Tuesday, August 01, 2006

So Now What?

The Sound and Fury did signify nuttin'. But that doesn't mean that our worries are over. August is still a busy month as teams can continue to tweak their playoff-eligible roster through the end of the month. Trades can still be made, but it takes a little more luck. So, our good friend, PT Bowden has plenty more to work to do.

So what would I do? Easy.

1) Re-Sign Soriano. Sure, there are plenty of reasons why signing Soriano to a big contract doesn't make sense (mainly that it'll make it awfully hard to get the pitching, pitching, pitching we're really going to need), but dammit, he's fun to watch, and with a fledgling market, throwing a few extra sheckles his way isn't going to kill anyone.

Everyone's making a stink (don't you like the lazy blogger convention of ascribing these blanket positions to faceless people?) about how Stan Kasten doesn't do no-trade clauses, and how Soriano wants a no-trade.


I'd approach Soriano and appeal to his ego. Tell him that we're building around him, and that we want him to be the first Washington Nationals superstar. His desire for a no-trade isn't a principle; it's a desire for stability. Convince him that he's the cog and that we're going to pay him like he is. Really lay it on thick. He'll come around. (Remember how long his emotional desire to stay out of left field lasted?)

He initially threw out 5/$80 million. I'm not crazy. We can't pay him that. So we approach him with a 4/$48 offer, but are willing to go to, say 4/$55. Sure, it's less money and fewer years, but here's where the fun comes in. Offer him a fifth year for whatever (say $15 million) but make it a mutual option, meaning the team and he would both have to approve it.

To make things more interesting, the option automatically vests if he is traded during the life of the contract. It's not a no-trade, per se, but it gives him money and shows that the team is willing to put its money where its mouth is. And if he really does want to play in DC as much as he's been letting on, he'll take it. (Yeah, it's a bit of a fantasy!) Remember, too, that if he's still with the Nats in that fifth year, he'll have 10/5 rights, meaning he'd automatically have no-trade protection, something that Kasten can't do anything about because it's the the CBA.

2) Waive Jose Vidro. August is a funny month. Teams can still trade, but the players involved have to clear waivers. Wha? Alright... here goes.

In August each player can be placed on revocable waivers once. A player placed on waivers is available to each other team for a period of three days. Almost everyone in MLB will be placed on waivers during the month, because only those who clear waivers are eligible to be freely traded throughout the league.

So the Nats should place Vidro on waivers. But not to trade him! To release the guy! Teams placing a claim are ranked by worst record to best record starting with the waiving team's league then going to the opposing league.

For a player like Alfonso Soriano, multiple teams would claim him. Some would want his production. Some would like those juicy draft picks at the end of the year. Others are selecting him only to block his chances at being picked up by one of the teams they're competing with.

In a case like this, the Nats would only be able to make a trade with the team with the highest priority. Everyone else would be SOL. (And the Nats would only have three days to pull off such a deal anyway).

In Soriano's case, they'd just pull him back from waivers anyway.

But back to Vidro... If he's put on waivers and someone claims him, AHA! The Nats aren't obligated to pull him back off waivers. They could just let the guy go for a few thousand dollars (the price of a waiver claim).

"But don't you want a prospect for Vidro?" says you? "Nope" says me! Jose Vidro is under contract for the next two seasons and will make $16 million. Does Jose Vidro strike you as an $8 million player? If he does, please click that little X in the top right corner. ;) He's not, and getting rid of his contract (and plowing that into pitching!) is far more important than anything you'd get from him.

If someone claims him, let him go!

If no one claims him, then you're free to try to work a trade. Pay a chunk of his salary, do whatever. Just get rid of him. He has no range, little power, and he can't stay healthy.

3) Try To Trade Ortiz, Armas, and Astacio. Same process here. Throw 'em on waivers and see if you can work a trade with someone. They're not valueless players, and there's a chance that the Nats could get something of value for them, even if it's not going to be much. They're all free agents at the end of the year, and even if you wanted to re-sign one of them (I'd be inclined to bring Astacio back on a cheapo deal), it's not going to be that hard, and you won't have to give up anything for them draft pick-wise. (Unless one of them inexplicably is a Type-B Free Agent?!?)

4) Work the bargain bin. With trades and injury replacements, the regular waiver wire is being filled with useful players who come for practically free. Just today, for example, Hee Seop Choi was DFAd, and the Nats could claim him for free, stashing him in the minors for next season, when he could take Daryl Ward's place. Now, I haven't invesigated his contract status or anything, I'm just using him as an example of the flotsam that's trickling out of various sinking ships around the league.

5) Have your best doctors check out Livan. Is Livan of the last month the real Livan, or is it just a function of facing some woeful teams? If he's back and you think he can be a 7-inning pitcher who gets quality starts a majority of the time, he's worth bringing back next year. If you think he's toast -- the BP machine of the first half of the year -- then you need to try to slip him through waivers.

$7 million, his contract for next year, is about the going rate for a league average pitcher on the Free Agent market. If you think Livan can be league average, you hold on to him cause you're going to need to spend that much anyway. If you think he's toast, you dump him for a bag of Ruffles.

6) Keep shuffling those relievers.
Kevin Gryboski doesn't look like he can cut it. Roy Corcoran's been pretty brutal. OK, but Saul Rivera looks steady. So does Micah Bowie. Well, let's give Steve Watkins a chance now. How about Billy Traber getting a second go-round? There's not much left in New Orleans, but we need to keep picking all the meat off that carcass. Keep 'em coming, and we'll keep chewing them up!


  • Wow, and I thought people who understood the infield fly rule knew a lot about baseball. Did you work in a front office somewhere? How did you learn all these CBA nuances?

    If you judge by last night's performance, it appears that Livan is once again Livan.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/02/2006 7:11 AM  

  • I wouldn't be surprised if Vidro is waved at some point this month. His play on the field does not justify his salary. Too bad the Nats can't put Guzman on wavers as well and dump another $4 mil a year for the next 2 years he's owed.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/02/2006 8:29 AM  

  • Nope. No front-office work for me. Just a horrible case of OCD.

    Is the cat in the freezer? Nope.

    Is the cat in the freezer? Nope.

    Is the cat in the freezer? Nope.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 8/02/2006 8:36 AM  

  • What are the realistic chances that someone will actually put in a claim for Vidro? Kevin Towers learned his lesson with Randy Myers and Cam Bonifay doesn't have the authority to make waiver claims any more.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/02/2006 8:56 AM  

  • Not very good, for sure. But you never know.

    Teams have the entire month, so I'd hold off until he's proven that he's healthy, and then pray for one of the big teams to have an injury to their 2B.

    Still, it's worth a try.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 8/02/2006 8:58 AM  

  • "Alfie. Baby. We're committed to build around you. We won't turn our back on you. You've got to believe...Hold on there superstar, I've got another call...*click*...Jose. Yeah, sorry about this whole 'thanks for commiting to a unsure franchise thing', last owners you know. Different regime. You've been traded for a bag of balls. Thanks for everything. Clean out your locker by noon...*click*...so Alfie what say you waive that no-trade clause and....oh you heard all that?"

    I know it wasn't current ownership/managements commitment, but if I see Vidro shifted away on waivers I'm not buying anything this team is selling about trusting them.

    By Blogger Harper, at 8/02/2006 9:30 AM  

  • I don't think you'd be buying anything that Bowden would be selling anyway. ;)

    It's an interesting question, but if they make him disappear now, there's a long time before November. And you can always try to sell that for what it is -- money they could better spend on pitching.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 8/02/2006 9:33 AM  

  • How can you trust a guy who's own mantra has been "pitching, pitching, pitching," yet hasn't done squat to improve the team's pitching?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/02/2006 10:52 AM  

  • The Nats need to nail down Marlon Anderson and Daryl Ward for next year. These guys are valuable bench players and they will be pursued by other teams if they go into the off season as free agents. On the other hand, let Jackson go at the end of the year. He is worthless.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/02/2006 11:04 AM  

  • I think is is wishful thinking to expect another team to pick up Vidro's eye watering salary for 07 and 08. His legs are shot, he can't cover much ground and he has evolved into a singles hitter. Who would want him for $16 million.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/02/2006 11:12 AM  

  • Signing Soriano to a long term contract, he will insist on 5 years, might turn out to be as dumb as signing Vidro was. His legs could be shot half way through the contract. Vidro was probably 27-28 when he signed long term. Soriano will be 31 when next season starts.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/02/2006 11:19 AM  

  • Basil, That's good news. Now, Bowden needs to nail down Ward. He is a great pinch hitter with good knowledge of the strike zone. I don't usually give Bowden credit for anything good, but those were two good signings. The signings of Jackson and LeCroy were bad. I am on the fence about Fick.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/02/2006 2:04 PM  

  • Good analysis. I definitely agree with the point about Vidro. Too bad they can't get rid of Guzman! Argh.

    By Blogger DCSportsChick, at 8/02/2006 8:31 PM  

  • About those draft picks you might get if Soriano bolts... after sitting through a decade of Bowden drafts, I can tell you that those picks are just about worthless...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/03/2006 11:37 AM  

  • Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn might have something to say about that.

    But you don't understand how the front office works now. Dana Brown had all three of his last first-round picks playing in the majors this year. And Mike Rizzo, who they just hired from the Diamondbacks, had built one of the best farm systems in baseball.

    This isn't Cinci's Jim Bowden. He has actual competent professionals surrounding him now.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 8/03/2006 11:40 AM  

  • The way he's playing right now, Soriano's price demand for next season almost feels like it's going up on a daily basis.

    Which is really bad, because it makes it more and more likely someone else will wildly overpay him. Slow down a bit, Sori!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/03/2006 12:39 PM  

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