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And Then There Were Three...The Washington Nationals Stay In The Race For Mark Teixeira...(It's Alright To Admit You Want To Be A National, Tex!!!)

If published reports at ESPN and are to be believed, and these things are truly hard to judge with all the misinformation and obfuscation out there...

The Baltimore Orioles have fallen back behind the pack in the race to impress free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira with numbers and years, as both's Lyle Spencer, in an article entitled, "Red Sox seen in lead in Teixeira derby", and writer Buster Olney in an article entitled, "Sources: Teixeira to Orioles unlikely" report that only a desire on the part of Teixeira to provide some sort of home town discount could keep Camden Yards a possible destination for the 28-year-old switch hitting Maryland-native, who is then left with a choice between the warm sun and winning ways of Anaheim's Angels, Boston's big fanbase and recent winning tradition and miraculously, the largest contract available...which is apparently being offered up by your own Washington Nationals...'s Lyle Spencer speculates that the Orioles' unwillingness to move up from their original seven-year, $150 million dollar offer is behind their dropping in the rumored rankings of teams still in pursuit, and who can blame Baltimore when Teixeira alone won't lift them up above either three or four of their AL East rivals (depending upon how you view the current Orioles' roster and system)...The Angels are in it, for 8-years and mystery money, but everyone keeps mentioning Teixeira's east coast leanings...The Red Sox, having been burned by Manny Ramirez on the last 10-year deal they gave out, are seemingly not going to go to the 10-year/$200 million dollar heights I thought would have immediately drawn Teixeira to Boston...And the Yankees are on the outside threatening to do to the Red Sox, Angels and Nationals what they did to the Braves in moving in on A.J. Burnett before Atlanta could pull together a deal...So, Washington's Nationals, and their reported 8-year and $160 million offer...are still under consideration...

But wait...Baltimore Sun writer Dan Connolly, who I've been checking in on since reading his article earlier this week, writes today, in an article entitled, "MacPhail: 'We have flexibility' on Teixeira offer", (in which Mr. Connolly's quoting the Orioles' GM Andy MacPhail), that the O's original offer isn't a "take-it-or-leave-it" type of offer, and in Mr. MacPhail's own words, as reported by Mr. Connolly:

"If they came back to us and told us what it would take and we thought that it made sense for us, then yes [the original offer could be altered]..."'s Mike Bauman in a "Baseball Perspectives" column entitled, "Red Sox could counter with Teixeira", offers the same advice that's Buster Olney was proffering yesterday, as Mr. Bauman writes that acquiring Teixeira might be a "public relations windfall" for the Nationals (or Orioles), but in Mr. Bauman's opinion:

" could be argued that both of those clubs are currently far enough off the pace that they should spread the money around and build up a sufficient base of talent, rather than investing it all in one player..."

What I'm really worried about is the negative press that could pour down upon the Nationals should they come up short in their efforts to acquire Teixeira, or if they should, say...come within $700,000 to $1 million dollars in their final offer and then balk...(ed. note - "That's an Aaron Crow reference, for any non-Nationals' fans who might be following along.")...or even worse, if Washington should not only fail to ink Tex, but also neglect to make any other real improvements on a roster that lost 102 games last season...One hundred and two...unless trading for "The Hammer" Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen was DC's big move of the winter?...What if Adam Dunn doesn't want to come to Washington? What if the Mets ditch Castillo and bring Orlando Hudson in to play second in Citi Field? What if the Nationals get done waiting for Teixeira to decide what he wants to do and end up with only the '09- equivalent of Paul Lo Duca and Johnny Estrada left to choose from on the free agent market?

Last Night...In The Winter Leagues...

Jesus Flores was 0 for 1, striking out in a pinch hitting appearance for the Navegantes del Magallanes in a 3-1 win over Caribes de Anzoategui in Venezuelan Winter League action, and the Nationals' and Navegantes' backstop is now hitting hitting just .228 with 5 doubles, 1 HR and 10 RBI's in 26 games...Ronnie B!!! Ronnie Belliard was 2 for 4 Tuesday night as the Dominican Winter League's Tigres del Licey took an 8-2 win over Aguilas Cibaenas, with Belliard starting at third, scoring twice, walking and sporting a .365 AVG after the win...(Anderson Hernandez was 0 for 3 with a walk and a K, but he's still batting .365 for the Tigres, which just so happens to be the best AVG in the Dominican Winter League as of last night...he also leads the league in doubles with 19 in 46 games, and in triples with 6 so far...) (ed. note - Free Agent Fact: "Daniel Cabrera pitched 2.1 innings for Licey, allowing 6 hits, 1 run and 2 walks with 2 K's.") (Update...Hernandez was 2 for 4 Wednesday, Belliard - 1 for 4 in a loss...)...and finally, in the Liga de Beisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico, DC prospect Garrett Guzman started in left for the Criollos de Caguas Tuesday night and he went 1 for 2 with a double, his 7th, an RBI and a run scored in a 10-3 Caguas' win over the Cangrejeros de Santucre. Guzman's now hitting .289 over 28 games in which he's collected the 7 doubles, 2 triples, 2 HR's and 16 RBI's. Guzman's teammate, Justin Maxwell, was 0 for 1 in a pinch hit appearance, and is now hittting .213. 

What say you, Teixeira?