The Winter Time also Means Trades

And trades are something that could be very helpful for the Nationals. As mentioned before (very proudly) this team has a glut of good relief pitching. Arguments can be made, but I believe, as do many actual baseball analysts, that the role of closer is overrated. Without getting too much into the save being the only statistic that really changed the game on the basis of being a statistic alone and the fact that closers are very often used in a less important part of the game than their bullpen-mates despite being the “best” reliever of the team, I think its possible that this team has 4 potential closers with Cordero, Rauch, Ayala, and Rivera. Heck, throw in Colome, Schroder and Albaladejo (who may end up being the best of the bunch) and you have a serious number of guys who could get 3 outs with the bases empty 80% of the time. Add some stress, and most of them are still likely to succeed. So maybe handing over the closing duties to walk happy Rivera or Colome is a bit of a stretch, but I think you see my point.

Oh wait, I haven’t really made my point. The fact is, there is a shortage of closers on the market, and people are happy to pay for them. Here are the names of the pitchers with more than 10 saves over the last 2 seasons that are free agents this offseason. Ready? Mariano Rivera, Francisco Cordero, Bob Wickman, Todd Jones, Eddie Guadardo, Jorge Julio and Armando Benitez. Benitez and Julio are head cases who probably won’t be looked at as legit closers, Guardardo came back from surgery and has been awful (and hasn’t really been much of a pitcher in years) and Wickman is thinking about retiring. Jones is likely to be re-signed by the Tigers, if not, his peripherals are bad and everyone knows it, it’s improbable that many want him to close. That leaves Mariano Rivera and Francisco Cordero. Mo will probably be given a ridiculous deal from the Yankees, and the other Cordero will be the ONLY FREE AGENT CLOSER ON THE MARKET!!!one!!one!!!! That, to me, seems to be a signal that now is the time to trade Chad Cordero. Don’t trade him for crap, don’t trade him for the sake of trading him. He’s one of the top 3 players on this team right now, he isn’t worth trading for nothing. But he’s worth dangling out there, and letting people know about. Now, more than ever, seems to be a great time to offer him up. The Nats are in the position to get a serious building block player in exchange for something they have a huge surplus. If nothing comes, so be it, you’re left with a great bullpen pitcher, but don’t be blind to the market right now.

Wrist Injuries are bad, right?

I thought wrist injuries are supposed to be terrible. One of those things that can linger and really foul up a player’s swing for the rest of the season. So when Ryan Zimmerman broke his wrist swinging a bat, my first instinct was to panic, you know, run around the room like my head was on fire until I slammed into a wall and knocked myself out. But nobody else seems to be concerned. Not even an ESPN fantasy guru who I’ve never heard of Brendan Roberts, who put out his preliminary 3rd baseman ranking and had this to say about Zim:

Ryan Zimmerman (Current rank: 10; With a surgically repaired wrist: 10). As Buster Olney mentioned, Zimmerman did the right thing by telling the Nationals right away that he had injured himself while swinging the bat last weekend. Zimmerman broke his hamate bone, a common injury to young hitters. He’ll be fine, and the simple fact that he was hitting and/or swinging the bat hard enough in early November to break a bone means well for his 2008 preparation.

I don’t know if breaking bones ever “means well” for the next season unless you’re in the mafia enforcer business. But, I’ve yet to find articles from real baseball people who seem to think this will do anything to hurt his production. Until I do, I’ll keep away from the walls.

Final talk on Free Agents (for now)

Adam Dunn’s option was picked up by the Reds the other day, so he is out of the free agent consideration market. Mike Cameron is going to miss the first 25 games of the season due to being caught for some banned stimulant. So my 2 suggestions on the hitting side are right out. Torii Hunter and Andruw Jones both seem to be bad ideas to me. Neither is terribly old, but these are guys in their prime or just leaving it. Facing facts, the Nats aren’t ready to contend in 2008, and will need some serious development for 2009. By 2010 or 11, Hunter and Jones will be overpaid, even if there is value in the interim. Both Rivera and Posada are now more available than ever thanks to the departure of Joe Torre. Posada is really getting old for his position, and even the Yankees beat writers are conceding that signing him to a 4 year deal is worth it for them, even if he can’t catch by year 4. For the Nats, the year 4 roster is much more important than the year 1 roster, so they can’t sign a catcher that won’t be able to catch by then. As for Rivera, even if you could guarantee health in the future, the bullpen is this team’s one strength, so I’ll pass.

That leaves… A-Rod. Yes, Alex Rodriguez is a total mercenary. Yes, he follows the money, and yes, he hasn’t shown postseason success. What’s most fascinating about him is how he is the best player in baseball, by most metrics, and yet he still has serious confidence issues. Regardless, there isn’t someone better out there, and won’t be for a long time. They’re not going to, but the Nats should pursue him.

To satisfy my curiosity and attempt to validate my own thoughts, I asked Keith Law of ESPN what he thought they should do, including my idea of picking up Glavine

Charlie (Gaithersburg): If you were the Nats GM would you go after Glavine to “teach” the young staff or is that all a waste? Also, is their anyone out on the market they should be going after?

SportsNation Keith Law: (1:53 PM ET ) That’s a waste. They don’t have young pitching talent on their big-league roster anyway, unless they rush Detwiler into the April rotation. I think they’re going to make a big splash with a couple of free agents, probably costing themselves a draft pick and doing little to advance this club long-term.

Funny thing about Keith Law is, I think he really knows his stuff, but I don’t always agree with him. Although maybe getting someone like Glavine is a waste. I hope the Nats don’t make a big splash, because there aren’t too many valuable big splash players out there. Big splash means Hunter or Jones, which could end up being big albatrosses. But they’d be fun to watch play while the rest of the team is trying their best not to suck.

By Charlie