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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ladies and Gents, your 2009 Nationals

I walked later than I should have this a.m. and it was already too hot so maybe that turned my brain to mush. Maybe I'm drinking UncleStanKoolAid instead of Arizona Iced Tea. But I got to thinking about a lineup that won't require much tinkering. I think I could be OK with this if it happens, which it won't. I'll list and make comments later

1. TBA, 2B
2. Guzman, SS
3. Zimmerman, 3B
4. Dukes, LF
5. Milledge, CF
6. Kearns, RF
7. Flores, C
8. Montz, 1B (you knew that was coming)
9. Some ragarm

I'd be OK with a bench of Harris (versatile), Orr (versatile), Langerhans (channeling Bobby Cox, I like the guy. Please hit just a little), backup C TBA and some Boone/Young type. Casto could fill that role, I guess. Play both corners and the outfield.

I'm hoping Belliard is moved for prospects.

At the top, I dream of Orlando Hudson. He'll probably cost too much but a guy can dream, can't he? Barring that, I don't have much of an answer. I'd be OK with Belliard there, further down in the order. I just think he could bring some good value now.

I don't think we can count on Nick Johnson being a healthy Nat again, sad to say. Dmitri was a great story last year but he has way too many liabilities. If he's OK with being a bench guy, fine. If not, well, it was fun.

Yes, Dukes in the cleanup spot. Ray Knight said he was the team's only five-tool player and he's probably right. He was really growing on me as a player and we just have to hope he keeps himself together away from the field. I have a friend who likes to be a wiseacre and he asked me what would come first - a 30-home run season for Dukes or a 30-year sentence? He accuses me of being a fanboy looser (well, I am) when I tell him Dukes has been reformed. I hope it isn't wishful thinking.

Now the big question - who gets people out? Are there any pitchers worth pursuing? I've always liked Ben Sheets. He's hurt a lot, it seems, so he'd fit in here. He'll also be expensive.

If Lannan is the only carryover, I'd be OK with that. Redding's value fades with each start like last night's. I don't think Bergmann will fetch anything. I don't think we'll see Hill or Chico (injured/injured and not very good). I'm not convinced Balester doesn't need more time in AAA. Will Zimmermann be ready?

Would a rotation of Lannan, Bergmann, Zimmermann, Clippard and who the hell knows be good enough? Is Martis any good? VanAllen?

Rauch will be elsewhere, I suspect, hopefully in return for a wheelbarrow full of prospects. Does Hanrahan close? Zinicola? I don't think we'll see Cordero next year. I hope Colome and Ayala are elsewhere. I'm actually OK with Manning and Rivera. Who else might emerge?

Yep, every time I start to think things might actually be OK sooner than I expect, I start thinking about pitching and my dreams turn dark.

Your thoughts? Free agents to pursue?


Chris Needham said...

IF is clearly the place to target.

Depending on how Furcal's back problems end up, he could be the guy to target.

The other guy -- besides Hudson -- to consider is Mark Ellis of the A's. He's having a bit of a down year... and he's not young... but he's a tremendous defender.

Nationals Fan said...

I'd like to see them match Nick with a righty who will mash lefties and keep Nick around 100 starts. I think that's the way to keep him healthiest. Maybe that's the theory with Meat, but he clearly can't be counted on to hold up his end. But he and Nick are both under contract for next year, so unless a trade happens that's your 3.

Bergy isn't a bad option. Hill can't be written off.

Mike said...

The good thing about Ellis is that he probably will end up being a Type B at best so the Nats wouldn't even have to surrender any compensation, and he would save a lot of runs on the defensive side. I guess it all depends on how many years they'd have to give him because he'll turn 32 next June.

I tend to agree that Hudson would be at the top of the list. Again, it all depends on the length and value he ends up with(which can be said for anyone). Both he and Furcal will be 31 next year, but Hudson has been the steadier of the two over the last few seasons.

I'm not sure it'd be wise to give out a huge contract to a pitcher(I doubt they would anyways), but it's worth noting that Sabathia is younger and has been more durable than Sheets.

Anonymous said...

Colin Balester as one of our pitchers?

MikeHarris said...

Perhaps, anon. I want to watch him a little more but my early thoughts are he needs a little more time in AAA.

I'd love Sabathia but I fear the price there, particuarly if he finishes strong for the Brewers.

Is Teixiera a complete pipe dream? Isn't he from Annapolis?

MikeHarris said...

Did Johnny Waddles damn near get thrown out there? Christ.

Nationals Fan said...

I wouldn't go anywhere near Sheets, Tex, or CC.

Sheets is the Nick Johnson of SPs--absolute fool's gold. I want no part of that.

People still think of Tex as the guy who hit 45 HR in Texas at age 26. But he's been a 30 HR guy since leaving the bandbox in Arlington, and factor in the typical decline with age and you're going to be spending 20m a year on a 25-HR 1B right quick. And you'd be blocking Marrero. And DY and NJ are under contract. To me that's not a good signing even if you didn't have those guys. It makes no sense for the Nationals.

CC is a great pitcher, but I'm put off by any pitcher whose thrown 250+ innings in their age 26 season. Long-term contracts for pitchers are always a huge risk, but factor that in, no thanks.

MikeHarris said...

If Tex does get $20 million a year from somewhere, I indeed hope it is not with the Nats. Hell, he may get that much.
I wouldn't worry about blocking Marrero, whose timetable has been changed thanks to his injury. He's only 19 and I think he was three years away before the injury.

Give me Hudson or this Ellis guy and a real pitcher and I'll be happy.

Nationals Fan said...

Tex is the top FA bat available in 2009, and he's just 29. The market will be huge, especially since there's a team in NY that needs a 1B. He'll get at least that or very close to it, and for several years.

No, Marrero's not going to be ready in 2009, but signing Tex would mean at least a 4-year commitment, maybe more like 6 or 7. So you're blocking Marrero through at least his age 23 or 24 seasons. Even with the injury, if he's still toiling in the minors at that age it'll be a disappointment.

If we're going to shout for more payroll, how's about we sign Zimmy long-term?

MikeHarris said...

I vote for that. They want to show me they mean it, lock up all the young guys. Zim first.

I agree on Tex, I was just throwing it out there. I really like him but can't see paying the kind of money he's likely to bring.

Anonymous said...

Wait, you were joking about Montz @ 1b, right? I think he fights with Nieves for the backup job with the loser starting in AAA.

c: Flores, Montz
1b: Johnson, Young
2b: Belliard, Harris
3b: Zimmerman
ss: Free Agent X
lf: Dukes, Pena, Harris
cf: Milledge, Bernadina, Harris
rf: Kearns, Pena

sp: Lannan, Redding, Bergmann, Balester, Clipard/Zimmermann/Mock. Hopefully with Crow and Detwiler in the wings along with the losers of that 5th starter's job.

CL: Cordero (Assuming he comes back. This whole thing is assuming everyone is healthy.)
SU: J. Hanrahan
MRP R. Wagner
MRP J. Colome
MRP S. Shell (Maybe the long reliever and the team goes with 6 out of the 'pen.)
LHS: Minor League FA
Long Reliever: Minor League FA

That isn't wishful thinking. Just probability.

Hendo said...

Just looking at pitching, yeah, you can forget about Chico for '09, being as he's just had TJ -- not that anyone can be forgiven for not being aware of that buried news.

I share the apprehensions about Sheets, but you need a #1 starter from somewhere. Thank heaven Lannan's not going away any time soon.

Meanwhile, Shell's my relief ace of the future. And maybe of the past -- I'd like to see him used like Tekulve or Guisti in days of yore, or at least like Mariano Rivera in the more recent past.

Realistically, a closer can be cooked up from lots of places. Maybe Hanrahan, maybe even Clint Everts in a pinch. (I grant those are perhaps the worst-case scenarios.)

Hendo said...

Whoops, that should be "not that anyone *can't* be forgiven..." It's getting late here.

Sean Hogan said...

Yeah, I had Ellis as my choice at 2B on my blog. He's kinda the common ground between a high priced guy and a good player.

And Andrew-I dunno about a lot of what you put, probability-wise. I think that Guz will be back first of all. Cordero probably won't be there until the ASB next year. Why would the Nats want Colome back at all? Crow isn't signed yet and Detwiler has apparently regressed in the minors. Ruh row.

Hendo said...

Hoagie, re Detwiler's rumored regression, I've been prepared to write him off myself, not with pleasure.

Took a run down to the Pfitz last night to see his start. It wasn't as bad as I might have feared. He's still wild, but he's changing speeds better and successfully worked his way out of a couple of serious jams.

But, yeah, he needs to work on that control. And I hope to God his slim frame can take the punishment that pitching is inflicting on it. Anyhow, he won't be the MLB Nats' Opening Day starter in 2009, that's for sure.

George Templeton said...

It's not my money, but whatever the price is Sabathia would be worth it in my view. The guy is a proven horse and a proven ace. There is nothing in his record that says he is going to break down.
Sure it would be a lot of money, but he would be the anchor of this pitching staff and even with everything that is happening, the Nats pitching isn't too bad. Imagine if we had a real ace.

As for 2B next year. Hudson and Ellis would be fine. Let me cast a vote for Nick Punto he can play a lot of infield positions, a decent fielder and has hit the ball very well this year and pretty good in 2006 (was terrible in 07).

MikeHarris said...

Hell, C.C. might lead this team in home runs.

sec314 said...

Where's the Rhinehart mafia? I thought he was our starting 1B next year.

I have no problem with them "showcasing" LoDuca in hopes of getting a 6th round draft pick or something for him, but after the trade deadline I hope they bring up Broadway or Rhinehart and let of them play... sink or swim