Tag:Nationals
Posted on: February 3, 2012 10:47 am
 

Nats taking steps to avoid Phillies fans in park



By Matt Snyder


The Washington Nationals' front office is tired of seeing Phillies fans take over their ballpark when Washington hosts the Phillies, so they're trying to do something about it.

In an effort they're calling "Take Back the Park," the Nationals are making it as difficult as possible for Phillies fans to outnumber Nationals fans in the May 4-6 series. Beginning today (Friday morning), the Nationals are offering single-game tickets for the series -- and only this particular series -- even though other single-game tickets won't be for sale for another month. Not only that, only buyers with credit cards tied to an address in Maryland, Virginia or the District of Columbia will be allowed to buy tickets (all information from WashingtonPost.com).

The Nats mean business. Not only on the field, where they've had a good offseason and appear to be a legitimate contender in the loaded NL East. But check out this series of quotes from COO Andy Feffer, all via WashingtonPost.com:

• “Frankly, I was tired of seeing it. Forget you, Philly. This is our park, this is our town, these are our fans, and it’s our time right now.”

Washington offseason
• “We’ve heard it enough, we’ve seen it enough, and I don’t like it any more than anyone else. We’re trying to build a team here, and nothing irks me personally or the people here more than to see another team’s fans — particularly Philly fans — in our ballpark, holding up signs. That’s not the way it should be. And I think we’ve got an opportunity here to do something different.”

• “We’ve got some other things planned for the Phillies. Don’t expect their buses to be hanging out and dropping off their fans right around the ballpark here. I’m gonna stick ‘em across the river if I can, make ‘em swim across.” [Note: The Post noted this was said as a joke]

• “Seriously, for those fans who do come, we treat all guests with respect and courtesy. But look, we’re not gonna make it easy for group sales, for buses coming from Philly. I will not make it easy for those guys to buy tickets or get into this ballpark. Once they’re here, obviously we treat all our guests as patrons, with respect.”

• “Look, this is what a rivalry’s about. The Phillies and Nationals should be that rivalry that people get fired up about, and that’s ok. I want Phillies fans to acknowledge that we’re a legitimate contender and that we’re for real. And you know what? If Phillies fans are a little bit irked, that means they’re paying attention.”

Whoa. Breaking out the big guns, eh, Nationals? I have to say, I love it. Old, traditional rivalries are great (Yankees/Red Sox, Cubs/Cardinals, Dodgers/Giants, etc.), but it's even more exciting to see new rivalries emerge. What if the Nationals are a contender this year and we see them lock horns with the Phillies a few times? That's great for baseball.

So what say you, Phillies fans? Are you "irked" and "paying attention" to the Nationals yet?

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Category: MLB
Posted on: February 2, 2012 1:39 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 7:07 pm
 

Edwin Jackson signs one-year deal with Nationals



By Matt Snyder


Edwin Jackson is entering his 10th major-league season, and he'll do so with his seventh team. He is an agreement with the Washington Nationals on a one-year contract, the team announced Thursday. The deal, which was first reported by CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman, is pending a physical and Heyman reports it's believed to be between $8 million and $12 million.

"We saw an opportunity here to acquire a young, hard-throwing, power-pitching, innings-eating type of starting pitcher, and we thought it was good value at a good term," general manager Mike Rizzo said during a telephone conference call.

Jackson, 28, went 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 148 strikeouts in 199 2/3 innings last season for the White Sox and Cardinals. He was dealt to St. Louis in late July and ended up winning a World Series ring with St. Louis. Also, while control was an issue early in  Jackson's career, his walk rate was a career-low 2.8 per nine innings in 2011.

"His walks are trending in the right direction," Rizzo said.

Jackson had a .339 opponents' batting average with the bases empty and a .239 average with runners on last season, but the Nationals think they can work with the issue.

"We're going to make a few tweaks to his delivery," Rizzo said. "Last year he was a different pitcher out of the windup than he was from the stretch."

Washington offseason
The Nationals won their arbitration hearing with fourth starter John Lannan this week, but the signing of Jackson could be a signal Lannan is on the move via trade. In fact, Fox Sports reported earlier Thursday the Nats are "aggressively shopping" Lannan. The Nationals now have a very strong front four in Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Jackson with either Chien-Ming Wang or Lannan filling the fifth spot. No matter who it is, that's a formidable top to bottom rotation.

Note that Strasburg is on an innings limit and the Nats can't be sure if Wang will hold up all season, so it wouldn't hurt to have extra starting pitching. If they did deal Lannan, they could still turn to Ross Detwiler, Craig Stammen or Tom Gorzelanny in a pinch. But for now, it's all about adding Jackson.

Jackson has been unable to find a permanent home in his career, but he's always been a productive pitcher. He doesn't profile as a frontline starter, but Washington doesn't need him to be one. He has great experience for his age, with over 1,000 regular-season innings pitched and seven postseason appearances, including four starts. Also good for Jackson is that Nationals Park profiles as a slight pitchers' park.

Jackson had been asking for a three- to five-year contract, but when the market dried up, agent Scott Boras and Jackson looked for a one-year deal so they could hit the market again next season. Washington bit.

"It made it much more palatable to us," Rizzo said.

The Nationals are coming off an 80-81 season in which they finished third place in the NL East for the first time since moving to Washington. With a full season of Strasburg and the additions of Gonzalez and Jackson, they appear eager to compete in a loaded division.

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Posted on: February 2, 2012 7:43 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 7:55 am
 

Baseball's worst contracts, Part II: OF/DH



By Matt Snyder


As we continue our look at the most cumbersome contracts in baseball, today we'll look at outfielders and designated hitters. We covered the infield and catchers Wednesday and will look at pitchers Friday. As a reminder, we're looking at what is left on the contract, not what the player has been paid through the duration of the deal.

Left Field

Worst: Vernon Wells, Angels
Remaining contract: 3 years, $74 million

Man, this was a tough call because it's a crowded field (see below), but we'll go with Wells because the average annual value remaining on the contract is insane. He hit .218/.248/.412 last season and had a negative WAR, meaning a replacement-level player was better than a guy making over $25 million for the season. At age 33, he could certainly bounce back, but it's hard to see him all of a sudden becoming worth as much money as he's making.

Honorable Mention

Carl Crawford, Red Sox: There are six years and $128 million left on the deal, and I feel like many will argue that Crawford's remaining contract is worse than Wells'. I'm willing to give the 30-year-old Crawford a mulligan for his catastrophic first season in Boston. Next year at this time we'll know a lot more.

Alfonso Soriano, Cubs: Amazingly, he still has three years and $57 million left. Wow.

Jason Bay, Mets: In two seasons for the Mets, Bay has hit .251/.337/.386 (what an ugly slugging percentage for a supposed power hitter) with just 18 homers in 218 games. He still has two years and $36.25 million left, too, in addition to a $3 million buyout should the Mets not pick up his option year.

Center Field

Worst: Alex Rios, White Sox
Remaining Contract: 3 years, $38.5 million

While his teammate got much of the blame last year in terms of the White Sox's shortfall -- and you'll see him below -- Rios was pretty awful himself. He hit .227/.265/.348, which was good for a 65 OPS-plus (if you don't know what that is, trust me, it's embarrassingly bad). He actually posted a negative 1.5 WAR, meaning -- according to the stat -- that he single-handedly cost the White Sox a win and a half just by being in the lineup when he was. And now, thanks to that contract, he's untradeable.

Honorable Mention

Actually, I've got nothing here. Once one-time center fielders' contracts get too big they are usually shoved to the corners. The big-money guys here (Matt Kemp, Curtis Granderson, etc.) are fairly compensated.

Right Field

Worst: Jayson Werth, Nationals
Remaining contract: 6 years, $116 million

Very easy choice. I fully expect a bounce-back season from Werth this year, as several things didn't go his way last season. That being said, the Nationals are paying Werth like he's a superstar all the way until the season in which he turns 38. He wasn't even a superstar his last year in Philadelphia, when he was 31.

Honorable Mention

Nick Markakis, Orioles: There's a reason you only hear about other teams asking for Adam Jones in a trade and not Markakis. The latter is due $43.05 million over the next three seasons while he hit .284 with 15 homers and 73 RBI last season. You need more offense than that from a corner outfielder in order to pay him almost $15 million a year.

Designated Hitter

Worst: Adam Dunn, White Sox.
Remaining contract: 3 years, $44 million

Another easy one. Like Werth, I also expect Dunn to bounce back, but there's no way he can be good enough to earn his full contract over the next three years, especially considering how bad he was last season. He was historically awful with the bat -- there's really no need to rehash the gruesome details at this point -- and that's all he does. And if he does field, his value actually decreases because he's such a butcher with the glove.

Honorable Mention

Travis Hafner, Indians: Nitpicky here, but Pronk will make $13 million this season. He's only averaged 91 games per year the past four seasons. No one else really warrants mention, because Big Papi, for example, is still worth the big bucks.

On the Other Hand ...

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: Thanks to an early Longoria-type extension, Upton is set to make $46.109 million over the next four seasons. He made just under $4.5 million last season, when he finished fourth in a crowded NL MVP field. Since Upton is only 24, the D-Backs will have to pony up again -- and probably in huge fashion -- to lock him up through his prime, but for now this is a very team-friendly contract.

Special Cases

Bobby Bonilla, Mets: This is both hilarious and sad at the same time. When the Mets bought out Bonilla's $5.9 million contract in 2000, they agreed to repay him with interest starting 11 years later. Beginning July 1, 2011, the Mets are paying Bonilla an annual salary of roughly $1.2 million until 2035. Or around $35 million in all. In 2012, the Mets will pay Bonilla more than the following regulars/rotation members: Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Josh Thole, Ruben Tejada, Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee.

Manny Ramirez, Dodgers: We'll ignore that the Red Sox are paying Manny B. Manny $2 million per year until he's 54 because he helped bring them two World Series titles. But the Dodgers are paying Ramirez $8.33 million in 2012 and 2013. Assuming Clayton Kershaw gets more in arbitration, that means Manny will be the Dodgers' sixth highest-paid player this season. Of course, Frank McCourt is still going to make a billion dollar profit, so ...


Part I: Infielders and catchers
Part III: Pitchers, coming Friday

Source for all figures was Cot's Baseball Contracts

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Posted on: February 1, 2012 3:21 pm
 

Carlos Guillen returns to Seattle

Carlos GuillenBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Guillen is back with the Mariners. The 36-year-old infielder signed a minor-league deal with the team on Wednesday with a big-league invite to spring training.

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Guillen spent the last eight seasons with the Tigers, making three All-Star teams, after playing parts of six seasons with the Mariners.

While he played shortstop for the Mariners and Tigers earlier in his career, he was limited to just second base, first base and DH last season, appearing in just 28 games, hitting .232/.265/.368 with three home runs. He hasn't played in more than 150 games since 2007, playing in just 177 over the last three.

The Mariners traded Guillen to the Tigers for Ramon Santiago and minor-leaguer Juan Gonzalez before the 2004 season. Santiago was a flop in Seattle, returning to Detroit in 2006, where he's played ever since.

In other minor-league deals, former Phillies reliever Chad Durbin signed with the Nationals and Rays hero Dan Johnson signed with the White Sox.

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Posted on: January 29, 2012 10:17 pm
 

Brandon McCarthy likely to start opener for A's

Brandon McCarthy

By C. Trent Rosecrans


With Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez gone, Brandon McCarthy will be the A's starter on opening day in Tokyo against the Mariners, manager Bob Melvin said during the team's FanFest on Sunday.

McCarthy, 28, could be the only returning starter from last year's Oakland rotation after the offseason trades of Cahill and Gonzalez. McCarthy was 9-9 with a 3.32 ERA in 2011, striking out 123 in 170 2/3 innings and 25 starts. He threw five complete games and posted a 1.131 WHIP.

"That would be a lot of fun," McCarthy told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle when told of Melvin's statement that he'd likely start the first game of the season. "That's one of those notches anyone would like to have."

Newly signed Bartolo Colon will start the other game in Japan, Melvin said. Colon, 38, signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the A's after going 8-10 with a 4.00 ERA for the Yankees in 2011.

Oakland will play Seattle at the Tokyo Dome on March 28 and 29, before any other games start. Felix Hernandez will most likely get the start for the Mariners.

In addition to the trades of Cahill and Gonzalez, the team lost Rich Harden and traded Guillermo Moscoso.

The A's could round out their rotation with youngsters Brad Peacock, Tom Milone and Jarrod Parker.  Oakland picked up the first two in the trade of Gonzalez to the Nationals and Parker came over in the Cahill trade with Arizona.

Another starter, Dallas Braden, will throw off the mound on Monday for the first time since shoulder surgery, he told Slusser. Braden compared Monday's session of 25 fastballs to Christmas -- "Get to bed early, leave cookies and milk on the table, see what happens."

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Posted on: January 26, 2012 3:31 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 3:38 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Storen or Kimbrel?



By C. Trent Rosecrans


One of the most volatile positions on the field is closer -- one minute a guy is lights-out, the next he's teaching High School phys ed, like Kenny Powers. The few guys you can count on can count on big bucks, and even some with questions can still get big money.

Don't want to shell out big money on a big-name closer? Sometimes young guys can get the job done at a fraction of the cost with a young pitcher with a live arm. While the Phillies and Marlins have dolled out a combined $77 million this offseason, two other teams in the National League East will pay less than $1 million combined for two guys who saved 15 more games than the Jonathan Papelbon and Heath Bell combined in 2011 -- Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel and Washington's Drew Storen. So, for today's penultimate matchup in the Would You Rather Have? series, it's two young, NL East closers.

Would You Rather Have
The case for Storen

Storen was the Nationals' second pick in the 2009 draft, but first to make the majors, beating Stephen Strasburg to D.C. He picked up five saves in 2010, before starting out 2011 as the team's full-time closer. He finished 2011 with 43 saves and nearly a strikeout an inning. He has a fastball that averages 95 mph and a very good slider, to boot. His changeup isn't great, but as a one-inning guy, two pitches are plenty.

In addition to his strikeout rate, he allowed just 2.39 walks per nine innings, a number that was better than his first year. He also bettered his strikeout rate (8.84 strikeouts per nine innings), ground ball rate (47.3 percent), left-on-base percentage (81.1 percent), ERA (2.75) and xFIP (3.14). Storen -- despite some questionable coaching from CBSSports.com blogger Matt Snyder earlier in life (true story) -- appears to be improving and could get even better than he was in 2011. Although it should be noted his batting average on balls in play dropped by .050 last season, from .296 in 2010 to .246 in 2011.

The case for Kimbrel

Kimbrel was a unanimous choice for National League Rookie of the Year -- and for good reason. He was nearly unhittable. The right-hander had a 1.039 WHIP while leading the National League with 46 saves and putting up just a 2.10 ERA. In 77 innings -- and 79 games -- Kimbrel struck out 127 batters, walking 32. He did that all while allowing a .314 batting average on balls in play.

Like Storen, Kimbrel gets by on his mid-90s fastball and a slider, both above-average pitches.

Another thing to love about the two pitchers is that they're both under team control through the 2016 season, although Storen is likely to be a Super Two, giving him an extra year of arbitration starting next season.

Our call

With apologies to Storen, this one isn't that close. Kimbrel's a little younger, will have one less arbitration year and is probably just flat better. The only question is how Kimbrel handles the workload he was handed by manager Fredi Gonzalez last season, when he put up a 4.76 ERA in the last month of the season. While he faced just three more batters and pitched only 1 2/3 innings more than Storen, his higher walk rate and strikeout rate means he threw 1,314 pitches in 2011 to 1,100 by Storen. Still, neither has been injured at the big-league level and expect Gonzalez to learn from his mistakes. Storen's a good pitcher, but Kimbrel's an easy pick here.

Fan Vote: Would you rather have Storen or Kimbrel on your favorite team?



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Posted on: January 26, 2012 11:11 am
Edited on: January 26, 2012 11:18 am
 

Brad Lidge signs 1-year deal with Nationals

Brad Lidge

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Nationals have signed former Phillies closer Brad Lidge to a one-year deal, the team announced on Thursday.

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The 35-year-old Lidge appeared in just 25 games for the Phillies last season because of a shoulder injury. His 2010 was limited by an elbow injury.

Lidge was 0-2 with a 1.40 ERA in those 25 games last season, but managed just 19 1/3 innings, striking out 23 and walking 13, putting up a WHIP of 1.500.

With Washington, the right-hander will likely serve as a setup man for closer Drew Storen and right-hander Tyler Clippard.

Lidge has 223 career saves with the Astros and Phillies over 10 seasons, accumulating a 26-31 record and a 3.44 ERA.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 3:02 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 7:04 pm
 

Prince Fielder signs with the Tigers



By Matt Snyder


Chalk up one more for the so-called mystery team. First it was Cliff Lee going to the Phillies, then Albert Pujols heading to the Angels. Now Prince Fielder has shocked the baseball world by signing with the Detroit Tigers, a team that hadn't even been remotely connected to him in rumors the entire offseason. The robust first baseman has signed a nine-year contract worth $214 million, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned.

The Tigers were recently dealt what appeared to be a pretty severe blow, as Victor Martinez tore his ACL and could miss the entire 2012 season. So there went Miguel Cabrera's lineup protection, right? Think again. Owner Mike Ilitch really wants to win a World Series championship and this signing indicates one of the strongest reactions one can even imagine to news like that.

Prince to Tigers
Heyman also notes that the finalists to land Fielder were the Nationals, Tigers and one other "mystery team." So it's entirely possible the Nationals would have come away with Fielder had Martinez not torn his ACL. It's funny how things work sometimes.

A Fielder-Cabrera combo in the middle of that order will dominate AL Central pitching. Throw Justin Verlander into the mix, and the Tigers have three of baseball's biggest stars.

Fielder, 27, hit .299/.415/.566 with 38 homers, 120 RBI, 95 runs and 36 doubles last season for the NL Central champion Brewers. He finished third in MVP voting and also took home the All-Star Game MVP. Though Fielder is a large man, he is as durable as they come. He hasn't played in less than 157 games in a season since becoming a regular. He played in all 162 last season, following up seasons where he appeared in 161 and 162 games, respectively.

The smart money with Fielder and Cabrera is a split at first base, with the other serving as the designated hitter. Then again, what if the Tigers got nuts and tried to shove Cabrera back across the diamond to play third base again -- where he began his career? That would mean the infield defense would be awful, but would also leave room for a better hitting DH than Brandon Inge (who, at this point, looks like the third baseman). And if Victor Martinez comes back healthy? It works even better.

The Tigers won the AL Central by 15 games last season. Even if Martinez misses all of the 2012 season, Fielder is a pretty sizeable upgrade to the offense. So it would appear the division is the Tigers' to lose.

For now, though, the only details that really matter are that Prince Fielder is heading to Detroit -- where his father once held down the middle of the order -- and he's going to make a whole lot of money.



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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