Wire Taps: Washington Nationals Head To Winter Meetings With BIG Plans.

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 27: Davey Johnson is introduced as the Washington Nationals manager prior to the start of the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 27, 2011 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

• So...Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell wrote yesterday that Davey Johnson thinks Bryce Harper is like the new Doc Gooden, the Nats don't necessarily need a big power-hitting first baseman and the bench is a big concern for the Nats this winter. We learned yesterday the D.C. GM Mike "Run Silent" Rizzo was in the DR to watch a private workout by soon-to-be-free-agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The answer to the Nats' outfield needs could already be on the 40-Man roster if Bryce Harper can force his way onto the Opening Day roster. (Our prediction? As it has been for a while now: We still say Harper starts in Double-A and works his way up right quick, but we won't bet against Bryce Harper, and that's not just because we don't like gambling.) Here are some links about the Nats, NatsTown and the NL East...

• THE BIG STORY:

• "'You can’t hide talent,' Johnson said. 'Bryce is like Dwight Gooden [in the Mets’ rotation at age 19]. If he’s ready, he’s ready.'" - Davey Johnson - "At baseball winter meetings, Nationals’ Mike Rizzo is usually predictably unpredictable" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post

• NATS BEAT:

• "Outfielder Laynce Nix is drawing interest from a number of teams and the former National could make a decision as early as next week's winter meetings, a source said." - "Nationals among 'several' teams interested in OF Laynce Nix" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "It's not surprising the Nationals are not eligible, considering they play in one of the biggest, most affluent metro areas in the country and are in a four-year-old stadium..." - "Nationals not eligible for first competitive balance lottery" - Ben Goessling, MASNSports.com

• "It may not seem as important as a deep rotation or a bolstered lineup, but there's no portion of the Nationals' roster that needs more improvement than its bench." - "Improved bench a must" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "Will Tim Raines join former Expos teammates Gary Carter and Andre Dawson in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his fifth year of eligibility?" - "Tim Raines makes case in fifth year of candidacy for Hall of Fame" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "To me, Raines is a shoo-in, and Walker's career numbers compare favorably with several other Hall of Famers..." - "Hall of Fame ballot light on Nats" - Phil Wood, MASNSports.com

• "The Nationals staged a private workout for Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes at their Dominican academy in Boca Chica..." - "Nationals officials watch Yoenis Cespedes in private workout" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "[Vinny] Castilla, signed as a free agent in November 2004, played third base for the Nationals in their inaugural season in D.C., hitting .253 with 12 homers and 66 RBIs in 142 games..." - "Original Nat Castilla debuts on Hall of Fame ballot" - Pete Kerzel, MASNSports.com

• "This week, Rizzo is in the Dominican Republic, a source said, scouting Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes who is expected to establish residency in the DR and hit the free agent market shortly." - "Nationals notes on Cespedes and Espinosa" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "[Danny] Espinosa is the fourth Nationals player to be honored by Topps, which began naming its Rookie All-Star Team in 1959." - "Espinosa makes Topps Rookie All-Star Team" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "One Nationals source said Phillies players later told him they were almost resigned to defeat that day..." - "What if ... Stephen Strasburg hadn't gotten hurt?" - Ben Goessling, MASNSports.com

• "Not many Major Leaguers can claim status as a national baseball icon, a cornerstone for two franchises and a key veteran presence for a third, but Larry Walker has all that on his resume and more." - "Standout outfielder Larry Walker up for enshrinement in Cooperstown for second time" - John Schlegel, nationals.com: News

• "I'm not the first to bring up this subject, and hopefully won't be the last. Moving the Griffith Memorial would provide a nice tribute to another local baseball legend." - "Let's bring the 'Old Fox' to Southeast" - Phil Wood, MASNSports.com

• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama): "A revolution is called for, but not a political, economic or even technical revolution. What I propose is a spiritual revolution." -

• NATS MINOR/WINTER LEAGUES:

• "'[Bryce] Harper again showed he has top-line power, arm strength and is an improved baserunner,' [Aaron] Fitt said. 'He was amazing this season. There is not much he can't do.'" - "Baseball America's top Nats prospects - No. 1: Bryce Harper" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

Liga Mexicana del Pacifico: Mazatlan 3, Culiacan 2 - Rafael Martin (MAZ) - 1.1 IP, 1 H, 2 K's - Box Score.

Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional: Margarita 12, Zulia 5 - Carlos Maldonado (ZUL) - 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K - Box Score.

Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional: Aragua 6, Caracas 4 - Wilson Ramos (ARA) 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K; Josh Wilkie (CAR) 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB - Box Score.

Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional: Caribes 4, Magallanes 1 - Jesus Flores (MAG) - 0 for 4, 1 K - Box Score.

Liga de Beisbol Dominicano: Estrellas 6, Licey 5 - Jhonatan Solano (LIC) - 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB - Box Score.

• NATSTOWN:

• "Strangely, though fellow rookie Wilson Ramos garnered more votes for ROY than Espinosa did, he did not make the Topps team, losing out to J.P. Arencibia of Toronto." - "Espinosa named to Topps Rookie All-Star Team" - Dave Nichols, District Sports Page

• "Espinosa finished his rookie season with 21 home runs, hitting 16 in the first half of the season which was the most-ever by a rookie second baseman." - "Espinosa named to All-Rookie team; Marrero tears hamstring" - Kristen, Win For Teddy

• "But did Yeonis Cespedes do 1300 lb. leg presses with Mike Rizzo sitting on top?" - Nats Enquirer

• "Ladson’s inbox: 11/29/11 edition" - Todd Boss, Nationals Arm Race

• "Nats Talk On The Go: Episode 2 of Podcast Available Now" - Capitol Baseball/The Nats Blog

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Phillies: "The Phillies announced Wednesday that they have signed eight minor-league free agents who will be invited to spring training in February." - "Phillies sign 8 minor-league free agents" - Bob Brookover, Philadelphia Inquirer

Mets: "We continue our look at the new collective bargaining agreement with the changes baseball is making to the format of its leagues and playoffs." - "The Impact of Baseball's New CBA on the Mets: Scheduling, Realignment, and Postseason Play" - Chris McShane, Amazin' Avenue

Marlins: "Got word late last night that the Marlins were going strong after reliever Heath Bell." - "Will Heath Bell be the next Marlins closer?" - Joe Capozzi, The Palm Beach Post

Braves: "Overall, [Jason] Heyward slugged just .508--roughly equal to the MLB average--on balls in play, including homers." - "How The Braves' Jason Heyward Works The Count, Revisited" - Jacob Peterson, Talking Chop

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