Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving in NatsTown

On the heels of a season in which they made some significant strides, the Nationals have plenty to be thankful for this time of year.

And fortunately for all of you, I happened to get my hands on a bunch of Thanksgiving messages from all sorts of Nationals employees, from players to coaches to the front office. I can't reveal how I came upon these messages. Let's just say the CIA was very much involved in the process and leave it at that.

So without further ado, here's what everyone in NatsTown is thankful for this year...

DAVEY JOHNSON: That Jim Riggleman decided to commit career suicide at a most opportune moment.

MIKE RIZZO: That baseball didn't ratify a new CBA featuring severe limits on draft spending until after he handed out $41.5 million to Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Alex Meyer, Brian Goodwin and Matt Purke. ... Oh yeah, and that Adam Dunn hit .159 in his first season in Chicago.

RYAN ZIMMERMAN: That Matt Kemp, Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Braun have already set the bar exceedingly high for players negotiating a long-term extension with the franchise that originally drafted them.

JAYSON WERTH: That he's got six more years to make everyone forget his first year in D.C.

STEPHEN STRASBURG: That Tommy John agreed to let Dr. Frank Jobe perform a revolutionary new surgery on his left elbow in 1974.

BRYCE HARPER: That his day is coming soon, even if it's not quite as soon as he'd prefer.

WILSON RAMOS: That he gets to go home every night to a loving family, with Nationals fans everywhere and the entire nation of Venezuela offering unwavering support.

ADAM LaROCHE: That he signed a two-year contract with the Nationals last winter.

MICHAEL MORSE: That he finally got the opportunity to play every day and show the baseball world the kind of player he could be.

JORDAN ZIMMERMANN: That the reins will be taken off his right arm in 2012.

CHIEN-MING WANG: That hard work and perseverance really does pay off.

DREW STOREN: That he was still wearing a Nationals uniform at 4:01 p.m. on July 31.

TYLER CLIPPARD: That more and more setup men are justifiably being rewarded for their dominant performances.

COLE KIMBALL: That he never got around to packing his bags during his 48 hours as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.

HENRY RODRIGUEZ: That guys who throw 100 mph will always get chances to pitch late in games, no matter how few of those pitches enter the strike zone.

JIM RIGGLEMAN: That there will always be a stool at Caddie's with his name on it.

JOHN McLAREN: That he can boast the highest winning percentage of any manager in Nationals franchise history: 66 percent (2-1).

MARK LERNER: That his club is the only one in town consistently receiving positive reviews right now.

BRIAN ZUCKERMAN: That more than a dozen loyal Nats Insider readers were so incredibly kind to shower him with gifts upon his birth in August.

MARK ZUCKERMAN: That I've had the opportunity to get paid to do what I love for the last seven baseball seasons and get to interact on a daily basis with the most knowledgeable, most thoughtful and most loyal readers a sportswriter could ever hope to serve.

Hope everyone else out there feels as blessed as I do and enjoys a fantastic Thanksgiving with family, friends and food!


RickH said...

Happy Thanksgiving Mark, Brian and Mrs. Z!!!

sjm308 said...

Happy Thanksgiving Mark & family. Was still hoping for Willie Mo but the kid looks great!!!

sjm308 said...

While I am at it, Happy Thanksgiving to the NI "family" as well. Hell, I spend almost as much time with this as I do at the gym or anything else. Its been fun and will only get better.

Go Nats!!

Dryw said...

Awwww, Mark, such a cute picture! Thanks for sharing!

FS said...

Happy Thanksgiving Mark and family. Kid looks serious. Is he negotiating some contract with bunch of teams or something? Thanks for sharing!

I was hoping to see him in some mini-Nats uniform. I bought a couple for my nephew but he is too young for those right now.

Doc said...

Thanks Mark, for what you do!

Brian Leonard looks like he might be a lefty. Just to make sure that he becomes one, get him a lefty glove before he knows the difference.

Have a great Thanksgiving!!!

Sunderland said...

Nats Insiders: That we get some of the finest real estate in the interwebz to chat Nats. Mark Z sets the tone for sure, and the rest of you make it even better.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Positively Half St. said...


We are all thankful for your work, but I am also thankful that for the company of all who have read and responded to the blogs over the years, and that those of us who started (under various names) since the very earliest Svrluga days will finally have a good team to discuss.

May we all be wearing Nats playoff swag this time next year. There hasn't been an offseason this exciting since we discussed the signing of Cristian Guzman in late 2004 and anticipated a brand new team.


baseballswami said...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am very thankful for all of you to chat baseball with basically 24/7. Cute picture, Mark. My baseball thankfulness -- that Ramos is safe, JZimmnn is healthy, Stras is back, Morse is a beast, RZim is healthy ( a theme here) and that the baseball counter is at 88 today. Loved this article today! Now - back to the kitchen!

MicheleS said...

HE IS JUST THE CUTEST!!!! I can't wait to see him roaming CF in 20 years!

JayB said...

Aaaw....that is a nice picture....while I have not always been able to be positive or even nice....I am trying....and you Mark have always been so.....thanks...for all you do......

NatsJack in Florida said...

Great post, Mark.... Happy Thanksgiving to you Brian and the Fantastic Mrs. Z..... and to all the great contributors to the best baseball blog in the MLB system.

alexva said...

Great photo, and Happy Thanksgiving to you Mark.

And thank you for providing a site where NatsJack, DFL, JayB, sunderland, BinM, peric, Sec3, gonat and a host of others can put up some crazy, mixed up and mostly astute commentary to provide my with my daily Nats fix.

NatsLady said...

Happy Thanksgiving to all--and hurry up, spring!

Jeeves said...

Thanks for everything, Mark. And to all your family, a happy Thanksgiving.
Great post JayB. Always thought you were a softie at heart.

joemktg said...

Wasn't too long ago that a local beat writer got caught on the wrong end of a restructuring, and through his own guile and series of contacts, was able to establish his own blog. From there, through smart reporting and insight, that beat writer re-established himself in the local market to where he is the premier reporter for a significant local media property (and a voting member of the BBWAA). And he became a Dad.

As a result, we have this forum and his ongoing reporting, and I get my Nats info, for which I am grateful.

BinM said...

To the extended NI family, happy Thanksgiving.

Andrew said...

Happy Thanksgiving Mark and NIs!!!! Love the photo! I am giving special Thanks for the safety of Wilson Ramos and of course my wonderful family!

Mark, your list is great. On Rizzo's list though if Dunn stayed in DC, he would have continued on his career numbers after he was given several weeks to recover from his appendix operation (he rushed back too quick in Chicago). This is why I believe if Prince Fielder moves he will see his numbers drop.

Unkyd said...

I'm always very grateful, especially at this time of year, but this year, more so... for a ballclub with excellent prospects, for the first time in my life! And such a fun group of "imaginary friends", to share it with... I've yet to hear a stupid comment, about baseball, here...and given the passion each of us has for out Nats... The overall tone remains remarkably civil. Thanks for having me, and......


(and Brian.... Lighten up! You'll get you little fists wrapped around a year...hands close together, back elbow up....)

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

What they said, and then some. Happy Thanksgiving, to all of us, known and unknown, nonymous and anonymous, numinous and naturous, and here's an eggnog and bourbon (no Maalox today!) raised to next Thanksgiving celebrating the Nationals' 2012 season.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

joemktg said...

Indeed, Joe! Did anyone anywhere have a better year than Mark? I can't see how. Good on ya, Z.

Nattydread said...

Great post, Mark.

As Bob Marley would say:

Give Thanks! Every day.

Stuart said...

Warmest of Thanksgiving wishes to the Z family and the family here at the Insider.

Eugene in Oregon said...

Let the Pacific Northwest chime in with a Happy Thanksgiving to all! And a special thanks to Mr. Zuckerman for making this site all that it is.

Tim said...

Happy Thanksgiving Mark.

By the way, did Brian's eyes stick that way after Game 6?!?

Grateful for you.

citizen16 said...

Happy Thanksgiving Mark to you and your family. Great pic of your son!

Berndaddie said...

Thanks Mark for your insight, reporting and general awesome story telling. Thanks for all the fishes!!!

Wally said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Mark, Mrs Z and Brian (glad to see that you get your looks from Mom!).

And Happy Thanksgiving to all Nats Insiders, too. Great blogging with all of you.

Anonymous said...

I am thankful for Mark and all of the insightful commenters on this forum. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


sm13 said...

Happy Thanksgiving Mark and the loyal Nats fans on Nats Insider! Next year, with luck, we'll be thankful for being in the playoff hunt, having seen Bryce Harper surpass expectations in his MLB debut, and another great year in Natstown.

Don Date said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you Mark and your family. Also to the finest group of baseball fans I've read in all my years as a Nats/Senators fan(going back to Griffith Stadium). You gotta have hope, and finally we do.

Scooter said...

Thanks for another fine year, Mr. Z. It's been a real pleasure.

natsfan1a said...

Awwww, hooray for the little guy! Great post, Mark. Thanks for starting and keeping this site going, and for your excellent reporting and writing.

natsfan1a said...

Tim, maybe Game 6, or maybe he just heard about the new playoff configuration. ;-)

Also giving thanks for and wishing a happy turkey day to all who comment here (and nice post, JayB).

Waddu eye no said...

Thanks for the great work and great fun. Now stop typing and play with the fam

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving!! ... stool at Caddies ... wonder if they framed his photo and put it up on the wall?

I don't know why but the word "Turducken" reminds me of Jim Riggleman for some reason?

Anonymous said...

Ted Lerner

The man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. Don't underestimate his influence on the Nationals. He's the guy who, with Mike Rizzo, worked tirelessly to try to get Grienke, those draft picks, and Werth.

And the reason why things appear to happen behind that curtain out of the public eye.

SonnyG10 said...

Great post Mark. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Thanks for showing Brian's picture. He is a handsome young lad.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the NI family and thanks for the great blogs to read. You folks are wonderful.

LoveDaNats said...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Great picture, Mark! I am thankful for all you do. It's been fun to watch your career blossom over the last few years. Any story I read anywhere about the Nats is old news to me since you have the scoop first so many times.
Also, thankful for the people (ok, pseudonyms) that I've interacted with over the years. This blog has such a civil tone. I love it. Also, I often wonder if any of you are actually one of my co-workers or brother-in-law. You could be......and I'd never know.

Joe Seamhead said...

Mark, thank you for your great column, and for supplying us insufferable seamheads a place to hang out. I wish you, and yours, and the whole Nats Nation a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Just a great side note: A good friend of mine went to the Caps game last night and told me that afterwards he went to his usual post Caps game watering hole, and everyone talked Caps for about 10 minutes, football for 5 minutes, and NATIONALS for about an hour! The times they are a'changin!
Now buy up those Phillies game tix!

NatsLady said...

Seamhead, great news. That's what we need for the NATS--people talkin' about 'em.

Hope Mr. Z and fam are enjoying a great turkey and fixin's (or if vegan, then vegan fixin's).

Goin' back to fam now, good game in the motor city, my sis is (sort of) a Pack fan.

Anonymous said...

Scooter looks a bit like Spike over on

Anonymous said...

Yes, like it not folks we SHOULD ALL be very grateful the Lerners decided to take on the task of being Stewards for the household of Nationals. I know I am. Kudos to our homie owners, true locals in every sense of the word. Time to head for Hank Dietle's ... ;)

Avar said...

Great pic of the Little Insider. Great year for the Nats, for the Zuckerman family. Thanks for the great coverage Mark, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

NatsJack in Florida said...

I've finally recovered enough from the JayB post to say .... good goin' guy.... I'm impressed with your effort.

And I have to express my thankfulness that the Tune Inn is back in operation

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Oh, then thanks, NatsJack for that news. I've been looking forward to that.

SCNatsFan said...

Thankful for all the hard work by Mark and the intelligent posters here... unlike some other sites. Can't wait for the hot stove to heat up and give us something else to get really excited about.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Sec 3....They opened November 3rd for regulars and November 4th to the general public.

JimHoy said...

Waitaminnit. Back up a bit. Explain again how the Culinary Institute of America helped you get these messages???

NatsJack in Florida said...

Not so much the Culinary Institute of America as Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with the emphasis on Dives.

SBrent said...

Happy Thanksgiving Nats Insiders! And especially to the Zuckerman family!

JaneB said...

I'm thankful for you, Mark Z! And all my Insider imaginary friends.
Wait'll next year!


SilverSpring8 said...

No doubt Brian Z. will be a "Super Two!"

gonatsgo said...

Great article, mark - quite witty. Hope all you Nats insiders had a great day. Lots to be thankful for - now spring can hurry the heck up and get here!

John C. said...

I am thankful for baseball, for a local major league team (at long last), and for the community of Nats fans in various corners of the blogosphere. I am thankful to Mark for his derring-do in keeping one of my favorite sites, Nats Insider, going through thick and thin. And to the community that makes this one of my favorite sites.

Congratulations to the Zuckerman family for the arrival of the littlest Insider, and to the Ramos family for their strength during Wilson's ordeal. I'm looking forward to sharing another season with all of you here and at Nats Town!

Dawn said...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Adorable picture of Brian.

JayB said...

Really since Riggs did what I had been advocating for since end of 2010......that is LEFT and ended the limbo waiting game until we got a proven longer term real manager I have been very happy with Nats decisions.

Loved the Draft signings in Aug. Loved playing he youth and pitching Strass. down the stretch. Loved the move to find a true Lead off man and Center Fielder and 200 inning legit #3 starter. All good really.

Negatives really from post Rigss time....really only that Desmond still seems to be the SS and that Learners seem still be be dead set against international signings of any value.

But hey even those are not deal breakers if you spend like they did on domestic draft and Ian keeps improving his D like he seems to be doing.

So I am quite and thankful today.

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Thank you Mark. Handsome boy you have there.

markfd said...

Great job Mark and I could not think of a more approriate Thanksgiving greeting from you than the photo of your son!

JD said...

Happy Thanksgiving to all and especially to your young family Mark.

Hopeful_2012 said...

Mark - any chance the Nats bring Josh Willingham back in 2012? Willingham in left, Werth in center and Morse in right would be a nice OF and give us some more pop in the lineup. Of course, that sill does not provide us with a leadoff guy but it adds consistency through the heart of the lineup.

A couple of more questions, what exactly would the market value be for Jesue Flores? I hear a lot of folks saying we should trade him after Norris' great AFL season, but is there really a market for a light hitting oft injured catcher?

Also, what about aquiring Alonso from the Reds, they are looking for some pitching and we have plenty.

natsfan1a said...

Don't know whether Rizzo will be looking for Black Friday deals but trust that he won't get suckered into any bait-and-switch deals of the day. ;-)

Slidell said...

I liked Josh very much and was sorry to see him go. But, given his propensity for injury and (many say) defensive liability, he seems better designed to be an AL DH. Not to mention his probable hefty price tag. And, then there's the matter of draft pick compensation, assuming the new CBA hasn't changed that.
And lastly, there's Mr. Harper presumably coming along soon.

Hopeful_2012 said...

Slidell -

I do not think Josh will be that hefty a price tag and Morse is already a defensive liability in LF so Willingham is an even switch in my mind. Werth is a defensive liability in RF because of his weak arm so moving him to CF makes sense.

Wally said...

Has anyone heard about our arbitration offers? I was curious about whether the offered Gorzy arb.

nats guy said...


Why do u think Werth has a weak arm? He has a strong and very accurate arm. I'll give u that Morse does not belong in the outfield.

Anonymous said...

I do not think Josh will be that hefty a price tag and Morse is already a defensive liability in LF so Willingham is an even switch in my mind.

You are comparing what was originally a major league shortstop in the Mariner's system to a someone who was a catcher? And the reason Willingham couldn't play catcher was because of his knees and back? And those have only gotten worse as he has aged? Both Willingham and Dunn are AL DH's at this point in their careers ... and there shouldn't be any argument about that.

Meanwhile, Morse DEFINITELY manages the outfield better than both Willingham and Dunn so there is improvement. He has far greater range than both and many of his gaffe's are related to his use of that extended range. However, Morse is clearly better at first base, almost gold glove caliber play. And left field will become Harper's to roam next season at some point.

Anonymous said...

At this point the OF probably looks like this on Rizzo's door:

LF Harper : Morse, Bernadina, Brown
CF ???? [trade] : Brown, Bernadina
RF Werth : Bernadina, Morse, Brown

The infield something like this for 2012 at this point.

3B: Zimmerman : Lombardozzi, Morse [yep he can play third.]
2B: Espinosa : Lombardozzi, Morse
1B La Roche : Morse, Marerro, Moore
SS Desmond : Lombardozzi, Espinosa
C Ramos : Flores, Solano

If Johnson places Corey Brown in center it likely wouldn't be any different than putting Ankiel out there ... except Ankiel has the best arm in the history of baseball. Hitting wise I believe it would end up as a wash. Brown would have to have a spectacular spring to impress Johnson.

La Roche transitions to Morse eventually ... with Marerro on the bench. Of course it all depends on who is hitting in the spring ... if La Roche is having a good ST he likely could be traded to open up spots for Harper and eventually Rendon and Moore. Unless trade[s] occur this offseason in which Moore/Marrero are involved. Seems kind of likely since neither has a left-handed bat like Yonder Alonso.

Clearly the bench needs to be strengthened. If a CF cannot be acquired that becomes ever more critical.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard about our arbitration offers? I was curious about whether the offered Gorzy arb.

That would be the non-tender deadline in mid-December Wally. This deadline was about free agent-to-be's with enough service time. Gorzy and another guy the Nats have interest in: Upton come in mid December around the winter meetings.

That's when all the action is likely to occur.

NatsLady said...

Mike Morse was not hopeless at 1B, but he was pretty bad.

According to fangraphs, of players who played 1B for 500 innings or more in 2011, MM ranked 23rd out of 28 (just above Prince Fielder....

I'm not comparing him to LaRoche, who is an absolute magician with the glove, but when Chris Marrero played the position it was like night and day. The other infielders were startled to have a 1B who actually charged in for bunts, instead of Morse--who waited at 1B for the other fielders to get the ball to him.

Now, in defense of Morse, he made a terrific effort, and he never had any real chance to learn the position in the minors.

ChicagoNatsGirl said...

Mark--he's so cute. Cause for much thankfulness. I'm thankful for Nats Insider and you're excellent, tireless work.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this will help. The Nationals can either offer arbitration
to the following players or non-tender them. The amounts are MLBTR's
Tim Dierke's projected 2012 salaries:

Nationals (7)

John Lannan - $4.9MM LHSP (non-tender candidate)
Michael Morse - $3.9MM LF/1B All Star candidate
Tom Gorzelanny - $2.8MM LHSP/LHRP (non-tender candidate)
Jordan Zimmermann - $1.8MM RHSP (top-of-the-rotation)
Tyler Clippard - $1.7MM RHRP (AllStar SETUP)
Doug Slaten - $900K LHRP (non-tender candidate)
Jesus Flores - $800K C (non-tender candidate)

Here is another list that might be important to consider. A team under severe salary restrictions: (Many teams' FO's are eyeing this for the winter meetings)

David Price - $7.8MM LHSP (top-of-the-rotation)
B.J. Upton - $7.6MM CF (non-tender candidate)
Jeff Niemann - $3.1MM RHSP
Joel Peralta - $2MM CLOSER/SETUP (former Nat)
J.P. Howell - $1.4MM LHRP (non-tender candidate)
Andy Sonnanstine -$1.1MM RHRP (non-tender candidate)

Anonymous said...

I'm not comparing him to LaRoche, who is an absolute magician with the glove, but when Chris Marrero played the position it was like night and day.

NatsLady I'm not sure what games you are watching but you have it completely reversed. Marerro is considered less of a first baseman than Tyler Moore and he is pretty bad. FP Sant'Angelo called Morse's play at first base gold glove caliber. He did not say that about Marerro.

Morse's UZR according to FanGraphs was: -5.1 and -8.2 UZR/150.
La Roche's : 3.8 and 13.4
Marerro : -1.6 and -7.2
Prince Fielder : -5.1 and -5.2
Albert Pujols : 2.4 and 2.1

This appears to indicate that Fielder, Marerro and Morse are about equivalent. But Morse does have the greater range as he was formerly a shortstop with the Marlins.

La Roche is head-and-tail about Pujols. Clearly.

The difference?

Morse can play a decent left field.
Pujols probably could ... La Roche, Marerro and Fielder cannot.

Morse can play a decent right field.
None of the above can.

Morse can play a decent third base.
Pujols can .. La Roche, Marerro, and Fielder cannot.

Morse likely could play a decent 2nd base.
Pujols, Marerro, and Fielder cannot.

I think that says something about Morse's athleticism, range and arm.

NatsLady said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NatsLady said...

Anon @6:27, I looked for the Santangelo quote but didn't find it. I was watching games in which Marrero played. Ok, so maybe "night and day" is an exaggeration, but Marrero ranked above Morse.

Here is the ranking of the Nats' first basemen according to fangraphs:

Anonymous said...

Anon @6:27, I looked for the Santangelo quote but didn't find it. I was watching games in which Marrero played. Ok, so maybe "night and day" is an exaggeration, but Marrero ranked above Morse.

MASN sports videos. Select Nationals. You will find that you might get more information listening the sources rather than reading what the pundits disseminate for you.

Again, Fangraphs analysis is subjective based on UZR NOT ON INNING played. See the number of innings Marerro has played versus Morse. In 2010 Morse had a 0.6 UZR and a 14.2 UZR/150 in 60 innings at first base. That is equivalent to La Roche.

In total Morse has played 867 innings at first base, 32.2 innings at third base, 453 innings at shortstop, 495.2 innings at shortstop, 597.1 in right field. Do you think Marerro, Fielder, or La Roche could do the above? I don't.

Just to reinforce this point: La Roche has played 8.252 innings at first base EXCLUSIVELY. His UZR? -12.1 worse than Morse and Marerro. His UZR/150? -1.9. His career stats indicate he is not as good a first baseman as many seem to think. Yet at this point in his career he certainly seems to be. That may be because in his first full year with the Brave he had an -18.2 UZR and a -19.7 UZR/150. The next year he was like Morse and Marerro both still in their first full year at first base in the majors: -4.6 UZR and -4.2 UZR/150 and that was his second year.

Marerro has played 264 innings at first base mostly in September games when the Nats were out of any playoff race.

And so Morse has played more innings at first than did Marerro. Marerro needs to put a number of innings in ... perhaps 2-3 years before any real judgement can be made. This is also true for infielder Michael Morse who has been more of a utility guy up to this point.

Morse is the faster runner and the more agile athlete. There is absolutely NO DOUBT about that. Morse does not have the best fielding record UZR-wise during his time in the majors. Partly because he became more of an "offensive" utility player that could play every position around the diamond except pitcher, catcher and center field.

Again, Marerro is a right-handed first baseman who seems unable to hit for power as he did when he was younger. And Marerro needs to play more games at first base before any judgement can be made.

However, it is true that if Morse is traded that would be one component of that: the fact that he isn't as good a fielder as the Nats would like in the field at this time. But, then, Marerro definitely is not and it seems likely that he will get traded to an AL team sooner rather than later. Does Marerro project to be as good as La Roche? Very doubtful.

Could Morse get that good? He is the better athlete so perhaps.

NatsLady said...

Agree Marrero does not project as good a fielder as LaRoche, and that he will probably not "cut it" in the majors unless he improves his offense.

Not trying to be negative about Morse, who is a bunch of fun to watch, except when fielding--did you see him in Taiwan? But he gives great effort, and could improve.

I don't read pundits, I go by stats and by my eyes. I looked for the Santangelo quote to try to see what you were talking about. (I consider Santangelo to fall in the "pundit" category for this purpose.)

NatsLady said...

Should have said, I don't read pundits with the exception of our gracious--and knowlegable--host.

Anonymous said...


You have to watch the videos. The most recent one where FP interviews Morse about his season (always better than Debbie Taylor wife of a Nats scout) but she does interview Rizzo about the team in 2012. Prefer FP, a really smart baseball guy. They let you see the 10 or so most recent when you go all the way to the right, select media and the Nationals from the pulldown.

MASN is WAY WAAAAY TOO Orioles oriented. So, you have to be kind of discriminating. Pete Kerzel (Mr. Orioles fan) constantly tries to throw Orioles crap in the way. And even FP Sant'Angelo commented on the bias when the O's and Nats met last season.

Now they have a commercial where Showalter basically replaces Riggleman. MASN as a Nats outlet has to end SOON!!!!

Kerzel, Goesling, Taylor, Knight should not be involved with the Nats period. But I do like FP who is extremely knowledgable.

Anonymous said...

Back to the topic. The guy to watch is Tyler Moore. If he repeats 30+ homers in Syracuse? Gets a 10-15 homer early start? You can bet your Nats cap Davey Johnson will call him up.

The interesting thing here is the availability of Yonder Alonso a left-handed hitting first baseman who hits for good power. He is blocked by MVP Joey Votto. For Mike Rizzo he is the perfect fit at first base when La Roche is traded in July. Rizzo HAS what Jockety wants : starting pitching and an allstar reliever named Tyler Clippard.

If you look at a lineup that includes lefties Harper, Alonso, (S) Espinosa, (S) Lombardozzi ... well I think you get the picture. I think they end up with Upton as either a 'stopgap' in CF (he is ONLY 26!!!) or a semi-permanent fixture. With Werth out there until at least 2015-2017 you now have 2 right handed hitters.

The Nats need to find left-hander power beyond Harper. Alonso appears to fit the bill. So, in the end Morse, Moore, Marerro, Desmond, and Clippard could become assets that would be traded to build the balanced the lineup Rizzo seeks.

However, Davey Johnson may have other ideas ... yet he has also stated that there is a death of left-handed hitting in the Nat's lineup.

Rizzo likes to play a bit of subterfuge keeping his true goals under the radar to facilitate trade negotiations.

NatsLady said...

Didn't you say Tyler Moore is not a good fielder.

Rizzo will not trade Clippard.

gonatsgo said...

I think Morse gets a bad rap for his defense. He came up as a shortstop, played right for us in 2010, left 2011, then 1b then back to left. He went YEARS without an error. His versatility alone is amazing. I have made this point before about players - you just cannot expect them to be absolutely perfect in a position that they have just moved into - but Morse was quite good at 1b, especially when you consider that he hadn't played it before. No - not up to LaRoche, but a quick study and seemed to know his limitations. That's why you didn't see him charge sometimes - he played within his own skill set rather than botch it up. He's a huge guy, and so he is not going to have the quickness of a small, lean guy, but he has such a long stride that he can cover some ground. I have also heard "humorous" ( not) comments about him being a big, dumb, guy - I'm not buying that, either. I love his enthusiasm, never see him bark at an umpire or have a fit, just seems like an all-around asset to the team.

NatsJack in Florida said...

NatsLady...... Oh yes he will.....

Joe Seamhead said...

gonatsgo, I agree 100% with you regarding Morse. He played a solid 1st base, though not spectacular. He played a pretty good RF in 2010. He doesn't seem to get as good of a read in LF, but he still plays it better then Willingham. So many people that never played the outfield seem to think that any infielder can make the move to the OF. It just isn't so. There really is a natural "radar" that some guys have that can't be taught. So many guys that played IF have a near unbreakable habit to charge forward at the sound of the bat, only to have the ball go over their head, resulting in extra base hits that should have been outs, or a fast guy making the adjustment resulting in a spectacular catch of a ball that a natural OF gets the proper jump on, making the catch routine. Morse still has a tendency to take that initial step in, and I think that is his major flaw in LF. Josh Willingham also comes in too often, in addition to taking very poor routes to the ball, resulting in extra bases on balls that should be singles. Willingham-type outfielders drive up pitcher's era's, as do Dunn-type first basemen.
As to Morse being a "big, dumb guy," that's just baloney. I will say that in my many years as a baseball fan, I've never seen anybody that comes across being more thankful for playing in the ML's, nor seen many that seem to be having more fun! He's a joy for all of us to watch.
Nat's Lady, I would be very surprised to see Clip traded unless the return was incredible.

NatsLady said...

Here is how I think Davey lays out his BP:

A: Storen (closer), Clipp (setup and fireman)
B: HRod and Mattheus (closer and setup)

Then he wants RHP long reliever, LHP long reliever.

That's 6 guys in the BP. 5-man rotation gives you 11 pitchers. He will either put a "specialist" in the BP or leave it at 11 and add to the bench until someone gets injured.

Rizzo is not trading Clip because that would mean the bullpen goes from STRONG to average/below average. Clipp will win games for you by putting out fires.

I never said Morse is a "big, dumb guy" because I don't think he is.

JayB said...

I Agree with NJack...Rizzo will trade Clip if he gets value in return....Clip is going to get costly in Arb and beyond years....Nats have lots of options coming down the pike for that role......CF and Lead Off guy....Rizzo would trade almost anyone....Hell he was willing to trade Danny E last year....he sure would trade Clip now.

sunderland said...

Clip is not untradable. One reason he could get dealt - Rizzo knows he can rebuild a bullpen better than patch up other parts of the team.
And I don't disagree that a 6 man bullpen might be DJ's desire, but he does not have a rotation that will allow that. We won't have our starters going deep enough, frequently enough, to keep a fresh bullpen with only 6 guys.

So, Philly passed up on one year of Roy Oswalt for a net price of $14M. ($16M Club option for 2012, that they declined, and instead paid a $2M buyout).
Does Philly know something that we do not? Would you take Oswalt for one year for $14M?

Anonymous said...

Clippard is someone who can and likely will be traded.

Again, Natslady, Clippard did a good job last year but his body of work to this point does not match Storen's. And if you put him in the wrong situation he can get hammered. Last year was the first year he handled inherited men on base well and it led to an AllStar appearance. Storen has not pitched as much as Clippard and so he has run up far fewer miles. Clippard's value has never been higher, likely never will be higher.

Its the same with Lannan ... albeit given his still young age he may still have the ceiling to be a Buehrle type pitcher ... there's a chance they bring in BOTH Oswalt and Buehrle. If they do that would pretty much preclude Lannan as Johnson seems to strongly favor Detwiler. Then you've got Milone. I can't disagree with those two moves.

As for the long men in the bullpen that looks like Stammen, Gorzelanny, and/or Detwiler at this point. Erik Arneson coming up on the outside. He had a pretty impressive 2011 minor league season in AA/AAA and that is what they appear to be grooming him to be.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you say Tyler Moore is not a good fielder.

He's not, but scouts consider his range and ceiling in this are higher than Marerro's.

The other thing? He is about two years older than Marerro. It may be why his power numbers vastly outmatch Marerro at this point. His BA doesn't match Marerro and he strikes out way too much. But he did win minor league player of the year in the Nats system. Basically, one could let Marerro spend another year or so in AAA to hone his skills. That is not the case with Tyler Moore given his age.

Anonymous said...

His versatility alone is amazing.


In total Morse has played 867 innings at first base, 32.2 innings at third base, 453 innings at shortstop, 495.2 innings at shorstop, 597.1 in right field.

In the majors Morse played:

867 innings at first base.
453 innings at short stop.
495.2 innings in left field.
587.1 innings in right field.
32.2 innings at third base.

And at the AAA level played mostly 2nd base and third base after his first introduction to the majors at shortstop.

Its why Rizzo called him one of the hardest working guys and evidence that perseverance pays. He really means when he says he'll do anything just to be in the starting lineup. That of and in itself is why Morse is a keeper if he can maintain his offensive performance at a reasonably high level.

Fangraph's ranking of first basemen:
(This was of course August 4th)

Tier One

Adrian Gonzalez
Joey Votto
Prince Fielder
Miguel Cabrera
Albert Pujols

Tier two

Paul Konerko
Lance Berkman
Mark Teixeira
Ryan Howard
Kevin Youkilis

Tier Three

Freddie Freeman
Gaby Sanchez
Michael Morse
Billy Butler
Michael Cuddyer
Michael Young
Eric Hosmer
Todd Helton

But it gives you a pretty good idea where would Morse fit ... La Roche is listed as "off the radar" as would Marerro but La Roche would likely end up in Tier 4 and Marerro in Tier 5 with regular play. Yonder Alonso is is in Tier 5. Another year like last playing full time at first and Morse could move up to Tier Two. Its a good bet that La Roche may steeply decline from this point forward.

Note where Prince Fielder sits and given his age one can't help but wonder if the Nats aren't still considering the possibility. MLBTR projects Fielder to land in Seattle.

NatsLady said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The 33-year-old Werth is a little more complicated. At his best, he provided across-the-board value. Even his batting averages, in Philadelphia at least, were always good enough that he was a five-category stud. Yes, he’s older, and he’s post-peak, but he’s also falling from a better peak than Ethier. Shouldn’t he be a keeper?

Well, maybe. If he can get his strikeout rate closer to the 22-23% level (24.7% last year) and his BABIP back up to the .320ish level (.286 last year) that he enjoyed from 2008-2010, he’ll get that batting average back up over .250. With a .250+ batting average, and a little bounce-back in power, probably driven by a few more fly balls (his 43% ground-ball rate was the worst of his career from a power perspective), he could once again approach 25/20 numbers. Golebiewski had more on him earlier this week if you want to read on, but Werth could easily be better in 2012 than he was in 2011. Given how bad he was last year, it’s even probable.

But he's still not in the keeper's Tier and what follows is the explanation as to why:

First, there’s the matter of age. Werth is older than any of the tier fivers and that adds risk to the package. And risk is really the thing — you want your keepers to be devoid of risk. Sure, both of these guys might recover some of their value next year, but wouldn’t you feel safer with a 27-year-old with the upside to improve rather than a 33-year-old looking to recover old levels of production?

The second reason to keep the younger guys is perceived value. This may seem like a paradox — if two players are likely to put up similar statistics, but one is higher in perceived value, shouldn’t you trade the one who others like more and keep the guy you like as much? Yes. With a twist — you should trade away your Drew Stubbs if you think Jayson Werth is going to give you similar value, absolutely. But you still shouldn’t keep Jayson Werth.

Because you should draft him. That’s where you get bounce-back guys on the fringes. And we’re not talking about Hanley Ramirez here. If he bounces back, you get a first-rounder. But if a guy might bounce-back to middle-round value, he’s a guy to draft, not keep. If you’re in a dynasty league, sure, keep the older guys. They’ll have more value in the midst of a better season then they would now.


- Werth’s hit many more ground balls than usual in 2011, giving another reason to be bearish about his power-hitting prospects. He had a 43% ground ball rate in D.C., compared to a 38% career averaging prior to 2011. That goes a long way toward explaining Werth’s lower HR total and his .157 Isolated Power, which was a good 80 to 90 points below what he did during his Phillies glory days.

The crux of this? Now that Mark has made a very convincing argument as to why the Nats should raise the payroll. There is the issue of Rizzo convincing Ted Lerner to make the moves. Will the Werth move adversely affect his ability to do that?

Anonymous said...

Adding to the above: Rizzo's decision to sign Maya Yuniesky to a guaranteed contract.

This is where Davey Johnson's presence may be more help to Rizzo and the FO than many might think. Johnson might be a voice Lerner would listen to.

a nony mouse said...

Trust me. There was no reason to add to the above. No one is listening.

Anonymous said...

But you apparently are a nony mouse: ~smiles~

Gosh I guess its four: Marquis, La Roche, Werth and Maya!
And now he's after Buehrle?

I'm not sure Ted is that patient a man.

Anonymous said...

And ... then there's Edwin Jackson who is still out there and a free agent ... ;)

I'll take Irony for $200 said...

Anonymous said...

You will find that you might get more information listening the sources rather than reading what the pundits disseminate for you.

Souldrummer said...

AFter a few days away, that picture really brightened my day. Thanks for sharing, Mark, and continued health to you and your family.

Alex Trebek said...

I'll take Irony for $200 said...

And you've found the 'Daily Double'!

And you talk about JayB? said...

Kettle Pot black dudes. Its Thanksgiving did you spend it alone? Awww how pathetic.

natsfan1a said...

From the Old Home Week Department, just stumbled on a winter league piece that features a number of comments from Dmitri Young.

Dawn said...

BTW - Happy 40th Birthday Pudge!

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Just in time for the Yule Log, 1a! He's looking downright trimmed!

"ilism" -- believers in even less than nihilism.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of catchers ...

adson reports that Carlos Maldonado has been resigned to a Minor League deal and will likely backup Derek Norris in Syracuse.

natsfan1a said...

Found Da Yule Log pic.

(hat tip to an old NJ posting from BobLHead)

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

I can see us all, years from now, telling youngsters about the Old Days, when the Nats weren't perennial champions, and the season was only seven months long, COUNTING the playoffs.

"We didn't have Indoor Season during November-March. Why, back in the Winter of Aught-Seven, we had to burn pictures of the players to keep warm. We got through the off-season with one picture of Dmitri Young. Not even in uniform. Lasted several dozen of us three months, that did. Tired Ol' Meathook out so bad he was basically out of baseball the next year."

Jenn Kennings said...

"Kettle Pot black dudes"

What name did this '80s L.A. rock band reject before settling on "The Busboys"?

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Wilson Ramos' stats page for Los Tigres de Aragua

Anonymous said...

Why'd Zuck have to call Riggleman's resignation "career suicide"? Riggleman quit. He is by no means black-balled in MLB. His decision to walk away from the Nats might be a head-scratcher to a lot of people, but it is not deemed some demonic or idiotic move objectively. Rizzo essentially called him a quitter, but no one else any place in baseball (where Riggs is well-liked and respected from having handled himself well in several organizations for 20+ years) did much name-calling.


NatsJack in Florida said...

Name the last manager before Riggs to quit his contract in mid season?

He committed "managerial" suicide.

natsfan1a said...

Thanks for the LOL, sec3, and the stats page.

"You had a photograph of a player? How we longed for photographs."

Names, schmames. There have been number of managerial openings since Riggleman left, some for teams he'd been involved with in the past, but so far...crickets. Speaking of former Nats managers, kinda cool that somebody voted for Acta for manager of the year (ducks and covers).

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

I can see us all, years from now, telling youngsters about the Old Days, when the Nats weren't perennial champions, and the season was only seven months long, COUNTING the playoffs.

"We didn't have Indoor Season during November-March. Why, back in the Winter of Aught-Seven, we had to burn pictures of the players to keep warm. We got through the off-season with one picture of Dmitri Young. Not even in uniform. Lasted several dozen of us three months, that did. Tired Ol' Meathook out so bad he was basically out of baseball the next year."
November 27, 2011 6:20 PM

Anonymous said...

Nats Jack -- Well, Edwin Rodriguez quit the Marlins like 2 weeks before Riggleman quit, but he was losing to beat the band. Riggleman was in the media coversation as a managerial candidate in St. Louis (where he has a history) last month, and in Boston as recent as 10 days ago, and he interviewed for a bench job with the Mets in October. Rizzo got a 5-yr renewal in the offseason befoe 2010's season, nothing for Jim. Nothing for Jim in the Spring, nothing for Jim as the club had its best record in years in late June and with no Stras and little Zim and a close to worthless Werth. Riggleman was right, Rizzo refusing to extend him was essentially the same as not picking up his option at season's end. Rizzo saying that the decision whether to pick up the option took more time and deliberation, thus a conversation with Jim about it was useless, was pretty silly as Riggleman had been on the bench for years and at the helm for something like 300 games or so. I am not saying Riggleman was smart to quit or anything, but the Nats left him a short-timer on a club with guys that did not respect the manager, because they knew he was dead man walking, so Riggleman walked away from the situation. He predicted that his replacement would not be coming in on a 1 year deal and he was right. He is one of like 20 guys with decent experience managing a club in the bigs. I am not thinking that he'll never manage again based on him quitting. Who knows. We'll see.


Dawn said...

Regarding Riggleman, he made his decision and I'm sure it made sense to him at the time. There is so much speculation on what really went on behind the scenes, with Rizzo and players being unhappy, etc. He left the team on a high note and he honestly seemed to think no one would care if he left. Other managers have left teams mid-season,left money on the table, and have returned to manage and manage well. Jim Leyland left the Rockies citing burnout and then eventually signed with the Tigers in 2006. That year they reached the World Series.

Joe Seamhead said...

Riggs won't ever manage in the majors again. He was never more then an interim manager here. He agreed to a bad deal when he signed on, and he knew it, but he really wanted the job in his hometown. Seriously, if you were a ML general manager, would you risk your skin to hire him?

Anonymous said...

Sweet Lou quit on two clubs before seasons' end. And note both Lou and Jim ended up working for the Giants last year.

I am betting some GM does hire Riggleman at some point. He has a bunch of experience and he's young enough to hang on someplace for a 5 year window, and he is well thought of in the game. Think about Manny Acta. He stunk to High Heaven and still managed to get another job. Riggleman actually performed pretty well. Quitting on the Nats may have actually helped him get his next job. Had the Nats not re-inked him, and they were not going to re-ink him, then maybe the world thinks "the Nats must know something we don't" and they stay away from the guy. But, the way he did it, it was a matter of principle and he was winning games with a lousy team. Even Davey Johnson was amazed that Riggleman was winning with the awkward roster he had been given.

I bet Riggs ends up a bench coach this summer, or a AAA manager, something in uniform for some club, and he's back in the bigs as a manager by 2014. There's just not a lot of guys out there who have managed in both leagues and in big markets.

He did us a favor though no matter how you slice it, he amde Rizzo bring in a bigger name sooner. Now Johnson's ramping up period is over essentially a year sooner and Johnson will not suffer upper management telling him who starts, or veteran players going behind his back to the GM to complain about being pulled from games and he will not be OK with the club not doing all it can to win (both players and Rizzo). Rizzo cannot afford Davey telling the Nats that he has better things to do with his time than be disrespected at his age.

Unkyd said...

Sigh... I thought, perhaps, the Riggs discussion had been put to rest, some time ago... My take hasn't changed: I'm sure the decision was intensly personal, for him. So much criticism seems based on the unlikelihood of another ML manager position. Riggs has had a long and rewarding ($$) career in baseball, and there are SO many ways to contribute, on SO many levels, it's very easy for me to believe that the head job is hardly the difference between him being fulfilled, from here on. It's true, a contract is a contract, but to me, any man is justified, if the face in the mirror is no longer respectful, if he feels utterly disrespected, to follow his heart. He left nobody starving and destitute... it's just a baseball team. Anybody intimate with Jim's decision making is probably gonna keep mum, and anyone else offers only uninformed opinion, like me.

Got yer back, Riggs...

Anonymous said...

I never considered the notion that Riggleman may have helped himself long term by quitting -- maybe no publicicy is bad publicity? Who knows. I agree that having a manager who has the creds of Johnson, a name guy with a World Series pedigree, etc., already on board is a plus. Johnson wants to win another Championship not worry about playing nice with the Jason Marqis's of the world or even the Mikle Rizzo's for that matter.


Anonymous said...

Riggleman? Wrong manager for this team and Mike Rizzo/Roy Clark style of GM'ing a franchise. Davey Johnson: right style.

Under Johnson: Desmond improved. Morse improved. Werth Improved. Zimmermann improved. Detwiler improved. Riggleman was depending on Hairston and Cora, La Roche, Marquis, and Ivan Rodriguez.

Bottom line: he would have come crashing down as that was his approach the previous year. Play the veterans. Respect the veterans and the game. And after the year was over complain about the lousy roster he was handed.

Johnson brings up everyone in AAA who he deemed worth a look. And he actually played them quite a bit. His intent? Build a roster for 2012 that would win: first find out what he had in-house before thinking about free agents or trades. Makes an abundant amount of sense to me.

That IS something Riggleman would NEVER DO. And if they were foisted on him by Rizzo he would never play them opting instead to play his veterans until Rizzo flipped them for prospects as he did with Hairston and Marquis. Remember? Riggleman: Respect the veteran, respect the game, respect everyone but the fans paying to see games. Sure, Hairston did well for Milwaukee at the end and in the playoffs. But he isn't the future of this (the Nationals) franchise! Lombardozzi, Espinosa, Desmond may be.

Riggleman was completely wrong for the current state of this franchise from the get-go! Rizzo's only mistake was not realizing that sooner and doing something about it. Of course ownership might have had a say and Riggleman was extremely inexpensive relatively speaking.

Anonymous said...

Let's have some good news other than rehashing Riggleman ...

Looks like Michael Morse is engaged ... engagement party just completed.
I wish him the very best!!! Tanti Auguri as they say in Italy!

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Enough with the Riggleman. Let's rehash the Bartolo Colon trade now.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Just a word for dfh21.... how many of the managers listed as walking out on their contracts made a demand that wasn't met, then refused to accompany their team unless their demands were met?

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