Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Random Thoughts On The Changing Times

The handful of roster moves committed to by Our Washington Nationals over the past few days had me thinking random thoughts this afternoon on the changing times ahead.

Since taking over Day-To-Day Baseball Operations of Our Washington Nationals, Interim GM Mike Rizzo has slowly changed team makeup from that of his predecessor--Jim Bowden--to one more in line with his own thinking. Just take a look at the former JimBo Washington Players no longer even a part of Our Franchise. Players which Bowden inherited or picked up but Rizzo has moved off the organization's depth chart in four short months.

In no particular order: Shawn Hill, Mike O'Connor, Gustavo Chacin, Josh Towers, Steven Shell, Ryan Wagner (retired), Jose Castillo, Javier Valentin, Wily Mo Pena, Alex Cintron, Daniel Cabrera, Lastings Milledge, Mike Hinckley, Joel Hanrahan and Ryan Langerhans. That's 15 total players no longer with Washington--at least those that I could recall.

Mike attempted to send Rule V pick Terrell Young back to Cincinnati--but Major League Baseball nullified the transaction due to Young still being injured. Terrell currently on the 60-Day Disabled List. In all likelihood has no future in DC.

Mr. Rizzo has also optioned Elijah Dukes to AAA Syracuse along with Jason Bergmann, Saul Rivera, Kory Casto, Wil Ledezma and Corey Patterson--all players under Bowden's direct control sometime during the past four years. Six more Players total.

Off the free agency junk pile--Rizzo has picked up pitchers Joe Beimel, Ron Villone, Kip Wells, Julian Tavarez, Logan Kensing (via trade) Mike MacDougal and catcher Josh Bard. Only Wells and Kensing not sticking with Washington's Team. Wells Designated For Assignment--Kensing now at AAA Syracuse in the closer role.

He gave both Garrett Mock and Justin Maxwell opportunities to stay on The Big League Roster. They didn't stick--and both are back at Syracuse making adjustments. Mock now starting, Maxwell learning to hit a curve ball. And watched painfully as Roger Bernadina broke his ankle making a spectacular catch in centerfield at Nationals Park.

Our 2008 Starting Lineup included five guys under 24 years old--Ryan Zimmerman, Jesus Flores, Emilio Bonifacio, Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes--now has just one (The Z-Man). Flores on the Disabled List. All supposed staples of Our Future.

Our 2009 Starting lineup now includes five guys that are at least 30 years old. And five more bench players that are 29 years of age or older. In fact, Ryan Zimmerman is the only Nationals everyday player currently under 25 years of age.

Our 2009 Starting Rotation that includes three 25-year olds and two 23-year olds has become decidedly younger.

Our Bullpen currently has five guys above 32 years of age with Tyler Clippard the only current reliever under 25. Clippard is 24-years old.

You just know Mike Rizzo is far from done in giving Our Washington Nationals a complete face lift.

Many different transactions involving Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, Cristian Guzman, Willie Harris, Austin Kearns, Ronnie Belliard (though unlikely), Ron Villone, Julian Tavarez, Joe Beimel, Jesus Colome, Mike MacDougal and even Scott Olsen are probably being considered.

Although I can see some good reasons for keeping Nick Johnson--solid bat, decent fielder, someone to catch Ryan Zimmerman's sometime's errant throws--NJ is probably going to be traded by the end of July--even though no team is going to be giving up much in return for his expiring contract. But signing Johnson to a one year incentive laden contract with an option can't be ruled out as well. Washington doesn't have many solutions right now at first base. He can help now and through next season while our infield situation settles.

Save for Ryan Zimmerman, Jesus Flores, John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler and maybe even Anderson Hernandez and Craig Stammen--I can't imagine many other players on our current 25 Man Roster NOT being available in trade. A couple of times now, Mike Rizzo has stated "We are open for business." Obviously, that must be true, because Our Interim GM is overhauling our roster once again--attempting to discharge the dead weight he feels does not have a future in Washington, DC.

The Changing Times are certainly upon us. And it is going to be very interesting when Our Washington Nationals play The Pittsburgh Pirates on August 1st at PNC Park--exactly what 25 Men are then sitting in the visiting dugout wearing The Curly "W" Washington Script Away Jersey. The Non-Waiver Trading Deadline ends the night before. So, how many new faces will be representing The Nation's Capital that evening? And will DC's Team become even younger once again?

Will this newer direction pan out?


Anonymous said...

Interesting indeed to also see who will be in a Pirate uniform. I do feel for the Nationals fans, but try being a Pirate fan. We have been through different iterations of the exact same situation every year for the past 16 years. At least the Nationals had a decent first year.

Anyhow, enjoy Nyjer in CF. He is a fan favorite, has a great attitude, comes to play everyday, always has a smile on his face and always gives 110%. Not quite what we got in return.

Trust in rebuilding year after year.

Troy :-)

Anonymous said...

Great post SBF...So what IS the direction of this team? Is this "the plan" that we were supposed to trust that Kasten was implementing? To bring on all these young players of the future only to trade them or demote them one by one?

natsfan1a said...

Thanks for the background on Morgan, Troy. He sounds like a potential fan fave from what I've read.

Seems that Rizzo may be focusing on character as well as talent, which I for one appreciate.

Anonymous said...

I think the plan is still to build young but with pitching not position players. Use pitching to trade for position players who are ready now. No matter what the plan now, getting ride of players who are not baseball players but rather to athletes who are less than coachable. Jimbo's type of players need to go and then we will see what type of plan for position players Rizzo has. We are only 3 years behind due to Lerner's blind love of supper cool leather pants.

yazzy1956 said...

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. I give Rizzo credit for at least trying to do something to shake up this team. If you look around most MLB team's bullpens other than quality closers and the occasional stud set-up guy they have the same retread garbage that we have. The key is having a good closer. If Chad Cordero had not flamed out, I would guess he would have been worth at least 5-7 more wins this season instead of these 9th inning meltdowns we have experienced.

Sure Milledge and Dukes may pan out somewhere else, but if not with us, where and when? How many chances do you give guys to grow up and act like professionals as they both reach their mid-20's. Milledge is a clubhouse cancer that two organizations have now given up on and we all know Dukes's history. Milledge and Dukes will probably end up like Milton Bradley or Jose Guillen, intinerant head cases with tremendous talent who never grow up.

The Pirates always seem to dump players once they prove they can play and are in line for a salary increase through arbitration or free agency. So far that has not been the case here. Milledge, Dukes and Hanrahan all make around $425K, so it is not like this was a salary dump. The reality is that we have very little of value to trade. Even with Mike Lowell on the shelf, to think the Red Sox are going to part with one of their young arms for Nick Johnson is pure fantasy.

I remember when we got FLop and Kearns how everyone thought Jimbo was a genius and had totally fleeced the Reds!

Steve Walker said...


Character counts. Look at Tampa Bay after Dukes and Delmon Young departed.

Look at the Phillies. I wish they weren't such high character guys - they'd be easier to dislike, but, gosh, they even saved the lives of the Colorado grounds crew while the Rockies sat in their dugout.

Other than Myers and, maybe, Romero, they play hard, clean baseball and are gentlemen off the field (well, relatively speaking!).

If that's the kind of team Rizzo is building, then good for him.

I just want a team that's capable of 82-85 wins each year, even if they fall short. Look at the NL Standings, if the Nats were 5 games UNDER .500, they'd still be in both the NL East and Wildcard races. They are the ONLY team in the NL without hope and we're 50% done with the season.