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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bring Back Scruffy!

Jayson Werth is a good-looking guy! Who knew? He cleans up so well.

My wife watched part of the press conference with me and didn't believe it was actually the same guy she saw bouncing up and down with his (former) teammates after that late-season blast off Drew Storen.

That linked video message shows just how good he looks.

That said, BRING BACK SCRUFFY! This Jayson Werth looks like he would simply abhor getting dirty. I want the Jayson Werth who looks mean enough to make me cower in fear.

So there's my New Year's wish list. The return of Scruffy.

Unrelated, my ornament came today. Yeah, I bought one of those three-packs that offered the Nats ornament as a "bonus" gift. And the tickets are a gift. I haven't made up my mind yet about returning in 2011. Will Jayson Werth be enough or do I need to see more? Stay tuned on that because I just know everyone is on the edge of their seats.

But back to the ornament. It broke coming out of the box.

I sure hope that's not an omen. I have a clean Jayson Werth and a mess of an ornament. That needs to be reversed.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Opening Day Starter for the Viera Invisible All-Stars

Welcome back Chien-Ming, be good to see you at Nationals Park agai *** oh wait. It will be good to see you at Nationals Park.

We'll see.

Wonder if Brandon Webb will join him on the VIA-S.

This is their hat:

This is their uniform:

And this is the release, courtesy of the Nationals:


The Washington Nationals tonight signed free-agent right-handed pitcher Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year Major League contract. Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Wang, 30, returns for a second season with the Nationals organization. He did not pitch in 2010 while working with the Nationals’ training staff on a rehab program designed to regain full health from July 2009 right shoulder surgery.

Wang is 55-26 with a 4.16 ERA in 109 career games/104 starts spanning five seasons with the Yankees. An extreme ground-ball pitcher, Wang’s career ground ball-to-fly ball ratio of 2.73/1 ranks third among active pitchers with 100-plus starts, trailing only Brandon Webb (3.63/1) and Derek Lowe (3.09/1). His .679 career winning percentage ranks second among active pitchers with 100 or more starts.

Perhaps best known for posting consecutive 19-win seasons for the Yankees in 2006 and ‘07, Wang’s consistency afforded him the honor of starting the Yankees’ first post-season contest in 2007 vs. Cleveland. During the same two-year span, Wang led MLB with 38 wins and a .745 winning percentage while pacing the American League with 864 ground balls induced and a 2.9/1 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio.

Wang originally signed with the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on May 5, 2000.

See Ya Hammer

Props to Mark Zuckerman on the scoop on this one - Josh Willingham to the As for two as-yet-unidentified "young" players.

If one of them is Gio Gonzalez, I'm really jacked. I would have thought Willingham would have been part of a package to bring in a major-league player. Preferably a pitcher.

I wonder if the Nats know something we don't?

Moving Willingham doesn't bother me as much as it might have before. At least last year he had an excuse for not doing anything in the second half of the season. I seem to remember a significant dropoff in 2009.

That said, he served the Nats well. I still can't believe it took the Nats so long to finally start playing him.

I wish him well.

Now, who are these two "young" players?

UPDATE: More on the players coming the Nats way. At first glance, I'm not overwhelmed. Anybody who actually knows something about these guys, please share your thoughts in the comments.

UPDATE 2: The Nats' release on the trade --


The Washington Nationals today acquired right-handed pitcher Henry Rodriguez and outfielder Corey Brown from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for left fielder Josh Willingham. Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Rodriguez went 1-0 with a 4.55 ERA in 29 appearances last season with Oakland in just his second season as a full-time reliever. He posted 10.7 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (33 K/27.2 IP) and a .240 batting average against, including a stingy .207 mark against right-handed batters. Rodriguez recorded 11 saves and a 1.69 ERA in 20 appearances with Sacramento of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 2010, posting 13.1 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (31 K/21.1 IP) and a 3.44 strikeout-to-walk ratio (31 K/9 BB) with the River Cats.

The hard-throwing right-hander ranked fourth in the big leagues last season with an average fastball velocity of 98.45 miles per hour, after his 98.96 mph average in 2009 trailed only Detroit’s Joel Zumaya (99.19 mph). Rodriguez touched 103.2 mph on the gun in 2010, a high that was topped only by Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman (105.1 mph) and Texas’ Neftali Feliz (103.4 mph).

Rodriguez, 23, is 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in 32 career relief appearances in the major leagues. A member of the World Team in the 2008 All-Star Futures Game at Yankee Stadium, he is currently pitching for Leones in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he has five saves and a 1.77 ERA (27 K/20.1 IP) in 17 appearances.

Brown batted .283 with 18 doubles, 11 triples, 15 home runs, 69 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 131 games last season with Midland of the Double-A Texas League and Sacramento. He earned citations as a Texas League All-Star and Topps Double-A All-Star for his 90 games with Midland. Brown batted .320 with 14 doubles, eight triples, 10 homers, 49 RBI, 19 stolen bases and a .415 on-base percentage with the RockHounds, ranking among Double-A leaders for on-base percentage (third), batting average (fifth) and triples (tied for eighth).

Brown dominated the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League in 2009, hitting .333 and finishing among AFL leaders with 28 RBI (first), six home runs (tied for second), 65 total bases (second), 15 extra-base hits (tied for third) and 35 hits (fourth).

Selected by Oakland in the compensation round (59th overall) of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, the 25-year-old has batted .272 with 83 doubles, 21 triples, 65 home runs, 243 RBI and 48 stolen bases in 390 games over four minor-league seasons.

Willingham, 31, batted .268 with 16 home runs and 56 RBI in 114 games last season with the Nationals.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Matt Stairs is a Nat

Strike up the band, another member of the Senior League All-Stars!

Release courtesy of the Washington Nationals and I'm sure everyone feels better about things now. Did anyone have a whiff of this one coming?

Bold has been added by me, not the Nats. Take that Phils! You got Cliff Lee? The Nats got Matt Stairs!


The Washington Nationals today agreed to terms with outfielder/first baseman Matt Stairs on a non-guaranteed minor league contract, which includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training. Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Stairs is an 18-year big league veteran who has competed in four post-seasons and won a World Series championship with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008. He owns the all-time Major League mark with 23 pinch-hit home runs (Greg Dobbs and Ross Gload rank second among active players with eight pinch-homers). Stairs enters 2011 having played for a record-tying 12 different Major League teams and having homered for a record-tying 11 different clubs.

The 42-year-old tied for the Major League lead with four pinch-hit home runs last season, after leading all big league pinch hitters with five homers and 15 RBI (tied) in 2009. Overall in 2010, Stairs clubbed six home runs, six doubles and 16 RBI in 78 contests with the San Diego Padres.

Stairs has reached the 20-homer plateau six times en route to hitting 265 home runs and posting 897 RBI during his career.

And the Nats Can't Find ONE No. 1 Starter

Depending on your view of Cole Hamels (and I think highly of him), the Phillies now have FOUR No. 1 starters with the news that Cliff Lee is returning to Philadelphia. Surprise news, everyone is saying. Really? A true surprise or just something no one knew anything about until it actually happened? Kind of like Jayson Werth?

Pretty strong rotation there, though, eh? I think the pecking order is clear: Halladay (the best pitcher in baseball), Lee (not the second best as long as The Freak is around), Oswalt and Hamels. You could throw Ramon Ortiz in the fifth spot and still have the best rotation in the game (or second best if you are a Giants fan).

While it is an impressive collection, here's why I think Phils fans shouldn't get but so excited and why fans of the Nats and other NL East teams don't need to get too freaked out: It is an aging rotation.

My prediction? Enjoy 2011, Philadelphia. I predict 100 victories and a pennant and probably a World Series crown.

But Hamels is the only youngster of the group and he's running out of young (he'll be 27 two days after Christmas). Oswalt and Lee turn 33 next season. Halladay turns 34.

Which one breaks down first? I'd never wish ill or injury on anyone, seriously, not even my worst enemy or a Phillie. But is there any way that trio makes it through 2012 unscathed?

Let's also note the Big Four combined to lose 43 games in 2010. So the idea when playing the Phils is to catch them in a "back-end" series. Take your chances with Hamels, Joe Blanton (until he's traded to the Red Sox) and Halladay. Beat No. 5 and catch one of the other two on one of their infrequent but not unheard of off days. Win the series.

Chin up people, it can be done.

So where does this leave the Nats? No change. Did anyone really expect Cliff Lee to come to Washington? Did anyone really expect to win the division in 2011? No. So there's no reason for us to fret.

I'm still not in favor of Carl Pavano and I still would like to see the team take a chance on Brandon Webb. I still wouldn't cry if Norris/Ramos, Desmond and a pitcher not named Zimmermann went to the Royals for Zack Greinke. I also wouldn't cry if the Nats didn't add a pitcher. Take your chances with Zimmermann, post-injury Marquis, post-demotion Lannan, Livo and any one of countless other options.

My main concern is first base and that the Nats will somehow end up with their own Senior Tour ready first baseman, the other available Lee (Derrek). I'd rather see Adam LaRoche, who will never hit 50 doubles and 46 home runs like Derrek Lee did in 2005 but looks (to me anyway) to be a better fit for this team right now.

Of course, they had a pretty good fit already (you think a Zimmerman/Dunn/Werth/Willingham 3-6 would have been OK) and he's with the White Sox now.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Speaking of MASN

The release from our favorite sports network just came in and I'll copy it below. But first, I have a question:

Speaking of MASN, do we know who is in the booth next year? I hadn't even thought about it until I got this release. Was Bob Carpenter given multiple years last time? Is Ray Knight going back to pre- and post-game?

Inquiring minds want to know. Does anyone have the answer?

Anyhoo, here is MASN's release to hold us until another huge offseason move happens (if it does). was full of maybe news today I didn't like. Cliff Lee not happening (no shock). Derrek Lee maybe happening (Really, he's like my age). Carl Pavano still a possibility (The Senior Tour comes to Nats Park with Derrek Lee and Carl Pavano). Brandon Webb excited to go pitch for the Viera Invisible All-Stars.

Oh, yeah, here's the release:

MASN to Televise Jayson Werth Press Conference Live

Nationals press conference scheduled for Wednesday, December 15th at 1 p.m.

(Washington D.C.) --- MASN will provide live coverage of the Nationals news conference scheduled for Wednesday afternoon introducing outfielder Jayson Werth to local media.

The news conference is scheduled for Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. and will be televised live on MASN hosted by Nats Xtra broadcaster Johnny Holliday.

The Nationals signed Werth to a seven-year, $126 million deal during the annual Winter Meetings. Werth, 31, batted .296 with an NL-leading 46 doubles, 27 home runs and 85 RBI in 156 games in 2010 for the Philadelphia Phillies, establishing career highs in hits, doubles, extra-base hits and runs. Werth's career includes seasons in Philadelphia (2007-10), Los Angeles (2004-05) and Toronto (2002-03).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thank You Cubs

If you believe the Chicago Sun-Times (and I do), Carlos Pena is off the market.

(and if you don't believe the Sun-Times, believe Mark Zuckerman who just posted on the topic)

A trillion thank yous to the Cubs. Had I known, I would have spent more money on my visit to Wrigley.

All signs point to Pena being a very fine guy and I hope he has a monster year. As the linked article points out, his numbers have dropped each of the past three seasons. Yet he got $10 mil - albeit only for one year - after failing to even reach the Mendoza Line.

I sleep better knowing he won't be batting between Zimmerman and Werth.

Is there any question any more that Adam LaRoche is the right answer at first? Left bat, solid player who won't cost a fortune, a good fit in that he doesn't have to be the big bopper?

I still say the Nats make one more significant splash before the party breaks up in Florida, though I make it clear that's just me talking at this stage. I don't know how serious they are about Cliff Lee, though I wouldn't object to another crazy contract if he's on the other end of it. Some people say they're very much in it, some people say they're very much not. Rizzo keeps using the term longshot. I've seen longshots win before.

Adrian Beltre? That won't be the big name, thankfully. No knock on him, I don't feel the same way about Beltre as I do about Pena. It just isn't a fit. He's a fine 3B and the Nats have a better one. Why make anyone play out of position (and add another right-handed bat) when Adam LaRoche is out there?

The shindig in Florida breaks up tomorrow, I think. I'm very eager to see what, if anything, happens in the next 24 hours.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Two More L's

And I'm not talking about losses. This is my wish list for the rest of the winter. If this happens (and it likely won't), no need to get me anything for Christmas but one of the new Nats hats. I'll be happy. And I'll be back.

With the addition of Jayson Werth, I want two things to happen. L guys.

*Cliff Lee. Call it my pipedream. As I'll note when I finally put my Werth thoughts on virtual paper, you really only ought to do one blowout, crazy contact. I'll waive that rule here. If it takes seven years and 140 mil, do it. Think about 2012: Lee, Jee-SUS, Zimmermann (assuming the development we all expect). There's the Nats answer to the Roy-Roy-Hamels triumverate in Philadelphia.

*Adam LaRoche. Good, solid answer at 1B. Another strong bat, doesn't have to be THE big bat with Werth around. Certainly makes much more sense than Adrian Beltre. Bats left. Doesn't have to change positions.

Oh, and keep Willingham unless the return is someone like Greinke.

I could live with a rotation of Lee, Zimmermann, Livo, post-demotion Lannan and, hell, just about anyone for 2011. I'd much rather see Bernadina in center than Morgan but I won't quibble.

Lee. LaRoche. Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 6, 2010

OK, This One IS Just A Rumor - Now

Sometimes I forgot that I'm nothing more than a mere blogger, posting from my home (not in a basement) with whatever I want to say being fair game.

I need to give up these standards from my previous life.

Nope, can't do it. But I CAN post stuff that I wouldn't write in the old days, I'm just going to make it clear what is and what isn't rock solid.

The Josh Willingham trade? That was rock solid and I wrote it that way. The Jayson Werth signing? That was very close to rock solid (well, it was rock solid - I just didn't know it at the time) and I wrote it that way.

I hinted at more yesterday and some of the regulars have done so since they got wind of Werth and expanded on that.

First, everyone expects Brandon Webb to get done. No shocker there. Low pay, high incentives, limited expectations. The Viera Invisible All-Stars need someone now that Wang has been non-tendered. Unless he signed elsewhere while I was sleeping.

But that's not the potential big one that has the world ready to buzz again. One more time - a mere rumor to this point. May not pan out at all. I know that and you need to know that before reading the next line.

Adrian Beltre.

Yeah, the guy whose bobblehead I lucked into when I saw the Nats play in Seattle in 2008 is something of a target.

Say what?

I asked my source to place it on the scale: pipedream or possibility or close to being done? Somewhere above pipedream and somewhere below close to being done. My guess is "being seriously explored by both sides" would work.

We'll see. As noted yesterday, keep your ears open.

The big question would become, where's he going to play? Although there's nothing in the rules that says you can't have two guys standing near 3B, it's not good baseball strategy. Someone has to play 1B. Can Beltre do that? Or, uh, ah, does the best third baseman in the game make a move? No way, right? Laughable, right?

One thing I have learned over the years is never say no way. Never laugh. Because you never know. You'd have laughed at me Saturday if I told you the Nats were about to drop seven years and 126 mill-yun on Jayson Werth. Some of you laughed yesterday when I swore "werth"while news was coming.

Again, RUMOR. Take it as such. But make sure all your alerts from blogs, Facebook and Twitter are set on high. Whether it's this or something else, the Nats are NOT done. Far from it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Release courtesy of the Nationals and, yes, I am patting myself on the back. HARD

The Washington Nationals today agreed to terms with free-agent right fielder Jayson Werth on a seven-year contract. Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

Werth, 31, is a career .272 (684-for-2519) hitter with 138 doubles, 15 triples, 120 home runs, 406 RBI, 77 stolen bases and 433 runs scored in 775 games spanning eight seasons with Philadelphia (2007-10), Los Angeles-NL (2004-05) and Toronto (2002-03). For his career, Werth also owns .367 on-base and .481 slugging percentages, as well as an .848 OPS.

In 2010, his final season with the Phillies, Werth batted .296 (164-for-554) with an NL-leading 46 doubles, 27 home runs and 85 RBI in 156 games. He established career highs in hits, doubles, extra-base hits (75) and runs (106). He also notched a career-best .532 slugging percentage in ‘10, and thus, increased his slugging mark for the fourth straight season.

An NL All-Star in ‘09, Werth burst upon the scene as a premium middle-of-the-lineup bat in 2008, and in three seasons since, he has batted .279 with 88 doubles, 87 home runs, 251 RBI and 53 stolen bases in 449 games. In the same three-year span, Werth has paced MLB having seen 4.46 pitches per plate appearance. In the two-season stretch from 2009-10, Werth’s 204 runs scored, 173 walks and 63 home runs ranked third, fifth and eighth, respectively in the NL.

An excellent baserunner, Werth has twice posted 20-stolen base seasons (2008, ‘09), and in 2010 his speed and senses helped him to score 100-plus runs for the first time in his career.

Drafted in the first round by the Orioles as a catcher in 1997, Werth has proven durable, as he is one of only 12 National Leaguers to have played in 155-plus games each of the last two seasons.

A proven post-season performer, Werth’s .607 slugging percentage and .987 OPS rank third and fifth, respectively, among active players who have played in at least 20 playoff games.

Ears Open People - Big News Coming

I still have a source or two in this world and I'm told the Nats are about to make a very big splash in the free agent world. Very big splash. Losing Dunn? Mike Rizzo has to be grinning like the cat that ate the canary.

This one will be werth waiting for, I'm told. Not sure when it will become official and how much work remains to be done. Not 100 percent sure it will happen - but pretty darn close to that.

Other moves are in the works, too. A quiet offseason, at least in terms of good news, is about to get noisy. It could be a fun week.

If my favorite soon-to-be former Phillie does indeed end up in D.C., I may have to forget all about my promise to stay away. It will be werth it.

Ears open people.

(and if you are wondering how seriously to take this, ask yourself if you laughed when I wrote about the Willingham trade - of that I was rock-solid 100 percent certain. Here I'm only 99.999999999999 percent)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thank You Adam Dunn

I held off on posting. I reached for the computer yesterday intent on letting it all spill out. Instead, I decided to wait until I calmed down. Then it occurred to me I might never post again since I might never calm down. So I reached for the computer again.

My wife's reaction was priceless. When she heard the very loud F BOMB I uttered after hearing the news - she was in the same room but could have heard it from her classroom 20 miles away - she asked what was wrong. I told her. And she said:

"Idiots. We're not going back, right?"

Correct. We are not. The Nats won't notice. The Nats won't care. But a family has to take a stand.

Eventually, maybe even tonight, I'll let that anger out. I have plenty to say. I had an e-mail exchange with a colleague who is a Nats fan today. Turns out I'm definitely not alone in my thoughts. I may just cut and paste his e-mail because he said it better than I could.

But, until then, I want to make sure my appreciation for Adam Dunn doesn't get lost in this disgust that is eating away at me from the inside out.


Dear Adam Dunn,

Thank you. Having been a Nats fan since the team landed in Washington, I can assure you moments of joy have been few. I could list some, sure. I'd be lying if I said there weren't any. Cripes, I've seen five walk-off home runs (one of them by you).

But by and large they've been rare and you were responsible for many of them.

Sure, you drove me nuts now and then looking at strike three (except you were right on the Randy Johnson pitch). Sure you drove me nuts sometimes watching you play defense (but you were getting better).

Overall? You made it fun to be there and you're one of the few guys who made me inch up and lean forward in my seat every time you came up.

Specific moments? I could go on forever but here are a few I was present for and for which I give you a rousing and heartfelt thanks:

*No. 300. Against the Braves no less, with my Son The Braves Fan right next to me. Even he had to give it up for that one. "That was cool," he said, standing and applauding with the rest of us. Yes, yes it was.

*The one against St. Louis in 2009 when Martis pitched that gem. Landed way in the upper deck and made my wife go "HOLY SHIT" really loud.

*The one off the warehouse (on the bounce) in Baltimore that made my wife use another word after HOLY but just as loud.

*The walk-off slam against the Mets in early July that was called a double after review. But, hey, everyone in the joint knew it was out. Even K-Rod, which is why he laid that fattie in for Pudge to drive in the winner.

*The two against the Braves late this season, with aforementioned son next to me saying, "Sure, great idea Nats, let this guy go because you have SO many others who can do that."

*The last one, the walk-off against the Phillies. I laughed, I cheered and I cried a little, too, because I knew. I think everyone in the stadium knew. That was it.

There's more but you have contracts to sign and more money to spend and I have to get back to work and then figure out which team I'll go see next year because I don't want to give up on live baseball. Just the Nats. I wish you'd picked the cool team in Chicago but whatever. Your call. I don't blame you for any of this.

Meanwhile, I await the signing of Carlos Pena so I can get disgusted all over again. I await the crap the Nats try to shove down our throats about how this is the right baseball decision. I do not await the end of 2013, when Ryan Zimmerman follows you out the door. Probably just a coincidence that he won Silver Sluggers both years you were in the lineup with him, eh?

You were a joy to watch and I enjoyed watching you.

Thank you,