The Washington Times - November 14, 2011, 10:03AM

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo will head to Milwaukee today, along with the rest of the league’s general managers for the GM meetings relieved — like the rest of us — to just talk baseball. After a week spent worrying and praying for the safe and healthy return of Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, everyone — including Ramos — is looking forward to turning the page toward baseball and filling the rest of the Nationals’ offseason needs.

But first, a few notes and thoughts:


The Venezuelan CICPC released a statement this morning with a few new bits of information in them. First, they have arrested six people in connection to Ramos’ kidnapping. 

— Alexander Gregorio Sánchez Quezada, a 27-year-old Venezuelan who “has a history of drug crime.”

— Francisco Antonio Finamor Peña, a 20-year-old Venezuelan.

— Josnar Jubillan Alexander Jimenez, a 21-year-old Venezuelan defector (I believe that is what the translation says) and also arrested previously for drug offenses in Valencia.

— Anyuli Tarazona Gonzalez, 22.

— Lesbia Quezada Burmudez, 60, and Aristedes Sanchez, 74, were said to be the owners of the home where the stolen vehicle used to abduct Ramos was found. Both are Venezuelan.

The Venezuelan minister Tarek El Aissami also said at a press conference that there are four other Colombians who’ve been fully identified and are being sought by law enforcement.

– In the wake of the kidnapping and with the revelation of some of the most harrowing details — the surreal-sounding firefight that led to Ramos’ rescue, the reports that some of Ramos’ neighbors tipped off the kidnappers on Ramos’ usual routine and were paid for their information, the heartbreaking thoughts that Ramos admits to thinking while he was in captivity — many people have asked if Ramos plans to leave Venezuela for good and bring his family with him.

Obviously he can change his mind on this topic but, as of right now, the answer to that question is: No. A few days before Ramos was kidnapped, he bought a brand new house for he and his family in a more affluent section of Valencia. I asked Ramos on Saturday if he still planned to stay and move into the new house and he said unequivocally that he was. They’ll be in the new house before Dec. 1.

Ramos also reaffirmed his desire to keep his commitment to the Venezuelan Winter League and expects to play his first game of the year for the Tigres de Aragua on Wednesday — a statement he made with a profound awareness of the impact he can have on Venezuela’s youth.

“I want to stay here, so that the Venezuelan people can see me play here, which is what they want,” Ramos said at a press conference in Venezuela on Saturday. His goal, he said, was “to bring each child a figure to follow.”

Ramos said he cleared his staying and playing in Venezuela with the Nationals and both he and his father, Abraham, agreed that baseball will help him to forget and move on — which is what Ramos then asked everyone to do.

“Wilson has asked us to put the issue aside and move on,” tweeted family friend Marfa Mata on Sunday afternoon and Ramos then followed that tweet up with several of his own requests to Venezuelan media to move on to talking baseball. 

— So everyone will attempt to do just that. Rizzo will be in Milwaukee for the next three days at the GM Meetings. Traditionally, not a whole lot of news comes out of the GM Meetings but when trades are made at the Winter Meetings in December, the groundwork for those trades is often laid at the GM Meetings.

That could be Rizzo’s focus this week as he continues his search for a center fielder. The Nationals have maintained that they’re still looking for both a leadoff-hitting center fielder as well as another starting pitcher. Their two main targets in the second area appear to be Mark Buerhle and Roy Oswalt as Rizzo has defined what he’s looking for with a description that fits both players. 

As for center field, though, if they can’t find what they want on the free agent market, a trade could be in the works — and that’s where talks this week could come in handy. 

There is also the matter of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and while reports are that MLB and the Players Union are getting extremely close — “at the 10-yard line,” Buster Olney tweeted this morning — the big-ticket free agents likely will not begin to come off the market and the dominoes won’t truly begin to fall until a new CBA is agreed upon.

We’ll see if they can get that ironed out this week as well.

*I will not be in Milwaukee for the GM Meetings but I’ll try to keep you updated on much of the goings on as best I can.