Tag:Nationals
Posted on: February 28, 2012 1:58 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 2:01 pm
 

Strasburg's 2012 limits are to be determined

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals question for this spring is whether Bryce Harper will make the opening day roster.

The question for later this year will be about the team's other huge young star.

How many innings will they let Stephen Strasburg throw, and would they really shut him down in September if they're in a pennant race (as they expect to be)?

The answers, according to general manager Mike Rizzo: don't know yet, and absolutely yes.

Rizzo said Tuesday that while people have assumed that Strasburg will be limited to 160 innings -- that's what they allowed Jordan Zimmermann to throw in a similar situation last year -- the actual number won't be determined until later in the season.

"[Manager Davey Johnson] has absolutely no limits on how many innings or how many pitches [Strasburg can throw]," Rizzo said. "Davey's going to use his expertise."

That said, Rizzo guaranteed that Strasburg won't pitch a full season in 2012. He said it's unrealistic to expect that, since he pitched just 44 1/3 innings between the major leagues and minor leagues last year, when he was coming back from Tommy John surgery.

"We don't want to overpitch him," Rizzo said. "He will be shut down during the season at some point."

Exactly what that point is, Rizzo said, will be determined by what they see from Strasburg. Last year, Zimmermann's final start was on Aug. 28.

Of course, last year the Nationals were 22 1/2 games out of first place by that point. This year, they expect to be much closer to the top.

Strasburg seems to be a little more relaxed this spring, although he is still ultra-quiet and reserved. He was scheduled to spend part of Tuesday filming a commercial that will air this summer in the Washington area.
Posted on: February 27, 2012 2:34 pm
 

The one-team player (and the nine-team player)

VIERA, Fla. -- Edwin Jackson is one year older than Ryan Zimmerman.

Jackson is on his seventh major-league team, eighth if you include the few minutes he was officially a Blue Jay between stops with the White Sox and Cardinals last summer. Zimmerman is still with his first.

Jackson has a one-year contract with the Nationals, so he could well be headed for a ninth team next year. Zimmerman just signed a contract that basically commits him to the Nationals for the rest of his career.

Zimmerman chose to stay with the same team. Jackson didn't exactly have a choice. He was traded for the first time when he was just 22 years old, then traded five more times before he became a free agent last fall.

So if you're one of those people bemoaning the player movement in the modern game, just remember that there are still quite a few players who want to play an entire career with one team.

And just remember that it's often not the player's choice when it doesn't happen.

"People don't realize that it's got to be a two-way street," Zimmerman said Monday.

Zimmerman said he has spent time talking to Ryan Braun and Troy Tulowitzki, two other players who are headed to long one-team careers. They're not alone; it's obvious by now that Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera won't be playing for anyone but the Yankees, just as Jorge Posada retired last month as a one-team player.

Zimmerman is just 27, but he should end up doing the same. His new contract binds him to the Nationals through 2019, with an option for 2020, and with no-trade protection that he demanded as part of the deal.

He was determined to stay.

"I'm so comfortable here," Zimmerman said. "I think that helps you play better."

Jackson, who chose a one-year deal with the Nationals over three-year offers elsewhere, said he's just as comfortable moving around.

"I've been moving my whole life," said Jackson, whose father was in the military. "I was born on the move. It's almost like it was predestined."

As his manager would tell him, it's not always a bad thing. Davey Johnson chose to sign with the Orioles in the days before there was a draft, but the Orioles traded him to the Braves after eight years. He later played with the Phillies and Cubs, and he has managed five different teams.

"I know exactly where [Zimmerman] is coming from," Johnson said. "A big part of me would be envious. But I also like change, and I like challenges.

"I'm glad that he's glad."


Posted on: February 3, 2012 1:58 pm
 

Harper would join short list of 19-year-olds

As CBSSports.com colleague Jon Heyman wrote, the Nationals plan to give 19-year-old Bryce Harper a real chance to make their team out of spring training.

In fact, one Nationals official told me he believes that Harper should make it, and that even though he is still learning, "he can help you win while he learns."

Besides, it's not unheard of for a 19-year-old to play in the big leagues. Mike Trout did it for 14 games with the Angels last summer. Both Uptons (B.J. and Justin) did it.

Alex Rodriguez played in the big leagues when he was still 18 years old.

But according to research through baseball-reference.com, Harper would be the first 19-year-old to break camp with a team since Felix Hernandez with the 2006 Mariners, and the first position player to do it since Andruw Jones with the 1997 Braves.

Harper will be 19 years, 172 days old when the Nationals open their season on April 5 in Chicago. King Felix (19.118 when he debuted in August 2005) was the last big leaguer that young, and Adrian Beltre (19.078 when he debuted in June 1998) was the last position player that young.

A look the 19-year-olds who have played in the big leagues since 2000:

-- Trout played 14 games with the Angels last July, hitting just .163 with a .492 OPS.

-- Justin Upton was 23 days shy of his 20th birthday when the Diamondbacks called him up in 2007.

-- Hernandez came to the big leagues to stay at age 19.

-- B.J. Upton was 18 days shy of his 20th birthday when he debuted with the Rays in August 2004.

-- Jose Reyes debuted with the Mets the day before he turned 20 in June 2003.

-- Wilson Betemit came up with the Braves as a 19-year-old in September 2001.
Posted on: February 2, 2012 2:37 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 10:57 am
 

With Jackson, Nationals are trying to win now

The Nationals were already going to be one of the more interesting teams to watch this year.

Now it's time to wonder if they could actually win.

They think so, and it's why they committed money to sign Edwin Jackson to a one-year, $11 million contract, as CBSSports.com colleague Jon Heyman first reported Thursday afternoon.

Jackson joins a Nationals rotation that already featured young stars Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, and already added Gio Gonzalez this winter. The Nationals also have John Lannan, Chien-Ming Wang and Ross Detwiler, although they could now look to trade one of them this spring.

It's not Halladay-Lee-Hamels, but it is huge progress for a team that as recently as 2009 had the fourth highest rotation ERA in baseball.

But is it good enough, especially in a division that could be the most competitive in baseball?

The Phillies are still the National League's elite team, even though they haven't been to the World Series the last two years. The Braves are still very strong, even though they collapsed last September.

And the Marlins are still the team that dominated the first part of this offseason, adding Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell.

Still, Nationals people are quietly -- and sometimes not so quietly -- optimistic, to the point of believing that they could make a charge for the playoffs this year.

"If the two middle infielders (Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa) get better, and if the catcher (Wilson Ramos) gets better, we could have a heck of a team," one Nats person said to me this week.

And if Bryce Harper is ready?

Obviously, the Nationals think Harper could be a difference-maker, if he's ready for the big leagues at age 19. Even if he isn't completely ready, one Nationals person said, "He can help you win even while he's still learning."

If Harper does make it to the opening day roster, the Nationals would move Jayson Werth to center field, a position he played some in Philadelphia and also for 19 games last year in Washington. The long-term plan, then, would be to add a true center fielder next winter, move Werth to left field and move Mike Morse to first base (where Adam LaRoche will play this year).

The Nationals didn't get everything they wanted this winter. Their top pitching target was Buehrle, who chose the Marlins instead. They were in on the Prince Fielder bidding, although it appears now that they were behind the Tigers, Dodgers and perhaps another team.

But they beat out a crowded field to get Gonzalez from the A's, and now they have Jackson, a hard-throwing 28-year-old who has made an All-Star team and pitched in a World Series.

When Werth signed with the Nationals 14 months ago, there was a thought he was going from the best team in the league to a team with little chance to win. Now, just a year later, the Phillies may still be the best team, but the Nationals could well have a chance to win, too.

They certainly believe they could.

Another way to think of the Jackson signing: The Red Sox arguably needed a starting pitcher more than the Nationals did, but the Nationals were apparently willing to commit more money to get one. The Boston Globe reported that the Sox offered Jackson just $5-6 million on a one-year deal; his deal with the Nationals is for twice that.

The Red Sox rotation is very strong at the top, with Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz, but very questionable at the end, with converted reliever Daniel Bard, swing man Alfredo Aceves and the questionable Vicente Padilla, Carlos Silva and Aaron Cook as the other options.

Boston badly wanted to sign another starter, but Jackson is now out of the picture, and it appears that Roy Oswalt will hold out for a chance to go to one of his two favored teams, the Cardinals or the Rangers.




Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:49 pm
 

Cespedes is a free agent, and bidding can begin

The bidding for Yoenis Cespedes can finally begin.

The 26-year-old Cuban outfielder has established residency in the Dominican Republic, and Major League Baseball told teams on Wednesday that he is now officially a free agent.

But where will he go, how much will he cost, and how fast could he make an impact?

First, the where: Cespedes himself told reporters in the Dominican that the Cubs have shown the most interest in him, with the Marlins, Tigers, White Sox and Orioles also involved. The Nationals have also shown interest in Cespedes, and the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies scouted him, although it's believed that none of the three will be among the top bidders.

The Marlins have made no secret of their interest, but according to sources, Cespedes has told other teams that he would prefer not to play in Miami. He plans to make his home in the Dominican, rather than in Florida, and may believe that the huge Cuban community in South Florida would add too much pressure and too many distractions.

The Tigers have long been interested, with general manager Dave Dombrowski making a surprising trip to the Dominican Republic to see Cespedes for himself. But Detroit's resources for signing Cespedes could be more limited after signing Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract.

How much will Cespedes cost? No one seems to know for sure, but many teams have been in contact with agent Adam Katz, and it seems clear that he'll get more than the $30 million that the Reds paid for Aroldis Chapman.

How fast does he make an impact? Several of the teams that have scouted Cespedes heavily believe that he would be best served by beginning 2012 in the minor leagues. Given his age and the amount of money he'll likely cost, there will be pressure to move him to the big leagues fast, however.

Cespedes is described by those who like him as a Bo Jackson type, with an unusual combination of speed and power.

Cespedes may not have helped his value by playing briefly and ineffectively in the Dominican winter league, but he may have had other motives for playing for Aguilas. It's believed that people involved with the team also have ties to the Dominican government, and that Cespedes' decision to play may have sped up the process of establishing residency.

In any case, that process is complete, and Cespedes is a free agent.

And the bidding can begin.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 6:07 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 6:11 pm
 

Red Sox wanted Gio, keep chasing pitching

The Red Sox, who tried hard but came up short in their bid for Gio Gonzalez, are still determined to add pitching this winter, according to sources.

Red Sox management spent Friday regrouping, after the A's chose the Nationals' pitching-heavy offer for Gonzalez over a Red Sox offer that was built around position players. The Red Sox are still involved with the A's on closer Andrew Bailey, and they've talked to free-agent starter Hiroki Kuroda, as well, but they don't appear to be close on those pitchers or any others.

The Red Sox have also had interest in Gavin Floyd, with people in baseball believing that White Sox general manager Ken Williams remains open to trading Floyd, even after signing fellow starter John Danks to a contract extension this week.

For now, the Red Sox can still said to be "in on everybody," as one source put it this week.

The need is obvious, because for now the Red Sox rotation is just three-deep in established big-league starters, with Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. As of now, Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard would be the fourth and fifth starters.

Meanwhile, the Sox still haven't replaced closer Jonathan Papelbon, who left to sign with the Phillies as a free agent.

Gonzalez would have been a solid addition to the rotation, but now he's with the Nationals, instead.

And while the Red Sox continue to preach patience, they also know that they've reached Christmas with their shopping list still full.



Posted on: December 23, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 5:41 pm
 

Yankees, Red Sox may not bid high on Cespedes

While the market for Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is unpredictable, the word this week is that neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox plan to be heavily involved.

The two baseball superpowers have both followed Cespedes carefully, and some in the Yankee front office want him badly. But the decision this week, according to sources, was that Cespedes is too raw a talent to justify the price, and may not be suited to playing in a big market, anyway. While the Yankees are not out on Cespedes, the plan as of now is to treat him the way they treated Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, making a modest bid that is unlikely to be successful.

The Red Sox are said to have similar concerns.

People familiar with the international market say that there is also a divide on Cespedes in the Marlins' front office, and that it's not a given that the team will go after him hard. Also, Cespedes has told people that he plans to make his permanent home in the Dominican Republic, rather than in Miami, and may prefer to go to a team other than the Marlins.

The interest in Cespedes remains strong, and the market could change by the time he becomes a free agent, which should happen in January. The Cubs, Tigers, Nationals, White Sox and Rays, among other teams, are still expected to pursue him.

Because of the strong interest, the belief is that Cespedes will still get as much as $40 million, even if the Yankees and Red Sox hold back from heavy bidding. One possible issue is that Cespedes' agents apparently want him to go straight to the major leagues, while many if not most scouts believe that he should spend time in the minor leagues first.

The Cubs, Nationals, Braves and Red Sox, among others, are also said to be interested in Jorge Soler, a 19-year-old Cuban who is also expected to become a free agent this winter. Soler is further from the big leagues, but talented enough that some predict it could take $15 million to sign him.

Because of new limits on bonuses that will go into effect next winter, teams may feel free to bid higher on Cespedes and/or Soler this winter.



Posted on: December 21, 2011 1:30 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 12:52 pm
 

Darvish is gone, but plenty of starters available

Among teams and agents with starting pitching for sale, there was some hope that the Yu Darvish decision would spur movement in a market that has been slow to develop.

That could still happen. But for now, there is still so much pitching available that it's hard to understand why any team would feel the need to panic.

The free-agent market still offers Hiroki Kuroda, Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt, among others.

On the trade market, Jair Jurrjens, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, Wandy Rodriguez, Matt Garza and more are all believed by other teams to be available, albeit at what buyers still consider to be inflated prices. Even with Mat Latos already having gone to the Reds, John Danks signing an extension with the White Sox and Gio Gonzalez gone to the Nationals, it's a long list (and others such as the Mets' Jon Niese are also out there, along with longer-shot names like James Shields).

Compare that to last July 31, when the Tigers were able to trade for Doug Fister and the Indians got Ubaldo Jimenez, but many teams trying to deal for pitching found no one of real value available.

Now, the question is the high cost in prospects, at least based on what the Padres and A's got for Latos and Gonzalez. Meanwhile, the Red Sox, Marlins, Blue Jays, Royals, Tigers, Mariners, Yankees, Rockies, Orioles and others are hoping to add at least one more starter this winter.

And the market is still so fluid that one person who talked to the Red Sox this week reported back that they are "in on everybody."

In part because so many pitchers are still available, many rival officials continue to think that the Padres did very well in what they got from the Reds for Latos, who is young (24), cheap (not even arbitration-eligible yet), controllable (can't be a free agent until 2016) and talented, but also is regarded as having questionable makeup.

The Reds would no doubt argue that the price for any top pitching remains high, and for now it does.

The question is where the market goes from here, particularly with so many pitchers available.


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