Tag:Nationals
Posted on: December 28, 2011 12:54 pm
 

Nats' Rizzo says team isn't chasing Fielder



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Mike Rizzo wants you to know that the Nationals aren't interested in Prince Fielder. Really. But…

"As far as are we going to dab our toe in [the Prince Fielder] water, those are decisions we make early on in that process and we've more or less decided that Adam [LaRoche] is going to be our first baseman," Rizzo said Wednesday on MLBNetwork Radio (via the Washington Times). "Unless something extraordinary and out of the ordinary happened, that's how we're going into spring training."

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Last week Rizzo said the team was planning on LaRoche being the team's first baseman in 2012, but didn't exactly elaborate.

The Nationals have been a popular rumored landing spot for the biggest free agent left on the market, as the team has a lot of money to spend, a good history Scott Boras, Fielder's agent, and it has LaRoche at first base.

LaRoche, 32, was limited to 43 games in 2011 before undergoing labrum surgery in June. In the first year of a two-year, $16 million deal with the Nationals, LaRoche hit .172/.288/.258 with three homers and 15 RBI in 177 plate appearances. LaRoche is a career .267/.337/.478 hitter. He hit 32 homers with the Braves in 2006 and hit 25 homers for three straight years from 2008 to 2010 for the Pirates, Red Sox, Braves and Diamondbacks. LaRoche will make $8 million this season and there's a $10 mutual option for 2013, with a $1 million buyout.

"Adam LaRoche is under contract for us, we're paying him a lot of money to play first base for us next year," Rizzo said. "We feel that he's going to have a bounceback season. We just want him to have his career norms: .265, 25, 85-100 RBI and play great defense. We feel that his shoulder is rehabbed, he's 100 percent, and talking to him just recently, he feels great and he's ready to contribute to us in 2012."

As for Fielder, the question, of course, becomes what does "extraordinary" mean to Rizzo? Could it be Fielder open to a shorter contract with a higher average annual value? Or could it be a longer deal backloaded? Or just Fielder saying he's decided he wants to be a National. The longer Fielder stays on the market, the more possibilities can pop up and something out of the ordinary could happen.

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Posted on: December 22, 2011 11:53 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 12:19 am
 

Homegrown Team roundup: Who is our champ?



By Matt Snyder

Well that was fun. An entire month of Homegrown teams has now been concluded. Now it's time to see how this thing would play out -- and let's avoid any "realistic" talk. Nothing about this is realistic. It's an exercise intended for fun and entertainment.

If you need to review the teams, go check out our landing page, where there's a link to the Homegrown unit from each of the 30 teams.

We'll run through this thing division by division, then the playoffs and then pick a Homegrown World Series champion. I encourage the comments section at the bottom of this post to be used for you readers to do this on your own as well, doing as much as every single divisional breakdown or as little as simply posting your World Series picks. Let's get interactive and discuss, as this is a truly subjective exercise. I also have no doubt some people will post comments telling us we're idiots for predicting the Mariners to win the AL West, for example, thinking this is predictions for the real 2012 season. When that happens, please direct them to this paragraph. Thanks in advance for your help.

[Note: I'll put our staff rankings in parentheses, but those are the average of rankings by three of us -- editor Michael Coulter and bloggers C. Trent Rosecrans and myself. The picks below are only mine, so there could be some differences.]

AL EAST
1. Blue Jays (5)
2. Rays (6)
3. Red Sox (7)
4. Yankees (16)
5. Orioles (30)

We do an exercise like this and we end up right back where reality is: With the AL East having three of the best 10 teams in baseball. Of course, the Yankees aren't included this time, so there is some variety here ... except for last place.

AL CENTRAL
1. Royals (10)
2. Indians (11)
3. Tigers (17)
4. White Sox (24)
5. Twins (27)

The division lacks elite teams and I could see arguments for either the Royals or Indians. Maybe even the Tigers. I ultimately went with the Royals because I like their lineup and getting Zack Greinke back atop the rotation gives a boost.

AL WEST
1. Mariners (1)
2. Angels (15)
3. Rangers (23)
4. A's (26)

I feel like Seattle would have this thing clinched in early September. The other three aren't even close here.

NL EAST
1. Braves (2)
2. Phillies (8)
3. Nationals/Expos (9)
4. Mets (14)
5. Marlins (20)

Very strong division here, as I wrote that the Mets Homegrown unit would challenge for the NL wild card. It's just that three teams in this division (and two more in the West) happen to very clearly be better.

NL CENTRAL
1. Cardinals (13)
2. Pirates (12)
3. Astros (21)
4. Reds (18)
5. Brewers (25)
6. Cubs (29)

Like the AL Central, this is a sub-par division. In the rankings where three of us voted, the Pirates edged out the Cardinals, but I still think the Cardinals' Homegrown team is a bit better and these are my picks. Definitely feel free to do something different in your own picks below -- and I know my boy Trent would. I do think 83-85 wins would take this thing, though, and the winner would be destroyed in the first round of the playoffs.

NL WEST
1. Diamondbacks (3)
2. Dodgers (4)
3. Rockies (19)
4. Giants (22)
5. Padres (28)

Two-horse race here, as both the D-Backs and Dodgers came out ranked in our top four overall. The other three teams in this division aren't even .500 ballclubs in this exercise.

PLAYOFFS

AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays
NL Wild Card: Los Angeles Dodgers

ALDS
Blue Jays over Royals in 3
Mariners over Rays in 5

NLDS
D-Backs over Cardinals in 3
Braves over Dodgers in 5

ALCS
Mariners over Blue Jays in 7

NLCS
Braves over D-Backs in 6

THE HOMEGROWN WORLD SERIES
Mariners over Braves in 7

Can we say it was a pitchers' duel for the ages in Game 7 with Adam Wainwright vs. Felix Hernandez? Sure, why not? This is just for fun anyway.

So those are my picks. Again, make your own below and we can compare.

CONCLUSION

I probably don't have to do this, but I felt like clarifying a few things. First of all, you know how sometimes people leave comments like "it must be a slow news day!" like it's some kind of huge insult? Yeah, it's actually true some of the time -- especially in the offseason. Aside from the whirlwind that is the Winter Meetings -- and this year's version was insane -- the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas in baseball can be a collective "slow news day." And we knew this. So we came up with the idea to run this series, as it would give us something of substance every single day for 31 days (including this recap).

Now, we didn't just do it to kill time. That would be a waste of readers' time. We wanted to do something that was a bit unique, interesting and also fun. Making fictional lineups is pretty fun for any die-hard baseball fan. Think about, is an "All-Star team of players over 30 years old" really worth anything but a fun discussion? No. It's entertainment for those of us who love talking baseball. That's what the Homegrown series was all about. If you aren't a die-hard fan or hate ever thinking about something unrealistic, it's not for you, and that's OK.

Most of the feedback we got was good. Some was really bad, but that's the way things go. No exercise is ever going to be universally accepted, especially when the Internet provides the cloak of anonymity and someone can just type "this is awful, you suck" and then move along to the next page. For everyone who weighed in, thanks for the feedback. We appreciate all comments, both good and bad -- but mostly, we were happy to see that so many did find it interesting and fun. That was the goal.

As for any "flaws" in this exercise, if one was trying to draw some broad, sweeping conclusion, there would be many flaws. The Yankees, for example, are generally always picking in the last few picks of the first round in the MLB Draft and also lose picks frequently as they sign top-shelf free agents. On the other hand, teams like the Rays, Pirates and Royals have enjoyed quite a few chances to pick toward the top of the draft and to also nab supplemental picks as free agents depart. Plus, there's a reason there are real-life trades: Because no team could possibly have enough foresight on how prospects turn out and put together a well-rounded roster from draft/international signings only.

Also, in an effort to avoid inconsistency, we only used the 40-man rosters and major-league free agents. If a player is retired or in the minors and not yet on a 40-man roster, we didn't use him. Several Giants fans, for example, really wanted prospect Gary Brown to be used as the center fielder, but he's not on the 40-man (yet). I understand that if this was a realistic scenario, the ballclub might more quickly promote a guy to fill a hole, but, again, this wasn't meant to be "realistic" in any stretch of the term. And on Brown specifically, he spent 2011 in High-A ball, so he's hardly big-league ready.

We knew all of these so-called "flaws" heading in. I cannot possibly stress enough that the object of this series was for entertainment and nothing more. There's no need to go thinking too hard about it or getting worked up about your favorite team being either over- or underrated. Who cares? This isn't reality. Take the series for what it's meant to be.

Most of all, we thank our readers for taking part in this fun little exercise and encourage each and every one of you to post your rankings or standings or simply pick a World Series champion below. The beauty of it is there's no wrong answer, as it is entirely subjective. Get the discussion going as you sit in the office with nothing to do on the last day before Christmas weekend.

We have had a few requests for possibly doing these again next year -- but instead placing the players on the team they debuted in the majors with. That's definitely something we'll look into. We take all feedback seriously here at Eye On Baseball.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

Posted on: December 22, 2011 4:34 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 10:15 pm
 

Gio Gonzalez traded to Nats for four prospects



By Matt Snyder


The Washington Nationals have landed left-handed starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has confirmed. In return, the A's will receive a veritable killing that is usually reserved for an ace-type pitcher. Tommy Milone, Brad Peacock, Derek Norris and A.J. Cole are headed to Oakland's system in a trade that was first reported by ESPN.com. In fact, Peacock and Milone are probably going to be thrown into the A's starting rotation. UPDATE: CBSSports.com's Scott Miller reports that the Nationals will also get right-handed pitcher Robert Gilliam.

"It's 99 percent done," Gonzalez said (Associated Press). "It's pending a physical and I'm just waiting to hear from my agent."

On the Washington end, they are getting a 26-year-old lefty who isn't eligible to be a free agent until 2016. Gonzalez was 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA and 197 strikeouts in 202 innings last season for the A's. Of course, he also led the majors with 91 walks. Still, he's pretty tough to hit, holding opposing hitters to a .230 batting average and .336 slugging percentage last season.

With Gonzalez alongside Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, the Nationals have a formidable trio to lead their rotation for several years. Further, with John Lannan and Chien-Ming Wang -- and Ross Detwiler as insurance -- the Nats have a very strong rotation top to bottom. They are coming off their best NL East finish since the move to Washington -- third place -- as they'd previously finished in last place five times and fourth place once.

Gilliam, 24, appears to be a throw-in. He was 12-7 with a 5.04 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in High-A ball last season. He did strike out 8.5 batters per nine innings, though.

More Hot Stove
As for the A's, they are clearly rebuiling, just as we've known all winter. They already traded All-Star pitcher Trevor Cahill to the Diamondbacks and are still rumored to be close to trading closer Andrew Bailey.

This deal will go a long way toward setting up the future, and -- as I mentioned earlier -- Milone and Peacock probably step into the rotation with Brandon McCarthy and two others (Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden are still recovering from season-ending surgeries) immediately.

Milone is a 24-year-old left-hander. He was 12-6 with a 3.22 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 155 strikeouts in 148 1/3 innings in Triple-A last season. He was then promoted to the big-league club and made five starts, with decent success. He had a 3.81 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 26 innings with 15 strikeouts and four walks (and two of those were intentional).

Peacock was pretty dominant last season at three different levels. The 23-year-old right-hander started the season in Double-A, where he went 10-2 with a 2.01 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 129 strikeouts in 98 2/3 innings. He then struck out a batter per inning in Triple-A for nine starts and was moved up to the Nationals. In 12 big-league innings, Peacock only gave up seven hits and one run (0.75 ERA).

Norris, 22, is a high-on-base, power-hitting catcher. Last season, he hit just .210 but had a .367 on-base percentage with 20 home runs in Double-A. He also stole 13 bases and threw out 40 percent of would-be base-stealers.

Cole, 19, is a bit away from the bigs but has high upside according to many scouting services. The 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher went 4-7 with a 4.04 ERA for Class-A Hagerstown last year, but he also struck out 108 batters in 89 innings.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.


Posted on: December 22, 2011 1:38 pm
 

Nats, Mets each make depth signing

By Matt Snyder

The Washington Nationals have agreed to sign utility infielder Mark DeRosa, pending physical, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned. Also in NL East news, the Mets announced via press release that they have signed catcher Rob Johnson to a minor-league contract.

DeRosa, 36, hit .279/.351/.302 in just 97 plate appearances last season for the Giants, as a serious wrist injury badly hampered him. He was a key cog in the Cubs' 2008 division championship and hit 23 home runs in 2009, but injuries and inconsistency have held DeRosa back since then. Still, he's said to be a great clubhouse guy and can still play three infield positions. Perhaps most importantly is first base, as DeRosa can back up Adam LaRoche -- who is returning from a season-ending injury -- and leave Michael Morse in left field. It's also conceivable that DeRosa could make spot starts at third to spell Ryan Zimmerman.

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Johnson, 28, hit a paltry .190 with a .544 OPS last season in 199 plate appearances for Padres. So he's a really poor hitter. There's a reason he keeps finding work, however, and that is because he works well with pitchers. He also threw out more than 35 percent of would-be base stealers in 2010 for the Mariners. As things currently stand, the Mets have Josh Thole slotted as the starting catcher, with Johnson competing for the backup job with guys like Mike Nickeas and Lucas May.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 19, 2011 8:49 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 8:55 pm
 

Add the Nationals to list of Gio Gonzalez suitors



By Matt Snyder


A's starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez has been one of the hottest names swirling through trade rumors this offseason. It's not a rumor, it's reality, that he's on the block. CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reported last week that the Tigers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rangers and Reds were among the suitors for Gonzalez. Oakland general manager Billy Beane is shooting for the stars, too, because Knobler reported that the A's asked the Marlins for blossoming slugger Mike Stanton. And now we can add the Nationals to the mix.

Hot Stove League
Knobler confirmed that Washington has talked about a swap for Gonzalez, after a report from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports stated the Nats are "pushing hard" and talking about dealing four players for Gonzalez.

Also, with the Reds having acquired Mat Latos, you can cross them off the list of suitors. If the Rangers or Blue Jays land Japanese phenom Yu Darvish -- the two clubs are the reported favorites -- you can cross another name off the list. Still, it looks like the A's could end up being a big winner as things stand, with so many teams looking to add one more starter and a dearth of names available through a trade or free agency.

Gonzalez, a 26-year-old left-hander, was 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 197 strikeouts in 202 innings last season. Good numbers, but he also led the AL with 91 walks and plays half his games in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the majors. Last season his home ERA was 2.70 and his road ERA was 3.62.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 19, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 5:39 pm
 

Nationals sign Mike Cameron to minor-league deal

By Matt Snyder

The Washington Nationals have agreed to sign free agent outfielder Mike Cameron to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, the club announced Monday afternoon.

Cameron, 38, split time between the Red Sox and Marlins last season, hitting .203/.285/.359 with nine home runs in 269 plate appearances. He was once an All-Star and long a productive player, but he's certainly in the final stages of his playing career.

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The Nationals have been searching for a center fielder for quite a while, but don't expect Cameron to be their fix. Instead, unless a trade can be reached for someone like B.J. Upton or Denard Span, Cameron is simply insurance in the outfield. It looks like Roger Bernadina will be the center fielder until Jayson Werth is moved to center to accomodate the right fielder of the future: Top prospect Bryce Harper. And that could come as early as opening day, according to various reports from Nationals beat writers.

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Posted on: December 17, 2011 12:26 am
Edited on: December 17, 2011 7:48 am
 

Swallows accept $2.5 million bid on OF Aoki

Norichika AokiBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Yakult Swallows have accepted a $2.5 million posting fee for outfielder Norichika Aoki, the team announced at a press conference on Saturday. Which team bid the $2.5 million on Aoki is not yet known. Whichever team it is will have 30 days to negotiate with Aoki, who will turn 30 next  month.

The three-time Central League batting champion hit just .292/.358/.360 in 2011, but was a career .336/.411/.472 in his first seven years. He is one of just four players to collect 200 hits in a season in Japan, joining Ichiro Suzuki, ALex Ramirez and Matt Murton.

"All I could do was wait, so I feel relieved now," Aoki said (via YakyuBaka.com). "I feel as if I am now one step closer to realizing my dream. I will allow my agent to handle the rest while I focus on my practices to make sure I am fully prepared." 

Yahoo's Jeff Passan tweets Aoki at $2.5 million is a bargain, calling him "Ichiro Lite, emphasis on Lite."

Aoki is a left-handed hitter, throwing right-handed. He won three Gold Gloves earlier in his career, but his throwing arm could limit him to left field in MLB.

Aoki appeared for Japan in both World Baseball Classics, earning All-Tournament honors in 2009, when he played left and batted third for Japan.

The Mets, Nationals and A's have all been rumored to be interested in Aoki.

Check out the CBSSports.com Free Agent Tracker to see all of the off-season's movements

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: December 17, 2011 12:26 am
Edited on: December 17, 2011 7:48 am
 

Swallows accept $2.5 million bid on OF Aoki

Norichika AokiBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Yakult Swallows have accepted a $2.5 million posting fee for outfielder Norichika Aoki, the team announced at a press conference on Saturday. Which team bid the $2.5 million on Aoki is not yet known. Whichever team it is will have 30 days to negotiate with Aoki, who will turn 30 next  month.

The three-time Central League batting champion hit just .292/.358/.360 in 2011, but was a career .336/.411/.472 in his first seven years. He is one of just four players to collect 200 hits in a season in Japan, joining Ichiro Suzuki, ALex Ramirez and Matt Murton.

"All I could do was wait, so I feel relieved now," Aoki said (via YakyuBaka.com). "I feel as if I am now one step closer to realizing my dream. I will allow my agent to handle the rest while I focus on my practices to make sure I am fully prepared." 

Yahoo's Jeff Passan tweets Aoki at $2.5 million is a bargain, calling him "Ichiro Lite, emphasis on Lite."

Aoki is a left-handed hitter, throwing right-handed. He won three Gold Gloves earlier in his career, but his throwing arm could limit him to left field in MLB.

Aoki appeared for Japan in both World Baseball Classics, earning All-Tournament honors in 2009, when he played left and batted third for Japan.

The Mets, Nationals and A's have all been rumored to be interested in Aoki.

Check out the CBSSports.com Free Agent Tracker to see all of the off-season's movements

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

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