Musings on New and Potentially New Nats
No, I have little interest in blogging on the comedy of errors and politicking that went on in the DC Council the other night--despite my thought while staying up to watch the council meeting that I would try to pay the $600+ million myself if I could just hear Marion Barry, who sounded completely unintelligible, utter the sentence: "Excuse me, Ms. Chairman, where's the line item in the budget for crack?"
My favorite part of the night was when they had to hold a vote on whether they could hold a vote on whether they could hold a vote (seriously, I'm not kidding on that one--the argument was over whether when a call for a vote to end debate and have a vote on the proposal was rejected, how little time could pass before someone could ask for a similar vote).
Basically, MLB will a) agree to it and there will be a hundred stumbling blocks down the road, especially when the bond issuers demand that DC guarantee cost overruns, which under the deal struck, DC would "have to" abide by, and we can all watch Councilman Catania blow a vein in his head, or b) won't agree to it, and...well, let's wait on that one because I don't have the heart to discuss it.
Today's topic is about three players: Alfonso Soriano (and no, I don't really WANT to make him my new whipping boy--it's not his fault Bowden was on hallucinogens when he made that trade); Matthew LeCroy; and Sammy Sosa.
1) Soriano: Last year, Alfonso Soriano was paid $7.5 million by the Texas Rangers. I think that would probably be about right for this year--and I think I am being somewhat generous given the fact that the guy was simply awful outside the cozy confines of Arlington (a staggeringly low .639 OPS, and for those of you not statistically minded... a .224 batting average with almost no walks, little-medium power, and very few RBIs), and there is the possibility that he could be just dreadful in RFK since he gets on base only slightly more often than Cristian Guzman.
However, the Nationals have offered Soriano $10 million in arbitration, and if you think that sum isn't staggering enough for a guy who doesn't even have a position on this team, Soriano has asked for $12 million. Either figure would be an arbitration record.
Do I think Soriano could get $12 million.? No, not really. But does it concern me that one of the arbitrators deciding the case is Richard Bloch? Yes. You might remember the name Richard Bloch, because unless there are two sports arbitrators named Richard Bloch, this is the same man who was recently fired by the NFLPA for finding against Terrell Owens in his claim against the Eagles. One could argue that Bloch finding against Owens shows that he is reasonable and can side with owners. One could also argue that Bloch wants to keep his job as a baseball arbitrator and might feel that siding with the Eagles so publicly and then with the Nationals is the fastest way to a pink slip. I'd be nervous if I were the Nats, because if Soriano isn't untradeable at $10 mil, he certainly is at $12 mil.
2) The Nats did make one good signing this week and that was the $850,000 contract of Matt LeCroy. LeCroy isn't a splashy player, but he is one that makes our team better. He plays catcher and first base (although with all our first basemen, we'll just focus on his catching), is a righty to compliment Brian Schneider, and is a significant offensive upgrade from Gary Bennett, who did a reasonable job for the Nats, but was no Matt LeCroy. Let's look at how LeCroy hit last year against lefties (since he will probably get 80-90% of his at bats against them). In 144 plate appearances against lefties last year, LeCroy hit .306 with a HUGE 1.025 OPS. Now one drawback is that he hit way worse outside the Metrodome than in it, but for $850,000, this is a really great signing.
3) Sammy Sosa. It appears the Nats have made a major league contract offer to the juice-deprived slugger. I'm not going to go crazy criticizing that because we don't actually know the details of the offer yet, and some say it is very incentive-laden, which I am fine with. But if it really is the close to the $1.5-$2 million rumor out there, and worse, if it really is simply because Bud Selig wants Sosa to stay in the game and none of the "real" owners want him, I'm going to be pretty fired up. ESPECIALLY, if the "hey, we have Sammy Sosa, come buy a ticket and see him strike out" tour takes away at-bats from up and comers like Ryan Church. Let's wait and see.