Posts Tagged ‘Adrian Beltre’

Will Mike Rizzo “Pull The Trigger” At The Deadline?

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

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Yesterday Nats beat reporter Bill Ladson wrote that Washington had inquired about the availability of Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, but were “rebuffed.” The report sent tremors through Nats-Land, as it seemed to confirm that Mike Rizzo & Co. were interested in an upgrade at the hot corner, and searching for more power for the Nats line-up.

There are any number of reasons for the Nats search, all of them obvious. Regular third sacker Ryan Zimmerman is on the disabled list, and the Nationals are apparently uncomfortable with shifting their regular second baseman, Anthony Rendon to third to take his place. Then there’s Danny Espinosa.

Espinosa has often been a punching bag for Nats fans, who are skeptical of his abilities at the plate. This didn’t seem to matter to the Nats front office, who always had faith in Espinosa. But now, with the Ladson report, it seems the Nationals have finally conceded that an infield of Rendon-Desmond-Espinosa and LaRoche just isn’t enough to carry them into the post-season.

Then too, the Nationals need power — and a player like Beltre, with 14 home runs this year (and four Gold Gloves) would mark a significant upgrade for the Nationals line-up. And the Nationals have a lot to give — including some young arms that would fit in well with the eviscerated Rangers rotation.

The Nationals are backed up on the mound and could deal some of their young pitchers, including Blake Treinen, a ready-for-the-show righty currently at Syracuse, as well as Taylor Jordan, who has appeared as a sometimes starter for the Nationals in the past. Nationals G.M. Mike Rizzo would be loathe to part with any pitching prospects, of course, but to get someone like Beltre he’d almost have to.

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Nats’ Slide Now At Five

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Taylor Jordan showed once again that he belongs in the majors, throwing seven strong innings against a tough Pittsburgh line-up on Tuesday night — but his teammates couldn’t support his strong outing and the Nationals fell once again to the Pirates, 5-1. It was Washington’s fifth straight loss.

Jordan, a lanky righty who is filling in for the injured Ross Detwiler, scattered nine hits and struck out four before being relieved with two outs in the eighth inning. It was an impressive showing, but Pittsburgh starter Garret Cole was better, stifling Nationals hitters and notching an RBI at the plate.

“I feel for my guy because he should have only gave up one run,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said of Jordan. “We made the error that gave them two more runs. He had pitched so good in the seventh. I was going take him out for the left-hander. But I thought he deserved the chance to win that ballgame.”

Cole, on the other hand, gave up just two hits to the anemic Nats, including a home run to catcher Wilson Ramos. But the single run is all that Cole would allow. The 22-year-old Cole threw 92 pitches, 54 of them for strikes. He gave up just one walk, to Bryce Harper in the bottom of the first inning.

The Nationals have been outscored 26-11 over their five game losing spiral, with only Jayson Werth’s time at the plate worth mentioning. While the right fielder was 0-2 on Tuesday, he’s hit .353 over the last ten games and is the only Nat whose average is hovering at around .300.

Werth has also emerged as the ever-optimistic team leader. “I think at some point, the tide’s got to turn,” Werth said after Tuesday’s loss. “The luck’s got to swing in our favor. And hopefully when it does, we can grab hold of it and run with it.”

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: It’s always worth waiting for awhile to assess a trade, but in sending Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers, the Cubs have completed the rebuilding of their infield. The centerpiece of the Garza trade was Mike Olt, an MLB-ready third baseman (and outfielder) with oodles of power . . .

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Zim And The Nats “Get It Done”

Monday, February 27th, 2012

After interminable months (and months) of anything-other-than-baseball, you can almost feel the rust peeling away, the snow melting (well, what there was of it), and the sun cracking through. It helps that, in the off-season, the Nationals have traded for a top-flight hurler (Gio Gonzalez), are considering playing Bryce “the kid” Harper right out of the blocks, and signed under-the-radar innings eater Edwin Jackson for the back of the rotation.

Which is not to mention the latest, perhaps most important news: that Ryan Zimmerman will stay with the Nationals until 2020, the result of agreeing to a contract extension that will pay him $100 million over six years. The extension became a reality after days of intense negotiation. Nationals fans are ecstatic — Zimmerman is not only “the face of the franchise,” but certainly the most popular player in a Nationals’ uniform. The downside, and there is one, is that Zim has had his share of injuries, having failed to play full seasons in the last two. But even when he struggles he doesn’t really struggle: the game changes when he’s on the field, the signature quality of “a franchise player.”

Baseball’s brainiacs give this deal a thumbs-up. Over at FanGraphs (our primary source for judging these kinds of things), Dave Cameron compares Zim with a set of third basemen (who were or are) at a similar age and with a similar “skill set” — that would be Adrian Beltre, Scott Rolen (with eight gold gloves), Eric Chavez, Robin Ventura, Travis Fryman and Troy Glaus. He concludes: Zimmerman compares well in terms of raw numbers with any of them and should “earn the money over the life of the deal.” And he beats the pants off of guys like Chavez and Fryman, “the downside risks.” The key for Zimmerman (and for all of them, as Cameron points out), is (and was) to stay healthy and play longer. Then too, as Cameron notes, Zimmerman is “one of the game’s most underrated players.”

That’s a fairly laconic statement. And while it’s hard to argue with Cameron’s numbers, there are other variables. The number comparisons do not take into account the “intangible” value of a guy like Zim — Beltre (a powerhouse in Texas, but not the same since) has not aged well, Rolen (even with a great glove) was always a malcontent, Chavez has been more often injured, Travis Fryman had a short career and (likewise) Troy Glaus lasted to 33.

Comparing Zimmerman to Robin Ventura, on the other hand, makes sense. The new manager of the White Sox didn’t work the leather nearly as well as Zimmerman, but he hit for power and showed flashes of RBI brilliance. Like Zimmerman, Ventura was good enough to come to the majors with little time in the minors, and was an immediate presence in the clubhouse — which accounts, we suppose, for the Pale Hose decision to hire him as their skipper. He has a Zim-like personality: steady-as-she-goes and incredibly competent. Like Zimmerman, Ventura was drafted in the first round, wanted to stay with the team that drafted him and was regularly underrated.

And there’s this: it’s hard to think of another third baseman in the NL East who compares with Zim. Chipper Jones is scraping bone-on-bone in Atlanta, Philadelphia’s Placido Polanco can’t hit for power, David Wright remains a puzzle in New York and no one would be surprised if we wake up someday to find that Florida’s Hanley Ramirez just robbed a 7-Eleven. In truth, Zimmerman is our odds-on favorite as the National League’s premier third sacker. He could easily start the All Star game, with competition from Aramis Ramirez (new to Milwaukee), slow-around-the-sack Pablo Sandoval and running-out-of-gas Scott Rolen.

Okay, okay, okay — the National League is a little light on third basemen, Milwaukee’s Ramirez and San Francisco’s Sandoval can really hit, and when it comes to Zimmerman we’re absolute homers, but when Zimmerman is healthy he’s an elite player. He certainly was in 2009, when the Nationals were going nowhere, but Zimmerman was at the top of his game — 33 home runs, 106 RBIs, and a Gold Glove. That was the year that was, with Zim showing the power of Beltre, the glove of Rolen, the presence of Ventura. Nationals fans would love to see another year like that — or (given the life of this extension) eight of them.

Willingham Headed To Oakland

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Josh Willingham has been traded to the Oakland Athletics for former Oklahoma State bopper Corey Brown and pitcher Henry Rodriguez, who features a 98 mph fastball and a devastating curve. It’s tough to see Willingham go and Nationals’ fans are bound to be disappointed in the return: neither Brown nor Rodriguez are considered among the top prospects in the A’s system, and both are unpolished. But the Nats front office was apparently impressed with Brown’s power (he was dominant this fall, in Arizona) and H-Rod’s eye-popping speed and both will get a good look in Spring Training. It’s not out of the question that, if Rodriguez impresses Riggleman & Co., he could be the Nats’ closer in 2011. He has the stuff to do it and was used out of the bullpen by the A’s in 2010. Corey Brown, on the other hand, might well be an experiment: he hit for power in the A’s farm system (with 15 home runs at AA and AAA), but he struck out 129 times in 530-some at bats. Even so, Brown is young enough and good enough (and he’s fast) to start getting more than a look-see in a new Nats outfield.

In Willingham, the A’s get a steady presence both in left field and at the plate where (prior to his August 15 injury) he hit .268 with 16 home runs. The trade for Willingham was set up by A’s General Manager Billy Beane by the signing of former Rangers pitcher Brandon McCarthy and the re-signing of yet-to-reach-his-potential Rich Harden. Then too, in light of a slow off season for the Belinskis, the continued cratering of the Mariners and the failure of Texas to land Cliff Lee, the A’s front office is calculating that the A’s can outdistance the Rangers for A.L. West honors. They might be right. With the addition of Willingham, the White Elephants have finished building an outfield that (in addition to Willingham) will now feature Coco Crisp and David DeJesus, and a revamped middle-of-the-line-up that includes newly signed Hideki Matsui. The A’s are also in the race for Adrian Beltre, whose prospective signing would give the A’s a middle of the order that would be the class of the other coast.

And the Nats? Considering Willingham’s mid-August injury and his reputation as a popular but not-quite-great ballplayer, Rizzo got what he could — and it wasn’t bad. Brown has power potential and is close to getting more than just a cup of coffee in the bigs, while Rodriguez is a comer — and is coming fast. We all loved “The Hammer,” but no one would mistake Willingham for Henry Aaron. Nor was Willingham ever picked as the player who could become a constant presence, or lead the team to the promised land. He was good. He was beloved. He was temporary. The Nats need to get younger, faster and better, which is what they just did.