Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What's Plan B? It might be the status quo

DALLAS -- Mike Rizzo sat in his suite at the Anatole Hotel at 3 p.m. today and spoke confidently about the Nationals' chances of signing free agent left-hander Mark Buehrle.

"I feel good about it," the Nationals GM said. "I feel good about how we presented it, and I feel good about the fit and the opportunity and had good dialogue with Mark and his people. So, yeah, we feel good about ourselves."

Roughly 30 minutes later, Rizzo was being interviewed on the radio -- by Jim Bowden, of all people -- when he learned Buehrle wouldn't be signing with the Nationals but rather with the suddenly free-spending Marlins, who locked him up for four years and $58 million.

Talk about a tough way to find out your top offseason target spurned you for a division rival.

Later in the evening, after he'd had time to digest the news, Rizzo appeared at ease with the manner in which the day's events transpired, even if the end result wasn't what he had in mind.

"We're good," he said. "We're going to move on to Plan B and see if we can help ourselves. We feel good about the way the Buehrle thing went. It was a good presentation and a good negotiation. He went where he felt most comfortable, so we wish him well."

Calm exterior aside, it had to be a bitter pill for Rizzo and the Nationals to swallow. They arrived in Dallas on Monday with a clear plan of attack, and that plan featured Buehrle as their No. 1 target, with everyone else a distant second.

Nobody else on the open market -- either via free agency or a trade -- was as good a fit for the Nationals as Buehrle, who would have been well-positioned as a No. 3 starter and veteran complement to young aces Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.

That much was clear the way Rizzo raved about the 32-year-old hurler during his afternoon media session (when he still believed he was in the running to sign him).

"He's playoff-tested," Rizzo said. "He's won a World Series. He's a Gold Glove-caliber player at his position. ... I just like watching him pitch. He works fast, he throws strikes, he has no fear. The catcher puts the fingers down, and he throws it."

Well, he'll be working fast and throwing strikes for the next four years in one of Miami's gaudy new uniforms. Who could have imagined the Marlins would dominate these Winter Meetings, signing (so far) Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Heath Bell for a combined $191 million, reportedly making a serious charge tonight at fellow left-hander C.J. Wilson and coming oh-so-close to snagging the biggest fish of them all: Albert Pujols.

In the end, Pujols' decision to stay in St. Louis instead of taking his talents to South Beach probably cost the Nationals their shot at Buehrle. Consensus opinion among those who follow the Marlins closely was that they were prepared to either sign Pujols for $220 million or go hard after both Buehrle and Wilson. They weren't in a position to do both.

But what's done is done, and there's nothing the Nationals can do about it now. Instead, they'll need to turn to their Plan B and figure out another way to improve their roster this winter.

So what's Plan B? The Nats weren't entirely sure tonight.

"It could be free agent," Rizzo said. "It could be trade. It could be the international market. We're going to explore all options, as we usually do, and see if we can come up with a match."

Their options appear to be limited.

Roy Oswalt is certainly a possibility, and Rizzo said the club will look closer at the 34-year-old right-hander. But the two sides are far apart at the moment. Oswalt is seeking a three-year deal. The Nationals are reluctant to offer more than one guaranteed year, given the back injury that limited the veteran to only 23 starts with the Phillies this season.

"We're not specifically targeting Oswalt as Plan B," Rizzo said. "Plan B is to look at all of our options, and he'd be one of the options we look at."

What about the trade market? There are a handful of pitchers who could be available, headlined by the Athletics' Gio Gonzalez, but the price tag is substantial for the young left-hander. Oakland GM Billy Beane wants three or four top prospects in exchange for his 26-year-old burgeoning ace. It's doubtful Rizzo would meet that price.

"We have spoken to Oakland," Rizzo said. "Gio, he fits what we're looking for. He's a young, controllable, talented starting pitcher that's got a proven track record. With that said, those guys come at a cost. So we have to balance what the cost is and what the gain is to the club in the long term."

The international market? Sure, the Nationals could outbid everyone else on Yu Darvish if the Japanese sensation is posted by his employers, the Nippon Ham Fighters. But the total package to land Darvish is expected to approach $100 million; that's a whole lot of dough to spend on a completely unproven commodity who may or may not succeed in the major leagues.

So where does that ultimately leave the Nationals? Maybe right back where they've been standing all along.

This may come as a disappointment to team executives and fans who have been hoping the addition of one or two key players could catapult the franchise to instant-contender status, but the Nationals just might be good enough to win with the status quo.

Think about it this way: They just won 80 games during a season in which Stephen Strasburg missed five months, Ryan Zimmerman missed more than two months, Adam LaRoche missed four months and Jayson Werth posted some of the worst numbers of his career. If those four players merely stay healthy and perform the way they're supposed to perform, the Nationals should be improved enough to contend.

Oh yeah, don't forget to add Bryce Harper to the mix at some point in 2012.

"I believe our offense is going to be stronger than it was last year, for myriad reasons that we've discussed," Rizzo said. "We're going to have a full season of Zimmerman, a full season of LaRoche, a year more of maturation for the three young players in the middle of the field (Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos). We feel we're going to get more out of Jayson. We feel just for those reasons alone, we're going to upgrade our offense."

Combine that improved offense with a rotation that for now includes Strasburg, Zimmermann, Chien-Ming Wang, John Lannan and Ross Detwiler -- with prospects Brad Peacock and Tommy Milone waiting in the wings -- and a bullpen that's already one of baseball's best, and the Nationals are by no means in bad shape as currently constructed.

That doesn't mean the NL East is going to be a picnic, not with the Phillies still boasting five consecutive division titles, the Braves solid as always and the Marlins suddenly an unstoppable force of nature.

But the Nationals are still positioned to compete with all three of those rivals, not only in 2012 but over the long haul.

Would Mark Buehrle have helped put them in an even better position to win right away? Sure. But he alone wasn't going to be the difference between playoff contention and a losing record.


Anonymous said...

Oswalt at a reasonable price would be fine but I have no problem moving into the next season with the pitchers we have. We have a solid core and just need one or two more of the promising newcomers to develop to be solid.

Better than overpaying or giving up too much talent.

SonnyG10 said...

I'm going to enjoy it when we whoop up on the Marlins all next season.

Aaron S. said...

Could not agree more that standing pat, for now, might be the best route to take. It would leave the team room to add a piece in July if needed. And they'll have the money to bank considering the potential free agent market next winter for starting pitchers.

Sec 3 my sofa said...

" Ryan Zimmerman missed more than two months, Adam LaRoche missed four months..."
To be fair, it's not as if nobody else was playing in those spots while they were out. Jerry Hairston did not cost them a pennant at third, and Morse did ok for himself, I hear.

Tim said...

Agreed, Mark, with one exception: I don't expect Morse to have a career year again. It'll be tough for him to repeat, although he can flat-out hit.

I somehow think that this year the weak-link will be pitching. We need more bullpen help and a two-year deal for Oswalt would be good, too. He's a gamer and a good fit: he wants to stay in the NL and he can help our youngsters.

If we just work on our bench in the next couple of weeks, I'd be happy.

CoverageisLacking said...

"We're going to have a full season of Zimmerman, a full season of LaRoche, a year more of maturation for the three young players in the middle of the field (Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos). We feel we're going to get more out of Jayson. We feel just for those reasons alone, we're going to upgrade our offense."

Really? No one ever gets injured? No one ever has a down year? I hope Rizzo isn't actually as stupid and simple as he comes off here.

But anyway, the Nats should be beyond the stage of these off-season declarations that they'll be better next year if only everything goes as well as possible. Apparently, they're not. Too bad.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if anyone's mentioned it but this could be part of the "Riggleman" effect. The guy does have a lot of friends in baseball and perhaps those folks are now not recommending the Nationals to free agents as happened last year ...

Anonymous said...

Besides they already have a Buehrle and his name is Tommy Milone.

Tegwar said...

I don't think there is any conspiracy here outside of Buehrle maybe being comfortable playing for Ozzie generally more money wins.

I like Rizzo and I think he is a good scout and he has done a good good signing his draft picks but so far he does not have a good track record signing FA. This is something he needs to work on.

Anonymous said...

Have you guys checked out the 2013 FA list for SP??? Cole Hamels, Marcum, Anibal Sanchez, Matt Cain, Zack Grienke, John Danks, Liriano to stand pat (if we cant get Oswalt on the cheap) see what we have for this year..and get a good SP next year if need be..when there are more quality arms available

Tegwar said...

good job not good good. I got to stop drinking and posting.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:24 PM has it right. By next year they should know where they stand pitching wise. They might have left-handed starters coming out all over the place from SYR and Harrisburg. So ...

BUT, the comment about Morse that he might not repeat his career year is the real concern not whether they have Buehrle so much ... Morse almost reached elite levels and finished in tier 3 with Josh Freeman. He was the whole show. Without him the offense was pretty pathetic. Bench or no bench.

Its why Fielder makes sense but not for 10 years.

Anonymous said...

Half those pitcher will resign and not become FA. The other half will just miss being signed by the Nats.

Matt said...

Anon 10:11 -- think about it this way: how many people on this board would pick a different job if someone else in the same line of work offered them an extra year of guaranteed employment and maybe 12$ million more? No conspiracy theories necessary!

Richard said...

Regarding "standing pat," as I understand it, today is the deadline for accepting arbitration. Much talk about some of the big names. The Nats have at least one arbitration eligible player in Mike Morse. Does anyone know what the Nats offered him as a qualifying offer -- and Morse's contract status in general? I haven't seen a word.

Eugene in Oregon said...

I can accept the notion of not adding a starting pitcher, but I can't really buy the idea that the Nats don't need to add another run-producing bat (or two). Yes, I know that Mr. LaRoche's return should help. And yes, I know that Mr. Harper may be in the line-up sooner rather than later. And yes, I know that Mr. Zimmerman should be available for the entire year. And yes, I know that Mr. Werth should have a better season than he did last year. But you can't ignore the fact that the 2011 Nats scored only 3.88 runs/game, which was .25 less than the league average. And you don't have to be Cassandra to know that someone will under-produce and/or spend time on the DL. That's the nature of the game. The Nats need to find at least one new run creator, whether or not he plays CF and bats lead-off. Those are details that are at least somewhat fungible. Generating more runs isn't. It's a necessity.

Anonymous said...

So what would it really take for Gio? Would peacock, millone and Desmond do it? If so, I think you have to make that trade. That would give you an excellent young big three and you still have pitching prospects like detweiller, purke Meyers, Cole etc. In fact I'd throw in Norris for that deal.

lesatcsc said...

Okay, I'm over Buehrle, it didn't take as long as I expected. Besides, he's the one that has to wear that ridiculous Marlins uniform every day next summer. Imagine playing for a team where you're embarrassed for your kids to see you in uniform...

I see a lot of posts saying "lets get Oswalt on the cheap". I suspect that's impossible. It's not necessary either. Why not try some sort of deal that protects both Oswalt and the Nats. Why not go for an incentive laden contract, that has an option for a third or even fourth year vested if he hits certain milestones. The base salary doesn't have to be small, but it should account for the risk associated with his back. It's a thought and the worst he can do is sign with the Marlins like everyone else.

If they don't get another SP, that should leave plenty of dough to build a really good bench!

The CF problem doesn't look like it is going to be solved by anyone currently playing in the big leagues unless the Nats pay a king's ransom. There must be a couple of teams out there with near major league ready prospects at CF that have needs at other positions where the Nats have prospects, C or P for example. Why not look for a one for one, or a good and a lesser prospect for a good CF prospect deal? It could be a win/win for both clubs? It's a young team, it might not be a bad idea to keep that theme going. Anyone know other teams' prospects well enough to know if there might be someone that fits the bill?

Section 222 said...

Whew! Sure glad Rizzo couldn't convince Buehrle to come to DC. And wasn't interested in Reyes (where would Ian Desmond play if we got him, after all?), and isn't interested in Wilson, or Fielder. Because signing one of those guys might require the RICHEST owners in baseball to finance an annual payroll of maybe $100 million (which would give the Nats, who are owned by the RICHEST owners in baseball, the 13th highest payroll in baseball instead of our current 24th). Because we need them to save their money so they can...... what was it that they need to save that money for again....? Oh right, try to sign some free agents who might bring a playoff team to DC in 2013, or was it 2014, six years after we gave them a publicly financed stadium and a license to print money if only they could assemble a good team.

I don't blame Rizzo for not signing Buehrle. We were one of many teams interested in him, and maybe he just didn't want to come here. Maybe he thought that the Marlins are more likely to be a playoff team in the next few years than the Nats. But I will blame him if he thinks the fan base is stupid enough to believe that we are BETTER OFF if we don't improve our rotation, or our lineup, by signing free agents. I'm sorry, but that's just not credible. Signing a free agent doesn't mortgage our future. It doesn't require the team to give up a single young player. It certainly doesn't make it financially impossible to re-sign Zim.

The Lerners can afford to spend money like Luria is doing. They just don't want to. That's their right I guess, it's their money after all (though our money paid for their stadium) But don't expect us to buy the argument that it's in our best interest to "wait 'till next year."

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

@Mr. Eugene in Oregon--"The Nats need to find at least one new run creator, whether or not he plays CF and bats lead-off."
That's true, if not an understatement, but you can't rattle off a whole list of new run creators, and then say "BUT they need some new run creators." like it's news. Zimmerman instead of JHJ/Cora (I think I inadvertently dissed Mr. Cora earlier), LaRoche instead of the left field platoon, and add Harper's bat for August/September (allow for a slow start in July), and then figure they have no choice but to revamp the bench, which can't get worse and could get much better, and you have a hundred additional runs in 2012. Now cross your fingers and hope for average luck on injuries etc., and keep in mind the Marlins and Braves and Phillies have to play one another 18 times each, too, and it's back to being an interesting season. They still need another bat in the outfield, but April is months away.

The Seattle Mariners said...

"The Lerners can afford to spend money like Luria is doing. They just don't want to."

Because spending money is all it takes.

Whatsanattau said...

Neither the Braves nor the Nats have made a significant move yet. The Marlins significantly helped themselves and they significantly needed to. They were horrible last year. The Mets have a lock on last place, but every team in the NL east has to play 72 games in division and I think another 15-18 against the AL east. Nobody is running away with it.

I'm thinking the Nats will add 4-6 players not currently in the organization to the 25 man roster by opening day. There is still plenty of time and talent to strengthen the team. Put away the pitchforks and cancel the suicide watch. The fun is just starting.

Nattydread said...

Offense is really the problem.

We have a very strong set of developing pitchers. Rizzo's snagging of -- and patience with -- Wang showed a lot more foresight than any FA signing. The set of young pitchers coming up will likely produce an ace. So why block them?

Rizzo is drinking Johnson kool-aid: Have faith in the farm. Hopefully, this means giving Harper a shot in April this year. Harper in the big leagues will generate more buzz than any signing (save Pujols or Fielder), and if he is as good as the hype, letting him be a super two wont cause any more financial stress than signing a Pujols.

Perhaps Harper passed the Arizona audition and the Nats are gonna let him be the "big offensive piece" they need.

Now lets think about the bench.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Just a formality, really, but Boras confirms that bench will not include Ivan Rodriguez. Thanks, Pudge. It was an honor.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad they didn't sign Buehrle. Peacock has the potential to be very good -- it's bad enough that he's already squeezed out of the rotation. Nevermind Milone and all the other good young pitching prospects coming down the pike.

I'm more than willing to wait another year for the Nats to be a top contender, if the payoff is a solid core of young players who can provide a foundation for years to come. Let the Marlins get locked into expensive contracts with players well into their 30's.

JayB said...

Exactly CIL.....that Mark write up of Rizzo's reaction was a very weak rationalization for a major failure (to date) to do what they need to do....that is, upgrade CF/Lead Off and get a solid Vet #3 Starter.

Rizzo has a track record of under bidding and getting surprised that he has missed the market.

Chapman and many others last year....that is how we ended up with Adam R and Matt Stairs lead worst bench in baseball.

Not impressed at this point with Rizzo's ability to sign top talent at market price......Werth you say?....yes Rizzo has proven he can over pay with the best of them.

The Dude Abdes said...

Like the Marlins frigin didn't. (overpay)

And agreeing wih your own previous post is pretty lame, CIL/JayB.

The Dude Abdes said...

Like the Marlins frigin didn't. (overpay)

And agreeing wih your own previous post is pretty lame, CIL/JayB.

Jeeves said...

Free agency is a reality, but I would find it hard to get excited about my team if it bought a championship. The Yankees were/are the best example of this kind of team. The Marlins are trying hard to emulate this approach, although, in my opinion, they are still not going to get there. Sure, teams might obtain one big free agent, maybe two. Any more is overkill. It's much more satisfactory and prideful to build a team through the farm system and trades. I often miss those 'good ol' days' when greed wasn't the overwhelming factor.
That being said, I sure would like to see Darvish as a Nat. Would love Gio Gonzalez too but have no idea what the asking price would be--maybe Peacock, Norris, Lombardozzi (or Desi), and M. Taylor (or Hood). Personally, though, I wouldn't make that trade.
And, the team as it is, will be more than competitive next year. Sure, there could be major injuries as Coverage...suggested, but I prefer the glass half full approach. The Nats will be contenders.

NatsNut said...

I hope the Marlins follow the same path the Tigers did in 2008. I remember the offseason prior they acquired all these great players (at the time) and had a fierce lineup. I remember telling my Tigers fan friend at the beginning of the season to get his winter gear ready because he'd be watching them in October. They won 74 games, last place in their division.

The Fox said...

'Oh, you aren't even ripe yet! I don't need any sour grapes.'

NatsJack in Florida said...

All one has to do is look at the emergence of the Tampa Bay Rays to see how patience and the proper management approach can be successful. Andrew Freidman and the new ownership turned that ship around in less than 2 seasons, almost all through their own system.

I don't remember any MAJOR free agent signings vaulting them from the cellar to the World Series. And I believe they had tougher divisional competition to bypass.

Anonymous said...

Zuck, why the misleading headline?

"It could be free agent," Rizzo said. "It could be trade. It could be the international market. We're going to explore all options, as we usually do, and see if we can come up with a match."

Maybe implicit in there is that they are not desperados, but he seems to be looking to make a SP upgrade, which is good news.


MicheleS said...

NatsJack.. the voice of reason...

Would have it been nice to have Buerhle.. Sure. But he got major bucks for an extra year (than no on one this blog wanted to give him)and play for the manager he has played with for most of his career. Plus no state tax in FL.

Time to move on to what is next.. And next may very well be the team as is into spring training.

Red Sox, Yankees, and Phillies said...


The Seattle Mariners said...

"The Lerners can afford to spend money like Luria is doing. They just don't want to."

Because spending money is all it takes.
December 7, 2011 11:52 PM

NatsJack in Florida said...

My last comment on the Marlins signings..... can anyone tell me that the signing of Buehrle, Reyes, and Bell, who led their respective teams to 79, 77, and 71 wins, for the outlandish contracts that they received, somehow vaults them into elite status?

OK... it ws a question and not a comment.

But I don't see them as having improved themselves by any more that the 10 wins acheived by the Nats each of the past two seasons which will get them to...... ta da.... 82 wins.

Anonymous said...

The Rays are not the model to follow. The Rays waited through a forever of losing in their small market and then finally got lucky with player personnel. (e.g., Carlos Pena shows up and starts knocking in 100 runs and hitting for average.)

Hoping to get lucky that your calls on low Dollar player personnel (less tested thus more risk that it does not work out) are mostly very good ones is not a strong strategy, even if it has worked for the Rays.

And for all of those Riggleman haters, Sweet Lou quit on the Rays back in 2005 when he felt ownership was not doing enough to win.


Rabbit said...

Let me say this about the news of Buerhle signing with the Marlins...I don't think Buerhle would have been worth the millions he is going to be paid, for three more wins during the season. To have him as a "veteran leader" for the young pitchers is hogwash. Our staff will do well, even with Lannan and withoug Buerhle. What a great team and division we are going to have. Finishing at least second this year will be so sweet and well earned!! GO NATIONALS!!!

The Fox said...

There are 4 ways to obtain talent, free agency, international signings, trades and the draft. Rizzo has done well in the draft but it does help having the first pick 2 years in a row. He has made good trades Capps for Ramos comes to mind not sure if he was responsible for Langerhans for Morse but I'll give him credit for that too. As for international signings nothing really and free agency maybe Pudge but that is arguable. Now if the Nats want to build only through the draft the way the Rays have fine but please don't tell the fans the you intend on signing free agents because this generally makes people feel disappointed when you don't succeed.

Its not the world that we did not get Buehrle but after signing Werth to a contract that Scott Boras said he did not ask any other team match because it was that good it did seem that the team had changed how it was going to build a contender. Now I'm being told here that we are going to build like the Rays, if that is true Mark can you ask Rizzo if that is the plan?

Sunderland said...

Frankly, the Marlins needed Buehrle more than we did, and that's kinda why they offered him more than we did.
Ozzie is going to earn his pay with Miami this year, that's for sure. As if Hanley wasn't a handful already, now Ozzie has to get him to move to 3B.
And the rotation includes a hopeful and recovering Josh Johnson, Buerhle, Nolasco and his 4.67 ERA making about $10M, Volstad and his 4.89 ERA, Annibal Sanchez and either Hensley or Hand. This has the potential to be a really lousy rotation.
They clearly wanted and needed Buehrle more than the Nats did, so they ponied up.

baseballswami said...

You can't sign free agents that don't exist ( the magical lead-off CF) or free agents that are fragile, cost the moon, want many years, or who aren't that much better than what you already have. It's not like spring training starts tomorrow - I wish it did, but there is lots of time left after these big splashes to do some dealing. And lots of time left for the Marlins to print more money. Oh, Nats, how I miss you!!!

The Fox said...

You can sign Coco Crisp unless you think that the Nats have a better player for CF than him. Will you have to overpay? Yes! Is signing FA expensive and full of risk? Yes! Did the Giants maybe sign Zito to one of the worst contracts ever and then sign Rowand to a horrible contract and cut Rowand while they still owed him a years pay? Yes! Oh did the Giants also win a World Series too? Yes! Its a tough sport many owners want to win and field competitive teams even if they sometimes make mistakes the Nats need to understand that if they want to play with the big boys.

natscan reduxit said...

… Mike R says, "We can't be 'keeping up with the Joneses,' if you will. We need to worry about our own business and improve ourselves."

… all well and good, and what you'd expect and want from a GM brimming with self-confidence. But self-confidence, while it is a great paean to the masses, doesn't get the job done in the face of changing fortunes.

… behind saying the right words, I hope and expect 'my' GM to roll with the punches, shift gears when necessary, and make decisions based on what is in front of him, not on what is on his spreadsheet.

Go Mike! Go Nats!!

JaneB said...

If they'd landed Albert, I'd be nervous. But I don't think The fish are that much better now and I'm relieved that NatsJack said the same thing. I think this is okay for us. Really, I want Ryan an Michael morse on lovely contracts now. A better bench but there must be lots of scrabblers looking to land places. Where I am, it's 84 and sunny and I keep wanting to check baseball scores. Must be the weather. We are doing just fine even if we do stand pat.

The Great Unwashed said...

I just read in Adam Kilgore's piece in the WP that the Nats had planned on slotting Buehrle between Strasburg and Zimmermann. I take that to mean they were going to slot him at #2 in the rotation. Buehrle is not a #2, not with an 86 mph fastball. That's one more reason I'm glad the Nats lost out on this one. I hope they go get some offense. I'm tired of watching 2-1 games.

Wally said...

I think the Marlins are better with these signings, at least in the short term. How much? On paper, I probably have them still behind the Braves, but it is close. If I knew Johnson would give them 35 healthy starts, I might switch them. If they get CJ, I would put them ahead of the Braves. Paper is paper, though, and they play the games for a reason.

As for us, I would like to see some moves adding players to the rotation or starting lineup. The bench is important, but not as important as lineup or rotation improvements. Are there any undervalued areas out there? Doesn't seem like it. CF seems hard to address this year, so I think Werth in CF and getting a corner OF is more likely. Beltran doesn't seem to be getting much traction, maybe we could get him for 1 yr plus an option at attractive rates.

I don't see Oswalt happening (even though he was my first choice, over Buehrle). Maybe Jackson, maybe a trade. Most likely we go to ST as is with the rotation; perhaps a buy low guy.

Sunderland said...

Unwashed, I'm sure slotting Buehrle between SS and JZ has everything to do with pitching style and lefty / righty than anything else. Mixing in the crafty lefty between the two power righties makes sense.

jd said...


You are exactly right. Is Reyes markedly better than Ramirez who they may have to trade on the cheap? is Bell markedly better than Leo Nunez? Is Buehrle markedly better than Javy Vazquez?

I don't see 10 extra wins in any of these moves; the Marlins don't scare me more now than they did before this week.

Buehrle would have been a nice addition on a 2 year deal for $12 mil per max. 4 years at $14.5 per for any pitcher in his 30's is not a good deal.

I still think Fielder makes a lot sense.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Who said we were 'Building like the Rays".

I merely pointed out how the Rays vaulted to contenders by smart draafting, building a wealth of arms in their minor league system, and spending prudently in the FA market.

The one area that the Nats have copied the Rays is an area EVERY TEAM tries to excel and that is stock piling promising young arms in their minor league system.

jd said...

Darvish has decided to post. This may be a pitcher worth pursuing because he is 25 and has a huge upside.

jd said...


I think you are over estimating the Marlins talent. As I said before Ramirez is not worse than Reyes (I know Reyes had a better year but he is also a guarantee to miss large chunks of the season); I think Buehrle will essentially give the Marlins what Vazquez did and I think Bell is not that big of a deal.

If Josh Johnson is healthy and goes back to a the top of the rotation and if Ramirez brings his bat to 3rd base without sulking then you may be right but that's a lot of iffs.

Wally said...

Even after a day to think it over, the Marlin stuff just doesn't add up for me. Over the last 10 years, they exceeded $50m payroll 3 times. Never over $60m. They were as low as mid teens. Now they are committed at something like $100m for the next 4-6 years (I didn't check that, just added new contracts to last years payroll). Where is this money coming from? It can't really be just a new stadium. They also don't appear to be using much analysis in their bids, other than 'what does it take to win'? From reported sources, they were highest on AAV and years. I wonder if Loria's game plan is: sign whoever the heck we can, hopefully it works out, but if not, when the truck crashes into the wall, MLB will help us out. Almost a version of the 'too big to fail'. Look at what MLB did for TEX and LAD, and those owners came out ok too. If I were the Yanks or the RedSox, or the Phils, I would be ready to fry this guy if he pulls something like that. I doubt that they will be able to, since if they could, I think McCourt would have gotten it.

On players, I wonder if the whole Buerhle thing leads Rizzo back to Boras. I forget who he has, but he has had no issue directing his clients to us.

Theophilus said...

No pitcher who has never pitched in the major leagues is worth $100MM. See: Matsusake.

NatsJack in Florida said...

jd..... I'm kinda with you on the Fielder move but not at 9 or 10 years. At his age, 3 years at 23 mil would leave him at 30 years old and ready to test the market again.

I might do that.

Wally said...

JD said ...If Josh Johnson is healthy and goes back to a the top of the rotation and if Ramirez brings his bat to 3rd base without sulking then you may be right but that's a lot of iffs.

This was my assumption. If they trade Ramirez, then it is a wash to a negative swap (before counting what they get back). That is a pretty dangerous lineup, especially if Ozzie can get LoMo straightened out. Bell is not great, but better than the relief pitcher formerly known as Leo Nunez, and Ozzie is pretty good at managing a staff. If Nolasco puts it together ... I agree that there are some big Ifs but seems pretty clear that they are better.

If they get CJ, they should definitely get a reality show. Maybe that is where Loria's extra revenues are coming from.

JamesFan said...

Getting on base--putting the ball in play--is the most critical weakness of the Nats. Yes, it would have been nice to get Buerle, but not essential. If we are going to overspend, let go after Darvish or the Cuban guy. I'm not wild about the over-hyped winter meeting free agents.

I also don't like DJ pushing to rush a 10 year old to the majors just so he can have him for the one year he will be manager.

If we do nothing but strengthen our bench, I'll be very happy.

Harper_ROY_2012 said...

The status quo gets us the status quo (at best 3rd place in a division that has the teams ahead us improving in the offseason). NOT ACCEPTABLE, complacency is evil!

Anonymous said...

First in war, first in peace, 4th place in the NL East. Rizzo needs to do more. If you think that they can stand pat, you're high.

Avar said...

I actually prefer letting Millone/Peacock/Detwiler take innings that Buehrle would have taken. Much cheaper and much more upside.

On standing pat per Mark's post. LaRoche replacing Morse at 1b probably costs us a win based on LaRoche's career norms and Morse's WAR last year so that's -1. But Morse over Nix et al in LF gains 3 wins. A healthy Zim nets 4 wins as he replaces barely over replacement players - classy as they may have been. Werth getting close to his norms is another 2.5 wins. Stras replacing Livo is another 3 wins. (all based off FanGraphs numbers of next year player projections/career norms and last year results, so not just totally making this up).

That has us picking up 11.5 wins by standing pat. Granted, that won't work as planned; Morse might not repeat last year, injuries will happen. But, even taking off 2-3 wins for that, we still can expect to pick up 7-8 wins over last year. And that puts us in the play off hunt.

Bring on '12, I think we can compete.

The Fox said...

NatsJack in Florida sorry to imply that you said the Nats were 'Building like the Rays".

I read this blog daily and post occasionally I've change my name a few times. I respect your insight and most of the other people who post on this board otherwise I would not read it. I do however think that too many people are letting Rizzo off the hook here.

For the record Buehrle is not the pitcher I would have targeted but that is not the point. Rizzo decided that Buehrle was the pitcher he wanted. He came out and told everyone who wanted to listen I want Buehrle. From what Mark reported the Nationals offered Buehrle the same amount of money but for one less year. Mark also wrote that Buehrle was Rizzo's No. 1 target, with everyone else a distant second. So with no real plan B the FA that is his No. 1 target he does not even offer Buehrle a dime more in yearly salary and expects him to give up millions of dollars to play for the Nationals? Even the Yankees don't believe players will play for them for less money. So the narrative that Rizzo spun about needing a starting pitcher and CF should have added the caveat as long as we can get them at a bargain price. If Rizzo did offer more money for fewer years I apologize to Rizzo if not I take anything he says about FA with a grain of salt.

Also for the record I'm not in the Lerner's are cheap crowd I think they just really don't understand the business their in. I do find it curious that the Nats would overpay so much for Werth and not off a higher yearly salary for their No. 1 target when it seems that they have targeted no one else?

jd said...


Boras has Fielder.


I think Fielder's camp will insist on longer than 3 years. Everyone is worried about his durability and body type but he doesn't miss games, his father was productive into his late 30's and he has been consistently productive (he's only 27).

The only draw back with Fielder is you are committing to below average defense at 1st base for years to come. My approach comes from the belief that neither LaRoche nor Morse is the long term answer at 1st base so getting a 5 - 6 WAR player to man the position for years makes a lot of sense to me.

jd said...


I agree with you that Rizzo has to stop identifying his goals so specifically every year. I think that's bad poker. Having said that I don't think Buehrle merits any more than the Nats offered; just because the Marlins gave him more does not imply that they made a good signing.

Matt said...

Pujols to Angels for 250-260 mil, 10 yrs per MLBTR. Still trying ot get my jaw off the floor.

whoa_now said...

Look, calm down people. Rizzo is doing fine. Do you understand the outrage on this board if they had signed Buehrle for what the Marlins did? The rotation is fine. Could it use improvement, yes. But lets not overpay for a guy that might have a better year than Lannan.The FA next year will make Buehrle/Oswalt/Wilson look way overpaid. See what you have in Peacock and Detwiler this year...and make a splash next year with a actual 1 or 2 SP. Or trade for one at the deadline this year.

We do need to address our centerfield. If I were Rizzo I would play LaRoche at first to show he's healthy and raise his stock, with the plan of trading him at the deadline. Play Morse in the corneroutfield until you trade LaRoche, then move him to first and bring up Harper. There is no reason Harper should start this year in DC. Give him more AB and more time in the field at AAA.

What we need to do is improve our centerfield. We need to either make a decent trade or sign Cespedes. I vote for Cespedes. As someone pointed out, the Learners have money. Time to spend it. Centerfielders are more valuable than #3.5 SP. If he is a fraud...then we have young talent two years behind. His contract won't be any more expensive than what Buehrle/wilson..and if he's legit..then it was way worth it.

Sunderland said...

I would suggest that putting stock into anything Rizzo says publicly is risky. He is playing poker, but not with us, with other GM's and owners. He done several things in stealth mode. He let's be known what he wants, and it may or may not be the real truth and it is most certainly never the complete truth.

CoverageisLacking said...

If every player on the 2012 Nats has a career year and every player stays healthy, the Nats will be much improved over 2011. Awesome. The Nats have been living in the world of "ifs" for too long now.

The notion that JayB and I are the same person is absurd.

Anonymous said...

So, $58M for a proven, super-duarable lefty SP is crazy talk, but comparable money for the Cuban who has never played in the US on any level is smart money?


NatsJack in Florida said...

jd... my thought on the 3 years for Fielder stems from the fact that a productive 30 year old would be more attractive to an American League team for longer than a 32 year old who has started to decline.

Ethan Edwards said...

Rizzo should get up this morning, eat his bacon and eggs and go for a swim in the hotel pool. Then drive to the local fishing hole and fish for an hour. He should eat barbeque for lunch along with two Lone Star beers. Sign Cody Ross at three. Eat a big steak for supper. The Sun Also Rises.

Steve M. said...

dfh21, I have to agree with you. Yes, you have to overpay sometimes. These still is no guarantee if Rizzo went 4 years $60 he would have gotten Buehrle. Florida has advantages like no state income tax and lower cost of living. Buehrle also liked staying with his manager Ozzie.

On to the next thing, this seems to be gaining traction with Adam Jones being dangled:

Constant Reader said...

Pujols to the Angels. I am so going to miss him in the NL.

I know we are all supposed to be freaking out about the Marlins, but I look at this as a set of glorified lateral moves. Reyes for Ramirez. Bell for Nunez. Buehrle for Vasquez. If the Marlins make huge strides, it will be from Johnson returning and Ramirez finding health and happiness.

There are potential trades still to be made. The international market still has to shake out. I don't feel the need to hit the eject button on Rizzo.

The Dude Abides said...

Who else complains about Marks coverage besides JayB and CoverageisLacking?

jd said...


Makes sense. Perhaps we can do fewer years and more money. But if Pujols is really getting $250 mil for 10 years from the Angels you know Boras will want Fielder in the same neighborhood.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Ethan Edwards..... Cody Ross has been crossing my mind lately as well, but I believe I'd prefer Ankiel and his left handed bat and arm over Ross.

Anonymous said...

If only JayB and CoverageisLacking were the same person, there'd be so much less hate in the world. And between the two of them they might actually come up with a coherent and relevant thought for a change.

Steve M. said...

I wanted to share a story I was told by someone who used to play for the Tampa Bay Rays. He claimed that BJ Upton has had a full-time shadow. A guy who hangs with him to keep him out of trouble was how it was told to me. Reminds me of when Dukes came to the Nats and they had a former law enforcement person shadown him.

Supposedly this shadow used to work for MLB in NYC and was hired by his agent to shadow BJ. He said the guys name is Dylan/Dillon, not sure the spelling. When I googled I found many references to "Joined by his marketing manager, Mike Dillon".

Not sure if it has any relevance or any truth or has anything to do with anything but 2 other guys in the conversation chimed in with stay away from BJ as he is a bad teammate. I only said he is rumored to possibly go to the Nats and everyone laughed. I'm not thinking this is funny. Again, maybe a new setting would be a new beginning for BJ.

Steve M. said...

If you are going to sign Pujols that long, the AL makes sense with the DH.

I am shocked! Didn't see that coming!

Water23 said...


How about Kendry Morales? Switching hitting 1B would look nice in a Nats Uni. Granted he is coming off an injury but looks like the real deal.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

[Prince Fielder's] father was productive into his late 30's

No he wasn't. He was done at 34, in 1998.

Can we discuss something that might actually happen, like bringing Willie Mays here with a time machine?

and CiL = Jaybee is silly.

whoa_now said...

So, $58M for a proven, super-duarable lefty SP is crazy talk, but comparable money for the Cuban who has never played in the US on any level is smart money?

I never said it was smart money. I said I would rather over pay for the 26 yr old cuban-for a position we lack, and a position hard to fill...than overpay for a "super-durable" 32 yr old lefty SP...who may or may not durable in those last two years.

Yes I would. Next FA has about 6 pitchers twice as good as Buehlre, 4 better and a couple similar-and all will be cheaper than this year.

If you believe in the Nat's ability to scout, then they've been scouting this guy for more than a year...and I would rather go all in on him than Buehrle..its a crap shoot eitherway. Why not fill a position of need.

The Fox said...

All right let's say everything turns out to be the best case scenario and the Nats are competing for the playoffs at the end of July? You still trade LaRoche? Is that a good business decision? Maybe you trade some of your top prospects to get a pitcher because you need to shut Strasburg down? Not signing anyone now may have unforeseen consequences. FA cost money and you lose a draft pick but they don't cost current prospects. Trust me when a trade is made most of the people on this board are going to be unhappy.

Theophilus is correct paying someone who has never pitched in the major leagues $100 Million is much riskier than Buehrle being overpaid 14 million

Also I find it hard to believe it is less risky to overpay for an Cuban CF but not for a known MLB.

Signing anyone to a 10 year contract is too risky for this team.

Water23 said...

I would prefer they sing Solis to Cepedes. Granted he will be in the minors for years but that continues the development plan.

Annoying 222 since 2010 said...

Of course CiL and Jaybee aren't the same person. They're the Paul LoDuca and Johnny Estrada of the Nats blogs. Jaybee gets surly whenever he comes off the drugs, and CiL is just surly.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Not signing anyone now may have unforeseen consequences.

Everything has unforeseen consequences.

Feel Wood said...

Can we discuss something that might actually happen, like bringing Willie Mays here with a time machine?

Ted Williams's frozen head is a free agent. And if the Nats thaw him out, combining that with his time as Senators manager might get him up on the Ring of Honor with all those Expos and Homestead Grays.

Whoa_now said...

Yea, count me out for Darvish. I look at next year as the year. I think we go this year and try out Det/Pea/Pur at that 5th spot and see what we have. I do trade LaRoche-that is the smart thing to do. As this is his last year without resigning. I do try for Cepedes, and I pick up a free agent SP or trade for one next season.

The Fox said...

Sofa said
"Everything has unforeseen consequences"

Yes Sofa that was my point. But a player with a 10 year track record is a little more predictable.

The 4th year for Buehrle would have been lost money. I would offered a 3 year contract with a 17 million dollar a year salary. But the point still is either Rizzo is some type of Zen master and has everyone fooled or he has yet to master how the FA market works.

My opinion, I've been wrong before.

natsfan1a said...

Also surprised on Pujols. Too bad for STL fans, but I'm glad that we won't be frequently facing him as Fish Albert.

natsfan1a said...

On a related note, everything changes everything.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Not signing anyone now may have unforeseen consequences.

Everything has unforeseen consequences.
December 8, 2011 10:50 AM

The Fox said...

natsfan1a said...
On a related note, everything changes everything.

That's my favorite Earl Weaver quote.

Just keeping the discussion going not trying to offend anyone.

I wonder if the Cards were given the chance to match the Angels?

How would you feel as a Cardinal fan if Albert goes into the HOF as an Angel?

The Fox said...

The New York Post's Joel Sherman reports that Wilson has agreed to a deal with the Angels.'s Jon Heyman adds that the deal is for $75 million over five years.

natsfan1a said...

I like it, too. :-)

And I'm guessing totally bummed.

That's my favorite Earl Weaver quote.

How would you feel as a Cardinal fan if Albert goes into the HOF as an Angel?

blovy8 said...

I think Rizzo has some magic number in his head that pitcher turn into bums at exactly age 35.

blovy8 said...

I wonder if this reopens the possibility of a Bourjos trade? Maybe a Hunter dump trade? He could probably still handle center.

Anonymous said...

I too am fine with not landing Buehrle. It will provide more opportunities for our talented young arms to show what they've got at the major league level.

If we need an experienced veteran pitcher to mentor this young staff, sign Livo. He's already said he loves this organization and will work for cheap. He can be used for spot starts and as long relief (although he takes forever to warm up).

Keeping the payroll low now will enable us to make a huge move next July and still have $$ to mine the fatter free agent market next year.

I like our chances in 2012 with all this young talent.

TheMichael said...

With Pujols to the Angels --- Trumbo for Desmond & Lannan?

Anonymous said...

On a different note, I am very confused about the rule 5 draft and the 40 man roster. When I look at the Nationals 40 man roster on their team website there are only 37 players listed! Is someone able to explain why they didn't add 3 more players and potentially not lost anyone?

Sunderland said...

Hey Anon, because when the Nats eventually sign more guys (and they will), then they will need to send players 38 - 40 through waivers to make room for the new guys. And they would be more likely to lose those guys then than now.
There's actually less chance of losing them now since Rule 5 Pickups need to stay on the active roster. That's why they leave them unprotected.

Post a Comment