Tag:Washington Nationals
Posted on: June 9, 2009 8:22 pm

Nats could end up with top two picks in 2010

Largely overlooked in the conversation over whether or not the Washington Nationals will be able to sign first-overall pick Stephen Strasburg is this:

The Nats currently are on pace to easily finish with the worst record in the majors. If they do, they will again pick No. 1 overall in next summer's draft.

If, at the same time, they fail to sign Strasburg, then they will get a compensatory pick in 2010 -- as they did this year (No. 10 overall pick), when they failed to sign their first-round choice from last year, pitcher Aaron Crow.

This happens, the Nats could wind up with both the Nos. 1 and 2 picks in the 2010 draft.

Of course, it would be small consolation. They would be skewered by the many in the media and by their rapidly diminishing fan base in the interim for failing to sign first-round picks in two consecutive years. And the failures would seriously slow the development of their major-league club, such as it is.

But if Strasburg's "advisor", Scott Boras, demands a Daisuke Matsuzaka-like $50 million deal and will not come down, all will not be lost if the Nats stand firm and refuse to pay.

Besides, after Strasburg sits out the year and cools his heels with some independent league team, the Nats could even pick him again next year with one of those first two picks. But Strasburg would have to consent.

Posted on: March 3, 2009 4:37 pm

The rites (and writes) of spring

VIERA, Fla. -- Ah, Florida. Driving across the central part of the state the other day on State Road 70, en route from one training camp to the next, and this is what I saw:

-- A handful of cattle farms and several signs near them announcing, "Beef. It's what's for dinner." And it was, for me. That evening, in fact.

-- Two signs advertising wild boar hunting. No thanks.

-- A guy urinating on the side of the road. I mean, he wasn't even attempting to hide behind his pickup truck. We're not talking complete backwoods -- State Road 70 is only a two-lane road for the most part, but it is one of the main options to cut across central Florida. So the guy's pickup was parked on the side of the road, and there he was, not even ducking behind an open passenger's door, just peein' into the grass under the bright afternoon sun. He kind of casually looked over his shoulder as I whizzed past (well, you know what I mean).

-- A couple of wild boar on the side of the road. At least, I think that's what they were. They sure didn't look like coyotes. It was a better scene than the guy by the pickup truck.

-- Gary's Homemade Ice Cream. Made sure to pull in there.

-- "Three Amigos Chinese and Mexican To Go." The sign also advertised "Chef Chang." Love Mexican food. Really like Chinese food. Passed.


Bill Ladson, who covers the Washington Nationals for MLB.com, had his car window smashed by a foul ball while the club was working out Tuesday.

Now, that in itself would not have been all that interesting. What is wildly entertaining, though, is the fact that it's the second time in three springs now that Ladson will have had to return a rental car for the same reason.

In the spring of '07, he was parked close enough to one of the practice fields that Chris Snelling drilled a ball through his front wind shield.

Monday, infield prospect Kory Casto rocketed a ball through Ladson's driver's side window.

Ladson was talking with outfielder Elijah Dukes in the clubhouse when media relations director John Dever approached and said, "Bill, I've got some bad news for you." One of the security guards out by the field recognized Ladson's car.

So the poor fellow was to make an unplanned 45-minute drive (one way) to the Orlando airport later Tuesday to return the car. We'll see how understanding Budget is.

Two years ago, Ladson was renting from Alamo. What did they say when Ladson returned their car with his sad story?

"Nothing, actually," said the serial rental-car-window destroyer. "They understood."

Already, the Nationals are talking of moving their media parking spaces.

"We're actually talking about how, if people annoy us, we're going to move their parking into the outfield," Dever joked.

Likes: Nationals outfielder Lastings Milledge, who's really grown up from his very youthful days with the Mets. ... The distinctive Law & Order theme they play at Space Coast Stadium here as the umpires take the field. ... U2 on David Letterman all week. ... Friday Night Lights is wonderful this season. ... XM radio in rental cars. ... Everybody Loves Raymond and Seinfeld reruns late night in the hotel room.

Dislikes: I don't mean to whine, but ... brrr, it has been chilly down here the past few days.

Sunblock day? Technically, yes. But the scoreboard reads 59 degrees right now. The "wind chill" makes it feel like the high 40s. I know you folks living in snow country feel real bad about this.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day

"What the people need
"Is a way to make 'em smile
"It ain't so hard to do if you know how
"Gotta get a message
"Get it on through"

-- Doobie Brothers, Listen to the Music




Posted on: March 3, 2009 4:36 pm
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Posted on: March 1, 2009 9:44 am
Edited on: March 1, 2009 9:48 am

Team in turmoil

That the end was at hand for Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden was inevitable. The only question left was whether he would resign or be fired.

The firing was expected Monday, on a day off for the Nationals this spring. The resignation simply meant Bowden could read the writing on the wall.

Either way, this was a cat who had been through eight lives and was on life support in the ninth.

Whether Bowden is guilty or not -- and he proclaims his innocence -- the bonus-skimming scandal with Latin American prospects that enveloped the Nationals has badly stained the organization. And it's stained Bowden. We're not talking a simple case of he-said, she-said. He is under federal investigation in the growing skimming scandal.

However that investigation turns out personally for Bowden, as the GM, he's responsible for the actions of those he employs. Jose Rijo, a special assistant to Bowden, was fired on Friday. So was Jose Baez, who was the Nats' director of operations in the Dominican Republic. The club also cut ties with Rijo's baseball academy in the Dominican.

Even is Bowden somehow is absolved in this sordid mess, he's guilty, at the very least, of what the NCAA would call "lack of institutional control." And it's hard to see Bowden recovering from this and resuming his career in baseball -- in any capacity.

Mike Rizzo, the club's assistant general manager and vice-president of baseball operations, is expected to succeed Bowden, at least on an interim basis. The Nationals hired Rizzo, who had been director of scouting for the Arizona Diamondbacks, before the 2007 season




Posted on: December 10, 2008 8:59 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2008 5:11 am

Teixeira talks heating up

LAS VEGAS -- The market for Mark Teixeira is taking shape, according to agent Scott Boras, and while still fluid, it is described as having reached the stage where the slugger could make a decision "in a short period of time."

"He's received offers from numerous clubs," Boras said Wednesday at the winter meetings. "We've been on the phone all day. Now we'll have meetings to go through the economic process."

At least five clubs are seriously in on Teixeira, and sources familiar with the talks say at least four of those five have offers of at least eight years in to him: Boston, the Los Angeles Angels, Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles. The New York Yankees have been involved in the discussions but have not made an offer.

The Red Sox, who were in meetings late into the night Wednesday, is widely thought in the industry to be the leader of the Teixeira sweepstakes.

It is believed that at least one of the offers ranges up to $176 million, or an average annual value of $22 million per season. However it plays out, one person with knowledge of the talks said he expects Teixeira to command a larger deal that the seven-year, $161 million package pitcher CC Sabathia has agreed to with the New York Yankees.

Boras declined to discuss specific teams or contract terms -- he wouldn't even confirm the number of clubs seriously speaking with the free agent -- but said Teixeira is weighing several factors, including family and economic considerations, team strength, ownership and commitment to winning.

"It's not something that is imminent," Boras said. "We're going back and forth with the teams. It's moving in the right direction. I can't tell you a time frame."

The five teams involved in the talks fit various parameters of Teixeira's expectations. It is believed by some that Teixeira, who is a Maryland native, prefers to play in the east. However, Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who has spoken with Teixeira, said this week that he thinks Teixeiria's experience in Anaheim last season would make him amenable to returning.

Boras said Teixeira has met with all of the teams with whom he's currently speaking, and they've addressed his desires.

As for the winning part of the equation -- in a comment that seemed to describe the travails of the Nationals and Orioles -- Boras said, "If a team's building and can't immediately win, then they have a lot of answers as to why that will be a short (window) until they do."

Boras has evidence of that in his fleet of clients with Ivan Rodriguez, the catcher who signed with Detroit before the 2004 season. The Tigers were wretched, and three years later they were playing in the World Series.

Among the things Teixeira is asking for is a no-trade clause. After bouncing from Texas to Atlanta to the Angels over the past two seasons, and now empowered to protect himself via his first trip to free agency, Teixeira is said to be insistent on that.

Posted on: November 10, 2008 9:11 pm

Nationals acquire Marlins' Olsen, Willingham

The Florida Marlins, looking to avoid costly player payroll increases via arbitration, have traded left-handed pitcher Scott Olsen and outfielder Josh Willingham to the Washington Nationals for a three-player package in a deal that allows both clubs to accomplish what they're after, sources tell CBSSports.com.

The deal is expected to be announced on Tuesday, when the Nationals will host a press conference featuring both Olsen and Willingham.

Washington general manager Jim Bowden has vowed that the Nationals, after christening their new stadium with an embarrassing worst-record-in-baseball finish last summer, will aggressively seek to improve themselves this winter.

The Marlins, meanwhile, are following their usual blueprint of dealing away players as they become more expensive in favor of re-stocking their supply of young players. In exchange for Olsen and Willingham, the Marlins will receive young second baseman Emilio Bonifacio and two Class A players in right-handed pitcher P.J. Dean and outfielder Jake Smolinski.

Both Olsen and Willingham should help the Nationals immediately. Olsen, 24, was 8-11 with a 4.20 ERA last summer and, perhaps most importantly, worked 201 2/3 innings. Washington's rotation is a wreck, and Olsen by far will become the quintet's workhorse as things stand now. Tim Redding and John Lannan led the Nationals with 180 innings pitched last season.

No Nationals starter won more than 10 games.

Meantime, the Nationals ranked a lowly 14th in the NL in runs scored in 2008, and Willingham, 29, should help them improve in that area. He's is expected to play left field alongside Lastings Milledge in center and Elijah Dukes in right. Austin Kearns is in the mix, too -- and could become trade bait as the winter progresses and Bowden looks to make other moves. Willingham hit 15 homers and had 51 RBI for the Marlins in 2008.

The Marlins, who also spoke with Texas are believed to have spoken with Atlanta about Olsen, like all three of the young players they acquired. The acquisition of Bonifacio undoubtedly will lead to questions surrounding whether they intend to trade incumbent second baseman Dan Uggla, and the short-term answer is, not likely.

Despite their ever-present financial constraints, the Marlins have targeted Uggla as one of their building blocks. Bonifacio, who could slide over and play third base, addresses one of Florida's primary objectives this winter, which is to add speed.

Dean is just 20 and was chosen as Washington's pitcher of the year at short-season Vermont. The Marlins have had great success in the past identifying young pitchers and acquiring them after scouting them in short-season rookie-ball. That's how they nabbed both Dontrelle Willis and A.J. Burnett.

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