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Loose Ends Starting To Come Together

[January 26th] - The Washington Post's Barry Svrluga updates the Nats' Nation on the "goings on" of the Pep Boys, Manny, Moe and Jack. No, wait a minute. That should read Sammy, Felix and Daryle.

Sammy Sosa: After two weeks of lighting votive candles and chanting "harm-me-oh-in-geck-e-o" over and over, it seems that we may have misread the entire "Sosa Experience" entirely.

Reports Svrluga (I don't think I ever spell his name the same twice in a row): To this point, the Nationals have been unwilling to guarantee Sosa any money and are merely inquiring whether the 1998 National League MVP would be interested in trying to make the team. The competition for Sosa appears to be scant.

After Burning Jim Bowden in effigy across the blog-0-sphere, it seems that Bowden has never been willing to offer a dime of guaranteed money to Sammy. Oh well.

It was fun torching him anyway. Since Sosa has said he won't play in Japan, and since there is no one else looking to sign him, he can either sign a minor-league contract with the Nationals or call it a career. My guess (still) is that he'll sign a contract with the Nats, have a good spring and make the team as the starting left-fielder.

Felix Rodriguez: Svrluga reports that the Nationals are "close" to signing Rodriguez. Add the Denver Post report that Washington WILL sign Rodriguez and it's a same to assume it's a done deal.

In 2001, Felix Rodriguez ruled the National League. Pitching for the San Francisco Giants, Rodriguez went 9-1, 1.68 with 91 strikeouts in just 80 innings. He continued to pitch well for the Giants and the Phillies between 2002 - 2004, going 24-21, 3.44, striking out 163 in 190 innings. 2005 didn't go well for Rodriguez. Pitching for the Yankees, he had a 5.01 ERA in 32 innings while striking out only 19.


Rodriguez has a fastball that tops out at 98 mph. He has a good slider but most often just dares the hitter to catch up with the heat. Lefties do pretty well against Rodriguez but right-handers might just as well stay on the bench.


Even when including his dismal 2005 season, Rodriguez' last three years look very good. The right-hander has gone 13-10, 3.57 during that span, striking out 123 in 159 innings. From 2003 - 2005, Rodriguez gave up a .254 batting average, .345 on-base percent and .395 slugging average. He is especially hard on lefties, allowing a .229 batting average against (.270 vs righties).

This one makes sense.

Daryle Ward: Svrluga also says that the team is also near a deal with former phenom Daryle Ward. I'm surprised that no one has picked up the 30 year old Ward, who played for the Pirates the past two seasons.

In 2005, Ward batted .260-12-63 in just over 400 at bats. He has tremendous power and hits well in clutch situations, but tends to be too aggressive when behind in the count. Defensively, he's 'average' at best. He can play the outfield as well as first, and can do a credible job as a platoon player.


Ward's "internals" indicate just why he remains unsigned this close to spring training. He hit only .200 against left-handers vs. .281 when facing righties. His .318 on-base percentage for 2005, and .309 for his career, are numbers reserved for slick-fielding shortstops and not slugging first baseman. Strangely, he went only 5-60 (.083) at three of the most hitter-friendly parks in the National League, Wrigley Field, Busch Stadium and SBC Park in San Francisco.

I want Rodriguez on the team, and I'd like Sosa on the team. Ward is a good "piece" of the puzzle for the team, but the only way this works is if Nick Johnson gets traded before he reaches free-agency next season or if Robert Fick becomes the primary backup catcher. Other than that, Ward's is just enjoying the sights that Vierra has to offer.

Should make for an interesting spring training.


Comments:
I have this feeling that Ward is part of some bigger deal that is brewing.

With Nick Johnson in his final season before becoming a free agent, and with Larry Broadway ready to take over next season (assuming all goes well in New Orleans), maybe Johnson is going to be shipped out and Ward will platoon at first this season.
 
Yeah, but even if that's true, I don't think I want Ward to our first baseman. He's one of those guys who barely hangs around the major leagues -- good enough to keep playing, but not good enough to make any real difference
 
I like Rodriguez. I saw pitch a game in Houston in 2001 when he was with the Giants. The guy was lights-out.

But it does make you wonder why no one else wanted him.
 
I'm not sure I understand this:

Reports Svrluga (I don't think I ever spell his name the same twice in a row): To this point, the Nationals have been unwilling to guarantee Sosa any money and are merely inquiring whether the 1998 National League MVP would be interested in trying to make the team. The competition for Sosa appears to be scant.

After Burning Barry in effigy across the blog-0-sphere, it seems that Bowden has never been willing to offer a dime of guaranteed money to Sammy. Oh well.


I was under the impression we all knew that the division between Sosa and the Nats was that Sosa wanted guaranteed money and the Nats wanted him to make the team. Initially, it wasn't reported this way, but I think we've known for at least a week now that this is the issue.

In fact, Rocket Bill Ladson had a long article on the subject over the weekend. He cited sources from Sosa's camp who said that Bowden's guarantees to Eric Davis and Ron Gant should serve as precedent here. I don't actually think Davis was guaranteed anything in '96, but that's the general gist of the "negotiations," if you will.

If anything, Ladson and Svrluga appear to disagree somewhat. Ladson's articles mention Sosa both as insurance in case Guillen's hurt/Vidro's hurt/Soriano's at second, but he also mentions Sosa as a possible starting RF, at least initially (if he were to make the team). From the excerpt here, it seems Svrluga is reporting more casual interest.

Either way, though, I don't think anyone's really under the impression that the Nats are looking at guaranteeing Sosa a dime. Some people, however, have a different objection concerning Sosa: that it's not worth the risk to see if he can play his way onto the team, because a hot spring training might turn into 200 or 300 guaranteed (and quite possibly mediocre) at-bats.

I guess I'm just not sure who is burning Svrluga in effigy . . .

On another note, nice post on why it would be sad indeed if the Nats and Marlins were to fight it out for fourth.
 
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