Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nats Sign Pitcher

CSN Washington reported today that the Washington Nationals have signed relief pitcher Brad Lidge to a one year deal.

Lidge has spent the past four years with the Phillies. Last season he was hindered by a shoulder injury. In 25 appearances after he returned, he posted a 1.40 ERA. He was also on the Phillies 2008 World Series Championship team.

Through his career, he has 224 saves with a 3.40 ERA.

Lidge will join Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard in the bullpen for the Nationals this year.

The Nationals have done some work this off season to improve their pitching staff. Signing Lidge only adds to the quality that they have.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why the Nats Can't Have Fielder

Let's be perfectly was made pretty evident that signing Prince Fielder was going to come at a price tag that was at least $180 million. Sure, he would have been a great addition and is good for around 30 home runs and around 100 RBIs a season, but, at what cost?

Last off season the Nationals went out and spent $127 million on a player that did not work out (Jayson Werth...less). Am I saying that the same would have happened to Fielder? No. Trust me, he will be just as productive next season as he was last season. But, for the Nationals, all he would do is sell tickets.

The team was so adamant about keeping Adam LaRoche at first base. That was their whole reasoning for not signing Fielder right off the bat (no pun intended). Going out and spending upwards of $200 million to sing ANOTHER first baseman is just impractical at this point. The Nationals have not even gotten a chance the see what LaRoche is capable of because he was hurt for a majority of last season.

The depth that the Nationals currently have at first base is excellent. After Adam LaRoche, the Nats have Michael Morse (who will start in the outfield) and then Chris Marrero. They also have Tyler Moore. The depth at the position is fantastic. Let's not forget the fairly recent signing of do-it-aller Mark DeRosa. DeRosa can step in at any position in the infield and play well.

Since the Nationals have sparred themselves $200 million over the next nine years, they can now turn their attention to retaining this actually pretty decent roster that they have assembled. Doing things like extending contracts and resigning players that only signed a one year deal. They can even make sure that they keep their impressive farm system intact, as well.

Let's not forget, the Nationals are currently trying to give Ryan Zimmerman a contract extension. Still having that extra cash around will only make those negotiations easier.

Signing Prince Fielder to a lucrative contract would, in the long run, seemingly hurt the organization. The club would go back to the dismal days of having one star, but, no supporting cast.

Report: Fielder Makes Decision

Today, it was reported by ESPN's Jerry Crasnick that free agent first baseman Prince Fielder has made his decision. The team, however, came straight out of left field: the Detroit Tigers.

All reports and signs pointed to either the Washington Nationals or the Texas Rangers to sign Fielder. At one point the Nationals seemed the clear cut front runners to sign him due to their affiliation with his agent, Scott Boras.

But, they were merely reports, not facts...sadly.

The deal is reportedly worth $214 million over 9 years. This type of contract is exactly what Boras and Fielder were looking for. They wanted a long term deal, at least seven years, with a lot of money to go with it, $214 million ain't too bad!

Things can now get back to normal around the old Washington ball club. They can now turn to focus on signing third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to a long term deal. Rumors have already buzzed of the two sides trading figures.

Missing out on Fielder is not the end of the world. The Nationals still have Adam LaRoche to rely on at first base. The Nats also have Tyler Moore and Chris Marrero in their farm system. Both are reliable players that can get the job done.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Redskins Hire Receivers Coach

CSN Washington reported today that the Redskins have hired former Giants wide receiver Ike Hilliard as their new receivers coach.

Hilliard does have some experience coaching. He has coached under Jim Haslett in the UFL. He was also an assistant receivers coach for the Dolphins.

It was also reported that Bob Slowik, former defensive backs coach, will replace Lou Spanos as line backers coach. Spanos left to become the defensive coordinator for UCLA.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nats Extend Morse

This past Friday, Mark Zuckermann reported that the Nationals have agreed to a contract extension with out fielder Michael Morse. The deal is for two years and $10.5 million.

The contract does not keep Morse from becoming a free agent in 2013.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nationals Sign Players

Mark Zuckerman reported today that the Nationals have resigned pitchers Jordan Zimmermann, Tyler Clippard, and Tom Gorzelanny. By signing these three players, they have effectively avoided arbitration with them.

Each player signed a one year deal. Zimmerman signed for $2.3 million, Gorzelanny was inked for $2.7 million, and Clippard is expected to receive between $1.5-2 million.

The Nationals agreed to a contract with these three players just before the deadline. If they were to wait any longer, then they would have to go to arbitration hearings on February 1st.

Now that the Nationals have signed these three, only two players remain: left fielder Michael Morse and pitcher Jon Lannan.

Helu, Kerrigan Honored

Yesterday, the All-Rookie team was announced and there were two Redskins that were deserving on that list. Running back Roy Helu Jr and defensive end Ryan Kerrigan were selected.

Kerrigan was the teams first selection in the NFL draft (16th overall). He started his career with a splash by scoring a touchdown in week one against the Giants. Kerrigan finished with 7.5 sacks and 41 tackles.

Roy Helu was the Redskins steal of the draft. He was selected 105th overall in the fourth round of the draft. Helu immediately became an important part of the offense. By seasons end, he was no doubt the starting running back. Helu finished the season with a team high 640 yards rushing. He also set a team record when he had 14 pass receptions against the 49ers.

Nats Ink Flores

Chase Hughes reported yesterday that the Washington Nationals reached an agreement with catcher Jesus Flores and officially avoid arbitration. The deal is a one year deal worth $815,000. Last season Flores made just $750,000.

Last season, Flores was a back-up and appeared in just 30 games for the D.C. ball club. He hit .209 with one home run and two RBIs. It was his first season back after missing two complete seasons due to shoulder injuries.

The Nationals now have five players left to settle with on a contract. Michael Morse, Jordan Zimmerman, Tyler Clippard, Tom Gorzellany, and Jon Lannan have all filed for arbitration. If they cannot reach a deal with them before noon today, they will have to go to arbitration hearings on February 1st in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Nationals Lock Up Gonzalez

The Washington Nationals announced in a tweet that they have signed pitcher Gio Gonzalez to a 5 year contract extension. By doing so they avoid arbitration. The deal goes through to the 2016 season.

Originally, Gonzalez was signed to a 1 year .42 million dollar deal just to get him on the team.

The cash terms of the deal are not yet known. The deal also includes options for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Nats Want Fielder

Bill Ladson reported this evening that the Nationals appear to indeed be in the hunt for free agent first baseman Prince Fielder. He heard the report from an industry source.

While the club is not willing to give the slugger a 10 year deal, they can offer him a no trade clause. An "industry source" says the Nationals are willing to give Fielder a six or seven year deal.

The other teams that the Nationals are in "serious competition" with are the Miami Marlins and the Texas Rangers. Keep in mind that the Marlins are also trying to acquire the services of center fielder Yoenis Cespedes. That could potentially take them out of contention. Just this past week Fielder met with the front office for the Rangers in Texas.

A couple of other teams that are trying to sign Fielder are the Mariners and the Cubs. They are not expected to be big contenders in the Fielder sweepstakes.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Redskins QB Rumors

Today, I read a very interesting tweet on Twitter. It was tweeted by former Redskins radio beat reporter and current ESPN anchor Bram Weinstein. It simply read this (and I quote!):

"One of the people who's opinion at ESPN I trust the most says Peyton + Saturday to Redskins is VERY likely.. So, I have to warm up to it"

Yes. You just read that. I'll give you a minute to catch your breath...

Got it? Read that quote a couple of times? I sure did!

Now, don't go off saying that The Skinny said that Peyton Manning and Colts center Jeff Saturday was coming to the Redskins. I am merely repeating a tweet and shedding a little light on things!

By no means is this a done deal. This may not even BE a deal. This could certainly be something that some ESPNer said that has been taken out of context. Bram Weinstein, however, is a very reliable person for sports news. The thing I'd like to know, however, is who his source is. Anywho...

This rumor is clearly speculation and well...a rumor! Sure, it would be beneficial for Manning and Saturday to come to the Redskins, but don't go out and make a custom number 18 "Manning" Redskins jersey.

This is, however, certainly something to keep an eye on. Many times we have heard of this deal on ESPN and sports shows alike. The idea of Manning coming to the Redskins has been thrown around before.

Keep in mind that Manning could be seeing his career coming to an end due to his injured neck.

Keep in touch with this rumor. There could certainly be something to this further on down the road. For the time being, though, get excited for drafting a quarterback in the first round of the draft.

Nats File For Salary Arbitration

William Ladson tweeted today that Washington Nationals pitcher Tyler Clippard, catcher Jesus Flores, pitcher Gio Gonzalez, pitcher John Lannan, first baseman Michael Morse, and pitcher Jordan Zimmerman have all filed for salary arbitration.

This does not mean that the Nationals have lost these players for good. It means quite the opposite. It simply means that all these players have completed their original contracts but cannot come to an agreement with their club on a new contract. Both sides will now make a case to an arbitrator on a size and length for a deal. The arbitrator will then decide which side presents the better deal. (Definition from

These players are all key players for the Nationals franchise. The club just recently acquired the services of Gio Gonzalez in a trade with the Oakland Athletics.

A reason why the two sides may not be able to come to an agreement could be because of the Nationals apparent interest in Prince Fielder. Take this for what you will, but the Nationals appear to be pursuing Fielder and he will not come at a cheap price. They could be trying to low-ball these free agents in order to make sure that there is enough cap room in case they decide to try to sign Prince Fielder.

This is all still just speculation since the Nationals have been private about their thoughts on signing the high priced free agent first baseman. It would be an excellent idea, however, to sign the six players that have filed for arbitration. They will be able to contribute to the organization for years to come.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fielder Update!

Adam Kilgore reported this evening that the Washington Nationals are still pursuing free agent first baseman Prince Fielder.

The new wrinkle in this never ending saga is that Nationals ownership met with Fielders agent, Scott Boras, this evening at the meetings in Arizona. (According to a source close to the situation)

The Nationals were not the only team to talk to Boras about Fielder. The Miami Marlins are also interested in acquiring the high priced free agent.

The race for Prince Fielder is ever so slowly developing. Right now, it appears as though the Nationals and the Marlins are the front runners. Both sides have shown in the past few off-seasons that they are willing to spend the cash to get the top free agents for their team.

Report: Morris to Redskins

CSN Washington first reported this evening that former Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris will be joining the Redskins. This was first reported by the St. Petersburg Times. Just last week, the Redskins front office had dinner with Morris.

Most likely, Morris will be brought on as the new defensive backs coach for the Redskins.

The Redskins also fired two of their position coaches today. Safeties coach Steve Jackson and wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell were let go. Jackson had been with the team since 2004.

Morris does have two major ties with the Redskins. He has worked with both offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen while they were on the Tampa Bay staff.

Raheem Morris to Redskins?

CSN Washington reported last night that former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris is close to getting a job as an assistant coach. The question, now, is with who?

The report also stated that Morris is deciding between the Vikings and the Redskins. The report went on to say that Morris said, "With Washington, it was more of an offer."

Morris started his NFL coaching career in 2002 with the Tampa Buccaneers. There, he was an assistant defensive coach and helped the Buccaneers to a 48-21 victory over the Oakland Raiders in the Super Bowl XXXVII. In 2005, he was elevated to defensive backs coach.

In 2006, he left for Kansas State University where he became the defensive coordinator.

For the 2007 season, Morris returned to the Buccaneers as the defensive backs coach.

In December of 2008, Morris was then announced as the next head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In three seasons as the head coach, Morris compiled a 17-31 record. He had one winning season in 2010 when the Buccaneers finished third in the NFC South with a 10-6 record. This past season, Tampa Bay finished with a 4-12 record.

If Morris comes to the Redskins, he would most likely take over as the defensive backs coach. The Redskins currently plan to keep Jim Haslett as the defensive coordinator.

Morris would be a welcomed fit for the Redskins. He has years of experience coaching all types of players.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Redskins Sign Four

Yesterday, CSN Washington announced that the Washington Redskins signed four players to reserve/future contracts.

Three of the four players were on the teams practice squad this past season. The team signed cornerback Travon Bellamy, quarterback Jonathan Crompton, running back Tristan Davis, and guard Nevin McCaskill.

By no means do any of these players expect to be critical parts for the Redskins this coming fall. The Redskins have basically claimed these players for their franchise next season.

Cornerback Travon Bellamy spent this past fall on the Redskins practice squad. He was originally cut by the St. Louis Rams after training camp.

Quarterback Jonathan Crompton also spent this past season on the Redskins practice squad. Crompton was originally selected in the 5th round of the 2010 draft by the San Diego Chargers. Before coming to Washington, Crompton spent time on the practice squads for San Diego, New England, and Tampa Bay.

Running back Tristan Davis was signed onto the Redskins practice squad this past October. He has been on the game squads for Detroit, Miami, Minnesota, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh but did not make any appearances in games.

The fourth player that the Redskins signed is guard Nevin McCaskill. He was signed to the Bills practice squad as an undrafted rookie free agent from Hampton in 2007. He has also spent time with the Eagles, Titans, Packers, Jets, Dolphins, and Steelers.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Redskins Gameplan: Offseason

For my loyal readers, you all have seen my weekly series "Redskins Gamplan". In that series, I break down what they need to be successful in that weeks game. Usually, I break it down unit by unit (i.e. offense, defense, and special teams). Over the next couple of days I will look at and break down, in depth, what they need to do to improve each unit this offseason. Today, I will break down the offense, tomorrow the defense, and then I'll finish it off with the special teams! Enjoy!

This season the offense really struggled. They finished 14th in pass yards per game, 235.8, and 25th in rush yards per game.

The offensive line was the most consistent part of the Redskins offense. Willie Smith stepped in a left tackle when Trent Williams was suspended and did just as good a job, if not better, than Trent Williams. Left guard Maurice Hurt was also solid for the Redskins. In 8 games, Hurt allowed just 2 sacks. Will Montgomery started every single all 16 games for the Redskins and allowed just 2 sacks, as well. Chris Chester also only allowed 2 sacks through 16 games. The biggest hole in the offensive line is at right tackle. The Redskins tried out both Tyler Polumbus and Jamal Brown at the position and neither one of them was the standout that they were looking for. It's a simple fix. When Trent Williams returns you stick him back at left tackle and move Willie Smith over to right tackle.

The Redskins had one of the most explosive and reliable backfields in the NFL. Roy Helu Jr. and Evan Royster were pleasant steals on draft day. The early season injury for Tim Hightower sent the Redskins into a panic at the running back position until these two stepped up. Helu finished the season with 640 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns. Royster finished second behind Royster for the team with 328 yards rushing. With both returning, the Redskins seem poise to have one of the toughest backfields in the NFL. There is no need to focus on this in the offseason.

The tight end spot was a disaster from week one. The Redskins wanted to put Chris Cooley at fullback and decided to only rely on Fred Davis at tight end. Davis showed a lot of promise throughout the season, but, was suspended for the final five games of the season for violating the leagues drug policy. Through eleven games, however, Davis compiled 59 receptions for 796 yards and 3 touchdowns. His replacement became Logan Paulsen. Paulsen finished this season with 11 receptions for 138 yards. If Davis returns full strength, this shouldn't be an area of concern for the Redskins. There should be very little time devoted to this position this offseason.

Darrel Young emerged as the teams fullback this season. He put the ball in the endzone one time for the Redskins. He also had 14 receptions. Look for him to be back at that spot next season. With Young and Cooley returning, this position looks solid for next season.

The Redskins were, for the most part, inconsistent at the wide receiver spot. Jabar Gaffney emerged as the teams leading receiver. Gaffney had 68 receptions for 947 yards and 5 touchdowns. The next closest player was Fred Davis who missed five games. Santana Moss, Donte Stallworth, and Leonard Hankerson were all ineffective this season. If the Redskins want a solid passing attack, they will need another number 1 caliber receiver to go along with Gaffney. Moss, Stallworth, and Hankerson all have value in them that if traded, they could be exchanged for a solid draft pick. The Redskins will need to address this area in the draft. They should be able to select a solid receiver in the second, third, or maybe fourth round of the draft.

The biggest area that the Redskins have to address this offseason is the quarterback position. Currently, they have two very solid back-up quarterbacks. Grossman threw for over 3,000 yards, but, he is not a playoff caliber quarterback (Super Bowl with the Bears was a fluke). There are a number of quarterbacks that the Redskins could select in the draft. They have to go after Robert Griffin III. They currently sit with the sixth pick in the draft. RGIII may not make it past number 5. I don't care what they have to do, they have to draft Robert Griffin III. If, by some sort luck only the Redskins could have, they don't select Robert Griffin III, Landry Jones from Oklahoma would also be a good fit. No matter what, the Redskins are going to have to select a quarterback with their first pick in the draft. If they don't we could very easily see a repeat of last season...and the season before that...and the season before that.

The main areas of concern for the offense that have to be addressed the offseason is at wide receiver and quarterback. Both can, and should, be fixed through the draft. 

Stay tuned! Tomorrow the defense will take center stage!

Nats Meet With Fielders Agent

Bill Ladson of reported today that the Washington Nationals ownership have met with Prince Fielders agent, Scott Boras.

In his article, Ladson cites an unnamed "baseball source" for the information. This report only adds to the speculation that the Nationals are currently the front runners to land Prince Fielder.

Fielder is also reported to be pursued by the Mariners and Cubs.

This little chit-chat between the two parties could simply be for Scott Boras to pitch a few different deals to the Nationals ownership. The Nationals are more than likely waiting for the price to lower and that could also be one item thrown around in the meeting.

This meeting is one of the first moves that the Nationals have made toward acquiring Prince Fielder.

Why The Nationals Can't Have Fielder

There are three reasons why the Nationals can not have free agent first baseman Prince Fielder: Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, and Ryan Zimmerman.

The Nationals can simply not afford to have Fielder, Strasburg, Harper, and Zimmerman at the same time. They certainly can not afford him after signing Jayson Werth to a lucrative deal last season and with the most recent acquisition of Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland A's. There is just not enough money to go around.

Another thing to consider: Scott Boras, Fielders agent, is known for giving his players high priced deals (see: Jayson Werth). Boras is also the agent for Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, and Danny Espinosa. While the Nationals and Boras have a history, Boras has a history of getting the most money for his clients. Just because the Nationals have the money to spend does not mean that they have to spend it.

Is it even practical to sign Fielder to a lucrative contract? Let's look at the Nationals other first baseman.

The Nationals currently have Adam LaRoche, Michael Morse, and Chris Marrero at the first base position. Just last season the Nationals went out and signed LaRoche. He ended up getting injured and Michael Morse played a majority of the season at first base. LaRoche and Morse are both threats at the plate and in the field. The Nationals could better serve themselves by spending that money elsewhere.

The rumor of the Nationals being the frontrunner's to sign Fielder is no more than speculation and a rumor. The Nationals front office has been adamant that Adam LaRoche is going to be the teams first baseman this year and they have not yet commented on this rumor.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Fielder to Nationals?

Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported today that the Nationals appear to be the front runners to land first baseman Prince Fielder.

The front office for the Nationals have yet to tip their hand either way on the subject.

The Nationals are seemingly the only team that can spend enough money to acquire a high priced free agent like Fielder.

This is only a report, not fact. Keep in mind that the Nationals just last year signed first baseman Adam LaRoche and then had the emergence of Michael Morse. The signing of Fielder would put LaRoche to either the outfield or the bench and then possibly trade block. The the franchise would have to decide what to do with Morse.

Prince Fielders agent, Scott Boras, also represents Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and Jayson Werth. The relationship between the Nationals and Boras is solid so Boras may be trying to work out a deal that suits the Nationals well financially.

This report is speculation and only a report. It will be interesting to see what the Nationals front office has to answer this report.

Stay tuned. The race for Prince Fielder is heating up.

Redskins: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Redskins finished off the season with a 5-11 record. They finished 2-4 in the NFC East and swept the Giants. After starting the season a promising 3-1, the Redskins finished 2-10 after the bye week.

The Redskins did some things right and
they did some things wrong. Let's rake a look at a good thing, a bad thing, and an ugly thing from the Redskins season.

The Good: The Rookies
The Redskins rookie class this year was one of the best in the Dan Snyder era. Ryan Kerrigan finished the season with 63 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 1 interception, and 1 touchdown. The combination Orakpo and Kerrigan created havoc in opposing teams backfield.

Late round picks Roy Helu Jr and Evan Royster were staples of the Redskins offense by the end of the season. Helu was the starting running back by season's end. Helu finished with 640 yards rushing. Royster finished second to Helu in total rushing with 328 yards on the ground.

Undrafted free agent left tackle Willie Smith was the unsung hero of the Redskins offense. Smith's first appearance came against Andre Carter and the New England Patriots. He followed that solid performance with strong standings against the Giants, the Vikings, and the Eagles. Smith should surely be in position to start at left tackle next season.

The Bad: Injury Status
The Redskins had a terrible season in terms of injuries. Early in the season they lost Tim Hightower for the season due to a knee injury. The Redskins also had to put safety LaRon Landry and tight end Chris Cooley on season ending injured reserve.

Rarely this season did they have a fully healthy roster. They were missing OJ Atogwe at point, as well. They were also plagued by injury on the offensive line. With a healthy game squad, the Redskins could have played much better.

The Ugly: Rex Grossman
It's a wonder he even got to 3,000 yards. He finished with a completion percentage of 57.9 and a passer rating of 72. He threw 20 interceptions to just 16 touchdowns. Three times he threw for under 200 yards; 2 of them for wins.

In the final 15 games of the season, Grossman threw at least one interception.

Grossman is not a starting quarterback. In games where he was the focus of the offensive gameplan, the offense performed worse than games when the running game was the focus. If the Redskins do not draft a quarterback in the upcoming draft, fans can expect much of the same next season.

The Redskins have some great things that they can build off of and some things that they need to improve on. This will be a pivotal offseason for the Shanahan regime.

Come back tomorrow for my Redskins offseason plan!