Rich Tandler's Nationals blog.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Jose Vidro

Jose Vidro’s Vitals

Second baseman, 30, 5-11, 193. Switch hitter, throws right. Career BA .304, OBP .367, SLG .470, 101 HR, 471 RBI in 8 seasons.

Quick Take

A three-time All-Star second baseman who is a perennial .300 hitter. An injury cloud is over his head.


For the past six seasons, Vidro has been the one consistently good bat in the franchise’s lineup. A homegrown talent, he was inserted into the every day lineup in 1999 and responded with a .304 average. That started a string of five straight seasons where he hit .300 or better with a peak of .330 in 2000. That string ended last year when he hit .294. His season ended prematurely as he had season-ending surgery for tendonitis in his right knee. He can display a decent amount of power, smacking line drives into the alleys from both sides of the plate when he’s on.

Behind the batting average, the numbers are not bad, but not particularly impressive either. He has become more patient at the plate over the past several seasons, increasing his walks and cutting down on his strikeouts. Still, his OBA hovers right around where you would expect that of a low-.300’s hitter to be, no better, no worse. As his strikeouts have declined, his power has, too. After a high of 24 home runs in 2000, he hit just 15 and 14 in the past two years.

Vidro is considerably more plodding than you would generally expect a second baseman to be; in his career he has stolen 20 bases and has been thrown out 15 times. This is a guy you don’t even want to see leaning hard off of first base, much less taking a big lead.

His lack of speed makes him something of a liability in the field. While he has a good arm that allows him to play a little deeper than most he still fails to get to a lot of balls that the average second baseman. Over the past two seasons, in fact, looking at the range factor data presented at (see link below), over the last two seasons Vidro got to about .5 fewer balls per game than the league’s average second baseman. That means that if Vidro plays in 140 games, 70 balls that the average second baseman would have fielded will get by Vidro. Playing more on the RFK Stadium grass rather than the Olympic Stadium rug will almost certainly help this average, but remember that the Expos played just 59 home games in Montreal, the rest on the grass in Puerto Rico. This will help some, but he’s still likely to be a negative in the field

Vidro’s progress from the knee surgery—which was similar to the kind that essentially marked the end of the career of former Expo Fernando Tatis and that of an older Mark McGwire—has been promising so far. He has been able to perform all baseball functions relatively free of pain so far in spring training.

Of course, spring training is not the regular season, where the grind of playing inning after inning, game after game, week after week can wear down the body, especially surgically repaired joints. It remains to be seen how Vidro’s knee will hold up to that pounding. This is another instance where playing on grass rather than Olympic Stadium’s rug will help, but it remains to be seen how much.

In a move that was rather stunning for a team with no owner and a very unsettled location situation, Vidro was signed to a four-year, $30 million contract extension last May, a deal that kicks in this year. At the time, the deal was thought to be a home-town discount, Virdo’s way of saying thanks to and being loyal to the organization that has brought him along in the big leagues. A more cynical view now would indicate that perhaps he wanted to get a contract signed prior to having the surgery for his tendonitis.

Even if the Nationals’ payroll climbs to the level near those of the major markets, that’s still a lot of money to have tied up in a player coming off of such surgery. One thing that new fans of the team have learned quickly is that they need to hope for the good health of several key players. Vidro is on the top of the list.

2005 Down and Up

Downside: .290 BA, 12 HR, 50 RBI
Upside: .320 BA, 19 HR, 75 RBI

To find Jose Vidro’s career stats on, go to

Friday, February 25, 2005

CD Talks to Beat Reporter Stephanie Myles

As the Expos beat reporter for the Montreal Gazette, Stephanie Myles gained a great amount of insight about the team. She talked to us at Capitol Dugout this week about the Nationals.

Brian Schneider is a young catcher who “is still learning about handling pitchers” according to Myles. He got too much experience last year, she said. In catching over 130 games, he “started to wear down. Hopefully, they will have more confidence in his backup.

His strength that led to him throwing out some 46% of opposing base runners attempting to steal last year? “He’s very accurate, although he doesn’t have a gun for an arm. He puts the ball right where it needs to be.” Myles added that we shouldn’t ignore the other part of the equation when it comes to nailing potential base thieves: “It was a cooperative effort. The pitching staff did a very good job of holding runners on. It’s something that the work on a lot and they were very effective at it.”

Despite his relative lack of experience, Schneider has served as the team’s player rep for the past couple of seasons. “Nobody ever wants that job,” said Myles, “but on this team it was worse. He had to deal with the moving issue, with the playing in Puerto Rico issue, having to play there anyway after (the team) had voted no.”

That side job and his position on the field have helped him become one of the team’s leaders. Although Myles doesn’t think that leadership in the traditional sense is as critical in baseball as it used to be—“The way modern baseball is, there really isn’t the guy who’s going to stand up in the clubhouse and give the guys a bunch of crap when they’re not playing well”—she thinks that Schneider and Livan Hernandez fill the bill on this ball club.

“As Livan has grown into a veteran player, he takes his role more seriously. He’s one of the smarter players on the team. When the club started to acquire some more Latinos, especially pitchers, he stepped up and was great at taking them under his wing.”

The number one thing that has been gathered from this perspective after talking to people who have followed the Expos closely over the past few years is that Livan will be something special to watch. “He’s a great athlete,” said Myles.

About the optimism expressed about the health of the likes of Tony Armas, Zach Day, and others who spent so much of 2004 on the disabled list, Myles cautioned fans that they should be, well, cautious. “Last spring it seemed like everyone was fine at this point, too, But you have to realize that they haven’t done a thing yet.” Most baseball injuries either occur or recur because of the cumulative effect of playing inning after inning, day after day, week after week.

Among the players on the injury watch is second baseman Vidro. According to Myles, the type of knee surgery he had—if you’re squeamish skip to the next paragraph—involved cutting the patellar tendon in half and then scraping away some junk that has developed in the knee.

“Fernando Tatis (former Expos third baseman) had that surgery and essentially was done. He tried to come back afterwards, but couldn’t. Mark McGwire has the same surgery and it pretty much ended his career.”

This has to be of concern when you’re talking about a player who just signed a four-year, $30 million contract extension last May. Vidro was widely praised then for giving the Expos, the only major-league team he’s played for in his seven-year career, a “hometown discount”. Myles suspects that his signing the extension may have been driven in part by his loyalty to the team, but also in part to the fact that he knew he would need to have this particularly invasive surgery to treat the tendonitis in his knee.

Vidro is among about a half a dozen players whose positions in the field and in the batting order are pretty well set—he’ll play second and bat third. Terrmel Sledge does not enjoy similar security but he’s still hoping for a spot in the everyday lineup. His “problem”, in Myles’ view, is that he does many things pretty well but nothing exceptionally well.

“He hits the ball well but has some weaknesses at the plate. He has some power but not a lot. He’s a good outfielder but not a great one and he has some speed but he’s not much of a stolen base threat.” That his manager has confidence in him, according to Myles, will go a long ways towards his success.

Overall, Myles thinks, the team will be very good defensively if Brad Wilkerson plays every day in left field, Vidro’s knee is OK, Endy Chavez is in center and Nick Johnson is at first, a lot of “if’s” she admits. Should this work out, “The pitchers can be confident to let the hitters hit the ball, knowing it'll be caught, and therefore can be more aggressive.”

When asked about potential first-time All-Stars on the team, Myles said that Wilkerson was a possibility “if he plays left field every day” as was Tony Armas “if he’s healthy”.

It’s likely that all of the “if’s” and “maybe’s” surrounding this team have prompted Myles say, “I am done in the prognostication business.” Still, she thinks that while the division is tough, the other teams “will have injuries and underachievers too.” Four out of the five teams in the division will finish at over .500, Myles said.

“I just won’t tell you which ones.”

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Who Are These Guys? Endy Chavez

Endy Chavez
Endy Chavez

Endy Chavez’ Vitals

Center fielder, 27 years old, 5-10, 189. Bats and throws left. Career .264 BA, .303 OBA, .364 SA, 11 HR, 95 RBI, 53 SB in four seasons. Also played briefly with Kansas City.

Quick Take

A speedy slap hitter, he would be the ideal leadoff man except for one thing—he doesn’t get on base enough.

Chavez Rundown

Chavez had the leadoff spot to himself for most of 2003 and was, in the words of the Baseball Prospectus, “an out-making machine”. He accounted for 388 outs that year including the eight double plays he grounded in to and the seven times he was caught stealing. The number of rallies he killed or failed to get started with his .294 OBA is incalculable.

Last year, although he did increase his outs total to 390, he improved his OBA to a slightly less awful .318 and showed more patience at the plate, cutting his strikeouts by a third, from 59 to 40. Most of this improvement came after he dropped to the second spot in the order and had Brad Wilkerson in front of him. This year, apparently, the leadoff spot is his to lose, as Frank Robinson wants to drop Wilkerson down in the order to take advantage of his power. If Chavez can add the same 24 points to his OBA that he added from 2003 to 2004 and keeps his strikeouts down, he can be a replacement-level leadoff man.

If he can do that, he’ll turn himself from a liability into an asset. While he occasionally makes mistakes in the field, he can make up for them with his speed. His arm was good enough for to get nine assists in each of the last two seasons, a solid number for a center fielder. He had 32 steals and got caught just seven times last year, a performance good enough to make opposing pitchers pay plenty of attention to him when he does reach first base.

Like a number of the team’s players, Chavez is reaching the age where his career will be defined. At 27, a player is supposed to be peaking and that would seem to go double for a player who relies on speed as Chavez does. He has had two seasons of full-time play in the majors. If he improves as he did from year one to year two, a string of years with seven-figure incomes is in his future. Should his play level off or regress to the ’03 level, phrases such as “non-roster invitation” and “minor-league contract” will be next to his name in the transaction reports when he reaches 30.

The key is improving his patience at the plate. If he takes more pitches, those big numbers are in his future. Should he continue to hack away, the latter scenario will come to pass.

2005 Down and Up

Downside: .245 BA, .290 OBA, 20 steals
Upside: .285 BA, .340 OBA, 45 steals

To find Endy Chavez’ career stats on, go to

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Robinson Frets His Place in History

Frank Robinson is worried about his legacy.

In remarks to reporters this week, Robinson spoke about what might happen to his spot on the all-time home run list. He was fourth behind Aaron, Ruth and Mays with 586 until Barry Bonds passed him last season. Sammy Sosa starts the season just a dozen dingers behind him and Rafael Palmero could pass him in 2006.
'Probably before I take my last breath, I'm going to be about 99th on the list, Robinson told the assembled media at the team's Viera, Fla., training camp on Friday. 'And I'm afraid people are going to say 'Frank Who?' It's going to be such huge numbers up there at the top. They're going to say, 'You must have been a singles hitter who hit a few home runs.' That's the thing that's going to happen to this game."
The context of the comments was, of course, steroid use and Jose Canseco's recent book pointing fingers and naming names, including Palmero's. Like many, Robinson tends to believe much of what Canseco wrote:
What he's doing now is saying that steroids are happening. Canseco is also putting the spotlight on guys, who are still playing and performing very well. Baseball and the Players Association have to dig in and say, 'Let's get at this thing before it explodes.'
Well, it's a little late for that; the bomb has already gone off.

Back to his place in the game's history, Robinson came off as, well, a bit whiny when he said:
I wish I had stayed fourth. It's a nice ring to it. You're up there with the elite. You're up there with the top guys in baseball, but as you slip people have a tendency to ignore you or forget about you. It's not a nice ring, 11th or 12th. Fourth. Fourth, Fourth. I kind of got used to that. And now fifth, it just sounds a little odd.
Presumably, he's lamenting that he played it straight, did everything the right way and didn't need to be juiced to hit his 586 and now players with 'roid-created bulging muscles are pushing him down the list.

Not to worry, Frank.

First of all, you're not going to be pushed down to 99th on the list, not even 11th or 12th. Besides Sosa and Palmero, the only active player with over 500 home runs is Ken Griffy Jr. at 501. Even though he's 34 his chances of hitting 587 are about 50/50 given his injury history and recent performance. After that, Jim Thome (33 years old, 423 HR) and Gary Sheffield (35 and 415) have a shot and A-Rod could eventually surpass everyone. Robinson's status in the top 10 is secure for quite some time to come.

And I think that Frank Robinson knows baseball fans a little better than to think that they're not going to take the steriods and the smaller ballparks that today's game is played in into consideration when they're gauging his place in history. The Triple Crown in 1966, the .389 lifetime OBP, the five World Series he played in and the eight home runs he hit in them, the two MVP's--one in each league--and the hustle and effort he gave on the field will place him in the pantheon of the greats no matter how many players hit more dingers.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Exclusive Interview with Elliott Price

Check out my exclusive interview with Elliott Price, the play by play voice of the Expos for the past 15 years and, if immigration laws don't get in the way, possibly the voice of the Nationals.

It's on the front page at

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Who Are These Guys? Tony Armas

Tony Armas
The health of Tony Armas' right arm
is critical to the Nats' success.

Tony Armas’ Vitals

26-year-old right-handed starting pitcher, bats right, seventh season, 6-3, 225, career W-L 32-41, ERA 4.21

Quick Take

Perhaps the poster child for the recent Expos—great potential unseen due to a string of injuries.

Armas Rundown

Armas was shaping up to be a quality big-league pitcher in 2001-2002. After working his way into the regular rotation following his acquisition by the Expos as the “player to be named later” in the Pedro Martinez trade, Armas pitched better for the 68-94 Expos than his 9-14 record would indicate. He posted a 4.03 ERA and struck out nearly twice as many has he walked. The next year his ERA rose to 4.44 but his W-L improved to 12-12 (the team was also much better at 83-79). For the two years combined teams batted just .245 against Armas and he appeared to be on his way to a nice career.

After only five 2003 starts, however, he woke up with pain in his shoulder the day after allowing four home runs in a game in San Juan. That wiped out the rest of that season and, along with a line drive he took to the shin, kept him on the shelf for the beginning and end of last year.

When he was effective, he featured a mean 90 MPH sinking fastball, inducing a lot of meekly-hit ground balls, and had good command of a fastball, slider, and curve as well. He doesn’t have great control, throwing 14 wild pitches in his last full season and he throws 92 pitches a start despite the fact that his starts average less than 5 2/3 innings. Still, his K’s to walks for his career is 1.62, not a great number but not horrible, either.

If the name sounds familiar from the past, that’s because his father, also named Tony Armas, was a slugging outfield for the A’s and Red Sox who twice led the AL in home runs. Scouting reports often credit him with having great baseball instincts and, no doubt, his heredity had something to do with that.

The Nationals are hoping that Armas is past his arm problems and is able to eat up innings and throw a lot of inning-ending double plays and win a dozen or more games. Reports indicate that he’s fully recovered. That sounds like good news for the team, but most will wait until, say July before fully believing it.

2005 Down and Up

Downside: 2-4, 5.25 ERA, 85 IP
Upside: 16-12, 3.90 ERA, 200 IP
Note: Normally, injuries are not considered in “Down and Up”, but in Armas’ case his health is everything. Based on history, if he pitches he’ll be effective.

To find Tony Armas' career stats on, go to

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Nats Scramble to Get Ready

Peter Angelos

It's getting down to crunch time.

The Washington Nationals' move from Montreal, with its on again, off again nature, is nearly complete. Or, perhaps more accurately, it's at the point where it has to be complete. Ready or not, pitchers and catchers report on Tuesday and the home opener against Arizona is two months and two days away.

It won't be a miracle if they pull it off, according to club president Tony Tavares, who was quoted in an AP article:
What will be a miracle is if I make it to opening day without assaulting a lawyer.
If he does get into physical barrister bashing, he might want to start with Orioles' owner Peter Angelos, a trial lawyer by trade. His negotiations with baseball about what he's owed for a team coming into a territory that he doesn't have the rights to are continuing along at a snail's pace. MLB is taking Angelos' threats to hold his breath until he turns blue very seriously. From a Washington Times story that said that MLB "hopeful" about getting a deal with Angelos soon:

MLB president Bob DuPuy said yesterday he "hopes we are getting close to a conceptual understanding. Recent discussions have been productive."
"Hope", "close", "conceptual", "productive"--the next word I want to hear about this whole thing is "done".

Being held hostage to Angelos' threats to do what he does best, sue, are two elements critical to getting the Washington franchise off the ground. One is the establishment of a TV network. As of right now, the only Nats games that are scheduled to be televised in DC are about a half a dozen scheduled on ESPN and Fox. Angelos is the hold up in the deal. According to a story in the Washington Examiner:

A schedule and the amount of games is being worked on, as well as how the geographic regions will break down. Basically, where Nationals games can be shown and where we can see the O's. Once a final schedule is finalized, Mr. Angelos will O.K. the regional breakdown, and the Nats will have a TV deal.

This is only a one-year deal because part of the compensation package between MLB and the O's is a new regional sports network that will broadcast the Nationals and Orioles games. The cable partner would most likely be Comcast, the parent company of Comcast SportsNet, since they have the distribution that it will take to make the network profitable.

Things are very, very early in the game as this deal gets worked out in hopes of having something in place for opening day.
Why does this have to be that complicated? Any Maryland counties that border on DC are the Nats', the rest of the Free State is Angelos'. Oh, you think he might be holding out for, say, Montgomery County, huh? Hmmmm. . .

The other thing that Angelos is messing up is the ownership of the team itself. No potential bidder is going to place a firm offer without knowing exactly how much of the potential profitability the leech Angelos will succeed in sucking out of the Nationals. Quite simply, the ownership question won't be settled until the Angelos question is answered.

The sad fact of the matter is that every day that this drags on is a victory for Angelos. A TV deal slapped together at the last minute will not be nearly as profitable as it could be. And the lack of an owner keeps the Washington franchise rudderless, run by that club of 29 weasels that counts Angelos as one of its mebers.

RFK Stadium

On the plus side, the winter weather has been reasonably kind to those scrambling to put RFK Stadium back into baseball shape. It will still be a scramble, but they are on pace with their hectic, breakneck schedule to get it done for the April 3 exhibition shakedown cruise and the opener 11 days later.

That's but one item on Tavares' 65-item to do list. He listed some of the others:
Locking down our budgets for game-day staff, deciding on how many ushers, how many ticket-takers, how many security guards. Who's the cleaning contract? Who's the parking contract? The concession deal? It's tedious kind of things, like getting our tax ID locally.
Good luck, Mr. Tavares. If there's anything we can do, like go downtown and wait in those pesky lines to get that pesky tax ID, just let us know.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Who Are These Guys? Chad Cordero

Meet your new Washington Nationals

Chad Cordero
Chad Cordero nails it down

Chad Cordero’s Vitals

Right-handed relief pitcher, 23, 6-0, 195. Career 8-3, ERA 2.79, 15 Saves in two seasons.

Quick Take

He grabbed on to the team’s closer role last June and everyone is hoping that he doesn’t let go of it for the next several years.

Cordero Rundown

This guy could be something special.

Cordero has excellent command of his fastball and he’s able to use it effectively to set up his out pitch, the slider. Right handers batted .205 against him last year, able to do little against his fastball other than foul it off. He was incredible in September, posting an ERA of 0.60 in 11 appearances, fanning 16 batters and allowing just 12 hits in 15 innings.

He’s a promising piece of work, but he’s still a work in progress. Last year he gave up eight home runs, far more than you like to see from your closer. Many of them came when he lost his fastball up in the zone trying to set up the slider. That finesse and touch should come with experience.

Even after Cordero became the closer, Frank Robinson wasn’t afraid to use him on roles other than that of the traditional closer. He pitched two or more innings on 15 occasions, including a three-inning stint where he emerged with the win in a 14-inning game against the Phillies. Cordero also made numerous appearances when the Expos were behind. Given the paucity of save opportunities for the Expos last year, Cordero would have collected a lot of rust in between those appearances, so it made sense for Robinson to give him the work.

Should he repeat, let alone improve, on his 2004 performance, the team—which should have a real owner in place in the fall—should look seriously at locking him up for the rest of the decade.

2005 Down and Up

Downside: 3-6, 25 SV, 3.75 ERA
Upside: 6-4, 38 SV, 2.35 ERA

To find Chad Cordero’s career stats on, go to

To find previous player profiles in the “Who Are These Guys?” series introducing you to your new Washington Nationals, visit the Capitol Dugout home page at and search for “Nationals” or check this blog's archives.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Clear Channel Deal in Trouble?

The Richmond-area Clear Channel sports talker, 910 WRNL, just announced that they would be carrying the Atlanta Braves games this season. While this makes sense from the standpoint that the Richmond Braves are the team's AAA affiliate, it would seem that 910 would have been the perfect outlet for Nationals games here in Richmond. With the other sports station, WXGI 950, carrying the R-Braves, that would put the Nats on a non-sports outlet.

I don't think that it's reading too much into this to think that the CC deal with the Nats is all but sunk.

Who Are These Guys? Zach Day

Zach Day
Zach Day is one of the keys
to the Nats' season

Zach Day’s Vitals

Right-handed starting pitcher, 27, 6-4, 216, bats R. Career 18-19, 4.01 ERA. In his fourth season.

Quick Take

A sinkerball pitcher who can dominate if the ball sinks. If not, it’s a home run derby.

Zach Day Rundown

Day was having a breakthrough season for the Expos two years ago before a series of odd incidents—getting tossed from a game for a foreign substance on his pitching hand (it turned out to be Super Glue he’s put on a blister on his finger), a cyst on his right kneecap, and a torn rotator cuff caused by a collision at first base—derailed it. Then last year he got off to a good start before going on the DL with tendonitis and, after recovering from that, with a broken finger suffered in a bunt attempt. If you’re at spring training, he should be easy to recognize; look for the guy who’s laying down dozens of bunts a day to improve his technique.

When he was on the field last year, he was much more impressive than his 5-10 record would suggest. His run support was dead last in the majors last year at 2.47 runs per game. And he’ll be glad to bid farewell to Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico; his ERA there was a hefty 6.52.
He’s a classic sinkerball pitcher, yielding twice as many ground balls as fly balls. Look for the RFK groundskeeper to set the mower blade a bit higher and water down the dirt in front of home plate a little longer when Day is the scheduled starter.

He walked about 3.5 batters per nine innings last year, an acceptable number if he gets enough batters to erase the runners by grounding into double plays. It’s a problem, though, if he gives up too many flies over the fence. He gave up a homer every nine innings last year, not terrible but up from the previous season. If that trend continues, he’ll be in trouble.

One thing that Day is known for is being a quick worker. If you’re thinking about catching a game one night but you’re worried about being out too late, look to see if Day’s the starter. If he is, and he goes deep into the game, you should be home in plenty of time to catch the 11 o’clock news.

Zach Day is one of the keys to the Nats’ season. If he’s effective in his role as the third starter, the rotation will should round into a decent one. However, too much time for Day on the DL, or if he throws his sinker up in the strike zone or can’t find the strike zone with his curve, there will be a big hole in the middle of the rotation. The Nationals simply don’t have enough pitching depth to succeed under those circumstances.

2005 Down and Up

Downside: 8-13, 4.95 ERA
Upside: 15-10, 3.75 ERA

To find Zach Day’s career stats on, go to

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Nats Roundup

Not a whole lot of big sutff going on with the Nats, but some interesting short takes:

How Close to Getting Sosa?

The headline in the Post was intriguing, as was Jose Guillen's comment. From an artile entitled Nationals Balked at Proposed Sosa Deal:
'He was pretty close' to coming to Washington, said Nationals right fielder Jose Guillen, a close friend who has spoken to Sosa frequently in recent weeks. 'It just came down to his decision, Baltimore or Washington. We almost got him, but he just decided to go over there.'
Well, it depends on what you mean by "almost". If you went to you local Hummer dealer and offered $25,000 for a loaded H2, I suppose you could say that you "amost" bought the vehicle. According to general manager Jim Bowden:
I said all along, if [the Cubs] will pay his entire salary and we can make a deal without giving up our core young players, we'd like to have Sammy Sosa, That's what we tried to do. We were never able to make a deal.
Club president Tony Tavares went even further, saying that talks with the Cubs never even got to the point of a counterproposal by Washington.

Considered in isolation, getting Sosa would have been a positive move for the Nats. He would have given the franchise two things it lacks in DC right now, an name and a face. Everyone knows who Sosa is and he would have sold tickets and increased the team's national profile. And he still can be a productive player.

However, such things can not be looked at without looking at the costs. Even if the Cubs had been willing to pay nearly all of Sosa's '05 salary, there would have been a cost to the Nationals in terms of compensation. According to the Post article:
Although it is unclear what players the Cubs wanted from the Nationals, it is believed the Cubs -- who need outfield help, after losing Sosa and free agent Moises Alou in the same offseason -- asked for Nationals outfielders Brad Wilkerson and/or Terrmel Sledge.
To rent Sosa for perhaps a single season? This goes to show that the best deals are often the ones that you don't make.

Stadium Financing

Remember the near-death of the newly-born baseball in DC dream in early December when the DC City Council put a private-funding clause into the stadium legislation? Well, it turns out that the funding may well be there after all. From a Washington Times article:
Natwar Gandhi, the District's chief financial officer, likely will certify at least two of eight offers of private financing for a new ballpark in Southeast, paving the way for the city to meet its target of funding half the hard construction costs with private money.
Now, I'll believe that the DC government can pull something like this off when the legislation passes, ink is dry on the contract and the checks have cleared. If they can do it, major kudos are due. Remember, though, that the District is a jurisdiction that wouldn't let the late Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke build a stadium entirely with his own money.

3 Million

Closer Chad Cordero, starting pitcher Zach Day, shortstop Cristian Guzman and outfielder Jose Guillen and GM Bowden appeared at the ESPN Zone in Washington to meet fans, sign autographs and try on their Nats uniforms. No news was made, other than the fact that this was the first such event that the team has sponsored.

Despite the lack of such events, commonly a part of a team's ticket-selling strategy, nearly 18,000 full season tickets have been sold. Multiply that by 81 home games and you have attendance approaching 1.5 million before any group sales, partial seaon ticket packages (they go on sale next week) or single-game tickets (those won't be available until March) have been moved. It's not hard to imagine attendance approaching the 3 million mark, perhaps a bit higher if the team has some surprising success.

This, not surprisingly, has the Orioles whining. From the Washington Times:
Even with fan favorite Sammy Sosa now on board, the Baltimore Orioles are still chafing about baseball in Washington.
Matt Dryer, an Orioles advertising and promotions suit, was quoted as saying:
They've sold more than 18,000 season tickets already. That's a lot of tickets coming into this area. How many of those folks are going to stop coming to see us?
The answer appears to be not many. After the addition of Sosa they sold some 5,000 new season tickets and some existing accounts were renewed. The have never drawn fewer than 2.45 million to Camden Yards and even before getting Sosa they weren't going to do much worse than last year's draw of 2.74 million. The addition of Sammy should push them near 3 million.

If the two teams do manage to draw 6 million combined, that would put their combined attendance on a par with the two New York teams.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and the team now known as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim combined last year for 6.86 million in attendance, the New York Yankees and Mets drew 6.09 million, the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's combined for 5.47 million, and the Chicago Cubs and White Sox drew 5.10 million.
Of course, as we all know, the only valid comparison is San Francisco and Oakland and even that's flawed since Baltimore and Washington are separated by 40 miles of concrete, not a thousand yards or so of a bridge. Should the two teams draw anything close to what the Yankees and Mets do the diezens of baseball will be kicking themselves, wondering why they didn't make this move years ago.