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I'll take the box. The box!

Here I thought that Jim Bowden was operating on a strict budget; maybe he is, as rumors are absolutely free. But if today's rumors are correct, then Bodes is going to be flinging the cash like a dump truck full of old pesos.

Let's take Jeff Weaver first, with whom Rotoworld links the Nats:

Angels GM Bill Stoneman said reports that he has discussed signing free agent Jeff Weaver don't have much to them.
"That's not a likely thing," Stoneman said. Maybe Weaver will get his big long-term deal, but it seems unlikely to come from a contender. The Orioles and Nationals look like two of the top candidates to sign him.
Source: Orange County Register

However, let's take a gander at the O.C. Register article to which Rotoworld links:

Stoneman said reports that he has discussed signing ex-Dodger Jeff Weaver don't have much to them.

"That's not a likely thing," Stoneman said.

And that's all folks---no link to the Nats or the O's.

I know a lot of baseball fans get their stuff from Rotoworld, but I don't see it. What's the market for Weaver? Reportedly, he sought from the Dodgers something between Washburn money (four years, $37.5 million) and Millwood money (five years, $60 million). Did we mention that Scott Boras is Weaver's agent? He'll be politely requesting double-expensive Starbucks; the Nats can afford Dr. Skippy. Not likely.

Can't we just dream, just for a moment? Well . . . for a second.  For his career, Weaver is no great shakes (99 ERA+), but he's young and competent and durable and a free agent---and these days, sometimes it only takes one of the four to get a big pay day. He's been something of a disappointment, especially since 2003. But I think Weaver could kick some serious booty in RFK Stadium. He made some gains in '05 that didn't show up in the statistics but that could bear fruit this coming season. For instance, check the seasonal progression of his strikeout-to-walk ratio:

  • "Meh"
  • "Getting better"
  • "Better"
  • "Very good"
  • "Meh"
  • "Better"
  • "Very good"
So we're back to "very good" (43 walks, 157 strikeouts). Then what was his undoing last season, such that he ended up with a 4.22 ERA---which in Dodger Stadium translated to a pedestrial 96 ERA+? Home runs. Thirty five of them in 224 innings pitched. But, according to the data compiled in the indispensible Hardball Times Annual, Weaver surrendered a higher-than-average rate of outfield fly balls, and Dodger Stadium (despite its reputation as a pitchers' park) surrendered a higher-than-average ratio of home runs-per-flyballs. Thus, I'm proposing a classic "straighten him out in RFK" reasoning.

Of course, there's a reason why a team brings back Tony Armas, places trust in Ryan Drese, and hopes for a revival from Ramon Ortiz: it needs to spread out its risk in the back end of the rotation, figuring that one or two of those guys won't survive the season in a starting role. Weaver would change all of that; immediately, he'd become the third starter---and a strong second to LIVAN! in terms of durability. Brian Lawrence would be a quite decent (and durable) fourth starter; his combination of mediocrity plus innings would be a back-end strength. And having three dopes (plus the forgotten Jon Rauch) duke it out for one spot would then seem like overkill.

So we can dream---and dream expensively---but this isn't going to happen. For all we know, Rotoworld's inclusion of the Nats was a scrivener's error. That or just a dumb WAG. You make the call.

__

The other big headline is at best bizarre:

The Washington Nationals and Sammy Sosa have been involved in preliminary discussions for a possible one year agreement.

The information was quickly spread on Tuesday in the Dominican Republic, where some media sources said that the signing of the slugger with the Nationals was all but done, but Washington and Sosa have only sat down for preliminary meetings. . . .

If he were to sign with the Nationals, Sosa would probably move to left field, with Jose Guillen most likely in right field and Ryan Church in center. Complicating matters would be Alfonso Soriano, who the Nats have wanted to move to the outfield, but who has also resisted a change from second base. Washington also signed veteran outfielder Michael Tucker this week.

Whoa.

Wherever he goes, Sosa might just set the Guiness baseball record for most precipitous salary drop-off, from $17 million (!) last season to . . .

. . . well, whatever it is will likely be too much. Let's only pray he doesn't earn a dime from the Nationals.

As I see it, there is one and only one even half-cocked rationale for signing Sosa: the hope that he's not completely washed up as a potential lefty-mashing platoon left fielder/pinch-hitter. (Last season, he hit .288/.380/.471 in just over 100 at-bats versus southpaws. He was hopelessly anemic against righties.) Is that much of a rationale to yank in an aging power hitter whose bat has slowed and whose power source (heh) has dried out, to a park that greatly suppresses power? Again, you make the call.

As for me, I'm pegging this a textbook Jeffrey Leonard acquisition---completely irrelevant to the team's future success. (Sure enough, in the afore-linked post, I was discussing Sosa almost exactly a year ago. Do you recall that Bowden offered Harris, Sledge, and another minor leaguer to the Cubs for him? I didn't.)

I don't even think---in the exceedingly unlikely event Sosa recovered his power stroke---that Sosa could be flipped for any kind of worthwhile prospect come July or August. Why would a team give up anything of value for him, even if he was having a good season? That team would be faced with the choice of offering arbitration to Sosa after the season; think an offer would come? No way---too great a risk of Sosa accepting and becoming a more expensive millstone for '07. And, if the team is going to relinquish the guy a few months later, it's not going to offer much of anything at the time of the trade. He'd be a rental in the truest, most transparent sense of the word. Not even Bodes' savvy or leather pants could overcome that kind of bargaining deficit.

So, I ask, what really is the point here?

Answer: There is no point.

IN OTHER NEWS

  • Rocket Bill reports that Marlon Byrd avoided arbitration, signing a one year, $800,000 deal.
  • Rocket Bill also reports (same link) that Rule 5 foof Tony Blano had right shoulder surgery. Presumably, he'll be ready for spring training, on his way to tons and tons of strikeouts at Harrisburg.
  • Rocket Bill also reports (same link!) that Charlie "Bang! Zoom!" Slowes will be joined by the Curly J, Dave Jaegler, in the radio booth. Jaegler is from Pawtucket; it seems like all up-and-coming guys are from Pawtucket. I've got no idea why. Anyway, welcome, Dave! (I'm guessing he knows how to pronounce "Encarnacion.")
  • Rocket Bill does not report (but CNNSI does, thanks to the NY Daily News) that Ken Oberkfell is interviewing for a big league coaching job with the Nats. Back in the 80s, he had a sweet, sweet perm. In fact, since I accidentally deleted my last post with all the pictures in it, why don't I find a good Oberkfull picture? . . .
. . . Unfortunately, I'm not getting a good perm pic from a Braves-era Oberkfull---that was his best perm epoch. But here's a late career photo:


The perm, plus a mini-mullett!