to it despite bad publicity and fair-weather "fans."

  90. JayB - Dec 27, 2012 at 8:09 PM

    Win the World Series and nobody will criticize him….that is the win win we all want….until then when then melt down due to poor roster management and over valuation of his own players…..he get heat…..Look at the team that won the WS 2 out of 3 past seasons…you see roster moves that worked in July and moves made in winter to improve. This is not something Rizzo is willing to do yet……I hope he learns from winning teams.

  91. MicheleS - Dec 27, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    John C.. well said.. I think the Nats should put that Teddy quote in big writing in the stadium, the club house, all around DC.JayB.. winning teams like the Phillies or the Yankees? Spend foolishly and maybe win 1 WS and then strap your team for years to come. I am sure the Yankees fans want Cashman's head on a platter. Only 1 WS in 12 years. Phillies 1 WS in what 25 years? The Cards won 2 in the last 15 or 20 years.

  92. JayB - Dec 27, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    Sure one is better than non right….Giants 2 out of 3 was what I was referencing. Phils run…yea I would take that. Yanks run yes please…Cards…for sure…..First round lose and a weaker team the next year….No ALR, no LH PB, No Morse and ALR in the same order….nope that is not the way forward.

  93. alexva - Dec 27, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    trading for Gio, signing EJax, picking up Suzuki. what were these if not moves to improve the roster?

  94. TheManBearPig - Dec 27, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    If there's anything for which Rizzo does not deserve second-guessing, it's the shutdown. In the second half of 2012, Strasburg was almost as good as Ross Detwiler, which is pretty good, but nothing that should have led anyone to believe that his starts in the post-season would have been guaranteed wins or nearly so. The adjustment that was made, adding John Lannan to the roster, did exactly what it was supposed to do – get the Nats enough wins to give them the division title and get them into a 4-man playoff rotation.

  95. MicheleS - Dec 27, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    JayB.. the Giant's built with young pitching and a core player in Posey, added pieces along the way. Sound familiar?

  96. MicheleS - Dec 27, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    Interesting comment from the Globe beat writer.Pete Abraham‏@PeteAbeGiven how they have proceeded so far, it would surprise me if the #RedSox forfeited even a second-round pick (and the pool $) for LaRoche

  97. JayB - Dec 27, 2012 at 8:32 PM

    Yup….just what I was saying….added strong pieces along the way….C Isturis and Billy Bray….not strong parts along the way in my view….Hunter Pence and Marco S…..yes. Trading out AJAX for Haren…not a strong move at all. Nobody for Sean B and M. Gonzalez…..well you get the point….I hope I am wrong but Rizzo has a track record of thinking saving money wins games.

  98. JayB - Dec 27, 2012 at 8:35 PM

    I am not saying we have not improved….you all know we have and Rizzo has everything to do with that. I am saying he is not making moves to put us over the top and win it all. Until he does…or at least shows he tried….we are just a nice team coming up short mostly to do trying to save money at the trade deadline and in March with dumpster signs like DeRosa and Carroll..

  99. MicheleS - Dec 27, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    JayB.. you are cherry picking and your glass is nearly empty. they got Pence and Scutaro because Melky got busted for PED's and their 2B went down. Our bench was better than what they had. As stated, our bench was one of the best in the bigs. Haren will be much better than Ejax. See Mark's tweets about his K/BB ratio.I on the other hand was totally suprised by last year, I only expected 86 wins (and I thought that was high) and maybe a run at the wild card. I look forward to the next several years and watching this team develop, grow, and Yes even win. I will enjoy ever moment (even the bad ones), while you I am sure will not.

  100. John C. - Dec 27, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    Part of Rizzo's job, as the "man in the GM arena," is actually making decisions and living with them. Sometimes you pick up a player and it works out. Scutaro and Ichiro were awful last year – until they were picked up by contenders. Then they were brilliant. The Rangers picked up Christian Guzman for the stretch drive in 2010). But Guzman was terrible for the Rangers (Guzman hasn't played since; the two guys that Rizzo got for him Tanner Roark and Ryan Tatusko, are still kicking around the Nats' minors with Roark in the Syracuse rotation). On June 27, 2002, the Expos were 41-36 and unexpectedly in second place in the NL East. They made exactly the kind of bold move that you wish Rizzo had made, picking up an ace pitcher, the best guy available, for minor leaguers. As the LoD would say "you have to seize the chance to WIN!! Go all-in!!! Well, the Expos finished second anyway, out of the playoffs, and the price they paid (Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Lee Stephens and Brandon Phillips) crippled the team for nearly a decade. Which worked out for DC ultimately, but broke some hearts in Montreal and made us sit through years of awful baseball.As a GM, if you make a move and it works, you're a genius. If you make a move and it doesn't, then the critics start barking. It's the same for not making moves. The barking doesn't impress me much. Nor did it impress the BBWAA, who voted Rizzo the 2012 "Executive of the Year." The man in the arena, from where I'm sitting, is doing one HELL of a job.

  101. peric - Dec 27, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    Bottom line: Mike Rizzo, Roy Clark and Bryan Minniti (for starters) are all pretty smart guys. Have to assume that the Nats surgeons are also pretty top notch. But everyone makes mistakes.But the basis of the plan is make moves guided by what is happening right now and that can help the club win the future. That seems to be Rizzo's guiding principle. The Stras shutdown and every single move he has made (with the exception perhaps of the Jayson Werth signing) follow that to a "tee". If you don't like it you can always root for the Orioles who do things quite a bit differently and more like JimBo.

  102. JD - Dec 27, 2012 at 9:04 PM

    John C, As you notice, the moves JayB points out as examples of desirable moves are all in hindsight; Scutaro worked out for the Giants but how did Dempster work out for the Rangers? how about Victorino and the Core of the Red Sox for the Dodgers? JayB's premise is that if you throw money at it you will win and if you take the team that won the championship you can always find an aha move. Had the Nats won the WS would adding Suzuki have been elevated to genius level?

  103. flynnie - Dec 27, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    John C. said… Flynnie, could you point me to where one of the Nats' players (other than maybe Mark DeRosa) said anything about Stras pitching? Not only do I not remember that, I would have been shocked to see a player essentially trash Jordan Zimmermann like that. John C. – I was surprised, too. I heard it from Phil Wood during the post-game show after Game 3. Then it was confirmed by Ken Rosenthal: ""If we had ‘Stras, we'd be up 2-0. He would have lengthened out our rotation to the point where teams can't stay with us."

  104. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    In the end, players have to play. Rizzo assembled a team that was capable of postseason play, maybe even of WS play. If he hadn't, we wouldn't be complaining about the NLDS. So, you take the team his gives you and you root your heart out for them.

  105. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    Flynnie, if Mark D. said that, then I hope he's not invited back. He may be a smart guy, he might make a great coach/manager, but you just don't say that.

  106. John C. - Dec 27, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    Flynnie, who was the player? To be fair, I only mentioned DeRosa's name because he's the only player who said anything negative on the shutdown. And I'll add that, from DeRosa's perspective, his view made perfect sense. He was pretty clearly at the end of his playing career, so what was in the interests of the Nationals for the next 3-5+ years literally didn't matter to him. For DeRosa, it was all about 2012.

  107. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 27, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    What DeRosa said is true about lengthening out the rotation, but I doubt he implied any kind of slight at Rizzo or Davey for implementing the pitch limit on SS. his next sentence might very well have been about how rizzo and davey stuck true to their caring intentions for the young pitcher but I wouldn't put it beyond Ken R to skip those details.

  108. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 27, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    Here's Ken Rosenthal's blind quote:"'If we had (Strasburg), we'd be up 2-0,' the anonymous player told FoxSports.com."

  109. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 27, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    BTW, in the same article, Rosenthal quotes SS as saying "It's their call," he said. "It'd be pretty reckless to have me get on the mound and get going now after not even getting on the mound for a month. I talked to them about it for the week after that, but they were pretty firm. Now it's to the point where I don't think it would be smart for anybody to do that." (emphasis added)

  110. realdealnats - Dec 27, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    In Rizzo We Trust is my baseball mantra. And that, I fear, is why we will not see ALR back next year. Call it weakness, but I say once again, I'd gladly pass on that comp pick to have Adam here for 2 years if possible, while keeping Morse.I think JayB's hated Nat's bench moves were pretty thoroughly transformed as last season went on, ending with youth and not age.This year I love a bench of Ramazuki, Shark, Moore and Lombo. And although I thought he did a nice job last year despite injury, I'd happily trade out Chad for The Beast to round out that ST bench. And once ST arrives, may the best 8 start. And of course the Best 25 Go North.

  111. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 27, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    I'd happily trade out Chad for The Beast to round out that ST bench.It's been pointed out before, probably several times, but Chad Tracy hits left-handed, and Morse is right-handed. You wouldn't be replacing Tracy, you'd be replacing Tyler Moore.

  112. realdealnats - Dec 27, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    Gorse Hackage–You're right I missed those comments. But Shark bats left and Lombo bats either. You're saying Tracy's lefthanded power bat is worth sending Moore to AAA? When you might already get a smoking double from shark down the rightfield line? Or a slap single from Lombo? And if ALR is with us and he gets hurt, then you have Morse to fill in. In terms of substitutions to rest ALR or Werth etc, who would you rather have? Still Tracy? Just asking…

  113. realdealnats - Dec 27, 2012 at 10:23 PM

    I think it's a moot point anyway, b/c I think Morse will be starting at 1B.But you're right, I'm still behind all the smart thinking on this b/c I want both. And if that ever happened, I'd keep Moore over Tracy too. Re: Morse, I just don't see us getting anything close to his value to us right now. So why give him away. Of course that's what I thought about Lannan. So there you go…

  114. Gonat - Dec 27, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    Supposedly Napoli is talking to another team. This could be interesting.

  115. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    From a Boston reporter, pretty detailed analysis.http://www.sportsreelboston.com/2012/12/27/red-sox-first-base-dilemma/

  116. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    Whatever the end result, the machinations are fun to observe.

  117. JD - Dec 27, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    realdealnats, The minute the Nats obtained Span the following became clear regarding Rizzo's thinking: 1) He wasn't happy with the outfield defense and considered returning with the same lineup an untenable situation. 2) One of LaRoche/Morse was not going to play for the Nats in 2013 because neither profiles as a bench player offensively. If I had to guess I would say that Rizzo would have preferred LaRoche for 2 years because of superior 1st base defense and the LH bat but I don't think he will be too broken hearted with Morse at 1st because this gives him more financial flexibility to make a move now or during the system if he needs to bolster the rotation or if he absolutely needs another left handed bat.

  118. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 27, 2012 at 10:43 PM

    That's why I'm quietly waiting for it all to play out.

  119. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 10:47 PM

    Matt Perrault ‏@sportstalkmatt@Jen_Royle on @WGAMTheGame says she believes ultimately Mike Napoli will take a 2 yr deal from the Red Sox.

  120. JD - Dec 27, 2012 at 10:48 PM

    NatsLady, I don't agree with Royle's conclusion that Rizzo and Johnson don't want to go into the season with Morse as their 1st baseman. I don't think this was the 1st option but I am quite sure that Rizzo considered the likelihood that LaRoche will sign elsewhere and he is quite prepared to live with it; otherwise he would not be so steadfast about staying with the 2 years.

  121. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 10:53 PM

    JD, I noticed that too. I recall Davey saying at the winter meetings that it's Rizzo's job to sign 'em and his job to play 'em. I didn't get the feeling he was opposed to Morse, just that his preference was ALR.

  122. Don - Dec 27, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    I think that the Span signing was first about leadoff — Werth has nice OBP skills but he's not a leadoff guy; second, about OF D — a go get it CF is sexy stuff; and third, about preserving Harper — the kid could play a decent CF but he's probably still growing and is already huge and the less running around might mean more energy at the plate and on the bases. We'll see.Howell gonna sign with the Nats? I hope so.

  123. TheManBearPig - Dec 27, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    JD, your no. 1 is two things. I'll buy the first. As to the second, you could alternatively say "unlikely" rather than "untenable" because it wasn't chosen by Rizzo but rather imposed upon him by ALR's free agency. Had the Nats done a deal to keep ALR around for another year or two it doesn't seem at all certain that Rizzo would have made a trade that gave up the organization's best pitching prospect for a defensive upgrade in the outfield when that trade would have the effect of pushing a 30HR bat out of the lineup.

  124. peric - Dec 27, 2012 at 11:28 PM

    From J Sickles….OUCH…Rendon has fallen badly and trades have really emptied the farm…..That is why last year was not a oh well we were not trying to win year.Those are still preliminary. The average age of the Nat's "core" players is well under 30. Jayson Werth raises that significantly, but without him the major league roster could be the most prospect laden, talented AAA team in all of major league baseball.

  125. Feel Wood - Dec 27, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    NatsLady said… Matt Perrault ‏@sportstalkmatt @Jen_Royle on @WGAMTheGame says she believes ultimately Mike Napoli will take a 2 yr deal from the Red Sox.Jen Royle, run out of MASN on a rail. Bet if you search through the archives you can still find that interview where she drooled all over Adam Dunn. Almost as funny as the Kilgore-Heidi Watney video.

  126. peric - Dec 27, 2012 at 11:30 PM

    @Jen_Royle on @WGAMTheGame says she believes ultimately Mike Napoli will take a 2 yr deal from the Red Sox.She's also the one that got chased out of town.

  127. realdealnats - Dec 27, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    JD–I actually do get your point. Have got this point all along. I'm just talking outta two side of my mouth. Why? 1) B/c I see where Rizzo is taking this thing–being who he is. He'll let ALR walk and collect the comp pick. That's how he does business.but in the arena of NI and not the arena of MLB2) If somehow ALR stays, I just don't think trading Morse right now will get us anywhere near his true value–at least what that value would be to us this year as a power bat. So why give him away?I mean time will tell and maybe someone will offer the farm for him before ST–in which case fine. But if it's a case of trading him for a couple lower ceiling pitchers to fill out a minor league team? In such a case I say keep him at least until a truly worthy deal presents itself b/c it is good insurance and a good bat off the bench. The few millions that will go to his salary might not make him a normal bench player, but that money will not hurt the Lerners, especially compared to what they have made and will continue to make on the club (fine for them just saying…). And I'd certainly rather have Morse (and Moore) than Chad Tracy–who is fine but…not Morse or Moore. He's just left handed. And hairy chested.But what I think WILL happen is, yes, ALR will walk. Morse will play 1B. And next year or the year after Zimm moves over to 1B and Rendon plays 3B.

  128. NatsLady - Dec 27, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    Well, I never heard of her. Looked it up, she was an O's/Ravens reporter, says she left MASN when they lost the Ravens and she stayed to be on 105.7. I take it there was more to it than that.

  129. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 27, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    Gorse Hackage– You're right I missed those comments. But Shark bats left and Lombo bats either. You're saying Tracy's lefthanded power bat is worth sending Moore to AAA? When you might already get a smoking double from shark down the rightfield line? Or a slap single from Lombo? And if ALR is with us and he gets hurt, then you have Morse to fill in. In terms of substitutions to rest ALR or Werth etc, who would you rather have? Still Tracy? Just asking…Sorry to get back late, had to pay some bills.But it doesn't matter what I would do, since I'm not the GM or manager. Davey, like most managers, wants a good lefty PH when the time situation calls for it. Sometimes managers do seem to over-think the lefty-righty thing, but it's a Thing for a good reason.

  130. A Strong Package for Gorse Hackage! - Dec 27, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    *situation at the time

  131. natsfan1a - Dec 28, 2012 at 12:01 AM

    What I think will happen is that something will happen. At some point in time. Whether we're on board with it or not. fwiw. ymmv. ttfn.

  132. NatsLady - Dec 28, 2012 at 12:03 AM

    Sofa, I agree on the overthinking. However, it seems Davey likes to put in pinch-hitters to get the opposing manager to change pitchers. I'm not sure why managers take his bait, but they do.

  133. peric - Dec 28, 2012 at 12:29 AM

    I'm not sure why managers take his bait, but they do.He's good at getting guys on the bench to perform him. That's why. Some, like Ankiel, were a problem because they chafe at the bench role. Ankiel was pretty much promised the starting CF job by Riggleman before he came and from his perspective? Why Span and not me?

  134. realdealnats - Dec 28, 2012 at 12:33 AM

    Sofa Hackage/NatsLady–Yes it depends on Davey and Rizzo. But re: the lefty/righty overthink, two of our five bench guys are or can be lefties already. But I know I'm talking in circles and it's not even the probable scenario. But as always good talkin witchuguys.Now sign Howell or a good LOOGY and Mike Gonzalez for depth.

  135. realdealnats - Dec 28, 2012 at 12:34 AM

    *another good LOOGY

  136. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Dec 28, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    It's three days before New Year's Eve, and we're STILL debating the SS shutdown? Oh, joy.

  137. baseballswami - Dec 28, 2012 at 12:50 AM

    Ok- LoD??? I missed something. My opinion/ gut feeling of the day. I think Ross Detweiler is going to shock the MLB world in 2013 and have a phenomenal break out season , finally fulfilling the potential we saw when he was drafted. He has the ability, and I am seeing the health, work ethic, attitude and maturity now to make it happen. Write it down.

  138. MicheleS - Dec 28, 2012 at 1:06 AM

    Swami, LoD.. Legion of Doom. And I whole heartedly endorse your candidate for Ross having the break out 2013!

  139. baseballswami - Dec 28, 2012 at 1:30 AM

    Ah- thanks , Michele. I should have gotten that one. It happens often enough. I am sooooo looking forward to this season! I can't wait to see Stras, Gio, JZim, Det and Haren all in a row. And then there is our hitting lineup! Yes, we need a few things worked out, but there is time. For the most part, this is an exciting team. Imagine if every one of them comes in healthy and in shape. I am so ready, especially during these dreary winter days. Go Nats!!!! By the way- on twitter it sounds like Span is excited and getting ready to go!

  140. NatsLady - Dec 28, 2012 at 3:02 AM

    Nice article from a Twins fan about Denard Span. Very gracious.thank-you-denard-spanhttp://twinsrubes.blogspot.com/2012/12/thank-you-denard-span.html

  141. sjm308 - Dec 28, 2012 at 3:06 AM

    Props for Peric and John C. on this endless criticism of Rizzo. You guys won't get them to stop but it made me feel better just reading your comments and Peric, that is a true compliment because I am not always in your camp.Want to point out for about the 10th time that AlexVa. swooped in and in one sentence made complete sense and shot down JayB. It truly is an amazing talent, I do not have.My 2 cents – rizzo is not perfect but this past year he was one of the best GM's in all of baseball and was recognized for that. Our team obviously did not reach the WS but still won more games than any other. We have a tremendous young core back sprinkled with veterans and I am expecting the same kind of run that Atlanta had. Will I be upset with one WS win? NO!! I am never scheduling a vacation in Oct. again after this past year. I am expecting great things and think Davey and Rizzo have the ability to take us there so I will wait along with all of you to see where we go.

  142. Tcostant - Dec 28, 2012 at 5:16 AM

    If Det had that breakout season, I would not be surprised at all!

  143. NatsLady - Dec 28, 2012 at 6:46 AM

    Interesting article on whether increasing payroll leads to more wins./the-myth-of-going-for-brokehttp://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/the-myth-of-going-for-broke/

  144. Joe Seamhead - Dec 28, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    How many times over the past two years did you say, or hear it said, " Adam Dunn wouldn't have made that play"? Morse made a few that Dunn couldn't have made. Last year ALR made a ton of plays that neither Dunn or Morse would've made. His play at first made the whole infield better, and by doing that, his play made the whole pitching staff better. That's why Davey said that re-signing ALR was even more important to this team then Johnson's own return. Honesty, I don't see the Nats beating out the Braves for the NL East title if LaRoche doesn't return.I love Beast, but the Nats won a lot of games while he was out for the first third of the season.

  145. JayB - Dec 28, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Thanks Nlady…..Author's big finish……"Instead, my real point is that an increase in payroll does not guarantee results."…..really well thanks for that heads up!Being Smart still counts…that is good. Interesting that last years Nats was an example of spending money leads to more wins. Smart Money that is. Looking back that would be Gio contract, Kurk Z, AJZX, and some washed up vets that mostly did not even make it through the season right?

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)
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