In case you hadn’t heard, the Nats are totally the leading candidate to sign Prince Fielder. And also there is a 99% chance that they won’t sign him. Welcome, Nats fans, to the world of posturing. Now that Washington showed it would throw money at a guy like Jayson Werth, agents will be calling them a potential candidate with any relevant player. And the Nats might well be guilty, too. It’s negotiations via the media, and it happens every offseason. But I’ve never brought myself to believe any of it.
Here’s what I know – it’s January, and Prince Fielder has about 2 months to find a team. I also know that there aren’t too many teams that might actually be interested – DC, Texas, Seattle, maybe a few others. One thing that might come out of this is a shorter contract for Prince, which would make him alot more attractive to teams that are scared off by his fielding ability, his body, and, in the case of the Nats, the lack of a DH on their team. So now that it’s January, what are your thoughts?
Today the Washington Post has an article by Tom Boswell that basically rips the Nats ownership for not spending money this year. It’s a 2 pager on why they are looking like they don’t want to do what it take to win, but the whole article really is summarized by this paragraph
the Nats haven’t signed Mark Buehrle, Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson… they haven’t bid on Yu Darvish or Yoenis Cespedes… they haven’t been within a zillion miles of C.J. Wilson, Jose Reyes or Prince Fielder, and especially why they haven’t made a prospects-for-a-star trade such as the Reds for ace Mat Latos, it’s probably because ownership is tensing up, tightening the leash again.
Ok, I get it, everyone wants their team to be active in the offseason. If you’re not moving, you’re getting passed, right? But who are we really talking about out there? Let’s look at all of these players that the Nats “missed out on””
Mark Buehrle – He was pursued, and would have been signed but for the fact that he wanted a 4th year, something that is highly risky for a pitcher of his age, even with his durability. He’s also no better than a #3, so it seems like he’s not worth the risk without serious reward
Roy Oswalt – Is still out there, and alot of people think the Nats are in the mix. Personally, I’d love to have him if you can promise me he’ll be healthy. If not, I don’t see Washington as the team that should be going injury risk for big reward in their signing. But for one year, it’s probably alright to do, and the Nats may well end up with that.
Edwin Jackson – This temptress continues to be on the Nats radar, despite being moderately to terrible most of the time. Read the rest of this entry »
The Nats acquired Mike Cameron today, because who doesn’t need outfielders that are almost 40? In reality, he’s probably signed to a bench role, and while normally you’d like to give a young guy a shot, there aren’t too many in the farm system that appear to be ready to do that. The guys that are decent need consistent playing time because they aren’t really knocking on the door. So what will Cameron bring?
Last year, Cameron hit an uninspiring .203/.285/.359, which makes you wonder why they’d even go after him. He probably isn’t that bad of a hitter, and unless he’s totally done, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to do something like his .252/.339/.441 from the previous two seasons. And hidden in that 2011 slash line is an ISO of a little over .150, which is pretty good. Of course, Cameron rarely hits over .250, so that’s still not adding up to a great slugging. If you take it for granted that his bat will be a bit better, than his ISO may recover as well. He may be a platoon candidate, as he’s always hit lefties better than righties. And their current CF on the roster, Roger Bernadina, does hit righties better. So it’s possible he starts in CF against lefties.
The Nationals only non-tender last night was Doug Slaten, and it was probably well deserved. Last year, lefties hit an astounding .333/.368/.639 against him. Righties hit .378/.489/.568, which is also pretty bad. But it would be alright if he had gotten lefties out, that’s why there are guys who get paid to come in for one LH batter.
In 2010, he faced 81 LH batters, and they couldn’t touch him. They hit .151/.235/.151 – that’s right, no extra base hits, and throw in 24 Ks. 2009 only had him face 18 lefties, but they hit him well, to the tune of .389/.389/.667 – that’s a tiny sample size, although not a good result. 2008 was another good season. While he wasn’t 2010 great against LH hitters, he faced 63 and they only hit .232/.317/.375.
Meanwhile, righties hit him the whole time. In 2010, their OPS was .844 against him. It 2009, it was .897 and in 2008, it was .866. He’s a lefty specialist, and yet over the years he has been very streaky at getting LH hitters out. The Nationals may yet re-sign him at a discount, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they just let him go, and Adam Kilgore writes that he’ll be looking elsewhere for a team that will give him a “better shot at making the team.”
The Nationals have been talking about using Mark Buehrle to fill the “innings eating old guy” need that Rizzo has proclaimed. I’m not saying this is a bad idea, although I’m not positive if its necessary. I won’t quibble with the philosophy though, let’s talk more about what Buehrle brings to the table.
Back in 2007, when I only wrote a post a week, and spent many hours on each post (you can do that when its weekly), I had a big writeup at the ready about how the Nats should sign Buehrle. Instead, mid-season the White Sox locked him up, and since it wasn’t really applicable, I scrapped the post. This is all I ended up writing, shoved onto the end of another post:
The White Sox locked up Mark Buehrle to a four year deal this weekend, and I couldn’t have been more disappointed. Not that the Nationals had much of a chance of signing him, but it would have been nice to see them take a shot. What’s so great about him?
Has Mike Rizzo made a conscious decision to not sign a Type A free agent? Maybe the Nationals don’t want to sign Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder. The cost, being the first round pick, not the money, may be too high. What about their pursuit of Roy Oswalt, you say? Well, according to CSNPhilly, the Phillies aren’t going to offer him arbitration. So no draft pick will be taken from the team who signs him. And if they sign any Type A that’s been offered arbitration, be it one of those first 3 guys, or Jimmy Rollins, CJ Wilson, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Madsen, Josh Willingham (ok here’s the list), they’ll have to give up their first round pick.
We all knew that, the Nats were TOO GOOD this year, and if they had finished behind one more team, they would have only had to give up a second round pick instead of a first round pick. But they’re always going to be in this situation now, since they’re getting better, right? No. Buster Olney is reporting that the new labor agreement is being negotiated right now, and it was expected to be announced around the World Series.
It hasn’t yet, and the longer it takes, he surmises, the less chance of certain rules being put in effect next season. The big one I’m getting at? Buster writes, “It’s expected that the new labor agreement may well abolish first-round draft pick compensation, which is tied to Type A free agents.”
So there it is. There is no guarantee that any of this will happen ever. But it seems fairly likely that by the 2013 season, the top 15 teams won’t have to give up their first round picks for signing a Type A free agent. And maybe 2012 will get those rules, maybe it won’t. But if you sign Pujols today, you can’t count on having your first round pick this summer.
Out of nowhere, a center field prospect has emerged, and he looks to be quite the talent. Ok, maybe this whole thing’s not out of nowhere, but I certainly hadn’t heard of Yoenis Cespedes before today. And now, thanks to his strange video below, which shows him hitting some slow mo homers, about 10 seconds of fielding, and lots of core training, he is clearly on his way to a hall of fame career:
All kidding aside, he’s probably considered the best position player in Cuba. He’s 26 years old, and defected from Cuba to the Dominican Republic. He’s looking for a major league contract, and people are taking him seriously. While Kevin Goldstein has a great overview of the ridiculous video, he also mentions a few important points. Cespedes hit .333/.424/.667 with 33 HRs last year, all those threes further adding to his mystique. He scored 89 runs and stolen 11 bases (caught 4 times) in his 90 games played. Goldstein writes that Cespedes is “a tremendous talent—arguably the best all-around player to come out of Cuba in a generation. He’s a legitimate center fielder with plus power and speed and is in his prime.”
And Goldstein isn’t the only one buzzing about Cespedes. Adam Kilgore over at the Post notes that the Nationals are definitely paying attention. He writes that Nats front office folks were in the DR, watching the Cuban star work out. And they are impressed with his talent, and his ability to hit and to field (although not with his arm). So will the Nats go after him?
The Nationals are in the market for a centerfielder, and a leadoff hitter, although they aren’t necessarily the same person. This week, both Keith Law at ESPN and Ben Reiter at SI released their top 50 free agents list. How about we take a look through that list to shop for a CF, and see what we come up with? While there are possibilities, like moving Werth to CF and picking up a corner guy, let’s just look for now at those guys who are or having been out there in center.
Carlos Beltran (#9 Law/#7 Reiter) – Beltran can still hit, as he showed at least in the first half last year. He really isn’t a centerfielder anymore, between his injury risk and his age. His range isn’t there anymore, and the Nats probably aren’t in the business of signing a 35 year old at this point anyway.
David DeJesus (#21/—) – Last year was a terrible season at the play for DeJesus, which might be why he didn’t even make Reiter’s list, but some of that might have to do with moving to Oakland. If you believe he can still hit enough, you have to convince yourself he can still play CF. I am not so much a believer of either, considering he hasn’t been a regular there since 2008, and he fell off a cliff against lefties this past season. At this point, he could be a platoon guy who can’t play CF.
Grady Sizemore (#25/#21) – Sizemore still gets some credit for being one of the best players in baseball in 2007-2008, and he deserves it. But for a guy who was never a great CF who is now a huge injury risk, why would you want to play him there? He’s a high risk guy who once was a star, so he might be able to do something special, but even if you get a great contract with him, sticking out in CF seems like folly.
If you haven’t been watching the World Series, you’ve been missing out on some great baseball. But now is your chance to jump on the bandwagon, and tonight is the perfect night. Why? Well, there’s a myriad of reasons why any baseball fan should be paying attention tonight, but Nats fans in particular have one extra reason – C.J. Wilson. The Nationals have said they are in the market for an ace, and his contract ends after this seasons. It’s hard not to list him as the best starting pitcher available at the moment. After the World Series, CC Sabathia may opt out, and Yu Darvish will likely end up coming over from Japan. So at worst, he’s the third best guy.
Personally, I’m not so sure if Wilson is an ace. He’s very good, and his move from the bullpen last year to full time starter has been a rousing success. In 2011, he had a 2.94 ERA in 223 1/3 IP, striking out 206 and walking a worrisome 74, while going went 16-7. The year before, he actually lead the league in walks, with 90, but still managed a 3.35 ERA to go with his 170 Ks. The walks are very troubling, and yet, he’s managed to strike out 376 hitters in the last 2 seasons, and have a 142 ERA+ in a true hitters park. I’m not sure if that shows how good he’s been, or how lucky he’s been, but it’s certainly intriguing.
Albert Pujols is probably the best player in baseball right now. He is, probably, 31 years old. His career line is .331/.426/.624, with 408 HRs. He has the minimum 10 years to make the Hall of Fame, and if he were to retire today, he’d be a shoe in. There is talk that he will not re-sign with the Cardinals, and become a free agent. There’s also talk that he is older than 31. There are rumors saying that he wants a 10 year, $300 M deal.
Let’s take it for granted that he’ll entertain all offers, and assume he will only get a few teams really interested, due to money and time of the contract. The Nationals certainly have a chance to sign him if they offered that astronomical sum. But that’s a ton of money in to invest in any player, so would you even want them to?