It's the same message that he sent out via Twitter last night, but now it's reprinted as part of ESPN.com's Buster Olney's latest blog post, (for INSIDERS only) entitled, "Reports on Matthews Jr. aren't kind", so Mr. Olney's not backing away from the rumor he's heard about Washington entertaining offers for left fielder Josh Willingham:
"The Nationals have Josh Willingham back out on the trade market, perhaps to give them the option of shifting Adam Dunn back to the outfield."
But as I said yesterday, the first half of the sentence is so much harder to believe when followed by the second. Why would the Nationals want to put Adam (-39.5 UZR/150) Dunn, who had a combined .947 FLD% in 2009 as an outfielder and had trouble finding a job in the NL last winter because of his defense, back out into left field, especially after Washington traded away Nick Johnson to make room for Willingham in left and Dunn at first, and with no one in the system set to take over at first for Dunn, who had an "acceptable" (is that a good word?), .986 FLD% in 67 G at first in '09 (-25.0 UZR/150 at 1st)...Are all these rumors really based on the Mike Jacobs talk? Jacobs takes over at first and Dunn goes back to left...? Does anyone who watched the Nationals last year think putting Dunn back in left is a good idea?
The SB Nation's Seattle Mariners site Lookout Landing definitely picked up on Mr. Olney's Tweet, examining the possibility of acquiring Willingham in an article by "Matthew" entitled, "LF Option: Josh Willingham", wherein it was determined that the idea of putting Adam Dunn back in left is "insane" and trading the Hammer makes no sense, because as they point out, and as DC GM Mike Rizzo asked rhetorically in Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's July '09 article entitled, "Rizzo Has No Plans For A July Firesale":
"Why would you want to dump Willingham? We control him for two years, he's  years old, and he's a good hitter," Rizzo said. "I still think it's a young team. Willingham and Zim, those are guys in their primes or entering their primes. Including Dunn."
(ed. note - "Of course, in the very next sentence of Mr. Harlan's article, Mr. Rizzo's quoted as stating that the Nationals weren't looking to trade Nick Johnson...")
A December 9th MLB.com Bill Ladson tweet from the Winter Meetings reported the New York Mets had inquired about Willingham's availability, but according to Mr. Ladson, "...the Nats told New York they planned to hold on to (Willingham)." Then there's the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell, who twice since January 1st has mentioned the possibility of Willingham being dealt. First in an article entitled, "Rizzo's checklist for the Nats is halfway there", where he wrote:
"Josh Willingham, coming off a .927 OPS year, plus any '09 starter not named John Lannan, for a rotation-ready young starter of higher quality? Absolutely. Then they would use the millions they don't pay Willingham to sign a free agent hitter who is better defensively, such as Xavier Nady."
...and more recently, Mr. Boswell let slip a rumor he'd heard in a chat with fans about a potential, "Willingham-plus-somebody-for-a-young-pitcher deal," that had fallen through. It must have been a good "young pitcher" or pitchers this mystery team was offering, at least according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson's interview with Willingham entitled, "Willingham not bothered by trade rumors", where Mr. Ladson writes:
"...the only way Willingham is leaving Washington is if the Nationals are overwhelmed by the players they get in return."
What do the Yankees, Mets, Ranger, Mariners or Braves have to overwhelm Washington with? Will Willingham be in left for the Nationals come Opening Day? How about after the 2010 deadline?