Monday, November 06, 2006

The Grab Bag

When I first read the Nationals Press Release, I started to giggle. It reminded me of going to one of those traveling circus's that use to pass through towns many years ago. Here for a few days, then off to the next stop. These Fly By The Night Circus's always had nickel and dime games that you played for prizes. Once you actually won at a contest, you got to take a prize home. Sometimes, the winner got to see what choices of prizes to choose. Many times, you picked from a grab bag assortment. Occasionally, you won something good, mostly, you just threw the junk prize right away.

That's exactly what Our Washington Nationals announcement sounded like today. As Stan Kasten stated last Friday, The Nats would be signing a dozen or so Minor League Free Agents--hoping to find lightning in the bottle and, at the same time, fill out the minor league system with everyday players. No big money spent here. Just fielding teams for their minor leagues. Maybe, just maybe, getting lucky. Today's Grab Bag consisted of 21 Players of various experience and age. No one younger than 24, some as old as 32. 13 of which were pitchers.

Honestly, I don't know much about them, but some names I did recognize. There is infielder Alejandro Machado, a former Nationals Farm hand, sold off to Boston before the Inaugural 2005 season. Machado came on strong, made the 2005 playoff roster for The Boston Red Sox. Jimbo got a serious amount of grief for letting him go for nothing. Well, he's back. Still just 24 years old.

Pitchers Tim Redding and Colby Lewis--both one time top prospects. Redding with Houston and Lewis with Texas. Outfielder, Darnell McDonald--only because the Orioles hailed him for a few years, with no meaningful results.
What's interesting to read about all these players is their combined success at the Minor League Level. If stats were the only baseball information that counted--these 21 guys look pretty good. But, obviously there are flaws in their games, that must be seen to believe. There is something in their talents, right now, that has kept them from being successful on a regular basis at the Major League Level. That hitch in their swing, the inability to command that third pitch, mentally not being able to bring their best talents to the forefront--under pressure. Those are the deficiencies the Nats must work out of these 21 players--if they expect any of them to actually contribute to the Major League Roster.

It could happen. Do you think the Arizona Diamondbacks wouldn't like to have Dan Uggla back from the Florida Marlins. The Marlins plucked Uggla off the Diamondbacks Minor League Roster in the Rule 5 Draft before last season--Uggla had a terrific rookie season at 26 years old. Knocking 27 Homes Runs, and 90 RBI--competing with Washington's Ryan Zimmerman for Rookie of the Year in the Nationals League. In all likihood, only one or two will pan out--if any at all. But, if both of those are pitchers--these signings are a success.

These players are cheap, nothing is really expected--if someone surprises--Today's Grab Bag will be looked back on fondly. If not, The Circus will be back again--same time--next year.

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