Nationals make more deals
It's been a busy week for the Washington Nationals' front office, and General Manager Jim Bowden has taken some big risks in building a contending team full of promising (mostly) young wanna-be stars. Aaron Boone, Wily Mo Pena, and Ryan Langerhans, have been signed to a one- or two-year contracts. Boone is s ten-year veteran who has played with the Reds, the Yankees, the Indians, and the Marlins. See MLB.com. Late-breaking news: former Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca signed a one-year contract as well; see MLB.com.
The Washington Post noted that even though these roster additions greatly enhance the team's offensive power, two of the new players have serious behavioral issues: Lastings Milledge earned a bad reputation as a hot-dog rap singer with the Mets, and the (Devil) Rays' Elijah Dukes "has a long history of legal problems," including making threatening phone calls. That's not a good sign. Milledge's mother named him "Lastings" in hopes that he would be her last child.
With all the new faces, things will be very confusing for Nationals fans in coming months, and we will be lucky to recognize more than a few players as the team inaugurates their new stadium in April. All in all, it is a clear indication that the Lerners want their team to have a fighting chance to contend for a playoff spot next year. This stands in stark contrast to the Florida Marlins, who just traded away Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers. See MLB.com.
The mail bag
It's not exactly baseball news, but L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa has committed to keep the USC Trojans in Memorial Coliseum, which is in need of renovation. Otherwise, USC might join UCLA in the Rose Bowl over in Pasadena. The upshot is that the mayor has given up on getting an NFL team to play in Memorial Coliseum. It's probably all for the best, because an NFL franchise would probably want to ruin historic Memorial Coliseum in the same way Da Bears ruined historic Soldier Field a few years ago. See L.A. Times. (The photo in that story shows that the field is now much too narrow to hold a baseball game; the pale rows of seats were added in 1993. They are apparently going ahead with that historic exhibition game set for next March.) Hat tip to Mike Zurawski.