Washington Nationals' Roster Moves, Questionable Moves, and How The Yankees Are Trying To Ruin Everyone's Fun...

The first year they did it was 2006, the first with Washington's new ownership in place, in November of '06, and it was described as a necessary step to refill a dried up system that had suffered under a lack of ownership since 2002 and seen it's Minor League system completely desiccated by the time the team relocated to DC, with then-Assistant GM Bob Boone telling MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in an article entitled, "Nats sign 21 Minor League free agents", that, "From our standpoint, we think a few of them will connect." The second time, in late November of '07, and it was described by MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in an article entitled, "Nationals sign 19 to Minor League deals", as an attempt to find, "...a diamond in the rough." This time, the Nationals signed just 13 Minor League free agents, according to a Washington Times' "Chatter: A Nationals Blog" post by Times' writer Mark Zuckerman entitled, "Nats sign 13 to minor-league deals", where no explanation for the moves is offered, but Mr. Zuckerman does report that all but one of the thirteen received invitations to Spring Training.

The first year, Nationals' fans had to endure a few jokes, like the sports writers who'd tell anyone who ever wanted to pitch in the Majors to head to Nationals' camp, which was funny, really, but it was understandable, after all, the best prospects in the organization were all either on the DC roster or had been traded away over the years, so it was necessary to cast a wide net, and the second season, it was accurately described as a way of maybe finding one or two players out there who had been cast aside for a variety of reasons, but still might have value...Why is DC still doing this after three seasons? A quick look at the results of the first two attempts, would seem to justify the approach...

Out of the 21 Minor League free agents signed in '06, three, "Don Sutton's Favorite Pitcher" Tim Redding**, current closer "Wild" Joel Hanrahan, and "The Nationals' Most Famous Player, 'Hollywood' Mike Bacsik", managed to make signifant contributions to the big club. Out of the 19 signed in '07, two, Mike Hinckley, (who was really re-signed), and Steven Shell were able to really impress and are considered part of the '09 bullpen at this point according to everything I've read this winter. So why not try to fill some spots in Triple-A and maybe with the big club from amongst those the rest of the league has let loose...Some of the 13 signed this year, Nationals' fans know well, returning free agents like Pete Orr, Ryan Langerhans, Ryan Wagner, and some others, Matt Whitney, Justin Jones, are names we've all heard before, while Freddie Bynum spent the last two seasons working thirty or so miles north of DC. I could see Wagner, Shell, Hanrahan, Hinckley and even possibly Redding, (if he's brought back) making significant contributions this season...Some around the Nationals' blogosphere have different opinions...

Further Reading:

Brian Oliver at the Nationals Farm Authority, in a post entitled, "Nats Sign 13 Minor Leaguers", focuses in on one of the 13, Joel Guzman, a 23-year old infielder who has spent time in the Dodgers' and Rays' organizations, as the most intriguing signing...

Steven at Fire Jim Bowden gets through an entire post entitled, "Lucky 13 Minor League Contracts", without taking a single shot at the DC GM, and Steven provides a quick, but thorough, look at each of the titular "Lucky 13"...

...and while we're mentioning the Nationals' Blogosphere:

-- I received an email recently from estopple.08, who writes a blog called 1500 South Capitol Street about following the Washington Nationals from his home in Tokyo, Japan, which I've added to the Nationals Links in the left margin...(ed. note - "1500 South Capitol Street is written in Japanese, so have some translation software handy.")

-- I also received a note from Dave from Bottomfeeder Baseball, who will be known as Dave from the Nationals News Network from now on, as he relaunched his Nationals blog to more closely mirror the Washington Capitals site, the Capitals News Network, that Dave writes as well, so update your bookmarks and links if you're following along...

Finally, there's Collin Balester, or Bally Star as he calls himself, and "Bally's Blog" at mlblogs.com, where the Nationals' pitcher has been blogging during the offseason, and this time he's back with a post entitled, "Thanksgiving Break in California and the debut of 'Bally's Minute'", where Mr. Balester does in fact recount his family's Thanksgiving dinner, and then, as promised in the title, delivers the first 'Bally's Minute' where he offers an anecdote about fellow National Nick Johnson, who is referred to by Mr. Balester as, possibly, "...the coolest guy I have met in baseball." Check out the post to see why...

PLUS...You can now follow along on FEDERALBASEBALL.com's Twitter page, where I hope to make (and receive if any readers out there are Twittering), quick updates on any Nationals-related news that I hear while I'm away from the federalbaseball.com bunker. If anyone out there's interested, it seems like an interesting way to keep each other updated on what we're all hearing and reading throughout the day, and a nice way to continue building a community around the nation's capitals' favorite baseball team...(the twitter accounts are free, I'm still waiting to see what their text updates add to my phone bill...)

(ed. note - " ** = Redding Non-Tendered?")

After announcing this weekend that they had offered arbitration to four players, pitcher Shawn Hill, the newly-acquired pair, Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham and the "Face of the Franchise Until All This Tex-Talk", Ryan Zimmerman...The Washington Nationals announced that they had re-signed outfielder extraordinaire, Willie Harris, (to a 2-year/$3 million dollar deal)...and then DC surprised just about everybody by non-tendering a pitcher one could claim was at least the first or second best starter for the Nationals last season, namely "Don Sutton's Favorite Pitcher" Tim Redding. 

...While many have speculated that the Nationals will probably quickly sign Redding as a free agent thus avoiding arbitration with the much-traveled veteran hurler, the pitcher himself doesn't seem all that pleased with the turn of events, as he explained to Washington Times' writer Mark Zuckerman in an article entitled, "Nats agree with Harris, opt to let Redding go":

"'I'm a guy who was going to make $3 [million] to $4 million,' he said. 'They can pay all five guys in the rotation for only a little more than they'd have to pay for me. So there was always a chance I thought this could happen.'"

...and it didn't sound any better in MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article on the non-tendering entitled, "Nationals give Harris two-year deal", where Mr. Redding told Mr. Ladson, (several paragraphs after an elated Willie Harris proclaims, "'It feels like everything just paid off...") that the move:

"...kind of came as a surprise, but I also know they are trying to cut cost and everything else because they are trying to bring in [Mark Teixeira]," Redding said."

...after which Mr. Redding announces that he won't be sitting around waiting for the Nationals to reach out:

"I'm a free agent, and I'll be checking the whole market," Redding said. "[General manager] Jim [Bowden] made it clear to me that there is still interest back in D.C., but not for the price arbitration would allow me to get. I'm going through the process."

So for anyone keeping score...there wasn't enough money to sign Soriano a few years back...Last summer, 1st Round pick Aaron Crow's monetary demands were too outlandish to consider signing the potential top-of-the-rotation starter...and DC doesn't want Redding (probably a 4th/5th starter) back at the "price arbitration would allow" him to get...but there's more than enough money for an 8-year/$162 Million dollar offer for Teixeira...You can't bring back a veteran pitcher because of all the money you're trying to committ to Teixeira?...Why would a city that had its Senators leave and become the Rangers want to start acting like that Texas team did with A-Rod?

WINTER LEAGUE WHIRLWIND...(Coming Tomorrow, we'll catch up on all the weekend action in the Dominican, Puerto Rican and Venezuelan Leagues...but NOW...)

Teixeira Update...as of 6:13 pm EST 12/14/08...Mark Teixeira has not yet accepted or rejected the Washington Nationals' generous offer...

The New York Yankees have, however, done what everyone hoped they wouldn't and officially announced their intentions to pursue the coveted free agent first baseman right along with the Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox...(ed. note - "I guess when two teams in your division and one powerhouse in the AL do it, the Yankees are left with no choice...")

The Yankees, as reported in an MLB.com article Lyle Spencer entitled, "Yankees enter Teixeira Fray", having already signed Nick Swisher, A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia to free agents deals this offseason, have decided that they might as well get involved in the bidding for not only Teixeira, but OF Manny Ramirez as well...and why not, right?...

Teixeira's stated in the past that he wants to know where he'll be playing before Christmas...which doesn't leave much time now...

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