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11/15/07 Who Wants To Start In Center for the Washington Nationals Now?

      Both Mark Zuckerman at washingtontimes.com and Bill Ladson at washington.nationals.mlb.com have written in the last week to remind Washington fans that they probably shouldn't expect the team to sign one of the big-name center fielders like Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter or Aaron Rowand, who all stand to command more than it makes sense for the Nationals to spend.

     Mr Zuckerman, in his article, "Nats won't spend big" once again restates what has become sort of a mantra for the Nationals organization, (who are as on-message as the other DC administration!), when he writes:

          "The Nationals, under the guidance of team president Stan
          Kasten, continue to look at free agents as a last resort, a  
          far inferior method of building a contender than  
          developing from within and trading for big league talent."

     If Washington was to pursue free agent options, Mr Zuckerman thinks Washington would be better off turning to players like Mike Cameron or Corey Patterson, both of whom have expressed interest in the currently unclaimed gap between Wily Mo Pena and Austin Kearns, the starting spot in center in DC's brand-new ballpark.

     mlb.com's Nationals writer Bill Ladson spoke to Mike Cameron's agent Mike Nicotera for his article, "Agent: Cameron interested in Nationals" in which the Mr Nicoreta listed the reasons for free agent center fielder's interest in playing in DC, foremost among them, his past relationships with both Nationals Manager Manny Acta and GM Jim Bowden.

     In 13 Major League seasons, Cameron has collected a .251 AVG, 1,366 hits, 305 doubles, 54 triples, 216 HR's, 786 RBI's and his own personal highlight reel of amazing catches, but he heads into free agency on a .242 campain in San Diego, in which he hit 34 doubles, 21 HR's and drove in 78 RBI's before ending the season in the papers for all the wrong reasons.

     Ladson cautions that the 25-Game suspension Cameron must serve at the start of the season, for testing positive for a "banned-substance" will require the Nationals or any team that signs Cameron to carry at least one other starting center fielder on their roster, and quotes Mr Nicotera who responds to a question about how Cameron has dealt with the situation by mentioning the help of:

           "...so many people in the game -- both players and
           people in management -- who have reached out to him
           and offered support. They tell him, 'We know the type of
           person that you are and you move forward.'"

     It will be interesting to see which of those "people in management" will sign a free agent facing a "banned-substance suspension" in light of today's events involving the Former San Francisco Giants Left Fielder...

     Corey Patterson, carries no such baggage along with him, and the twenty-eight year old free agent would consider joining the Nationals according to another Bill Ladson article this week, "Patterson shows interest in Nats" where Mr. Ladson writes that Patterson could hit leadoff and play center, filling two of Washington's roster needs.

     A .258 hitter in his 8 Major League seasons, Patterson has a slightly lower .256 AVG as a leadoff hitter in his career with 29 doubles, 4 triples, 24 HR's and 71 RBI in 160 games at the top of the order since his debut on September 8, 2000 with the Chicago Cubs.

     Last season in Baltimore, Corey Patterson played 132 games and hit 26 doubles, 2 triples and 8 HR's with 45 RBI's, 37 stolen bases, and 3 errors in the field with a .304 OBP, which is identical to Nook Logan's '07 OBP, and slightly lower than Ryan Church's .349 OBP...

     Will the Nationals trade Logan and Church and sign Cameron or Patterson to platoon in center with Justin Maxwell, who, by all reports, will be given a shot at center in Spring Training, but may still be too green for an everyday role? Will the Nationals somehow shock the world and ink Andruw Jones? Can Jim Bowden get a starting pitcher in return for two players who he doesn't want in center for his own team?

*Relevant Links*

Mark Zuckerman's washingtontimes.com article "Nats won't spend big":

http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20071113/SPORTS02/111130084/1026

Bill Ladson's washington.nationals.mlb.com article "Agent: Cameron interested in Nationals":

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071107&content_id=2294743&vkey=ne ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was

Bill Ladson's washington.nationals.mlb.com article "Patterson shows interest in Nats":

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071113&content_id=2299982&vkey=ne ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was