December 1, 2009

Non-News Is Good News

On the day that legitimately competitive baseball clubs were deciding whether to offer arbitration to their talented free agents, the only news out of NatsTown is that the team will not be handing out cash to the veteran free agent dreck that clogged last year's roster. Josh Bard, Livan Hernandez, Austin Kearns, Ron Villone and Dmitri Young will all be faced with the unenviable task of latching on with a club more desperate for "baseball players" than the 2009 Washington Nationals.

As "news" goes, this is right up there with the shocking revelations, reported first here on Nats Triple Play, that Nats pitchers will not be pitching underhand next season and the corpse of Honus Wagner will not be your 2010 Opening Day shortstop. Note that the Honus Wagner "story" is still subject to confirmation.

As to whether the team will be handing out cash to the slightly younger dreck that clogged last year's roster, Mike Rizzo has until December 12th to make that call. On arbitration questions NTP mostly lines up with fellow Natmospherians Brian at NFA and Steven at FJB (3-letter acronyms: It's what's hip!)

For nuanced analysis, read them. Here's my take:

Absolutely offer arbitration to: Jesus Flores (Duh) and Josh Willingham (Double Duh.)

Probably should offer arbitration to:
Sean Burnett (All my kids are learning to pitch lefty from birth, if not before.)

I'm fine either way:
Jason Bergmann (He can swing from bullpen to rotation, he won't cost too much and he's got tenure with the franchise; but he gives up too many walks and gopher balls.)

Don't offer arbitration to:
Saul Rivera (look up "fungible") and Wil Nieves (Who?)

Dear God, please don't offer arbitration to:
Mike MacDougal
(Say you find $100 at the departure terminal at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas. You pocket the money and go. You do not conclude that you're on a "hot streak" and extend your trip to return to the casinos. Trust me on this one.)

Damn the torpedoes, offer arbitration to:
Scott Olsen
(This is where I part ways with Brian and Steven. I'm a little more optimistic about Olsen's rebound potential and a little less sanguine about the likelihood of replacing that potential on the open market. I'd lump Olsen in with the other second-tier starting pitchers recovering from injury and try to sign him to a comparable deal. Even an arbitration loss should (should) have a negligible impact on the 2010 payroll.)

That frees up three spots on the 40-man roster. You know who'd look good in those spots? Orlando Hudson, Rich Harden and the top pick in the Rule 5 draft. Get to work, Rizzo.

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