A Washington Nationals Blog

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Chief Wins Out


The Chief Cordero won his arbitration hearing yesterday in Arizona. As a result, Chad will receive $4.15 million for this season. The Nats were arguing that he should only be paid $3.65 million. This is a HUGE raise for the Chief who made only a little over a half million for last season. This loss by the Nats, and the fact that were not able to reach a long term agreement with Cordero prior to this last-day arb hearing raises a number of questions about the Nationals' plans for the closer in the long term. We all already know that the Chief was shopped around along with Ryan Church for most of the off-season. Its clear that for the Nats, starting pitching is more important than a closer. But what isn't clear is exactly how willing they are to part with Cordero. Rumors about a deal with Boston seemed to hinge on a Cordero for two starting prospects type of deal.

For me, this constant shopping and the lack of any longer term deal for such a young and fairly proven pitcher like the Chief mean that the Nats are not willing to take a long-term deal now and would rather wait and see if the can't unload Cordero at some point during the season to a team like Boston or even the Indians whoo might be looking for a longer term solution at the closing spot.

Now, just because this is what I see doesn't mean I think that its a good idea. The Nationals decision to gamble on arbitration for $500K may prove to be penny wise and a couple million dollars foolish if they end up still holding onto Cordero at the end of the season and find themselves looking at another 2 years of arbitration. They might end up signing him at the end of THIS season to the same long term deal at a higher cost. While money for the Lerners isn't really an option, I don't think that this outcome was what either Kasten or Bowden expected out of the deal.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tickets Available

The Nationals website reported this morning that the individual game tickets for the 2007 season will be going on sale Saturday at 9AM sharp. This has special impact for those, like me, that don't have the financial wherewithal to afford a full season package and need to pick up particular games (i.e. Opening Day, the O's, the Tigers) that aren't included in the 20 game packages. I DO have one complaint about this though. Even though I renewed my seats in December (I checked the bank just to make sure) I haven't heard ANYTHING from the Nats regarding an early purchase session for season ticket holders. I understand that as a partial plan holder I do not in fact walk on water, but I DO hope that my package along with my desire to spend MORE money on seats at other games would lead the Season Ticket and Marketing folks to give me the opportunity to have at least a day in advance before the rest of the world gets a crack. And if this is too much to ask, then at least a form email sometime around now saying, thanks for paying us in December for what you won't get until April, hope to see you then! Or at least they could have sent me my promised MP3 player by now. But I digress. As far as the more important issue of whether season ticket holders get a preview buying period, the emails are out, and the call will happen soon, like tomorrow.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Nats Sign Belliard

Bowden announced on Sunday that they have signed Ronnie Belliard to a non-guaranteed minor league deal. While this deal could just be seen as a continued effort by Kas-den to sign more backup players and fill out the minor league roster, this particular signing may have a more sinister consequence.
Basically since last fall, it has been a foregone conclusion that the middle infield would be Lopez-Guzman. This was confirmed over the winter with the trade of Vidro, making room for Lopez to move over to second. But reports have now been circulating that Guzman, who is recovering from shoulder surgery may not be 100%. This would mean that the Nats need somebody, anybody up the middle. Minus of signing Belliard: he's not exactly the physical build of your proto-typical 2B. Plus of signing Belliard, Tony Womack, hero of the 2001 World Series, will likely not make the team. Just to put this all in perspective, Zimm graduated from high school in 2001. So while I don't see Belliard as a huge plus, as Capitol Punishment reports, a $750K signing isn't a bad deal.

On other topics, tomorrow is the big day for the Chief. It looks as though a long-term deal couldn't be reached between Cordero and the Nats, so the trip to Arizona for arbitration is now the next step. Bowden was on News4 with the soon to be retiring George Michael bashing his closer tonight ahead of the arb-hearing. Bowden claims that since the Chief put up only 29 Saves and a 3.19 ERA last season he didn't deserve Brad Lidge type money, so he was willing to fight over the $500K. I have two problems with this position: 1. Signing Cordero isn't only about what he will do this season, its about what he will continue to contribute in the next 2-3 seasons. Signing him and keeping him happy now is how you make sure this happens. 2. Using numbers from 2006 for a closer is just cheap. The Nats had no chance to put a lcoser to use, Chad only had 33 SVOs, meaning that to say he 'only' got 29 is just unrealistic. Does that mean that after this year he deserves less money just because our starting pitching sucked and he only had 19 saves in 22 chances? That is just a rediculous position and Bowden is running the risk of damaging the teams relationship with a consistent and productive bullpen member.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

*update*

Well, Banks of the Anacostia is reporting that the Nationals are looking to sign Dimitri Young. Now, the logic in this possible signing needs to be looked at in 2 ways. First, what exactly are the Nationals planning on doing with a 34 year old player that posted the following stats last season:

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO OBP SLG AVG
47 169 19 43 4 1 7 23 70 11 37 .298 .414 .254

Oh, and did I mention that mlb.com lists Young as a DH? Now that doesn't exactly instill confidence in his ability to contribute defensively off the bench does it? Now I loved D-Ward last season, but seriously, how many slightly older, more than slightly overweight off the bench hitters do the Nats think are going to work out? But if we do sign Young in the great Nationals tradition of Ward and, lest we forget, Carlos Baerga, then congrats to Dimitri, we salute you!

Just for fun here are Baerga's 2005 and Ward's 2006 numbers

Ward
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO OBP SLG AVG
98 130 17 40 10 0 7 26 71 15 27 .380 .546 .308

Baerga (2005)
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG
93 158 18 40 7 0 2 19 7 17 .253 .318 .335

What can $850K get you?







Well, the short answer is: a condo in Dupont or, apparently a staff pitching ace. The Nationals first aribitration of the season ended with John Patterson on the losing end of a deal that got him $850,000. While this is short of the $1.85M that he wanted, it is $400K more than Patterson made for his 8 starts last season. So in one way, the Nats won. But this does raise the question of what exactly Patterson's future with the Nats is supposed to be. Other players that were arbitration eligible, most notably Austin Kearns, received a long-term deal rather than head to arbitration. So what are we supposed to get from this determination by Kasten/Bowden to take Patterson, the lone arm in the rotation to arbitration? It means to me that while Patterson is seen as a possible fixture in the rotation, nobody in the front office is entirely sold on the idea of him being a fixture on the team. And as much as I enjoyed watching healthy John pitch at the beginning of last year, you can't blame the Nats for not offering, or not taking a longer deal in this case. The fact that Patterson was almost as, if not more untested last year than some of the other arms now doing the meet and greet in sunny Space Coast Stadium means that the Kas-den is not as sold on him as the "ace" of the staff in the long term as one might have believed. This means that for Patterson, just like the rest of the Gang of 37, 2007 is going to be a make it or break it season in a lot of ways. If he is injured or consistently unreliable then the Nationals will look like geniuses for having a sub-million salary. But if he pitches to his potential, a word I hate to use to describe any pitcher, then he will be able to come back next season and ask for a LOT more than the still relatively cheap $1.85M that he was seeking this season.
The other (and only) major arbitration question remaining for this season is The Chief. But Chad seems like he would be much more interested in a little bit more job security after the off-season and continuing rumors of him being sent to, ummm, well I guess only Boston has been mentioned. But either way, and even though he has been good about the rumors, I would bet that The Chief would be more than willing to take a little less cash today if Kas-den would be willing to offer him a longer term deal that sends the message: yes, we like you, you are good, you are young, and we want you in the 'pen until 2010. Hey, that rhymes! Anyway, here is what Chad himself had to say about the arbitration.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Here we go

This is the first in what will hopefully be a long and growing number of posts on the Washington Nationals. I'm hoping to not only cover the efforts off the field, but to give a little bit of my personal experience from those of us that live in the upper deck of RFK. And, as would be expected, my own personal and totally unprofessional analysis will also be involved. Now first, I don't want to attempt, or even claim to compete with the more established and experienced members of the Natosphere, but I hope to add my own opinion (and on ocassion vent my frustration). Thanks for stopping by, and hope that it continues!