Monday, December 19, 2011

Does bullpen need bolstering?

US Presswire photo
Sean Burnett struggled in the first half this season, then turned it around.
We've spent plenty of time this offseason talking about several areas the Nationals are hoping to bolster -- the rotation, the outfield, the bench -- but there's one aspect of the roster that has barely drawn mention so far this winter: the bullpen.

That's testament to the quantity of quality arms the Nationals have stocked away down there, a unit that posted the majors' fifth-best ERA this year (3.20) despite throwing the fourth-most innings (520 2/3) while also leading the league in relief wins (31).

Even so, plenty of teams with top-notch bullpens could find themselves needing to make offseason changes for a number of reasons: free agency, retirement, an inconsistent arm or two.

What makes the Nationals' relief corps less in need of help, though, is the fact every returning member is 29 or younger and under club control for at least one more season.

Closer Drew Storen is only 24. All-Star Tyler Clippard will turn 27 just before pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Lefties Sean Burnett and Tom Gorzelanny are the old men of the group at 29. Flamethrower Henry Rodriguez will be 25 come Opening Day. Ryan Mattheus and Craig Stammen will be 28. The lone newcomer to date, right-hander Ryan Perry (acquired from Detroit for Collin Balester), will be only 25.

Why mess with a group that is both young and talented?

Perhaps because not everyone in the Nationals' bullpen is a sure thing. Storen certainly established himself as one of the best young closers in the game with his 43-save season, and Clippard (with 216 total strikeouts the last two years) may be the best setup man in baseball.

But there are still a couple of question marks behind the big two, most notably Burnett and Rodriguez.

Burnett had a strange 2011, seemingly unable to record outs in key situations for 3 1/2 months; his ERA on July 17 stood at 5.71 and he allowed 47 percent of inherited runners to score. Then something clicked for the left-hander, who over the remainder of the season posted a 1.16 ERA while allowing only 36 percent of inherited runners to cross the plate.

The Nationals hope the second-half version of Burnett shows up from the opening bell in 2012, not only because of his importance to the club but because he's already signed for $2.3 million.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, was alternately electric and nauseating during his first season in Washington ... sometimes within the same inning. There's no questioning the right-hander's stuff, which rivals that of any reliever in the sport. There is, however, legitimate reason to question his ability to perform at a level of consistency.

All the evidence you need to confirm that can be found in Rodriguez's winter ball numbers from Venezuela. In 19 games with Leones del Caracas, he's got a 4.12 ERA, 18 strikeouts, 14 walks and ... wait for it ... four wild pitches. This is the guy, you'll remember, who led the National League with 14 wild pitches this season, even though he had thrown far fewer innings than anybody else on the leaderboard.

The Nationals are expecting big things from Rodriguez in 2012, but they need to see some evidence of consistency out of the guy before they can just hand him the seventh inning role in front of Clippard and Storen.

And that right there might explain why the Nationals have at least some moderate interest in adding one veteran arm to their bullpen this winter. Someone who could fill the Todd Coffey role and provide some insurance in case Rodriguez and/or Burnett struggles.

Who's out there? Available right-handers include Juan Cruz, Scott Linebrink, Chad Qualls, Dan Wheeler. Mike Gonzalez, Jose Mijares and the ageless Arthur Rhodes are among the left-handers still on the market.


gonatsgo said...

Didn't Sean Burnett actually change something in his delivery that gave him better results? If so, then the change will probably stick.I think Stammen will be solid in the bullpen if given a chance to stay up and not yo-yo back and forth to Syracuse. HRod is a puzzle - if they can harness him, he will be a force, if not - more of the same. Seems like we usually need an older Miss Iowa, though. Is he available?

Psdfx said...

Two unrelated thoughts:

First, It seems odd to me that we often talk about the "grind of the 162 game season" and yet some of the guys we will rely on don't take the offseason to rest and recharge but rather go play winter ball---subjecting themselves to possible injury or ( in Ramos' case) much worse.

Second, a question: I know Coffey is a free agent, but has there been any indication that the team would/would not bring him back for the right price?

Gardner said...

Gorzellany, Detwiiler...Beuller?

Psdfx said...

Oh, and Burnett was said to have changed which end of the pitching rubber he pitched from... It seems unlikely that a change that minor could have made such a dramatic difference---perhaps once he made the change it just gave him a fresh perspective, clearer mind and more confidence. Whatever it was, I hope it continues----he was the Nat that made me most want to throw my remote control at the tv (NTMMMWTTMRCATT?) last year --- though Slaten was a close second.

Tim said...

I say get your stopwatches out. There's nothing greater than watching Big Pot sprint in from the bullpen. Let's get him back! I'm also wary of how many times Clip's been used the past two years. We need some insurance.

sjm308 said...

Mark listed 8 names without Coffey - We have not seen Perry throw but I like what I have seen from the others even though HRod can drive you nuts.I actually liked what Coffey did last year but who would you remove from our pen if you did resign Coffey? Do any of the 8 besides Perry have options? (I am guessing Matheus and Stammen might). I hate sending guys back & forth between Syr & Wash. but the reality is, guys get hurt and you need to be able to make moves.

Finally, there is one other bullpen name that I have watched in the minors and its R. Martin that we got from some Mexican League. He is not a youngster but still under 30. He pitched well last year and also in the Arizona League. I am hopeful he will get a shot at the bigs this year.
Apparently he does not throw hard but it appears he keeps runners from scoring and that is a key to relief pitching. He has also closed which is another plus. There are just certain guys that can't handle that pressure.

Gonat said...

Still a lot of faith in HenRod and SBurnie. There isn't a lot of depth in the Minors.

Wang's durability plus Lannan's issues of not getting into the 7th inning always puts a strain on the bullpen.

natscan reduxit said...


… some of you who know me know I live in the eastern side of Canada - a place where baseball enjoys a huge popularity in the face of 'the great hockey'.

… today I want to let you know of a very sad story, in case you haven't heard of it until now. Many of our best and brightest kids, those who show promise, go away to baseball academies for their education and training. These centres are in western Canada, and the kids have to move thousands of kilometres away from home.

… last week, two of these teenagers, who call Prince Edward Island home (near my part of the country), were killed in the western province of Alberta.

… read the stories here:

… Merry Christmas to all Nats fans everywhere.

Go Nats!!

Stew Magnuson said...

I never understood why Henry Rodriquez was in the major leagues in the first place. He clearly doesn't know how to pitch. He needs to be in the minors learning how to get outs. The As came out ahead on that deal as they pawned off a guy with potential but who was out of options.
So the Nats are forced to put him on the major league team or they lose him? So what? Let him learn to pitch in another organization.

Mark'd said...

Gonat, you forgot Detwiler's 5 1/3 innings. With Wang, Lannan and Detwiler, this will be an overworked bullpen and I think a possible recipe for trouble. Good news is there is starters depth.

Natscanreduxit, sad story. A shame.

Mark'd said...

Stew, water under the bridge now, bad trade, and too many are enamoured with his 98mph throws. More Kardiac moments in 2012.

Anonymous said...

Put Henry on the waiver wire and see how many people go after him. It would look like Wall-Mart on Black Friday. There would be a stampede for his 100mph services!

Anonymous said...

I think that the club could use another lefty as Gorz has a good shot to be in the rotation (Detwiler starting in the minors) and Burnett is hittable. His dominace fell off the table last year. Arthur Rhodes maybe? Or if they are thinking veteran presence, then Dan Wheeler might be great in that he's closed in spots and he walks nobody.


natsfan1a said...

Very sad indeed, natscan. My heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims.

Anonymous said...


Detwiler is out of options, so he either makes the team or is likely lost on waivers.


Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Just thought I'd share this exchange with Cubs' beat writer Bruce Miles:

Robert **** posted to Bruce Miles
Bruce, what gives with the Cubs? Players signing elsewhere and Theo does nothing. I don't consider Stewart and DeJesus much of anything. Is there anything out there to get reasonably excited about? Or are Epstein's hands tied by Tom Ricketts who won't allow money to be spent? Most Cub fans I know are beginning to wonder just why Theo came here. Very frustrated............
December 13 at 9:48am ·

Bruce Miles - Opening Day isn't for three and a half months. This mess didn't happen overnight. It won't be fixed overnight. They had to hire a manager and some new coaches. The free-agent and trade markets are still developing. We'll see what happens with Fielder.

SCNatsFan said...

What I don't get - and I'm too lazy to find out - is how HRod ran out of options being as green as he is. Still, you keep him until you decide that you wouldn't mind facing him as someone will surely pick him up.

I was out of town and didn't read thru the Darvish thread, I'm sure the people who are still hung up on Chapman have a new rallying call.

Whatsanattau said...

I like Coffey filling the Coffey role.

I suspect relievers are one of the trade chips the Nats have to acquire others. Every team has injuries, but kind of a shame that Kimball and Mattheus did not stay 100% healthy. They might have netted some serious bling....

Steve M. said...

Start the rumors on Prince Fielder. He arrived in Washington on Saturday and it wasn't for the John Lannan wedding as that was in NYC.

Prince lives in Florida for the off-season. What reason is Prince Fielder in Washington DC for? Maybe a tour of the White House?

Steve M. said...

Mark'd said...
Gonat, you forgot Detwiler's 5 1/3 innings. With Wang, Lannan and Detwiler, this will be an overworked bullpen and I think a possible recipe for trouble. Good news is there is starters depth. December 19, 2011 8:14 AM

Detwiler & MPHrod have no options. Both stay or get traded.

Coffey's best work was as a true fireman. He was spectacular for 1 or 2 batters when he ran into the game but then over-use got to him as Riggles relied on him too much. On Mark'd comment above, that may happen again. No room for any pitcher that can't go 1 to 2 innings in relief.

Right now the starting rotation is Stras, JZim, Wang, Lannan, Detwiler. If a weak link surfaces at the end of April which is about 5 starts then Rizzo has to act quickly as he has Peacock & Milone in the wings.

In 2011, Rizzo was slow to react to the issues with the bullpen plus he had to deal with Zim's and LaRoche's injuries.

On paper, I think Rizzo/Davey can put together a good bullpen. I still hope that Rizzo gets a #3 starter like Saunders who can go 7 innings per game and move Detwiler in a trade or to the bullpen.

Wally said...

SteveM: don't get me going on Prince!

Scooter: last post re: the haul for JZimm. That is a great point and I hadn't looked at it that way. So I come out with the indefensible, illogical conclusion that I would never have traded that package for Latos, and would also would be unhappy if we traded JZimm for that package. I know, I know, my wife doesn't get it either.

HRod is out of options because the most lasting image of him in a GM/manager's mind (and mine) is when he throws his change up after a few FBs, and the hitter swings and falls out of the box even though it bounces 6 inches in front of the plate. Granted, there are 3 BBs and 2 WPs for each one of those, but it is a thing of beauty when it happens. I love having the guy on the team, in all seriousness. I doubt that he can ever be more than the occasional high leverage guy because of the control issues, but HRod at his best > almost all hitters at their best, and those guys don't come along all that often. Plus he is fun to watch (to me).

Anonymous said...

Jindc -- thanks for the info on Detwiler being out of options. I just don't think he's going to make the rotation and a roster spot for the guy is also a long shot as things stand right now. Maybe he's on the block as we speak? Or maybe they figure he'd accept a minor league assignment should he not make the club?


Anonymous said...

Steve M.. how do you know Prince was in town?

Steve M. said...

Anon @ 10:33, put a name to your post and I will answer you.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you notice that the shelves of most grocery stores were empty this weekend? Prince was here.

Anonymous said...

Off topic - Mark needs to find out if the Nats made a bid on Aoki, and if not, why not?

erocks33 said...

Apologies in advance for this long post, but I was curious in regards to JayB's (amongst others) rants that the Nats have done nothing to bolster their bench so far this offseason (nor in previous offseasons), and that this is what "winning" teams do.

Well, thanks to MLB Trade Rumors, I looked into who signed during this time period last offseason (prior to 12/31/2010) and here is the list. Can you honestly tell me that besides Lance Berkman's signing in STL (and honestly, based on how he looked the previous two seasons, this was a BIG gamble signing on STL's part), did ANY of these signings help ANY of these teams make it to the playoffs?? And I'm not taking into account the re-signing of a teams own FA's (aka Jeter in NYY; Mags in DET). One could argue that the Phillies probably would have made the playoffs even without signing Cliff Lee.

So just because the Nats haven't signed any top notch FA's before the end of the calendar year is no reason to go all "Chicken Little" on us. Now, if we get to MLK day in mid January and still nothing has happened, well then I got no problems with complaining. But for now, let's all sit back and enjoy this holiday season. Happy Fesitvus, everyone!

I'll attach the list of FA singings in another post ...

Steady Eddie said...

Psdfx -- Burnett's move to the side of the rubber you accurately noted, but the improvement that resulted was not primarily psychological. I remember reading an article that said, with Burnett's near-sidearm delivery, having the ball coming from that much more of an angle made it a lot harder for batters -- especially lefties -- to track where it was going. Burnett said at the time that he had used that positioning earlier in his career and had been increasingly uncomfortable in the middle of the rubber delivery spot that a pre-Nats coach had told him to adopt.

So it sounds like that change should stick. This coming from someone (me) who was repeatedly infuriated by his predictable incineration of well-played games earlier in the season.

Steve M. said...

Wally said...
SteveM: don't get me going on Prince!

Scooter: last post re: the haul for JZimm. That is a great point and I hadn't looked at it that way. So I come out with the indefensible, illogical conclusion that I would never have traded that package for Latos, and would also would be unhappy if we traded JZimm for that package. I know, I know, my wife doesn't get it either. December 19, 2011 10:31 AM

Wally, I was in Mark Z's camp that Prince didn't fit in here. Let's just say he was here to meet with Rizzo/Lerner, it would still be a long-shot that he signs here.

erocks33 said...

Here’s that list …

ARI – Xavier Nady; Henry Blanco; JJ Putz; Melvin Mora
ATL – George Sherrill; Eric Hinske
BAL – Jeremy Accardo; Cesar Izturis; Koji Uehara
BOS – Dan Wheeler; Bobby Jenks; Matt Albers; Carl Crawford; Jason Veritek
CIN – Miguel Cairo
CLE – Austin Kearns
COL – Ty Wigginton
CWS – Jesse Crain; Paul Konerko; Adam Dunn
CUBS – Kerry Wood; Carlos Pena
DET – Magglio Ordonez
FLA – Randy Choate
HOU – Bill Hall; Ryan Rowland-Smith
KC – Melky Cabrera; Jeff Francoeur
LAD – Matt Guerrier; Scott Downs; Hisanori Takahashi; Eugenio Velez; Vicente Padilla; Dioner Navarro; Tony Gwynn Jr; Rod Barajas
MIL – Takashi Saito; Craig Counsell; Wil Nieves
NYM – DJ Carrasco; Ronny Paulino
NYY – Pedro Feliciano; Mariano Rivera; Russell Martin; Derek Jeter
OAK – Rich Harden; Hideki Matsui; Brandon McCarthy
PHI – JC Romero; Cliff Lee
PIT – Lyle Overbay; Scott Olsen; Kevin Correia; Matt Diaz
SD – Brad Hawpe; Orlando Hudson; Dustin Moseley; Gregorio Petit; Aaron Harang
SEA – Miguel Olivo; Jack Cust
STL – Gerald Laird; Lance Berkman
TB – Joel Peralta; JP Howell
TEX – Brandon Webb; Arthur Rhodes; Seth McClung; Matt Treanor
TOR - Octavio Dotel; Edwin Encarnacion
WASH – Rick Ankiel; Chien-Ming Wang; Archie Gilbert; Jayson Werth

Steve M. said...

Anonymous said...
Off topic - Mark needs to find out if the Nats made a bid on Aoki, and if not, why not?

December 19, 2011 10:42 AM

Did you hear the Brewers are back-pedaling on this one now? They now want to work him out in Arizona before presenting him with a contract.

waddu eye no said...

lannan married? congrats. that's him and also rick eckstein this offseason. best to all involved

Theophilus said...

Fielder in Washington=Boras looking for a favor, pretending to be offering a favor.

Without analyzing every game, I think Coffey's success rate -- i.e., doing what you were hoping he'd do: hold a lead, stop runners from scoring, not make things worse, etc. -- was no better than 50 percent. If that's the best they can do, Lord help us all. He was a step down from Peralta.

The list of availables, espec. the LHs, is enough to spoil lunch. Possibly Linebrink.

Three possibilities: First, there are several guys in the farm system (not named Severino) who, although they haven't played at the upper levels, are old enough and have enough professional experience that they should be given a genuine shot in ST. Thinking about Martin and Smoker. Second, there are a number of people on the roster who've been around long enough that the refrigerator is beginning to smell a bit -- thinking Lannan, Bernadina and HRod -- and oughta be on a training heading out of town. Surely a deal big enough to include 2 or 3 of those would be able to bring in a semi-reliable reliever plus something else the Nats need. Third, another AJ Morris/Burgess deal. There are enough pitching depth and third-tier position players (e.g., Hood, Skole) to fetch some other team's arbitration-eligible guy on whom they're holding their breath.

Eugene in Oregon said...

Psdfx - Generally speaking (and there are always exceptions), the players playing winter ball aren't the ones who have had a full 162-game season, but the ones who didn't get enough work (e.g., Flores) or want to prove something (e.g., Tatusko) or otherwise seek to improve their game (e.g., Marrero). Some may be playing the full winter season, but quite often they're down in the DR or PR for a set contract of a month of so. The local, more-established 'stars' often play only the last month of the season and the local playoffs. Also, even if they play the full winter season, they've gotten a month or so 'off' before the leagues start and then they get another month or so 'off' after the leagues end and before spring training begins. And, of course, these tend to be the younger guys, not the 'old' 30-year-olds who complain the most about the 162-game season. Occasionally you'll have a player go full-MLB-season straight to full-winter-season straight back to full-MLB-season and it will, indeed, show in his performance. But that's quite rare.

And remember that Ramos wasn't playing winter ball at the time he was kidnapped. He was taking a break, with the intention of coming back to his home club to play a limited schedule. That's quite normal for full-time major leaguers -- they return to their home club as a way to stay in shape (working out with the team), but only play a 'ceremonial' role on the roster, getting some at-bats each week, playing in the field in crucial games, but largely taking it easy until the local playoffs get started.

PAY TO PLAY said...

Walt Jocketty on the hot seat on MLB Radio at 11:05 to explain trading away 3 of his top 5 prospects + Edinson Volquez for a pitcher who was a 3.47 ERA last year mostly pitching out of a pitcher's park.

PAY TO PLAY said...

If Toronto gets Yu Darvish they are out of the Fielder sweepstakes. The Cubs won't spend the cash now. The Dodgers are set as are the Yankees and Red Sox.

The Rangers and Nationals can pull it off.

Also of interest, the Phillies want Dontrelle Willis as a RELIEVER and not a starter. He can probably also pinch-hit.

Steve M. said...

P2P, I think Boras has a few more clubs interested in Fielder and I wouldn't be surprised if he got the Cardinals somewhat interested. This could end up being a 5 to 7 year deal.

SCNatsFan said...

Pay to Play, Willis would be our best pinch hitter had we signed him!

Will said...

I also wouldn't dismiss the fact that Boras takes a 1-2 year deal for about $25-30mil per season, then reevaluates in a year or two, when that Teixeira deal is looking even less appealing, the Red Sox need a replacement for Ortiz, and the Dodgers have new wealthy owners.

NatStat said...

RE: HRod's stats in the VWL

Never been a fan of ML players pitching in the winter leagues. For some hitters yes.

Rizzo either has no understanding of how pitchers are at risk, after a long 162 game season, or has no control over someone like HRod playing in the VWL.

Winter should be the time for resting the arm, and working out under the guidance of an exercise specialist.

Section 222 said...

@Steve M. said...
Start the rumors on Prince Fielder. He arrived in Washington on Saturday and it wasn't for the John Lannan wedding as that was in NYC.

Best news for the Nats that I've heard since the Slaten non-tender! Come on all you doubters -- just imagine that the middle of that lineup 2- Werth, 3-Zim, 4-Prince, 5-Beast, 6- Espi. Wow!

For the bullpen, we can only carry 7, and DJ wants at least one long man. Storen, Clipp, Burnett, and Gorzo seem to have assured spots. That leaves three spots for, pick 'em, HRod, Stammen, Mattheus, Perry. Not alot of room for a new acquisition or a re-signed Coffey, and that's fine with me. I feel like that's the one area where the "stand pat" strategy could work out well.

Steve M. said...

Will said...
I also wouldn't dismiss the fact that Boras takes a 1-2 year deal for about $25-30mil per season, then reevaluates in a year or two, when that Teixeira deal is looking even less appealing, the Red Sox need a replacement for Ortiz, and the Dodgers have new wealthy owners.

December 19, 2011 11:20 AM

That's a good point. Do a short-term deal for $27 million a year and he is still young enough in 3 years to do an 8 year deal somewhere else.

I'm not buying into this yet. Prince isn't here for a news conference. Doubtful anything gets done quickly.

Binx Bolling said...

Rumor has it that Fielder is starting a right tackle for the Redskins next week.

More seriously, one has to wonder how Fielder fits in Washington unless Rizzo has some sort of great surprise up his sleeve. LaRoche plays first and is signed for $ 8 million and would seem untradeable. Morse's best position is first, certainly not outfield. Marrero and Moore might not be more than AAA+ players but they play first as well. Fielder may be a star but the Nats have a galaxy of first-basemen.

Theophilus said...

Boras made his bones, for all time, by bluffing the Rangers into a $250MM deal for Rodriguez with a completely fictional competitive bidder. Every team that has lunch with Fielder will be a Boras chimera when it comes time to close a deal with some sucker.

PAY TO PLAY said...

Binx, trading LaRoche shouldn't be a roadblock or a problem as he becomes a 1 year deal and plenty of teams need a quality 1st baseman still, like the Cubs. Rizzo won't get much back in return and may have to eat a few million of his salary.

BullpenCatcher said...

The bullpen is far from a lock, even Storen and Clippard are not guaranteed to repeat their 2011 performance!

HRod has continued his inconsistency into the winter.

Perry, surer he might have potential but he has not prven it at the major league level.

Gorzelanny is fine as a long man.

Burnett is too streaky to be relied upon.

I would like to see a veteran arm or two in the pen who can go out there 3 or 4 nights in a row!

Anonymous said...

LaRoche is owed $9M, including next year's buy out, I tihnk. If they traded the guy, they would have to eat most of that money and get little in return.

Given that there is really no 1B thumper coming on-line in 2013, and Prince being a monster talent, I could see the Nats going after Fielder. Who knows.

It is really hard to tell what Nats management is trying to do. Not sure what restraints they have in terms of budget, not sure whether they are looking to hit a window or opportunity and go for it then, or what the Hell they are thinking, to be honest. The history of the club is all over hte map. We know they went hog wild for Werth last season, so maybe it is their MO to do so again in 2012. I dunno.


MicheleS said...

Steve M..

I will bite.. how do you know Prince was in town?

jcj5y said...

Assuming seven spots in the bullpen, the Nats have Storen to close, Clippard to set up, H-Rod, Burnett and Perry for middle relief, and Stammen and Gorzy for long relief. That leaves Mattheus, Severino (LHP), Maya in the minors, plus several others not on the 40-man (I think they still control Zinicola, Wilkie and Mandel). I just don't see the point of adding anything from the dregs of the veteran relief corps.

Just sayin' said...

Think of the $9m owed LaRoche as Fielder's "posting fee" or as just another add-on to his contract. If you're going after Prince for $100+ million, what's another $9m?

DCTom said...

If you convince yourself that it's worth $20M or so per year to sign Prince Fielder for 8-10 years, then I don't think you let the $9M you owe Adam LaRoche stand in your way. Flip LaRoche to the Cubs for Marlon Byrd (who's signed through 2012 and owed $6.5M) and eat the difference.

I wonder if a 10-year package for Fielder that gives the team an "out" at around year six or seven, based upon certain performance/injury/weight goals would be acceptable to Boras and Fielder.

Anonymous said...

What's the deal here? No mention of Athualpa Severino a left-handed relief specialist? What is he chopped liver? It seems like the guy has been on the 40-man back to Bowden's early years? And Rizzo hasn't changed that? So, what about HIM?

blovy8 said...

Rizzo could shut Davey up about his bench if LaRoche were one of the guys there. So far, the Marlins, Angels, and Diamondbacks are picking up players for positions they already have covered. If the Nats go after Fielder, it's just part of the 2011 postseason trend anyway.

Anonymous said...

And like I've been saying all along ...

THYEY AIN'T going to get NO CF. Not with Johnson wanting Harper's LEFT-HANDED BAT either next to him learning or in the line-up.

What part of Johnson wanting left-handed power bats in his lineup didn't the pundits understand? Goesling thinks it was always Rizzo and Riggleman had no say in the bench, the rotation .... right Ben, its why you are covering the Wild an freezing in 40 below weather.

The only way a new CF arrives at this point given the leaning way too right handed top prospects (besides Harper) is if he is a left-handed power hitter. I didn't see any mentioned that fit that description.

And what part of Johnson wanting more left-handed pitching and especially left-handed starters didn't the pundits understand? Hmm??

So, of course, its Fielder, and one of Danks, David Price, or Gio Gonzalez ... unless Jaime Garcia is available. They want 'em under 30, left-handed 200 innings capable, with a strong preference for power pitchers (thus why they did not want to pay Buehrle any more). Closest model to what Davey/Rizzo/Nats want may be the Giants with lefty starters Baumgardner (stellar year finally), Surkamp (the Nats hope: Solis), Sanchez, and old but too oft injured vet Zito.

blovy8 said...

That's a good point about Fielder maybe opting to maximize an annual salary in a short term deal, but part of his appeal is his youth. The same weight issues are going to look worse when he's 30 and over, and the market may have guys like Votto or some other younger 1B's who may develop more power, like KC's Billy Butler. Fielder's coming off a really nice year now, the timing may never be better.

DCTom said...

Of the lefty relievers Mark listed, Gonzalez, Qualls and Linebrink all share a characteristic: they were much better in the NL than the AL.

Mike Gonzalez would be an interesting addition. A largely fine career until he went to Baltimore (2.57 ERA in NL compared to 4.27 in AL).

If I'm looking to add to the bullpen, I'm looking for a situational lefty that can get a strikeout in tough spots and also someone that can close on occasion. Also the kind of pitcher that could have some trade value mid-season. We do have a fine, young bullpen, but there are some question marks. If Storen or Clippard go down, who steps up? Mattheus and Perry, hopefully, but I wouldn't mind having someone like Gonzalez around as well. Knock on wood.

Anonymous said...

Rizzo could shut Davey up about his bench if LaRoche were one of the guys there.

I think they want a bench guy who can play more than one position such as the outfield. La Roche coming off of his shoulder surgery really isn't safe at any other position.

But yeah, having one guy as the designated pinch hitter (Stairs) you could a lot worse than La Roche.

blovy8 said...

Exactly, nobody wanted Stairs in the field anyplace. It was more of a joke, because LaRoche'd be gone for an old A ball minor leaguer and half his salary.

Anonymous said...

Braun 629 PA, wOBA .438, bRAA 64.2 (roids) - for comparison.
Fielder 692 PA, wOBA .407, bRAA 49.9
Morse 575 PA wOBA .393, bRAA 36.3
Zimmerman 440 PA, wOBA .360, bRAA 15.2

Zimmerman 2010: 603 PA, 0.398 wOBA, bRAA 37.9
Adam Dunn 2010: 648 PA, 0.381 wOBA, bRAA 30.9
LaRoche 2010: 615 PA, 0.325 wOBA, bRAA 0.00
Willingham 2010: 450 PA, 0.381 wOBA, bRAA 21.8
Werth 2010: 651 PA, 0.396 wOBA, bRAA 39.5

The addition of Fielder could bring about a dramatic improvement
offensively. Keeping La Roche could make sense as a bench player. A lineup which includes Fielder, Morse, Werth and Zimmerman making reasonable comebacks, and wildcard Harper, plus who knows what Ramos and Espinosa would produce?

Projects as statistically superior offensively to any lineup the Nats have yet fielded since moving to DC. It almost certainly could be a playoff lineup.

Steady Eddie said...

Perry is NOT a lock for the bullpen. He's a statistical match for Balester with both maybe benefitting both -- but the principal attraction for the Nats seems to be that Perry has a year of options left. Even if he looks good in ST and goes north on the 25-man, he would get sent down at any weakening of perfoance.

Steady Eddie said...

Make that "both maybe benefitting from a change of scenery..."!

Anonymous said...

Have to wonder if they might not throw Perry into the rotation in Syracuse or Harrisburg. They have huge holes there but plenty of relievers.

Joe Seamhead said...

Here's a dream: Trade LaRoche, Bernadina, and maybe Lannan to the O's for Adam Jones.
Sign Prince Fielder.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Here's a dream: Trade LaRoche, Bernadina, and maybe Lannan to the O's for Adam Jones. Sign Prince Fielder.

Well if you're going there, throw in Norris and Milone, and get McCutchen.

Joe Seamhead said...

For McCutchen I'd do that deal in a heartbeat. However, I doubt that the Pirates would bite.

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