Stan Kasten: Nats "so much closer than it appears"
On the one hand, the Nats have won two straight, have one of the best starting pitchers in baseball, and have at least two other promising pitching prospects who are about to return from injury. On the other hand, they're in last place in the NL East yet again. On the one hand, they seem likely to improve by about a dozen wins this season. On the other hand, that would still leave them with about 90 losses.
If you want the optimistic spin on things, and you don't want it from an award-winning Washington Post author, the best place to go is Stan Kasten. Kasten talked for close to two hours on ESPN 980 this week, and he yet again gave his pitch for why we should believe that this thing is about to turn around, and quickly.
He said when interviewing prospective GM candidates last year, one candidate whom he really liked and respected suggested the Nats needed to blow everything up and start over.
"And I had to tell him as I told our owners then, that was just dead wrong," Kasten told 980's Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro. "I will tell you from being inside, we are so much closer than it appears from the outside, because we have the pipeline of pitching almost here. And once you have the pipeline to back up the rotation, you're ready to go, and that's why I think we're so much closer than our current record would suggest. I know what our record is, I know it's bad, I know it's last place, but it's all about the starting rotation."
So, when does "closer" finally become "now?"
"It can be as soon as next year," Kasten said. "You can't predict those things because it's impossible. If everybody's healthy, we should be thinking about not just competing but even contending next year. That's what I'm thinking about, that's what our whole organization should be thinking about and is thinking about....I know how quickly you can go from 106 losses -- which I had once with a team -- to the World Series three years later. I know that that can happen. I think we're on a track to make that happen."
A whole lot of people -- present company included -- are content to just print these quotes and let readers make of them what they will. Loverro, though, is a more questioning soul. So he asked Kasten, with all due respect, whether he really believed the Nats had a big enough pipeline of position players up the middle to take advantage of the starting pitching boomlet.
"Well, let's look at that," Kasten said. "I think that if you have a starting rotation you'd be surprised what you can succeed with. You don't need All-Stars at every position if you've got that starting rotation; you need good, competent productivity everywhere. If I can simplify, I think you need your defense up the middle, I think you need your power from the corners, and I think we have a lot of that now and can get the rest.
"It doesn't have to be internally. If it's one or two needs, then we should just go get it. And now would be the time - and I've talked about this from the day I got here - there will come a time when your final pieces are free agents. I think we're close to that time. if we have a rotation, if we have enough of the position players identified and it's only one or two spots, well, then go get it.
"I do think we have players coming. I think you're selling us short to a certain extent, because we do see a big future for Danny Espinosa and for Chris Marrero and Derek Norris right behind him, and a couple other names. It's true that we have gone heavy on pitching, but that was by design."
(You can listen to the entire two hours here, if you're so inclined.)
One final interesting nugget came when Kasten was asked to address the nature of D.C. as a sports town.
"It's exactly what I thought when I came," he said. "It's a huge town, a lot of rabid support, also a lot of affluent potential customers. We've seen what happens when you get really into their skin, like the Redskins did, but now we've seen how easy it is when you just have a little bit of success, like the Caps have had. And it'll be the same with the Wizards, with all the excitement that we're already seeing because of the change in ownership with Ted taking that over, with John Wall coming in. And we see how easy it's been to turn with Strasburg. We're coming off two 100-loss seasons, and we're going to be in the middle of the pack attendance-wise before long, and that's a real tribute to the fans that we have in this area."
Posted by: alex35332 | July 22, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: skins_fan_22 | July 22, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Section406 | July 22, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: PowerBoater69 | July 22, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: TippyCanoe | July 22, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: adhardwick | July 23, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: CapsNut | July 23, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: kingrob76 | July 23, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: jbfromfc | July 23, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Kev29 | July 23, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: 202character | July 23, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: 202character | July 23, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ADCWonk | July 23, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jpfterps | July 23, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tgt111 | July 25, 2010 10:50 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.