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Tag:Nationals
Posted on: February 28, 2012 1:19 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 1:21 pm
 

Nationals' Johnson says it's playoffs or bust

Davey JohnsonBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Nationals manager Davey Johnson is confident in his team, even if others may think the Nationals are a year or two away.

"We should make the playoffs," Johnson told CSN's Kelli Johnson (via the Washington Post). "There's no doubt in my mind."

The TV reporter asked Johnson if he'd consider this season a failure if the Nationals didn't make the playoffs.

"No question in my mind," Johnson said. "And they can fire me."

The 69-year-old Johnson took over the Nationals last June and went 40-43 in his 83 games of the season.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 10:03 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 12:33 pm
 

Spring primer: Washington Nationals



By Matt Snyder


The Washington Nationals have never had a winning record. They finished 81-81 in 2005 but came in last. Then they dipped all the way down to consecutive 59-win seasons before winning 69 in 2010 and going 80-81 last season. So is 2012 the time for the first Nationals winning season -- and possibly more? Unfortunately for the Nats, they play in one of the toughest divisions in baseball. Fortunately for the Nats, they are improved from last season's third-place team.

Danny Knobler's camp report: Harper decision might make all the difference | Likes, dislikes

Major additions: LHP Gio Gonzalez, RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Brad Lidge
Major departures: OF Layne Nix, RHP Livan Hernandez, RHP Todd Coffey

Probable lineup
1. Ian Desmond, SS
2. Jayson Werth, RF
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Michael Morse, LF
5. Adam LaRoche, 1B
6. Danny Espinosa, 2B
7. Wilson Ramos, C
8. Roger Bernadina, CF

Probable rotation
1. Stephen Strasburg
2. Gio Gonzalez
3. Jordan Zimmerman
4. Edwin Jackson
5. Chien-Ming Wang

John Lannan is also a possibility as the fifth starter, and remember Strasburg is on a 160-inning limit this season.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Drew Storen
Set-up: Tyler Clippard, Brad Lidge

Important bench players

C Jesus Flores, IF/OF Mark DeRosa, OF Rick Ankiel

Prospect to watch
C'mon. You know who. We've all been watching Bryce Harper since he was about 15, and from everything said in camp it sounds like 2012 is the year we see him in the majors. Will he break camp with the club? Only if they're ready to play him everyday, which means Werth is shoved to center. I believe the Nationals would have to be 100 percent convinced Harper was ready to star right now, otherwise there's no reason to do so -- especially since the defense would suffer as a result. More likely, an injury or underperformance opens the door sometime in May or June. Regardless, scouts collectively believe Harper is an elite-level superstar when he does stick in the majors. Anthony Rendon bears watching as well, but not to the extent of Harper.

Fantasy breakout: Jordan Zimmermann
"One could argue that in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery Zimmermann had already broken out. Last year the 25-year-old posted a 3.18 ERA and 1.15 WHIP and only an innings limit kept him from being a top 40 starting pitcher. This season, Zimmermann won't be curtailed in terms of his workload, and better yet, there is room for him to perform better even on a per-inning basis. He averaged slightly less than seven strikeouts per nine innings in 2011, not meeting the standard he set prior to his surgery but he started to miss a lot more bats over his final 10 starts. Over that span, Zimmermann got to strike three 53 times in 58 2/3 innings. With more innings and a higher K-rate likely this season, look for Zimmermann to emerge as a No. 3 starting pitcher in mixed leagues." - Al Melchior [Full Nationals fantasy team preview]

Fantasy bust Jayson Werth
"Leaving a homer-friendly ballpark in Philadelphia behind, many expected Werth to have a down year in 2011, but the worst may be yet to come. Park factors may have worked against Werth with his move to Washington but even before he signed with the Nationals he was facing a steady decline in his home run per flyball ratio. While Werth's home run power seems to be evaporating the 46 doubles he hit in 2010 was merely an outlier as he has never hit more than 26 in a season barring that one year." - Al Melchior [Full Nationals fantasy team preview]

Optimistic outlook
Every player plays like he's capable and the Nationals don't have a major weakness. The offense has the potential to be strong top-to-bottom, with great starting pitching -- Edwin Jackson proving to be the best No. 4 in the league -- and a lock-down back-end of the bullpen. If everything comes together like it can, the Nationals would make the playoffs. They may not be able to win the toughest division in the National League, but with a possibility of two wild cards on the table -- seriously, Bud, how long until this is decided?!? -- there's certainly no reason to count out the Nats.

Pessimistic outlook
While there are good hitters in the lineup, the lack of an elite slugger in addition to a hole in center field holds the offense back. Werth's struggles bleed into 2012, Zimmerman again can't stay healthy and the pitching staff is plagued by Gonzalez's control issues and Jackson's inconsistency -- not to mention Strasburg's inning limit. Playing in the mighty NL East, the Nationals come in fourth or even last, with the Mets surprising and jumping over them.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 11:21 am
Edited on: February 27, 2012 12:06 pm
 

Class A team to celebrate Titanic anniversary

By C. Trent Rosecrans

There's nothing like minor-league promotions, and the Potomac Nationals will have an interesting one on April 15 -- the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

To commemorate the anniversary, the team will allow women and children into the ballpark first -- a full 15 minutes before the men.

I was thinking maybe they should have specials on icees or a dunk tank -- too soon?

No matter what else they do, I'm sure plenty of people will make "I'm the king of the world" jokes and think they're the first one to do so. They'll be wrong.

Hat-tip: Washington Post's D.C. Sports Bog

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Posted on: February 26, 2012 9:24 am
Edited on: February 26, 2012 4:11 pm
 

Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals agree on extension



By Matt Snyder


The Washington Nationals have agreed to sign third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to a six-year, $100 million contract extension, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has confirmed. Zimmerman's current five-year, $45 million deal doesn't expire until after the 2013 season, so this extension takes him through the 2019 season, and there's a $24 million club option for the 2020 season. Zimmerman also agreed to have $10 million deferred as a personal services fee, meaning the amount won't count toward the Nationals payroll -- there is no salary cap, but there's a luxury tax. The contract also contains a full no-trade clause, the inclusion of which had previously been a sticking point for Zimmerman.

Nationals spring training
The deal is the second-largest in MLB history for a third baseman, after Alex Rodriguez's current contract (A-Rod's first megadeal came when he was a shortstop). Zimmerman is now one of just six players signed through 2019, joining Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp.

"All along, all I've wanted is to be able to stay with the Nationals, which I consider my hometown team, and help the franchise become a winner while also being compensated fairly," Zimmerman said Saturday night, before the extension was complete. "While nothing is finalized, I am confident that we can reach an agreement that will accompish all those things. I'm from Virginia, I was drafted by the Nationals and I've seen this organization make great progress since I signed here. I want to see it through to the ultimate goal of winning a World Series."

More from Zimmerman on being from the area: "That was the whole point of this thing from the beginning," he said (MASNSports.com). "I love playing here and I love the organization, but it's always been like this from day one when I started playing here - how I'm lucky to be in this position to be so close to my family, to kind of be in the area where I grew up, where I went to school. I enjoy playing here."

He also added that signing the extension was a "relief."

Zimmerman, 27, was the Nationals' first-round draft pick in 2005 -- the club's first year in Washington -- out of the University of Virginia and made his big-league debut late that season. He then finished second in the 2006 NL Rookie of the Year voting and has since been an All-Star while winning both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. He hit .289/.355/.443 with 12 homers and 49 RBI in 101 games in 2011, as he was hampered by an abdominal injury. The previous season, he hit .307/.388/.510 with 25 homers and in 2009 he had 33 homers, 106 RBI and 110 runs scored.

The Nationals now have a young core of players locked up for several years, including Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, Bryce Harper, Drew Storen, Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos.

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Posted on: February 25, 2012 11:26 pm
 

Zimmerman, Nats inch closer to extension

Ryan Zimmerman

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Ryan Zimmerman's 10 a.m. deadline passed with a contract extension with the Nationals and it appears his Saturday deadline will, as well. But that doesn't mean the two sides won't get a deal done.

Saturday night, Zimmerman's agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, said the two sides were close to a deal. Zimmerman is expected to sign an extension worth approximately $18 million per year -- but that was never the sticking point. Instead of money, Zimmerman wanted a no-trade clause that would keep the 27-year-old Virginia native in Washington.

"We have made significant progress on an extension for Ryan that would ensure he plays for the Nationals for a long time, which has always been Ryan's goal," Van Wagenen said. "We are working on a structure that will allow the team to continue to add talent and establish a winner, which is another goal of Ryan's.

"While there are still important aspects to work through, we bridged multiple important gaps on many major parts of a contract. Nothing is done until it is done, but both sides are optimistic than an agreement can be reached and Ryan can focus his energies on preparing with his teammates for the season."

Zimmerman has said he didn't want the extension -- which at one point this offseason Nats GM Mike Rizzo said was the team's top offseason priority -- to interfere with the team's preparation for the season. The team held its first full-squad workout on Saturday.

"All along, all I've wanted is to be able to stay with the Nationals, which I consider my hometown team, and help the franchise become a winner while also being compensated fairly," Zimmerman said. "While nothing is finalized, I am confident that we can reach an agreement that will accompish all those things. I'm from Virginia, I was drafted by the Nationals and I've seen this organization make great progress since I signed here. I want to see it through to the ultimate goal of winning a World Series."

Zimmerman was adamant that he receive a no-trade clause since he was willing to give the hometown discount. Jayson Werth received a no-trade clause in his monster deal last winter, while Mark Buehrle and Prince Fielder were reportedly offered no-trade clauses as part of the offers made to those free agents this winter.

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Posted on: February 25, 2012 2:39 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 4:21 pm
 

Nats, Zimmerman extend extension talks

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The beauty of a self-imposed deadline is that it's pretty easy to ignore it if you want to do so.

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said his representatives and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo continued their contract extension past the 10 a.m. deadline Zimmerman had set, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.

Zimmerman said the two sides had "a couple of little hurdles" remaining, and the main sticking point is still Zimmerman's request for a no-trade clause. "Something creative to ensure me I'll be here," Zimmerman said.

The sides have agreed on money, which CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reported is roughly $18 million per year, but Zimmerman said he only wanted to take the deal if it was guaranteed he'd be staying in Washington. Heyman said Zimmerman's side offered a "creative" solution to the impasse. Zimmerman, 27, is signed through 2013.

The new deadline, is the end of the day, Zimmerman said -- unless it's not.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 12:14 pm
 

Nats, Zimmerman divided on no-trade clause

Ryan Zimmerman

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Ryan Zimmerman would like to have his contract settled by Saturday morning, giving the Nationals a deadline, he told reporters, including CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman.

The last stick point is a no-trade clause -- something the Nationals gave Jayson Werth and it's believed they offered to free-agents Mark Buehrle and Prince Fielder this offseason.

Zimmerman, 27, will make $12 million this season and $14 million in 2013. According to Heyman, the money involved in the extension isn't the issue. If the sides can agree to a deal, it's expected to be for about $18 million per season, according to Heyman.

That, to the Zimmerman camp, is seen as a team-friendly deal, which is why he'd want the no-trade clause. If Zimmerman, a Virginia native, is taking less money to stay with the Nationals, he wants to be assured he will be able to stay with the Nationals.

"The important part of me signing this deal is to be here, not to sign a deal that's team-friendly to have it with another team," Zimmerman said (via the Washington Post). "That's the whole point of doing it. … I wouldn't sign a deal like this for the Red Sox or the Yankees or the Dodogers or any other team."

Zimmerman has said he set the deadline so that it doesn't become a distraction as the team prepares for the season. Because Zimmerman is signed through the 2013 season, he said it's not crucial that he gets an extension now.

"If it happens, I'm thrilled," Zimmerman said (via the Washington Post). "If not, I've got two years left here still. I'm excited for this year. We've got a great team. We've got a chance to do something special, something we've not done with this organization. I think all of us are kind of ready to get to work and get going.

"It's not like this is the last year. It's not make-or-break. Getting this done would obviously make them not have to worry about it this year or next year or next offseason."

Any no-trade clause would need to be only for the first three seasons. By the third season, he would gain no-trade rights by being a 10-year veteran with five years with his current team.

If the Nationals don't sign Zimmerman and allow him to leave after the 2013 season, that could be just the time needed for 2011 first-round Anthony Rendon to be ready to take over at third base. If Zimmerman does stay, he could move to first base at some point to make room for Rendon. Of course, there's also no guarantee Rendon pans out, either.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 10:26 am
Edited on: February 23, 2012 11:02 am
 

Report: Elijah Dukes arrested again

By Matt Snyder

Elijah Dukes was once a third round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Rays and at one point was considered one of the better prospects in baseball. Unfortunately, he's become an illustration that God-given talent doesn't guarantee success in life. Dukes, 27, has reportedly been arrested again.

According to RaysIndex.com, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office arrested Dukes at 1 a.m. Thursday on several charges, including possession of marijuana, driving with a suspended license and attempt to destroy evidence.

And with this being Dukes, it couldn't just be a boring, run-of-the-mill arrest. No, his "attempt to destroy evidence" was actually him trying to hurry and eat the bag of pot before the cops saw it (via TBO.com).

Dukes has now been arrested many times. A few of those have been for driving with a suspended license, while he's been charged with failure to pay child support and also for assaulting a pregnant girlfriend. Most notorious, though, was when he threatened to kill his wife and children, leaving his wife a voice mail that said, among other things, "you dead, dawg."

Dukes hasn't played in the majors since 2009. He played for the Newark Bears in Independent ball in 2010, hitting .366 in 28 games.

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Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com