Monday, January 05, 2009

Faith & Trust

Didn't want to see Milton Bradley in a Washington Uniform--too many theatrics for the return gain. Thankfully, that's not going to happen.

Hopefully, neither will I see Orlando Hudson playing second base nor Adam Dunn at first base unless they are playing for the opposition at Nationals Park.

Orlando Hudson WAS a really good player with terrific defensive skills. He's only average now. O-Dog, as some say, has no long term value for Our Washington Nationals.

Meanwhile, Adam Dunn can slug a baseball with the best of them in the game. He also can cost you a tremendous amount of runs defensively in the field.

No matter how bad Our Washington Nationals were in 2008, Hudson and Dunn would only be temporary stop gap measures to ease the pain on The Major League Level in 2009.

That's not something I really wish to see. They are not going to transform Our Washington Nationals Into Winners.

Whether Washington wins 72 or 81 or whatever final amount of Curly "W's" are recorded in the book in 2009, I want to see progress, not just getting by.

I want to see Good Attitudes.

I want too see who are the real keepers in our outfield.

Can Lastings Milledge up his game and play some decent defense--preferably a corner outfield spot?

Can Elijah Dukes actually transform himself into the great all around talent he possesses? And play centerfield? If there is one player on this roster with the all-around skills, it's Our Number 34. Or will Dukes fall back on his past. I hope not, because That Man Can Play!

Will Josh Willingham return from his chronic back problems? If he does, Willingham can provide some solid power in the lineup.

Austin Kearns has always been able to field his position, near Gold Glove Caliber, but he's never been a solid contributor at the plate wearing a Washington Uniform. Can Our Number 25 became the dependable--if unspectacular--player so many envisioned earlier in his career at Cincinnati. Kearn's has talent, maybe not the confidence in his swing anymore.

And is Roger Bernadina a real possibility for an outfield role? The man is a great defender, but are his batting skills too weak to sustain a starting position?

Competition brings out the best in everybody. No one can say Our Outfielders don't have enough competition. Justin Maxwell, Leonard Davis, Ryan Langerhans and even Wily Mo Pena are going to be in Viera beginning in February looking for their shots as well.

I want to find out the real answers. Send them out there and play, unless someone better actually falls into your lap. Management doesn't always need to second guess and mistrust everyone on the 40 Man Roster--just because so many were injured and unperformed last season. There was a reason why you wanted them in the first place--all as future stable parts of the lineup--why not give everyone their just due at succeeding?

Give all of them their final shots.

Can Ryan Zimmerman recover from the only injury plagued season of his young life? I'm willing to bet he does. And when he comes through, will there be enough protection around him in the batting order?

If Our Washington Nationals are going to make changes, let's do so via trades. There are few and far between out there on the Free Agent Market that really are capable of being long-term solutions. None that I can see anymore. Mark Teixeira was the only real deal.

He may not be your man, but Nick Johnson is still My Man at first base for Our Washington Nationals. Unless JimBo can somehow convince The Padres (with their owner going through a nasty divorce and former power agent Jeffrey Moorad looking to swoop in for the vulture purchase) to trade their first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to DC (and I have no doubt Jim Bowden's been trying), it's worth giving NJ another shot. Our Number 24's contract is relatively inexpensive. And Johnson's fielding skills are far better than anything Adam Dunn would EVER provide at first base--their defensive skills are not even close.

In fact, our infield under its current configuration is not that bad. It's just needs some pop, but defensively it's solid.

"The Guz", Anderson Hernandez and Alberto Gonzales I can live with in the middle infield. But if Washington makes some other trades, one might find Our General Manager looking for another young and developing middle infielder. Hopefully, one with a stick to carry to the plate.

Our Number 11 can play third base as long as he wants in a Nationals Uniform. Zimmerman's going to be a great player--that I have no doubt.

I also want to see if Jesus Flores can continue developing his game, both behind the plate and at the plate. Our Number 3 slumped toward the end of 2008, and thanks to a run-in at home plate with The Phillies Chase Utley in September, the resultant ankle injury ended his year prematurely. Jesus still has alot to learn. He is so raw. Yet, could 2009 be a breakout year? Let him play. I want to see if Jesus Flores is an answer.

Just like on the mound.

Our Washington Nationals still need some front of the rotation starters. John Lannan and Scott Olsen are good starts, but who else will step to the pitching rubber and be successful in 2009? Shawn Hill's still in my book, again maybe not yours. Our Number 41 is low cost--high ceiling, no matter what Hill receives in arbitration. And Daniel Cabrera is worth the one-year contract to see if Our Pitching Coach Randy St.Claire can straighten him out. Yeah, we need some starting pitching, all good clubs do, but Our Washington Nationals also need to find out if Collin Balester, or Shairon Martis can make the most of their second opportunity--while Jordan Zimmermann gets his first.

Is Ross Detwiler a long term answer? How about Jack McGeary? Is Terrell Young a dependable reliever? Was Steven Shell for real? How about Michael Hinckley? Is Joel Hanrahan The Closer? Or is Zech Zinicola in the mix? They all are talented, but can they develop into Major League Talent?

You never really know--unless you give the youngsters their shots. No one expected John Lannan to excel so quickly. Maybe Balester or Martis or Jordan Zimmermann will take ahold of opportunity given to contribute successfully and soon.

I am OK with that because Our Washington Nationals are not going to be buying the pennant anytime soon. In fact, few ever have. And when our team has so many holes to fill, you better first find out whether the young talent you have collected so far in your own system is actually any good, before you go out and raid the talent of others. Otherwise--you might just be spinning circles--possibly getting nowhere fast.

At some point, you have to trust your young talent. And Our Washington Nationals need to find out first whether they can win with their very own players, before gathering everybody else's castoffs.

Progress is what I want to see in 2009.

Faith & Trust In Our Youth.


Kenny G said...

Excellent teasers! I'm so excited for baseball and can't wait for the season to start. When is the beginning of spring training?

Andrew said...

"Progress is what I want to see in 2009."

A lot of food for thought, but a lot of "can he" and "ifs".

This team has to get some known quantities and some Senior leadership.

Orlando Hudson is an upgrade on defense and will hit for average. Adam Dunn will hit a lot of Home Runs.

With players like Hudson, you can never have enough defense especially if the defensive players give you some Offense along with a good glove.

My big "if" would be Nick Johnson. When he plays he is great, but now you only control him for 1 more year anyway.

Adrian Gonzalez is a great idea but the Padres window of opportunity closed with their upcoming change of ownership.

Adam Dunn certainly has some holes in his game, but every player does. He is a top HR hitter and has a .984 career 1B fielding percentage compared to .992 for Nick Johnson. At 6'6" he will be a nice tall target at 1st and may save some errors for his other infielders.

Maybe the Nats can play some Earl Weaver ball, Pitching, defense, and 3 run homers.

Just some thoughts that can certainly be debated.

PS - Glad you named Justin Maxwell in the mix.

MurrayWthPalm said...

The Z-man is good no question, but I think Lastings and Elijah have just as much upside at the plate - for Elijah maybe more.

After losing out on the Mark Texiria sweepstakes, they need to pick up Adam Dunn. Listen, I love Nick Johnson he's an A+ defender and a solid B at the plate - but I simply don't trust him to finish the season. Adam Dunn would be an upgrade at the plate, and he is a much better defender then backup !B Dmitri Young.

Sec 317 said...

Hudson yes, Dunn no. 320, you're putting a lot of faith that a lot of what we saw last year was due only to injuries. I don't think we can afford that risk in '09 and potentially another 100-loss season. I'm not a fan of the short-term fix, but I also believe that we need to give fans a sign that we're trying to upgrade. Hudson could give you 3-4 solid years at 2B still, I believe, would be an improvement on defense and a bat that you can keep in there all year long.

Corey said...

I think if we had Dunn and Hudson last year, our record would have been a lot better which would have given Washington a much better chance at signing Teixeira. If we don't sign any big names this summer, the same will happen again with next summer's free agent class.

I think too much faith is being put into the youth on the team. They need leadership to help them reach their potential too.

Anonymous said...

We need left handed Power!

Where in the farm system is that going to come from. Adam Dunn is far from perfect but he would make the Nats better in the short & long term at only 29 he is entering his Prime & their is no guarantee that we'll get anything like him via trade or free agency in the next couple of years so he makes a great deal of sense.

Tim said...

I was a season ticket holder last year at Nationals Park. I decided that unless the Nats did something this off-season to improve the team, I am not wasting my money -- I'll watch on TV for free. I bet I'm not the only one who feels this way. You thought the stadium looked empty on TV last year, wait until you see it this year.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year to all Nats fans and to 320 Screech.

I was a full season ticketholder for four years. I will support the Nats and hope for a better season, but I can not keep spending money for a poor product and attitude with the ownership group. I see that others have gotten off the trainwreck too...maybe that will send a message that this organization is not in the right direction.

Ever since the high and mighty (not baseball folks) Lerners disrespected Frank Robinson was the starting point of failure. Too many folks have caved into THE PLAN. Yeah, so far a very expensive PLAN of embarassment.

I will cheer for the players on the field and hope for a better year, but the leadership group of this organization does even realize that folks will find other things to do in the summertime around Washington.

Good luck in 2009...gonna need it.

phil dunn said...

SBF, Those are way to many "ifs" to have any confidence that the Nats will field a decent team, as presently constructed, in 2009. I have been saying since the Lerners bought the team three years ago that there had to be some balance between the long term building goal and the short term goal. One goal does not have to be totally exclusive of the other. This years team needs to be competitive and I doubt it will be. The small fan base is now turned off and I expect 2009 attendance will be an embarrassment. Over the past week, I have talked to a half dozen fans who had partial season ticket packages last year. Not even one is renewing this year. When asked their reaction to the current status of the Nats, the overwhelming response was "disgust".

Softball Girl said...

If we go out and sign two Type A free agents, which draft picks are we giving up?

Screech's Best Friend said...

softballgirl: If Washington signs a Type A Free Agent, they would normally give up their first round pick. But since the first 15 picks in the draft are protected and can't be swapped or given up--whatever team the Type A Free Agent comes from would receive a sandwich pick between the first and second round of the 2009 draft (an extra pick not a lost washington pick) and Washington's Second Round number 1 pick.

This is actually what happened to Washington when Soriano signed with The Cubs. Chicago's pick was protected so The Nats Draft pick compensation dropped to later than earlier.

Anonymous said...

Its an interesting parallel here with comments about the Nationals that a friend of mine from Tampa Bay remembers all to well and year after year about the Tampa Bay [Devil] Rays and then you have a breakout year and everyone is on the bandwagon and this week they sign Pat Burrell to a 2 year contract at a below market price. Winning sure is great!

Amazing the turnarounds, and amazing how the outside fringes of the fanbase come back to claim their team as "their team" even when they turned their backs on them when they were losers.

The Lerners best move was freezing ticket prices and lowering some ticket prices as a good PR move. We may never know about the Frank Robinson situation so all this talk about disrespecting Frank is simply speculation.

Now they are derivating from "THE PLAN" and going after the big Free Agents which seems to be a good thing.

This is the best direction I have seen since they took over in their 1st full season in 2007 so I am excited about 2009 with/without Adam Dunn.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

Phil Dunn: I have talked to a half dozen fans who had partial season ticket packages last year. Not even one is renewing this year.

You did not talk to me!

Andrew Stebbins said...

Adam Dunn has hit 40 HRs for 5 years straight. Plus, he would replace Nick's knack for a high OBP in the lineup. He might cost a few runs in left field or first base, but there is absolutely no doubt he helps you more than he hurts you. The 2009 Nationals would be a better team with him than without him.

Also, I wouldn't be suprised if the Nats would be OK with losing their third overall pick (Pick 1, Round 2) since they all ready have 2 top 10 choices.

Andrew L. said...

Andrew S. - I think the Diamondbacks did not offer arbitration to Adam Dunn so there should be no loss of draft picks. If the Nats sign Orlando Hudson, they would give up their 2nd round pick.

Anonymous said...

oops, I forgot...but like you said, it's true for orlando. I wouldn't mind having him either, at the right price...but the same can be said about anyone. he isn't a leadoff hitter but he'd be the best option since before the move from montreal.