Major League Baseball

Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 29, 2005; 1:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Jorge Arangure Jr. was online Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 1 p.m. ET to talk about the latest baseball news.

The transcript follows .


Jorge Arangure Jr.: hey everyone good to be back. as we head to the winter meetings several interesting topics exist. but most importantly let's also be willing to talk about how my chargers completely embarrassed the redskins this past sunday. ok maybe not embarrassed, but it was a great win anyway and the best part of it was that i was there in the stands watching.

anyway, if you're up for a indy music suggestion, try the concretes. the new wilco live album is also great.


Harrisburg, Pa.: The Nationals shipped out Vinny to avoid a possible problem at Third Base with Zimmerman. The infield is looking pretty good if Guzman gets over last years woes and Vidro stays healthy.

Now the outfield is my concern. Is Wilson going to leave or will the Nats try and resign him? He is an effective player but I think the 'Nats might be able to do better than him in the cleanup spot. However if the 'Nats dont resign him, do they have any room in the field to put a true cleanup hitter. Solid fielding will be a need in RFK. Church is a solid player and he might be in line to get a shot as a regular starter. Wilkerson is also a solid outfielder, but he has versatility and can be moved to 1B in a pinch. Guillen is a great hitter and has a great arm so he will obviously stay in right. Byrd was close to being an everyday player for the Phillies back when his fielding was a concern.

My question would be who do the 'Nats use in their outfield this year? Do they stay with Wilkerson-Wilson-Guillen or do they shop around and look for somebody, or maybe let Wilson go and give Church or Byrd a shot?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Obviously many questions here about what the Nats might do this offseason, but really it's hard to imagine they can make any major moves unless the owner situation is settled. That baseball is allowing this to happen is a travesty.

The general sentiment already among many baseball people is that the Nats are already deprived of talent in their farm system, save Zimmerman. They needed this offseason to try to stock up through free agency, but obviously that won't happen and my fear is that the nats will not field a competitive team this season because of this delay.


10th & M: Jorge,

I know you don't care about D.C. baseball, so as an outside observer, what's your take on the stadium debacle? Journalists and city government folks have been predicting an agreement "next week" for about 2 months now. Is there anything other than baseless speculation going on here?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Who says i don't care about DC baseball? I bet it's barry spreading all those lies.

Obviously when any of journalists write that we are one week from an agreement it's because a quality source has told us to be the case. When it doesn't happen we face the criticism of having been used to spin some sort of PR campaign. The problem here is that any deadline has continously been pushed back and this is of course out of our control. And while we now say an agreement is coming soon i wouldn't be surprised if it didn't come soon at all.


Washington, D.C.: Chargers rise, while Padres there no consistency in San Diego? Chargers won with an off game for them, they are better than people expect!

Jorge Arangure Jr.: The only consistency in san diego is that the weather will be perfect and the girls will be beautiful.

but the chargers look good this year. really good. and if they can manage to get into the playoffs, watch out.


Nova: The debacle with the Washington Nationals continues. We've just had our first free agent defection and the hot stove burns brightly while our pilot light is out.

How does MLB sleep at night? Oh wait, I know the answer. In a bed bought with money from suckers like me.

Jorge Arangure Jr.: I realize that people are upset about the Loaiza defection here but i really don't think he is worth $7 million annually so perhaps the nats lucked out on missing out on him. There are better alternatives i think.


Homeland, Md.: How do the Orioles stack up in the AL East? What changes do they need to improve, other than 'waiving' Angelos?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: It would not be unreasonable to think the Orioles are headed for a last-place finish in 2006. The Red Sox and Yankees are always at the top of the division but now the Blue Jays and the Devil Rays are ready to make moves too. Getting a big bat for the middle of the lineup would be a good plan but it seems unlikely the Orioles will be able to sign Paul Konerko, who seems headed to either the Angels or back to the White Sox.

A trade may be more likely since they can dangle Erik Bedard, who has great trade value. With Hayden Penn and now Adam Loewen pitching well Baltimore has two quality pitching prospects and can absorb the loss of Bedard.


Charleston, W.Va.: The Blue Jays have given BJ Ryan $47 million for five years, and they've reportedly offered Brian Giles $55 million for five years.

They're clearly insane. Right?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Well insane would be shelling out $25 for any book Svrluga writes.

I'd say the Blue Jays are mildly insane. Ryan is only 29 and figures to be an effective closer for some time to come. Giles may be in his mid 30s but his biggest strength as a hitter is his quality pitch selection. He figures to be a good player even into this late 30s. To make a move in the AL East teams like the Blue Jays and Orioles have to take chances.


Columbia, Md.: Does having once lived in San Diego still qualify me as being a beautiful girl?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Depends on how long you lived there.


Arlington, Va.: Jorge, you're a good man - sometimes. A while back, maybe 2 months ago Donald Fehr said he didn't think the Nationals were handicapped financially and they could compete on the open market just as well without an owner. Is Herr Fehr just ignorant, dumb, stupid, smelly or all of the above? And could the same be said about Bud Selig and the DC Council? Maybe even throw the word corrupt into the mix as well.

Jorge Arangure Jr.: I've never claimed to be a good man.

well of course Fehr has to say those things just like he has to defend all those pill-popping, steroid users he represents as the head of the players union. It's his job to say those things and i really can't fault him for it. that's what he gets paid to do.


Arlington, Va.: Martyball always look good in the regular season. Then there's the playoffs. Just a warning...

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Believe me i fear marty ball in the playoffs too. But LT is so good that maybe they can get past marty ball. I mean you gotta love marty for coming out and saying LT is the best running back in the history of the game.


NW D.C.: How do you think the Thome trade will work out for Chicago? And do you think his public statements about trying to get Konerko to stay on board will have any effect at all on where the free agent lands in the end?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: I think Thome will work out fine. It's another gamble by Ken Williams, but let's give him some credit for how some of his other gambles worked out (i.e. trading loaiza for Jose Contreras and giving Jermaine Dye a 2year deal). I would be surprised if Konerko left Chicago. The white sox want him back and it seems konerko is very willing to go back. It's all about getting the money right.


Boston, Mass.: As a Red Sox fan I am excited about the Josh Beckett trade. Do pitchers going from the NL to the AL usually have an easy time adjusting? And do you think this shows the lack of need for an actual GM?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: I think the Beckett trade was an absolute steal for the Red sox. Boston was one of the teams who could easily afford to take on Mike Lowell's salary and then they also get Guillermo Mota who only a year ago was considered one of baseball's best young relievers. I think there will be some adjustment for Beckett, but he is much more talented than Pavano and more consistent than Burnett. So chances are he'll do well.

I think what this trade shows is that front offices are composed of many people making decisions instead of just one person.


Dude, where's my team?: Dude?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Dude i don't know. Sweet question though.


RFK: SECTION 308, Good afternoon: Since the Nationals have lost Loaiza, do you find it rather ironic that they offered him $8 mil for 2 years...while signing Guzman for $16.8 mil for 4 years? Does the GM have his priorities askew, or is he also waiting to fly the coop with Screech?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: I don't think irony is the right word. I mean it's more coincidence than anything right? Nobody knows what irony is.


Washington, DC: Didn't the Chargers get knocked out in the first round of last years playoffs? If they make it again, there's no guarantee they'll get past the first round and lets not forget, Marty's teams usually flame out in the postseason. Do you see them playing in Detroit and winning their first super bowl?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Yes they did get knocked out but i really can't blame marty for it. It was keading who missed a field goal in overtime that would have won it. I think this year's team is better anyway. The additions of Merriman and Castillo to the defense are key.


Section 314, Row 10: Jorge!

You said, "my fear is that the nats will not field a competitive team this season because of this delay."

Your fear? Come on, Jorge. We know you don't care what happens on Barry's beat.

Jorge Arangure Jr.: I only fear for you fans. Not for barry. He stinks.


Homeland, Md.: Ryan may only be 29, but didn't he only have 1 effective year as a closer? Might it be premature to speculate on long term projections?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Very good point. But remember in 2004 he was the best set up man in baseball. That's two good seasons where he is one of baseball's top relievers. Does that mean he should get $47 million? Probably not. But you have to take chances i think. And if you have the money, why not spend it?


Columbia, Md.: Does 2.5 years qualify me?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: At 2.5 years you're probably more cute than beautiful. But there is still hope if you move back.


18th & L St., N. W.: Do you find it ironic that Bowden speaks of obtaining Burnett or Vazquez when they couldn't retain Loaiza? Is the GM in a dream world, or taking a refresher course in 'Fuzzy Math'?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Again irony may not be the appropriate word. Or maybe it is. Who the heck knows.


Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: Why should we believe that the stadium lease deal is any closer to reality?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: I know many of you have a similar question to this but i just don't have any more inside information than what has been already reported on this. On the bright side, the chargers are seriously in teh playoff hunt and Tomlinson should be the MVP.


Arlington, Va.: Enjoy your writing, Jorge! Who are the best set-up and relief pitchers left in this free agent class? Do you think anyone will give Tom Gordon the 3-yr contract he seeks or will he return to the Yanks? What's your view of Kyle Farnsworth? Cubs got rid of him and now they've signed Eyre and Howry.

Jorge Arangure Jr.: With such an obvious keen eye for talent how can i not take your question arlington? I'd say Gordon is probably the best guy out there. Hoffman can be effective too but he's up there in age and his fastball just doesn't get up in the 90s anymore. Gordon can still throw hard. I'd have to say gordon goes to the phillies, who now desperately need a closer. Farnsworth is an interesting guy. My opinion is that he's more of a set up man than closer. I'm not sure i'd trust him in a pennant race.


Arlington, Va.: So the Mets buy Delgado and Wagner, and could very well end up with Manny and who knows who else. The Nats lose Loaiza to the A's - for no other reason than a lack of ownership. And Bobby Dupuy still has the nerve to say that the Nats aren't at a disadvantage without an owner? I hope the Nats aren't playing the Royals at all next year, because at this rate, they'd probably get swept.

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Don't forget the Nats signed Marlon Anderson.


Burke, Va.: What have you done with my Svrluga? And, what do you know about the Nats starting pitching situation. Will the Nats have a large enough budget to sign any startnig pitchers from free agency?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: He's probably somewhere sucking up to somebody.


Phillie Phanatic, Bmore: After letting Billy Wagner get away it looks like the Phils are going after Tom Gordon. Can this comic book character still be a viable closer at 38+??

Jorge Arangure Jr.: I think Gordon can still do the job. His numbers from teh past two seasons don't show much of a decline. He is a solid option for the Phillies right now, though it will be painful if they have to give him three years.


boycott season tickets: No question, but a comment, my friends and I have decided not to renew our season tickets until we have an owner. Tony T says we have to have all of our money paid by Dec 14, I wrote him back saying when we have an owner you get my money, we should all do this!!!

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Tony T told me personally that the reason the team couldn't sign Loaiza was because you didn't renew your season tickets. See what you did?


Columbia, Md.: Though I would love to go back, doesn't look like it is in the cards, but Cute is good.

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Cute is definitely good. But remember it's 2.5 years cute not like 5 years cute. There is a difference.


Arlington, Va.: Let me be a glass-is-half-full guy for the Nats. Yes we will miss Loiza and the Mets are trying to Steinbrenner their way to a pennant. But two of our NL East competitors are weaker (Phils-minus Thome and Wagner & Marlins-minus DelGado,Beckett, Burnett and Lowell). If, miracle of miracles, we get an owner soon, he/she is going to want to make a big splash in the free agent market. So all is not lost.

Jorge Arangure Jr.: The glass is half empty dude. Half empty and it's getting worse.


Herndon, Va.: To date, what MLB team has improved itself the most so far? What team do you expect to make future moves?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: You'd have to say the Mets have made tremendous moves. They acquired the powerful hitter they needed and secured themselves one of the best closers in the game. If they get Manny then that team is a serious world series contender.


Ward 4: Help?

So I'm looking for a nice aerial photo of RFK, configured for baseball. Every other team in the majors, and many in the minors, sell such things. The Nationals don't. RFK itself doesn't. Where would one find such a thing?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: I'm sure if you just write a letter to the owners then they'll get you one. Oh wait...


RFK: SECTION 308, Good afternoon: Regarding the stadium lease, who might you consider more of a 'bone head'...MLB or the DC Council, or both? What would you propose as an equitable solution to this mess?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: I think Barry is the bone head here. Blame him. If he covered the team better the Nats would have a stadium and an owner and they would have signed every big name free agent.


Laurel, Md.: What about Rick Short?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: What about him?


NY, NY: So, my obvious biases aside, and with a wary eye on the Braves (minus Leo Mazzone), are the Mets the team to beat in the NL East? They had $30 million come off the books, which freed up the money for Delgado and Wagner (two great moves, in my opinion), and with the potential of Wright/Reyes, a Beltran comeback and a solid staff anchored by Pedro, they look pretty tough.

Oh, and they have an owner...

Jorge Arangure Jr.: For so long the reason the Mets weren't good was because of their owner. But now it seems Fred Wilpon has bought into Minaya and that's made a tremendous difference. The Mets are definitely loading up and have to be considered among the favorites. Let's not forget the Braves are young and talented but they are lacking a closer right now and might not sign furcal. Still a lot to be determined this offseason.


Alexandria, Va.: Moving along to the NL JEST, what if anything is going on with the Dodgers? If Bonds is back for a full season, do you expect the Giants to prevail in that division?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: The NL West is still way up in the air. Who knows if any of those teams can sign an impact players to make a difference. As of now i'd say the giants are up there. Anybody really, except the rockies.


Arlington, Va.: Have Wagner & Ryan set the bar for pitching dollars in the off season? If so, where does that leave Bowden? How much might losing those relievers hurt their former teams?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Wagner and Ryan have set a frightingly high bar for pitching. Who knew either of those guys would get so much money but more importantly such lengthy contracts. To think that Ryan might have been signed last season to an extension for about $5 million annually is a scary thought. Losing Ryan will hurt the Orioles somewhat, but really if they weren't going to be contenders next season what is the point of throwing so much money for a closer when they have chris ray who should be ready to take that roll in about a year or two.


Salary caps: Yeah, the Nationals are going to lose some players due to a NON-owner. But MLB needs a very strict salary cap policy (ala the NFL). Not some stupid luxury tax.

The way it is now the Yankees, Red Sox, Braves, Mets just sit back and sign all the good free agents while the other teams "try" to stay above water.


Jorge Arangure Jr.: a salary cap would certainly help maintain a competitive balance. but it will never happen. the union will certainly not allow it. and if baseball tries to force them to do it then we will have a lengthy strike. it's just not feasable.


Herndon, Va.: Though early, what's your honest assessment of the Nationals for 2006? The Marlins seem to be having a 'fire sale', and the Nationals seem to be in a 'hibernation' mode, doesn't this give the impression of a serious decline for next season?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: I hate to be so negative, but the Nats will struggle next season. It is true the Marlins have had a fire sale, but they are more talented than the nats at almost every position. The fire sale trades have also stocked what was already a good florida farm system. They have Miguel Cabrera, one of the best young hitters in the game, and Dontrelle Willis a potential cy young winner.


Where's your book?: So Barry is about to release his book on the Nats inaugural season. When is Jorge going to write a book and what will be the topic?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Sometime at somepoint. The topic won't be about sports, that's for sure.


Washington, DC: Jorge,

You and Columbia are making me quite jealous, so I figured I should get in the game. I visited San Diego once when I was 11 and survived an earthquake while I was there.

No boycotting the Nationals. This is exactly what the team does NOT need.

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Though you get points for surviving an earthquake (a common SoCal occurance), but you still probably are just past being homely with such a short stay. No offense. But you need to be in SD for a bit longer to get cute status.


Laurel, Md.: OK wiseguy, I meant with all this talk about next year and the future, yadda yadda... What about our ultimate wait til' next year guy?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Wiseguy? Me? Never.


Alexandria, Va.: Heard any dirt as to where Johnny Damon is headed? His agent is supposedly asking for a 7-year deal and comparing him to Rickey Henderson. Does he ultimately end up back in Beantown? Now he would be an upgrade from Preston Wilson, but of course.....

Jorge Arangure Jr.: The Damon sweepstakes aren't supposed to get hot until the winter meetings. I can tell you that Damon won't get a 7 year deal. Now that is insanity.


Glass: Half empty/half full? It seems to me the glass is just too damn big. The expectations are off. Come on. Should we really be expecting Baseball to move quickly? Is it really reasonable to expect that the DC Council be competent? This is a process, kind of like glacial movement.

Jorge Arangure Jr.: So you are saying we need to get a smaller glass? That's incredibly philosophical. I might have to ponder that for a day or so. Nah, probably not.


Falls Church, Va.: Do you see pitching as being the Achilles Hell for the Nationals? Is it unrealistic to expect Drese or Lawrence to fill Loaiza's slot?

Jorge Arangure Jr.: Lawrence will do fine. I'm not sure what to expect from Drese. It's hard to say at this point what he can produce. But pitching at RFK is bound to help anyone.


The Grassy Knoll: Jorge -- the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination has me pondering the latest conspiracy -- this one being carried out by MLB. What is their motive? They are destroying the team, the fan base and all the goodwill from last year. Attendance will fall dramatically because of a mediocre team, and people will say, 'see, the Washington area can't support baseball.' Why isn't MLB doing all they can to make the Nats a jewel of a franchise? Or, do they figure they have $450 million on the way anyway, so who cares? Please solve this mystery for me.

Jorge Arangure Jr.: There really is no explanation why they are doing this. I agree with pretty much every point you make here. But perhaps to take their side, maybe they are looking for an owner who will have the nats long term interest at heart. It's important to get an owner who can stabilize the franchise for years to come. But this wait is ridiculous.


Jorge Arangure Jr.: Alright everyone. I have to go now to do offseason things, whatever that means. When we next speak there might be a nats owner and the orioles might actually have improved their team. Ok so maybe not. we'll talk anyway.


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