The final paragraph of MASNSports.com's Phil Wood's latest article entitled, "A Tale of Two Orlandos" got me excited for the week ahead as Mr. Woods first wrote about the rumors involving the Nationals and free agent infielders Orlando Hudson and Orlando Cabrera, noting that, "...time is running out on players like the Orlando's," and suggesting, "Clubs are going to start putting offers out to players like that saying 'first one to call back gets it.'" In Mr. Woods' opinion, "The Nats hope it'll be Hudson, and knowing that Cabrera is also in the picture may hasten Hudson's decision." Mr. Woods then talked about how the week ahead could be an important one in determining the final destinations of those free agents still waiting for the right offer to fall in their laps, and two in particular might still be on the Nationals' minds:
"The clock is also running on guys like Jon Garland and John Smoltz, both of whom are on the Nats' radar. Joel Piniero, Doug Davis and Jose Contreras are off the market. If the rest of the still-available free agents believe that dollar amounts are going to start increasing, they may be in for a rude awakening.
"Next week could be fun."
The Nationals expressed interest in both Garland and Smoltz earlier this winter. The last Nationals' fans heard about Jon Garland was in a Washington Post article on the Nats signing Jason Marquis entitled, "National sign Marquis to two-year deal", where Washington Post writer Chico Harlan reported that, "Initially, according to one source familiar with the team's pitching search," the Nationals had focused not on Marquis, but on the 30-year-old former White Sox, D-Backs and Dodgers' starter:
"...the Nationals targeted Garland, a 6-foot-6 right-hander who typifies the sort of hurler Rizzo appreciates. When Garland hedged -- he is believed to prefer a West Coast team -- the Nationals turned their attention to Marquis, who lives in Staten Island, N.Y."
Garland's desire to pitch for a West Coast team received a serious blow last week when the Angels inked right-hander Joel Piniero and the Dodgers reached a deal with Vicente Padilla. While neither deal rules out an agreement with Garland and either of those teams or another western team, it would certainly seem to make at least those two left coast teams unlikely suitors.
John Smoltz? In a Winter Meetings tweet, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote that the, "Nats are Smoltz's last resort." Haven't heard about too many offers on the table for the soon-to-be-43-year-old, 21-year-veteran right-hander. Before the Nationals fell short in their pursuit of international free agent Aroldis Chapman I asked MLB.com's Bill Ladson through Twitter what pitchers were still on the Nats' radar and Smoltz was on the list Mr. Ladson included in response:
"The same guys we have heard about: John Smoltz, Vincente Padilla, Aroldis Chapman, Jarrod Washburn and Doug Davis."
Smoltz, Garland, Washburn? The latest update on the Nationals' plans for the starting rotation came from DC GM Mike Rizzo in a 1/20/10 article by Washington Post writer Chico Harlan entitled, "Free agent targets, plaudits, poetry", where Mr. Harlan wrote that, "Rizzo acknowledged that the Nats still want to sign a final arm for their rotation and are targeting a list of "four or five" potential players." Mr. Rizzo himself was then quoted explaining:
"'I think we need another pitcher in our rotation,' Rizzo said. 'I'd certainly like to add one. I'd rather not start the season with three very, very young pitchers in the rotation. Two young pitchers is much more palatable, I think. But if the right pitcher comes around that fits what I'm trying to do, we'll certainly make a run at him.'"
John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Jon Garland/John Smoltz, Scott Olsen and a revolving 5th spot shared between Craig Stammen, J.D. Martin, Garrett Mock, Collin Balester, Shairon Martis, Stephen Strasburg...etc. Certainly better than last year's rotation...or should Nationals fans just accept that the extra arm that will be added will be attached to the body of the one and only Livan Hernandez?