There’s “a 99 percent chance” that the Nationals won’t sign Prince Fielder? Really?

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Poor Prince Fielder. Looks like he’s going to have to go to the unemployment office soon. Maybe look for a job at a Barnes and Noble or something. Because apparently no one wants to sign him.  Here’s Bill Ladson of MLB.com:

There is a “99 percent” chance that the Nationals will not sign free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder, according to a baseball source … The source indicated that Fielder’s price must come down in order for the team to think about acquiring his services. The Nats are not willing to give Fielder anything close to the 10-year, $240 million contract the Angels gave first baseman Albert Pujols.

That first sentence is sexy, but the second sentence suggests that this is all posturing. It means that there is far greater than a 1% chance that Fielder will sign with the Nats.  It merely requires some more negotiating.  For that “99 percent” stuff to have any teeth it would have to be an “under any circumstances” kind of thing.

He’ll sign someplace. Maybe even with the Nats.  All we’re seeing is an expensive guy facing a tough market.  Expect a lot more of this kind of public negotiation as time goes on.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?