Friday, February 22, 2008

Answering His Own Question

Sheinin gives the short version of Manny's first team meeting of the season:
1) Cut down on the errors
2) Improve the team's OBP.
I asked Acta if he could foresee a scenario where both Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young make the team, with Johnson the starter and Young in the lineup against tough lefties, but otherwise limited to pinch-hit duty, with the goal of getting him 200-300 at-bats. Acta said such a scenario is not impossible, but he implied it would be much more likely that the team would have to trade one of them.

"It's tough, because they're both eveyrday guys," Acta said. "[But] we're not just going to give a guy away [in a trade]."


Ignoring the trade part... if Acta's goal is 1 and 2 from above, we know who's starting the year.

But there's the DY/Dukes mentor factor which has to count for something.

I really don't understand the need to trade... and I don't understand why they're talking about it so openly, since that would seem to lessen their bargaining position.

That being said, I'm not sure there's really a market for Dmitri Young. I can't imagine that any other team views him as an acceptable 1B. So we're limited to AL teams who need a DH.

Baltimore? Nope.
Boston? Hell no.
Yankees? They have enough DHs.
Toronto? Frank Thomas says Hell no.
Tampa Bay? Can't see them giving up on Gomes.

White Sox? Nope.
Indians? Sure as heck no.
Detroit? Nice try
Royals? I imagine they could, but Butler or Gload are probably better options given the relative ages.
Twins? I imagine that Kubel's slotted here... they do have Delmon though... and they were intereted in him last season...

Angels? Nah.
A's? Likely not.
Mariners? They've had enough Nats DH's with bad legs.
Rangers? You never know what Old Man Hicks would do...

So Twins and Rangers really seem like the only viable spots. Could it happen? I guess. I just don't think that that's what's going to happen.

Now, it's possible a market for NJ could emerge, especially if he shows that he's healthy during the spring. But given option 1) and 2) from above, is that really what Acta wants?

31 Comments:

  • Since there isn't much of a market for Young, since he wouldn't bring much in return and and since he is going to be a daddy to the problem children, I predict the Nats will unload Johnson, if he is healthy. I am sure the Yankees would love to have him since they don't have a decent first baseman. Johnson is not in the long term picture at first base for the Nats. Chris Marrero is likely slotted to take over first base in 2010.

    By Anonymous phil dunn, at 2/22/2008 11:03 AM  

  • "I really don't understand the need to trade... and I don't understand why they're talking about it so openly, since that would seem to lessen their bargaining position."

    Don't confuse Sheinin or Svrluga writing that "Acta, Bowden or Kasten implied that they would trade, or even consider trading, Dmitri, Nick or anyone else" with them "talking about it so openly, since that would seem to lessen their bargaining position". You of the StanSpeak Translator ought to realize the difference between what someone actually says and what someone else says they said. There's a subtle distinction there, y'know?

    The media keep asking the question about if and when either Dmitri or Nick will be traded, and the answer they always get is some variation of "It depends." No doubt other GMs have asked JimBo the same question, and his answer is surely "What are you offering?", as it should be. Since Nick is still a question mark at this point, I seriously doubt that JimBo is actively shopping either him or Dmitri at this point. Likewise, I seriously doubt that anyone with the team is actively talking up the possibility of a trade to build a buzz with other teams. Rather, the media keeps asking them the same question, and they keep answering it. They're probably sick of the question by now (both sides, actually, the team and the media).

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 2/22/2008 11:09 AM  

  • You can answer the question with a "we're not really looking to trade either of them. We feel we can find enough time for the two of them."

    That's not what Acta's doing though. He's very specific in his comments here, saying that there's no way they can go north with both of them since they're full time players. He's saying that they almost HAVE to trade one.

    That's a pretty big difference.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 2/22/2008 11:11 AM  

  • IF NJ is healthy, and IF he can get around the bases without hurting himself, and IF he shows his leg can take having to slide and IF he gets enough innings in on defense to show he has enough lateral movement left and IF he shows enough power hitting live pitching and IF he shows enough balance in the batter's box...

    THEN he will have more value than DY and should be traded. spring training is all about proving NJ is healthy enough to market to someone that can use him.

    but those are alot of IFs. he can say he's ready all he wants. Jim Bowden can proclain how "remarkable" he looks all he wants. but he's gotta get into some live games with live pitching and live fielding and live running and live sliding and SHOW hat he can physically handle it.

    i would NOT count any chickens until they're hatched here. this is a SERIOUS injury he's trying to come back from, not that i really need to tell any of you that.

    i am still considering NJ dead to the Nats until he PROVES otherwise. only then will i be happily surprised. i HOPE that happens. but i'm not counting on it or thinking about it until it actually does.

    By Anonymous Dave at Bottomfeeder Baseball, at 2/22/2008 11:13 AM  

  • I would imagine the Giants need a young whippersnapper like Da Meat who provides them with alot of much needed offense.

    By Blogger Ironic Goat, at 2/22/2008 11:14 AM  

  • "That's not what Acta's doing though. He's very specific in his comments here, saying that there's no way they can go north with both of them since they're full time players. He's saying that they almost HAVE to trade one."

    Since you apparently haven't developed an ActaSpeak Translator to go along with your StanSpeak one, let me power up mine and tell you what Manny is really saying every time he answers this question, which is this:

    Dmitri, you're my starter. You earned it last season. Now go out and do it all again. Show me why I've pencilled you in there. It's your job to lose, but really, I hope you win. Now, Nick, boy do we need your OBP and your glove in the lineup. It's clear that if you're healthy there's no way we can deny you an every day shot at the first base job. Go out and show me how healthy you are. I'm rooting for you, man.

    Manny's no fool. There's no way he'd rather have a team with either Dmitri or Nick at first and some Fick clone backing him up than a team with either Dmitri or Nick starting and the other one sitting on the edge of the bench waiting for his chance to get in there. How come every time Stan or JimBo or Manny says "Boy, that would be a nice problem to have, trying to keep both Dmitri and Nick happy" no one seems to believe them? I bet Manny would love to have both Nick and Dmitri on his team all season long.

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 2/22/2008 11:44 AM  

  • Here's how I see things.

    1)Neither Nick, nor Dmitri are long-term solutions for the Nats at 1B. Nick is 30, Dmitri is 34. The Nats have shown, time and again that they want youth and in 5 years or so when Zim is really entering his prime production, these guys are going to be deep into their decline phases.

    2)Josh Whitesell--Whitesell is 25, the best defensive 1B at Double A last year and very good against right-handed pitching. He was added to the 40 man in the off-season too. (Props to NFA for the info).

    3) Matt Whitney--Whitney hit 32 HR in A-ball last year and he's a rule 5 pick meaning he has to stay on the active roster.

    4)With these two prospects, especially Whitney's Rule 5 selection, it's pretty clear that the Nats are looking for some rookie lovin' when comes to 1B. Dmitri Young's two year contract was most likely to bridge the gap until Whitesell while providing more veteran leadership and above-average production.

    6)Trading Nick Johnson, especially if he has a big Spring Training, gives the Nats a good chance at grabbing a decent prospect or two for pitching (since Jimbo has pretty much tapped the toolsy OF market) or maybe middle infield. Since the Nats already appear to have largely written this year off as their prospects get conditioning in the majors, trading NJ while keeping Dmitri riding herd on the young-uns makes a lot more sense than keeping a fragile OBP machine who has fewer intangibles and likely can grab a lot more in trade value seeing as he's still cost-controlled. Keeping NJ for a few more years when he's already 30 seems more like the "let's just be mediocre" move that the Nats are explicitly trying to avoid.

    By Blogger Michael, at 2/22/2008 12:00 PM  

  • Some good points, ABM.

    One thing, though: Acta wouldn't have a Fick clone. He has Aaron Boone. Boone may not be very good, but he's on a guaranteed contract and is therefore a given for the roster. Which means two of Manny's bench slots would be given to backup 1B (Boone can also play 3B, I guess). Plus a backup catcher, plus the odd man out among Belliard and Lopez, plus Dukes, plus Machowiak and Harris who I think both have guaranteed contracts. Manny has to manage a roster, and while I'm sure he'd love to have both Nick and Dmitri, the numbers might be arranged in such a manner that he has to manage without one of them.

    Or they could just cut loose one or more of Boone, Harris, etc. It's only money.

    But I do agree Manny isn't talking openly about a trade. He's only saying they won't accept a bad trade in order to dump one of them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/22/2008 12:00 PM  

  • Don't rule out Seattle.

    Here's the outline: Young/Johnson for Sexson+a prospect+cash.

    Seattle upgrades at first and saves money this year (cash+DY/NJ would be less than Sexson's 08 salary)

    Nats turn the 1b dilemma into a prospect (and could flip Sexson at the dealine for another prospect)

    Also, I would like to point out that at the current time Rich Aurilia is the starting 1b for the Giants.

    By Anonymous Trade Picasso, at 2/22/2008 12:11 PM  

  • I agree totally with Bottomfeeder Dave. NJ's entire career has been pockmarked by injuries of all manner. In fact, the year that ended with that crossbody block by Kearns was the most games NJ had ever put together in a season--by far. Personally, I believe this two-headed hit show at first base will be fine. DaMeat, despite protestations to the contrary, may not be the 135-game-a-year player that everybody thinks he is. Plus, obviously his defense sucks. Given NJ's history of injuries, his general lack of great physical conditioning and question marks coming off this terrible injury -- how many non-pitcher players, exactly, can you remember coming back from an 18-month-plus injury layoff? -- I think DaMeat is excellent insurance for NJ, and vice versa. Now, if Uncle Teddy realizes $10 million is too much to pay for one position -- and obviously he probably does -- one of 'em will be shipped by May 1.

    By Anonymous Friend of STAN, at 2/22/2008 12:46 PM  

  • Really hope that the fact that Aaron "Friggin" Boone has a guaranteed contract does not drive the decision to trade Johnson and/or Young. That said, it would not surprise me if Boone's contract did play a role.

    The idea of trading both Johnson and Young to Seattle for Sexson+ a prospect is interesting, but it would have to be a pretty sweet prospect if the Nats are going to be at the short-end of the production and pay-roll end of the deal, and I am not sure how many top of the line prospects that Seattle has left after the Bedard trade.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/22/2008 12:47 PM  

  • It's really not going to be up to Acta as to who stays or who goes. Like Phil alluded to in the first post, Marrero is coming and they're both going and it really doesn't matter who leaves town first it's all about who brings the most in return. If the FO didn't care what dregs were starting pitchers last year I doubt they care who starts at 1B.

    I wonder how happy Lerner will be if both Lopez and one of the 1B are sitting on the bench. 10 mil of the team's total payroll twiddling their thumbs watching the game.

    By Anonymous Tulsa Fan, at 2/22/2008 12:54 PM  

  • Let's not start the Marrero party yet.

    The guy's got a LOT of developing to do before he's ready. First base is a HUGE hitting hurdle he's going to have to clear. He can't just be a so-so hitter if he's playing there, like he could be if he was playing the outfield. He's going to have to develop into a premium bat.

    He's got the potential... but he's a long way away.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 2/22/2008 12:57 PM  

  • Improving OBP? That's NJ's speciality. Thus, if Acta believes in EITHER goal, he should ditch DY.

    By Anonymous William, at 2/22/2008 1:13 PM  

  • Oh, the Marrero party has started. You didn't get the invitation?

    By Anonymous Tulsa Fan, at 2/22/2008 1:15 PM  

  • I'm still wandering around the Broadway Fiesta, wondering where all the guests went. :-(

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 2/22/2008 1:16 PM  

  • If DY is so bad that no one else wants him, then why is this a dilemma?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/22/2008 1:36 PM  

  • Well, someone might take him...

    but the A-ball prospect you'd get back for him likely would be worth less than the contributions the Nationals would get from him this season.

    One other thing to keep in mind: he has his own bobblehead day coming up this year. Can't seem him trading him then!

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 2/22/2008 1:42 PM  

  • "Acta wouldn't have a Fick clone. He has Aaron Boone. Boone may not be very good, but he's on a guaranteed contract and is therefore a given for the roster. Which means two of Manny's bench slots would be given to backup 1B (Boone can also play 3B, I guess). Plus a backup catcher, plus the odd man out among Belliard and Lopez, plus Dukes, plus Machowiak and Harris who I think both have guaranteed contracts. Manny has to manage a roster, and while I'm sure he'd love to have both Nick and Dmitri, the numbers might be arranged in such a manner that he has to manage without one of them."

    Boone is this year's Tony Batista. Johnson or Young, whichever one is not starting, is this year's Fick. (Quite an upgrade there. And before anyone says "But they both can only play first!", remember that by the end of the season last year Fick wasn't playing anything but first either. Manny no longer trusted him in the OF.) Dukes is this year's Langerhans. (Again, one hell of an upgrade there.) Those other guys you mentioned, plus Escobar, Langerhans and others, are all fighting to be this year's D'Angelo Jiminez or step in as a replacement if one or more of Young/Johnson, Boone and Dukes either gets hurt, totally stinks up the joint or gets arrested. That's what spring training is for on a real major league team, guys - to shake all this stuff out. Enjoy it! Guaranteed one year contracts really have nothing to do with who stays and who goes, except in the case where all other things are equal. Believe me, if there's anyone who just misses making the team, JimBo will do whatever he can get away with to make sure they don't lose the guy if they want to keep him, including manufacturing an injury to stash him on the DL if need be. Remember, pretty much every player in baseball is playing hurt at least a little bit all the time.

    By Blogger An Briosca Mor, at 2/22/2008 1:42 PM  

  • It's not really a question of what Manny wants. Kasten and Bowden have presented him with MeatHook and his class of mentorees. Therefore MeatHook stays. Johnson will be showcased for a trade. Assuming a) he doesn't show too much deterioration from his time off, and b) Bowden doesn't get too greedy in what he asks for.

    By Anonymous Simon Oliver Lockwood, at 2/22/2008 1:46 PM  

  • They're both good enough to start, so one of them has to go? Sorry folks, that's dumb. If I'm a GM, given my druthers I want all 25 guys on the roster to be good enough to start. Since when is the team's goal finding 8 guys who are good enough to start and 5 more who will represent a significant talent drop-off when they're on the field?

    So Meat Hook comes off the bench to spot start, pinch hit and sub in for NJ once in a while. Explain again why that's a bad thing? And ignore the $5M, unless we're rubbing up against a newly-imposed MLB salary cap.

    By Blogger Nate, at 2/22/2008 1:57 PM  

  • Two thoughts:

    (1) If Meaty is on the bench, will he still be a good role model for Dukes or will he regress? Just a thought.

    (2) If Chris' analysis is correct and there is a limited market in which to move Meaty, Acta's statements could be intended to suggest to other teams that the Nats value NJ more highly than Meaty and that, although there may be a limited market for Meaty, they won't give away NJ for peanuts. That is, the Nats won't be moving either of them based upon the market's demands, but will move them upon the Nats terms. Maybe I'm reading into this too much, but I like to think Stan the Man is sticking with teh Plan.

    By Blogger OleShu, at 2/22/2008 2:25 PM  

  • slashie meant as either/or rather than both

    By Anonymous trade picasso, at 2/22/2008 2:32 PM  

  • Yeah, I don't see either moving unless the Giants get antsy, of course, that's a dumb front office Bowden hasn't bilked yet. They won't get anyone decent without five or six priors on their rap sheet, in any case. I think Mitya and Nick will adjust, because going to a team where they compete with younger prospects and guys who can stay on the field isn't much more of an opportunity.

    By Blogger Bellylard, at 2/22/2008 2:33 PM  

  • They're both good enough to start, so one of them has to go? Sorry folks, that's dumb.

    Especially when one of them's a tub of goo and the other is as fragile as Jimbo's hold on sobriety.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/22/2008 2:33 PM  

  • and just to reiterate, this all hinges on a premise that no one can prove yet, that Johnson can still be a major league player.

    Dmitri Young is this team's first baseman. Nick Johnson is just a rumor at this point.

    By Anonymous Dave at Bottomfeeder Baseball, at 2/22/2008 2:56 PM  

  • The tradeable player is Nick Johnson. The Giants and Yankees would be interested and have the Nats have done business with these teams before.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/22/2008 5:18 PM  

  • I wouldn't write the Yankees off as a landing spot for NJ.

    The real question to me is whether any of their existing DH candidates can field first base worth a hoot. If NJ proves he still can, I can see him in pinstripes again very shortly.

    By Anonymous Hendo, at 2/22/2008 5:45 PM  

  • "I'm still wandering around the Broadway Fiesta, wondering where all the guests went. :-("

    Well see if you can't crash the Pitching Prospect Mardi Gras before it ends which has a bunch of guys that haven't thrown 100 innings of professional baseball yet but are givens to be in the ML rotation. Eat, drink, and be merry because tomorrow our elbow/shoulder blows out.

    By Anonymous Tulsa Fan, at 2/23/2008 7:12 AM  

  • I see the team has put the new slogan for this season on the main site. Gone is "Pledge Your Allegiance", in is "Welcome Home".

    By Anonymous Those Crazy Nats, at 2/23/2008 1:23 PM  

  • By Blogger wwwwww, at 10/26/2009 9:07 PM  

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