Wednesday, August 01, 2007

What He Said

The semi-dormant Federal Baseball hits the Rivera cutter out of the park. I realllllly recommend you take a look at it. It's long, so print it out, have a couple cups of coffee, then take it to your work's "reading room" tucked into a copy of The Post or CQ. Whatever works for you.

He sums up some of the feelings I was alluding to in my last post, but especially in the comments. Excerpting it won't quite do it justice, but here's a bit to give you the tenor. You really do need to read the whole thing!

And finally we reach my vague disappointment. The Nats have, by Bowden's own admission, been "treading water" in terms of player development acquisitions for the past month. The problem is that July is normally a pretty good month for player development acquisitions if you're motivated to grab some talent. This isn't to say you can snap your fingers and gobble up a Grade-A prospect or two on demand. You have to have some talent to offer in exchange, and, as Bowden argued, other teams are more reticent to give up top young talent these days. But if you need to enhance your organizational depth -- and, rosy soundbytes aside, this is something the Nats desperately, vigilantly, comprehensively, and tirelessly need to do -- then you have to put in a good faith effort to that end and then some....

This isn't like last year, when the Nats knew (some new CBA trepidation aside) that they'd get two picks for Soriano. The Nats have one prospective free agent now, and that's King. I haven't exhaustively researched the matter, but I'm presuming he won't bring any compensation to the dance. And that's that. No deadline prospects, no compensation draft picks. These young talents, these prospects, that the Nats need don't grow on trees, spontaneously combust, or hang ten in Kamino's surfy oceans.

Is this organization really at a point where it can tread water in terms of acquiring young talent? My, that was quick....

One of Bowden's greatest strengths is his ability to cast a line and find bounce-back guys. He found a good one in Young, and now it's time to quell his ambition for reclamation projects? Meaning no offense to Dmitri, who has been pretty much awesome so far, I just don't see why the team wouldn't try to rinse and repeat the process for 2008. (As for the rest of 2007, well, who gives two craps?)

Unless, that is, the Nats are in the midst of a course correction and, instead of picking at some marrow off the proverbial carrion, they are loading for bear. So they keep Belliard, keep Young, keep Rauch, keep Cordero, keep anyone and everyone who can contribute in the very near term.

That would be an interesting way to go, but let's be clear about something: it would take a hell of a lot of loading to get anywhere. They'd need a centerfielder, a bona fide slugger, a real leadoff man, and something on the order of three to four reliable starting pitchers. We're talking about a very active and expensive offseason.

Those are some excellent points, and are some of the things I've been thinking through, and have probably half thought through in my recent scattershot posts and comments.

Basil did an excellent job to synthesize all those thoughts and put them into a compelling narrative, an excellent look at where the team is, and why some of us are blah after the last two weeks.

Did I mention that you should read the whole thing?


  • Great blog. Having thought it through, there are only 2 possible reasons for the lack of "work" before the deadline.
    1) They think this is a good team, that isn't THAT far off. I agree that you are looking at a CF, 2 solid starters and a leadoff hitter, and those ain't cheap, but given the injuries, let's be honest, this team plays ok. Add 33% more juice, and you've got a good team. Church has to have a career year in 2008 (surely), Kearns isn't THAT bad, Guzman eyes are better, NJ at 1st, Zimm at 3rd, Jesus behind the plate?
    2) The PLAN revolves around making everyone but the fans rickh.

    Overnight Anonymous

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/01/2007 5:25 AM  

  • Way too much ennui in the blogosphere over the Nats player movement or non-movement in the last month. Most teams don't do much around the deadline. The team probably has over 20M to spend this off-season. If they get two good starting pitchers and a power hitter, they are going to be competitive. (If they blow it all on Torii Hunter, well, shame on them.) I just think you guys over-analyze the crap out of what amounts to nothing. If they move both Belliard and Young, they get marginal prospects. We have plenty of those. Really, treading water is what everyone does, isn't it? Just don't see what moves of any REAL significance could have been made to make everyone more happy.

    By Blogger Tim Bilbro, at 8/01/2007 8:30 AM  

  • If they move both Belliard and Young, they get marginal prospects. We have plenty of those. Really, treading water is what everyone does, isn't it? Just don't see what moves of any REAL significance could have been made to make everyone more happy.

    But that runs counter to the team's stated goals of rebuilding the farm system. Treading water isn't rebuilding. While the returns on Young and/or Belliard were likely not top 10 prospects (probably Rauch as well), it's the non-movement in a year where they scaled back payroll as much as they did. The free agency process allows teams to game the system by signing Type B free agents, playing them out a year and then letting them go for a draft pick in the 31-60 range. That has some value in rebuilding.

    Could not agree more that no matter what the Nats did (or didn't do), it would make some people unhappy.

    By Blogger Brian, at 8/01/2007 8:45 AM  

  • OA: I wrote about this before, but if you assume that the pitching stays the same (even if they improve, the move from RFK is going to cause them to give up more runs), the offense is going to need to improve by about 150 runs just to get back to .500ish.

    Possible. But not something I'm banking on happening with one magic signing.

    If you think the ennui (had to look that one up!) is something that's been over the last month, you've only been reading over the last month. ;)

    Sure, they likely wouldn't have gotten much, but you've gotta buy a lottery ticket to win.

    The Nats didn't get a helluva lot for Marlon Anderson last year, but that something is better than nothing, no?

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 8/01/2007 8:47 AM  

  • Of course people are going to be happy regardless.

    It's easy to listen to a large crowd and hear individual voices bitching about things. People are always going to be looking at things from different perspectives.

    That doesn't mean you have to listen to or give credence to any individual voice.

    That includes mine!

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 8/01/2007 8:49 AM  

  • $20 mill does not nearly get you two SPs and a major bat.

    $40 might, but even there - it is really hard to navigate the FA waters right now. Lots of teams have money and are in the fight - all the same teams that didn't upgrade yesterday to preserve their prospects.

    Someone's gonna have Andruw Jones 7 years $100M after a sesason in which he was outplayed by our Logan/Langerhans platoon. (/hyperbole)

    By Anonymous sam, at 8/01/2007 9:06 AM  

  • ***Just don't see what moves of any REAL significance could have been made to make everyone more happy***

    That's sort of the essence of "vague disappointment," I guess.

    There's probably not that much difference between your perspective on the matter and mine, except that I wasted an hour of my time writing a too-long post about it.

    And I resemble the remark about the ennui and stuff. Heck, I'm in semi-blogger retirement! ;-)

    By Anonymous Basil, at 8/01/2007 9:24 AM  

  • I think Chris' anguish is overdone.

    The team is competitive every time it takes the field, the players play hard all nine innings, and in July they won one more than they lost while providing entertaining baseball.

    I am much less pessimistic than I was a month or so ago. While recovering from surgery, I have enjoyed watching this bunch of scrappers go out each day and play their hearts out for Manny. If that's what they'll do the rest of 2007 and in 2008, then that's OK with me.

    We will just have to wait patiently for the emergence from the farm system of a Torii Hunter-type CF and whatever else may be needed. In the meantime, enjoy the show.

    The worst part of the Nats' experience is putting up with the lame productions of MASN before during and after the games. Other than Sutton and Holliday, it's pathetic. Does anyone know who actually controls this outfit? I.e., does the Nats front office have any say in what goes out over the air? It would seem they do not.

    By Anonymous JohnR (VA), at 8/01/2007 10:08 AM  

  • I'm starting to look less at the current situation and more at what gets accomplished in the coming off-season. There are some pluses to take note of however. We have a good manager-someone who inspires confidence in his players and is has exceeded my expectations this year in managing a game. Sure, he occasianlly makes moves we question (ala Nook), but i think if we give him 2-3 more seasons at the helm he will be considered by most one of the best managers in baseball-something i feel like he already is. I have confidence in Acta, and St. Claire, who has gotten more out of this revolving pitching corps than we could have imagined.

    Along with that, we'll have roughly 20 mil to spend in the off season. Maybe Kasten & Bowden et. al know something we don't. Maybe they are fearing up to spend that cash wisely in the off season. Maybe they already are evaluating what SP's and .300+ hitters could become available to spend that money. That's what i'm hoping for, at least. I can't imagine they'll open the stadium without at least 1-2 new "names". But then again, this is the Nats.

    By Anonymous NatsVA, at 8/01/2007 11:47 AM  

  • Let's not forget that it is still easily feasible to deal a Rauch type pitcher for a marginal prospect or two until August 31st. Some contender will be in need of bullpen help for their final push and hopefully Jimmy will be waiting to serve.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/01/2007 11:56 AM  

  • The catch with that is that there's no way that Rauch would clear waivers, so you'd be limited to dealing with the lowest team that claimed him, and you know the Reds would do it just out of spite! ;)

    Instead, you're dealing a Ray King-like reliever, and then you're dealing with a share of a lottery ticket!

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 8/01/2007 11:58 AM  

  • I agree with John. This team has played incredibly well considering our rotation is held together with duct tape. We're not that far off, and I'm sick and tired of hearing about 3-4 freakin years from now. How 'bout next year? Crazy?
    If we man up and pay for Andruw, that gives us our CF/slugger and removes him from a potential division rival. Two points. As far as leadoff, Guzman was doing fine. Why are we writing him off so quick? I don't buy the idea that he is 'cursed' here, that kind of thinking is horseshit. And with the pitchers we will have coming back from the DL/coming up from minors, I don't think we would really need to sign more than 1-2 vets in the offseason.
    There's no reason not to spend some freakin money, this is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. We're not in Canada anymore, people will come.
    Also, all of you prospect whores out there need to remember that we're gonna have some pretty good draft picks next year, without having to give up anybody in return.

    By Blogger Rob B, at 8/01/2007 12:15 PM  

  • Again, read this comment.

    Just getting back to .500 is going to be REALLY tough and require a lot of improvement.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 8/01/2007 12:20 PM  

  • Rob - Prospect whores ... eh?

    Assuming the compensation falls somewhere along the lines of last year with over 30 first round supplemental selections, the Nationals will, at best, have three picks in the top 100. That's solid enough. But the way I look at it is that there is a difference, value-wise between

    2006 - 5 of the top 100 (two top 20)
    2007 - 6 of the top 100 (one top 10)
    2008 - 3 of the top 100 (one top 10)

    And if they are not trading for prospects, the only alternative to get quality guys is the draft (and international signings which are an even bigger crapshoot).

    By Blogger Brian, at 8/01/2007 12:26 PM  

  • and that assumes the Nationals are not required to forfeit any selections in signing all of these players everyone is assuming they are going to. Andruw Jones will cost the Nationals their second round pick. And for every other Type A they sign, they lose another pick.

    I'm not saying they shouldn't make an effort to go after those guys but it does run counter to the idea they have been throwing out there about rebuilding from the ground up.

    By Blogger Brian, at 8/01/2007 12:28 PM  

  • Hmmmmm. Johan Santana's fed up with Minnesota. Hmmmmm, he's a FA at the end of next season. Hmmmmm, a guy can dream, can't he? Start saving now, Teddy. That's all i'm sayin. ;)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/01/2007 1:05 PM  

  • Brian-
    you are absolutely right about the bulding from the ground up. If you think about it though, almost everything the Nats have done this year runs contrary to that idea. If this really was their plan, they never would have signed Dimitri and Belliard, Jesus Flores would be our starting catcher, and guys like Fick and Batista would be long gone. I think the trade deadline was a statement that we can build around what we have now. Our moves, or lack thereof, have kind of backed us into a corner, and we may have to run with what we've got. If this is the case, we need proven vets, not prospects. The idea of having young talent is nice, and I belive we will have a farm system we can rely on in the future. But for the purposes of next year, we gotta spend some loot.

    By Blogger Rob B, at 8/01/2007 1:09 PM  

  • When I read this last night, my first reaction was similar to Tim's. I started to post that I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me for not getting it, and that wasn't meant as a snark because I have a world of respect for the information that Chris provides with this blog.

    By Anonymous MF, at 8/01/2007 7:34 PM  

  • I like the signing of Belliard and Young. It's not trading Rauch and Cordero that floors me. Was the market really that dry? I love both of them, but be honest - We are 2 years away from being competitive, minimum. By then, who knows where the Chief will be, arm wise? I keep looking at him and having visions of Greg Olson in my head.

    Also - what's up with McGeary and Smoker? I haven't seen/heard anything about them in a week, which is understandable considering the trade deadline. But August 16th is getting closer and closer...

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