Opening Night Returns To DC...
The Washington Nationals announced last night that they'd reached an agreement with veteran lefty Odalis Perez, who returns to DC with a Minor League contract and the obligatory invitation to Spring Training, where he'll try to beat out all the young arms on the roster for one of the starting spots in the Nationals' '09 rotation.
Perez had stated earlier this winter that he was interested in testing the free agent market, which tight as it is, apparently wasn't all that appealing to the 31-year-old native of Las Matas de Farfan in the Dominican Republic, who made 30 starts for the Nationals last season, posting a (7-12) record, 4.34 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP, and starting the first game ever played in Nationals Park last March against Atlanta.
"Opening Night" Odalis Perez posted a 3.71 ERA in his first 17 starts of '08, but he received no support from the punchless Nationals' offense, entering the All-Star break with a (2-7) record and going (5-5) in his last 13 starts over the "second-half" of the season as his ERA ballooned up to 5.14 when he allowed 45 runs, 10 HR's and 22 walks over the last 70.0 innings he pitched, in which opponents hit for a .296 AVG.
What does this mean for the starting rotation? Washington Post writer Chico Harlan, in the most recent Nationals Journal post entitled, "Odalis Perez signs Minor League deal", speculates that it's going to be Perez, Scott Olsen, John Lannan and (most likely), Collin Balester and Jordan Zimmermann, though Mr. Chico writes that, "Washington will also take a long look at Shawn Hill, Jason Bergmann and Shairon Martis." What does this do to your projected '09 Nationals' rotation? Is there any chance that Bergmann or Hill beats out either Balester or Zimmermann? How much will other teams hate having to face 3 lefties in DC's rotation? Did you want Odalis Perez back?
Speaking of the Dominican Republic...
Anderson Hernandez remained hitless for the Caribbean Series, after he'd been killing the ball all winter, going 0 for 3 today as the Dominican Winter League Champs, the Tigres del Licey dropped to 1-3 after four games with a loss to the Venezuelan entry in the CS, the Tigres de Aragua. Hernandez's teammate in Licey and DC, Ronnie Belliard was 1 for 3 with his 2nd double of the Series. The Tigres have two more games to play, tomorrow night at 2:00 pm PST (aka 5:00 pm EST) against Puerto Rico, and Saturday at 6:00 pm PST (9:00 pm EST) against Mexico as they attempt to defend their '08 Caribbean Series' crown.
My First Night In DC NatsTown This Season...
The SB Nation welcomed a group of DC/Baltimore area bloggers and writers into their official headquarters last night for a meet-up with one another and some local sports writers and broadcasters, and the question I got most from those gathered in the third-floor office across the street from the Verizon Center was, "When are the Nationals going to sign Manny Ramirez?" I assured each of them that DC GM Jim Bowden has been adamant lately that the Nationals are not interested in signing the defensively-challenged Hall of Fame-bound slugger, who remains on the market as he waits for someone to pay him what he and his agent thinks he's worth...(ed. note - "The ESPN crawl also had a note about the Nationals not being interested running all last night.")
ESPN.com's Buster Olney Knows Why No One Wants To Play In DC...
According to ESPN.com's Buster Olney, the Nationals' starting rotation has a lot to do with MLB Free Agents' reluctance to sign with DC, as Mr. Olney writes, in his post entitled, "Positions Of Interest Among NL Teams":
"Well, consider that the Marlins' No. 4 starter, Scott Olsen, came over in a trade and now is arguably the Nationals' best pitcher. Daniel Cabrera also has an inside track on a spot in the rotation, behind John Lannan -- the only returning member of the organization who made more than 22 starts last season."
Obviously this was written before the Nationals re-signed Odalis Perez, who, as noted above, made 30 starts last season, but that doesn't soften the blow of Mr. Olney's assertion that the weak state of the DC rotation is keeping free agents away...Is Scott Olsen the best starter on the Nationals' roster? How funny(cruel?) is it that Mr. Olney says Daniel Cabrera potentially earning a spot in the rotation is reason enough for some players to avoid signing with DC?
8 Days Until Pitchers and Catchers Report...
? - While I was listening to XM 175, and the MLB Hot Stove today, one of the Home Plate Updates, which was talking about Kevin Millar (pronounced Mill-Ahh) signing with Toronto, mentioned that the Nationals were among the teams that had been interested in signing Millar...and all I could think was...Why?
e chigliak - Founding Member of the Fans For A Dunn-Free DC