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Day Two: Lobby buzz

So the Nationals are clearly trying to figure out their issues at catcher. They have one man - Jesus Flores - on the major league roster. People I spoke with in the lobby here at the Opryland Resort - and seriously, I haven't posted anything about trying to get dinner at this place last night, stopping at five restaurants and being turned away only to be sent across the street on a $10 cab ride for fried catfish, but this place is horrible - believe this is very unresolved.

Conversations, though, indicate that the Nats are exploring both the trade and the free agent route. They are trying to pinpoint a left-handed hitting catcher through trade that would be paired with Flores over the next few years almost in a platoon situation. This is a guy who could genuinely split time with him, and the two of them could push each other. I don't have the name yet, just some theories, and will pursue it throughout the day.

The backup plan appears to be pursuing veteran free agent Damian Miller. The 38-year-old does not fit into the long-term plan, but the club realizes it has a problem on the roster and must find an able body. If they sign Miller, Flores would almost certainly play 100-120 games. Miller is a right-handed hitter - lifetime .262, just .237 in 58 games last year for Milwaukee - so he doesn't help Washington with a straight platoon with the right-handed hitting Flores.

Infielders: I'm hearing some buzz on the Nationals' middle infield situation, currently where Cristian Guzman, Felipe Lopez and Ronnie Belliard reside. Though the Nationals are listening on Lopez, they're reluctant to trade him not because they love him, but because if Guzman goes down, they literally have no one else to fill in for him. Now, they are talking with at least one club on a trade that would bring a shortstop here, one that I'm told would involve Jon Rauch. I need to pin this one down better too.

Speaking of Rauch, a person who would know phrased the Nationals' relievers situation like this: "If Rauch goes, Cordero stays. If Cordero goes, Rauch stays." Seems to make sense.

Clippard trade: I don't know when the physicals on this one are, so not sure it's going to be announced today.

Will go back to the lobby and try to firm up some details on some of these rumors so I can share more with you.

By Barry Svrluga  |  December 4, 2007; 2:27 PM ET
 
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Next: Pre-meeting thoughts

Comments

Great stuff. Keep it coming.

Posted by: Dave | December 4, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Great work, keep all those rumors coming. This is keeping me sane at work right now.

Posted by: Forrest | December 4, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Did you guys read the Rosenthal bit that has Bowden trying to deal Cordero to the Brewers for Rickie Weeks at 2b. The Brewers have apparently rejected it, but that would be a good deal I would think....

Posted by: Federico | December 4, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

**** refresh **** refresh **** refresh ****

Posted by: I am not an addict | December 4, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

"Great work, keep all those rumors coming. This is keeping me sane at work right now."
___________

So true! Keep it coming Barry, you the man.

Posted by: 9cherries.com | December 4, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Gregg Zaun anyone? Seriously, what LH hitting catchers are there that people would be willing to trade. I can't think of anyone but him.

Somebody help me with this?

Posted by: #4 | December 4, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

mickey tettleton?

Posted by: longterm | December 4, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Ricky Weeks. Great talent. Another headcase though. Manny acta is going to have to get Jerry(Father Flanagan) Tarkanian as his bench coach.

Posted by: the truth | December 4, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Barry. Wow! Everyone who lamented the lack of a trade at the July deadline ought to be inordinately happy this week.

Posted by: lowcountry | December 4, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Keep Rauch, chuck Chief.

Posted by: Juan-John | December 4, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Still concerned about the catching situation. Of particular concern is the lack of a veteran catcher to handle a young pitching staff. Schnieder was one of the best in that role and a young Flores isn't ready yet.

Barry, I'd be interested to know how the club is approaching this particular concern.

Posted by: FearlessFreep | December 4, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Agree with Juan-John, dump the Chief.

Great posts Barry.

Posted by: G-town | December 4, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Keep Rauch, chuck Chief.
____________

I agree.

And isn't the Opryland Resort managed by the same group that's developing the site on the Potomac...down by the Wilson Bridge?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 4, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Couldn't Bowden have done some sort of Jedi Mind Trick and traded some non-prospect to the Mets and kept Schneider?

"This Is Not The Catcher You're Looking For..."

Posted by: Juan-John | December 4, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Buck sez the left-handed catcher they're going after is Miguel Montero of the Diamondbacks.

Posted by: Chris | December 4, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

chief makes 4.5 mil. rauch makes 900k. rauch is better but trading chief makes us cheap. oh what to do!?!

Posted by: longterm | December 4, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I am holding my breath for news about Kearns and hoping MLB.com is misinformed...

I concur about Cordero/Rauch with others here-- keep Big Jon!!

Posted by: JennX | December 4, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Milledge to the Mets for Schneider...

Posted by: John in Mpls | December 4, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

what are the chances montero and chico used to room together?

Posted by: longterm | December 4, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, I was just thinking about a platoon situation with a lefty catcher where Flores would get about 100 starts. Creepy.

Part of me is saying, with 3/4 of the outfielders playing on a year-long conditional tryout, we may as well shoot the moon and try to develop some talent behind the plate as well.

The other part of me is saying, with 3/4 of the outfielders playing on a year-long conditional tryout - and the other quarter of that equation, Kearns, being reportedly shopped - we need some stability behind the plate.

Those are the two sides of my coin right now.

Posted by: John in Mpls | December 4, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Barry,

Rather than deal with the restaurants at the Gaylord, grab Dave, get into one of those cabs you mentioned, and go to 1805 21st Avenue South.

www.boscosbeer.com 615-385-0050.

Try the "Flaming Stone Beer"

Posted by: Section 222 (the professional beer drinker) | December 4, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

After some research, I was gonna come on here and say Montero and feel all smart about it. But no, you jokers had to beat me to it.

Posted by: Jon | December 4, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

are there any players on the roster that have a contract running longer than Acta's?

Posted by: longterm | December 4, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Nice call Chris. The D'Backs have 4 catchers on their 40 man roster, so they are probably amenable to moving one. They also need bullpen help, so they would be a good partner in that regard.

I don't see either Rauch or Cordero being traded for Montero, who is essentially the D'Backs back up right now. I also worry about FearlessFreep's point about needing a veteran. I guess I still see Zaun as a better fit. I'm still not sure that's equal value, although at least the Nats would be getting a starter quality catcher.

Posted by: #4 | December 4, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

im not in favor of trading the rps.

main reason is that rauch has a ton of work in past few years with a history of arm trouble (even if it was as a sp - its still trouble). to see the affect of a heavy workload - look west to chicago or north to new york. especially the guys torre used to run out there for 90-100 innings for 3 consecutive years. the next few years after that, problems. i would just keep both and look for other deals.

its not necessary to upgrade at mi or any other position at this point. its not like that upgrade is going to help out the win column this year. and if trading cordero/rauch is for the long haul, then trade them next offseason. its not like the market for rp will disappear. trade them then.

im just not in favor of getting rid of those two guys.

Posted by: theraph | December 4, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

carlos gonzalez/montero would be nice from ARZ...

Posted by: longterm | December 4, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Theraph,

Huh? If you think Rauch will have arm trouble because of his workload, wouldn't you want to get rid of him rather than keep him?

Posted by: dgc | December 4, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

dgc,

i guess i didnt state my thought well enough. i mentioned 3 years of work. rauch has years of 85 games (91.1 innings) and 88 games (87.1 innings). let him run out the third year and accrue more stats, then ship him off.

there is alot of literature on arm wear/tear and periods of time. 3 years of heavy use seems to be the break line for those that are at a risk to have problems.

Posted by: theraph | December 4, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Flores can do the job. Making a big deal out of getting a back-up is not all that important. I know we need one, but overall, it's not going to make any difference this year how good he is. Bring up Devany. Can't hit, but good defensively. Who does that remind you of?

Posted by: natspo | December 4, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

it would appear that zaun is under contract next year with the blue jays, and set to make $3.75M. That's a lot for this team to pay for a backup or platoon catcher. His salary isn't much below what Schneider would have received. His career offensive numbers (and he didn't do much with the bat last year) are better than schneider's, but he's definitely and inferior defensive catcher. i don't think he's the guy they'll go out and get just to add a left-handed bat, even if he is a veteran. it flies in the face of "the plan."

Posted by: blueson | December 4, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

So you're hoping none of the GMs have read it, then?
Honestly, what is it with the "he's a bum, let's trade him even up for ARod" stuff?

***********
there is a lot of literature on arm wear/tear and periods of time. 3 years of heavy use seems to be the break line for those that are at a risk to have problems.
Posted by: theraph | December 4, 2007 03:26 PM

Posted by: ce | December 4, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071204&content_id=2317074&vkey=hotstove2007&fext=.jsp

i always like willie harris. he could have been a cheap option for the of spot. too late to stockpile more?

Posted by: theraph | December 4, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

i know the gms have read it. but that doesnt mean that they follow it. i think the pressure of job security blows logical thinking out the window. you see it every year. people offer contracts to problems hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. so even if they have read it, they still roll the dice. see Proctor, Scott and Gordon, Tom.

Posted by: theraph | December 4, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

re: SS in exchange for Rauch

What about Alberto Callaspo from the Diamondbacks?

(I'll let you folks google why he fits the mold of the moves made so far this past week)

Posted by: Brian | December 4, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

natspo,

what makes you think that flores is ready? he was a pleasant surprise last year in a limited role, but i really wonder if he's ready to handle a pitching staff 6 days a week. moreover, he hit .220 last year against right-handed pitching. i'm skeptical.

Posted by: blueson | December 4, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the stud SS prospect from Boston (Lowrie) is going to be a big part of the inevitable Santana to Red Sox trade. Any chance we could then pry him away from Minnesota?

Earlier rumors said the Twins might be looking in to Lopez/Kearns... although they won't need Kearns if they get Coco Crisp and they'd probably prefer Lowrie over Lopez. Oh well, one can hope

Posted by: Gibby | December 4, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Blueson:

I guess the pro-Zaun argument would be that he would be their starter, so paying him $3.75 million is appropriate. They don't seem to be ready to hand it over to Flores. In addition they'd be on the hook for only one year rather than two as they were with Schneider. I would not characterize his offense as "nothing". A .340 OBP with an extra base hit every 10 ABs is decent. I also think you're underestimating his rep as a game caller/leader etc.

Having said that, he's 36 years old. Montero would fit more into the long term plan. Either move would have its pluses (and minuses).

Posted by: #4 | December 4, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

how exactly is Rickie Weeks a headcase?

Posted by: MrMadison | December 4, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Back on Dukes:
I just re-read Barry's story today -- it was the most critical, opinionated article he's ever written, as if he was trying to overcompensate for the paper not putting a columnist on the story.

Posted by: swanni | December 4, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Barry:

Nashville has some great eats but you probably need a car, so think about renting one.

Near Vanderbilt (other side of town from the hotel):

Rotiers--hole in the wall meat & three place. Try a fried pickle (once).

Pancake Pantry: Best I've ever had. Breakfast & lunch only, I think.

A bit out of town, but worth the drive:

Loveless Cafe

At the hotel, I found we could get into the buffet without a reservation. Not bad.

Posted by: Section 307 (former 418) | December 4, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Miller would be a good pickup, if the Nats are just looking for someone to handle the staff & not worry about any offense. At age 38, he isn't likely to start more than 50 games or improve his hitting. Of course, they could have kept Schneider if that's what they wanted.

Posted by: Section 307 (former 418) | December 4, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

On TradeRumors.com

Nats Shopping Rauch For A Shortstop?

The Washington Post's Barry Svrluga says the Nationals are listening on Felipe Lopez, as you might expect. However they're hesitant to leave Cristian Guzman as the only person on the roster who can play shortstop. With that in mind, Jim Bowden is shopping Jon Rauch with at least one team in hopes of getting a shortstop. By the way, only one of Rauch/Cordero will get traded, if any.

Trying to think of Rauch scenarios. To the Cubs for Ronny Cedeno? To the Dodgers for Chin-Lung Hu? To the Red Sox for Jed Lowrie?

Posted by: #4 | December 4, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

zaun certainly might be worth considering. zaun has always been a decent hitter - a pretty good situational hitter and a fair rbi guy. i don't know if he's a full-time cather anymore, but re-reading barry's post, it sounds like it would be more of a half-time situation that they are trying to slot someone into. zaun could probably do that. but again, i wonder if they'd be willing to take on that kind of salary, especially if they could get someone like the aforementioned montero at 1/10th the price.

Posted by: blueson | December 4, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

actually, I kind of like Zaun, but they are a bit thin at catcher, per Sean McAdam.
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?id=3091288 . Also, not sure of the position match. They have some pitching depth.

Posted by: jon | December 4, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Aside from Cuddyer, the Twins don't have much in the outfield. If they felt like Kearns could play CF, they might bite.

-----

Earlier rumors said the Twins might be looking in to Lopez/Kearns... although they won't need Kearns if they get Coco Crisp and they'd probably prefer Lowrie over Lopez. Oh well, one can hope

Posted by: John in Mpls | December 4, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Someone suggested at the mlbtraderumors site that the Nats should send Rauch/Cordero to the White Sox for Uribe (SS).

He was alleged to have been involved in a shooting a couple years back, so he would fit in well with the new Washington Bullets.

Posted by: Scott in Shaw | December 4, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

how about Rauch and Lopez to the Pirates for Catcher Ryan Doumit, SS Jack Wilson and SP Ian Snell?

Posted by: e | December 4, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I don't like the Uribe idea;

1. Rauch should stay and Cordero should go.

2. Why do we want a career .254/.295/.427 guy? Not to mention that he hit only .234 last year and his OBP was only .284!

Posted by: estuartj | December 4, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

New Post

Posted by: cevans | December 4, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

John in Mpls: If the Twins pull the trigger on the Crisp or Melky deal, then they have a CF and an OF of Cuddyer, Young, and trade guy. If you think Cuddyer might shift back to 3d, then Kearns might be a fit, and if Nathan is on the block, then perhaps they could use a middle reliever too.

BTW - Gammons says the Red Sox might add Ryan Kalish (CF from their NY-Penn affiliaite in Lowell), who I think you'll like when Coco's contract is up.

Posted by: jon | December 4, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

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