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Boswell: Time For Roster Overhaul

The Nats began the season with no speed, no defense and no relief pitching. And there you go. That's the recipe for one of the most ill-conceived 25-man rosters in recent memory. Boswell's latest column explains, and provides some thoughts on how the Nats should reform themselves in the weeks leading up to the trading deadline.

One excerpt:

Former GM Jim Bowden, with Stan Kasten looking over his shoulder, and the Lerners pinching the purse strings, built an incoherent roster. For three years, the Nats had the first premise of a plan -- "develop young starting pitching" -- but little else. So, they haphazardly made any opportunistic transaction that seemed to "add value," usually at minimal expense. The result was a mess.

To illustrate, the Nats came to spring training this year with 11 viable outfielders, five fighting for starting spots and six more capable of filling out the bench, but not one relief pitcher in the organization who had ever saved 10 games in a season. Hello, chaos.

Read more here.

By Chico Harlan  |  July 7, 2009; 1:50 PM ET
 
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Next: Tonight's Lineups

Comments

Bye Bye Jesus. Win one for the Kipper!

----
Jesus Colome rejected his outright assignment to Triple-A Syracuse and is now a free agent.

Colome was designated for assignment by the Nationals on July 4 after posting an 8.40 ERA, 1.93 WHIP and .348 BAA in 15 relief appearances. The 31-year-old right-hander will join fellow ex-National Kip Wells in search of a minor league contract with another organization.

-----
Kip Wells has cleared waivers and opted for free agency.

Wells will hope for a minor league contract with another organization. He was designated for assignment on June 24 after posting a 6.49 ERA and an 18/18 K/BB ratio in 26 1/3 innings out of the Nationals' bullpen. The 32-year-old has a 4.71 career ERA and a 1.52 career WHIP.

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 7, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Bowden was (and always was) very much the snake oil salesman. It appears he promised the Lerners a cheap winner, based on his experience dumpster-diving with the Reds and pre-Lerner Nats.

It looks like Rizzo may actually have a reasonable concept of roster construction.

Looking forward to Big Mike blowing up this monstrosity Ol' Leatherpants bequeathed us.

Posted by: deMille_Ondefloss | July 7, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Willingham needs to be traded!

Posted by: brothbart | July 7, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

This team fits the monetary investment, more or less. When you have a limited budget, you go for assets. Pitchers probably give you the best value for the buck, since good ones are so expensive to acquire. You almost have to build your own.

NFA pointed out this 2009 draft review:

http://mlbbonusbaby.com/2009/07/07/draft-review-washington-nationals/

It shows an emphasis on over-drafting to get signability (in two cases, signings at below slot). To me, reaches like this are strange for a club that is building for the future. Of course, the guys drafted could be as good as the ones rated more highly, but you have to wonder whether the highly rated guys who sign for the big bucks also have the greater potential.

In 2008, the Nats did not sign their #1 guy. In 2007 their top pick was a slot guy.

Moreover, the Nats have never made ONE trade under the Lerners for a big money guy (let's say $10 million and over). And they have signed just ONE fairly expensive free agent under the Lerners.

Bottom line is that the roster shouldn't be all that surprising. Yes, you could get better balance with better planning. That will help some, but not a whole lot, given the budgets. That's the key thing, the budget--not how stupid Bowden supposedly was or how Manny supposedly can't manage.

Posted by: EdDC | July 7, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who wouldn't mind keeping Willingham? If he can improve his defense over in RF, I think he could definitely be very valuable to this team since he can play both corner OF positions and 1b.

Posted by: FloresFan | July 7, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

OK, that's it, this gets added to the FAQ: Willingham is not a first baseman.

Posted by: joebleux | July 7, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Keep Dunn. Please. Extend him if he's willing. He, along with Zimmerman, should be cornerstones, Dunn makes the whole lineup better.

I don't understand the rationale in trading Beimel if he's the only decent bullpen guy out there and we should be trading for bullpen help.

Boswell is wrong that the team had no plan pre-Rizzo. The plan was this: get young and/or cheap pitching, and get any cheap player you could pick up without regard to character, because the ballpark would sell itself. Rizzo's plan is get character guys and ownership seems to finally get that you have to put a major league product on the field even in a beautiful new park in order to sell tickets.

Posted by: raymitten | July 7, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

FFan -- I'd keep Willingham too. He can hit, and he's getting better in RF. Acta's only really given him a chance to show his wares in the last two weeks or so. I like our current OF. I think we need help up the middle -- Guzman is subpar defensively, and we need a 2b and catcher. Wouldn't Brian Schneider's return be welcome?

Posted by: raymitten | July 7, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

When I see Willingham I think of Ryan Church. Although, Willingham is a lot better personality wise than Ryan. However, we should have traded Ryan back in 2005 when he was having his best month ever. Since that month Ryan was average at best. I see willingham as the same way. Willingham is having a great month. His stock is high and it time to trade him. Willingham has a history of back problems and his defense is subpar. The outfield should be Dunn-Morgan/Bernadina/?-Dukes. Also, Willingham will probably cost at least $5 million next year. He isn't worth it. Trade him now and put Dukes back in Right.

Posted by: brothbart | July 7, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Both Willingham and Dunn cannot remain on this team. Willingham getting better in right field only means the train wreck wasn't as bad as we originally thought. I think you get a better prospect for Josh, a better bullpen pitcher for Adam, and we know how much I value relief pitching...

Posted by: Section506 | July 7, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who wouldn't mind keeping Willingham?

Posted by: FloresFan | July 7, 2009 2:59 PM
++++++++++++
Heavens, no.

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 7, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

"Wouldn't Brian Schneider's return be welcome? "

No, Schneider is weak at the plate and is now chronically injured.

Unless you meant to High-A Potomac in the manager's box, in which case, YES!!!!

Posted by: Section506 | July 7, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I also don't get the slam at Zimmerman. Is his situational hitting really that bad?

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | July 7, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

"I think we need help up the middle -- Guzman is subpar defensively, and we need a 2b and catcher. Wouldn't Brian Schneider's return be welcome?"

What's wrong with Flores? He's better than an over-the-hill Schneider. Bard is roughly equivalent to Schneider anyway.

Posted by: section417 | July 7, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Given EdDC's poignant analysis and Boz's very own points trading Nick Johnson makes no sense.

Other than Dmitri Young there is no real replacement for Johnson that could provide his level of defense and hitting in the minors.

Let's look at what you have:
The Chiefs feature Brad Eldred,
Mike Vento.

The Senators feature Rhinehart, Whitney
Dmitri Young.

In Potomac there is Marrerro, there are
long shot high schoolers preferred by
Jim Bowden like Stephen Englund.

Of these guys Young is the best bet yet
is probably now even more susceptible to
injury given his age and condition than
Nick Johnson!!!?

Again we absolutely know they will not
trade or acquire a quality free agent
at 1st base. Unless Texiera again
becomes available? :)

So, then what about Dunn and Willingham who undoubtedly both belong in the American League where they can be best utilized as DH's. How do you replace the HR power which has not translated to WINS!!!?

Dukes, Maxwell, Zimmerman, Johnson, IL All-Star Bynum? Perhaps. But yes, they do need to open the purse strings either for a 1st baseman or center field prospect/young vet who can hit for power, average and field his position. Perhaps after this year they will need both.

So, perhaps its best to use Dunn, Willingham, Guzman, some pitching, and perhaps Johnson as well to obtain that first.

Addressing Boswell's complaint about relief pitching. Okay you now have 10, possibly ELEVEN (Strasberg) major league ready starting pitchers. Assume Storen continues to improve and you have some relief pitching . They could stick with McDougal but perhaps they still need a quality closer to replace Chad Cordero. Of those 11 starters (excluding Mock) there has to be some long/middle relief potential?

Storen and others may be on their way from A. Clippard and Bergmann are here now. Zenicola, Kensing?

So, perhaps trading or signing a closer makes sense while seasoning the young pitching.

And hope that Norris or one of the other young catchers move along quickly because Flores may not be all the way back anytime soon.

Couldn't this be done even with the Lerner's fiscally prudent approach to team building?

Posted by: periculum | July 7, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Boswell has been eating too many beans again.

His entire column reminds me of some of the rants posted in the comments on this blog ... and equally well informed.

The only thing he's got over you blow-hard armchair GMs is a spellchecker and a job at the Post.

Posted by: ihatewalks | July 7, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I'd keep Willingham too. I like him better in RF than LF. Now that he's actually getting steady playing time, he's definitely improving.

Which is what I think Belliard's problem is. Until recently it seems like he was never in games except an at-bat or two. Starting him at 2B for awhile is a good idea.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 7, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I'd keep Willingham. If his arbitration numbers get up to $5M - that's still not that expensive in the MLB economy. And hey - it's not my money.

As for the Nats/Lerners never ever never acquiring a major salary - like a $10M player, how many of those guys get traded? Santana was one, Miggy Cabrera another. But who else? And the Nats never had the prospects to make that kind of deal anyway - Minaya traded all the prospects for magic beans.

I would not welcome Brian Schneider's return. We need to get younger and better. Compared to Flores (injured, I know), Schneider is neither younger, not better.

The Nats really, really have to sign Strasburg. The way that they went for signability with a few of the higher picks could spell for a lost year, if they don't sign SS.

Posted by: comish4lif | July 7, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

"Again we absolutely know they will not
trade or acquire a quality free agent
at 1st base."

How do you know that? This time last week no one thought they would trade for a quality centerfielder/leadoff hitter. Then they did.

Posted by: section417 | July 7, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Boz

I like your overall point. My first trading focus would be Guzman, since I assume that he would be attractive to a contender for his hitting and passable defense (and I would eat some $$ to increase the prospect value). I also agree that it is difficult to keep both Dunn and Willingham due to defense, so I might dangle both and see which one brings the best value relative to their worth, but I would keep both unless clearly getting value. I also would not give up on Dukes. Not sure that I agree on NJ, since I do not believe that his injury history and 3 month rental aspect will bring much in return. If you could get something worthwhile, do it. I would trade any of the bullpen guys that were of interest to other teams.

But here is a possibly sacreligious idea - trade Lannan. Don't get me wrong, I am a big admirer of his, and would only do something if overwhelmed, but he is their most proven young pitcher, which is also their organizational strength (such as it is). He also is controllable and cost effective for at least 4 more years. Given how many teams are 'in it', need pitching and the shortage of said pitching, what might he bring back? Drabek, Donald and a lower level prospect from the Phillies? JJ Hardy and some prospects from the Brewers? If we could upgrade at a few positions of need, wouldn't we at least have to think about it?

Posted by: Willy2 | July 7, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Although Josh's defense seems to be getting better (still has trouble reading the ball) his arm is not good enough for a RF. The team is better with Dunn on it than Willingham and as others have said they both can't be on the team because of their defense. So Josh needs to go and go before he hurts his back again.

Posted by: brothbart | July 7, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

"I don't understand the rationale in trading Beimel if he's the only decent bullpen guy out there and we should be trading for bullpen help."

I agree, Beimel's price should be high, because he should return 2 draft picks, no? Plus, we might want these draft picks to offset any FA signings we make.

I don't understand why we need to trade away our big chips for relief. Bowden decimated the bullpen with small deals. Why not restore the bullpen with similar deals?

In regards to Willingham's arb salaries, last year's FA market showed us that arbitration is more lucative for players than free agency. So trade him, then scour the FA market this winter with the $5-6 mil we will have saved. Orlando Hudson got $3.3 mil. Orlando Cabrera for $4 mil. Eckstein got 850k. All will be available this winter. Keep Dunn b/c he is better, plus the draft picks we can get after 2010.

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 7, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

"I think we need help up the middle -- Guzman is subpar defensively, and we need a 2b and catcher. Wouldn't Brian Schneider's return be welcome?"

What's wrong with Flores? He's better than an over-the-hill Schneider. Bard is roughly equivalent to Schneider anyway.

------

Actually I meant Schneider in addition to Flores; right now there is no decent defensive catcher we can turn to with Flores out. Bard can hit but is questionable defensively (which makes him the Bizzaro Schneider actually). Nieves seems to call a bad game and I think he is defensively subpar -- he lets a lot of balls get past him with runners on base, and rarely throws out baserunners. He can't hit either.

Posted by: raymitten | July 7, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

While I am certainly disappointed in how "the plan" has been implemented so far - my question for Kasten is, where has he been all along? While Bowden was just making random acquisitions, with no coherent plan, what was Stan Kasten - the President of Baseball Ops - doing?

Posted by: comish4lif | July 7, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Willy2, you are out of your mind. Trade Lannan?!? Take it back right now or I will never speak to you again.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 7, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Kasten stinks and he should be the one run out of town. He has mishandled this team since day 1. The Marketing is still horrible and that is his fault. Stan is NOT the man.

Posted by: brothbart | July 7, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

last year's FA market showed us that arbitration is more lucative for players than free agency.

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 7, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse
++++++++++++++++++
The last thing I want to do is hold myself out as an expert on baseball players' salaries. But from the coverage I read, it would be folly to expect last offseason's trend to continue.

As to the specifics of arbitration players getting better deals than free agents, I bet even I can guess at how that happened: arbitrators pick an amount based, in some significant part, on comparable players' salaries. Now that a sizable crop of free agents has gotten very cheap deals, comparable players' salaries are now lower. Thus, next year's arbitration figures would -- I surmise -- be lower than this year's.

Now, I could be totally wrong about all of that. But the entire structure was set up so that arbitration-eligible (younger) guys get less money than free agents (guys with seniority in the union). If that structure starts to warp, neither management nor labor will be pleased.

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 7, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Man, I think Boz is right on, except on Willingham. However, I would appreciate the amnesia-inducing pill being taken to forget how unreliable Nick Johnson is because of health. I need to forget this Jacko funeral dominating TV.

Posted by: Section506 | July 7, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

The main problem I have with Boz's column is that you have to trade somebody of value to get somebody of value. Dunn and NJ have the most value, obviously. Willingham, eh. Belliard, are you serious? Livan (who was more of a proven winner than the whole lot) returned Mock and Chico.

The Brewers acquired Scott Linebrink at the deadline in 2007 from the Padres partly for a playoff push but more so because he was going to be a type A free agent. A similar strategy might work for us if the return pieces aren't so enticing.

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 7, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I concur, comish-4lif, on your question regarding Kasten's presence during the Bowden acquisitions. It really makes one wonder if Kasten was just the "nyet" man who funneled the Lerners' veto of spending money on major leaguers. Did he ever have an organizational chart up in his office when they plotted forty man rosters? Does he really know anything about making a baseball team? I can not believe that Bowden had full sway in the creation of the 2009 Opening Day roster--one of the cruelest April Fool jokes that I can remember.

Posted by: driley | July 7, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut - I would hate to lose our engaging conversations. But don't you have to trade something of value to get something of value, generally speaking? And isn't it better to trade from depth, rather than scarcity (your own). There has to be something that you would trade him for?

Posted by: Willy2 | July 7, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Folks, this isn't that complicated. Boz is off his meds again and overreacting. The roster is not totally ridiculous at this point, just a bit clogged.

Priority #1 - Trade Nick Johnson. Talented, but brittle. Declining SLG, very useful for a team in need of a solid 1B to make a run.

The roster flows from there:

CA - Wait for Flores' return in '10
1B - Dunn. Good athlete, bad wheels. He'll be adequate at 1B over time. Extend him, please. My kid wants me to buy his Fathead.
2B - Play Hernandez. If he isn't what we want, pass Hudson on a physical and sign him for '10-'12.
SS - Trade Guz if you can and play Gonzales. If not, we'll figure it out after '10.
3B - Z
LF - Willingham. Productive when he plays and controlable through '11. If someone wants to overpay, we'll suffer through AK for the remainder of the season.
CF - Morgan. See if there is anything better following offseasons. Controlable through '12 at least.
RF - Dukes. Give him the 2nd half to just play. No in and out of the line-up, just play. If he doesn't perform/behave, we'll figure it out in the offseason. Still cheap and controlable.
SP - Keep them all and watch who grows and who wilts, unless someone wants to overpay for Olson.
RP - Trade whomever anyone wants. Spend FA $$$ there in the offseason to fix.
Bench - Trade Super Willie (sob). He's useful to a good team and cheap. No one wants anyone else (except maybe Bard, but I'd keep him for pitcher development purposes)

That wasn't so hard, was it?

Posted by: WebberDC | July 7, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

"As to the specifics of arbitration players getting better deals than free agents, I bet even I can guess at how that happened: arbitrators pick an amount based, in some significant part, on comparable players' salaries. Now that a sizable crop of free agents has gotten very cheap deals, comparable players' salaries are now lower. Thus, next year's arbitration figures would -- I surmise -- be lower than this year's."

Salary increases in the arbitration process are based upon MLB and team profits, and also on what similar skilled players received in previous years of arbitration (not on free agents).

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 7, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

See, I told you I was wrong.

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 7, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Ray Knight had it the other night when Johnny Holliday asked what he would do to start getting the team right. He said he would get good defense at center field and shortstop. No knock on Guzman, but he just doesn't have the range. And this was before we picked up Morgan. Well, Morgan is not the long term answer, but it's already paying dividends to see better defense up the middle. Catcher, short, and center have to be strong defensively.

I say keep Dunn, shop Willingham before he gets hurt or starts to cool off. I would hate to see Nick Johnson go, but if it would help us get relief help, go for it.

You may still have problems in the future at catcher. Flores can hit, but I don't think he can call a game like Schneider did. Schneider out there was like having a pitching coach, practically. If you keep Flores, get ready to call pitches from the dugout. IMHO, while he's learning.

Posted by: P522 | July 7, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Willy2, I know what you're saying, but we also have a garden filling up with pitching fruit ripening on the vine just waiting to be picked and traded.

Lannan is our first home-grown pitcher with real potential for steady, quality, long-term performance. He's our pitching Zimmerman.

I'd trade any of the others, including the ACTUAL pitching Zimmermann, but Lannan needs to stay.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 7, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I have to disagree with the estimation of Flores's D. I think Chico pointed out that our starters' era was a run lower with Flores out there instead of Bard or Nieves. Catcher is a position that we're covered, not only at the minor league level but in the minors.

I would trade Willingham and keep Dunn. Dunn plays every day while the Hammer could go down with a back injury at any moment. But I do agree that one terrible defender is all we can stomach.

How about Guzzie and Willingham for Yunel Escobar in Atlanta? ATL gets rid of guy they don't like and upgrades their OF, while we upgrade at SS. We'd have to eat some of the salary, but so what.

Posted by: sec307 | July 7, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Imagine if the Nats had just drafted Justin Smoak last year instead of Crow and could insert him in the lineup now. That would give the team a real middle of the lineup. How Bowden and Kasten passed on the best young hitter in the minors (.330 BA this year and already at AAA) I will never know.

Posted by: bigcountry22 | July 7, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

WebberDC,

Agree with most of your post but I think you can forget about Dukes in RF later in 2009 or ever in DC. I suspect Rizzo has seen enough of his lackadaisical play in the OF (I know I have). We know on the basis of the handling of Milledge what "working on a few things in Syracuse" means.

OTOH, what a pleasure to watch Captain Morgan in CF! Not even talking about his circus catches--just the way he charges "routine" base hits is great. Could almost make someone become a Nationals fan.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | July 7, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

That's what the Lerner's get for allowing Kasten to fire F.Robby and send him packing, they should have fired that lying azz Jim Bowden right then and there. Frank Robinson should have been kicked upstairs and a manager with experience should have been hired, but Kasten had obvious prejudice's toward Robinson i mean why else would you keep an abject failure(Bowden) in that position. The 2005 squad overachieved to be sure and it was because of Robinson and the coaching staff that they were succesful and what was the reward for F.Robby? no help in 06 and kicked to the curb after that season. I'll say this for the Lerners they put up a good front; new stadium, lots of promises, and little else. Tom Boswell is running counter-intelligence for the Lerners, now suggesting that Rizzo blow up the team! What? so now you want these fans to put up with more bull sh#t PLEASE i won't speak for anyone else but myself, the Lerners need to spend some money, when this train wreck of a season is over how about we get us a real manager in the dugout(Tim Foli) and sign some free agents and go from there. The waiting game for Nats fans should be over we've been paitient long enough.

Posted by: dargregmag | July 7, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't get the criticism of JimBow. He had leather pants, a Segway and a psycho girlfriend. If that doesn't say "major league GM," I don't know what does.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | July 7, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

bigcountry22,

I look for the exact quote, but at the time, the Rangers were to said to be elated that Smoak dropped to them.

But I guess that if you refuse to even consider signing FA pitchers, then you need to compensate by drafting pitchers with your top picks (even if Smoak was more projectable and Crow had that questionable hitch and refused to speak to us).

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 7, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

FYI: Guzman last place in voting

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090707&content_id=5741714&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 7, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

If you really, really got the right offer for Lannan, you could trade him... To someplace like Cleveland.

You cannot trade a lefty killer like Lannan to Philadelphia where he'd beat us 6 times per year.

Posted by: comish4lif | July 7, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

The question is raised if you have to have something of value if you want to trade for something of value?

That makes sense on the surface. But this is a business. Boston and DC have about the same regional population (DC's region is a little bigger). DC's region is a little wealthier than Boston's. But Washington has a business model to spend less, so that the owners are not as dependent on attendance and related revenues that derive from fan interest (like TV money). Boston spends more and earns much more revenue than does Washington, but data shows that Boston does not clear more after expenses:

http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/33/baseball-values-09_The-Business-Of-Baseball_Income.html

Look at Boston's payroll structure, and then are you able to say that you need to give up value to get value?

http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2004/12/boston-red-sox.html

Sometimes you just have to give up money, whether that means signing some international guys, or signing some free agents, or just taking on contracts in trades (Jason Bay from the Pirates is a lot more expensive than Morgan). Boston does all of that (see transactions details).

I don't mind so much the Nats' passive team-building strategy for the present, but when it comes to saving money on draft picks, that's where I really draw the line.

Posted by: EdDC | July 7, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

You can't trade Lannan.

Rule number one of Fight Club (errr, the Plan) is that you grow starting pitching, you don't buy it through free agency.

Lannan is the only pitcher we have who looks to be unambiguously an MLB starter. Zimmermann's close; Olsen could be; Stammen, Martis, Detweiler, etc. look promising, but Lannan is the only guy who is there right now. You absolutely do not trade him.

Posted by: joebleux | July 7, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

As for the Red Sox acquiring Jason Bay, it wasn't a salary dump from the Red Sox perspective, they did have to trade away Manny Ramirez to get Bay. They also sent Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen to Pittsburgh.

Posted by: comish4lif | July 7, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I'd trade any of the others including the ACTUAL pitching Zimmermann
+++++++++++++++++
Excuse us, ladies and gentlemen. NatsNut and I need to throw down for a few minutes.

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 7, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I also don't get the slam at Zimmerman. Is his situational hitting really that bad?

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | July 7, 2009 3:10 PM

Zimm with RISP...

2009 - .215 (.256 men on total, .125 bases loaded)
2008 - .200
2007 - .247
2006 - .323

Guess Boz has a point there

Posted by: Kev29 | July 7, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

"Situational hitting" does not mean "clutch hitting" or hitting with runners in scoring position. Often, a good "situational hitter" will in fact make an out in a given at-bat.

Situational hitting means, in essence, a batter adapting to the situation and circumstances to do what's necessary to advance the runner/get the run in. For example, with a runner on second and no outs, a good situational hitter might adjust his approach and hit the ball to the right side, preferably on the ground. If he gets a hit, great, but even if he doesn't, there's a runner on third with one out. This is what Boz suggests in so many words in his column--the Nats don't have enough hitters who will adapt their approach to the circumstances.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | July 7, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

That's true, CiL, but sometimes hitting with RISP is situational hitting, and that's not a .215 with a lot of RBI in the process, we know.

Posted by: Section506 | July 7, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Coverage - true, I should have included that disclaimer. Just putting forth one statistic that shows the difference between Zimm '06 v '09. It's not all in the numbers (of many sorts), of course.

Posted by: Kev29 | July 7, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Right, 506. I'm not saying that Zimm has been a good situational hitter. (In fact, I think he has shown a poor ability to adjust this year--both to the situation, and within his own at-bats.) I think it's important though that people don't equate situational hitting to those other stat metrics--I have seen several comments that have done so. When they do that, the issue then becomes the inevitable defense by some that "there is no such thing as clutch hitting so you're being unfair to Zimm," "clutch hitting is all luck, etc."

While all that may be true about the luck aspect of "clutchiness," having a good situational approach is absolutely something that a player can control. And I think Boz is right to say that the Nats haven't done a good job on that front.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | July 7, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm not Zimm bashing(!) but he's also tied for second in the majors with 14 GIDP. On pace to nearly double his full season total from '06 (15 in 682 AB).

Posted by: Kev29 | July 7, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Got it Kev--see my response to 506, which I submitted before seeing yours. I think we are all on the same page on this one.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | July 7, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Boz, I've been a fan of yours forever and nearly always agree with you, but you seem to have a blind spot where Acta is concerned. Not every team a manager gets is going to fit his - or anyone's - definition of what a team should be. It is the great managers who get the most out of the talent that is available to them. Good ones at least get the sum of the available parts. I just don't see how you can make an argument that Manny has gotten the most out of his team in any of his three seasons here. This one, for many reasons including his own prediction that it would be his best team, is merely the most glaring of the poor jobs he has done here. I've been to all three spring trainings and there has been one constant each time - he has not brought the team north ready to compete. Add that to misjudging his talent and not getting the most out of his team and I submit that the first one to be blown up and off the team should be Manny himself. I remain perplexed at what it is that you, and many others, see as being indicative of Manny's becoming a first rate MLB manager. I'd love to have a rational discussion related to just that topic some time without the emotion and just plain stupid "screaming" that goes on when the topic is brought up in these blogs. I just don't see it, I really don't.

Posted by: truke | July 7, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I concur entirely, CiL and kev.

Posted by: Section506 | July 7, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

>Willingham needs to be traded!

Go wash your mouth out

Posted by: Brue | July 7, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Don't trade Dunn. Only 4 players in MLB history have ever made it to 300 HR's in fewer at bats than Adam.
Nick is a free agent and will leave anyway so trade him for a middle relief pitcher and move Dunn to 1B.
Willingham is a 20 HR to 25 HR guy when you start him and we need to keep him too.
With Morgan we now have a true lead off man that can steal bases so our offense should go from average to a bit above average.
I'd trade Kearns for almost anything, even a Class A Minor League player at this point.
The starting pitchers are young and if we can sign Strasburg,Lannan would be a pretty strong #2. Stammen is progressing well.
We do need to upgrade the bullpen but why dismantle an offense that was average even without a true lead off man/base stealer?

Posted by: jeremybozz | July 7, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Coverage: Zimm's situational AND clutch hitting both suck. And he hits into tons of double plays. Plus, obviously his defense is slipping. Am I the only one thinking his big league future is at first base where you could hid his "Chuck Knoblauch" arm? After we trade Nick, give Zimm a try at first. At least it's harder to throw the ball in the first base dugout that way.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | July 7, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

The Nationals have a beautiful new Ball Park and some great Baseball games have yet to be played there. I am hoping that Management/Players/FANS can get this thing together and put a Winning Baseball Club on the Field Because this city deserves better than what is happening now to this Nationals Organization. The Season is not over yet by the most imaginative imagination, the Nationals still have some time to make this a productive year by winning most of the games left on the baseball schedule and make a 100% turn around from Last year 2008. Just make this years 2009 better than Last years 2008 team. This Should keep the fans Happy and something to look forward to for future Nationals Baseball games. So come on Nationals lets WIN some baseball games I am with you all 100%....

Posted by: quinn5459 | July 7, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Chico, essentially a post that links to a post? Hmmm.

Anyway, Acta must have some serious dirt on you guys at the Post as no one will call the guy out for what he is: an unimaginative, nonmotivational, scapegoating, historically losing manager that refuses to stand up for his club.

Posted by: dfh21 | July 7, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Hallelujah, I can post again! Guess that the site maintenance is done.

Catching up from an earlier comment, I'm still not inclined to take the Twitter leap now, NatsNut but y'all have fun with it.

I'm not sure about a total blow-up, but I would not be surprised or opposed to some moves being made before the deadline(s). I agree with NatsNut re. trading (not) Lannan but - waitaminute, trade Zimmermann?? We'd have to put Scooter on 24-7 suicide watch for one thing, and I want to see the kid come into his own here for another thing.

Still laughing at the image of Raymitten's Bizzaro Schneider. Maybe we need our own Dr. Natenstein (that's NatenSTIEN) to come up with some sort of hybrid catcher who is strong defensively and a monster hitter.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 7, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

I see that we've moved on from the Bowden rants to the Acta rants. Wake me up when there's a new post.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 7, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that was fast!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 7, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

That was really a Post rant, not an Acta rant. I just called Manny what he is: lousy.

Posted by: dfh21 | July 7, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

That was a pretty short nap, 1a. You're gonna be cranky tonight.

("Just tonight?")

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 7, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

WOW, I find myself agreeing with almost everything you wrote!!! Boz, trying to sell newspapers. In 2010, need 1 major impact player for the outfield (To Be Named Later). Guzy is the SS unless you can trade him for talent. Dukes IMHO is still the best all around OF if someone can mentor him and is so solid in corner OF. Like moving Dunn to 1B.

________________________________

Folks, this isn't that complicated. Boz is off his meds again and overreacting. The roster is not totally ridiculous at this point, just a bit clogged.

Priority #1 - Trade Nick Johnson. Talented, but brittle. Declining SLG, very useful for a team in need of a solid 1B to make a run.

The roster flows from there:

CA - Wait for Flores' return in '10
1B - Dunn. Good athlete, bad wheels. He'll be adequate at 1B over time. Extend him, please. My kid wants me to buy his Fathead.
2B - Play Hernandez. If he isn't what we want, pass Hudson on a physical and sign him for '10-'12.
SS - Trade Guz if you can and play Gonzales. If not, we'll figure it out after '10.
3B - Z
LF - Willingham. Productive when he plays and controlable through '11. If someone wants to overpay, we'll suffer through AK for the remainder of the season.
CF - Morgan. See if there is anything better following offseasons. Controlable through '12 at least.
RF - Dukes. Give him the 2nd half to just play. No in and out of the line-up, just play. If he doesn't perform/behave, we'll figure it out in the offseason. Still cheap and controlable.
SP - Keep them all and watch who grows and who wilts, unless someone wants to overpay for Olson.
RP - Trade whomever anyone wants. Spend FA $$$ there in the offseason to fix.
Bench - Trade Super Willie (sob). He's useful to a good team and cheap. No one wants anyone else (except maybe Bard, but I'd keep him for pitcher development purposes)

That wasn't so hard, was it?

Posted by: WebberDC | July 7, 2009 4:24 PM

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | July 7, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

The unanswered question here is where was the adult supervision during the creation of this misanthropic mess? Did the Lerners really get gulled by Bowden or was he just telling them what the wanted to hear? There's something fishy about Kasten's lack of input; he's looking more like a figurehead but why? To make Bud Selig happy? I agree that the lack of defense and situational THINKING (not just hitting) has been a real turnoff. Until this season I have been going to 12-15 games a year but have not gone to a single game yet. Just can't see paying good money to watch dysfunction on the field. Rizzo seems to be making progress with the recent moves but obviously more needs to be done. The silence from the Lerner's is another turnoff -- they seem to think they don't owe anyone an explanation. As beneficiaries of a pulicly financed stadium they need to show more appreciation to the fans and the community. So far they just come off as flinty-eyed capitalists. Turning a $42M profit on a substandard ballclub is an insult to the fan base. The Natiionals are not just another real estate venture where you tighten the screws to get what you want. If the Lerners' don't start to demonstrate some awareness and appreciation for their supporters this thing will slip away.

Posted by: SackMan | July 7, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, jumped a lot of comments w/o reading to speak out on this point.

Toward the end of JimBow's reign, (2008-09 "hot-stove" & spring training), I think a number of us on this blog questioned the accumulation of corner outfielders under Major-League contracts (WilyMo / Dunn / Willingham / Dukes / Milledge / Kearns) and relief pitchers on minor-league contracts (Sosa / Ledezma / Colome / Wells / Villone / Taverez).
When Rizzo took over, we began to see turnover in the bullpen, sadly via DFA / callup / DFA, because most of the BP arms were also out of options. The OF has been culled a bit as well, with WilyMo & Milledge gone from the orginization, and Dukes in the minors to get back to basics.

Is the team better overall - IMO, yes; Rizzo is now gathering baseball players, rather than the high-risk chances JimBow used to gamble on. Bowden did some things right, but in the end probably did more harm than good to the overall health of the franchise.

Are we there yet (competitive)? No, not even close; A number of the players on the current roster will either need to be "flipped" for moderate-to-high value, or be allowed to walk away via free-agency (for a possible sandwich pick in the upcoming drafts in return).

Is Manny the right manager to take this team to the next level? Odds are against him historically, since teams tend to fire Managers before players, but I personally wouldn't mind letting him get a chance.

Sorry for the long rant; We now take you back to your regular programming...

Posted by: BinM | July 7, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

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