Browsing Archive February, 2011

Offseason Changes: Nationals

Following with our brief series on offseason changes around the NL East, today we look at the Nationals.

In: Jayson Werth, Tom Gorzelanny, Adam LaRoche, Henry Rodriguez, Rick Ankiel, Chad Gaudin, Chien-Ming Wang, Jerry Hairston, Jr., Todd Coffey, Matt Stairs, Alex Cora, Cla Meredith, Corey Brown

Out: Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, Justin Maxwell, Wil Nieves, Joel Peralta, Willie Harris, Adam Kennedy, Miguel Batista, Kevin Mench, Tyler Walker, Scott Olsen

The Washington Nationals certainly were busy this winter; if nothing else, the team will be different.

The big news, of course, was Jayson Werth’s 7-year, bazillion-dollar contract — which seemingly overshadowed the departures of Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham. Werth is a solid player and an offensive force, but will he make up for the exit of Dunn?

Werth will get offensive help from first baseman Adam LaRoche, who gets little respect despite posting consistent, admirable numbers year in and year out. LaRoche is no star, and tends to be a second-half hitter, but he’s reliable and will hold his own as a #5 or #6 hitter.

I’m not sure where Rick Ankiel and the other veteran bats fit into the equation, but it appears as though the Nats will have a solid, experienced bench. I’m guessing Ankiel and Hairston are insurance against Michael Morse and/or Roger Bernadina not making forward strides.

After Werth, the pitching additions are the most exciting for Washington. Tom Gorzelanny steps into a rotation that has always needed stability. Chien-Ming Wang isn’t really an “addition” since he was rehabbing with the club last year, but if he can make a comeback it could be key to Washington’s chances of climbing out of the cellar. Henry Rodriguez — acquired in the trade that sent Willingham to Oakland — is a young, hard-throwing righthander who touches triple digits and seemed to turn a corner with his control in 2010. I also like the signings of Chad Gaudin, Cla Meredith, and Todd Coffey, veteran relievers who could win spots in middle relief. Gaudin in particular is intriguing, as he once made 34 starts for the A’s and should benefit by getting out of the AL East; whether he gets the chance to break into the Nats rotation remains to be seen. Meredith also could benefit by leaving the Beast; he was a strong performer for the Padres previously, and his 2010 performance was likely impacted by bone chips that were removed from his elbow after the season.

Finally, I’m happy to see Matt Stairs still hacking. His all-or-nothing approach and flair for the dramatic as a pinch-hitter is fun to watch — as long as he’s not hitting game-ending homers against the Mets.


Might Emaus

No, I didn’t forget to finish the headline … though, it could’ve gone “Might Emaus Win the 2B Job?”.

Instead, I’m going to tab rookie Brad Emaus with a nickname, right here, and right now: “Might Emaus” … as in, “Mighty Mouse”.

Baseball needs more nicknames these days, and the moniker fits. After all, Emaus is similarly well-muscled and has been described as “… short and kind of squat…” by one onlooker, which is sort of how one could describe Mighty Mouse. And, Emaus did kind of come out of nowhere / drop out of the sky; if he “flies in” to take the second base job, it will be due to a heroic effort. I’m not sure if he has X-ray vision or telekinetic skills, nor if he has a girlfriend named Mitzi, but I bet he can beat up Oil Can Harry Boyd.

Brad “Might” Emaus – will he save the day?


Sterling Filtered Madoff Funding

NOTE: pass on this article if you are tired of all the Madoff talk; we’ll return to baseball stories soon.

Yes, I’d really like to focus on the baseball stuff right now, being that the players are out on the field and running around in the sunshine of Florida.

Unfortunately, I for one cannot stick my head in the sand and ignore what’s happening with the Madoff situation — because it has already, and will continue to, affect the team on the field and ultimately our fan experience of the Mets (i.e., “consumers of the product on the field”).

So, while I won’t linger over small developments in the case, I will react when bombshells drop — such as the one reported by The New York Times yesterday.


Offseason Changes: Marlins

In: Omar Infante, John Buck, Javier Vazquez, Edward Mujica, Ryan Webb, Michael Dunn, Dustin Richardson, Shawn Hill, Greg Dobbs, Joe Thurston, Ruben Gotay

Out: Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin, Ronny Paulino, Andrew Miller, Will Ohman, Chad Tracy, Jorge Sosa

The Fish made two big trades in the offseason, sending slugger Dan Uggla to Atlanta and enigma Cameron Maybin to San Diego. On the surface, it appeared that the Marlins were bested in both deals, but when you look at it from the perspective of flexibility — and looked at the other moves made by them in the winter — it all made sense.

Though losing Uggla would seem to be a huge blow, you have to consider that Omar Infante is a pretty good all-around ballplayer, and the trade freed up money to sign heavy-hitting catcher John Buck and starting pitcher Javy Vazquez. Vazquez had a predictably poor year in New York, but has been stellar when competing in the NL East. Buck’s homerun power helps defray the exit of Uggla, and you must also remember the Fish have slugging youngsters Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison pushing themselves into the lineup.

The Maybin deal was more of a head-scratcher, considering that Florida doesn’t have much depth at the centerfield position. However, they’re assuming that natural infielder Chris Coghlan can cut the mustard out there, and they were able to acquire two sorely needed, solid relievers in return for Maybin — Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb.

Along the way, the Marlins also picked up two lefthanders who may help in the bullpen — Michael Dunn and Dustin Richardson. The 25-year-old Dunn was a top prospect in both the Yankees and Braves organizations and seems to have more upside; Richardson is similar to the man he was traded for (Andrew Miller), in that he is tall, lefthanded, and a disappointment thus far. Who knows, maybe a change of scenery will help him out.

As for their spring training invitations, the name Ruben Gotay jumps out at me, as he was a favorite Met of mine back in 2007. Ruben hasn’t been in MLB since ’08 but has posted OPS totals of .845 and .879 in AAA the past two seasons. Former Nats hurler Shawn Hill gets another crack at a big league job, but it seems that injuries have ravaged his career. Standout pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs is in camp, as is DeWayne Wise, who is best remembered for the remarkable catch he made to preserve Mark Buehrle’s perfect game; Wise is summarily forgotten for his career .260 OBP / .645 OPS.


Is Terry Collins Detached from Reality, or Playing Head Games?

I realize that Terry Collins hasn’t been in a big-league dugout as an MLB skipper in over a decade, and many things have changed in the game over that time. For example, the scorecards look different now, and people track a few more statistics since the 20th century. The players don’t wear stirrups anymore, and they’re not allowed to drink “special coffee” before the games.

However, even in the old days, I don’t ever remember a dropped ball causing a player’s skills to erode, or to cause injuries.

In his first conversation with second baseman Luis Castillo, Collins brought up


New Meaning for Teufel Shuffle

With all the boys in camp, it would be nice if we could talk about baseball. But all they’re doing right now is taking physicals, stretching, practicing pickoff plays, and doing long-tossing … not much excitement yet. So the biggest news out of Port St. Lucie leans toward non-baseball activities.

For example, the Bernie Madoff scandal has brought a new meaning to the “Teufel Shuffle”;


Offseason Changes: Braves

Since not everyone was paying attention to all the goings-on of the NL East this winter, this week we are going to do a quick recap of what each team did during the offseason, beginning with the Braves.

In: Dan Uggla, Scott Linebrink, George Sherrill, Rodrigo Lopez, Fredi Gonzalez

Out: Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito, Matt Diaz, Omar Infante, Troy Glaus, Derrek Lee, Rick Ankiel, Melky Cabrera, Bobby Cox

The biggest change in the Braves is