AL East: Will the Bombers Burn Out?

Good morning Nats and Baseball Fans alike,

Today, we are looking at a division that could very easily could be a five…yes….a five team race. That division is the American League East. The Yankees are down, the Blue Jays are up, and everybody else has gotten better or stood pat, or made a trade, so let’s get to it!

New York Yankees, 2012 Result: 95-67, AL East Champions, lost to DET in NLCS.
Transactions:
10/29/12: Exercised options on 2B Robinson Cano ($15M) and OF Curtis Granderson ($15M)
11/20/12: Signed RHP Hiroki Kuroda (1yr/$15M)
11/28/12: Re-Signed LHP Andy Pettitte (1yr/$12M)
11/30/12: Re-Signed CL Mariano Rivera (1yr/$10M)
12/14/12: Signed 3B Kevin Youkilis (1yr/$12M)
12/19/12: Signed OF Ichiro Suzuki (2yr/$13M)
2/2/13: Signed DH Travis Hafner (1yr/$2M)

There is also word that the Yankees will be acquiring Vernon Wells from the LA Angels to at least stand in for an injured Granderson and help what will be a slightly power hungry lineup. The Yankees age is definitely showing, but they had similar problems last year and still won 95 games. I’m incredibly conflicted, because what i read on paper disagrees with my gut.

Prediction: 87-75, 3rd in AL East

Baltimore Orioles, 2012 Result: 93-69, lost to NYY in NLDS.

Transactions:
10/31/12: Exercised option on Luis Ayala. ($1M)
12/5/12: Signed OF Nate McClouth (1yr/$2M)
1/8/13: Re-Signed 1B Chris Davis, C Matt Wieters, P Brian Matusz.

The Orioles stood pat this off-season, opting to keep their pitching as is and continue to wait for Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, both of whom could be up this year, as their pitching reinforcements. Getting Nick Markakis back will be big for them, combined with a repeat year from Chris Davis. Though their 29-9 record in one run games and 16 straight extra innings wins will certainly regress, the Os will still be competitive.

Prediction: 86-76, 4th in AL East

Tampa Bay Rays, 2012 Result: 90-72, 3rd in AL East

Transactions:
10/31/12: Exercised Options on Jose Molina ($1.8M), CL Fernando Rodney ($2.5M), RHP James Shields ($10.25M)
11/20/12: Signed RHP Joel Peralta (2yr/$6M)
11/26/12: Extended 3B Evan Longoria (6yr/$100M)
12/1/12: Traded RHP Burke Badenhop to MIL for OF Raul Mondesi Jr.
12/4/12: Acquired SS Yunel Escobar from MIA for Derek Dietrich.
12/6/12: Signed 1B James Loney (1yr/$2M)
12/10/12: Traded RHP James Shields, Wade Davis and IF Elliot Johnson (PTBNL) to KC for Wil Myers, Jake Odrizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard.
12/18/13: Signed RHP Roberto Hernandez (Formerly Fausto Carmona, 1yr/$1.5M)
2/5/13: Signed 2B Kelly Johnson (1yr/$2.45M). Signed RHP Kyle Farnsworth (1yr/$1.5M)
2/6/13: Signed 1B/OF/DH Luke Scott (1yr/$2.75M)

The Rays will no doubt miss James Shields alongside David Price in that great rotation, but this is the Tampa Bay Rays we’re talking about; they’re baseball’s pitching factory. Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Matt Moore are just some names of guys who could be the next generation of Rays aces, and don’t forget: they’re set up to make a major killing in a potential David Price trade, if he stays healthy and productive. The acquisition of Wil Myers could really help that offense along with a full year of Evan Longoria. They’re the picture of continuity and consistency, and if they hit, look out American League.

Prediction: 94-68, 1st in AL East.

Toronto Blue Jays. 2012 Result, 73-89, 4th in AL East
Transactions:
10/31/12: Exercised option on LHP Darren Oliver (1yr/$3M)
11/18/12: Signed 2B/SS Maicer Izturis (3yr/$9M)
11/19/12: Signed OF Melky Cabrera (2yr/$16M). Traded RHP Henderson Alvarez, P Anthony DeScalafani, P Justin Nicolino, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, OF Jake Marisnick, SS Yunel Escobar and C Jeff Mathis to MIA for SS Jose Reyes, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Josh Johnson, C John Buck and UTIL Emilio Bonifacio.
12/17/12: Acquired RHP R.A. Dickey and Cs Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas from NYM for Cs Travis D’Arnaud, John Buck, P Noah Syndergaard and Wilmer Beccerra.
1/22/13: Signed IF Mark DeRosa (1yr/$750K)

On paper, this team looks stacked. They gutted a very good farm system because they saw an opportunity because the mighty Yankees and Red Sox were down. They brought back probably their most recently successful manager in John Gibbons. I like them, but not for the division. Reyes and Bonifacio aren’t used to the Rogers Centre’s field turf, which could kill their biggest weapon, their legs. I think the Orioles and Rays have more competitive experience, and i don’t consider the Yankees and Red Sox dead.

Prediction: 92-70, 2nd in AL East.

Boston Red Sox. 2012 Result: 69-93, 5th in AL East.
Transactions:
11/2/12: Signed DH David Ortiz (2yr/$26M)
11/10/12: Signed C David Ross (2yr/$6.2M)
11/22/12: Signed OF/DH Jonny Gomes (2yr/$10M)
12/13/12: Signed OF Shane Victorino (3yr/$39M)
12/18/12: Signed LHP Koji Uehara (1yr/$4.25M)
12/19/12: Signed RHP Ryan Dempster (2yr/$26.5M)
12/26/12: Acquired CL Joel Hanrahan & INF Brock Holt from PIT for RHP Mark Melancon, OF Jerry Sands, RHP Stolmy Pimentel. Signed SS Stephen Drew (1yr/$9.5M)
1/22/13: Signed 1B/C/DH Mike Napoli (1yr/$5M)
1/24/13: Signed LHP Craig Breslow (2yr/$6.25M)

The Red Sox dedicated their offseason on signing “clubhouse guys,” players who brighten up a clubhouse that was an absolute joke the past few seasons. Combine that with John Farrell, the manager Ben Cherington wanted last offseason, and this team could be better than expected. Bucholtz and Lester could be a very good 1-2 punch in that rotation, and Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan can be a lethal 8-9 inning combination. Unfortunately, this is easily the best the AL East has been, top to bottom, this year and for years to come. The Red Sox may need a year or two to get back on track.

Prediction: 81-81, 5th in AL East

2013 AL East Prediction
1) Rays 94-68 –
2) Blue Jays 92-70 2.0 GB
3) Yankees 87-75 7.0 GB
4) Orioles 86-76 8.0 GB
5) Red Sox 81-81 13.0 GB

Go Nats and enjoy the season!

-Nick

NL West: Offseason Champs vs World Series Champs?

Good Morning Nats and Baseball Fans alike!

Today, we take a look at a division that holds two varieties of Champion. The World Series ChampionSan Francisco Giants, who swept the Detroit Tigers to win their 2nd World Series in 3 years, and the LA Dodgers, who seemingly have signed or traded for anyone with a pulse. This season in the NL West will be marked with the storyline of spending over scouting. The Giants steadily developed their players, year by year. The Dodgers final day lineup had 6 or 7 different names in it compared to the Opening Day Lineup. This division will be fascinating, so let’s get to it!

San Francisco Giants. 2012 Record: 94-68, 1st in NL West, Won World Series (4-0 over DET)
Transactions:
11/12/12: Signed LHP Jeremy Affeldt (3yr/$18MM)
12/7/12: Signed IF Marco Scutaro (3yr/$20MM), Signed OF Angel Pagan (4yr/$40MM)
12/13/12: Signed OF Andres Torres (1yr/$2MM)
12/21/12: Signed RHP Santiago Casilla (3yr/$15MM)

Needless to say the Giants are a steady organization who rewards their players. Torres and Scutaro are the only guys to get deals and not start the season with the team. I fully expect this team to be right back in it this season, because most of their team is returning and I don’t expect Lincecum to be as bad as he was.

Prediction: 96-66, 1st in NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers. 2012 Record: 86-76, 2nd in NL West
Transactions:
10/30/12: Signed CL Brandon League (3yr/$22.5MM)
12/9/12: Signed LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (6yr/$36MM), Signed RHP Zack Greinke (6yr/$147MM)
1/7/13: Signed LHP JP Howell (1yr/$2.85MM)

The Dodgers plan is very smart. Look at their roster and see if you notice something. Give up? Okay, i’ll tell you: none of their key players (AGon, Greinke, Kemp, Eithier, etc) are signed past age 36. You may say that’s a coincidence. You would be wrong. This is by design because of the quality of their Farm System, anticipating it will take roughly that long to replenish and call up those players. Are they going to be good? Yeah, the question is how good. This will be a big year for Don Mattingly as a manager, because he’s going to be managing under huge expectations.

Prediction: 94-68, second in NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks. 2012 Record: 81-81, 3rd place in NL West
Transactions
10/20/12: Exercised option on CL JJ Putz (1yr/$6.5MM). Acquired SS Cliff Pennington from OAK for OF Chris Young.
12/22/12: Signed OF Cody Ross (3yr/$26MM)
1/14/13: Extended CL JJ Putz (1yr/$7MM)
1/24/13: Acquired UTIL Martin Prado, RHP Randall Delgado and prospects from ATL for OF Justin Upton and 3B Chris Johnson.
1/30/13: Signed SS Cliff Pennington (2yr/$5MM)
1/31/13: Extended UTIL Martin Prado (4yr/$40MM)
2/8/13: Extended IF Aaron Hill (3yr/$35MM)
3/20/13: Traded IF John McDonald to PIT for prospect

Well, after season after season of rumor and speculation, Kevin Towers finally pulls the trigger on a Justin Upton trade, dealing him to Atlanta, where he joins his brother. Kirk Gibson now has a team of players he likes, which could translate to more wins this season in the desert. Their bullpen is solid and their rotation could be very good. I just believe their division is too top heavy.

Prediction: 85-77, 3rd in NL West

San Diego Padres. 2012 Result: 76-86, 4th in NL West
Transactions
12/3/12: Signed RHP Jason Marquis (1yr/$3MM)
1/28/13: Signed RHP Freddy Garcia (MIN- $1.3MM)

The Padres finished very strong last year and have a very good core of players. The question is how good will their starting pitching be? Edinson Volquez is still an enigma and needs a solid year, and everyone else is very young. Andrew Cashner is a guy who could have a breakout year for them, and it will be interesting to see if Chase Headley repeats last year. I see this as a make or break year for Bud Black because after 2010 the Padres have been a footnote in that division.

Prediction: 82-80, 4th in NL West.

Colorado Rockies. 2012 Result: 64-98, last in NL West.
Transactions
10/31/12: Exercised option on LHP Jorge De La Rosa. (1yr/$11MM)
11/20/12: Acquired 3B Ryan Wheeler from ARI for IF Matt Reynolds.
12/4/12: Acquired P Wilton Lopez & PTBNL from HOU for LHP Alex White & Alex Gillingham.
12/19/12: Signed LHP Jeff Francis (1yr/$1.5MM)
1/21/13: Signed RHP Chris Volstad (MIN-$1.5Mm)
2/14/13: Acquired SS Reid Brignac from TB for cash.

The Rockies are a mess, pitching wise. I mean, come on, they have a Director of Pitching. Walt Weiss isn’t walking into a contender in Colorado, especially for a guy on a one year deal. If the Rockies finish over .500 and are competitive through September, then Dan O’Dowd and Weiss get another go. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening, so i foresee a one and done for Weiss and the Rockies cleaning house. I think this team could be as bad as Houston or Miami.

Prediction: 60-102, last in NL West

Final Results
1) Giants 96-66 –
2) Dodgers 94-68 2.0
3) Diamondbacks 85-77 11.0
4) Padres 82-80 14.0
5) Rockies 60-102 36.0

NL Central: A Summer of Red?

Good morning Nats and baseball fans alike!

Well, we have arrived in February, the ultimate month. Spring training begins, teams begin to form final rosters, and the offseason pretty much ends. Today, we will be looking at a division that is normally pretty top-heavy, essentially because of the fact that the top teams could beat up on the bottom dwellers of the division. The Astros are gone, so the only Faisal team is really the Cubs, at least in my opinion. Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Cincinnati Reds: 2012 Record/Finish- 97-65, NL Central Champions, lost to Giants 3-2 in NLDS.

Moves:
11/26/12: Signed RHP Jonathan Broxton (3 yr/$21M)
12/10/12: Signed OF Ryan Ludwick (2 yr/$15M)
12 11/12: Acquired OF Shin-Soo Choo and IF Jason Donald from CLE for OF Drew Stubbs and SS Didi Gregorious.
12/12/12: Signed IF Jack Hannahan (2 yrs)

The Reds are going to be very good again this year. The questions are: will Joey Votto stay healthy all year? Can Shin-Soo Choo handle center field? How will Aroldis Chapman handle being a starter after multiple years of relieving and closing? If i were Walt Jocketty and Dusty Baker, i would put Chapman on an innings limit, probably around 140-150 innings, around double his innings from 2012. It may behoove the Reds to sign a Kyle Lohse to eat up innings and perhaps go with a 6 man rotation, because Chapman will be the second coming of Neftali Feliz, not being able to handle the load and needing Tommy John Surgery. Todd Frazier hit 19 homers playing part time in 2012. I don’t believe the Reds need Scott Rolen back and should move on. The Reds are easily the front runner here, and most likely repeat as NL Central Champions.

Prediction: 95-67, NL Central Champions

St. Louis Cardinals
2012 Record/Result- 88-74, 2nd in NL Central

Moves:
12/14/12: Signed IF Ty Wigginton (2yr/$5M)
12/15/12: Signed LHP Randy Choate (3yr/$7.5M)
1/28/13: Signed SS Ronny Cedeno (1yr/$1.15M)

The Cardinals didn’t have many holes to fill, as most of their team is young or under contract. The team that took my heart and stomped on it mercilessly looks to be good again this year. I think the biggest question is going to be: when does Mike Matheny make his mark on this team? I don’t mean to undermine him, but i just wonder how much of last year was his managing, and how much of it was the players he had just doing their thing, because it’s not like he inherited the Cubs here. Also, this team needs to win more games early on, because the Brewers are right there, the Pirates are getting better, and eventually, even this year, winning 88 games may not get you the second wild card. The Cardinals are a very solid, very dangerous team. They just can’t keep sneaking into the playoffs.

Prediction- 87-75, 2nd in NL Central

Milwaukee Brewers
2012 Record/Results: 83-79, 3rd in NL Central

Moves:
12/6/12: Signed OF Reed Johnson (1yr/$1.75M)
12/12/12: Signed LHP Tom Gorzelanny (2yr/$5.7M)
1/7/13: Signed LHP Mike Gonzalez (1yr/$2.25M)
1/29/13: Signed SS Alex Gonzalez (1yr/$1.5M)

The Brewers finished hot last year, riding their young pitching. I don’t see their rotation pitching well enough to be much more than competitive. John Axford has shown he can be an All-Star caliber, shutdown Closer. He’s also shown he can throw batting practice and walk the ballpark. They’ll hit, that’s always a guarantee. The fact is, offense is their only guarantee. They don’t field well, nor will they pitch well enough. They will be competitive, though.

Prediction- 81-81, 4th in NL Central.

Pittsburgh Piratesu
2012 Record/Results: 79-83, 4th in NL Central.

Moves:
10/31/12: Exercised option on 3B Pedro Alvarez (1yr/$700K)
11/30/12: Signed C Russell Martin (2yr/$17M)
12/12/12: Signed RHP Jason Grilli (2yr/$6.75M)
12/26/12: Acquired OF Jerry Sands and RHP Mark Melancon from BOS for RHP Joel Hanrahan and prospects.
1/14/13: Signed RHP Jeff Karstens (1yr/$2.5M)
1/21/13: Signed LHP Francisco Liriano (2yr/$12.75M)

The Pirates have been hanging around for years, getting close to the playoffs, and finishing above .500. They’ll have a full year of Wandy Rodriguez, a newcomer in Francisco Liriano, joining James McDonald Jeff Karstens, Charlie Morton and AJ Burnett. They have a surplus of starters and a nice bullpen that should improve with the addition of Melancon. All in all, this is a big year for the Bucs. I think they finally rise to the occasion.

Prediction- 87-75, 3rd in NL Central.

Chicago Cubs
2012 Result: 61-101, 6th in NL Central

Moves:
11/13/12: Signed RHP Scott Baker (1yr/$5.5M)
11/16/12: Signed C Dioner Navarro (1yr/$1.75)
11/19/12: Signed RHP Shawn Camp
11/27/12: Signed P Scott Feldman (1yr/$6M)
12/6/12: Signed IF Ian Stewart (1yr/$2M)
12/21/12: Signed OF Nate Schierholtz (1yr/$2.25M)
1/2/13: Signed RHP Edwin Jackson (4yr/$52M)
1/26/13: Signed RHP Carlos Villanueva (2yr/$10M)
1/29/13: Signed OF Scott Hairston (2yr/$5M)

Needless to say, the Cubs marked what their winter centered around, and that’s pitching. There will be many new faces joining Jeff Samardzjia in the Cubs rotation, but it still will be a rebuilding year at Wrigley this season. The Jackson signing surprised me, mostly because of the lack of a no trade clause. For a guy who has been moved as much as Jackson, one wouls think he would want the security. Anthony Rizzo is going to be a staple in that lineup for years to come, though they are still a few years away. Unfortunately, it probably will be another long year at Wrigley.
Prediction: 70-92, Fifth in NL Central

Final Results
1.) Reds 95-67 –
2) Cardinals 88-74 7.0 GB
3) Pirates 87-75 8.0 GB
4) Brewers 81-81 14.0 GB
5) Cubs 70-92 25.0 GB

NL East: Who’s the Beast?

Good Morning, Nats Fans!

Today, in my return from a 3 job caused hiatus, i’ll be taking a look at the NL East. They certainly were active, with the Braves making the biggest move, acquiring both Uptons. The Phillies certainly aren’t dead, bank on that. The Mets will be there, and the Marlins are a joke, there are no other words. So, let’s get into it!

Washington Nationals
2012 Record: 98-64
Result- Won NL East, lost 3-2 in NLDS to St. Louis Cardinals.

Moves:
11/29/12- Acquired CF Denard Span from MIN for RHP Alex Meyer.
12/7/12- Signed RHP Dan Haren (1 yr/$13MM).
1/8/13- Signed 1B Adam LaRoche (2yr/$24MM w/ option)
1/15/13- Signed RHP Rafael Soriano (2yr/$28MM w/ option)
1/16/13- Acquired RHP AJ Cole & Blake Treinen & PTBNL from OAK; Traded OF/1B Mike Morse to SEA in 3 way trade.

Thoughts

The Nats were able to get better in multiple ways while keeping their Major League Roster intact. Mike Rizzo finally gets his dynamic leadoff hitting Center Fielder in Span, and for 3 yrs at less money than one year of BJ Upton. They got back Adam LaRoche keeping a nice righty/lefty balance in their lineup. They add a nice 5th starter in Haren, as they continue to sign placeholder type guys fpr their youngsters. The one casualty of this depth and talent in Mike Morse. He’s a Right Handed Power hitter who simply no longer had a spot on this team anymore. It was obviously more prudent to sign LaRoche because of his Lefty offense and defense at first, so Morse was unfortunately the odd man out. He’ll be fantastic in Seattle, who should be pretty good since they finally added some offense to go along with their pitching. Nevertheless, this Nats team, in my opinion became even more dynamic because of the Soriano and Span additions. Their lineup is certainly top five, their bullpen top three, and i’m not sure their rotation isn’t the best in the Majors.

Prediction: 100-62- NL East Champions.

Atlanta Braves
2012 Record: 94-68
Result: Wild Card. Lost, 6-3, to Cardinals in Wild Card Game

Moves:
10/30/12- Exercised options on C Brian McCann (1yr/$12MM), RHP Tim Hudson (1yr/$9MM) and LHP Paul Maholm (1yr/$6.5MM).
11/16/12- Signed C Gerald Laird (2yr)
11/28/12- Signed CF BJ Upton (5yrs/$75.25MM)
11/30/12- Acquired RHP Jordan Walden from LAA for RHP Tommy Hanson.
1/24/13- Acquired OF Justin Upton and 3B from ARI for OF/IF Martin Prado and prospects.

Thoughts

The Braves, much like Nats, do have most of their team intact. What i’m leery on is the players the lost compared to the players they acquired. They lost Michael Bourn to Free Agency, traded Tommy Hanson to the Angels, let Jair Jurrjens walk away, and traded Martin Prado to the Diamondbacks. They got back Jordan Walden, a wild young reliever with incredible potential, BJ Upton, a player who either hits for average or power but never both, Justin Upton, a guy who played his way out of Arizona, where he hits much better than anywhere else. They also saw Chipper Jones retire as well. While the Uptons provide much needed Righty balance, here are average years for BJ and Justin Upton.

BJ: .255/15HR/56RBI/.336OBP/.422SLG
Justin: .278/18HR/65RBI/.357OBP/.475SLG

Obviously, Justin looks to be the power brother, he’s just built that way. Both have shown they can be studs, but have also shown they’re mediocre just as often, if not more often. I don’t believe adding them make the Braves favorites to win it all. The  fact is, their rotation isn’t much to fear after Medlen and Hudson. Paul Maholm had a nice year, but when he’s your #3 starter, you’re not in the best of positions.

Prediction: 96-66- Second in NL East.

Philadelphia Phillies:
2012 Record: 81-81. Third in NL East.

Moves:
10/29/12: Exercised option on C Carlos Ruiz (1yr/$5M)
12/6/12: Acquired OF Ben Revere from MIN.
12/8/12: Acquired IF Michael Young from TEX
12/18/12: Signed LHP John Lannan (1 yr/$2.5M)
12/20/12: Signed RHP Mike Adams (2 yr/$12M)
1/22/13: Signed OF Delmon Young (1 yr/$750K)

A lot of people are criticizing what Ruben Amaro has done in the free agent market. I’m not one of those people. They still have some of the best pitching around with Halladay, Lee and Hamels leading the rotation. Papelbon at the end of the bullpen is still solid. Add in Adams and there’s your eighth and ninth inning. Kyle Kendrick isn’t terrible either. Adding John Lannan gives them a lefty heavy rotation in a division with some very good lefty hitters. The fact is Ben Revere is a more affordable version of Michael Bourn and Michael Young will feast on NL pitching in a great hitters park in Citizens Bank Park. As long as the Phillies have Charlie Manuel and get through the Ruiz suspension, don’t expect them to lay down. The Phillies are not dead. Mark that down.

Prediction: 90-72- Third in NL East

New York Mets
2012 Record: 74-88. Fourth in NL East

Moves:
10/30/12: Exercised options on 3B David Wright (1yr/$16M) and RHP R.A. Dickey (1yr/$5M)
11/26/12: Acquired SS Brandon Hicks from OAK
12/4/12: Extended 3B David Wright (8yrs/$138M)
12/17/12: Acquired C John Buck, C Travis D’Arnaud, RHP Noah Syndergaard from TOR for RHP R.A. Dickey and Cs Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas.
12/18/12: Acquired OF Colin Cowgill from OAK.
1/24/13: Signed RHP Shaun Marcum (1yr/$4M)

The Mets, with the Wright extension and the Dickey trade have shown they have solid long term plans for the team. The centerpiece of the Dickey trade, Travis D’Arnaud, could very well be up about a month in or so, depending on the performance of John Buck and the team overall. Their rotation is probably the most ready-made commodity on the team, (Santana, Niese, Gee, Harvey, Marcum) and will keep them in a lot of games, presumably. Their biggest problem is their bullpen and their outfield. They don’t have a Center Fielder, although Duda and Cowgill on the corners isn’t terrible. It would behoove them greatly to sign a guy like Brian Wilson for their bullpen, moving Frank Francisco, John Rauch and Ramon Ramirez into a setup/7th inning role, which they all could be better off in. I like the Mets, especially if they can lock up a guy like Michael Bourn to solidify the leadoff spot and Center Field, and a low risk, high reward guy in Brian Wilson. The Mets are a year or so away, but will be very competitive this year in a very good division.

Prediction: 83-79, 4th in NL East.

Miami Marlins
2012 Record: 69-93. Fifth in NL East

Moves:
10/20/12: Traded RHP Heath Bell to ARI.
11/17/12: Signed OF Juan Pierre
11/19/12: Traded SS Jose Reyes, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Josh Johnson, C John Buck, C Jeff Mathis, RHP Henderson Alvarez and UTIL Emilio Bonifacio to TOR for SS Adeiny Hecchavarria, SS Yunel Escobar, OF Jake Marisnick, P Justin Nicolino, and P Anthony DeSclafani
11/20/12: Signed 3B Placido Polanco (1yr/$2.5M)
12/4/12: Traded SS Yunel Escobar to TB for Derek Detriech.

As competitive and respectable as the aforementioned teams could be this year, the Marlins could be just as much of a laughingstock, joke team, which they already are, but on a more physical level. Jeffrey Loria has proven that making money is number one in his book, and if that doesn’t happen he’ll do whatever he can to get his way. He has also completely screwed the Rays, an organization that other teams should idolize, but will not get a new ballpark and may end up having no choice but to relocate, possible to Nashville. The fact is, the Marlins are a joke, and i’ve spent way too much time on them already.

Prediction: 58-104. Fifth in NL East.

Well, there we are. I believe the NL East will finish exactly how it did in 2012, here’s my final standings:

NL EAST 2013
1) Nationals 100-62 –
2) Braves 96-66 4.0 GB
3) Phillies 90-72 10.0 GB
4) Mets 83-79 17.0 GB
5) Marlins 58-104 42.0 GB

Call me a homer, I don’t care. The fact is, I don’t believe that any team in this division made themselves definitively better than the Nats.

Go Nats!

-Nick

Miami Lies…

Good morning, Nats and baseball fans alike,

Please pardon the horrible pun in the title, but hey, horrible franchises deserve horrible blog titles. Needless to say, you know why I am coming to you today. Tuesday evening, the Blue Jays pulled off a deal with the Miami Marlins that can be considered nothing short of a blockbuster deal. The Miami Marlins sent SS Jose Reyes, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Josh Johnson, C John Buck, and UTIL Emilio Bonifacio to the Toronto Blue Jays for RHP Henderson Alvarez, C Jeff Mathis, and multiple prospects that are considered to be high end. For the Blue Jays, whose GM, Alex Anthopoulos, was absolutely itching to make a big deal for Pitching, they fill 2 spots in the rotation, one with a consistent Lefty who fields his position well and knows how to pitch, but is going to be drastically overpaid the next few years, and a young right hander with a history of shoulder problems. They also get a leadoff hitter and very good fielding Shortstop whose gimpy hamstrings probably will not mix with the turf of the Rogers Center, a Catcher they didn’t really need and a Utility player who is probably one of the fastest Major Leaguers.

The Marlins? Well, they get torches and pitchforks from the angry taxpayers of Miami-Dade County, and 32 combined years of control over the players they acquired in this trade, and an angry Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton, which is probably scarier than the angry mob I mentioned first. This trade is a microcosm of what the Marlins are as a franchise under their current regime of Jeffrey Loria, David Samson and Larry Beinfest; impatience, ineptitude, and impulsive moves with very little logic behind them. The thought was with their new ballpark in place, they were going to spend, be able to afford the players they developed but couldn’t pay, and would then trade, and would finally have a fanbase to help support them. But no, Ozzie Guillen was Ozzie Guillen, as expected by everyone except the Marlins brass, another black eye on their image, and they went 69-93, finishing dead last behind the Mets, Phillies, Braves and Nationals. But, everything is alright, because they now have the money and players in place to build a contender for years, with some minor tweaks, such as when they traded Hanley Ramirez, who’s effort was always questioned, and Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infanfe, making way for some young prospects. They finally have the formula, right?

WRONG.

Every other team, that statement above would reign true, and they would come back next year, with some tweaks, but they have a core now. Not the Miami Marlins, you fools! Why should they give it another year? Now, I just want to say, if this deal was made because of financial reasons, and they couldn’t pay off these players, then I guess I understand why they made the deal. The problem I have is that the Marlins won’t say that, they’ll just lie, as they always have, and always will. They have stolen money from the taxpayers of Miami, and now have gutted their team, making their intentions as transparent as cling wrap: we just wanted to make money for ourselves, to hell with the fans. You guys didn’t show up in one year, when our manager made positive comments about Fidel Castro, and we were slammed with injuries, and just has a down year altogether, why should we give you another year? No, we’re going to gut our team with yet another fire sale, and in 4 years or so, we’ll do it again, and the whole time through, we will steal money from you and from our good buddy, Bud Selig.

The fact that Jeffrey Loria owns a team, and is so dedicated to his own checkbook over fielding a competitive product in a brand new stadium is a mark on him as both a businessman and a human being, and that sickens me. Thee are teams out there in the exact same position as Loria, minus the new stadium. Hell, there is a team across the state from them, the Tampa Bay Rays, who are doing about as a good a job with almost the same situation as a team can. Every single year since 2008 they have been competitive and worth watching. They sign their young players to team friendly deals or go through arbitration to a point, and pick and choose who they trade, and start the process over, and always have someone ready to step in for the traded player. So, for Loria to say he doesn’t have the facilities to be competitve is doubly sad and pathetic.

Loria runs a team full of pathetic, money hungry people, and yes men. Whether they are afraid of him or like him too much, as long as Jeffrey Loria owns a Major League Baseball team, they will never be competitive and will always be firmly planted in the sand, sinking constantly, they pulled up a little, just enough not to drown, then begin to sink again.

If I lived in Miami, I would petition to have Jeffrey Loria pushed out as an ownership. Too bad he’s close to Bud Selig.

Go Nats, and boo Marlins.

-Nick

Miami Lies…

Good morning, Nats and baseball fans alike,

Please pardon the horrible pun in the title, but hey, horrible franchises deserve horrible blog titles. Needless to say, you know why I am coming to you today. Tuesday evening, the Blue Jays pulled off a deal with the Miami Marlins that can be considered nothing short of a blockbuster deal. The Miami Marlins sent SS Jose Reyes, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Josh Johnson, C John Buck, and UTIL Emilio Bonifacio to the Toronto Blue Jays for RHP Henderson Alvarez, C Jeff Mathis, and multiple prospects that are considered to be high end. For the Blue Jays, whose GM, Alex Anthopoulos, was absolutely itching to make a big deal for Pitching, they fill 2 spots in the rotation, one with a consistent Lefty who fields his position well and knows how to pitch, but is going to be drastically overpaid the next few years, and a young right hander with a history of shoulder problems. They also get a leadoff hitter and very good fielding Shortstop whose gimpy hamstrings probably will not mix with the turf of the Rogers Center, a Catcher they didn’t really need and a Utility player who is probably one of the fastest Major Leaguers.

The Marlins? Well, they get torches and pitchforks from the angry taxpayers of Miami-Dade County, and 32 combined years of control over the players they acquired in this trade, and an angry Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton, which is probably scarier than the angry mob I mentioned first. This trade is a microcosm of what the Marlins are as a franchise under their current regime of Jeffrey Loria, David Samson and Larry Beinfest; impatience, ineptitude, and impulsive moves with very little logic behind them. The thought was with their new ballpark in place, they were going to spend, be able to afford the players they developed but couldn’t pay, and would then trade, and would finally have a fanbase to help support them. But no, Ozzie Guillen was Ozzie Guillen, as expected by everyone except the Marlins brass, another black eye on their image, and they went 69-93, finishing dead last behind the Mets, Phillies, Braves and Nationals. But, everything is alright, because they now have the money and players in place to build a contender for years, with some minor tweaks, such as when they traded Hanley Ramirez, who’s effort was always questioned, and Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infanfe, making way for some young prospects. They finally have the formula, right?

WRONG.

Every other team, that statement above would reign true, and they would come back next year, with some tweaks, but they have a core now. Not the Miami Marlins, you fools! Why should they give it another year? Now, I just want to say, if this deal was made because of financial reasons, and they couldn’t pay off these players, then I guess I understand why they made the deal. The problem I have is that the Marlins won’t say that, they’ll just lie, as they always have, and always will. They have stolen money from the taxpayers of Miami, and now have gutted their team, making their intentions as transparent as cling wrap: we just wanted to make money for ourselves, to hell with the fans. You guys didn’t show up in one year, when our manager made positive comments about Fidel Castro, and we were slammed with injuries, and just has a down year altogether, why should we give you another year? No, we’re going to gut our team with yet another fire sale, and in 4 years or so, we’ll do it again, and the whole time through, we will steal money from you and from our good buddy, Bud Selig.

The fact that Jeffrey Loria owns a team, and is so dedicated to his own checkbook over fielding a competitive product in a brand new stadium is a mark on him as both a businessman and a human being, and that sickens me. Thee are teams out there in the exact same position as Loria, minus the new stadium. Hell, there is a team across the state from them, the Tampa Bay Rays, who are doing about as a good a job with almost the same situation as a team can. Every single year since 2008 they have been competitive and worth watching. They sign their young players to team friendly deals or go through arbitration to a point, and pick and choose who they trade, and start the process over, and always have someone ready to step in for the traded player. So, for Loria to say he doesn’t have the facilities to be competitve is doubly sad and pathetic.

Loria runs a team full of pathetic, money hungry people, and yes men. Whether they are afraid of him or like him too much, as long as Jeffrey Loria owns a Major League Baseball team, they will never be competitive and will always be firmly planted in the sand, sinking constantly, they pulled up a little, just enough not to drown, then begin to sink again.

If I lived in Miami, I would petition to have Jeffrey Loria pushed out as an ownership. Too bad he’s close to Bud Selig.

Go Nats, and boo Marlins.

-Nick

5 Bold Offseason Predictions…

Good Morning Nats Fans!!

This post is going to take a look at some moves I believe may happen, and are BOLD predictions! They are moves nobody may see coming, or are slightly farfetched. So without further ado, here we go…

1.) Josh Hamilton will get his contract…from the Baltimore Orioles.
The “price” of Josh Hamilton has been set. According to mlbtraderumors.com, the 32 year old Outfielder is seeking 7 years for $175MM for an average annual value of $25MM a year. The Orioles are coming off a year that saw them finish 93-69 and take the Yankees to a decisive 5th game of the ALDS, so they are going to be trying to “cash in” on that. The Rangers, according to Buster Olney and others, have become somewhat “fed up” with Hamilton, and are (seemingly) going to take the same approach the Brewers took with Prince Fielder last Offseason: if the Market totally collapses, they’ll be there to pick up the pieces. I think Baltimore, or even Seattle, are very good fits for Hamilton, as long as he’s put in a good position with his recovery from addiction.

2.) The Rays will NOT trade James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson…but a Rays Pitcher WILL be traded.
The Rays are always looking to sell high, and the obvious names out there are the two I mentioned. The lesser name out there is…David Price. I believe Shields and Hellickson are both gonna be in Rays uniforms, because they are both still somewhat cost-controlled. Price, however, could win the AL Cy Young which means one thing: he is going to get a BIG raise in arbitration. I think the Rays can get a huge, and I mean, MONSTER, package for Price, and that’s why he will be the guy traded, not Shields and Hellickson.

3.) The Nationals WILL make a big Free Agent Signing this Winter.
Will it be Zack Greinke? Kyle Lohse? Dan Hareem? Anibal Sanchez? I’m not sure, but Mike Rizzo told mutliple Nats writers yesterday at the GM Meetings that the Nats are “casting a wide net and keeping an open mind.” (courtesy of Amanda Comack {@acomack}) which makes me believe that Ross Detwiler will be the Nats fifth starter in 2013, as he should be. Remember the “mystery teams” of the 2012 Offseason? Expect them to make a comeback.

4.) The Indians will not trade Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Chris Perez AND Justin Masterson this Winter.
When I say this, I mean that not all four of these players will be traded. Could two of them be? Yes. Could three? Sure. I don’t believe Terry Francona will be in favor of completely blwoing up the team, even if he is doing his buddies in the organization a favor Managing there. I do think Chris Perez could be dealt, especially after the comments he made about the fanbase.

5.) The Marlins will continue to prove how much if a joke they are.

I won’t hold back here, if you haven’t noticed already. The Marlins continue to prove they are a franchise comparable to a mischievous child with ADHD: constantly moving, knocking things over, making a huge mess, and that’s what they are. The Marlins are a mess and joke of a Major League Franchise. I am not a proponent of contraction, unless it involves them and only them. I believe they will trade another big name player, someone like Josh Johnson,Mark Buerhle, even Logan Morrison. They’ll be doing things the “Marlins way,” erratic and nonsensical with no real endgame or ultimate goal. And that’s the way they like it.

I also do expect Justin Upton to be traded, but that’s not a bold prediction rather than a foregone conclusion.

Here’s hoping for an incredibly fun Offseason, full of dealings and excitement! Hopefully i’m right about all five predictions, especially prediction number 3!

GO NATS!
-Nick

The 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants…

Good evening, Nats fans!

Hopefully Hurricane Sandy hasn’t been too bad for any of you, I did lose power for a few hours today, personally, but you don’t really care about that! I’m here to talk about the team who won the World Series last night: The San Francisco Giants. They are somewhat of a baseball chameleon, having won 2 World Series Titles in the past 3 seasons. The crazy part? Look at their roster:

2010 San Francisco Giants (Beat TEX 4-1)

41 Jeremy Affeldt 6-04 230 Left Left 1979-06-06
53 Denny Bautista 6-05 170 Right Right 1980-08-23
40 Madison Bumgarner 6-05 235 Left Right 1989-08-01
18 Matt Cain 6-03 230 Right Right 1984-10-01
46 Santiago Casilla 6-00 220 Right Right 1980-07-25
60 Waldis Joaquin 6-02 235 Right Right 1986-12-25
55 Tim Lincecum 5-11 175 Right Left 1984-06-15
49 Javier Lopez 6-04 220 Left Left 1977-07-11
49 Joe Martinez 6-02 195 Right Left 1983-02-26
52 Brandon Medders 6-01 190 Right Right 1980-01-26
59 Guillermo Mota 6-04 240 Right Right 1973-07-25
52 Ramon Ramirez 5-11 200 Right Right 1981-08-31
47 Chris Ray 6-03 200 Right Right 1982-01-12
54 Sergio Romo 5-10 185 Right Right 1983-03-04
45 Dan Runzler 6-04 235 Left Left 1985-03-30
57 Jonathan Sanchez 6-00 200 Left Left 1982-11-19
37 Todd Wellemeyer 6-03 205 Right Right 1978-08-30
38 Brian Wilson 6-02 205 Right Right 1982-03-16
75 Barry Zito 6-02 205 Left Left 1978-05-13
# Catchers Height Weight Throws Bats Date Of Birth
1 Bengie Molina 5-11 225 Right Right 1974-07-20
28 Buster Posey 6-01 220 Right Right 1987-03-27
22 Eli Whiteside 6-02 220 Right Right 1979-10-22
# Infielders Height Weight Throws Bats Date Of Birth
2 Emmanuel Burriss 6-00 205 Right Both 1985-01-17
34 Matt Downs 6-01 190 Right Right 1984-03-19
14 Mike Fontenot 5-08 165 Right Left 1980-06-09
17 Aubrey Huff 6-04 225 Right Left 1976-12-20
10 Travis Ishikawa 6-03 225 Left Left 1983-09-24
16 Edgar Renteria 6-01 200 Right Right 1975-08-07
29 Ryan Rohlinger 6-01 195 Right Right 1983-10-07
21 Freddy Sanchez 5-11 185 Right Right 1977-12-21
48 Pablo Sandoval 5-11 240 Right Both 1986-08-11
5 Juan Uribe 6-00 240 Right Right 1979-03-22
# Outfielders Height Weight Throws Bats Date Of Birth
20 John Bowker 6-01 205 Left Left 1983-07-08
9 Pat Burrell 6-04 235 Right Right 1976-10-10
7 Mark DeRosa 6-01 215 Right Right 1975-02-26
34 Darren Ford 5-09 190 Right Right 1985-10-01
1, 6 Jose Guillen 5-11 165 Right Right 1976-05-17
13 Cody Ross 5-10 195 Left Right 1980-12-23
33 Aaron Rowand 6-01 200 Right Right 1977-08-29
12 Nate Schierholtz 6-01 205 Right Left 1984-02-15
56 Andres Torres 5-10 195 Right Both 1978-01-26
8 Eugenio Velez 6-01 160 Right Both 1982-05-16

 

2012 San Francisco Giants (Beat DET 4-0)

41 Jeremy Affeldt 6-04 230 Left Left 1979-06-06
56 Travis Blackley 6-03 205 Left Left 1982-11-04
40 Madison Bumgarner 6-05 235 Left Right 1989-08-01
18 Matt Cain 6-03 230 Right Right 1984-10-01
46 Santiago Casilla 6-00 220 Right Right 1980-07-25
65 Steven Edlefsen 6-02 195 Right Both 1985-06-27
51, 52 Eric Hacker 6-01 230 Right Both 1983-03-26
34 Clay Hensley 5-11 190 Right Right 1979-08-31
70 George Kontos 6-03 225 Right Right 1985-06-12
55 Tim Lincecum 5-11 175 Right Left 1984-06-15
49 Javier Lopez 6-04 220 Left Left 1977-07-11
61 Shane Loux 6-02 225 Right Right 1979-08-31
79, 63 Jean Machi 6-00 260 Right Right 1982-02-01
50 Jose Mijares 6-00 230 Left Left 1984-10-29
59 Guillermo Mota 6-04 240 Right Right 1973-07-25
87, 37, 43 Dan Otero 6-03 215 Right Right 1985-02-19
31 Brad Penny 6-04 230 Right Right 1978-05-24
52 Yusmeiro Petit 6-00 180 Right Right 1984-11-22
54 Sergio Romo 5-10 185 Right Right 1983-03-04
45 Dan Runzler 6-04 235 Left Left 1985-03-30
32 Ryan Vogelsong 6-04 215 Right Right 1977-07-22
38 Brian Wilson 6-02 205 Right Right 1982-03-16
75 Barry Zito 6-02 205 Left Left 1978-05-13
# Catchers Height Weight Throws Bats Date Of Birth
28 Buster Posey 6-01 220 Right Right 1987-03-27
29 Hector Sanchez 5-11 225 Right Both 1989-11-17
22 Eli Whiteside 6-02 220 Right Right 1979-10-22
# Infielders Height Weight Throws Bats Date Of Birth
13 Joaquin Arias 6-01 170 Right Right 1984-09-21
9 Brandon Belt 6-05 220 Left Left 1988-04-20
2 Emmanuel Burriss 6-00 205 Right Both 1985-01-17
35 Brandon Crawford 6-02 215 Right Left 1987-01-21
33 Charlie Culberson 6-01 200 Right Right 1989-04-10
50 Conor Gillaspie 6-01 200 Right Left 1987-07-18
17 Aubrey Huff 6-04 225 Right Left 1976-12-20
6 Brett Pill 6-04 225 Right Right 1984-09-09
48 Pablo Sandoval 5-11 240 Right Both 1986-08-11
19 Marco Scutaro 5-10 185 Right Right 1975-10-30
5 Ryan Theriot 5-11 185 Right Right 1979-12-07
# Outfielders Height Weight Throws Bats Date Of Birth
7 Gregor Blanco 5-11 185 Left Left 1983-12-24
53 Melky Cabrera 6-00 200 Left Both 1984-08-11
51 Justin Christian 6-01 195 Right Right 1980-04-03
68, 13 Xavier Nady 6-00 215 Right Right 1978-11-14
16 Angel Pagan 6-02 200 Right Both 1981-07-02
57, 14 Francisco Peguero 5-11 195 Right Right 1988-06-01
8 Hunter Pence 6-04 220 Right Right 1983-04-13
12 Nate Schierholtz 6-01 205 Right Left 1984-02-15

Pretty crazy to see how much turnover there was in only 2 years, with Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval being the only two players starting in both Fall Classics. One would think a team does NOT win that way.

What does this have to do with the Nats, you ask? Mike Rizzo and Co. cannot, I repeat, CANNOT be afraid of change, in the right places. Brian Sabean has been able to make a lot of changes, but with a few core values: continuity in the Coaching Staff, and always focus on pitching. Strong bullpen, Strong Rotation. The Depth that the Giants displayed this season and postseason, with Sergio Romo’s emergence as a Closer, Tim Lincecum’s emergence as a presence in the bullpen (albeit for $20MM), shows us that TEAMS truly win Championships. That, to me, is the beauty of baseball. TEAMS win. That never happens in Football, look at the Colts. They lose Peyton Manning and my High School Football team could have beaten them. Basketball? Forget it! If your team does not have a star player, you may as well not show up. Hockey, maybe, although you can win with good goaltending, winning a lot of games 1-0. The beauty of baseball is that it truly takes 25 men in a clubhouse to win. That’s what the Giants have built, and proven. Hopefully, the Nats can follow in the Giants footsteps in that respect!

Congrats to the Giants and GO NATS!!!

-Nick

The Nats Offseason Outlook…

Hello Nats fans, how have you been?

Well, it’s been a magical season. The Nats arrived, and are here to stay, at least for the forseeable future. They learned a lot in the playoffs, and I don’t see a series like that happening again. The NL East is gonna be much tougher in 2013. Mark it down, the Phillies WILL be better next year, as will the Braves, Marlins, and Mets. This was the ideal year for the Nats to try and take the division, because the next few years will not be easy.

Alas, we must reluctantly look ahead to the offseason, and who will still be rocking the Curly W in 2013. I do believe that there will be a new face or two in DC next year, but it should be a pretty similar lineup. Here is the list of players we may see move starting with…

Gone: Players I do NOT see returning…
1.) Chien-Ming Wang: The emergence of Ross Detwiler and the prospect of Edwin Jackson returning pushes Wang out. I mean, he’s a sinkerballer who couldn’t find the right arm angle. Let him go, Rizzo…

2.) John Lannan: He got paid $5MM pitching in Syracuse this past year and requested a trade after he was optioned at the end of Spring Training. He’s a dependable sinkerballer that is 28 and has proven he can get Major League hitters out. I’ll miss him, but he’ll land on his feet.

3.) Jesus Flores: When Wilson Ramos went down, he proved he isn’t the everyday Catcher people thought he could be. Enter Kurt Suzuki. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

4.) Henry Rodriguez: Yeah, you read that right. The reason? Christian Garcia. Plus, I don’t think the Nats like when a Pitcher keeps an injury like his from them.

5.) Tom Gorzelanny: I don’t think he considers himself a reliever, and I believe a team will give him a shot at starting. Otherwise, maybe he does come back in the same role.

Staying: Players I see returning…
1.) Mark DeRosa: I do think he will return, if only for the clubhouse aspect of it. He could retire though, so I’m not guaranteeing anything.

2.) Davey Johnson: I do not, for ten centillas of a second, believe he’s going to walk out like this. He’s a consultant for Mike Rizzo in 2013, and he’ll consult that he’s the man for the job.

3.) Danny Espinosa: I don’t believe the Nats are going to trade him or give Lombardozzi the job at second. He’s a much more dynamic hitter to me than Lombardozzi is.

Could go either way…
1.) Adam LaRoche: $13MM option, $1MM buyout. They have a younger (and cheaper) heir apparent in Mike Morse. The Nats could really use his lefty balance in a very right handed lineup.

2.) Edwin Jackson: I don’t think he’ll get the contract he wants after the year he had (10-11, 4.03 ERA), but he didn’t get much run support and has shown some real flashes of brilliance. Wouldn’t mind him back, but he won’t be cheap.

Now, up next I will list the Free Agents I would like to see the Nats pursue in the offseason, based on other moves the team may or may not make.

Pitchers:

1) Zack Greinke, Brewers/Angels (28): 2012 Final Stats: 15-5/3.48 ERA/212 1/3 IP/1.19 WHIP

We know that Mike Rizzo almost reeled in Mr. Greinke for Kansas City in 2010….until Greinke decided to deny the trade, claiming he wanted to go to a ‘Winner.’ So, he opted for the Brewers, never signed an extension, and was traded again, this time to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, otherwise known as the most expensive disappointment of 2012. He may re-sign there, but I don’t know if he will, based on the Angels finish and mild disfunction, with Owner Arte Moreno demanding GM Jerry DiPoto and Manager Mike Scioscia get along. Adding Greinke would give the Nats a 1 in Strasburg, 1A in Greinke, and a 1AA in Gio. Easily best rotation in baseball.

2) Dan Haren, Angels (32): 2012 Final Stats: 12-13/4.33 ERA/176 2/3 IP/1.29 WHIP

Haren has a $15.5MM Team Option for 2013, but there has been some word that the Angels may buy him out ($3.5MM) in an effort to lock up Greinke long term. At 32, Haren could easily net a 4 year deal, with perhaps a 5th year option, on the open market, even if he is coming off the year he’s coming off of. He would be a great Veteran for the Nats rotation, and has experience in the NL (43-36/3.78 ERA/705IP/1.18 WHIP) so it’s not new to him.

3) Shaun Marcum, Brewers(30): 2012 Final Stats: 7-4/3.70 ERA/124 IP/1.26 WHIP

Marcum probably will get a sizeable contract, at least a 3 year deal. He is coming off an injury shortened season, so there may be a team out there looking to buy low. He would not be a bad addition to the Nats rotation, but not near the quality of the other two guys.

4) Jake Peavy, White Sox(31): 2012 Final Stats: 11-12/3.37 ERA/219 IP/1.17 WHIP

Peavy is finally healthy, and the White Sox have said they will decline his $22MM option for 2013, but Peavy is open to re-signing in Chicago. Peavy could get somewhat comparable money on the open market because he does finally seem healthy, he’s still on 31, and he still seems to have plenty left in the tank. His Lat problem may steer some teams away, but he does have the swing and miss stuff Mike Rizzo is always looking for.

5) Anibal Sanchez, Marlins/Tigers(28): 2012 Final Stats: 9-13/3.86 ERA/195 2/3 IP/1.26 WHIP

Sanchez is an absolute Nats KILLER when he pitches against them, so there’s also a motivation to keep him away from anyone else in the NL East looking to sign him. He’s a solid young guy who has thrown a couple No Hitters and is more than capable of winning 15+ games. He could re-up with Detroit, and is in his 3rd arbitration year, but may not be tendered a contract.

What ifs…- Here, I am going to talk about some different scenarios with specific players…

If the Nats re-sign Adam LaRoche
…Michael Morse will be traded. Why? Because I really do not believe Mike Rizzo considers Bryce Harper as the Nats Center Fielder of the future. Harper is way too valuable of a piece, although he certainly can handle the position. Morse will definitely draw considerable interest. He is cost controlled (owed $6.75MM for 2013), hit .291/.321/.470 with 18 HR and 62 RBI in 406 AB (102 G). For that kind of Money and production, plenty of teams should want him. Personally, I think he’s perfect for a team like Tampa Bay. He is cost controlled, knows how to hit, gets on base. Also, I think there could be quite a return for him.

…Nats will sign a Center Fielder. Josh Hamilton? Michael Bourn? BJ Upton? Shane Victorino? I think the Nats may be a dark horse for Hamilton, partially because of how they handled Stephen Strasburg. If Mike Rizzo was willing to do what he did with Strasburg, he would be more than doing what needs to be done to help Hamilton in his ongoing recovery. I believe that the Nats will be going for someone they have been trying to acquire since Nyjer Morgan was traded: a leadoff hitting Center Fielder. Jayson Werth is not going to be the 2013 leadoff hitter, and unless they trade Danny Espinosa, they don’t have anybody who is going to be in their Starting Lineup who is a natural leadoff hitter. I definitely think there will be a new Center Fielder in Spring Training, one who was not on the team in 2012.

If the Nats let Adam LaRoche walk…
…Mike Morse takes 1B. We know Morse can handle first. He’s younger and will be considerably cheaper, at least for 2013. A key to the Nats season was having that Righty/Lefty power balance that LaRoche provided. Sure, the Nats have Bryce Harper, who could easily become the bat to split up Morse/Desmond/Zimmerman, and you could have Werth in the 2 hole, and Danny Espinosa, but if Espinosa has proven nothing else in his first two years in DC, it’s that he’s as streaky as they come (of course, we said the same thing about Ian Desmond before year 3, didn’t we?), but LaRoche was a hitter other teams HAD to respect, and Espinosa and Harper aren’t at that point yet. Yes, I realize Espinosa is a switch hitter, but for the most part, he’s a lefty hitter. Again, this outcome also requires Nats to pursue a Center Fielder, which I believe is a foregone conclusion that the Nats will acquire.

Bottom line: The Nats are going to A) Sign a CF/leadoff hitter and B) Sign/Acquire a Starter via trade, along with some other smaller scale moves that always occur every offseason.

The offseason is going to be a lot of fan. The Nats have established themselves as a team that is a contender in every sense of the word. Players are (conceivably) going to WANT to sign here long term. Even if unnamed executives hate the Nats because they put their players health before “winning”

GO NATS!!

-Nick

The Trade Deadline, and a delayed deal.

Good morning, Nats fans!

I come to you with the Nats coming off a 3-0 win over the Phillies, where we saw the triumphant return of Jayson Werth and his beard, which looked glorious, as usual. He was 1-3 with a single and a walk, and looked as though he hasn’t missed a beat. Adam LaRoche continued his very big season with homer number 20, and a 3-4 night, with 2 RBI and a strikeout. Ross Detwiler continued to shine, as he went 7 shutout innings for his 6th win of the season. I don’t care how Chien-Ming Wang rehabs, there is no way Detwiler can lose his rotation spot now. I also come to you with the Nats coming off a split of a doubleheader, where John Lannan once again shined, and did one of two things: further stated his case to be the man to take over the #5 spot when Stephen Strasburg is shut down, or boosted his value as an August trade package candidate. Regardless, he seems to turn it on when he gets up here, then go down and go through the motions almost, as though he WANTS to be the guy to spell Strasburg in this rotation, and doesn’t want to be traded.

With that said, the Nats stood pat at the trade deadline, opting against making any deals with the knowledge of Werth and Chad Tracy’s return, as those two are big acquisitions within themselves. This is something that a lot of people have underrated and, at times, ignored. The Nats currently have an incredibly crowded Outfield (Moore, Morse, Harper, Werth, Brown) as far as bodies are concerned, and they still need an everyday Center Fielder who can also lead off. With that said, they are obviously expected to make a big push for Michael Bourn in the offseason. In my opinion, for them to do that, one of two scenarios have to play out:

1) The Nats do not pick up Adam LaRoche’s contract option, and they open up First Base for Michael Morse, an infielder by trade. (Chances that happens: 60%)

2) Michael Morse is dealt for pitching, and Adam LaRoche is extended, or the contract option is picked up for one more year at the least (Chances that happens: 40%)

Now, that talk is quite a few months away, so we shall cork that for a while. But, today, we talk about a trade the Nats made the day or two AFTER the trade deadline, where the Nats acquired Catcher Kurt Suzuki from the Oakland Athletics for Class A Catcher David Frietas. Jesus Flores is without question a full-time backup Catcher, being way too streaky as a hitter to be able to crack an everyday lineup. Suzuki is a better defender, and is a hitter with 15 HR potential. Yes, he is having a down year, but there is nobody, I repeat, NOBODY, breathing down his neck for the starting Catcher’s job, so maybe the change of scenery will help him. Another interesting wrinkle is that Suzuki basically has 2 more years on his contract, next year beijg guaranteed and the year after being an option year.

To me, this deal officially ends the Jesus Flores era in DC, and you ca make the argument it was an era that never really started because of a really bad shoulder injury. Plus, the Nats could easily have the best Catching Tandem in the Majors for the next couple years in Wilson Ramos and Kurt Suzuki, two Catchers capable of starting everyday for most teams in the Majors. Suzuki also caught Gio Gonzalez in Oakland, and it also seems like him and Flores don’t get along, or at least have a difference in interests. If you watched Gio’s body language his last few starts, it almost seemed like he didn’t want the pitches Flores was calling. I may be trying to make something more than it is (and I probably am) but it’s worth noting.

Suzuki is due to be in DC today, and it is the start of a new era. Rizzo, once again, gets his “man:” a veteran Catcher who can also be a leader.

GO NATS

-Nick

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