Bull-pen Issues Remain

The Nats bullpen was mediocre last year.  To me, that assessment is still accurate as we move close to the start of the 2016 season.  Today’s Washington Post has a good article by “The Boz” where he uses the kiss of death phrase “it is what it is” to describe this new/old collection of relievers.  This Spring only Sean Burnett, Blake Treinen, and Oliver Perez have better than average ERAs.  For my money, only Felipe Rivero has better than average potential.  I can only wish Mike Maddux (pitching coach) good luck with this pen.

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Adam Laroche

Courtesy of Washington Post

Courtesy of Washington Post

Yes, I have been following this story closely.  And it is not going away any time soon.  The White Sox screwed up, badly, and it could hurt their prospects this season.  Adam is one of the most popular players in all of baseball, and his Sox teammates are supporting his clear moral-high-ground position that being a good father is more important than his baseball career or the $13 million he has left on the table!

Star White Sox pitcher Chris Sale has come out so strongly in support of LaRoche that rumors are now circulating that he may be traded.  The Sox fans are in an uproar, so revenue may be affected.  The team’s clubhouse chemistry, very important in baseball, has been permanently altered.

Laroche’s contract stipulated that Drake would be allowed into the clubhouse with his father.  During LaRoche’s 3 years with the Nationals, Drake was a popular fixture in the clubhouse and on the field.  So, the Sox have reneged on the agreement.

I hope the two sides will cool down and try once more to fix this!

 

Great Baseball Film: The Perfect Game

The little league baseball team from Monterrey, Mexico became the first team from outside the United States to win the Little League World Series. (Getty Images)

The little league baseball team from Monterrey, Mexico became the first team from outside the United States to win the Little League World Series. (Getty Images)

I stumbled onto a great film recently on the MLBTV channel.  ‘The Perfect Game’ is a true story that has it’s beginning in Monterrey, Mexico in 1957.  As soon as I began watching I realized I remembered the real facts although I had never seen the movie!  The main character is a 12-year-old ambidextrous pitcher.  This is a wonderful rags-to-riches saga of a bunch of “street urchins,” a priest who loves baseball and a down on his luck guy who once was with the St. Louis Cardinals.  I will refrain from saying more, but the film is quite accurate in portraying the actual events that took place when I was 13-14 yrs old!  Click here to watch a preview and click here to read a great article on the team.

Nats Come in Second With Cespedes

We can now add Cespedes to the list of excellent players (Hayward, Phillips, Chapman, etc) who have spurned lucrative offers from the Nats.  The Lerners and Mikey-Boy Rizzo know that unless they can tweak the bull-pen (Dump Paps and pry Andrew Miller from the Yankees) and also the starting rotation (replace Gio with someone better), they will be lucky to finish the 2016 season ahead of the Marlins, but behind the Metropolitans of Gotham.

You read it here!

 

23 Questions?

One way to look at the Nationals right now would be to count how many of the projected 25-man roster are looking like they will have “a good 2016 season.”  I count two:  Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer.  That’s it.  The rest all have some questions.

Their two biggest needs are a closer and a center-fielder who can bat lead-off.  Obviously they should do whatever it takes to dump Papelbon, even if it means paying him to leave.  Then they should liberate Drew Storen so he can try to regain where his career was (29 saves) when Mike Rizzo stuck a knife in his back.

It appears they might be able to pry Andrew Miller away from the Yankees, though it would cost a lot.  And they might do the same with Brett Gardiner.  Even if they just rented Brett for one year, he plays the game with passion, has speed and a good glove in CF, and knows how to get on base and create some havoc:)  I doubt Gardiner would cost too much either.

Now We Have Two Dannys!

One can hit and the other can play defense:)  Now if Rizzo would just convince the Lerners that the Nats don’t need a cancer in the clubhouse!  Dumping Paps would help bring the fans back……………….Just saying……..

The Nats could still be looking for a CF not named Spann or Taylor who can hit leadoff.  Several good ones are still available:  Fowler, Blackmon, Gardiner for starters.

As currently constituted, the Nats will end up fighting the Marlins for second place in the NL East.  They will not be a playoff contender.  Sorry Scherzer, you signed with the wrong team, unfortunately.

It’s Phillips!

As I was driving home listening to MLB radio, they said Brandon Phillips had tweeted them the following: “513 to 202.”  Those are the area codes of Cincinnati and Wash, DC.  That was about 9;30pm.  When I got home I checked some of the baseball web sites and at 10pm, Ken Rosenthal (who is almost always right on this kind of news) reported that Phillips was signing with the Nats.  I have no details yet, and it’s past my bed-time:)

Update as of 10am, Saturday, Dec. 19:  the deal is pausing as the three parties deal with what is likely a last-minute demand for more from Brandon Phillips.  I’m staying g on top of this.

Update as of 5pm Saturday, same date.  The deal is off.  Nat’s said take our offer as is.  Phillips said no trade.  That’s all she wrote.

Changing the subject, It’s clear to me Papelbon is killing Rizzo’s ability to attract the best players (such as Hayward and Zobrist).  The Nats should buy out his contract and cut him loose.

Brandon Phillips

Ok, here is the latest.  The Nats are talking with the Reds about 2B Phillips!  This would be a good choice.  He has been an RBI machine and one of the best 2B guys in the NL for several years.  The Reds are in SELL mode for sure and I doubt the price for Brandon will be very high.  But the Lerners have already offered $200M for Heyward, so what the hey.

My other two acquisition choices if I were Rizzo are:

Andrew Miller for closer

Brett Gardiner for a lead-off CF.

All three are available for the right deal.

You saw it here:)

75 Wins if Nats are Lucky

I wonder how the season ticket sales are going.  As the roster stands today the Nationals will be a mediocre team.  What do they need?

A Closer.  And they are weak up the middle.  The combination of Danny at SS and Trea Turner at 2B would be fine defensively but pitchers would love seeing them coming up to bat:)  And they need a power-hitting left-handed outfielder for either CF or LF not named Cespedes.  Gordon would be great, but there are several others out there still.  The current lack of rumors could mean Rizzo is close to a deal.  But his problem is not money, but the fact that few want to play for the Nationals.  The reasons are obvious to all by now.

To me the rotation looks……………………………….questionable.  Sure, we expect Scherzer to bounce back, but I’ll believe that when I actually see it. Same with Strasburg, who was great over the last six weeks of the 2015 season.  Then we get to the real big “ifs.”  Gio, Roark and Ross.

About the only real good news is that like the Giants, the Nats seem to play well in even-numbered years!  I hope 2012 and 2014 don’t turn out to be their high-water marks.

Nat’s Fans Are NOT Happy!

This is well known.  Mike Rizzo and the Lerners (and now Dusty Baker, sadly) better mend fences soon, or revenue could become a problem.

I’m glad to see that just this week, on the margins of the winter meetings in Nashville, they began some wheeling and dealing.  Several new bullpen arms are on the way, starting with Yusmeiro Petit, who was a “Nats Killer” with the Giants in recent years.  He can spot start or go multiple innings in the middle of games.  They have also added the following relief pitchers:  Sean Burnette ( who was very successful in his prior stint here), Trevor Gott, Mike Brady, and Shawn Kelly.  I predict 2-3 of these will actually end up in the 2016 bullpen and be successful.

The other exciting news is the Nats have made an offer on Jason Hayward.  I predict they will not sign him.  Why?  He is wildly overpriced and there are plenty of great outfielders out there, including three with the Rockies who are so far flying under the radar (Rizzo’s preferred targets!).  I think the Nats just made the offer to try to goose other teams into getting Hayward off the market so then they can focus on all the others.

So far, the Nats are still a 75-win team at best; you heard it here:)