John Paul Marosi of Fox Sports reported today that the Nationals are currently pursuing free-agent second baseman Orlando Hudson and are willing to offer him a two-year deal...at the right price. That right price is currently somwhere between three and nine million dollars a year, a wide range that very well may indicate just how far apart Hudson and the Nationals are:
"In looking for another middle infielder, the Nationals are prioritizing defense. That’s why they remain interested in second baseman Orlando Hudson, two major-league sources said Tuesday.
One person with knowledge of Hudson’s market believes Washington would be willing to make him a two-year offer at the right price.
If they stick with current personnel, the Nationals could move Cristian Guzman to second base and play young Ian Desmond at shortstop.
Hudson made the National League All-Star team last year but lost his starting job to Ronnie Belliard late in the season. Yet, he still won his fourth Gold Glove."
Today marked the end of an era of lies, speculation and deceit. An era of broken promises and false dreams that brought baseball back from a self-imposed crypt only to unravel and leave them in purgatory. With Mark McGwire’s admission today that he did in fact take steroids during his illustrious career, including during his magical home run chase in the late 90s, a final puzzle piece is put into place to finish what is now a dreadful picture.
While McGwire’s admission came as a surprise to very few, his affirmation of our suspicions makes the pain of the last several years feel so absolute. As ESPN showed replays of McGwire’s 62nd home run over and over today, the joyous faces of everyone involved couldn’t help but remind me how enchanting that moment was to a young 11-year-old baseball fan, and how stupid it has made me feel over the last several years knowing the truth. Seeing the smiles on the faces of the 1998 crowd, of the Maris family, and of McGwire’s son, they look like such fools. Of course then reality sets in, we were those fools.
When an athlete makes a mistake, one of the first questions the public asks is what effect will it have on the kids? I was a kid of the Mark McGwire era, in the worst way. I owned a number 25 jersey, I cut out newspaper clips every time he hit a home run in September, and I painted a red beard on my face in October to be Big Mac for Halloween. Aside from personal acquaintances and family, this news hits me hardest because McGwire was my hero, he was everything I wanted to be and everything I looked up to.
So what effect did McGwire’s gradual fall from grace over the last decade have on me?
I was a high-school baseball player who wanted nothing more but to be the best. I was undersized, often lifting weights to try and even the playing field. However at the age of 16 I was smart enough to not use performance-enhancing drugs because I had a conscience. Unlike the 30-year-old McGwire, I was big enough to just say no to the peer pressure.
No, the effect of McGwire’s guise of invincibility and heroism affected me much deeper than in my decision to say no to steroids. On a day much more contemptible than today I watched as Mark McGwire, along with Sammy Sosa, Raphael Palmeiro, and Jose Canseco, testified just a stones throw from my home, in congress. It wasn’t McGwire’s words but his shriveled face, his vacant glare and his empty banter that crushed my innocence as a baseball fan. We all knew that 2005 day that the man with whom we placed our hopes on in 1998 was a fake.
Now at the age of 22 it’s hard for me to truly become involved in a sports event. Of course it’s not all McGwire’s fault, as long as there have been sports there have been athletes who were not the gods of men we made them out to be. However McGwire captivated not only the dreams of an 11-year-old but the hopes of my 40-year-old dad and 10, 20, 30, all the way to 80 something’s across the nation.
We were all fools.no comments
Bill Ladson of MLB.com reported tonight that former Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Doug Davis has an interest in playing for the Washington Nationals. However, Davis told Ladson that Washington is not interested in signing him. That is, not until they sure up their defense up the middle at least:
"Davis, 34, played with the D-backs this past season and went 9-14 with a 4.14 ERA. Local reporters were told at the Baseball Winter Meetings that the Nationals had interest in Davis.
"I'm [willing] to go anywhere and hopefully be a difference maker for a team that needs to make a turnaround and be successful," Davis said. "On my part -- of course -- [there's interest]. For them, because of the signing of Jason Marquis, it kind of put them in a bind [to spend] money for starting pitching. They had to address other problems.
"Possibly, when they find a second baseman, they can come back around to their starting pitching. Of course, I'm up to talking with anybody right now. Things are kind of going slow for me because I'm fifth or sixth down the line [when it comes to] starting pitching."
Ladson also points out that the Nationals are currently attempting to court veteran second baseman Orlando Hudson, but says that his asking price is likely too high.
Rizzo is smart to try and sure up his defense up the middle. As we found with Nyjer Morgan last year, defense in the middle of the field is key, and at this point both Ian Desmond and Cristian Guzman are question marks.
Guzman has posted a negative UZR at short for the fourth consecutive season (-2.1, -1.4, -3.4, -2.3) and it is yet to be seen if he will be receptive with a move to second base. The move across the infield should serve Guzman well as he will have less space to cover and an above average arm at the position. The move would also raise his value in 2011 when he becomes a free agent, so you would think he would embrace the move.
Desmond on the other hand is known to be a strong defensive shortstop but his readiness to be an everyday major leaguer is in question. The 24-year-old shortstop struggled early in his career but blossomed last season. While the Nationals hope he's ready to be a full time big leaguer, it would be naive to not have a contingency plan.
One option up the middle not named Orlando Hudson might be Felipe Lopez. Yes, that name may surprise you as we had already cast him off previously after disappointing performances from 2006-08, but the Nationals are under new leadership and Felipe appears to be a reformed player. Defensively, Lopez is the best second baseman available after posting a career UZR of 5.1 at the position, and a 7.8 mark last season.
At the plate Lopez produced a line of .310/.383/.427, .356 wOBA, 116wRC+.
Justin Maxwell is an athletic five-tool college athlete who at the age of 26 is still trying to put it all together. Maxwell was drafted three times in his amateur career before finally deciding to sign with the Nationals in 2006.
The six-foot-five outfielder experienced a very successful early college career at the University of Maryland. Coming from local Sherwood High School, Maxwell played in 44 games in his freshman campaign, and despite only hitting .239, he got on-base at a promising .393 OBP. In 2003, Maxwell exploded in his sophomore season with a line of .317/.385/.550. He also smacked 10 homers, 12 doubles, and swiped 11 bags. With numbers like that, Maxwell turned many eyes going into his junior year, only to battle injuries for the rest of his college career. Maxwell was only healthy enough to play 7 games in 2005 after missing all of 2004, but he still showed enough potential to be drafted in the fourth round by Washington.
Maxwell started his professional career with mixed success in the summer of 2006. As a 22-year-old in low A ball Maxwell hit a disappointing .269 and showed poor power with a slugging percentage of .376. However despite his struggles to drive the ball he was still able to show his patience by getting on base at .346 and speed by stealing 20 bases. In 2007 Maxwell rebounded as he combined for 27 home runs and 35 stolen bases between AA Hagerstown and A+ Potomac. His performance even earned him a cup of coffee in Washington at the end of the season where he earned his first career hit in the form of a grand slam against the Florida Marlins.
In 2008 Maxwell shattered his wrist diving for a ball in the outfield. The injury put an end to what was a promising start of the season. Through 43 games in AA Harrisburg, Maxwell had reduced his K% from 30.8% to 19.2% and was walking at a career high 17.5%. Maxwell's on base percentage was again solid at .367 which was good considering his .233 batting average. His low average was probably a result of his poor .243 BABIP, however his power numbers were up with a .226 Isolated Power.
2009 saw Maxwell return to some of his old habits in AAA however. His K% rose to the highest in his career at 35% and his walk percentage dropped down to 12.3%. Even with his BABIP at .340, Maxwell was only able to bat .242 with a decreased .154 ISO. The outfielder earned a 40 game cup of coffee at the end of the season with the Nationals and had almost identical numbers to his AAA splits.
For Maxwell to be successful at the next level he needs to cut down on his K%. A .340 BABIP is unsustainable and his great strength and power potential wont matter if he strikes out too much in the majors to make himself valuable. He does have the tools to be a good MLB outfielder because he has the patience to get on base, and he has very good speed on both the base paths and in the field. At the age of 26 he's no spring chicken and he may running out of time, however he will get a chance to make the Nationals out of spring training and a chance to improve on his weaknesses.
It's likely now or never for the former-Terp.