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An NL East Tradition Continues...The Washington Nationals' Needs...Mark Teixeira Still Unsigned...

Are There Only Two Teams In The NL East? 

The newest New York Met, Francisco Rodriguez, might not have known what he was doing today when he told AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum, in a Yahoo! column entitled, "K-Rod: "We're going to be the team to beat":

"'Of course, we’re going to try to win the division. Of course, we’re going to be the front-runner. Of course, we’re going to be the team to beat..."

...But whether he knew it or not, K-Rod, the Mets' new closer, was carrying on a three-year old tradition which began on 1/23/07, in an article (among many sources) entitled, "Rollins, Phillies confident about chances in '07", wherein Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins was quoted stating as clearly as possible:

"'I think we are the team to beat in the NL East -- finally,' shortstop Jimmy Rollins said Tuesday. 'But, that's only on paper.'"

Mr. Blum's article on K-Rod mentions that Jimmy Rollins started all this bravado, but he fails to mention that Mets' center fielder Carlos Beltran was the one to speak up last year, when he told Newark Star-Ledger sports writer Jeremy Cothran, as recorded in Mr. Cothran's 2/16/08 article entitled, "Beltran: Mets are team to beat":

"'With (Santana), now, I have no doubt that we're going to win in our division,' Beltran said. 'So this year, to Jimmy Rollins, we are the team to beat.'"

...Tom "Flash" Gordon spoke up quickly for the Phillies in response to Beltran, for an article by Jayson Stark entitled, "Phillies' response to Beltran: 'Let's get in on", where the aged reliever told Mr. Stark:

"'You know what? We're the team to beat...That's what I think.'"

(ed. note - "Good one, Flash.")

Jimmy Rollins tried to qualify the first of the statements immediately upon uttering it, possibly realizing how it might inspire the rest of the East's teams...(ed. note - "But he was right, and backed up his words, as Rollins led Philly to the NL East title with an MVP-winning campaign, only to get run over by the Rockies and knocked out in the first round)...Beltran never backed off his statements...the Mets' finished second in the NL East in '08, behind a Phillies' team that would go on to win the Divison, NL Division Series, NL Championship Series and the Series Series...Let's look, does K-Rod back off his bold pronouncements following the Rollins' Pattern or does he go Beltran-style...uh, yes, here we go, only took him a paragraph...As quoted again in Mr. Blum's article, the soon-to-be-27-year-old closer might have realized he hadn't even pitched a game for the Mets yet, as he tells Mr. Blum:

"'I don’t want there to be a controversy or the other ballclubs in that division to take it personally or take it in a bad way,' he said. 'If they ask me, ‘Oh, which ballclub is going to win the National League East?’ It’s going to be the Mets. Easy question.'”

(ed. note - "Whatta ya mean, 'that division', K-Rod?")

...So Rollins is first to make the NL East title claim...but he qualifies, and it ends up that he's right, then Beltran's next with the talk, fails to retract or apologize and he's wrong, but Gordon's right in contradicting Beltran, and now K-Rod tries to predict the future...This is all too much fun...Oh, I can't wait to hear which Phillies' player responds to K-Rod tomorrow...Who will win the NL East? The Mets or the Phillies? Phillies or Mets? It's like there aren't even other teams in the division...'s Buster Olney on What The Nationals Need...'s Buster Olney's recent blog post, "Teams that still have significant holes to fill", has the Washington Nationals as the sixth of ten teams with holes to fill in the franchise, as Mr. Olney identifies the Nationals' biggest need as a, "Signature Player"...(ed. note - "I know, it's alright, Zim.") Mr. Olney writes, (echoing a lot of what I've read here at and elsewhere in the DC blogosphere):

"...the Nationals are intent on adding a franchise player, a signature player, despite the fact that they might be eight to 10 player upgrades away from being a contender, and so they are willing to spend a whole lot of cash on Mark Teixeira."

(ed. note - "Did Mr. Olney have to say, 'eight to 10 player upgrades away'...that's rough.") 

...Sure, I'd love to see Teixeira at first in DC for the next few seasons, though I'm a big Nick "When He's Healthy" Johnson fan, when he's, uh, healthy, but I don't really want Teixeira at $20 M a year if it means DC doesn't sign Stephen Strasburg after they (please, please, please) select him first overall in '09, or if it means they don't sign or bring in any other help, to the bullpen, or starting rotation, both of which could use an infusion of veteran talent, but who knows, maybe giving one Scott "Maximum" Boras' client a big deal will grease the wheels for next year's business? 

Teixeira of 2:36 am EST 12/14/08...Mark Teixeira has not yet accepted or rejected the Washington Nationals' generous offer.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have revealed, however, that they presented the free agent first baseman with an 8-year deal that matched the Washington Nationals' offer in years, though the Angels' GM Tony Reagins declined to offer a dollar amount to writer Lyle Spencer for Mr. Spencer's article entitled, "Angels present Teixeira with offer"...

FOXSports' writer Ken Rosenthal mentions the Nationals in a section of his article entitled, "Yanks shedding salaries to go after more players", which is subtitled, "WWTD?", where Mr. Rosenthal writes about the way that teams and possibly Teixeira and his agent might be manipulating the market for the free agent first baseman:

"The Nats have offered Teixeira $160 million for eight years, according to The Washington Post. The Red Sox might not be at eight years and might not be at $20 million per season. The Yankees' interest could be sincere or it could be a ruse by the team and/or Boras."

Where can the Red Sox go? 10-years/$200M? Will Washington follow? Or is $160M over 8-years the ceiling for DC? Are the Yankees just trying to drive up the price?How much did the Angels offer over eight years? Who thinks the Nationals might actually outbid LA, NY and Boston?