February 17, 2010
Just in time for spring training, former Yankee starter Chien-Ming Wang has agreed to a one-year contract with the Washington Nationals, who will retain an option on him for a second year. Wang will get a salary of $2 million plus up to $3 million in incentives. The official announcement will take place on Friday. See MLB.com. Everything depends on his health, however, as he is still recovering from surgery that was performed on his right shoulder last July. He probably won't start for the Nationals until May. According to Chico Harlan in the Washington Post, "Wang is less a purchase than a gamble." It could turn out to be a great bargain, or a big waste. Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Wang will probably be motivated to prove his worth to his new team after two disappointing years in The Bronx. He had great win-loss statistics in 2006 and 2007, but that may have reflected the team he was playing on. His specialty is the sinker ball, forcing groundouts rather than going for strikeouts.
The Nationals also signed a minor league contract with veteran Ron Villone, who was one of their few reliable relief pitchers last year, and won their arbitration case against another former Yankee relief pitcher, Brian Bruney. You take those guys, and add Jason Marquis, John Lannan, and perhaps Stephen Strasburg late in the season, and you have one hell of a fine pitching staff. Things are definitely look up in Nats Town -- finally!
Paul Thompson recently got back from a trip to Cuba, where he visited Estadio Latinoamericano (capacity 50,000) in Havana, among some smaller ballparks and other entertainment venues. I highly recommend reading his detailed trip report, which is chock full of photos and videos, at mopupduty.com.
Bruce Orser brought to my attention some good images of Metropolitan Stadium at baseball-fever.com, and after browsing for a while I realized to my horror that the right field fence was angled slightly inward -- not perpendicular to the foul line, as I had long thought! You really do learn something new every day. Yet another diagram update pending...