With the holiday weekend over, the lull of activity in the baseball world should also give way to a busier week as teams continue filling holes on their rosters before 2011. The Nationals still have two prominent ones - a top-end starting pitcher and a first baseman - and while they might not get both this week, I have a feeling they'll get one of them.
First, the market at first (couldn't resist the obvious pun): Derrek Lee and Adam LaRoche are still the Nationals' two main targets, and I think it's in that order. The Nationals like the idea of filling the hole for one season and re-evaluating things before 2012, when they could look at moving Derek Norris, Michael Morse or one of their other outfielders there. Chris Marrero also remains a possibility, though he'd have to show enough defensive improvement in the minors to get the job done, and Tyler Moore should also factor more prominently in the organization this year.
None of those 2012 options are a sure thing, but they might be better than giving LaRoche a longer deal than the Nationals feel he's worth -- and if they were skittish about giving Adam Dunn a long-term contract, it'd be odd for them to overpay for LaRoche. And there's always a chance they could save up to take a run at Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols next winter, though either proposition would be expensive.
Now, for the pitchers: Carl Pavano is still on the market, and still sticking to demands for a three-year deal. I don't see the Nationals coming up to that point, and if Pavano is going to lower his demands, it makes more sense to me that he'd end up back with the Twins, who want to retain him. He's pitched well there the last year and a half, and the Twins would offer him a better chance to contend than the Nationals would. Joe Blanton, who the Phillies are trying to unload, would be a cheaper option. He's coming off a poor year, unlike Pavano, but over their careers, the pitchers have put up similar numbers (Blanton has a 4.30 ERA, Pavano a 4.34). If Blanton could be had for a prospect or two, I think the Nationals might take a look.
So that's where things sit at the beginning of the week. We'll see how they play out as teams come back from the holidays.