Chad Cordero prevailed in his arbitration case with the Washington Nationals. He make $4.15 million versus the $3.65 million that the Nationals were offering up. That works out to be about a three and a half million dollar raise for Cordero. Not too shabby.
Of course Cordero was off a bit in 2006 at least compared to 2005 at least by conventional standards. His ERA and WHIP were both up but his strikeout rate was up. PECOTA is projecting a slight dip at least if you look at his weighted mean average (1.17 WHIP, 3.33 ERA) but it should be more of the same from Cordero in 2007, just for a much higher price tag.
The Nationals added a bit more veteran insurance when they signed second baseman Ronnie Belliard to a minor league deal. Out of all of the minor league deals the Nationals have done recently (Tony Batista and Dmitri Young), this one is probably the best. For some reason, Belliard is out of favor despite starting for the Indians and Cardinals last year. The reason I like this deal better then others is because the Nationals may actually have a need there. Felipe Lopez is pegged as the starter, but he’s played short the past couple of seasons and wasn’t great there. It’ll be interesting to see how he does over at second.
If Belliard makes the team, he’ll make $750,000. I think Belliard will make the team and get time as a utility infielder.
I’ve already talked about how the Nationals rotation is pretty much a wide open contest. One of the men who will be throwing his name into the hat and fighting for a spot in the rotation is left hander Matt Chico. Matt Chico was eighth on the list of top Nationals prospects but he’s the top left handed pitcher who’s major league ready.
Chico made stops at HIgh A and two different Double A teams because he was traded from the Diamondbacks in the Livan Hernandez trade. His strikeout rate dipped once he got to Double A but he still put up solid numbers. Probably the biggest concern about Chico is he didn’t progress through the system pretty well. 2006 was his third year getting a nice chunk of time at Double A and while the third time was the charm, it’s not normal for a top flight prospect to get hung up at a level for three years.
The Nationals signed Dmitri Young to a minor league contract. This is an interesting deal because I believe it was Jim Bowden who drafted Dmitri Young way back when he was with the Reds. Young had a breakout season in 2003 for a poor Tiger team and then had decent but injury filled seasons in 2004 and 2005. Things hit rock bottom in 2006 when he faced criminal charges for assaulting his girl friend. He eventually went into rehab, came back around the All Star break but then was cut abruptly in early September.
I had a brief conversation with Brian from Tigerblog. He told me that some of the players didn’t want Young to came back and it was eventually his negative attitude that got him cut. At least that was the speculation amongst the media. It also didn’t hurt that he was pretty mediocre in August and September.
Now he’ll get a shot to make the Nationals. You’d hope Manny Acta wouldn’t put up with negativity so you’d have to assume Young will be on a short leash. He should make for an interesting guy to keep any eye on this spring though, because when he’s on, he can rake.
The Nationals kicked off the beginning of their spring training season today and they did it under new management and new ownership. This MLB.com column takes a nice look at manager Manny Acta and what went down in the first day of camp. Talk about a power meeting. His day opened with a 3 1/2 hour meeting with the coaching staff.
At this point, when it comes to the Nationals 2007 starting rotation, anything goes. John Patterson is probably a lock, but after that it’s a crap shoot. One of the guys who will be fighting for one of those spots is left hander Billy Traber, who’s the highlight of this MLB.com story.
Traber was busy in the offseason working with his college pitching coach on his mechanics. Hopefully for us Nationals fans, it’ll equate to a better on field performance and Traber puts together a solid season.
Nationals president Stan Kasten recently fielded questions by MLB.com. There’s a lot of good stuff in here, including some nice words about Manny Acta along with spring training plans for the team. They also ask him about how the Nationals are picked to finish dead last and he answers it as best he can (although I don’t see this team making the World Series). There’s a lot of good stuff here though and it’s well worth checking out.
How many ways can you hear about a team building for the future? This time it’s at NBCsports.com and once again, it’s encouraging that they think the Nationals are making some right moves for the future yet it seems like a forgone conclusion that the Nationals will be out of the race by the end of April. This is more of the same (i.e., the Nationals pitching is bad).
Beyond the Box Score recently unveiled their 2007 Nationals team preview. He actually has some nice things to say about Jim Bowden in a back handed kind of way but the bottom line is, the Nationals have no rotation to speak of BUT, they’re saving money by not going with more established, low end starters that would have cost the team more but not done anything in the win column for them.
The good news is, they do agree that while the Nationals are probably going to be bad in 2007, they’ve built a solid core for the future. At least that’s what I’m hanging my hat on.
The Nationals locked up Austin Kearns for three years and in the process, they’ll avoid arbitration with the oufielder. Kearns will make $17.5 million over the three years and there’s team option in 2010.
I like this signing. Kearns has never quite lived up to his reputation (at one time, he was the top prospect in the Reds organization, not Adam Dunn) and he showed flashes of what he could do in the first half of last year before he was traded. He still hit 24 homeruns and had 86 RBIs though, and he’s a good patient hitter.
I like what I see from Kearn’s PECOTA projection. They have him hitting .266/.362/.476 with 22 homeruns but they also have Kearns with a 25% breakout rate and a 54% improve rate. I think Kearns will get closer to his 75th percentile, which has him at .278/.377/.509 with 25 homeruns. And Kearns is only 26 (he’ll be 27 in May) so he’s coming close to those peak seasons that happen right around when a player turns 28.
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