Arbitration, trade rumor, etc.Go figure, MLB reports that we did not offer arbitration to two people whom we have already replaced.
I was working on an analysis of the proposed Alexis Rios / Nick Johnson swap that Gammons reported on, but I hit the wrong key and I'll be damned if my browser reloaded the page and ate my post. I'll just summarize my argument. Chris at Capitol Punishment has a good perspective on it, but I don't necessarily agree with the logic, because he thinks that Rios would send Chavez to the bench. I think Chavez will be battling Sledge for playing time, and unless Angelos really is playing puppeteer, Chavez will end up on the bench. Wilkerson just moves from the OF to 1B... your lineup only changes based on the swap, and Johnson has a better OBP and SLG.
Johnson does walk a lot, but overall he has underperformed offensively. There's a good chance that this was due to injury, and he'll break out. But there's just as good a chance he'll not live up to his potential again. Meanwhile, Rios is less likely to break out next year, but is probably more likely to improve on his 2004, and beyond. But, Rios doesn't know how to walk (he did it only once every 15 PAs or so in 2004), and that bugs me. The scouting report on Rios does say he is a plus glove in CF, meaning the defense will get a bit better.
All in all, I agree at the end of the day that it'd be a good swap. Johnson's odds of breaking out are a bit higher, but Rios seems like less of a risk, since Johnson has been so hampered by injuries. Plus, Rios is two years younger, and has more of a long-term upside from the power perspective. Realistically, if Johnson has a breakout year, that's great, but I'd rather mitigate the risk of embarrassing ourselves next year and put pieces in place in an attempt to be competitive a few years out. They've both got a decent chance of being key contributors in that time frame, but I see Rios as less risky. Maybe when PECOTA projections come out, statistics will prove me wrong, though.
I wonder if the Jays are looking for something other than an even swap. I would be if I were them, considering the risk involved with Johnson. Yet, as the Nats, we need to keep any other scraps of talent we have, and we've got a tight budget for 2005... I would only really be interested in an even swap.
In other on-the-field news, we still may sign Larkin, and if we do, he may actually end up a coach instead of an occasional shortstop and "team leader". I'd far rather have Guzman be the most expensive backup shortstop in the majors... even though he's ancient by baseball standards, Larkin's .289/.352/.419 in 2004 put Guzman's .274/.309/.384 to shame.
I'll skip the off-field news. I'm not too interested in weighing in on Steroids, Angelos, Cropp, etc. etc. etc.