On the one hand, I'm impressed by the fervor some fans display in reacting to any Nationals' transaction, regardless of how insignificant they seem.
On the other hand, I wonder why so many want to paint a negative picture of each transaction, as if they know better than professional baseball people.
Take the recent signing of pitcher Shawn Estes to a minor league contract, reportedly worth $600,000, but as much as a million if he makes the club. One person wrote that it appeared that GM Mike Rizzo was "waving a white flag." Someone else branded Estes a steroid cheat because he was a 19-game winner back in the late '90's. There were several posts I read questioning why the club would throw money away and saying that they were scraping the bottom of the barrel.
First of all, do you really think they signed this guy without seeing him throw first? Secondly, there's very little actual risk involved. If he doesn't make the big club, he can always refuse an assignment to the minors; many veterans do just that and go home, or look for another gig in baseball. And third, it used to be that the big club had a window of opportunity to release players like that - based on how many days they'd been there - and only pay about 20% of the contract's value. I can't find anything that indicates that window has disappeared.
Look, the Nats have signed Estes, along with big league veterans Miguel Batista, Eddie Guardado, Ryan Speier, Jamie Burke, Eric Bruntlett, Pete Orr, Chris Duncan, Kevin Mench and Jerry Owens to minor league deals. Some will make the Opening Day roster. Some will go to Syracuse, and some will be released. It's how this business does business. None of these guys were signed in the hopes they'd be big difference makers. If it works out that way - bonus. If not? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
By the way, I hope you heard Jim Riggleman on the special edition of "Wall-to-Wall Baseball" we did on MASN this past Friday. (And Jim says he reads this blog, so, Hi Jim!) I was particularly interested in his response to a question about the 2010 rotation. He said if the season started next week, his third starter, after Lannan and Marquis, would be Garrett Mock.
Mock's name has been conspicuous by its absence this offseason, In his final start of the year, against Atlanta on October 1, he went six and allowed just a single run, that on a home run. Prior to that he'd had some good starts and some awful ones, but the club liked a lot of what they saw. He'll turn 27 in late April and should be entering his prime.
The club is still talking with the agents for John Smoltz and Chien-Ming Wang, so no doors have been closed.
You might want to wait a few more weeks before really overreacting to anything.
Heck of a snowstorm though, wasn't it?