Tag:Nationals
Posted on: January 21, 2012 11:02 am
Edited on: January 21, 2012 1:46 pm
 

Ryan: Rangers unsure of Fielder's demands

Prince Fielder

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Prince Fielder is still a free agent, but it may be because Fielder and agent Scott Boras haven't told anyone exactly what they're looking to get in a new contract.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

Rangers president Nolan Ryan said he doesn't know what it would take to sign Fielder, despite having meetings with the slugger and the superagent. Speaking to ESPN Dallas 103.3 (via the Washington Times), Ryan said he didn't know what it'd take to sign Fielder.

"Hard to say," Ryan said. "Because they've never made a firm proposal to us. They talk in generalities and numbers and other people's contracts, and so you can speculate what it is. One time they're talking eight years, one time they're talking 10 years, one time they're talking about a contract bigger than Ryan Howard's in Philadelphia."

Howard signed a five-year, $135 million extension in 2010 that begins in the 2012 season. Howard's contract will pay him $20 million in the next two seasons and $25 million in the last three with a $23 million club option  for 2017 with a $10 million buyout. Fielder, though, is five years younger than Howard.

There's also Albert Pujols' megadeal out there as well for comparison. Pujols signed a 10-year deal worth $240 million.

Another member of the Rangers' brass, co-chairman of the board Bob Simpson, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the Rangers aren't necessarily out of the bidding for Fielder, but would need Fielder's price to come down and accept a backloaded deal.

"If they come around to something we can do, we'll take a look at it," Simpson told the newspaper.

However, Simpson told reporters (via the Star-Telegram) that the team would rather re-sign Josh Hamilton than Fielder. Hamilton is a free agent after the season. Simpson said it's unlikely the team could afford both.

"My personal preference, at this moment, would be to re-sign him instead of having Fielder. But we could all debate that," Simpson said. "The organization has its feelings. Everybody dreams about having both. Sometimes you can’t have both at some level. If they came around to something we’d do, we’d look at him. But we don’t think it’s likely."

The Nationals and Rangers are the teams most often linked to Fielder, but don't be surprised if a "mystery team" gets involved -- and remember the "mystery team" has a pretty good track record the last two seasons, signing both Cliff Lee and Pujols.

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

Posted on: January 16, 2012 11:31 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Strasburg or Moore?



By Matt Snyder


Admission time: This is the matchup I've been most looking forward to in this series. In judging from the comments on occasion, it seems that some fans become angry when we speculate about what might happen in the future. I couldn't possibly be more in disagreement with that sentiment. Thinking is fun. There's no right answer yet, so why not just make an educated guess on which player will end up with the better career? In fact, I think it's much more boring in the offseason to discuss what has already happened than to try and surmise what is coming next.

So we're going to do some looking ahead here and ask that you do the same. We're going to go with two young pitchers who appear to have ace potential, but the sample sizes we have seen in the majors aren't very big -- and with one of these guys, he's already undergone major arm surgery.

It's Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals against Matt Moore of the Rays. A righty against a lefty -- and both with gobs of potential.

The case for Strasburg

This one could be spun whatever way one wants, based upon any preconceived biases. We could say Strasburg was the most heavily-hyped pitching prospect since Mark Prior ... And look how he turned out! Or we could say Strasburg is the most heavily-hyped pitching prospect since Roger Clemens.

Then there is the Tommy John surgery. There have been players that had their career ruined by the procedure, so focusing on them suits the Strasburg haters. Of course, nowadays the procedure is successful at a very high rate and you could go down the list of names like Tim Hudson, Chris Carpenter, John Axford, Jaime Garcia, Shaun Marcum, Brian Wilson, C.J. Wilson, etc. etc. etc.

Would You Rather Have
What if Strasburg stays healthy the rest of his career and does what he's done his entire life: Dominate the opposition. That's an ace for about 15 years.

Strasburg, 23, was the first overall pick in the MLB Draft after making collegiate hitters look silly for a few years. In 17 minor-league starts, he's 8-3 with a 1.90 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and 94 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings. In 92 major-league innings, Strasburg is 6-4 with a 2.54 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 116 strikeouts against just 19 walks. This past season, he was even more dominant upon his return from Tommy John surgery, putting up a 1.50 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and 24 strikeouts in 24 innings. He only walked two hitters.

He's going to have his innings capped at 160 this season to protect him in recovery, but starting in 2013 -- assuming full health -- watch out.

The case for Moore

Unlike Strasburg, Moore built himself into a huge prospect while in the minors. He wasn't hyped heading into the draft, as the Rays snagged him in the eighth round. Still, the 22-year-old left-hander was utterly dominant in 2011. He was promoted to Triple-A midseason, where in nine starts he went 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 79 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings. He was so good the Rays felt that was all the time he needed before hitting the bigs in September. Moore made a pair of relief appearances and then one start: Against the Yankees. He did not disappoint, striking out 11 hitters in five shutout innings, picking up in the all-important win as the Rays were chasing down the Red Sox in the wild-card race.

Then, manager Joe Maddon felt comfortable enough with the rookie (he'll still be a rookie in '12, by the way) to start him in Game 1 of the ALDS. And Moore was nails. He threw seven shutout innings against the mighty Rangers in the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the majors. He struck out six while allowing just two hits, two walks and a hit batsman.

On top of all that, the Rays have locked Moore up with an incredibly team-friendly contract through 2016 -- but club options could keep him away from free agency until 2018. On the other hand, Strasburg's agent is Scott Boras, so the Nats won't have near as easy a time in keeping him.

Our call

I think the question comes down to if you trust Strasburg's arm to stay healthy. Moore looks like he has perennial All-Star potential, but Strasburg has Hall of Fame talent. I like gambling, so I'm going to go with Strasburg. If you're conservative with selections like this -- and want to factor in contract status in a major way -- Moore is the pick. But I'm not conservative on issues like this. Gimme Strasburg and the possibility of him winning a handful of Cy Youngs.

Fan Vote:



For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: January 15, 2012 2:37 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2012 10:23 pm
 

Nats give Gio Gonzalez 5-year extension

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Not only did the Nationals avoid arbitration with recently acquired left-hander Gio Gonzalez, the team bought out the rest of his arbitration years and more, agreeing to a five-year, $42 million extension on Sunday, the team announced. The deal also includes options for 2017 and 2018.

The 26-year-old came from Oakland in a six-player deal on Dec. 23. An All-Star in 2011, Gonzalez was 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA last season. Overall, he's 38-32 with a 3.93 ERA in parts of four seasons in Oakland. In each of the last two seasons, he's won at least 15 games and thrown more than 200 innings.

Gonzalez will join Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann in the rotation, along with John Lannan and Chien-Ming Wang.

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

Posted on: January 13, 2012 1:21 am
 

Report: Twins to host 2014 All-Star Game

Target Field

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Minneapolis' Target Field will host the 2014 All-Star Game, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted.

The Mets' Citi Field, as long assumed, will host the 2013 game with the Twins' new park hosting in the next season, according to Nightengale. Major League Baseball has yet to announce the awarding of the 2013 game, but it will still be held in New York at the Mets' new park. That little detail is holding up the official announcement of the 2014 game, as well.

The Mets haven't hosted an All-Star Game since 1964. Commissioner Bud Selig has hinted strongly the Mets would get the 2013 game.

The Twins haven't hosted an All-Star Game since 1985 when it was played at the Metrodome. The Twins also hosted the 1965 game at Metropolitan Stadium.

The Cubs had also been rumored to have bid on the 2014 game to celebrate the centennial of Wrigley Field. 

The National League and American League traditionally alternate hosting the game, but that tradition was broken in 2007 when the game was played in San Francisco (after being played in Pittsburgh in 2006) to accommodate the 2008 game to be held in the final season of old Yankee Stadium.

The Marlins and Rays are the only franchises to have never hosted the game, while the Nationals haven't hosted the game in the franchise's current home of Washington D.C., but the Expos hosted in 1982. Washington D.C. last hosted the game in 1969 when the current Rangers were the Washington Senators. The Padres, Phillies, Reds and Yankees haven't hosted the game at their current stadiums.

After the Mets host the All-Star Game in 2013, the Dodgers will become the franchise with the longest drought of hosting the game. The Dodgers haven't hosted the game since 1980.

The 2012 game will be held in Kansas City. That game was announced in June, 2010 -- roughly 25 months before the game was to be held. The 2013 game is 18 months away and it has yet to be announced. Last week the Sports Business Journal reported the hold up had nothing to do with the Mets ownership situation, but instead was the logistics of scheduling the event were making it difficult to make the game official. The 2008 game at Yankee Stadium was announced in January of 2007, as well.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: January 12, 2012 1:39 pm
 

Interminable Prince-to-Nationals rumors live on



By Matt Snyder


If it's starting to feel like an inevitability that top remaining free agent Prince Fielder will end up with the Washington Nationals, that's because nearly all of the chatter is focused on a Nats-Prince marriage. The funny thing is, some of the local beat writers continue to report that the Nationals won't bid on Fielder -- along with a big caveat.

Take Wednesday's report from MLB.com's Nationals beat writer Bill Ladson. The first line of the report says "there is a '99 percent' chance that the Nationals will not sign" Fielder. Of course, it later says the Nationals aren't willing to "give Fielder anything close" to the contract that the Angels gave Pujols.

Related content
Step back and think about it for a second, though. The teams most connected to Fielder at this point are the Nationals, Mariners, Rangers and Orioles. The Blue Jays have been mentioned and Wednesday ESPN.com's Buster Olney even said the Dodgers "should" try to ink Fielder. The one thing we know about all of those teams is that -- while some of them could afford to do so -- they aren't willing to pay Pujols money for Fielder. If we can gather anything from the reports of the past six weeks, it's that Fielder isn't going to get a mega-deal.

So it's easy to say the Nationals won't sign Fielder "at his current asking price," but that doesn't mean they won't sign him. In fact, as Nationals Journal reported Thursday morning, Fielder's agent Scott Boras met with Nationals owners Ted and Mark Lerner Wednesday night.

It's going to be interesting to see what happens with the robust slugger, who will sign before spring training begins (MLB.com) -- just don't start counting teams out when you see a caveat like "at his current price." Asking prices fall. Just ask Ryan Madson -- another Boras client, by the way -- and the Cincinnati Reds.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: January 11, 2012 2:51 pm
 

Report: Strasburg will have innings capped at 160



By Matt Snyder


Just as the Nationals did with Jordan Zimmermann last season, they will handle Stephen Strasburg with kid gloves in 2012. Strasburg, about 17 months removed from Tommy John surgery, will head into the season with an innings cap of 160, reports Bill Ladson of MLB.com.

Presumably, this is a soft cap in the sense that he could go an inning or two over in his final outing of the campaign. Zimmermann, who had Tommy John surgery roughly a year earlier than Strasburg, threw 161 1/3 innings last season before being shut down as a precautionary measure by Washington. So it's no surprise that the Nats will handle their future ace in the exact same manner.

Zimmermann had a very promising season, too, and it looks like the young duo will join Gio Gonzalez for a formidable threesome atop the rotation for years to come. The 25-year-old Zimmermann had a 3.18 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 124 strikeouts in his return to the hill.

Strasburg, 23, has been dominant at every level in his career. He's 6-4 with a 2.54 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 116 strikeouts in just 92 major-league innings. Upon returning last September on a very strict pitch count, Strasburg was even better. He had a 1.50 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and 24 strikeouts against just two walks in 24 innings.

With the 160 innings, give or take, Strasburg will still be under wraps a bit this coming season before he's given a chance to fully break out in 2013, assuming full health.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: January 8, 2012 1:10 am
 

Several Hall cases come with asterisks



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The whispers and suspicions of steroid use have already seem to keep one player with no-doubt, sure-fire numbers out of the Hall of Fame. Despite a lack of concrete evidence or failed drug test, Jeff Bagwell and his 449 home run, career OPS+ of 149 and 79.9 WAR is left outside of Cooperstown and will likely still be on the outside after results of this year's balloting are announced on Tuesday.

Hall of Fame coverage

Next year's ballot will have the greater test of what the use of performance enhancing drugs means to the Hall of Fame -- if Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens can't get into the Hall because of their ties to PEDs, it's unlikely anyone will.

But we've seen Bonds and Clemens in federal court. Mark McGwire admitted his use and Rafael Palmeiro tested positive. The only test Bagwell has failed is the eyeball test. And that mark has kept him out of Cooperstown. It's unlikely he'll be the last to fail that test.

As we continue the look at the future of the Hall of Fame and the candidacy of players active today, there's no more interesting category than the asterisk guys -- some who have tested positive for PEDs, some who have been rumored to have used them, some who have been suspected and some who just don't pass the eyeball test.

Ryan Braun -- No matter what happens in Braun's appeal or the rest of his career, he will always wear the scarlet letter of a failed drug test on his chest. Braun isn't the first MVP winner to be linked to steroids, but he is the first to fail a test in the same year he won the MVP.

At 28, Braun's exploits on the field are yet to be Hall-worthy, but like Bagwell he already has a Rookie of the Year trophy, as well as an MVP by the time he turned 27. There's nothing in Braun's Baseball-Reference.com page that suggests he won't someday have a case to be enshrined in Cooperstown. In his first five years in the big leagues, he's averaged more than 30 homers a season, finished in the top 5 in MVP voting twice, bringing home the trophy this year. In each of his first five seasons, he's earned MVP votes and he's seemingly getting better and better every season.  If it weren't for the news of his failed MVP test, he'd certainly be on Saturday's list instead of this one.

Jason Giambi -- A very good player with a good career, Giambi will instead be defined as one of the poster children for the steroid era. Even without the asterisk, Giambi's bid for the Hall would be difficult. Even playing in an offensive era, Giambi was an exception offensive player, putting up a .281/.404/.525 line through the 2011 season, hitting 428 home runs. 

In the minds of many, Giambi's case is shut by his performance with the Yankees, where he failed to meet expectations after signing a seven-year, $120 million deal before the 2002 season. The Yankees didn't win a World Series during his tenure with the team, appearing in just one World Series. And then there's the fact the team won a World Series the year after he left.

And then there's the steroids. Giambi reportedly admitted to using steroids during the offseason from 2001 to 2003 and also using human growth hormone in 2003. Giambi's best seasons -- from 1999 to 2003 -- are suspect in the timing of his use of steroids.

Manny Ramirez -- One of the best pure hitters in the history of the game, Ramirez was a controversial figure before being suspended twice for failing drug tests. While there are reasonable objections to Rafael Palmeiro's case as a mere compiler of stats and milestones, Ramirez was a force of nature on the field and an enigma off of it.

Ramirez, who is attempting to play in 2012, has 555 career homers and a .996 career OPS. With 2,574 hits, 1,831 RBI, 1,544 runs and a .312/.411/.585 line, not to mention a stretch of eight consecutive seasons where he finished in the top 10 of MVP voting and two World Series rings, Ramirez was a transcendent talent. He will be remembered by any fan of baseball, he just won't be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Alex Rodriguez -- Rodriguez's case will be much like Barry Bonds -- there's no question he's one of the elite players in the history of the game, but there are also the steroid questions. Rodriguez admitted to using steroids from 2001 to 2003 while he was with the Rangers.

Like Bonds, there will be those who say Rodriguez was a Hall of Fame talent before he allegedly used steroids. And like Bonds, he may finish his career as the career leader in home runs. But unlike Bonds, Rodriguez has admitted to his use of steroids. If Bonds gets in, Rodriguez has a chance. If Bonds doesn't, he doesn't.

Ivan Rodriguez -- Jose Canseco claimed to have personally injected Rodriguez with steroids while the two were teammates in Texas, which is more indictment than anything that has been pinned on Bagwell.

What's different, perhaps, about Rodriguez is that the shadow of steroids is often cast on home run hitters, and while Rodriguez was a very good offensive player -- hitting .296/.334/.464 with 311 home runs and 2,844 hits -- during his career, his defense has always been his calling card. Rodriguez is on the short list with Johnny Bench as the best defensive catcher in the history of the game -- and has caught 201 more games than any other player in the history of the game. While steroids may not have helped him throw out 46 percent of baserunners during his career, if he did use them, they would certainly help his day-to-day recovery and dealing with rigors of catching so many games.

Without the spectre of steroids, Rodriguez is a first-ballot, no-doubt Hall of Famer. But that's not the world we live in. There are voters who, right or wrong, refuse to vote for anyone with a hint of steroid abuse on their resume, and Rodriguez has that, along with the rest.

Miguel Tejada -- Even without steroid accusations, Tejada would be a borderline Hall of Fame selection at best. With his name in the Mitchell Report and connected to Palmeiro's fall, there's probably zero chance he gets in.

Tejada will go down as one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball history, hitting .285/.336/.457 with 2,362 hits and 304 home runs in parts of 15 seasons, winning the MVP in 2002 and finishing in the top 20 six other times. Only Cal Ripken Jr. (345) and Rodriguez (344) have hit more than Tejada's 291 homers as a shortstop.

On the other hand, Tejada at his best was a below-average defensive shortstop and his career OPS+ is 108 and his (Baseball-Reference.com) WAR is 42.5, 22nd among active players behind the likes of Bobby Abreu, Mike Cameron and J.D. Drew. Tejada is unlikely to earn a plaque in Cooperstown, and steroids are probably only part of the reason.

Coming Monday: 2012 Hall of Fame inductee(s) announced
Monday: Looking ahead at the 2013 first-year eligibles
Monday: Looking at the '14, '15 and '16 first-year eligibles 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 2:56 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 3:02 pm
 

Prince Fielder-to-Nationals rumors won't go away

By Matt Snyder

Considering he's by far the biggest free agent left unsigned, Prince Fielder's name has been -- and will continue to be -- mentioned all over the place in rumors. The latest comes courtesy of Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. He reports that an "MLB official" says "word is spreading in the industry" that the Nationals are the favorite to land Fielder.

CBSSports.com's own Jon Heyman had previously reported that a Nationals player believes they are "shooting for" Fielder. And Monday, in response to the Haudricourt report, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times brings us the following: "According to team sources, the party line remains the same: Unless the price -- specifically in years -- drops, the Nationals are unlikely to be that landing spot."

FREE AGENT TRACKER

So what to believe?

Well, I'd say all of it. Here's why: The Nationals probably do want the price to drop, but are also interested in signing him if and when the price becomes right. Unless the Cubs or Rangers come out and blow away Prince and his agent, Scott Boras, what club is left to outbid the deep-pocketed Nationals (remember, they have the richest owner in baseball)? The Mariners or Orioles? Please. The Blue Jays? Maybe. If Fielder wants to go to the AL East and north of the border. Or he could join one of the most promising up-and-coming teams in baseball while staying in the NL.

So it seems as though the feeling that the Nationals will end up with Prince Fielder is very logical, and that's why they are continually speculated to be the frontrunner, even if management is telling all the local beat writers they aren't in on him. Just because they reportedly haven't offered him anything yet doesn't mean they won't.

Fielder, 27, hit .299/.415/.566 with 38 home runs, 120 RBI and finished third in MVP voting last season. While many question his long-term durability due to him being rather large, he's played an average of 160 games per season since being up full-time. He hasn't played less than 157 in a season and appeared in all 162 last year.

If the Nationals did land Prince, watch out. He would join Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos, Jayson Werth and Michael Morse on offense, while they all waited on big-time prospects Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper to join the party. Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann anchor the rotation while Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard are the back-end of the bullpen. That's a lot of youth and talent.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com