The First Day Of Free Agency...Washington Nationals Edition.

On the first day that teams were allowed to negotiate with free agents, the New York Yankees reportedly offered CC Sabathia a 6-year/$140 million dollar deal, the Atlanta Braves broke off the Jake Peavy negotiations with San Diego, and the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled their first offer to free agent outfielder Manny Ramirez, while promising to continue to pursue an agreement with the second #99 to grace LA with his greatness. The Washington Nationals?...announced the signing of utility infielder Pete Orr, while also confirming that Jim Riggleman would remain as Manny Acta's new Bench Coach now that Seattle had officially eliminated their interim Skipper from consideration for the Mariners' Manager position. 

Washington Times' writer Mark Zuckerman was the first one I saw with the news about Pinch Hittin' Pete Orr's return to the fold, as Mr. Zuckerman reported yesterday, in his "Chatter: A Nationals Blog" post entitled, "Orr Returning to Nats", that Orr had agreed to a non-guaranteed deal, with an invitation to compete for a job again this Spring. Orr hit .253 in 49 games and 75 AB's in '08, with 2 doubles, 1 triple and 7 RBI's. My Prediction...Orr starts the season at Triple-A and is called up by June... just like last season...

...SI.com writer Ben Reiter mentions the Nationals twice in his "Inside Baseball" article entitled, "Open Season: The latest news on the top free agents", first bringing up DC in the talk about the available first basemen, Mark Teixeira and Adam Dunn, where Mr. Reiter notes that he thinks Anaheim and New York are the most likely destinations for Teixeira with Dunn available to whichever teams loses out on Tex, but, Mr. Reiter cautions, when it comes to Dunn:

"...we shouldn't count out a wild card like the Nationals, whose GM, Jim Bowden, ran the Reds when Dunn was there and is thought to have long coveted him."

...and the Nationals come up again when the spotlight turns to Manny Ramirez, who Mr. Reiter reports is seeking a 6-year/$150 million dollar deal...The NY Mets and Yankees, the Angels and the Orioles are all listed as potential suitors, along with one other team, which Mr. Reiter describes as "the darkest of horses", the Washington Nationals. 

Now you'll remember, this past Wednesday, DC GM Jim Bowden is said to have emailed MLB.com's Bill Ladson with the news, included in as clear a statement as possible in Mr. Ladson's Hot Stove Blog post entitled, "Nats not interested in Manny":

"'We are not pursuing Manny Ramirez.'"

Of course, two days after Mr. Ladson's article with Mr. Bowden's quote on the Nationals' lack of interest in Manny, both Buster Olney's blog post entitled, "Yanks can have whatever they want", and the Ben Reiter's SI.com article quoted above once again mentioned Washington as a possible new home for Ramirez...Who to believe? Who to believe??

AFL UPDATE...

Washington Nationals' pitching prospect, 23-year old left-hander Cory VanAllen, improved to (2-1) in Arizona Fall League action, leading his Peoria Saguaros to an 8-0 shutout win over the Scottsdale Scorpions with 4.0 innings of work in which he allowed 2 hits and 4 walks while striking out 6.

Ian Desmond, an infielder in the DC system, went 0 for 5 in the Saguaros' leadoff spot, but Leonard Davis picked up the slack, smacking his 8th double of the Fall and finishing the night 2 for 3 with a run scored, 2 walks and a .328 AVG. Bill Rhinehart, who started at first at three levels of the Nationals' minor league system this season, did the same for the Saguaros tonight, ending the game 2 for 5 with a double, his 8th, and 2 RBI's, (21,22) to go along with a .289 AVG in 19 games. The Mesa Solar Sox were able to win as well, so the Sox and Saguaros remain tied atop the AFL's American Division.

Your New Favorite Blog...

-- Yes, it's Collin Balester again, who is back with several new blog posts at Bally's Blog, including Halloween photos and a video of himself performing a choreographed dance routine which made its way to youtube...Zimmerman's blog was never this much fun...

-- Here's my post from a few weeks back introducing Nationals Bench Coach Jim Riggleman entitled, "Get To Know Your Nationals: Bench Coach Jim Riggleman."

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