You have to like the confidence DC GM Mike Rizzo had in Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's early September Nationals Journal post entitled, "Reading Material, Shopping Lists", where he provided a list of pitchers-and-shortstops-of-interest on the market this winter, and then told Mr. Harlan, "'We're going to get one of them,'" or when he told USA Today sports writer Seth Livingstone, in an article last week entitled, "Organizational report: Nats' young talent provides hope", that the franchise was open for business, or as he put it himself:
"We have pieces that are attractive to other teams," general manager Mike Rizzo says. "We're leaving all avenues open. We're going to do what's best for the ballclub in the long term. We have several needs, and we're going to try to fill them by free agency, by trade or by waiver claim — any way we can."
Back in Mr. Harlan's article, before the season had even ended, Mr. Rizzo identified the team's offseason needs as, in Mr. Harlan's words, "A shortstop. A decent reliever. (Though probably not a top-of-the-line closer type; why waste the money?) At least one free agent starter. Maybe two, if Livo returns." Two of the shortstops on the list provided in that article, Alex Gonzalez and Jack Wilson, signed with the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners, respectively, and in announcing Gonzalez's signing with the Jays, The Globe and Mail.com writer Jeff Blair revealed, in an article entitled, "Jays GM decides on defense", the asking price for a third SS candidate on Mr. Rizzo's initial list, Orlando Cabrera, who's said to be seeking a, "2-year, $12-million minimum deal...", from any team interested in his services.
Alex Gonzalez, was, you'll remember, one of two free agent shortstops the Nationals were said to be interested in according to FOXSports.com writers Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi, who quoted "major league sources" in mid-November in their continually updated article entitled, "MLB Offseason buzz", who said the Nationals were looking at, "Alex Gonzalez, who still could re-sign with the Red Sox (and) Adam Everett, who still could re-sign with the Tigers," as they attempted to fill a need at short created by their decision to move Cristian Guzman to second. MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported earlier in November in an article entitled, "Nats show interest in DeRosa, Gonzalez", that Washington was looking at IF Mark DeRosa. Ian Desmond, the Nationals' 24-year-old "in-house" SS candidate, who hit for a combined .330 AVG with a .401 OBP, .477 SLG and an .878 OPS at two stops in Class-AA and AAA in '09, and went on to hit .280 with a .318 OBP, .561 SLG and an .879 OPS in 21 MLB games over which he collected 7 doubles, 2 triples, 4 HR's and 12 RBI's, according to Mr.'s Rosenthal and Morosi, "...probably needs more time at Class AAA."
• Will Washington's Willie Harris' friendship with Orlando Hudson lead him to join the Nationals, MLB.com's Bill Ladson couldn't help but ask. - MLB.com's Bill Ladson's, "Harris, Hudson form bond off the field".
• Washington Times' writer Ben Goessling stoked the Hot Stove in a live chat on Wednesday that might have been lost in the pre-holiday hustle, but it's worth a read as Mr. Goessling answers questions from a few names you might recognize like Brian from the Nationals Farm Authority; Hendo, aka Mike Henderson from Nationals Pride; Miss Chatter and yours truly, Ed Chigliak of Federal Baseball. I asked Mr. Goessling a question about the Rule 5 draft but when a few questions in a row covered the same territory, he answered my second query, which was simply, "Who debuts first, Storen or Strasburg?" to which he responded:
"I think it's Storen, simply because he's already been through a half-season in the minors and the Nats' response to the Strasburg hype will probably be to put him in the minors for a month or two, unless he's so good in spring training that they add him to the roster. But I think Storen has a great shot to make the team out of camp."
Mr. Goessling also talks about the 2010 rotation, the bullpen, just about everything. Great stuff...
• "Washington Nationals: Desperatley Seeking Shorstop" an early story about the Nationals' SS search here at Federal Baseball.com.