• Update 8:23 am EST: SI.com's Jon Heyman (@SI_JonHeyman): "Nats remaining ultra aggressive going after starting pitching, i hear. this team isnt messing around."
• Starter Search: The Washington Nationals are only in the mix on Cliff Lee to drive up the price for the team that eventually signs him, right? There's no way the NL East's doormat signs the 32-year-old one-time Expos' Draft pick who left the franchise in, in hindsight, (or really what was obviously from the start) one of the more lobsided deals in the organization's history? I've spoken to several writers covering the Nats, some of whom agreed that it was almost irresponsible to portray the Nationals as a serious destination for the free agent left-hander who appears destined for either New York or the Texas Rangers.
Yet, the Nationals met with Lee's agent yesterday, according to Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP), who quoted Mr. Rizzo on Twitter writing, "Mike Rizzo said he has spoken Darek Braunecker, Cliff Lee's agent, face-to-face at the winter meetings." So they talked to his agent, of course they did. Late last night, as the first day of the 2010 Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida came to a close, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported in an article entitled, "Sources: Lee likely to get 7-year offer", that the, "Yankees do not plan to offer the pitcher a seven-year deal." The Rangers, according to SI.com's Jon Heyman (@SI_JonHeyman), "were planning to offer 4 guarantee yrs to Lee, says source. But competition can change plans."
The competition, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal writes, reportedly involves an as yet unnamed team that, "has expressed a willingness to go seven years, sources say." Could that team be the Nats? Sure. Or one of the other 27 teams in baseball? Sure. Would the baseball world lose its _ _ _ _ if the Washington Nationals signed the second seven-year deal this winter? Absolutely. But don't count on it...(ed. note - "This report and the implications that the Nats might sign Lee are totally irresponsible.")
• Hammer Time: The Red Sox are reportedly interested, according to Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore, who wrote yesterday in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "The Nationals' first base options and how it affects Josh Willingham", that, as MLB.com's Bill Ladson among others have repeatedly reported, "the belief in baseball is that Willingham will most likely be traded." The Orioles "kicked the tires" (one of my least-favorite phrases) on Willingham according to Baltimore Sun writer Dan Connolly's article entitled, "Orioles' first base options: Willingham?", as a possible solution to their issues at first. But the Rockies, (who are reportedly close to a deal with Ty Wiggington) oft-rumored to be interested in the 31-going-on-32-year-old outfielder, have apparently stepped back their pursuit of Willingham, with the Denver Post's Troy E. Renck writing early this morning in an article entitled, "Rockies target Wigginton, Cantu for right-handed bat", that Colorado has, "...cooled on Washington outfielder Josh Willingham for now, given the acquisition price and concerns about his knee." What? Did they think Rizzo was dying to give the Hammer away?
• Eckstein Is A Geenyus, And A Class Individual. Required Reading This Morning:
"When talking to Nationals hitting coach Rick Eckstein, it's obvious that he will do anything for his family. That day will come on Wednesday, when he donates his kidney to his older brother, Ken, in a Florida hospital. Rick found out his kidney was a match for his older brother last week."
• Day Two is about to get underway. Follow us on Twitter at (@federalbaseball) or in the comment section Here. David Huzzard's Link Post is due around 11:00 am EST and an afternoon update will follow later this afternoon.