Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Not Exactly What I Was Expecting
My cell phone started to chime, shake, rattle and roll a few minutes after 5PM this afternoon. For the next 25 minutes, I could do nothing else but turn the noise maker off as we were on deadline at work. The lead news story, and I was editing. But I knew right away, some news was breaking somewhere else too--over on South Capitol Street--surrounding Our Washington Nationals.
Someone or Some Bodies had been traded. There was no doubt about that, because all the preset tunes on my cell phone told me exactly who was calling. All Baseball Fans--including The African Queen. We had probably made a trade. And once Our News Story made air--it was time to check messages to discover what all the commotion was about.
Big Jon Rauch had been traded to Arizona. Not surprising. But for whom?
Over the past few weeks, many teams were mentioned as possible suitors for "The Wookie". Easily one of our most prized veterans whose services would be cherished by other Major League Teams. Stepping into the Closer Role with Chad Cordero out this season, Our Number 51 had been good--closing 17 of 22 opportunities while sporting a 2.98 Era. Solid Numbers.
What could Jim Bowden get for him? This question has been constantly asked by fans. After hearing the answer at 5:30PM, I could only think: We could have gotten more.
In return--Our General Manager received a potential leadoff hitter, supposedly good fielding second baseman, slap hitter with good speed. OK, I can go for that. 23 Year Old Emilio Bonifacio was considered the Number 6 Prospect in The Arizona Diamondbacks Farm System heading into 2008. Building for the future--not a bad pickup.
But, what really surprised me was NO ONE ELSE was coming over to Washington to complete this trade.
Rauch for Bonifacio WAS THE TRADE. How is that possible?
Should not Our Washington Nationals have received another player for a veteran reliever, workhorse, who can setup or close, and has proven to be pretty durable over the past four seasons? Honestly, I was expecting a little more. Maybe a lower level pitching prospect? Maybe another youngster to help build Our Farm System?
Don't you think Big Jon Rauch was more valuable in a trade? And if he was Our Top Veteran available for trade--that doesn't bode too well for any return for Ronnie Belliard, Tim Redding or Odalis Perez. Paul LoDuca and Johnny Estrada are certainly not even being considered as possibles.
And with "The Guz" being re-signed today to a two year contract extension by Washington, Cristian Guzman is not going anywhere soon, also. Clearly, Our Number 15 and Bonifacio are Our Double Play Combination for the future--beginning in the year 2009. (By the way--I like the Guzman signing--Our Washington Nationals have zero shortstop prospects near ready for The Majors--"The Guz" coming back is a no brainer--even at $8 Million per season).
No, I not surprised Our Now Former Number 51 is gone either, his trade has been coming for some time. But after all the buzzing and chirping of my cell phone late this afternoon, I sure was expecting more bang out of the news that "The Wookie" is now a Snake. Just hoping Our Assistant General Manager & VP Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo (Former Scouting Director for Arizona) knows what he is doing on this one. This trade has his name written all over it. Rizzo knows Emilio Bonifacio--probably well.
We may not know the final answer for some time, but this trade was not EXACTLY what I was expecting right now. Bonifacio is OK by me, but I really believed Big Jon Rauch would return at least one other quality prospect.
Who will Close for the rest of the season with Big Jon now gone?
Joel Hanrahan only has two reliable pitches, fastball and changeup, no curve and a limited slider. Our Number 38 is overpowering, but his control and unreliable third pitch has to make him questionable as a closer. Hitters may tee off on his pitches--waiting for his straight stuff.
Luis Ayala closed at times playing in Mexico. When Our Number 56 was at the top of his game a few years ago--Ayala would have been a solid choice as closer. Unfortunately, his 2008 season has been poor. It's going to be interesting for a while at the end of any game Our Washington Nationals have a lead.
And Garrett Mock, called up today to fill a roster spot for Rauch--will most likely be the long man and spot starter.
Finally, today was the start of the long awaited mid-season youth movement--meaning FLop's days as a member of Our Washington Nationals has to be numbered as well.