January 17, 2007
As the deadline approached, the Washington Nationals made offers to the five players who are eligible for arbitration: right-hand pitchers Chad Cordero and John Patterson, outfielders Alex Escobar and Austin Kearns, and infielder Felipe Lopez. (He is expected to shift to second base this year, now that shortstop Cristian Guzman is healed.) Based on the spread between what they are offering and what the players are asking, it seems that Cordero is their top priority, which is appropriate. See MLB.com. Cordero only made $525,000 last year, and will get at least six times that this year. I'm more worried, however, that the Nats might lose Patterson, who is asking more than twice what they are offering. As things presently stand, he is the only solid pitcher in the Nats' rotation, and the pitching staff desperately needs an "anchor." Michael O'Connor and Shawn Hill, two pitchers who showed moments of brillance as rookies last year, also signed contracts, which is great news. They will probably start on a semi-regular basis. The value-conscious Nats front office also signed outfielder Chris Snelling, and pitchers Jerome Williams and Brandon Claussen -- all relative unknowns. (Has Jim Bowden read Moneyball, emulating the Oakland A's?) Long-term prospects are bright, but in the short-term the Nationals are looking more like a minor league team than even the Expos did! Two thousand seven will be a trying time for Nats fans...
Hall of Fame pitcher and former Braves announcer Don Sutton has signed up to do the color commentary for the Nationals on MASN this year. He overcame cancer a couple years ago, and is a classy, admirable guy for the job.
Oakland Athletics co-owner Lew Wolff promoted his plan for a new ballpark at a meeting of the Fremont City Council. Some fans from Oakland who don't want the team to move showed up to protest. See yahoo.com. Wolff's notion of emulating the neighborhood ambience of Fenway Park and Wrigley Field seems ridiculous to me, especially since they have been touting "Cisco Field" as a high-tech wonder. Hat tip to Bruce Orser.
There is even more buzzing and haggling over the stadium proposal in Miami, and MLB executive Bob DuPuy is getting involved, as ESPN reports. DuPuy said,
Everyone is working very hard to get this realized. The hope is that we can get all the planets and sun and moon aligned and get this to fruition.
Given that he used virtually those same exact words in 2002 (or perhaps 2003, I'll check), referring to the expected relocation of the Expos to Washington -- an excuse for stalling, basically -- one might conclude that a new stadium deal for Miami is two years away. (What is that thing he has with astrology?) Hat tip to Mke Zurawski.