Nationals Today – 1/18

Untitled-2Nationals Today is a new daily column that will bring you the top three-to-four stories about the Washington Nationals, and from time to time the rest of Major League Baseball. We hope that in time readers will find this a good source for a quick daily check-in for morning Nationals reading.

THIS MORNING…

The Washington Nationals made several moves yesterday, helping thrust themselves yet again into the National media. There are many things that can be said about General Manager Mike Rizzo and his ability to attract talent to Washington, but one thing that can’t be denied is that for the first time in the history of the franchise, the Nationals are relevant.

The Nationals started the day by signing Alex Cora. A 35-year-old veteran, Cora fits a specific need the Nationals have in the infield. While the club is prepared to enter 2011 with two young middle infielders, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa, both are relative wild cards considering their inexperience. Cora played each infield position in 2011, and will provide much needed support if needed for either of them. He will not help much with the bat, but will be a steady influence while on the field.

Just a few hours after landing Cora, the Nats made an even bigger splash when they traded for left-handed starting pitcher Tom Gorzelanny. While they did have to give up former top outfield prospect Michael Burgess, as well as two other minor league starters, the Nationals have been able to add just a bit more security to their rotation.

Gorzelanny went 7-9 with a 4.09 ERA in 23 starts for the Chicago Cubs last year. He has had his problems with control but there are many in the profession who think that his stuff is good enough that if he can harness it he can be a strong number two starter. Just 28, he certainly could improve for Washington. However, even if he just replicates his 2010 numbers he will be the second best pitcher on the staff out of the bat.

Nationals Interested in Heilman

According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the Nationals are interested in the services of starer/reliever Aaron Heilman. Heilman is a starter turned reliever who wants to be a starter again. Unfotunately (for him) he hasn’t started a game since 2005, and hasn’t posted an ERA below four since 2007.

Not sure how he would fit into the picture in Washington, especially with the addition of Gorzelanny today. The Nationals now have eight potential starters, not counting Stephen Strasburg, which means adding a guy like Heilman would give them almost enough for a second rotation. I know the Nationals strung out 17 guys to the mound to start games in 2010, but we’re all hoping 2011 is a little more stable…right?

Heilman has been a serviceable bullpen hand for the Mets over the years, but he certainly hasn’t shown himself to be far and away better than guys like Burnett, Clippard, Batista, Storen, Slaten, or Stammen.

In other News:

Pujols wants ARod type money…but the Cardinals don’t want to give it up
B.J. Upton signed a one-year deal to avoid arbitration
Former Nationals reliever John Rauch signed a deal with the Blue Jays today…
FanGraphs looks at the potential of Tom Gorzelanny

On The Nats Blog Yesterday:

Owners Discussing the Option of Trading Draft Picks? 
Derek Norris and Wilson Ramos are among the top catching prospects in baseball

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