* The Washington Nationals hired Bob Schaefer as Special Assistant to the GM today. Schaefer, 66, is a 30-year MLB veteran. He joins the Nationals after serving as Joe Torre’s bench coach with the Dodgers the last three seasons (2008-10).
Schaefer has spent much of the last twenty seasons in either a special assistant to the GM role (2006 Braves under John Schuerholz, 1999-2001 Orioles) or as a big league bench coach (2008-10 Dodgers; 2007 Athletics; 1991, 2002-05 Royals). He twice skippered Kansas City in an interim capacity (1991, 2005).
* Players are starting to trickle off the list of available free agents, with Javier Vazquez going to the Florida Marlins and Jon Garland signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend. Honestly, I think the Nats are better off with Vazquez going elsewhere. His velocity was down considerably last season, and it screams of potential injury. The Marlins gave him just one year, so their risk is limited, but I still say
via vaya con dios.
The list of free agent starters after Cliff Lee wasn't particularly impressive to begin with, and with Vazquez and Garland gone it's even less so. The "top" remaining free agents after Lee are 30-year old lefty Jorge de la Rosa and 35-year old righty Carl Pavano. Both are Type-A free agents who were offered arbitration, so both will cost two draft picks to sign.
Of course, former Cy Young winner Brandon Webb is also high on the Nats' wish list. But the 32-year old righty hasn't thrown comeptitively in two years fighting shoulder problems.
Webb won the National League Cy Young Award by going 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA in 2006 and finished second in 2007 and 2008, winning 40 games in that period. When healthy, he has a devasting sinking fastball that not only generates ground balls, but strikeouts as well.
* Adam Dunn has until Dec. 7 to accept the Nationals' arbitration offer, and it's very likely it takes that long for the slugger and his representitives to make their decision. The Nats have been very coy about Dunn, and so far things seem to be working in their favor, with Victor Martinez signing to play DH in Detroit (for four years and $50 million), essentially eliminating one suitor.
In other developments, the Chicago White Sox offered arbitration to Type-A free agent 1B Paul Konerko, making him considerably less attractive on the market should the Sox not re-sign him.
I still think Dunn will end up with the White Sox regardless of what they do with Konerko, but the Nats are committed to waiting Dunn out to see if they can sign him to a two or three-year deal, instead of the four year deal his agent is shopping for.