You just got a five-year extension from your boss. Your no.1 overall pick from the last draft is out in Arizona playing against the best competition he's ever faced. The previous year's top draft pick is in California recovering from reconstructive surgery on his elbow. The first major international signing brought in by your rebuilt front office was underwhelming in his first taste of the major league action, though he showed signs of promise, and now he's in the winter leagues pitching in the Liga de Beisbol Dominicano. The top infield prospect in the organization is honing his craft in the Liga de Beisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico. And you're a little over a week away from the five-day window in which you have the exclusive right to negotiate with your big middle-of-the-order bat before he hits the FA market. If it doesn't happen, then you have to replace him at first and find the offense he provided there, or in other upgrades to your roster. The 2011 season began for D.C. GM Mike Rizzo long before the 2010 schedule ended. Mr. Rizzo said he's always been sure to keep, "...a long-term view with a short-term focus," in a recent teleconference to announce his extension and promotion to Executive VP of Baseball Ops, and that won't change with his new title and the security the extension provides, "It will be my baby," Rizzo said about the franchise going forward, "and my fingerprints will be all over the organization, more so than they are already."
• Fall/Winter Ball: Bryce Harper got off to a good start in the Arizona Fall League last week. On Friday night, the Nats' 23-year-old '08 3rd Round pick, Danny Espinosa, who debuted in D.C. this past September, played his first game for the Liga de Beisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico's Leones de Ponce, going 1 for 5 with an RBI single in the fourth inning of a 4-0 Leones' win over the Indios de Mayaguez. With the Leones de Ponce this Winter, Nats fans can catch a glimpse of a potential future where Espinosa will be playing second and throwing to '06 1st Round pick, first baseman Chris Marrero, who's at first alongside Espinosa for the Leones. Marrero went 2 for 5 in the season-opener, doubling off one-time Mets' pitcher Bill Pulsipher. Nats' pitching prospects, starter Jeff Mandel (who pitched a scoreless 8th getting two groundouts to Espinosa and one back to the mound), lefty reliever Patrick McCoy, right-hander Hassan Pena and lefty Cory Van Allen (who got the final out of the fourth) are also on the Leones' roster, which is managed by third base coach and first man into a fight, Pat Listach.
(ed. note - "Also playing in the Liga de Beisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico, or at least on the various team's rosters: RHP Erik Arnesen, RHP Luis Atilano, OF Edgardo Baez and C Pudge Rodriguez w/ the Criollos de Caguas; 25-year-old infielder Wilberto Ortiz, who spent 2010 in Potomac, is playing for the Gigantes de Carolina; and 22-year-old right-handed Puerto Rican Nats' prospect John Santiago, who pitched in the GCL this year is on the roster of the Senadores de San Juan.")
In the Liga de Beisbol Dominicano on Sunday, 29-year-old right-hander Yunesky Maya pitched for the Leones del Escogido in a 7-0 win over the Tigres del Licey, holding the Tigres to 3 hits over 5.0 IP in which he walked just one while collecting 8 K's in a debut that was much more successful than his first MLB outing against the NY Mets, who knocked Maya around for 5 hits and 4 ER in 5.0 IP on September 7th. The Cuban defector, who missed nearly a year of competitive action while his residency and work visa issues were resolved, will have the entire winter and Spring to prepare for his next MLB outing.
(ed. note - "Also in the Liga de Beisbol Dominicano, or at least on the team's rosters, IF Pedro Lopez and outfielders Eury Perez and Jesus Valdez are on the Leones with Maya; 28-year-old infielder Michael Martinez, who played for Harrisburg and Syracuse in 2010 is on the Estrellas de Oriente; Joel Peralta's on the Gigantes del Cibao roster along with 23-year-old infielder Francisco Soriano; and LHP Atahualpa Severino's pitching for Licey.")
• Hot Stove Warming: With the World Series between Texas and San Francisco starting Wednesday, and Game 7* scheduled (* = if necessary) for November 4th, the window is closing for the Nats' GM to sign Adam Dunn if the Nats plan to keep the big middle-of-the-order-slugger or start searching for Dunn's replacement as well as the top-of-the-rotation arm he's publically stated he's after. Boston Globe.com writer Nick Carfado wrote Sunday, in an article entitled, "With right pitch, Greinke could be pried from K.C.", that Royals' right-hander Zack Greinke is a serious consolation prize for anyone who loses out on the top FA arm, and a relative bargain at $13.5 M for the next two seasons as compared to what Cliff Lee is likely to command on the open market. An anonymous "AL GM" Mr. Carfado quotes in the article says, "if you’re looking to build around someone, you would roll the dice with Greinke and hope that what he showed this season is an off year and not a sign of things to come. You’d have to do due diligence, but the upside with Greinke is pretty good.’’ Stephen Strasburg, Zack Grienke and Jordan Zimmermann...? That's a top three to build around...
Mr. Carfado also mentions that the Tampa Bay Rays are in for an "Extreme Makeover" as he writes in another section bearing that subtitle that the Orioles, Nats and possibly the Red Sox could attempt to sign Rays' first baseman Carlos Pena, or, "The Rays also could retain Pena on a one-year deal." And when it comes to Tampa arms, Matt Garza, who's been mentioned as a potential trade target for the Nationals, is listed as a part of the rotation with James Shields mentioned as an arm that might be available along with CFer Justin Upton...and there's always Carl Crawford out there if the Nats are interested in adding a new bat to the OF.
In Rizzo We Trust...The hot stove is warming...