Posts Tagged ‘Baseball’

Nats Continue Talks With A’s

January 15, 2009

The Nats and A’s have discussed a trade that would send Nick Johnson to the A’s for Daric Barton. Who is Daric Barton? Well, here is a look at what both Johnson and Barton did last year:

There’s no question a healthy Johnson is a proven player, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Barton is a young player who could develop into a great player, which fits the National’s mold right now. The A’s just acquired Jason Giambi, so its not clear how much of a priority Johnson is for them. He would give them more options and either Giambi or Johnson would likely DH. We’ll see if this one falls through.

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Nats Sign Towers

January 15, 2009


The Nats signed right-handed pitcher, Josh Towers, to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Towers is 31 years old with a seven year major league career between Baltimore and Toronto. He has an overall record of 45-55 with a career 4.96 ERA. However, he spent all of 2008 with Triple-A Colorado Springs in which he struggled with a 6-7 record and a 6.27 ERA in 31 games. Towers’ best year came in 2005 with Toronto in which he started 33 games with a record of 13-12 and a 3.71 ERA. He will have to perform very well to earn a spot in the Nationals’ rotation to make the opening day roster. High expectations for Towers don’t exist, which is why this has the potential to be a solid pick-up for the Nats.

Update: Swisher, Nady

January 13, 2009

The Nationals have expressed interest in acquiring Swisher and Nady from the Yankees, but that would mean they would have to give something up. So far the Nats haven’t released any information about who they would be willing to give up and its very possible that they aren’t willing to give up anybody at all. I wouldn’t mind the Nationals giving up a guy like Austin Kearns, but it isn’t likely that the Yankees would be interested in Kearns. Its more likely that they would be looking for top prospects, but it doesn’t really make sense for the Nationals to give up any of their prospects. The Nationals plan has been to revamp their minor leagues to develop their own talent and trading that talent away could hurt the future that the Nationals are building around.

That being said, I think that Adam Dunn might come back into the picture. Currently, he is asking for a 4 year/$56 million contract, which the Nationals have already said is too high. However, this asking price may come down based on several factors. Primarily, Dunn doesn’t have a very long list of suitors at this point. No front office has expressed a sense of urgency to acquire Dunn at his current price. Furthermore, teams like Atlanta and Washington have expressed that they are seeking to adjust their roster through trades rather than free agency. The fact that Washington has expressed interest in trading for Swisher and Nady hurts Dunn a lot. The Nationals made it no secret that Dunn would be their next target if Teixeira didn’t work out. However, the Nats were not going to be used by Boras to drive the price up of another one of his clients. Thus, talks involving Nady and Swisher take the team that has expressed the most interest in Dunn right out of the picture–at least, temporarily. Another factor that may drive the asking price for Dunn down is Pat Burrell recently signing a 2 year/$16 million contract. If any combinations of these factors results in Dunn’s asking price being reduced, then I would expect the Nationals to abandon trade talks for Swisher and Nady to go after the guy they originally wanted. That is why there is still a possibility of seeing Adam Dunn in a Nationals uniform in 2009.

Justin Maxwell Could Impact Nats

January 13, 2009

Last year Justin Maxwell batted .280 for the Nationals in 13 games during spring training, but then was assigned to Double- A Harrisburg to get more experience before making his way back up to the big club. However, he spent most of the 2008 season out with a fractured wrist that came from diving for a ball in the outfield.

In 2007, Maxwell surprised everybody when he was called up at the end of the season. His first major league hit was a pinch-hit grand slam against the Florida Marlins. In a total of 26 major league at-bats, he hit .269 with 2 of his 7 hits being home-runs. The 6’5″ 225 pound center-fielder was just doing what he had been doing all season for Low-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac in which he hit a combined .281 with 27 homers. He even had 35 stolen bases.

Maxwell is now healthy and could be the solution to the Nationals center-field job which is currently open to either Elijah Dukes or Lastings Milledge. The Nationals have a surplus of outfielders and Maxwell gives them more options. I would hate to see the Nationals give up Maxwell in a trade, but he is likely a guy that generates a lot of interest from other clubs. I would rather see the Nationals clear up space for Maxwell by trading away some of the other talent that they have in the outfield. After all, he is considered by many to be the Nationals’ most athletic prospect.

Shawn Hill Worth the Risk?

January 13, 2009


A healthy Shawn Hill is a steal. It is no secret that the Nationals believe in Shawn Hill’s ability. That is the reason why they let a guy like Tim Redding go this off-season while taking a chance on Hill. Redding finished the year healthy, but didn’t finish the year strong statistically. At Redding’s salary of $1 million, the Nats felt they could do better economically.

Shawn Hill, 27, earned $402,000 in his third major league season. If he had been able to stay healthy in his first 3 years he would be looking at a lot more money. Hill finished 2008 with 12 starts in only 63.1 innings. The most starts he has made in a single season came in 2007 when he pitched 97.1 innings in 16 starts. He also posted a 3.42 ERA that year.

Hill is looking to start 25-30 games this year for the Nats if his right elbow allows him. Right now he is optimistic about his rehab, so the Nationals have reason to be optimistic too. Of course, there are still a lot of hurdles in front of Hill. First and foremost, he has to get healthy. Then, he has to compete for a spot on the Nationals opening day roster. If he makes the opening day roster, he will have to stay healthy for the endurance of the season. It is likely that manager Manny Acta and pitching coach Randy St. Claire will gradually increase his workload. Finally, the most frequently overlooked aspect of recovering from a serious injury is the mental hurdle that Hill will face. Sometimes it takes a player longer to recover mentally from an injury than it does to recover physically. But if Hill can persevere through all these things he could be the best surprise of 2009 for the Nationals.

Taking a chance on Hill reminds me of the Nationals taking a chance on John Patterson who recently retired at only 30 years old after not being able to recover from a forearm injury in his throwing arm. The Nationals were so high on Patterson and his ability to be an ace that they took a risk on him by paying his salary in hopes that he would get better. Things didn’t work out for Patterson or the Nats for that matter, but it was a risk worth taking. Hill is the exact same way. The risk is minimal in comparison to the reward. Like Patterson, Hill has the ability to be an ace in Washington.

What makes Shawn Hill a risk worth taking for the Nationals? Its simple–A hard-dropping power sinker that has made pitchers like Kevin Brown, Derek Lowe, and Brandon Webb successful. Hill has the ability to dominate with this pitch, which eluded him much of the 2008 season during his struggles with injury. If he gets back to %100, NL hitters beware.

Go Teddy, GO!!!

January 12, 2009


The most pressing off-season issue for some Nationals fans may be how the Presidents are getting ready for the 2009 season. Will Teddy win a race in 2009? Here’s a look at how last season panned out:

Abraham Lincoln 49
George Washington 17
Thomas Jefferson 14
Teddy Roosevelt 0

Abraham Lincoln was last years champion by a substantial margin and Teddy was always the hard luck loser with nothing to show but a goose egg for 2008.

For more Presidential Race statistics visit here.

Washington and Jefferson ridin’ dirty on Segways.

Nats Interested in Nady, Swisher

January 10, 2009

The Nationals have expressed interest in acquiring Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher from the Yankees. Nady would become the Nationals everyday right-fielder. He hit a combined .305 with 25 bombs for the Pirates and Yankees last year. Swisher hit .219 with 24 bombs last year for the White Sox before being acquired by the Yankees in the off-season. After signing Teixeira, the Yankees have relegated Swisher to a back-up first baseman. If the Nats work out a deal, Swisher would replace Nick Johnson and become the Nats everyday first baseman.

Its not clear yet who the Nats are willing to give up, but I think both of these guys would help the Nats a lot. I like the fact that Swisher is a switch-hitter and I really like the fact that Nady rakes wherever he ends up. This could turn out good for the Nationals. The only thing that concerns me about Nady is that he is a Boras client in the last year of his contract, but I don’t think Bowden will go through with a trade if the Yankees ask for too much. Definitely keep your eyes on the Nats the next couple of days to see if anything materializes.

Nats Aren’t Signing Free Agents

January 9, 2009

The free agent market is still pretty large with a lot of talent that hasn’t signed yet. However, the Nats are no longer seeking the services of Adam Dunn and Orlando Hudson. In fact, sources have stated that the Nats are no longer looking to the free agent market for solutions. Dunn has been linked to the Dodgers and Hudson is believed to be talking with the Mets. Both guys are no longer in the Nationals price range. Furthermore, the Nats have stated that they aren’t willing to pay Derek Lowe $10-$15 million a season because he is 35. Any roster moves that the Nationals make at this point are likely to come through trades.

A lot of people are griping about the Nationals not being willing to spend big money on free agents. I’ve heard people say things like “I’m not going to pay big league ticket prices to go see Triple-A talent.” I can sympathize with this type of thinking to a certain extent. Yeah, I would’ve liked to see the Nats be able to get some of these guys, but AT THE RIGHT PRICE. Bowden has made it no secret what his plan has been. He said he was unwilling to spend big money on mediocre talent so that he could spend more resources on developing young talent. It might come as a surprise to some people, but Dunn, Hudson, and Lowe are not going to put the Nats on everybody’s radar as a pre-season play-off pick. Of course, all of these guys are capable of helping any team win and they will all do fine wherever they end up. Signing Teixeira wouldn’t have put the Nats in the play-off picture either, but Bowden was willing to offer him big bucks because he fit into their long-term plans.

I would still like to see the Nats try and find a first baseman who can stay healthy. A healthy Nick Johnson is a great player, but he doesn’t take care of his body and hasn’t been able to stay on the field. I think he’s probably lazy and doesn’t rehab his injuries seriously. He looks more like professional beer drinker than a professional athlete. The Nats could benefit a lot by putting more resources into their team doctors, trainers, and strength training to keep more guys on the field. They have plenty of young talent, but have suffered a lot from guys on the disabled list.

The Nats are not going to the World Series this year and probably not the next year either. But in a couple of years the Nats are going to be a play-off contending team. They have completely revamped their minor league system and will start to see it pay-off. They might not sit on top of the NL East over the course of the next two years, but they still have the potential to be a fun team to watch. A guy like Derek Lowe may guarantee a few more wins, but isn’t going to be a part of the Nats long-term. A few more wins would be nice, but only at the right price.

The Nats are a young team and most players still have their best years ahead of them, but here is what the Nats current players have done in their best years:

Outfield:
Josh Willingham (2006): .277, 26 HR
Wily Mo Pena (2004): .259, 26 HR
Elijah Dukes (2008): .264, 13 HR
Lastings Milledge (2008): .268, 14 HR
Austin Kearns (2005): .240, 18 HR

3B:
Ryan Zimmerman (2007): .266, 24 HR

SS:
Christian Guzman (2008): .316, 9 HR

2B:
Angel Hernandez (2008): .333, 0 HR (Out of 81 AB’s)

1B:
Nick Johnson (2006): .290, 23 HR

UTILITY:
Ronny Belliard (2005): .284, 17 HR
Willie Harris (2008): .251, 13 HR

C:
Jesus Flores (2008): .256, 8 HR
Will Nieves (2008): .268, 1 HR

Patterson Retires

January 7, 2009


Former Nationals pitcher, John Patterson, retires at age 30 due to persistent pain in his right forearm. He compiled an 18-25 record with a 4.32 ERA over 6 seasons. His best year was with Washington in 2005 in which he went 9-7 with a 3.13 ERA.

Its too bad he couldn’t come back from his forearm injury. The Nats could have benefitted from a healthy Patterson.

Nationals Offseason: Are They Making The Right Moves?

January 7, 2009

The Rays proved that a team can go from last place to the World Series in one year with young talent. The Nats may be just a few pieces short of that type of turn-around.

The Nats failed to land Teixiera and they just recently lost out on Milton Bradley to the Cubs. Honestly, I’m not that disappointed that they didn’t acquire either of these players. I liked the fact that Bowden was willing to offer Teixeira a huge contract. I think it shows that the Nationals are serious about turning things around at the major league level. At the same time, its a much bigger risk for a team like the Nats to take on rather than the Yankees. Overall, I think Teixiera may have been a good get for the Nats, but without him they have more money to go after other needs. Missing out on Bradley’s services doesn’t upset me at all. I don’t think he’s what the Nats need right now. I’m glad they are going to stick with Milledge and Dukes competing for the centerfield job.

Currently, they have decided to target Adam Dunn, Orlando Hudson, and Randy Wolf. Dunn could replace an injury prone Nick Johnson at first base and be the major-impact left-handed hitter that the Nats are seeking. I’m a little tired of Bowden’s Reds coming over to the Nats and fizzling, but Dunn has stayed healthy and hits bombs. Hudson is an All-Star fielder that would be the Nats lead-off if they can sign him. Both Dunn and Hudson would make an immediate impact and could be in the long-term goals, as well.
Randy Wolf in 2008
I like the fact that they seem to be planning on using the Teixeira money on pitching. I have mixed feelings on Randy Wolf being the guy. On one hand, I see an average 12-12 pitcher with a 4.30 ERA, but on the other hand I see an experienced lefty with many intangibles that could help the young starters. He also finished the year very strong for the Astros. The Nats do a nice job not overpaying average players and I think Randy Wolf could end up being a steal.

If they end up getting these guys their line-up could look like this:

2B Hudson
SS Guzman
3B Zimmerman
1B Dunn
RF Dukes
CF Milledge
LF Willingham
C Flores

SP Lannan
SP Wolf
SP Olsen
SP Cabrera
SP Balester/Zimmermann/Hill/Martis

I wouldn’t mind if the Nats took a stab at getting Sheets, Garland, or even returning Perez. A team at the bottom can afford to take risks at the right price.