Boz, last year we heard much about how the Nats had to overpay to sign Werth, both to entice him to a losing team and to show MLB that the Nats were serious. That seems like bunk to me. When has a Boras client ever not taken the best deal, regardless of team. Sure if the money is equal most players will go with the Boston, New York or some other perennial winner, but if not, well, the Kirby Puckett's and Cliff Lee's are far and few between once they hit the open market. The sad thing is that if the Nats hadn't over paid Werth they'd have more flexibility to sign Prince, who would come here if the Nats offered the most money even though the team hasn't won since they arrived.
Hindsight is perfect and often painful. If Fielder had been a free agent last year and Werth this year, it might have been Fielder they signed because they were definitely going hunting last winter.
The fact that he doesn't understand why that showboat circus dunk was wrong, wrong, wrong reveals so much about why this team is not only 1-11, but why it's hard to get excited about the future. At some point does the team have to admit that for all his athletic gifts, McGee is too much of a knucklehead to build a team around, or you do stick with him in the hope that he'll mature?
That play defined "knucklehead."
And ESPN made it their Top Play No. 9. I forget which ESPN announcer said it, but the comment was, "He (Sauders) said it was 'unacceptable, but we liked it."
ESPN, the engine and the curse of American sports.
You have to love the constant irony that surrounds every Wiz game. When Saudners benched McGee, he replaced him with...drum roll...Andray Blatche!!!
You can't make this stuff up.
Nice to see Wall finally have an excellent game. Maybe it'll spark him for a while.
Why was Gio (plus one) worth four top Nats' prospects, while the Yankees got a Gio-equivalent in Pineda (plus one) for one top and one much-less-significant prospect?
Because catcher Jesus Montero, who went to the M's, is considered a vastly better prospect than any of the four Nats.
If Montero, 6-3, 235, could actually catch, the Yanks would never have let him go because he's a real masher. But they'ce concluded that he probably won't be good enough and will have to play somewhere else. The M's will get him a chance behind the plate.
In the minors, Montero hit .308 and slugged over .500 in nearly 500 games. He came up late last year and hit .328 in 61 ABs for the Yanks.
Peacock was picked No. 1,234 and Milone in the 10th round, Cole in the 4th. They are good prospects but Montero is considered a great one. How much of that is Typical New York Hype? All their prospects are supposedly the next Bill Dickey or Mickey Mantle. I think they sometimes catch a break in trades because the New York media is so Apple-centric, an echo chamber of praise. In the past, that's applied to the Mets at times, too. How much of Lastings Milledge's five-tool talent was NYC Prospect mythology?
While Eli is the toast of NY, brother Peyton is in limbo. Will the Colts pick up that expensive option, or will he become a free agent for the Redskins to scoop up?
At least 10 million people in New York think/hope/pray he'll end up with the Jets.
Peyton is almost certainly either 1) staying in Indy or 2) going to a team with a much better chance to Win Now than the Skins and where the coach will bend the offensive system to Manning rather than visa versa.
How much credit is Kyle (or Mike) going to get if Manning just comes to the line, does the Peyton Audible Dance and calls tons of the plays himself?
Do you really think that Peyton is going to come play in the same division against Eli twice a year? That would really be in bad taste, imo, given that he has SEVEN other divisions he could play in. Peyton is not coming. Think other thoughts __like "trade up for RGIII or not."
Boz, have you noticed the astounding lack of holding calls in the playoffs? On replays, you can see blatant holding on almost every play. New Orleans overcame Detroit's touted front four by holding them repeatedly. Is this the NFL just letting them play?
The normal answer to this is: You could call holding on every play.
That doesn't seem to be stopping the Giants defense (22 pts in two games) or the Pats or Ravens.
So, the Redskins beat the Packers in '10, then they win the Super Bowl. This year, they beat the Giants TWICE. Does that mean the Giants go to the Supe?
Here's what I really think it means: Good teams don't take the Skins nearly as seriously as Washington fans take them. They see a weak team, a semi-easy week and aren't near Max Psyche. So, the Skins catch a break. Good teams take them lightly. But bad teams see the Skins as a rare chance for a win.
This would actually explain a lot since the Skins are often said to "play to the level of their opponent." Maybe that's backwards. Maybe the good teams are taking a nap against the Skins (and usually still beat them), while the bad teams are excited by the oppotunity and beat the Skins more often than DC fans think that they should.
Can someone please boil this "syndrome" down to 10 words. I don't seem able to do it!
I know its not all him... But he has to go, no? I mean, he's just not making them any better. Who are the good candidates to replace him if he gets canned?
How can a team as bad as the Wizards, with prospects of staying bad for quite a while, hope to get a coach who's better than Flip?
I mentioned in last week's chat that Saunders had won 50-or-more games seven times in Minny and Det. The Wiz haven't won more than 45 since '79. That's amazing. They haven't even reached .550 for 1/3 of a century!
The problem is the whole state of the franchise, its sad talent level, its players who just don't get it, like JaVale McGee. Flip must want to beat his head on the wall. No pun intended.
Oh, this is part of the plan!? That's true. Be bad. Get high picks. But hasn't that been the plan for the last three decades?? How's that working? This team has lost 50 games 12 times in that span. But they seldom rebuild, even though they get tons of high picks.
Hey Boz, With a sagging fan base, I think the Redskins can make a bold move AND still keep all the picks in this years draft. Peyton Manning will likely be a free agent soon. Reports indicate he is throwing well and the neck is healing. If these are true, will the Skins try to sign Manning? I have not heard your take on this scenario yet. Sign Manning, draft a QB. What's wrong with that?
I'll underline the point I made before because I think everybody misses it. The Mannings are a close-knit family. Two brothers are elite NFL QBs. There are eight NFL divisions. I think Peyton's mom (and dad) might think that big brother was acting pretty tacky if, for a few dollars more, he went to a 5-11 team in the same division as the Giants. Great players, who can go anywhere, have the luxury of thinking about such things.
If somebody asks Peyton, of course he'll say, "Not a factor." But I can't believe that. You don't do that to your brother. Especially to come to a bad team. Now, would he go to the same TOWN in New York!?
Fascinating stuff. Peyton and Eli as Cain and Abel? If they played in NYC, you could bet that the brothers' relationship would be picked apart 24/7. Maybe there's a column here sometime. Thanks for getting me thinking along these lines. How do brothers who are both stars handle "destination" issues? Of course, since they've both won the Super Bowl and been the game's MVP, this case is certainly unique.
Boz - Let's say your the GM, with Oswalt's price falling do you think the team would have been better off with with Oswalt, Milone, Norris, Cole and Peacock vs. just Gonzalez?
The Nats now have Gio Gonzalez under team control for SEVEN years, through age 32 __his entire prime. He doesn't turn 33 until 9/18.
I've looked at Gonzalez career with a microscope. Pitching in Oakland may have helped his ERA and he's a little wild at times. But this looks like an excellent classic trade __the kind contenders make. It's one reason you have a strong farm system.
Here's what Nats fans may not know about Gonzalez: He is overpowering when he's "on." And he's "on" a lot.
I sometimes keep track of "dominant games" when a pitcher almost wins the game by himself. I'd define it as 7-or-more innings and one-or-less runs. But I'd also include six shutout innings. Here are the ratios of Nat pitchers in their career starts and Gonzalez the last two seasons.
Percentage of Dominant Starts.
Gonzalez: 35.4% (23-0f-65).
Strasburg: 17.6% (3/17)
Zimmermann: 18.4% (9/49)
Lannan: 13.3% (17/128).
Assuming good health, GG is going to provide a lot of exciting and sometimes overpowering games. He also has a few more "off" games than you'd expect of such a good pitcher. We'll get a feel for that. But the good FAR outweighs the bad. If anything, he could have been a 17-18 game winner the last two years, not 15-9 and 16-12.
Locking up a top trio of starters for so many years __Zimmermann (4), Strasburg (5) and Gonzales (7, because of two team option years)__ is a huge deal.
I talked last month about the need to spend __wisely. etting GG for $42M for five years with team options for two more years at <$25M is the definition of sound team building. Can it fail? Sure. But it's the proper method, imo.
Fielder, on the other hand, is the definition of a hard decision. At some price, it's a good idea, despite all the ancillary problems it presents.
I'd compare this to the initial Strasburg rumors, started by Boras, I assume, that SS was worth $50M as a No. 1 overall draft pick. I wrote a column saying this was ridiculous because so many young high-pick pitchers get hurt. When the rumors came down to $30M, I said that was nuts, too. But $15M was a fair price. Strasburg has already had a major injury. But he's huge potential is also obvious.
It's very similar with the nutty $250M/10yr rumors for Fielder just because the Angels were crazy enough to pay that for Pujols.
If the Nats could get Fielder for a contract in the $150-$165M range, like those of Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Howard Miguel Cabrerra, then you have to think hard.
But even at a "good price" a Fielder signing complicates the Nats lives in a lot of ways. So many things have worked out well for the Nats in the last couple of years. You'd hate to see back-to-back overpay contracts to Werth and Fielder tie their hands for years. It's bad enough to take a big chance at the right price __which I'd be excited to see__ but you just can't take big chances at the wrong price.
When Texas signs Yu Darvish today, as everybody assumes will happen, then the Fielder issue gets hotter. But that's a relative term because this is the coldest market I can remember seeing for such a fine player. Fielder is just not a "fit" for anybody. Many rich teams already have great 1st basemen. Many teams just can't afford him. And nobody will touch 10 yrs.
Fielder certainly isn't a "fit" for the Nats. But at the right price it sure would be fun to watch them try to jam a (very) round peg in a square hole.
The fact is, Peyton cares about winning. Therefore, he would never come to the Redskins. I say that as a fan for 50 years. A sad fan.
That's the central issue. The Redskins have a few very good players like Orakpo and Kerrigan, but they don't have a single true star, except Fletcher who is the under-valued star prototype. Is Peyton going to come to a team without a single truly big name?
To paraphrase Ernestine in 10 words, "We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Redskins."
I think if Rendon is healthy, he could be ready to start 2013. I believe that it would make more sense to trade Zimmerman after this coming season than let him walk in two years. A 28-year old franchise 3rd baseman should fetch a huge return, even with only one year left on his contract. If you are right, I believe we should start learning the top prospects from the Red Sox and Dodgers. Personally, I believe Zimmerman can be re-signed even with Fielder, and I hope that is what happens. I also had a thought after seeing the Montero-Pineda trade. What if the Nats traded Rendon for some stud pitcher like Moore or Hellickson. Wow.
If Rendon hits in the minors as well as expected by scouts he'll become an issue, and a big plus, very quickly.
I wish the Nats had a lot of easy questions with solid answers. They did have one such question: Should we trade for Gonzalez. That gets a big "YES," from me and expending him was the way smart mid-market teams act. (F the Nats ever prove to be Big Market, well, the town can always adapt to baseball prosperity!)
But the Z'man extension, especially since it would probably be about 85% of the Troy Tulo contract and over $100M, is far from easy. He's had injury problems __but similar to Tulo. He's had throwing issues __which seem to be getting better. He's only hit his best with Dunn behind him. Will he have monster years if he's not protected? Will he need to play 1st base before the contract is over? How much could you get in trade? When do you pull the trigger on an extension? Do you want to see how healthy RZ is this year and how well Rewndon plays? Or do you want to get it out of the way earlier because you assume this is as "reasonable" a deal as you could ever get because he's not coming off a good year?
Is that enough legit questions?
The Gonzalez extension illustrates one important point: The Nats are going to have to increase payroll to keep their best non-Boras clients like GG, Z'mann, Z'man, Storen, Clippard, Ramos. That's a factor in whether you even make a serious offer to Fielder.
Two years ago, nobody cared enough about the Nats to have questions about them! Now, we're getting some of the hardest and most sophisticated baseball issues landing on the team's plate. It's fun. But it just shows how hard it is for a GM and an owner to make sound decisions.
Is it me, or does it seem like every year, at least one of the NFL teams with a first round bye ends up being one and done in the playoffs? Do you see teams pushing to end the first round bye?
Recently, a lifelong Phils fan was saying how upset he was that his team got knocked out of the post-season in the first round when they were the best regular-season team. "It's not fair," he said and a reason he was "turned off" by baseball in recent years.
Well, at least the Phils had a five-game series, not a one-game playoff. What the NFL hails as "parity," the baseball fan may see as "injustice."
Wait until we have the one-game "play-in" game between wildcard teams in MLB next year.
Hard not to love the NFL format. I was glued throughout every game.
It was incredible to see the whole range of Tebow's abilities __and inabilities__ in the span of two weeks. He was as good as he can be (at this stage of his career) against the Steelers and as bad/lost as he can be against the Pats when you could see he knew he was going to take a beating.
I'd thought he might be an above-average though idiocyncratic NFL QB. But his 12 turnovers by the end of the season and his showing against the Pats has me thinking he'll end up closer to an average NFL QB.
How many teams are willing to build their team, their draft picks, their offensive philosophy around an average QB who needs a system constructed specifically for his skills? Tebow will get better, but I wonder if he'll get MUCH better. I suspect that Tebow Mania has reached, and now already passed its peak __all in the span of three months.
Although I think the trade bring Gio Gonzalez to D.C. was fair for both teams, don't you think the Nats are being hasty locking him up long-term before he has thrown a pitch outside of Oakland's mammoth stadium? Maybe the switch to the NL will be enough to compensate for leaving Oakland's friendly confines, but considering Gonzalez had a number of arbitration years left, I don't see the rush to putting guaranteed dollars with the uncertainty about how he will adjust to his new environment. Thoughts?
I'm usually in favor of early extensions to position players. I think you can project them after they have two fine back-to-back years. I hope that's what they do with Ramos and (if it's possible) Espinosa. Those $30-to-$50M long-term contracts with team options at the back end can be fabulous bargian __look at Longoria and cano among others.
It's a lot scarier with pitchers. But if Z'mann continues his fine pitching next year I'd certainly think a GG deal would be smart __probably for both sides.
I hope the timing of the $42M extension was not, in some way, a chance to say, "We're spending, we're spending," when they don't get Fielder. And I don't think they've ever had much interest in Prince unless his price fell a ton; they never expected that it would, but it's very close to happening now, I suspect.
You're seeing rumors of a 6-yr deal for $22-to-$24M with an "opt out" after three years for Fielder. That's a "heads I win, tails you lose" deal for Prince. If he's great, he can go free agent again in three years. If he doesn't do so well, he has a big six-year deal guaranteed and the Nats have another Big Risk on top of Werth.
Still, I think it would be tough to turn down Prince at $23M x 6 = $138M with an opt out for him after three. Hard to believe he won't produce, and probably big-time, at 28-29-30. Doubt the price will get that cheap.
You've talked before about your hesitancy to sign Prince Fielder at least partially because the Nationals will need money to sign Ryan Zimmerman and he may eventually may need to move to first base. Look, I like Zim as much as the next guy, but we have to stop pretending he's the Nats' Cal Ripken. Zimmernan's injury history and decline at the plate last season are all warning signs that should make the Nats wary about signing him long-term. And it should be evidence that they'll need more pop if they expect to be perennial contenders between 2013 and 2016 -- namely Prince Fielder. And don't even mention Mike Morse. His BABIP was .344 last season and he's never demonstrated that kind of power before. I wouldn't bet on him being able to repeat that performance in 2012. Again, another reason to sign Fielder!
I went back and reread both my Fielder columns and chats. All of them were intended to be analysis, not "sign him" or "don't sign him" rants. I was pleased. That's what they were __attempts to let fans know all the complexity that lies behind the apparently simple proposition: We Have A Chance To Sign A Big Star, So Do It.
What I'm most certain of __though not completely certain!__ is that with all the extensions and arbitration raises that are going to go to Morse, Lannan and half-a-dozen others over the next few years__ there is NO WAY that the Nats think they have a big enough market to support a >$120M payroll. And that's where you are headed when you have three players making >$60M in Werth, Zim and Fielder.
But it's the Lerners money. So if they want to spend it, they'll still be billionaires, no matter how it turns out.
I'm perfectly willing to join the rest of the area in unalloyed fun if the Nats want to l;et us have that kind of ride literally "at their expense."
Yeah, we'll pay for the tickets that pay for the salaries (including me), but they'll be taking a lot more risk than we will. We can stop buying tickets. They can't stop paying long-term contracts.
P.S.: Morse is one of a handful of players who has had an abnormally high BaBip for his whole career. Such players have a common denominator: They all hit the holy hell out of the ball. Morse doesn't hit ground balls; he hits rockets that have earth-orbit velocity but lack the required 'escape angle.' Don't undersell Morse. He reminds me of a lot of late-blooming hitters. Once they figure it out, they seldom forget until they are well past 35: Raul Ibanez, Hank Sauer (arrived at 31 with 35 homers and still hitting at age 40), Hal McRae, Jeff Conine, Matt Stairs, Mickey Tettleton. Look up their #s and you'll probably be surprised how many good-to-excellent years they had after 30.
But Werth is the player from that mold that the nats need to be most concerned about. This is, almost certainly, the year we find out if he just had a bad year or if his contract really was a huge bust. I think he'll hit. But that sure doesn't make it true.
Do the Saints' and Packers' defeats, teams with admittedly explosive and extremely efficient offenses to the 49ers and Giants respectively, prove right the old expression that defense trumps offense, despite those teams' winning records in the regular season? And if this hold true, what should we expect to happen to the Patriots who, again, exemplify a case of an explosive offense with a not so effective defense (ranked 31st overall in the league)?
Rizzo vs. "The Board" Is it true that the Nats GM does not have the authority (autonomy) to work within a given budget for player acquisition?
The (Big) buck has always stopped at the five-member Lerner board.
There is money and then there is MONEY.
Why do you think that Boras always prefers to deal directly with owners? They hold the checkbook and they never __not in any case__ know as much about baseball as their front office. It's an excellent strategy __for an agent.
Well, without a quality product on the court, Leonsis is trying to pull a rabbit out of his hat by offering an all you can eat buffet (hot dogs, soda, popcorn, etc.) to go with a $49 ticket to the game for designated seats. What's next, lap dances in the luxury suites by Wizzy cheerleaders?
Ted is fan friendly, but he's also family opriented! I don't think you're going to get that one past him.
Give Leonisis time. He constitutes a MAJOR ownership upgrade.
Wouldn't the Nats be better devoting the money it would take to sign Fielder plus Laroche's salary to Zimmerman and a CF to be named from next year's free agent class?
Before this off-season, Rizzo said the team needed a top-of-rotation starter and a CF leadoff hitter. I don't think anything ever changed. He wanted to trade for the CF and sign the pitcher (Buehrle). That didn't work out. So he adjusted. Trade for the pitcher and try to get the CF later, perhaps in free agency next winter. For a while, it looked like he might not get to do that. But he did. So, the winter has been a success, imo.
Remember, the Nats baseball people have never come off "the same page" on this. Davey Johnson said, to really make a run at the playoff, he needed one more (top) pitcher and a bat which he hinted might be Harper. Then he said, "Wait until you bake the cake before you put the icing on top." IOW. wait for '12 to play off. See who develops and what you're holding before you make one enormous "last piece" move.
Never fear, there are free agents every year.
Davey's not shy. A year from now, I wonder if he will be comparing Gooden-Strasburg, Ron Darling-Z'mann, Sid Fernandez (a little wild)-Gonzalez and even Bobby Ojeda-Lannan? It's winter. Think cheerful thoughts.
The Wizards are bad and they lose. I see McGee's point about trying to spark the team. It brought them back to 4 points. I don't see what the problem is about McGee's dunk - the fans paid money to see a bad, losing team. If you have to lose, at least be exciting. That's one of the problems with the team. If I was the coach, I'd laugh, "Well, that was fun and I appreciate McGee's effort to try and spark the team." Now, the players are thinking well, now I've got to do everything the coach says and won't try anything new. No fun allowed.
The Rockets immediately went on a 19-4 run.
That's half of what's wrong with the Wiz wrapped up in one play with a bow around it. Add that to McGee's tweets to vote for him for All-Star.
There are a hundred times when "fun" is great and good for a team and its fans. That wasn't one of them.
Tom, on that horribly blown fumble-non fumble call in the Packer-Giants game, it's interesting how the refs explain so many reverses of calls, down to the knee touching or the toe out of bounds etc., but on this one simply said the call was "confirmed." No explanation. I have yet to see an explanation from the NFL on how that call was confirmed as a "no fumble" ... my theory is that, since the original on-the-field call was fumble, the upstairs guys started reviewing ... meanwhile the on-the-field guys reversed the call, saying no fumble, he was down ... but the upstairs guys never got the word, so thought they were confirming the original call, therefore confirming the original fumble call. I know the on-the-field ref is looking at the TV under the tent, and you'd think he knew the call was reversed, but he talks with the upstairs guys and they all might have gotten confused. Is this possible? What else could explain such a bad call on such an obvious look? Was there anything that might have happened prior to the bit if replay we saw that could be the explanation? Oh, and the roughing the QB call ... well, that's just more NFL idiocy. Nothing to be said about that. Thanks.
The NFL is stuck with instant replay. So many key plays are so close and fans are so upset when they're called wrong that the league has no choice. But it stinks. It's a basic flaw in the game. Nobody's fault.
So Mr Homer explain to me how the SF 49ers who had the same record as the Skins in 2010 tuned things around and made to the Conference Championship. Smith their QB was more maligned in 2010 then Sexy Rexy. No one thought Harbaugh would so well this season. Come on smart guy explain it. Shanie is a more experienced head coach. Lets hear your homer excuses for the Skins and their owner.
The Redskins have stunk for most of the last 20 years and they stink now. Snyder is and probably always will be an anchor. And Shanahan needs to prove that he is still one of the league's top coaches because he hasn't produced the real goods in a long time. These are base assumptions for me.
But you can only say it so many times. And things change is sports __that is also a base assumption. It's hard to stay good. But it's also (fairly) hard to stay bad.
The Redskins won't always stink. They went to the playoffs twice under Gibbs II. Franchises go in cycles. Snyder may not always be as BIG an anchor. And Shanahan is probably as good a coach as you'll get.
In your article last week about the risks involved for the Redskins trading up for a quarterback, you cited the Giants' having traded up for Eli Manning, essentially instead of acquiring Philip Rivers and Shawne Merriman. Care to revisit how this one has turned out for the G-Men?
Rivers has the fifth-highest QB rating in NFL history. Eli is 41st.
Congrats to your "G-Men."
With the Yankees sending Jesus ("Hay-ZOOS is LOOSE!") Montero to the Mariners, that took one more suitor for Prince Fielder out of the equation. Assuming the Rangers sign Darvish, seriously, who's left besides Washington? Has Boras ever been in a situation where there was only one team interested in such a high profile player? (The A-Rod debacle aside.) Will he cave or cry "Collusion"?
I've never seen a market for a real star player fall apart like this. The Nats are a "fit" for Fielder. But he isn't a fit for the Nats. However, as I've said, at the right price, he might be an opportunity you just have to take.
Yes, watching this is a whole lot of fun.
Did the Jenkins/Paterno interview change your views at all of Paterno and/or others at Penn State regarding the Sandusky abuse scandal? What question(s) do you still have?
That was a great scoop for Sally and the Post and an excellent story/package on all our platforms.
No, it didn't answer questions for me as much as it reinforced my sense of sadness. I started at mad.
I think we're always going to have a lot of questions about who knew what and when. And who should have known, too. But Sally's column in November about "acquaintance molesters" is a key part of understanding this whole situation.
Thanks for all the great questions. I'm taking my usual winter vacation. See you all in February. Unless a certain first baseman should come to Washington. That'll fetch me back. Cheers.
Now that Tebow has been dispatched, I hereby propose that we all start doing the Tom Coughlin. Hands on the hips, chin jutted out, flush red cheeks and exasperated stare. My kid spilled his milk last night at dinner, and I pulled the Coughlin. Very effective. Much better on the knees for us old guys, too. You with me?
Love it. The man lives a life of one expression.
Paterno seems to be taking the sick old man defense. I agree, now he is old and sick, but that's not the point. Back in 2002, he was healthy, energetic and lucid, and he did nothing other than pass the buck. If that was his grandchild in the shower, I'm guessing he would have done more.
My late father would be 98 now, much older than Paterno. The one part of Joe's story that's weakest and that, at this point, I just don't buy is that "his generation" baerely knew what child molestation was. Give me a break.
There are several questions along these lines. So, I thought I'd answer on the one point about which I had a clear feeling.
Hi, Tom. How smart was Cashman to coordinate both deals for a pitcher so that the Red Sox (and others) did not have a chance to compete on the free agent? Suddenly the Yankee pitching looks very good, and the Sox have far fewer options....and will look as if they are frantic if they try to sign a pitcher now. Theo Epstein got lots of ink, but I think Cashman is better.
Agree, Cashman __one of our long-ago local high school athletes (Georgetown Prep, I think)__ is very good. And he proved it again.