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A favorite memory from 2012

Let me make sure I have this right: The Washington Nationals and Washington Redskins both made the playoffs in the same calendar year? Two years after those two teams posted a combined winning percentage of .400, they both won the division in their respective sport? Weird, wild stuff. Add in the Orioles and Ravens both making the postseason this year, as well, and it’s been

Getting some more national recognition

Teams can be chock full of talent and potential, and end up going nowhere. Other teams can lack elite talent and still find a way to rattle off wins and make a run in the playoffs. Talent level guarantees nothing in professional sports. There are other factors that determine how far a team will go, which is why some organizations can spend upwards of $175

Still seeking some southpaws

For a team that isn’t overhauling its roster all that much, it’s kind of interesting that the Nationals have lost all three left-handed relievers that were on their 2012 roster prior to the 25-man limit expanding in September. Sean Burnett has headed out west to join the Angels for a reported $8 million over two years, with a vesting option worth $4.5 million for 2015.

Report: Michael Gonzalez leaves Nats for Brewers

Another left-handed reliever is off the market. Michael Gonzalez, who appeared in 47 games with the Nationals last season, has signed a one-year deal with the Brewers, according to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal. The deal is worth $2.25 million plus incentives, according to CBSsports.com. Gonzalez posted a 3.03 ERA with the Nats, and he held left-handed hitters to a .179 batting average. He was also a

Can Bernadina back up a strong 2012 campaign?

If you’re looking for some good baseball programming on TV to get you through the weekend, I’ve got a suggestion for you. Cue up the DVR and record any future airings of a one-hour special that originally aired on MLB Network last night called “The Third Team.” The show follows around the six umpires that worked the 2012 World Series and gives you a very

As 2013 nears, Nats still waiting on LaRoche

If you happen to be interested in getting a sneak peak at the Nationals’ new-look batting practice caps for this season, you’re in luck. Here’s a look at the new BP hats for all 30 teams, courtesy of ESPN.com’s “Uni Watch.” The Nats’ cap will have a red curly “W”, white paneling on the front, blue paneling on the sides and the back, and a

The forgotten man in the bullpen

By the time pitchers and catchers report to spring training some six to seven weeks from now, we’ll already have a pretty good idea how the bulk of the Nationals’ bullpen will be put together. Barring injuries to any of these players, it’s pretty safe to slot Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen, Ryan Mattheus and Zach Duke into the ‘pen. Another left-hander (J.P. Howell?

More gift-giving during this holiday season

Here’s wishing a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all the Nationals fans out there. Hope you all get to spend the day with family and friends, and enjoy the company of those close to you. Regardless of what religion you may practice, that’s what’s truly important this time of year. That, and some sweet gifts. If past years are any indication, today will

Targets on their backs

Watching the Redskins pick up their sixth straight win yesterday and move within one more victory of a division title (boy, will Sunday night’s game against the Cowboys be just a tad intense?), I realized that the Skins’ 2012 season to this point somewhat mirrors the Nationals’ 2012 campaign. Obviously, given how each team finished in 2011, the Nats entered this most recent season with

A possible reason for LaRoche’s miniscule market

It was reported earlier this year that Nick Swisher wanted Jayson Werth-type money this offseason. Don’t we all. Swisher didn’t get $126 million over seven years. He didn’t get close to that. But he did end up with a four-year, $56 million deal courtesy of the Indians, according to reports. The top free agents are starting to come off the board pretty quickly now. By

Big splashes not necessary for a successful offseason

As spring training gets close to beginning each year, we see columns pop up all over the internet declaring the winners and losers of that particular offseason. Often, the teams that make the big splashes - the big-name signings, the major trades - are declared winners for that offseason period. It’s those type of moves which excite a fan base, which make headlines and generate

Appreciating what we’ll see on the mound in 2013 and beyond

Given the contracts that Edwin Jackson (four years, $52 million), Anibal Sanchez (five years, $80 million) and Zack Greinke (six years, $147 million) have scored this offseason, can you imagine what any of the Nationals’ top three starters would fetch on the open market if they were all free agents this offseason? What type of deal would Gio Gonzalez land after winning 21 games, posting

Nats’ decision on Jackson comes back to bite them

Five days after the World Series ended, the Nationals had a choice to make: extend Edwin Jackson a qualifying offer, or cut ties with the veteran right-hander completely. If the Nats presented Jackson with the qualifying offer and he accepted it, he would have been on the books for a one-year, $13.3 million deal in 2013. If he declined the qualifying offer and signed elsewhere,

Playing the waiting game (Gorzelanny signs with Brewers)

The Padres have reportedly dropped out of the Edwin Jackson sweepstakes, this apparently because they aren’t willing to give the veteran right-hander a four-year contract. Yes, Jackson appears likely to receive a four-year deal that could end up topping $50 million. This for a guy with a 4.40 career ERA who has been with seven organizations in 10 years. I’ve got nothing against Jackson, who

Rendon, Giolito head up Baseball America’s list of Nats’ top 10 prospects

There’s no doubt that the Nationals’ minor league system has been thinned out by recent trades that brought in Gio Gonzalez and Denard Span. But there are still a few prospects within the Nats’ system with a pretty high ceiling, even after guys like Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole, Derek Norris, Tommy Milone and Alex Meyer were dealt in order for the Nationals to bring in

Where are the weaknesses?

Another day has passed, and still no announcement from the Red Sox on whether they’ve finally completed their deal with first baseman/catcher Mike Napoli. Napoli and the Red Sox agreed to terms on a three-year, $39 million deal at the Winter Meetings more than two weeks ago, but the deal has still not been made official. There are reports that the Red Sox have found

Why the Nationals won’t offer LaRoche a three-year deal

The Nationals won their division and the Redskins are tied for the lead in theirs in mid-December. It’s a wild time to be a D.C. sports fan. Last week, I discussed why Adam LaRoche has yet to make a decision on whether to return to D.C. and re-sign with the Nationals. The main reason is that LaRoche is still looking for a three-year contract, and

Look for more action on the bases in 2013

The Nationals weren’t a team that relied heavily on speed in 2012. They didn’t have to. When healthy, the Nats’ starting lineup featured eight guys who have hit at least 15 home runs in a season. Seven of those players have legitimate 25-homer power. The Nats also had a strong overall team on-base percentage, which nearly slotted them in the top third of the league

Some surprising pitching news within the division

Given we currently have a free agent market in which Anibal Sanchez, a pitcher coming off a nine-win, 3.86-ERA season, can land a five-year, $80 million deal, it’s shocking that the Mets aren’t willing to offer R.A. Dickey the two-year, $26 million extension he’s seeking. Instead, the Mets are on the verge of dealing the Cy Young Award-winning knuckleballer to the Blue Jays, according to

The market is starting to play out

We all know about the so-called “Madden curse,” where some football fans believe that a player landing on the cover of the popular “Madden” video game will lead to that player getting injured or having a sub-par season the following year. Does the curse apply to baseball video games, as well? Nationals fans should hope not. Bryce Harper is one of the candidates to grace

A new twist in the LaRoche talks (plus an international signing)

Yesterday, I wrote about the possible ripple effects of Josh Hamilton leaving the Rangers, and specifically how that could impact Adam LaRoche’s chances of re-signing with the Nationals. Well, it’s happened. Hamilton has left the Rangers. Hamilton has agreed to a whopping five-year, $125 million deal with the Angels, according to reports. This gives the Angels one of the most lethal offensive trios in recent

Some of this, some of that

If you’re interested in following Jim Riggleman’s post-Nationals career path, I’ve got an update for you. Riggleman has received a promotion from the Reds and will be managing their Triple-A team in Louisville in 2013. He had spent the 2012 season managing the Reds’ Double-A affiliate in Pensacola. The former Nats skipper had been talked about as a candidate for the Astros’ bench coach job

What is LaRoche waiting on?

According to the latest odds put out by the sports book Bovada, the Nationals are tied with the Tigers and Dodgers at 17/2 as the favorites to win the 2013 World Series. I tweeted out that information last night, only to have about five people respond telling me to stop being a jinx. If the Nats lose 100 games next season, you’ll know who to

Garcia’s long journey to the majors takes another twist

If you knew the name of Christian Garcia a year ago, you either are borderline fanatical about the Nationals’ minor league system or you are somehow related to the right-handed pitcher. At this time last year, Garcia had wrapped up his first season in the Nationals’ organization, appearing in 10 games at short-season Single-A Auburn and one game at Triple-A Syracuse. Garcia pitched well in

Comparing Haren with the guy he’ll be replacing

I’m back from my mini-vacation through Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana, three states that I hadn’t ever visited prior to last week. I ate lots of fantastic food, heard some excellent live music and drank one or two adult beverages. I could say that I’m happy to now be home, but that would be a bit of a lie, and I wouldn’t dare lie to you

Putting a bow on Nats’ 2012 Winter Meetings (with video)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - They have a giant podium set up here in the Winter Meetings media work room at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. Attached are a few tables, and there are five long rows of chairs facing the podium, about 150 chairs in all. This set-up is here in order to give teams a platform to announce major signings, trades or news

Nats lose Rosenbaum, Kobernus in Rule 5 draft (updated with quotes)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Nationals have had two of their players selected within the first seven picks of the Rule 5 draft. Left-hander Danny Rosenbaum was selected by the Rockies with the third pick. Rosenbaum is a 25-year-old left-hander, who went 8-10 with a 3.94 ERA at Double-A Harrisburg last season. He had a very strong first half of the year, but dropped off significantly

Video: Analyzing a now less-stocked Nats farm system

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The 2012 Winter Meetings are almost complete, and just as I’ve gotten comfortable navigating my way through the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center (which feels like it’s a town in and of itself), it’s time to leave. During their time in Nashville, the Nationals got a fifth starter in Dan Haren, and we might have word as early as this afternoon

Nats still searching for some starting depth

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A number of Nationals executives have bolted town, content to take care of any lingering business in D.C. with the Winter Meetings set to wrap up tomorrow morning. One area they’ll still look to tackle from back home is starting pitching depth. In addition to reaching some sort of resolution with Adam LaRoche and searching for a left-handed reliever, general manager Mike

Burnett signs with Angels, Howell talks could heat up (Nats confident on LaRoche)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Sean Burnett has found a new home. Burnett has agreed to terms on a two-year with the Angels, according to multiple reports. The left-handed reliever, who spent the last 3 1/2 seasons with the Nationals, will get just under $9.5 over the two years, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The contract includes a club option for a third year. Update: It’s

Nationals all but done at Winter Meetings (updated with more Johnson quotes)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - With nearly their entire roster in place for the 2013 season, the Nationals have all but wrapped up their Winter Meetings. General manager Mike Rizzo has taken a flight back to D.C., along with a good number of Nationals executives, and after taking part in a luncheon with members of the local media, manager Davey Johnson is heading out, as well. The

Nats comfortable with current bench construction

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - During his group sitdown with reporters yesterday afternoon, Nationals manager Davey Johnson was asked if he feels there will be a lot of competition for spots on his bench in 2013, with guys like Corey Brown and Eury Perez now having some major league games under their belts. “Well, I’m going to act like there is,” Johnson said, cracking a smile. Johnson

So what’s left on the docket?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Today marks Day 3 of the baseball Winter Meetings, the last full day we’ll have here in Nashville. I’m starting to get a little misty. I’ll miss this place so. Sunlight, sleep and athletic activity are all overrated, anyway. Tomorrow’s action consists mostly of the Rule 5 draft and some minor wrap-up stuff, leaving the next 24 hours or so as the

Rizzo confirms Haren deal in place, plus LaRoche update (with video)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo confirmed the team has a deal in place with free agent starter Dan Haren, but he wasn’t willing to delve into too many details on the arrangement with the veteran starter just yet. Rizzo and the Nats will wait on Haren to complete a physical before discussing his health and how he could impact the team. Haren

Davey talks LaRoche, starting catching job, high expectations and more

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Davey Johnson just spent about half an hour talking with reporters here at the Winter Meetings, addressing topics ranging from Adam LaRoche to Mark DeRosa’s karaoke skills to Danny Espinosa’s job security to how to turn the Cubs around. I’m not exactly sure why Johnson was asked about the Cubs, but he was. Here are some quick hits from Johnson’s session with

Here’s what’s happening with Haren

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - As we wait on the results of Dan Haren’s physical, we’re hearing more word come in that other teams had some concerns when they were going over the veteran right-hander’s medicals. The Boston Globe is reporting that the Red Sox did not like what they saw when looking at Haren’s hip. I’ve heard increased buzz that the hip was an area of

Dan Haren agrees to terms on one-year deal with Nats (updated)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Nationals have found a fifth starter, but as we expected, the pitcher they added has credentials that elevate him beyond how you’d typically picture a No. 5 guy. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Nats have signed right-hander Dan Haren to a one-year, $13 million deal. The contract is pending a physical. Update: I’ve gotten confirmation from a Nats source

Despite rumors, a Greinke deal doesn’t seem feasible

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - I’m interested in seeing what this morning’s cab ride over to the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center has in store for me. My cab driver yesterday morning asked me whether I was a part of the Southwest Poultry Farmers convention that apparently is in town. I wish. If I get bored talking about pitching in the next three days here in

Nats unlikely to re-sign Burnett, plus Duke notes (and a cool link)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Sean Burnett has been a hot name since becoming a free agent. One report has eight teams in the mix for the left-handed reliever. The Nationals are one of the teams that have interest in Burnett, but given the way the market has played out so far, Nats general manager Mike Rizzo says he doesn’t expect to have Burnett back in D.C.

Rizzo talks Morse, LaRoche, search for an “impactful” starter (updated)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Speaking with reporters about half an hour ago in his suite at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said that he’s gotten “a lot” of interest in left fielder/first baseman Michael Morse. “He’s drawn interest,” Rizzo said. “We’ve fielded calls for him. We’ve not made one call about him. We’ve fielded a lot of calls, and

The latest on LaRoche, Burnett (Nats re-sign Duke)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - As is seemingly always the case at the Winter Meetings, negotiations for a certain player have taken a bit of a surprise turn. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com has cited an MLB executive on a team that’s interested in Adam LaRoche as saying that the Orioles are in on LaRoche “hard.” The Orioles weren’t expected to be one of the major players for

Market for LaRoche could be starting to thin out

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Adam LaRoche won’t be going to Boston. And as a result, there’s a feeling his chances of returning to the Nationals are increasing. The Red Sox are closing in on a deal with catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli, according to multiple reports. While pen might not have been put to paper on a deal just yet, Napoli is expected to ink a three-year

Trade talks could start to center around Espinosa

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - I woke up this morning feeling like I’d gotten a nice workout in yesterday. I hadn’t been to the gym or gone on a run, however. I’d just spent the day navigating the massive Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, walking what felt like the two miles from the media work room to the lobby, and then eventually turning around and walking

Morse could be Nats’ ticket to another starter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - My flight out of BWI this morning was delayed nearly two hours, getting my 2012 Winter Meetings off to a stellar start. The fun began early this year. I’m now all checked into my hotel and set up here at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, the site of the meetings. Only a little over 12 hours until things really start

Time to take off for Nashville

I’m off for Nashville, where the weather is warmer than D.C., and the hot stove is certain to get toasty, as well. I’ve been to the Winter Meetings the last three years, but this will be my first as a beat writer. I’m looking forward to countless baseless rumors, having my phone glued to my hand for four straight days and trying to navigate my

Lannan gets a chance to start anew

John Lannan has had a rough 2012 from a professional standpoint. The 28-year-old left-hander went into spring training battling for a spot in the major league rotation. He ended up losing that battle, and then requested a trade only to have that request denied. The guy who had twice been the Nationals’ opening day starter and had 128 major league starts under his belt found

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