Monday, March 21, 2005

Get Him Into Detox

Jim Bowden's nervous. He's tapping his foot up and down. The right side of his face is twitching. He has the sweats and wakes up at night. It's not pretty. It's been at least a month since he's pulled off a trade. He doesn't have the will power to go cold turkey like that. And, when a junkie gets antsy, you never know what he could do.

Unfortunately, the other teams know this. And they're desperate to take advantage of him!
"I can't predict," the Nationals' general manager said. "I'm not smart enough. But we know we have roster problems, and we know we have depth. Other teams like our outfielders. The phones don't stop ringing. We'll see."

Those guys smell blood in the water!

We know that he's jonesing for Wily Mo Pena. And we know that the name Mike Hinckley came up at least once. But, it seems like Cinci would settle for Zach Day. We also know that Zach hasn't had the best of springs and that, even before his mediocre spring, the team was talking about moving him to the bullpen. We've also learned that Jon Rauch and John Patterson (Though his not-too-serious hip injury may have hurt his chances of supplanting Day) have had better springs than Zach.

Given all that, it's interesting to see Bowden working the Post over:
He said Saturday he is reluctant to part with any of the Nationals' apparent plethora of pitching. Bowden said he believes that Zach Day will hold onto the fifth spot in the starting rotation -- "It's never changed in my mind," he said -- and that fellow right-handers John Patterson and Jon Rauch will be badly needed in Washington this summer.

"No, no, no," he said when asked if the group of potential starters is deep enough to make a trade. "You don't get enough starting pitching. You're going to have injuries. Certainly, the fact that Rauch and Patterson are number six and seven on our depth chart right now is very important. They'll both be used. They'll both be needed."

What we don't know, is whether this is his sincere belief, or whether this is him posturing for the Reds, letting them know that if they really do want Day, that they're going to have to impress him. Sincerity or posturing?

Unless Austin Kearns is on the table, I would hope that it's sincerity. His point that all those starters will be needed is right. Los Dos Juans will be excellent injury insurance or Esteban-Loaiza-returning-to-suckitude insurance. Down the road, it would even allow Bowden to ship Tony Armas off to a contender for a young impact hitter or two.

Bowden's been patient to this point. And I think that that's the best course of action now, too. Pena would be an upgrade over Endy Chavez, but at what cost? If you gave up Day, the pitching staff is weakened. If you gave up Hinckley, one of the few viable prospects we have, then the future is weakened.

Sometimes, as Don Rumsfeld would say, you've gotta work with the team you've been given, not the team you would like.

UPDATE-- Nationals Pastime has a look at the Pena-Day trade and is much more enthused than I am.


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