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  1. Williams contemplating lineup construction

    Dec 11, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — As he has begun to learn the Nationals’ personnel over the last month-plus, Matt Williams has begun scribbling out starting lineups in his mind. Along the way, Washington’s new manager has come to a realization: He’s got plenty of choices. “The good thing about it is we have those options,”…

  2. Wilson, Blevins among lefty trade targets

    Dec 10, 2013, 7:52 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Determined to add a much-needed, experienced left-hander to their bullpen, the Nationals have been exploring the trade market at the Winter Meetings, with several potential targets beginning to emerge. Among the names added to the list of free agents on the Nationals’ radar: the Pirates’ Justin Wilson and the Athletics’…

  3. Rizzo: No offers for Clippard, Storen, Span

    Dec 10, 2013, 6:04 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — On Tuesday morning, two Nationals sources downplayed trade talks involving Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen. On Tuesday afternoon, Mike Rizzo shot down the notion he’s even received a formal offer for either reliever. Or center fielder Denard Span. “We haven’t been fielding all that many calls on Clippard and Storen,”…

  4. Highlights from Williams’ media session

    Dec 10, 2013, 3:18 PM EDT

    Associated Press

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Matt Williams just wrapped up his 30-minute media session, getting peppered on all sorts of subjects. The Nationals’ new manager remains as poised and thorough as he was in his introductory news conference in Washington last month, and he shed some light on a few previously untouched topics. Here are…

  5. Nats’ asking price high on Storen and Clippard

    Dec 10, 2013, 12:01 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Though several clubs have expressed interest in Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, the Nationals’ asking price remains high, with general manager Mike Rizzo seeking a major return for either reliever. Both Storen and Clippard have been viewed as potential trade candidates since season’s end due to their escalating salaries and…

  6. Nats expect McLouth to get significant playing time

    Dec 10, 2013, 8:41 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — After a strong bounce-back season in Baltimore, Nate McLouth figured to sign with a club this winter that would offer him the chance to win an everyday job. The Nationals, of course, had no such opportunity with Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Denard Span all entrenched in the outfield. But…

  7. Rizzo believes Ramos can catch 125 games

    Dec 9, 2013, 7:54 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Conventional wisdom, entering the Winter Meetings, suggested the Nationals were in the market for a veteran backup catcher, someone who could be a reliable No. 2 behind Wilson Ramos. Mike Rizzo, though, appeared to quash that line of thinking on Monday, saying he believes Ramos can start 125 or more…

  8. Rizzo in no rush to sign lefty reliever

    Dec 9, 2013, 6:43 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Though he admits he’s “actively” trying to acquire a left-handed reliever, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo suggested he isn’t facing any urgency to make a move this week during the Winter Meetings. “I think we’re going to take our time with it and get the right fit and see where…

  9. Rizzo talks up Espinosa amid trade rumors

    Dec 9, 2013, 6:02 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Danny Espinosa’s future with the Nationals has been in question since the struggling second baseman was demoted last summer and never returned to the big-league roster. But would the Nats prefer to trade Espinosa now, despite his relatively low value, or do they still believe he can play an important…

  10. La Russa, Cox, Torre elected to Hall of Fame

    Dec 9, 2013, 11:41 AM EDT

    Associated Press

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre all were unanimous selections to the Hall of Fame today, a trio of baseball’s greatest managers honored together with enshrinement in Cooperstown. Cox, La Russa and Torre were voted in by the Hall’s Expansion Era Committee, a 16-person panel that includes Hall…

  11. Lefties on agenda as Winter Meetings commence

    Dec 9, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

    Associated Press

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Hello from the Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World, where the Winter Meetings officially open for business this morning. That’s assuming everyone made it out of the snow/ice up north. By all accounts, it appears everyone associated with the Nationals did make it, including your trusty beat writer, who was…

  12. Winter Meetings preview

    Dec 7, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT

    WinterMeetings1207

    The Nationals have already addressed their need for another starting pitcher, trading for Doug Fister on Monday night. Then they closed out the week by bolstering their bench with the signing of Nate McLouth late Friday afternoon. So, what’s left for Mike Rizzo and Co. to do once they arrive in Orlando on Sunday for…

  13. Nats sign McLouth to 2-year contract

    Dec 6, 2013, 5:15 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    Seeking an upgrade to a bench that was among the majors’ least-productive units this season, the Nationals are adding a veteran with significant experience. And paying him like an everyday player. The Nationals have come to terms on a 2-year contract with outfielder Nate McLouth, pending a physical, a source familiar with the deal confirmed…

  14. Point/Counterpoint: How good will Fister be?

    Dec 6, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    THIS WEEK’S DEBATE: BY SEASON’S END, WHERE WILL DOUG FISTER RANK WITHIN THE NATIONALS’ ROTATION? MARK ZUCKERMAN: Though he figures to open 2014 as the Nats’ No. 4 starter, I don’t expect Fister to be the team’s fourth-best starter next season. I expect him to be much better. In fact, I’ll say he winds up…

  15. Market for lefty relievers is thinning

    Dec 5, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    With their starting rotation now set upon the acquisition of Doug Fister, the Nationals’ top priority becomes a left-handed reliever. Mike Rizzo admitted as much on Tuesday, saying: “It’s a spot that we feel that we have to upgrade.” Trouble is, there aren’t many remaining options on the free-agent market. Javier Lopez (Giants) and Manny…

  16. VIDEO: Analysis of Fister trade

    Dec 4, 2013, 12:25 PM EDT

    The Nationals’ trade for Doug Fister was met with reaction from across the baseball world. Most were surprised Mike Rizzo was able to acquire a pitcher of Fister’s caliber without giving up more than Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol and Robbie Ray. What made Fister so attractive to the Nationals? And why did they get him…

  17. Non-tendered players who could interest Nats

    Dec 4, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    Players across the majors usually get non-tendered for good reason: They haven’t performed nearly well enough to merit the salaries they’d command via arbitration. So, the 43 newly minted free agents who became available late Monday night don’t exactly leave scouts drooling. But non-tendered players do make for affordable reclamation projects, and sometimes they prove…

  18. Fister “excited” about trade to Nationals

    Dec 3, 2013, 6:32 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    Doug Fister has been traded before, so he wasn’t shocked when he got the call from Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski last night. It also helped that Fister’s new club, the Nationals, boasts one of baseball’s best rotations and has visions of competing deep into October next season. Here are some highlights from Fister’s conference…

  19. Rizzo on Fister trade, 5th starter and more

    Dec 3, 2013, 12:24 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    General manager Mike Rizzo just wrapped up a conference call with reporters a few minutes ago. Obviously, last night’s trade for Doug Fister was the primary topic of discussion, but Rizzo also addressed some other issues, including the competition for No. 5 starter, the state of things at second base and the continued desire to…

  20. Hard not to like Fister trade for Nationals

    Dec 3, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    Mike Rizzo was determined to bolster the Nationals’ rotation this winter, and he didn’t sound too keen on going back to the same free-agent well he delved into the last two offseasons. No, it became obvious early on the Nats’ general manager wanted to acquire a starter via trade, perhaps one not all that dissimilar…

  21. Ohlendorf signs 1-year deal, 8 others tendered

    Dec 3, 2013, 12:23 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    The Nationals re-signed right-hander Ross Ohlendorf late Monday night and tendered contracts to their eight other arbitration-eligible players, choosing to keep all for 2014. All major-league clubs had until 11:59 p.m. EST to tender contracts to players not yet signed for next season, and many teams elected to non-tender players and make them free agents.…

  22. Nats acquire Fister for Lombardozzi, Krol, Ray

    Dec 2, 2013, 8:54 PM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    The Nationals have acquired right-hander Doug Fister in a trade with the Tigers, adding an experienced-yet-affordable starter to their rotation in exchange for Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol and prospect Robbie Ray. Fister immediately bolsters a Nationals rotation that already includes Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez, and provides insurance in case left-hander Ross Detwiler…

  23. Nats face non-tender decisions today

    Dec 2, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    The Thanksgiving holiday weekend has come and gone, the Winter Meetings begin one week from today and the Hot Stove League (you would assume) is about to kick into high gear for the Nationals, who have been awfully quiet to date. Perhaps they will make some news before the end of the day, though, with…

  24. Point/Counterpoint: Lock up Harper or Strasburg?

    Nov 22, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

    USA Today Sports Images

    We’ve created a new weekly — or, depending on how motivated we are, perhaps bi-weekly — feature here at the Insider in which your two trusty authors will be engaging in some heated debates over matters of great concern to the Nationals. These are the kind of either/or scenarios that may not ever play out…

  25. Nats sign reliever Stange to minor-league deal

    Nov 21, 2013, 3:50 PM EDT

    Associated Press

    The Nationals signed reliever Daniel Stange, one of Mike Rizzo’s former draft picks in Arizona who pitched this season at Class AAA with two different franchises, to a minor-league contract. Stange, who turns 28 next month, is a husky (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) right-hander who has made seven career big-league appearances (four with the Diamondbacks in…

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

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

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (4) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 67 2.5
y-ST. LOUIS 88 69 4.0
-------------------------
PITTSBURGH 85 71 +0.5
SAN FRANCISCO 84 71 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Monday's early games

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