Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Current Free Agent List

I was looking over the current list of 143 Players that have officially filed for Free Agency. As I always do, I look for players that might seriously give Washington a shot. Players that could actually help the Washington Nationals over the next season or two, as Management attempts to rebuild the Farm System. And, as we all know, Pitching--Starting Pitching, is what Our Washington Nationals need the most.

The everyday starting lineup (assuming Nick Johnson can play from the get-go at Spring Training) is actually decent. Catcher Brian Schneider, First Baseman Johnson, Second Baseman Felipe Lopez, Shortstop Cristian Guzman, 3rd Baseman Ryan Zimmerman, Right Fielder Austin Kearns, Centerfield (for me) Alex Escobar, and either Alfonso Soriano (if he resigns) or Ryan Church in left. I just don't see Nook Logan making a go of it, full time. As fast as he can be with his speed, the man just can't hit, especially from the left side. Flop can lead off for Alfonso, he's not much of an RBI guy.

Off the bench, whether anyone likes it or not, Jose Vidro, will be back--its the only way he can become tradeable for something decent. Number 3 is insurance for Nick Johnson's recovery and Second Base, if Lopez does FLOP at his new position or Guzman reverts back to his terrible 2005 self. Brandon Harper has a legitimate shot at the backup catcher position. Bernie Castro either makes the team, as a backup infielder, or is cut loose.

I see no reason, to pick up any relief help. With Luis Ayala coming back from elbow surgery, I am content with what was developed over the last half of 2006. Chad Cordero is the closer. Jon Rauch will be back, hopefully in the 7th inning setup role and Ayala returning to his 8th inning set up, where he excelled for 4 seasons, for The Chief. Ryan Wagner, Saul Rivera, Micah Bowie all deserve their shots. Maybe even Chris Schroeder. And, if Jimbo wants to trade him for the 3rd consecutive season (maybe even setting a Major League Record again in 2007), LeftHander Mike (The Games Not official Until I Get In) Stanton has filed for free agency. Zechry Zinacola is on the fast track to the Majors after being drafted out of Arizona State last June. Jumping from Rookie Ball all the way to AA Harrisburg--closing out game after game along the way. Zinacola may well make the Big Club in 2007. Zinacola is worth watching.

That still leaves a few openings for everyday players, as well as, pitchers.

Scanning the list of everyday players, a few stand out, players with decent credentials, but not expensive signings. To me, I would be willing to get ahold of all the following players available for 2007 Spring Training.

Catcher Rod Barajas (Texas)--Decent Power, Throws out 33% of baserunners attempting to steal, knocks in runs. Doesn't walk much, the more he plays, the less he produces. Good situational player, perfect as a backup catching choice.

First Base--Daryle Ward (Atlanta)--The guy was terrific as a pinch hitter for the Nationals last season, could become even more valuable if Nick Johnson does not come back as planned. Frank Robinson, whom Daryle trashed upon being traded, is no longer here. Ward has got to see an opportunity once again to resurrect his career. Fan Favorite. Nothing to lose.

Infielder/outfielder--Mark DeRosa (Texas) Everday UtilityMan playing 2nd, 3rd, SS and Outfield. The Perfect Bench Player for so many reasons. Hits for power, average and knocks in runs. He's 31, late bloomer. I really like this guy.

Outfield--Jose Guillen (Washington)--I have been on Jose's Bandwagon for a long time. His ability to get hurt and come back way too soon, a direct link to his terrible 2006 season. Still, the man LOVED playing here, came to EVERY SINGLE Team signing event. If healthy, can be a MONSTER PLAYER. Jose has something to prove--Let him prove it in Washington.

Now--The Starting Pitching. My number one choice for signability and performance is Jason Marquis (St.Louis). Just look at the guys numbers, they are decent, doesn't walk alot of hitters, goes deep into games--still developing, 27 years old--and, except for Dontrelle Willis, is the finest hitting pitcher in the game. Exactly what the Nationals need. Easily our Number 2 starter, after John Patterson (If Healthy) if Jason is signed by the Nats.

Ted Lilly (Toronto)--Left Handed Version of Marquis, goes deep into games, can get hitters out, when it trouble. 30 Years old, the perfect stop gap pitcher to have on your staff for a few years. And, being a lefthander, tradeable for something very good, if doing well at the trading deadline.

As much as I like Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt--I just do not see them giving Washington a serious look--only to use the Nats to get a higher price somewhere else. Schmidt is looking for a winner. Zito might not be looking to go east.

There are two other fall backs available right now, in case Marquis or Lilly--or both, do not come here.

Adam Eaton (Texas)--Struggled with injuries after his trade from San Diego--yet can reach 97 MPH on his fastball, throw 4 quality pitches. His slider would be wonderful at RFK Stadium. Give Randy St.Claire Eaton and Adam may well reach the potential so many predicted for him, 5 years ago. Still, just 28--maybe the perfect RFK Pitcher available.

Gil Meche (Seattle)--A talented, yet never developed 28 year old. Promise, Promise and Promise, but always just a little short. Like Tony Armas, Jr, but at least Meche has never had a losing record in his MLB career. Another St.Claire project, does throw alot of innings. Something our Nats definitely need. Available cheap, you can bet on it.

I am also not against Brian Lawrence coming back from his torn labrum. If Lawrence resigns, its the least he could do for getting paid to provide absolutely no help in 2006.

Finally--He's is one of the most outstanding pitching talents in the game, yet, can never stay healthy. Arm injury after arm injury--back injury after back injury. Kerry Wood is available. If he wants a back loaded, incentive contract, always worth a shot. If not, sayonara.

Unless Our Nationals play so far over their heads that the team, once again, competes for the division title, a la the inaugural 2005 season, we are not going to win it next season. All the above players should be available for reasonable amounts of dollars. None are budget busters. Each can help Washington right now. Pitching killed the Nats in 2006--with a few of these potential free agent starters on the team, and plug in backup everyday players, whomever the new manager is, that new leader has a shot at .500 or above.

What do you say? Who do you Like? Who do you Not Like?


abby's dad said...

Starting pitching, starting pitching and Alfonso Soriano could make for a fun 2007. I agree that we might not have all the parts to challenge for a playoff spot in '07, but we can start putting the parts together. Soriano in left locks down that position, one less thing to worry about in the future. With Zimmerman in place, you've got two big bats and can fill in as we go. We need starting pitchers that can eat up innings and keep us in games. Livian was most valuable at keeping our bullpen within their roles. You knew you were getting 6 innings+ everytime he lumbered to the mound.

Wouldn't it be great to be sitting in our seats looking at the pitching match ups and not cringing? Knowing that our pitcher on average is better than the other starter would be awesome.

On another note, my daughter has been asking when we can "Go to the Game". We are having major 320 withdrawl. Each morning at the bus stop, we have an exploding knuckle bump goodbye.

For Halloween, the decision on costumes was easy- We went as Nats Fans. Abby in her Nats Cheerleading dress. Becky and I in our game attire (mine the Micah Bowie jersey I won in the "Shirts off their back raffle").

Screech's Best Friend said...

Michael: Thanks for the comments-its nice to know that the Micah Bowie Jersey is seeing the Light of Day--not just hanging on a wall someplace. I miss going to the games too-Even Sohna. See ya.

abby's dad said...

We have a picture of all of the Halloween fun. Can we post a picture with a comment? If so, how do you do it.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Michael: I sent you an email, about the pictures and write up--you AOL account. Email me back, when you can. Thanks.