Friday, July 04, 2008
What Should They Do?
"We'll trade a piece that hurts our team this year to help our team win a year from now or two years from now," stated Our General Manager Jim Bowden. "Total focus is on the long-term."
JimBo was apparently in a talkative mood early today during a rain delay in Cincinnati. Chatting with the assembled media, Bowden discussed the upcoming July 31st Trading Deadline and where Our Washington Nationals stand when it comes to Our Current Roster. After grading The 2008 Major League Club with a "D" last week. After calling the first half of 2008 "Disasterous", Our GM took another step to quell any upcoming hope for progress during the remainder of the current season at New Nationals Park.
"We're open to any trade that makes us better long-term. That includes proven major leaguers that are successful, top prospects in the minor leagues; we're open to anything. We've told every club, we have complete flexibility on trading players and acquiring players. So we're keeping every avenue open to us. We've let all the clubs know that. If someone wants to know if we're a buyer or a seller, we're both. Any way that we can add long-term pieces, we're going to add long-term pieces. Because we're not in a structure where we're trying to make trades to help this team win right now. We're trying to build a baseball team -- to eventually win. This isn't the kind of team you add a piece to win. You need to have the Milledges and the Dukes and the Lannans and the Zimmermans and those long-term pieces."
So where exactly do we stand? Right now?
Has any progress been made for the near future? Are enough building blocks being put in place to make Our Washington Nationals a winner--one to two years from now?
All those questions are interesting considering the positive vibes many had for Our Washington Nationals heading north from Viera, Florida this spring. So what happened to the talented team assembled this past February and March? If I recall correctly, some felt Our Washington Nationals were capable of playing .500 ball--maybe surprise and finish with a winning record.
Certainly, injuries have curtailed development. Ryan Zimmerman, Nick Johnson, Lastings Milledge, Chad Cordero, Shawn Hill and Austin Kearns all being down at the same time has hurt. No question about it.
But some of the youngsters called up to replace those on the Disabled List have simply not been ready. In fact, when it comes to position players in Our Farm System--Our Washington Nationals are still pretty weak. There was one big exception. Jesus Flores took advantage of two veterans (Paul LoDuca & Johnny Estrada) being injured to prove blocking his development to The Majors--was unnecessary. Other than Our Number 3, only young pitching apparently a strength in the minors right now. Even Fan Favorite, Outfielder Justin Maxwell, is injured once again and can not be promoted.
Of course, Wily Mo Pena and FLop have not produced as well. The offense, so profoundly talked up this spring--has been absent. And with Our Starters continuing to not go deep into ball games--Our Manager Manny Acta has been forced to use an already undermanned and overused bullpen--to it's detriment. The one time Force of Our Washington Nationals--Our Relievers--is no longer. And as the losses have mounted, there has been concern over some Washington Players losing their focus. Not caring.
So what should Our Washington Nationals do?
Jim Bowden's been given the mandate to rebuild. He's probably not going anywhere soon.
Here are my thoughts.
if Version 4.0 of Our Washington Nationals is being jettisoned at Mid-Season, then let's get some players out there on the field that WANT TO BE THERE. Let's get some players out there that still want to improve themselves. Let's get some players out there that want to be Professional Major Leaguers. Let's get some players out there that are still HUNGRY!!
Cheering on a team that plays hard, if not winning ball, is still enjoyable. Simply look at the past three seasons of Our Washington Nationals. You could never say they were not entertaining.
Thankfully, Jesus Flores, John Lannan, Elijah Dukes have never let up all season long. And as frustrating as Lastings Milledge can be with his antics--I can't say the man's not giving his all out there--either. We need more guys like that. Talented individuals that care.
On Our Major League Roster--we need a second baseman, and a shortstop (do you really think "The Guz" will re-sign?). We need a quality backup catcher for Jesus. We need Elijah Dukes to move to centerfield and Milledge to a corner outfield position. We need a POWER HITTING Corner Outfielder. We need someone, anyone, to be a quality leadoff hitter. And we possibly may need a first baseman--but I will always leave that spot open for Nick Johnson. NJ means so much to our lineup.
We need to trade any or all of these veteran position players-if something of value is offered in return. Dmitri Young, Austin Kearns, Ronnie Belliard, Aaron Boone, Paul LoDuca, Wily Mo Pena and Felipe Lopez. Although Our Number 26 and Our Number 2 can't be highly touted right now. They have played so poorly, some have even wished for them to simply be Designated For Assignment (released from the team).
If it is true that Our General Manager will let The Major League Roster Suffer the rest of the way in 2008--short term loss for long term gain--then there is no excuse for not moving and shuffling a Baker's Dozen of players over the next seven weeks. Why not? What do Our Washington Nationals have to lose?
And what about Our Pitching?
Our Bullpen has suffered, but that doesn't mean individual players are not valuable to others. Big Jon Rauch, Joel Hanrahan, Saul Rivera and Luis Ayala could be important cogs--to the right team in a pennant race. Don't underestimate their talent. Wear and tear has hurt their records.
With no run support from their teammates, Lannan, Jason Bergmann, Odalis Perez, Tim Redding and now Collin Balester have all suffered as starters. Lannan, Bergmann and Balester the only ones with possible long term futures in Washington. Perez and Redding have pitched well enough to gather interest. Whether they can return some talent over the next month in a trade--is the big question.
No doubt, Our General Manager is working that blackberry of his. The next few weeks of July may well determine whether Our Washington Nationals have a successful 2008 Season or not. Victory, based not on winning percentage, but rather on gathering some more talent to enhance this Franchise for years to come.
If we are building for the future--now is the time to move a few steps forward--show some progress. Give Our Fans more hope as the last half of the season gets underway.
Time for JimBo to get creative. But please, Jim Bowden--no more Cincinnati Guys that you craved for years. Those coveted players have not exactly worked out well for Our Washington Nationals.
PS: I wanted to write about a topic that I have read over and over again in various online forums. Before the 2008 Season commenced, many had stated they wanted Our Washington Nationals to sign Kyle Lohse to a minimum contract to be an innings eating starter. Instead he signed with The St. Louis Cardinals. Remember, The Cardinals can hit the ball. Our Washington Nationals can not. Lohse is having a fine season. But, don't you believe that Lohse would have the same frustrating record as John Lannan in 2008 playing for Our Washington Nationals? Two different teams, St. Louis and Washington. Two different directions and results. Kyle Lohse would not be 10-2 playing for Our Washington Nationals. Not possible.