• Some Random Stories That We Didn't Touch On This Week...
• The Strasburg Plan: Before Friday night's game with the Astros, Nationals' Skipper Davey Johnson confirmed that barring any setbacks (All together now, "Or hiccups!"), Stephen Strasburg will make three more starts this season, all at Nats Park (this Sunday the 11th, next Saturday, September 17th and Friday September 23 against Atlanta) with September 28th's season finale with Florida in Florida a possibility should all go as planned the rest of the way.
In an interview on MLB Network Radio earlier this week, D.C. GM Mike Rizzo expressed a desire for Strasburg compile about 50.0 IP this season to prepare for 2012 when he'll rejoin the rotation on an innings limit similar to that which Jordan Zimmermann pitched on this year in his own first full-year back from Tommy John surgery. "That's minor league innings, major league innings, we take into account some simulated games that he pitched earlier in his rehab in those innings," Rizzo said, "So, we're looking for him to get a foundation for 50.0 innings in that will allow him to pitch a little deeper into 2012 and be effective for us that way."
• Don't Underestimate The RZO: A few weeks back a source of MLB.com's Bill Ladson's, told the Nats beat writer that, "The Nationals don't intend to go after Brewers' first baseman Prince Fielder once he becomes a free agent," as he reported in an article entitled, "Prince not on Nationals' winter shopping list." With Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche under contract and needs elsewhere; in center field, at the top of the order and in the rotation, spending big money on a first baseman wouldn't appear to be a priority.
When ESPN.com's Jayson Stark discussed the Nats' winter plans yesterday, however, in the "Ready to Rumble" section of his article on the market for closers, he noted that though, "... people who have concluded that the Nationals won't have any interest in someone like Albert Pujols this winter," because of the presence of Morse and LaRoche, they, "... may be underestimating Rizzo's drive to build something great." Mr. Stark writes, as MLB.com's Mr. Ladson's source told him, that signing a big name at first, "... wouldn't be at the top of his team's list of places to spend its ample resources," but the Nats' GM told Mr. Stark, "... you never want to say never. You never know."
• Reyes? Jose Reyes?: If you believe the "baseball officials" New York Post baseball writer Joel Sherman's spoken to, the Nats' target might be a familiar face for Nats fans since he's spent the last nine seasons playing short for one of Washington's NL East rivals. "When I ask officials around the sport for a list of teams they imagine being players for [Jose] Reyes," Mr. Sherman writes, "the Nationals are routinely in the discussion, especially since their current shortstop, Ian Desmond, has regressed this year." With the added bonus that signing the 28-year-old shortstop, "... would so badly hurt a fellow NL East team," Mr. Sherman thinks it's something Washington might consider.
The NY Post writer too suggests that with Morse and LaRoche available to play first, the money might be better spent elsewhere. Whether it's on a shortstop, center fielder or starter to complement the young rotation the Nats hope to assemble next season headed by Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, the expectation seems to be that the Jayson Werth signing last winter has set a precedent.
Where they'll spend money this winter will be fodder for discussion once the season ends, but as Mr. Sherman writes in discussing how Washington's building itself into a competitor, the Nats' are becoming another obstacle for the New York Mets to overcome as they try to become relevant again in the NL East race. "The Nationals are a potential, burgeoning power," Mr. Sherman writes, who are, "going to be a factor in the division moving forward." Nowhere in the article were the Nats referred to as "lowly" or "doormats"...and it's a NY paper. The perception of the Nats at least appears to be changing.