Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pavano, Webb, relievers and trades

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Several clubs have expressed interest in Roger Bernadina, but the Nats still like the outfielder.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- We interrupt today's never-ending string of Cliff Lee rumors to discuss other actual moves being discussed by the Nationals at the Winter Meetings...

-- Lee is by no means the only pitcher they've been pursuing here. Mike Rizzo acknowledged he's spoken "a couple times" with Tom O'Connell, the agent for Carl Pavano. Pavano remains a potential target of the Nats, though there are plenty of teams in the running for him and I get the sense Rizzo is nowhere close to as willing to put together a long-term offer for the soon-to-be 35-year-old as he is for Lee.

-- The Nationals certainly remain interested in Brandon Webb, the one-time NL Cy Young Award winner who was drafted by Rizzo when the latter was the Diamondbacks' scouting director in 2000, but there's a growing perception around the sport that Webb is nowhere close to being ready to pitch after major shoulder surgery. A source from another club that is looking at Webb said he'd be stunned if the right-hander pitches at full strength this spring or appears in a major-league game early next season. His fastball was clocked in the low-to-mid 80s this fall. Sounds an awful lot like the condition Chien-Ming Wang was in one year ago, and we saw how that all worked out.

-- As far as the pitching trade front goes, the Nationals have at the very least inquired to the Royals about Zack Greinke and the Rays about Matt Garza. Perhaps not surprisingly, they've learned both clubs are asking for a whole lot in return for those right-handers, especially Kansas City, which wants four or five players in a deal for Greinke. Tough to imagine the Nats (or any club, for that matter) meeting that incredibly high asking price.

-- The Nationals are very much in the market for a late-inning reliever. Their ideal acquisition would be someone who has some closing experience but isn't a full-fledged closer. The idea is to bring a veteran on board who could pitch the ninth inning if Drew Storen isn't ready to handle the job but ultimately would slide into a setup role if Storen does step up at some point this season. Lot of guys out there who fit that description, including Octavio Dotel, Brian Fuentes, Kevin Gregg, Bobby Jenks, Rafael Soriano, Kerry Wood, Kyle Farnsworth and Aaron Heilman. With so many relievers still unsigned, I would imagine the Nats won't make this move for quite some time.

-- Several teams have inquired about Josh Willingham, including the Red Sox, Tigers, Mariners and A's. Rizzo is asking for something significant in return, probably a young pitcher, and other GMs are so far balking at that price. Willingham, though, isn't the only Nationals outfielder other teams have expressed interest in. They've gotten inquiries on both Roger Bernadina and Michael Morse, according to major-league sources, and while Rizzo isn't particularly eager to move either guy, he'll certainly listen to offers. One team that could have legitimate interest in Morse, ironically enough, is Philadelphia. The Phillies need a possible short-term replacement for Jayson Werth in case rookie Domonic Brown isn't ready yet. Who better to fill that role than a guy plenty of observers have likened to a younger version of Werth? All that said, I believe the Nats will keep both Bernadina and Morse. If Willingham stays, they'll serve as bench players. If Willingham is traded, Bernadina will become the primary left fielder (Rizzo and Jim Riggleman love his athleticism there) with Morse working his way into the lineup at several positions (left field, first base) and serving as Riggleman's top bat off the bench.

-- Fans of sabermetrics and advanced stats may want to skip over this item, because you're not going to like it. Rizzo was asked today what stat he looks at most when evaluating potential pitching acquisitions. His answer: Wins. "Who's a winning pitcher, and how did they get to that win?" Rizzo said. "Obviously, there's different parameters and different metrics that we use. It's not the end-all and be-all; we saw this year's American League Cy Young [Felix Hernandez, who had a 13-12 record]. That's important, because to win a lot of games you have to pitch a lot of innings and be effective at doing it." It's at this point that I will relay Cliff Lee's record this season: 12-9.

-- Two days after my seemingly innocent tease about the Nationals working on another out-of-nowhere deal, I finally got a team official to respond. In a word: No. In two words: No way. In three words: Never even discussed. That's why I never revealed the player's name, because despite the rumblings I was hearing from multiple people, it just sounded too bizarre to be true. Turns out it was. I did, however, get a kick out of all the crazy theories you guys threw out there.

26 comments:

Souldrummer said...

I'd strike any of those relievers who are Type A off the list. So no to Rafael Soriano and some of the others.

Rob Dibble's Ghost said...

So now that it's not happening, can you tell us who this mystery person (or people) was? Please?

joemktg said...

Thanks for torturing us.

With Werth, there is excess talent, and if clubs are asking about Bernie and Morse, then the Nats should move at least one. If there's any fear that Morse traded to the Phils will come back to haunt the Nats, all you have to do is throw breaking balls outside. Problem solved.

BQ said...

What about Bobby Jenks? Could turn out to be another Matt Capps?

Nick said...

@Dibble, seconded.

Kenz aFan said...

Since the even more jaw-breaking deal that you hinted at turned out to be a non event, could you please share the name with us, so we can get a chuckle as well?

Even if a few will start fantasizing about having that player in a Nationals uniform, we need a distraction from the overflow of Cliff Lee rumors. So please, share the name. We need the distraction.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Let's just say the biggest surprise of that surprise move that never happened would have been the impact it would have had on the "Face of the Franchise." That's why it was such a bizarre rumor.

You guys should be able to put two and two together now, based on all the theories presented over the last couple days.

Anonymous said...

Beltre?

Yeah?

Ok, Beltre.

Anonymous said...

I agree that you need to tell us the mystery name (though I'm just an anonymous :P)

Anonymous said...

Mike Harris said Beltre first a loooooooong time ago? Now he is suddenly gone silent ... still it makes sense given who his agent is? ;)

I am thinking they may have to blow their whole wad on Lee as they did on Werth. They are still running into to many roadblocks when they explore the trade avenue.

Another draft or two, some more guys from the DR and other International signings and things could be different in a year or two.

But now, they seem to almost have to sign, seal and deliver Cliff Lee.

Anonymous said...

Ladson revealed the rumor. Beltre at third base and Zimm at first base.
http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20101207&content_id=16275036&notebook_id=16275038&vkey=notebook_was&c_id=was

Anonymous said...

Ladson is waaaaaaaaay behind Anon 8:29. Go to the link on your right called fanboylooser. You will see a post about a rumor from a couple of days back.

Rob Dibble's Ghost said...

Heyman says the Nats are not in on Lee. Boo.

Doc said...

Morse coming back and haunting the Nats---count on it!

Funny how Morse's a bench player on the Nats, and a regular in RF on the Phillies. Gee, I guess Uncle Jimmy knows more about BB than Charley Manuel.

Ladson on rumors, is like Sarah Palin on Korean politics.

Anonymous said...

Glad to know that Riz is a common sense guy not a star nerd, too many people get wrapped up in numbers and not what get actually see o the field!!

Rob Dibble's Ghost said...

In Nats Alumni news, MLBTR says Wil Nieves (Who?) is close to signing a major league deal with the Brewers.

Luis said...

Carlos Pena is off the market:

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/12/cubs-carlos-pena-agree-to-terms.html

Now what???

Anonymous said...

is that a Grienke for Zimmerman? Straight up?

Anonymous said...

meaning Ryan for Zack

MikeHarris said...

Thank you, Cubs. Now go get Adam LaRoche.

Yeah, Beltre was the rumor I mentioned and I can't speak for Mark that it was the same guy he heard about - but my reaction to Beltre was the same thing. Too bizarre to be true.

That said and as I noted, I've been too bizarre to be true happen before. Glad to hear it won't happen in this case. No knock on Beltre, just not a match.

Now go get a good left-handed bat (coughLaRochecough) to play first base.

MikeHarris said...

I've, uh, SEEN too bizarre to be true. Not been (though I'e been called too bizarre to be ture).

Too early to be typing.

Ballinonabudget said...

Yes, thank you Cubs! I preferred LaRoche the whole time.

Would he take the same 1-year $10 million deal that Pena did? Maybe 2 years and $14-16 million?

Bzl. said...

Re: Pitching: Now that we're big spenders, I bet Rizzo could get the Giants to give us Zito and his $18MM salary. Maybe we could get them to give us a relief pitcher as further compensation for eating Zito's compensation. Just an idea...

Todd Boss said...

Webb only throwing mid-80s in the instructional league isn't really THAT much a cause for concern. Look up his pitch f/x trends; even during his Cy Young season he only averaged about 88mph. He could hump it up to 92 if he wanted, but his strength is in his sinker, not his speed. That seems to be the major difference between Wang and Webb.

JamesFan said...

Nats would be crazy to trade Morse. He has excellent potential to be a great every day player and gives them flexibility at many positions. To trade him without huge reward will be a mistake.

Anonymous said...

The rumored move of Beltre to 3rd, Zimmerman to 1st Base is THE MOST STUPID THING I'VE EVER HEARD IN ALL OF MY LIFE

Zimm is arguably the best 3rd baseman in all of baseball...STUPID EVEN FOR A RUMOR!

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