Tag:Nationals
Posted on: November 11, 2011 9:43 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 11:51 am
 

Wilson Ramos 'safe and sound'

Wilson Ramos

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos is "safe and sound" after being kidnapped on Wednesday, Venezuelan justice minister Tareck El Aissami said on state television Friday night.

Information director Andres Izarra said Wilson was found in the mountain region where he was the result of a "rescue operation by air." Five people were reportedly detained.

Ramos briefly talked with media, with hsi remarks broadcast on Venezuelan television, the Associated Press reports.

"They didn't physically harm me, but psychologically I underwent very great harm," Ramos said.

Wilson also described what happened in the kidnapping near his home.

"I don't know who those people were. I know they're Colombians by their accent," Ramos said. "Three guys grabbed me there in front of my house, they took me to another SUV and from there they took me into the mountains," in central Carabobo state.

Wilson said the kidnappers didn't say much to him -- "They simply told me to cooperate, that they were going to ask for a ton of cash for me."

"They put me in a room with a bed. I was lying there," he said. "It was hard for me to think about, if I was going to get out alive first of all ... about how my family, my mother were."

The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore tweets that Ramos spoke to his relatives on the phone and his mother, Maria Campos, said he told her, "Mama, I'm fine. Mama I'm, good. The freed me. They rescued me. ... I love you."

Ramos' friend and public relations agent Marfa Mata first tweeted Friday night that Ramos had "appeared." Mata told Venezuelan journalist Rafael Rojas that the Internal Affairs Minister called the Ramos family and told them that they'd gotten Ramos (via Twitter).

Wilson's teammate with Tigres de Aragua, Scot Drucker, tweeted that it was announced during Friday's game that Ramos had been found and was greeted by cheers. The news was announced at all of the games in Venezula on Friday.

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said in a statement released Saturday mornign that he'd spoken with Ramos.

"I am happy to announce that I have spoken directly with Wilson and he assures me he is unharmed but eager to be reunited with his family," Rizzo said. "He asked me to thank all who played a role in his rescue, and all those who kept him and his family in their thoughts and prayers. I join Wilson in thanking the many law enforcement officials in Venezuela and investigators with Major League Baseball who worked tirelessly to ensure a positive ending to what has been a frightening ordeal. The only detail that concerns us tonight is that Wilson is safe. The entire Washington Nationals family is thankful that Wilson Ramos is coming home." 

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Posted on: November 11, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 2:01 pm
 

Closer look at all 30 closing situations



By C. Trent Rosecrans
 and Matt Snyder

It appears the first domino in closer market has fallen (at least, we're pretty sure this time), but that leaves Heath Bell and Ryan Madson as the top relievers still available. But who needs a closer? Here's a look at the closing situation for all 30 teams.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gregg is still under contract -- much to the chagrin of new general manager Dan Duquette's chagrin. Gregg will make $5.8 million in 2012, not exactly ideal for a guy with a WHIP of 1.642 last season and an ERA of 4.37 while picking up 22 saves. Jim Johnson recorded nine saves and threw just 91 innings, but doesn't exactly miss a ton of bats. The Orioles could move Johnson to the rotation.
Possibilities: Gregg, Johnson, Bell, Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton.

Red Sox: Well, obviously Papelbon is gone. Papelbon was the Red Sox closer for the last six years, recording the final out of the 2007 World Series among other memories. Still, As untouchable as he was in his first four years as the closer (1.74 ERA and 0.917 WHIP from 2006-2009), he had a 3.43 ERA and 1.104 WHIP over the last two seasons. Daniel Bard is unhittable at times, but struggled in the last two months of the season (which certainly wasn't uncommon among Red Sox), posting a 6.95 ERA in 21 games in August and September.
Possibilities: Bard, Madson, Bell.

New York Yankees: Mariano Rivera. Enough said.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays let the Yankees overpay for Rafael Soriano and then picked up Kyle Farnsworth off the discard pile, signing him to a two-year, $6 million deal. In retrospect, it was genius -- Farnsworth had 25 saves with a 2.18 ERA in 2011 and the Rays will keep him another year and let someone else overpay him for 2013.

Toronto Blue Jays: Frank Francisco was the team's closer for much of 2011, but he's a free agent and the team could be looking to spend some money on a  closer.
Possibilities: Madson, Bell, Cordero, Rodriguez, Casey Janssen.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox: Right-hander Sergio Santos converted 30 of 36 save opportunities, liming batters to just a .181/.282/.314 slash line and he should be in line to keep his job in 2012. If he falters, Addison Reed has a chance to take over.

Cleveland Indians: Chris Perez is on solid ground as the team's closer, picking up 35 saves in 2011.

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers picked up the $9 million option on Jose Valverde.

Kansas City Royals: The Royals picked up the $6 million option on Joakim Soria and have options for 2013 and 2014.

Minnesota Twins: The Twins declined their $12.5 million option on incumbent Joe Nathan, but have expressed interest in bringing him back. Although his overall numbers -- 4.84 ERA, 1.164 WHIP, 14 saves -- weren't too impressive, he did convert all 11 of his saves in the second half of the season. Left-hander Glen Perkins had two saves in 2011 and struck out 65 batters in 61 2/3 innings. If the team doesn't sign a free agent -- or trade for someone -- Perkins would have the best shot.
Possibilities: Nathan, Perkins, Jon Rauch, Broxton.

AL West

Los Angeles Angels: Jordan Walden recorded 32 saves as a rookie and made the All-Star team. He did blow 10 saves last season, so it wouldn't be a complete shock if the team looked for an upgrade, but it's not expected, especially with tight purse strings this winter. The team could bring in a veteran for cheap that could close if Walden falters.
Possibilities: Walden, Scott Downs, Broxton, Rauch.

Oakland Athletics: Andrew Bailey is the team's closer, but a trade is always possible with Oakland.

Seattle Mariners: Brandon League had 37 saves and a 2.79 ERA in 2011.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers could be a wild card in the free agent closer market if they decided to move Neftali Feliz to the rotation. The Rangers tried that last spring but decided to keep Feliz in the bullpen. If they bring in a big-name, that would mean they believe Feliz can make the move. If not, there's still a chance of Mike Adams taking over for Feliz. Or they could bring in a low-cost veteran to have in reserve in case Feliz does work in the rotation.
Possibilities: Mike Adams, Madson, Cordero, Rauch, Broxton.

NL East

Atlanta Braves: Craig Kimbrel. Period. 

Miami Marlins: While the artist formerly known as Leo Nunez gets his name issue sorted out, the Marlins have a gaping hole at closer. The current members of their bullpen combined for four saves last season. Do the Marlins try to go with an internal option like Edward Mujica or make a splash on the free agent market (as they've been connected to several huge names already)? 
Possibilities: Nunez, Mujica, Madson, Cordero, Rodriguez, Bell.

New York Mets: If they stay internally, which is entirely possible, it looks like Bobby Parnell. But he wasn't awesome by any stretch when given save chances last season. The Mets have spent big on a free agent closer before (K-Rod), so would they be gunshy in doing so again? It's possible. But it's also possible they try to land someone like Ryan Madson. 
Possibilities: Parnell, Madson, Bell.

Philadelphia Phillies: Papelbon. 

Washington Nationals: Drew Storen closed 43 of 48 games in 2011, his first full season in the majors. One would think that would be enough to earn him at least another year on the job, but Storen's name keeps popping up in trade rumors and the Nationals have been reportedly interested in Madson. The Nats have plenty of money, so if they wanted to ink a big-name closer and deal Storen as part of a package for a center fielder (Denard Span, perhaps?), they would be able to do so. 
Possibilities: Storen, Madson, Bell, Cordero.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: It's probably going to be Carlos Marmol again, but he better get himself in gear. Not only did he blow 10 saves, but his once-astronomical strikeout rate lowered a bit in 2011 and control continues to be a serious problem. With new brass at the helm, 2011 will likely be his last chance to get things fixed. 

Cincinnati Reds: Cordero had a great four-year run with the Reds, amassing 150 saves with a 2.96 ERA, but he's a free agent now. Fireballer Aroldis Chapman is ticketed for the starting rotation and Nick Masset seems to be awfully inconsistent. The Reds don't have the money to spend in free agency, so would they make a trade for, say, Huston Street or Andrew Bailey? Seems unlikely. Either Chapman doesn't make it as a starter and sticks as closer or someone internally (23-year-old Brad Boxberger?) gets a shot. This one is totally up in the air. 
Possibilities: Cordero, Chapman, Boxberger, Bailey, Street, Broxton.

Houston Astros: Mark Melancon saved 20 games with a 2.78 ERA last season. There are far bigger problems with this team to believe they'll try hard to make a change here.

Milwaukee Brewers: John Axford and his award-winning 'stache.  

Pittsburgh Pirates: All-Star Joel Hanrahan nailed down the job last season. 

St. Louis Cardinals: Jason Motte was never officially named closer by the stubborn Tony La Russa, but he did more than enough down the stretch and in the playoffs to earn the job for 2012, closing nine of 10 saves during the Cardinals' late run and five more in the postseason. 

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: It will again be J.J. Putz with David Hernandez filling in if (when?) Putz falls injured.

Colorado Rockies: Street is reportedly on the trading block. If he's is dealt, look for Rafael Betancourt to take over. He collected eight saves with a 2.89 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning in 2011. 

Los Angeles Dodgers: Rookie Javy Guerra came on to save 21 games in 23 chances with a 2.31 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings in 2011. That's enough to have nailed down the job for the 2011 season, one would think. 

San Diego Padres: Bell is a free agent, but the Padres may just offer him arbitration, and he actually might accept it. If he does stay, the choice is obvious. If Bell leaves, there's a decent internal option in Chad Qualls. Qualls, 33, has 51 career saves. As far as free agency, if the Padres want to pay for a closer, they'll be paying for Bell. 
Possibilities: Bell, Qualls.

San Francisco: The Beard. 

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Posted on: November 11, 2011 10:00 am
 

After 36 hours, still no word on Wilson Ramos

By Matt Snyder

Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was abducted in Venezuela Wednesday night. Many are expecting the kidnappers to be seeking a hefty ransom, but Ramos' family has still heard nothing from the assailants, 36 hours after the abduction took place (MASNSports.com).

One report from Thursday indicated the kidnappers could be part of a very savvy criminal organization and it's possible they'd be seeking upwards of $20 million for his safe return (SI.com). The scary part there is Ramos doesn't have anywhere close to that. He made $415,000 in his rookie season in 2011. There are deeper pockets in play, though. The Venezuelan government and Major League Baseball's Department of Investigations are on the case, and there's word even the FBI will become involved, even though Ramos isn't an American citizen (MASNSports.com).

It's entirely possible Ramos' relatively low salary is the reason the family hasn't heard anything from the kidnappers; that maybe if it's an organized crime group to blame, they're shooting to get a big payday from the MLB -- which could more than afford to pay.

Thursday, Venezuelan authorities found the vehicle that is believed to be the one used to kipnap Ramos. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like a huge lead, because it was reportedly a stolen vehicle.

All reports indicate Ramos is still alive, but the longer the situation draws out, the scarier it gets.

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Posted on: November 10, 2011 10:35 am
Edited on: November 10, 2011 1:02 pm
 

Latest updates on Wilson Ramos kidnapping

By Matt Snyder

Very few details have surfaced just yet on the kidnapping case of Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, who was abducted Wednesday evening in Venezuela. As of Thursday morning, the kidnappers had yet to contact Ramos' family, the police or the Aragua Tigres, Ramos' winter league baseball team.

“We are still waiting for any news about Wilson Ramos,” Tigres spokeswoman Katherine Vilera said (via Nationals Journal). “All the authorities are working in the case. We need to be [patient] and pray.”

The latest news is that the car allegedly used to abduct Ramos has been found about an hour away from Valencia, where the kidnapping took place (via Nationals Journal).

One would expect contact to be made at some point, as most Venezuelan abductions of people with money are done for ransom.

Also, there seem to be some unfounded rumors floating around the Internet that Ramos is dead. That's not true. Rafeal Rojas (who originally broke the story) reports that Venezuelan intelligence has confirmed Ramos is alive. The police also reportedly have sketches of two of the kidnappers (Washington Times). 

MLB and the Nationals have released a joint statement, as follows:
Our foremost concern is with Wilson Ramos and his family and our thoughts are with them at this time. Major League Baseball’s Department of Investigations is working with the appropriate authorities on this matter. Both Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals have been instructed to make no further comment.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 9, 2011 7:57 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 10:39 am
 

Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos kidnapped

RamosBy Evan Brunell

Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos has been kidnapped, the Denver Post's bilingual website, VivaColorado.com, reports, with other media sources corroborating the news.

According to El Nacional, Ramos was approached by four gunmen outside his home and taken away. A source said that the kidnappers have yet to contact the family, but El Universal says the "Body of Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations" arm of the government has already set up operations at Ramos' home.

El Universal adds that Ramos was taken away in a green car. (UPDATE: The car has been found about an hour away from the where the abduction took place. And the kidnappers still have yet to contact the Ramos family).

Ramos hails from Venezuela, where there is a significant problem with kidnapping. Generally, these crimes are for money and Ramos was a logical target, given that his success in the majors earned him the right to a league-minimum contract, which was $414,500 in 2011. That's a lot of money to most people, especially in Venezuela.

Kidnappings are becoming more and more popular in Venezuela as a way to make money. Many kidnappings are called "express" kidnappings, as the Post writes. This type of kidnapping is when armed men drive a victim around until a ransom is paid.

A U.S. Department of State crime safety report says “groups that specialize in these types of crimes operate with impunity or fear of incarceration.”

Ramos had been planning on playing in around 10 games with the Tigres de Aragua, part of the Venezuelan Winter League, the Washington Post writes. Other Nationals are also in the country to play in the VWL, although none of them were going to be teammates with Ramos.

The 24-year-old just completed his rookie season with Washington, hitting .267/.334/.445 in 435 plate appearances, slugging 15 homers. The righty supplanted Ivan Rodriguez as the starting catcher early on and is expected to start at catcher next season.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: November 8, 2011 10:04 pm
 

Madson's deal sets the market for Papelbon



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Ryan Madson has to be pretty happy with the reported four-year, $44 million deal he's set to receive from the Phillies, but he's not the only one. Jonathan Papelbon can't be too torn up by the deal, either.

If Madson is worth $11 million a year, Papelbon -- slightly younger with better stats and more experience -- should be looking at at least $13 million per season.

Hot Stove Season

Of course, there's going to be one less big-money team bidding for his services, but there should due enough out there that allows Papelbon to cash in as the market's top free agent closer.

Madson, 31, has less than a full season of closing under his belt, taking over in Philadelphia after Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras went down with injuries at the start of the season. Madson excelled in the role -- one he didn't do so well in earlier in his career -- recording 32 saves with a 2.37 ERA in 62 appearances. He struck out 62 batters in 60 2/3 innings and walked just 16 (eight intentionally). Madson has 52 saves and a 3.59 ERA in 491 career appearances since his debut as a 22-year-old late in the 2003 season.

Papelbon, who will turn 31 later this month, has 219 career saves with a 2.33 ERA, recording 31 saves with a 2.94 ERA in 2011. Papelbon struck out 87 batters in 64 1/3 innings, walking just 10 and recording a WHIP of 0.933. He's also pitched his entire seven-year career in the pressure-packed AL East.

While the Red Sox and Phillies are the two biggest teams in need of a closer this offseason, the Phillies now are out of the market, leaving Boston as the likely frontrunner (as if it wasn't before). The Blue Jays and Nationals are also looking for a closer and could be looking to spend some money. There's another two wild cards -- the Rangers if Neftali Feliz is moved into the rotation and the Marlins depending on who the whole Leo Nunez/Juan Carlos Oviedo situation plays out.

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Posted on: November 4, 2011 4:55 pm
 

Nationals interested in Roy Oswalt

By Matt Snyder

After the Jayson Werth signing last season, we know the Washington Nationals aren't shy about throwing around big bucks in free agency. And just in case you aren't convinced, consider that Ted Lerner is the richest owner in baseball. So it shouldn't be a shock if the Nationals are in on some of the bigger names in the free agent market. Thus, the Friday afternoon rumor -- via Bill Ladson of MLB.com -- that they're interested in former Astros and Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt should come as no surprise.

The Nationals already have four spots on their rotation filled, assuming everyone is healthy and there are no trades involving the foursome of Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan and Chien-Ming Wang. According to Ladson's report, general manager Mike Rizzo wants to add a veteran to sit atop the rotation.

"The type of pitcher we are looking for is a good leader-type of guy that throws a lot of innings, has shown that he can win in the big leagues and really lead our staff," Rizzo said without mentioning any names (MLB.com). "It's not by having the best stuff on the staff, but showing how to be a professional, how to be a winner, how to pitch 200 innings in a season many, many times in a career. That's kind of the guy we are looking for."

Hot Stove Season
The Nats can easily fill the final rotation spot from within the organization if they so choose. Young pitchers with pretty good potential like Ross Detwiler, Tommy Milone and Brad Peacock would be legitimate options, but it appears Rizzo doesn't want to wait. After a third-place finish -- the best-ever for the Washington Nationals -- he appears ready to become a contender. And, again, factor in the deep pockets of Lerner. Why take the chance on a youngster when they could just overpay for a proven veteran? Oswalt could fit. He might not be an ace anymore, but Strasburg as a two, Zimmermann as a three, and Lannon/Wang as the four/five guys looks like a pretty deep rotation.

Oswalt, 34, was 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 93 strikeouts in 139 innings in 2011. He battled back issues and also had a family issue at one point (when a tornado ravaged his hometown). He had thrown at least 208 innings in seven of the previous nine seasons.

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Posted on: November 2, 2011 6:49 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2011 7:00 pm
 

Nationals re-sign Chien-Ming Wang

WangBy Evan Brunell

The Nationals have agreed to a deal in principle with starter Chien-Ming Wang, SI.com's Jon Heyman reports.

Wang has been with Washington for the last two seasons but only made his Nats debut in late July after recovering from shoulder problems that jettisoned him from the Yankees. The groundball artist made 11 starts and walked away with a 4.04 ERA in 62 1/3 innings. While his strikeout numbers have always been low, the fact he only punched out 25 is cause for concern. On the bright side, he allowed a skimpy 13 walks, which is a big reason for his success.

Now that the 31-year-old will presumably enter spring training healthy, he could enjoy a productive season. When right, Wang lets hitters beat themselves by either striking them out just enough to keep them honest or forcing batters to beat the ball in the ground. To that extent, he needs a strong infield defense behind him to get outs, and Washington's D is strong enough. What will be interesting to monitor is his fastball velocity. With a full offseason to rest and his shoulder problems finally behind him, can he tick his average fastball back up to 92 mph? That would be enough to address concerns about his long-term viability, even if he loses some control in ratcheting up the velocity. Many pitchers tend to need time to see their velocity recover after such major surgery and time away from the majors.

Wang figures to slot behind Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and John Lannan in the rotation, leaving just one spot available for competition. Wang won't just be handed a spot, though, even though he's the favorite to secure a spot in the rotation.

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