January 27, 2009

MASN Suicide

Take Capitol Punishment. Add in a dash of NationalsFanboyLooser. That about sums up my take on the following:

MASN Names Rob Dibble As New Color Announcer for Nationals Baseball

Rob Dibble makes Joe Morgan look the enlightened offspring of Vin Scully and Jack Buck. The Nationals could not have chosen a worse replacement for Don Sutton (leaving for "personal reasons", no doubt including a desire not to work for the Nationals any more) if they had set out to search for the worst announcer in baseball. The Carpenter-Dibble combo gives Charlie Slowes and Dave Jaegler instant job security.

Even though Dibble is an ex-Red, I'm pretty sure we can't blame Bowden for this one. So for this move, following so closely on the heels of the now famous "Fans don't care about payroll!" soliloquy, let me be the first to say:


January 25, 2009

A Short Tour of NatsFest 2009

Welcome fans!The field is decked out in its best winter white.
The dugout has never been cleaner.They'll let anyone into these things.The temple of GUZMANIA!I'm not the only one who writes his locker combination on a Post-It.
FYI, nary a cheeseburger in sight.The Mannyger in the big brown hat.
Thanks Willie!

More in-depth coverage here, here and elsewhere around the Natosphere. Special thanks to Willie, Zimm, American Hero, Irish Mike, Steven Shell and Dan Steinberg for a memorable afternoon. Let's just hope it doesn't turn out to be the highlight of the 2009 season, okay fellas?

January 24, 2009

If Someone's Going to Post a 5.54 ERA...

I'd rather it not be Tommy Glavine. Rocket Bill Ladson says that Glavine, a close friend of team President Stan "Nothing to See Here" Kasten, would consider joining the Nats if the Braves give him the boot. Your 2009 Washington Nationals, Plan B for 42 year old pitchers coming off of injuries. Color me less than thrilled.

Glavine managed just 13 starts and 63 IP for the Braves in 2008, logging a 5.54 ERA with a 1:1 K to BB ratio. Hardly impressive numbers, and no improvement at all over Nationals rookie righthander Collin Balester, who put up a 5.51 ERA in 80 innings. But the veteran lefty would reportedly be brought on board as much to mentor John Lannan and Scott Olsen as to provide innings at the back of the rotation. I'm sure Tom Glavine would be a great pitching coach, but that's no reason to give him a spot on the 25-man roster.

If the Nationals want to bring a pitcher like Jon Garland on board for 30 starts, 200 innings and a 4.50 ERA that might be money well spent. Ben Sheets too, would be a welcome addition, though possibly not worth the first pick in the second round of June's draft. But a Glavine, Randy Wolf or Josh Fogg would just be taking up space on a team like the 2009 Nationals.

Yes, you want depth behind a starting rotation of Olsen, Lannan, Daniel Cabrera , Balester and Jordan Zimmermann. But that's exactly what guys like Shawn Hill, Gustavo Chacin, Jorge Sosa, Josh Towers, Tyler Clippard, Garrett Mock and Shairon Martis are. Depth. Rehabing vets, promising youngsters, all providing more flexibility than a 30 or 40-something starter on a guaranteed major league contract. So sign Garland or Sheets, by all means. But if not, there's nothing else out there on the market that can't be replicated from within the system.

Fortunately, the same is not true of hitters. So SIGN DUNN already!

January 16, 2009

How NOT to Get By on $394,000 a Year

Times are tough all over, I get that. But WTF, man?

Some quick math: $394,000 minus

  • 5% for the agent ($19,700) = $374,300
  • 30% for the tax man ($118,200) = $256,100
  • Child support @ $6,527/mo ($78,324) = $177,776

So that's roughly $175K after taxes, paying off your agent and child support. No doubt legal fees are eating up a chunk of that, and there's still rent and living expenses to consider, but if Elijah's having trouble making ends meet on the MLB minimum, he needs to reexamine his commitments.

Something just doesn't add up. Or to put it another way...

January 12, 2009

They Grow 'Em Big Down on the Farm

Sure, the HOF vote came out today, and yes, Blyleven got screwed again, but Nats fans have weightier issues to contend with this offseason. Official WaPo Nationals "beat writer" Chico Harlan takes time of from researching his groundbreaking 15-part expose on competitive yak calling to drop some Nats knowledge on us.

Apparently top P-Nats 1B prospect Chris Marrero was a wee bit hefty last year. Also described as "fleshy", "doughy", chunky, pudgy, rotund, stout and thickset, Marrero came in to last season at 235 lbs and proceeded to eat his way through the greater Woodbridge, Virginia pizza delivery market. NTP has obtained this file photo of Chris at a post-game buffet following a victory over Winston-Salem:

You know those cabs are just empty calories, right?

Some bloggers would take this opportunity to point out the myriad failures in this situation, from Marrero himself to the Potomac training staff to the big league club that apparently can't be bothered to keep an eye on it's top prospects and is too cheap to spring for a nutritionist, or failing that, a salad shooter. But that's not my style. I prefer to think that Chris Marrero was simply continuing a franchise tradition.

He looked at Nick Johnson and saw that 235 lbs wasn't enough weight to protect a first baseman from a broken leg, so he packed on five extra pounds. He looked at Dmitri Young and saw a two-time All Star and Comeback Player of the Year, so he added five more. He looked at Ray King, saw a total solar eclipse, assumed it was dinner time and... well, you get the idea.

Chris Marrero continues another tradition as well. He joins the long line of Nationals players and prospects, including Jesus Flores and Justin Maxwell who are "expected to be in shape for the start of Spring Training next month."

January 9, 2009

Redding in Blue?

Newsday says Los Mets are on the verge of signing ex-Nats starter Tim Redding to a 1-year, $2.25M contract. Washington cut Redding loose in December to avoid going to arbitration with him, and then signed ex-Oriole Daniel Cabrera for $2.6M.

Getting Redding on a one year, sub-$2.5M deal is a solid signing, though it's arguably less than what Tim would have made in arbitration. (We'll have a better idea once the arbitration offers start coming in.) Maybe the Nats know something about Redding that no one else does. He did crash hard at the end of last season, but he was also dealing with a foot injury. If he bounces back to early 2008 form Trader Jim looks like an idiot... again.

Nevertheless, the team has had some success with the, "Churn through inexpensive free agents, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle and trade them or recoup some draft picks," approach to filling out the staff. From Esteban Loiaza in 2005 to Pedro Astacio, Brian Lawrence, Redding, Odalis Perez and now Cabrera and Gustavo Chacin, the idea has never been to build around these guys, but to milk them for a league average season or two and then sell them to slaughter. There have been some spectacular failures (Lawrence, Jason Simontacchi, Jerome Williams) but the Nats have gotten some valuable performances from retreads on minor league NRIs over the last few seasons.

Hopefully D-Cab can outperform Redding, which would both A) increase Cabrera's value and B) make the Mets look dumb. But I won't be terribly surprised if Tim has at least one more league average 5th starter season in him. It just had to be the Mets, didn't it?

January 7, 2009

Patterson & the Prospects

From Bill Ladson comes the utterly unsurprising but still sad news that John Patterson is retiring from baseball at the age of 30. The former Nationals "ace" starting pitcher experienced another setback during rehab of his perennially injured right forearm. J-Patt was very good with ocassional flashes of dominance during the 2005 inaugural season. This was probably the finest outing of his Nationals career, and Dave and I were privileged to see it.

After 2005 recurring injuries took a toll on Patterson, who pitched a total of 72 innings over the next two seasons. The Nats took some heat when they cut ties with John in March of last year, but an attempted comeback with the Texas Rangers fizzled after yet another mysterious bout of forearm pain. It's an unfortunate way for a little piece of Nats history to leave the big stage, but NTP wishes John and his family nothing but the best in the next phase of their lives.


BBA's list of the Top 10 Nationals Prospects is here! The always excellent NFA is doing the legwork to try to piece together the full Top 30. Three pitchers and three outfielders made the top 10, and Smiley Gonzalez is the lone middle infield representative, which goes a long way to explaining the 2-year extension of GUZMANIA! in the Nation's Capital.

As expected, 2009 rotation candidate Jordan Zimmermannnnnn tops the list, followed by talented but erratic LHP Ross Detwiler, rehabbing 1B Chris Marrero and raw OF Michael Burgess. Beyond Zimmermannnnnnnnnnn (and perhaps Detwiler) all ten are a long way from major league ready. It should go without saying that the addition of two Top 10 picks in June 2009 will greatly improve the list.

January 2, 2009

New Year, New Team?

To close the book on the 2008 Washington Nationals, (The book in question being Dante Alighieri's Inferno, if you were wondering.) here's a quick recap of the changes to version 1.0 of the 2009 Washington Nationals:

  • Out: 2B Emilio Bonifacio, SP Odalis Perez, INF Aaron Boone, RHRP Jesus Colome, SP Tim Redding and a mess of minor league free agents "headlined" by 1B Larry Broadway.

  • In: SP Scott Olsen, OF Josh Willingham, SP Daniel Cabrera, RHRP Terrell Young, and a mess of minor league free agents "headlined" by OF Corey Patterson.
So far the action is less Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and more Curb Appeal. Rumors of big doins' swirl: Adam Dunn!... Orlando Hudson!!... Milton Bradley!?!... Orlando Jones?... the Parker Brothers???, but as Uncle Teddy well knows talk is much, much cheaper than action. At least until the lawyers get involved.

To date all the worst team in baseball has to show for it's offseason efforts is a pat on the head from Scott Boras in the wake of the failed pursuit of the ex-Pride of Severna Park. And if you think the Boras-Lerner Mutual Admiration Society will knock one red cent off the price of Stephen Strasburg's contract come June, well you're probably Jim Bowden.

Call me a bleary-eyed pessimist, but hard experience suggests that we should probably be resigned to a 2009 roster that looks suspiciously like 2008. Young, potentially talented but altogether unproven and more than a little injury-prone. If the Nats are a proxy for the economy (I know, but stay with me) then the hot start, extended mid-year implosion, and disappointing limp to the finish line, could all presage a bleak season to come. Will 2009 be the year the Nats find their true bottom and being the slow, difficult process of retooling to become competitive? Or will artificial stimulus in the form of Dunn, Hudson and/or Bradley ease the pain of transition? Forget Red Sox-Yankees. The defining contest of 2009 will be free marketeers vs. Keynesians.

2009 Washington Nationals: It's not a season ticket, it's an individual mini-bailout!