Posted on: July 6, 2010 1:30 am

White Sox cooling on Dunn

Adam Dunn White Sox general manager Ken Williams has cooled his pursuit of Adam Dunn, the Chicago Sun-Times ' Joe Cowley writes .

The Nationals' asking price is too high for the White Sox. Quoting unnamed sources, Cowley writes Washington is "asking for the moon" in exchange for Dunn.

Although reports have linked the White Sox and Prince Fielder, Cowley shoots that down on two lines: 1. Scott Boras and 2. Fielder reportedly wants a Ryan Howard-type contract when he becomes a free agent after the season.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: July 4, 2010 10:46 am

Nationals to go back to middle-infield rotation

Ian Desmond The Washington Nationals' double-play tandem of Ian Desmond (pictured) and Cristian Guzman will be short-lived, as Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports .

Manager Jim Riggleman said he will return the middle infield to a four-man rotation that the team had earlier in the year although Desmond will continue to get the bulk of playing time at shortstop.

This means that Adam Kennedy will start seeing more time at second base in addition to Alberto Gonzalez at the expense of Cristian Guzman.

"I kind of fell into the trap of Cristian Guzman tearing the cover off the ball," Riggleman said. Guzman is hitting .293/.336/.373 on the season and received more playing time in May when Guzman hit .381.

"It became too hard not to put him in there," Riggleman added. "When I did that, I let a little rust get on Kennedy and Gonzalez. I think I have to avoid the temptation of playing the hot hand and keep Kennedy and the others involved. It seems to work better for us."

Kennedy is trade bait, which is one reason he'll start playing more often. However, he's playing poorly enough that his suitors are limited as his OPS is below .450 since the beginning of June which could be attributed to less playing time. Altogether, he's hitting .236/.314/.315.

Gonzalez, a former Yankee farmhand, is at .296/.333/.352 with an ability to play second, short and third. Desmond isn't much better, registering as an average fielder at short and hitting a weak .256/.293/.382, but the Nationals understandably want to get him as many looks as possible to determine his future with the team.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: July 3, 2010 7:48 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2010 12:56 am

Could Strasburg's start cost him All-Star nod?

Stephen Strasburg I may be alone, but I'm kinda Strasburg-ed out.

The story of the last week has been, "should Stephen Strasburg make the All-Star team?"

Every day for the last few, we've gotten an opinion from random people, players, managers, broadcasters and former players, plus pundits and the rest -- Saturday's versions were a no from Joe Girardi and a yes from Miguel Cabrera .

Saturday's start against the Mets may calm those stories a bit. Strasburg went just five innings against the Mets on Saturday afternoon, giving up four hits, two runs, three walks and five strikeouts. He didn't factor in the decision in the Nationals' 6-5 comeback victory.

Strasburg is going to be really, really good and has shown flashes of being everything Bob Costas said in his drooling during Strasburg's first game.

When it comes down to it, Strasburg's 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA. That's good, but when that's all there is to go on, is it enough?

If one rookie pitcher "deserves" to make the All-Star squad, it's not Strasburg, it's Jaime Garcia. St. Louis' lefty has thrown more innings (94 1/3), has a better ERA (2.10) and his opponents batting average against (.220) is only four points higher than Strasburg's.

Strasburg should make plenty of All-Star appearances, but maybe just not this one.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: July 2, 2010 8:30 pm

Nationals bring El Duque back

Orlando Hernandez El Duque is back. The Nationals inked Orlando Hernandez to a minor league deal, and the Cuban will begin a throwing program before working his way back to the big leagues.

The Cuban hasn't appeared in a major-league game since 2007 when he pitched 147 2/3 innings, starting 24 games and relieving in three for the Mets. He posted a 3.72 ERA. Hernandez pitched briefly in the minor leagues the last two seasons, starting eight games for the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate in 2009 and posting a 2.45 ERA in eight relief appearances over 11 innings.

It's always fun to hear of a 44-year-old making a return to baseball, especially someone like El Duque and his fascinating windup, but it's hard to imagine where the Nationals can fit him in if they intend to use him in the rotation. Right now, the rotation is in tatters but by the time Hernandez is ready, they may have a Stephen Strasburg-Livan Hernandez (El Duque's half-brother)-Chien-Ming Wang-Jason Marquis-Scott Olson lineup, and it's doubtful Hernandez can crack that.

The Nationals first acquired Hernandez after 2003, when the team was still in Montreal, as part of a three-team trade that saw the Expos ship out Javier Vazquez. However, El Duque needed shoulder surgery and missed the entire season, signing with the White Sox as a free agent after the year and nabbing his fourth (three with the Yankees) World Series title.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: July 2, 2010 3:48 pm

Nats manager wouldn't make Strasburg All-Star

There has been plenty of debate lately about whether Nationals rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg deserves to be an All-Star after such a short stay in the majors. Well, count the right-hander's own manager as a member of the "no" camp.

As reported by the Washington Post, Jim Riggleman appeared on Sirius XM's MLB Network on Friday and said this when asked about the issue:

"Any time you have a player you want to sing their praises and do the politically correct thing and pump them up, give them accolades about [how] they deserve the honor. But in this case, this is a little different. You've got a lot of guys out there who may never get on an All-Star team again, but they've actually earned it this year . This is the 2010 All-Star game. It's not who's gonna be the best player ever; it's 2010, and who's earned it.

"If you put a gun to my head and said should he or shouldn't he, I would probably say no.
-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: July 2, 2010 11:59 am
Edited on: July 2, 2010 12:00 pm

Riggleman: Let's stay together

Jim Riggleman Despite being in last place, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman likes his team and wants to keep it together for the future. How they play for the next month will determine whether, or at least to what extent, that happens.

The Nationals are 11 1/2 games back in the National League East, but there's reason for hopefulness -- and not just because of Stephen Strasburg. Washington is 10 games under .500, but on pace to finish with 71 wins, which would be the team's best finish in three years. With a little luck, they might even escape last place, something they've done just once since leaving Montreal in 2004.

The Nationals are in a sort of netherworld as the trade deadline approaches -- not buyers, but not in position for a fire sale, either. Riggleman has told his team, according to MASNsports.com, that the more they show they're headed in the right direction in the next few weeks, the more likely they are to stay together.
"My message to them was, 'Let's get this thing going so we're not taking this team apart. Let's get this thing going to the point where we become more of a factor in the division, and we're able to win enough ballgames to justify keeping the team together,'" Riggleman said. "There's a lot of season to play, but there's not a lot of season to the trade deadline. So we need to make a move in that direction sooner than later, because if we want to keep this ballclub together, we need to do that." The Nationals' best trade chip is Adam Dunn, who is in the final year of his contract. Dunn has said he wants to stay in D.C., but the White Sox and Angels have been rumored to have interest.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: July 2, 2010 12:51 am

Hernandez baffles Mets, drops ERA below 3

Livan Hernandez Livan Hernandez just keeps on truckin'.

After dispatching of the Mets on Thursday, Hernandez' ERA is below 3 at a sterling 2.98 although he has just a 6-4 record.

Hernandez has been considered fool's gold all year as his xFIP before silencing the Mets was 4.91. That was on the backbone of walking 32 and whiffing 44 over 98 2/3 innings, which is a poor K/BB ratio. However, he whiffed seven Mets while allowing just one walk, so he may only be getting stronger.

In addition to a poor K/BB ratio, what made many take his results with a grain of salt was the fact Hernandez allowed a .266 batting average on balls in play, far away from the major-league average of .300 and personal career average of .310. He's due for an extreme regression to the mean, but until then, fantasy owners and the Nats will take Hernandez's baffling success.

Hernandez was once one of baseball's better pitchers with his best season coming in 2003 with the then-Montreal Expos when he twirled 233 1/3 innings of 3.20 ERA ball. Those 233 1/3 innings led the NL, and he would follow that up with consecutive MLB-leading seasons of 255 and 246 1/3 innings. He also helped pitch San Francisco to the 2002 NL pennant.

However, things began to fall apart when Hernandez joined Arizona in a mid-2006 trade from the Nationals. While he pitched admirably the rest of the way, he turned in a poor 2007 and spent the next two years splitting time between two teams a year. He began 2008 with Minnesota and posted a 5.48 ERA in 23 starts. The Rockies selected him off waivers but saw Livan twirl a brutal 8.03 ERA in eight starts.

Hernandez then joined the Mets for 2009 but had a similar stint for them than he did with the Twins. He then returned to Washington as a free agent the same season and made eight starts. After waiting by the phone most of free agency, Hernandez signed a contract with Washington during spring training and now is having his most impressive season (according to ERA) to date.

There's no way Hernandez will keep this up, and at age 35 with tons of innings behind him, his time will soon be over. However, one should take the time to appreciate one of the best workhorses of the first decade of the 21st century.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: July 1, 2010 12:25 pm

Teams lining up for Haren

Dan Haren While Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee are the marquee starting pitchers thought to be available at the deadline, it looks like plenty of teams are turning their attention toward the Diamondbacks' Dan Haren.

Various reports have listed the Yankees, Twins, Phillies, Nationals, Angels and Tigers as having interest in Haren, and Haren told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this week that "I'd like to play [in St. Louis] again."

Why all the attention for a guy with a 4.56 ERA and $29 million left on his contract for the next two years? For one thing, this season looks like an anomaly. Haren has given up a ton of hits this season, leading the National League at 131, but his high BABIP of .345 indicates he's having some bad luck with balls finding holes.

Haren is fifth among all active pitchers in fewest walks and hits per inning (WHIP) in his career, he's won a minimum of 14 games each of the past five years, and he's a workhorse -- 33 or more starts and at least 216 innings for five straight seasons.

Haren is pitching better lately, and his June ERA was 3.19 in six starts. He also figures to benefit from getting out of Arizona and off the worst pitching staff in baseball.

If Haren, 29, settles back into the consistency he's always shown, he'd be a nice pickup despite his contract. Oswalt is due at least $18 million for 2011 (including a $2 million buyout of a club option for 2012), and after this season Lee is going to get a contract that makes Haren's look like pocket change. 

-- David Andriesen

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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