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TICK ... TICK ... TICK ... TICK ...

[December 7th] -- It's much easier to write a story for "The Beltway Boys" when I know there is nothing going on. I take the time to research, write and then report. But when I'm waiting for a story to break (like a trade), I kinda gotta keep things ... you know ... fluid.

So here is another fluid story, because nothing is going on.

Oh sure, there are some fairly substantial rumors beginning to circulate about Ryan Church and the Phillies, but that's about it. And from the sounds of it, that just might be all there is. It appears that Jose Vidro isn't going anywhere, and neither is Chad Cordero. Reports are surfacing now from several MLB sources that Jim Bowden is (yet again) pricing himself out of the market.

Look for updates here throughout the day, but I'm not setting aside a whole lot of time for them. I just don't think much is going to happen. Oh, Ryan Church will go alright, but really, that really doesn't alter the makeup of the team that much.

Update @ 9:45: The Nationals selected Mets' catcher Jesus Flores who played at the St. Lucie last year, going .266-21-70. He was the #9 prospect in the Mets' system. I'll try to find more about him and report back when I can. They also took Levale Speigner and his 23-23, 3.29 career minor league record. The Nats lost a few minor league players and drafted one in the minor league portion of the draft, but as far as I can tell at this point, none of them are "prospects."

More later as I sift through the information

Update @ 2:00: Meche signs with Royals. This one should light some fires in the Nationals' blog-o-sphere. Gil Meche, 28, signed a five year deal worth $11 million dollars per season with the Kansas City Royals. Meche had a 11-8, 4.48 record with the Mariners last year (in a pitchers park) and owns a career mark of 55-44, 4.65.

Is this pitcher worth $11 million dollars a year? No way, and to be frank, I'd have been upset had the Nationals made this deal. Just because a team can sign a player for more than he's worth, it doesn't mean that they should. There were certainly other suitors for Meche, but it was the Royals that antied up the most "green," probably because they were feeling pressured by fans and the local media to "do something." So they did.

The Royals finished the 2006 season with a record of 62-100. They traded for Brian Bannister, and he'll help (a little). Now they have invested $11 million in one player who doesn't have the talent to change the fortunes of the Royals. Heck, Alfonso Soriano wouldn't have made much of a difference in Kansas City.

Meche's contract represents 23% of the Royals' 2006 payroll. That's just not going to work. Now, if they would have added Ted Lilly, and Vincent Padilla, and Greg Maddux, then sure, the Royals might have approached .500 as a team, perhaps even exceded it.

But now? Now, the Royals got bullied into spending money on a single player, a guy who's a #3-4 starter at best. My guess is he'll be traded by July 31st.

Update @ 2:30: Lowdown on Flores. Here is what "Mike's Mets" said about our newest catcher: "Flores is a complete catching prospect. He can hit for average, hit for good power, and plays the catcher's position defensively as well as most, but the problem now is he'll need to do that at the big league level. He projects to be a Ramon Hernandez type of catcher someday, the question now however is, can he do it next year with the Washington Nationals

"He's got some serious upside to him and he's definitely an interesting risk for the Nationals. Flores is cocky enough to possibly stick in the big leagues. In some ways, he compares to the Marlins' Hanley Ramirez [mentally] in that he might flourish in the Majors because of the mere challenge. Ramirez seemed uninterested in the minor leagues and didn't give it his all until the big leagues and it's not out of the question that the same thing could happen for Flores. Flores certainly has big league talent. ... The jump from high-A to Double-A is huge, let alone a leap from the Florida State League to the big leagues. The chances are better than average he won't be ready for the big leagues in 2007 and the Mets could see him back in the organization sometime next season."

And here is his scouting report:

Hitting: Flores has the potential to be one of the best catching prospects that the Mets have had in recent years. He has good power and has learned to take the ball to all fields. Like most young players, his plate discipline still needs some improvement. Perhaps the only flaw in Flores' game is his speed, although he runs fairly well for a catcher.

Defense: Defense is clearly Flores' best attribute. Some scouts regard him as the best defensive catcher in the Mets system. He has a very strong arm with an excellent release.

This addition of Jesus Flores makes for some uncertainty behind the plate. Until this moment, Brandon Harper was the de facto backup backstop for the Nationals. Now, however, Flores must be kept on the team's 25 man roster or be offered back to the Mets for "half price." I seriously doubt the team can afford to keep three catchers on the roster, so there is a chance that young Mr. Flores may be the team's #2 catcher for at least part of 2006.

I like the move. He's not the next "Dan Uggla," mainly because he's only 21. But he is a catcher known for his defense, yet whacked 21 home runs in just 449 at-bats. He has the talent to be the team's next starting catcher. I just don't know when.

If the Nats really want to keep him, they should bring back Robert Fick as one of the team's utility players, allowing him to be the main reserve behind the plate. This is a shame because I really liked Brandon Harper.

Farid, Awhile ago you proposed blowing up the team, sort of Marlins style and I thought you were being too radical. Back then I erroneously felt the Lerners would be willing to field a semi competive team while they were rebuilding the farm system. Now, I am beginning to think your suggestion has merit. If we are looking at 100 loss seasons over the next couple of years or so, why not blow the team up. We don't need Cordero, nor do we need Nick, Schneider and Kearns. These guys, especially Schneider and Nick, will be over the hill by the time this franchise is competitve. Trading them now if we can get very good young talent in return might make the most sense. On the downside, trusting Bowden to pull this strategy off is frightening.
Thanks, Phil. It's not something I WANT, but I believe that under the circumstances, it needs to happen. Any player not able to be a viable cog in 2011 should be shipped out now for players who will. It's just the way it is.

That said, I don't think any of the other groups would have put as much emphasis into the farm system, so over all, I don't think this is going to be all that terrible.
Harper was going to retire after last season but changed his mind after he was called up to the Nats. Now, he probably will pack it in if Flores is kept as the backup.
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