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Looking Back: July 22, 2008

A year ago -- July 22, 2008 -- I was walking along the Embarcadero in San Francisco toward AT&T Park when I got a heads-up phone call that the Nationals had some big stuff going on. Within about an hour that afternoon, the team dealt perhaps its most valuable trade chip (Jon Rauch) and locked up its lone all-star, shortstop Cristian Guzman.

A year later, both moves have left a distinct imprint on the Nationals -- though not in the ways predicted at the time. Guzman was re-signed to his two-year, $16 million deal at absolute peak value, just months before the economy fizzled and shortstops like Guzman became $3 million-per-year players... at best. Rauch, too, was traded just at the time of his peak value -- privately, those in Washington's front office predicted that years of heavy innings would precipitate a quick drop-off -- but the player Washington received in return, Emilio Bonifacio, turned out to be the "second baseman long-term" for a long-term matter of weeks.

So let's look back at this now.

Bonifacio was traded this offseason to Florida for Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham. In other words, the speedy, spastic Emilio was just a link. Remove him, and Rauch's departure led to Olsen's and Willingham's arrivals. Even though Olsen is now one day away from shoulder surgery, even a Rauch-for-Willingham swap stands as something the Nats would take in a heartbeat. Willingham, this season, has become a model middle-of-the-lineup hitter, and his .537 slugging percentage is second-best on the team. He's also -- surprise, surprise -- a value chip at this year's trading deadline. So the Rauch Domino effect could continue.

Rauch's performance fell off almost the day he departed Washington. Traded with a 2.98 ERA and 17 saves, Rauch had a 6.56 ERA the rest of the way in 2008 with Arizona. He's improved of late, though, and his totals across the last year (Jul. 23, 2008 through July 22, 2009) now go like this: 1-6 record, 5.23 ERA, 70 games.

Would the Nats re-do the Rauch deal, knowing everything that's happened since? You bet.

Guzman is a different story. The Nats, in July of last year, had an urgent need for Guzman -- especially given the dearth of major league-ready prospects immediately behind him. Within the organization, shortstop was a point of particular weakness. So if Guzman departed at season's end, they would have to scramble for back-up options.

To their credit, the Nats predicted correctly that Guzman (who had been injury-prone before 2008) would be able to maintain his plus-.300 average. But this year, at age 31, his fielding has dropped off. He takes so few walks and hits for so little power that he virtually must hit above .300 to have any value. Washington still isn't loaded with top-flight middle infield prospects, but some younger players on the roster, especially Alberto Gonzalez, now appear equally capable of handling the position. And Washington still owes Guzman another $8 million for next season.

Would the Nats re-do the Guzman deal, knowing everything that's happened since? Probably not.

By Chico Harlan  |  July 22, 2009; 8:41 AM ET
 
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Comments

So what is up with ESPN making a big play of the story that the NATS are no where near signing Stausburg.
They NEVER covered the game last night on Baseball Tonight but made a big point of repeating that the Nationals would fail on this signing. Then repeated the same story this morning on the radio and TV while calling baseball and the city of Washington failures. This from those mental giants Mike and Mike.

Posted by: CBinDC | July 22, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

The Guzman re-signing is another example of the shortsightedness and lack of player development of the Bowden regime. Other than hording as many young pitchers as possible, JimBow's "vision" for the future of this team extended only as far as the next game. Only to the Nationals at that time was Guzman an $8 million player. Now that his defense is declining and he's a high-average, low OBP, no running threat on the bases does that contract really seem excessive. The only worse SS contract may be Edgar Renteria's in SF. Maybe Guzman can be moved at the deadline next year if the Nats kick in some cash.

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 22, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand this anti-Guzman attitude. When he gets a grounder he doesn't wing it over Nicks head on the throw to first, like some other "slick" infielders whose fielding value isn't questioned. The man was contending for NL batting lead for crying out loud - where is the love?

Posted by: anyone1 | July 22, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

CB

I wouldn't be too upset with ESPN because they only really cover the Red Sox, the Yankees, the Cubs and the Dodgers. Those knee-jerk kind of reactions you cite used to make me upset as well until I realized that those national show hosts usually aren't familiar with what goes on locally. It's like two years ago when writers like Buster Olney and Ken Rosenthal predicted that the 2007 Nats could be "the worst team" ever only from their secondhand observations. We Natsochists are a hearty band.

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 22, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I went to the game last night - a brief oasis in the middle of a desert of a season.

There was one basic strategical blunder that Riggleman made last night that I don't think anyone has commented on. If they have, my apologies.

In the top of the 8th, after Dunn popped up ending the 7th, Riggleman replaced Willingham and Dunn with Harris and Johnson for defensive purposes - a good move. The blunder was that since it was a double switch, he had the option of inserting Johnson in Willingham's spot in the order, thereby giving Johnson, a better hitter, the lead off AB in the 8th, rather than the lighter hitting Harris. It seemed like a basic double-switch move that any manager would know how to make. Has anyone seen an explanation as to why he did it the other way? In the end it didn't matter since Lannan mowed, but nonetheless it seemed odd.

#4

Posted by: db423 | July 22, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

"I don't understand this anti-Guzman attitude. When he gets a grounder he doesn't wing it over Nicks head on the throw to first, like some other "slick" infielders whose fielding value isn't questioned. The man was contending for NL batting lead for crying out loud - where is the love?

Posted by: anyone1 "


Why should I give that bum any love? He mailed it in immediately after he signed that contract....so why give love to a guy who doesnt really even try?

He is just so very very very awful at Defense...and It is just so very very very frustrating to watch him play.

Im so bummed that we have him under contract for another year......

Posted by: Cartaldo | July 22, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

hey Anyone1 - The batting avg stat can be extremely overrated at times. Guzman is a great example of it...

Guzman on base % is AWFUL and typically swings at the first two pitches. Which does not help the nats lineup.

Bring up Ian Desmond

Posted by: Nats1924 | July 22, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

"Willingham, this season, has become a model middle-of-the-lineup hitter, and his .537 slugging percentage is second-best on the team."

Willingham was a middle of the lineup hitter for 2 seasons before coming to the Nats.

I get the Guzman extension to a point. At the time it made some sense, despite the lack of foresight---there were several other FA shortstops available last offseason. The FO tends to overreact when they sense that a player is a "fan favorite," e.g. Dimitri and Guzman. OR...it could have simply been Bowden's ego saying, "hey, I was right about these guys all along. Guz CAN hit, it was just his eyes before. And I'm going to extend him just to show you that he can hit and I was smart all along."

IMO, Bowden extended Guz and Dimitri unnecessarily. What were they going to do? Set the FA market ablaze? No. Even extending Kearns based solely on his track record with the Reds was foolhardy. Why didn't he wait until Kearns proved he could hit away from the bandbox in Cincy? What was the urgency? Seems to me that Bowden used these extensions to prove that his deals (and he) were smart.

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 22, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Cartaldo makes another good point - Guzman's defence is pathetic which only puts more wear and tear on our young arms, hence, brings in our awful bullpen earlier in games than we should.

Posted by: Nats1924 | July 22, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Ya pretty much if you still like Guzman, then you probably haven't watched very many Nats games..and thus aren't really that much of a fan.

He is the epitome of what is wrong with this team.

Posted by: Cartaldo | July 22, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

CBinDC; Word to the wise, don't watch or listen to anything that comes out of the "World Wide Loser-in Sports" aka ESPN.

Don't listen to anything associated with them either i.e. WTEM. and now that other local sports radio debacle WJFK. None of these outlets have anything positive to say about the Nats and baseball in general. In fact they know so little about the Nats/game its almost embarrassing.

If you want a pure baseball fix, stick with the MLB Network, XM175 MLB Homeplate and Sports Radio 66, WFAN New York. All three are reputable and fair-minded baseball centric outlets.

Last night WFAN was praising the exploits of John Lannen almost to the point of wanting Omar to put together a deal for him. Great theater in New York thats for sure.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | July 22, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

The Binghamton Mets clubhouse nearly turned into a scene out of WWE Raw recently, when VP for player development Tony Bernazard removed his shirt and challenged the Double-A players to a fight during a postgame tirade, multiples sources told the Daily News. Bernazard particularly went after middle infield prospect Jose Coronado, using a slang term associated with a woman's anatomy, a source indicated. The confrontation happened about 10days before the All-Star break, according to insiders. (New York Daily News)

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 22, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

CBinDC; Word to the wise, don't watch or listen to anything that comes out of the "World Wide Loser-in Sports" aka ESPN.


Yes I agree, if you want to hear the latest on Manny Ramirez, Brett Farve, and TO...then ESPN is for you...

I find pleasure in the MLB Network, mlbtraderumors.com, NJ, and yahoo sports.

Posted by: Cartaldo | July 22, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

and sometimes I sprinkle in a little Washington Times sports section action..to spice things up a little

Posted by: Cartaldo | July 22, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Wow, that's the first I've heard a Willingham-for-Kendrick rumor, and I hope it stays right there. Willingham is what Kearns was supposed to be, and trading him for yet another 4A "possible 4th starter of the future." The Phillies main weakness this year is their starting pitching - it's the one thing that's keeping them from being the odds-on favorite to win the NL - that's why they're thinking about Halladay and signing Pedro. And despite that, Kendrick can't crack a starting rotation that's got nobody with an ERA under 4.4 and that's started Chan Ho Park seven times.

Meanwhile, Willingham is having a quiet breakout year. He's raised his OBP 40 points above his career average, and his SLG 59 points above his career average at exactly the time most players peak. And he's under team control for at least a year or two more. I'm not adverse to trading him, but I'd hope we'd be getting back more than Kendrick.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | July 22, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

MLB Network is great; ESPN, eh.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 22, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Anyone1: I couldn't agree with you more,some of us on this blog treat Guzman like he's hitting .220 with twenty plus errors, he's outhitting most of the shortstops in the NL, with the exception of Hanley Ramierez who' a freak at his position and if we would stop yanking him up and down in the batting order he'd probably hit at a higher average, and who do we have waiting in the wings? some wannabe who will hit .220 and who will make twenty plus errors and then we'll all be happy. I'm happy that Rigg's got his first curly W, Lannan pitched smart and kept the game moving right along and i can't say enough about Nyjer Morgan this kid can play some CF and the biggest component is of course his speed and glove.

Posted by: dargregmag | July 22, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Link for the above-mentioned Daily News story:

http://tinyurl.com/lo2fk7

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 22, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

>I don't understand this anti-Guzman attitude. When he gets a grounder he doesn't wing it over Nicks head on the throw to first, like some other "slick" infielders whose fielding value isn't questioned. The man was contending for NL batting lead for crying out loud - where is the love?

Posted by: anyone1

Because he's capable of so much more production. When you're talented, but you don't care and just go up there swinging like some dumb***, people get upset. He's the poster boy for what the team has become - a guy without a plan at the plate, and someone who's distracted in the field.

Posted by: Brue | July 22, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I cant believe there are people who still like Guzman, what is wrong with you people!!!??? Are we all watching the Same GUZMAN??!!!

This is just too upsetting..I cant take part in this conversation anymore..I probably should be doing work anyways...keep it real.

Over and Out.

Posted by: Cartaldo | July 22, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

That wouldn't be "lollygagger," I suppose...

************
Bernazard particularly went after middle infield prospect Jose Coronado, using a slang term associated with a woman's anatomy, a source indicated.
Posted by: dclifer97 | July 22, 2009 9:38 AM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 22, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

ESPN uses the word "Nationals" to get cheap laughs like comedians in the 30s and 40s used the word "Brooklyn" to the same effect. I haven't watched "SportsCenter" or "Baseball Tonight: in more than than four years because of ESPN's bias towards the Yanks, Sawx, Cubs and Dodgers. Instead I rely on the MLB Network and XM 175 for my baseball fix.

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 22, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

"Wattles"?


************
Bernazard particularly went after middle infield prospect Jose Coronado, using a slang term associated with a woman's anatomy, a source indicated.
Posted by: dclifer97 | July 22, 2009 9:38 AM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 22, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I think I know what he said, sec3, but I'm not sure it's okay to use here. I mean, I've used it myself from time to time, but ... is it really okay to call somebody a boob these days?

Posted by: Scooter_ | July 22, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I think that "source close to the negotiations" is probably the worst code ever for "Scott Boras intentional leek". This is ESPN, whose fact checking and journalistic standards rank slightly above MTV News in terms of integrity.

Posted by: soundbloke | July 22, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

ESPN is only good for its actual game coverage and even then the booth teams often make it impossible to listen to (Phillips/Morgan, Kornheiser/Theismann, and on and on). The only sport they cover remotely well is college football. Of course even given all that we still won't sign Strasburg and Mike Wise is an unmitigated failure.

Posted by: RickFelt | July 22, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

All this pondering over anatomical terminology reminds me of something. Oh, yeah. A Seinfeld episode...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 22, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

'I think that "source close to the negotiations" is probably the worst code ever for "Scott Boras intentional leek".'

I agree, soundbloke, and boy is this some onion Boras is throwing out there. This is designed to ratchet up the pressure on the Nationals to sign.

Re: Guzman. So that's how it's going to be? You're going to take the one player in the lineup who has consistently hit well and crucify him next? This obsession with defense is so self-defeating.

Posted by: Section506 | July 22, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Hey, leetee1955, great term, "Natsochists". I think we all should start using it!

Guz had his first good play in the field last night, backing up Zimm's dive and throwing out the Met (although I think the runner was really safe).

Lannan was amazing! It was a thrill to see the him really shine. Can we clone him?

Posted by: luv2bikva | July 22, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Was anyone watching last night's game. Guzman goes to his extreme right after a ball that Zimm could not get to and still moving to his right throws a strike to First nailing a speedy runner and ending uping on the left field foul line. People hated him when he was a fielding gem but batting .190 and now when he's batting .300 and making careless errors, on occasion. Me, a 20 game plan holder since 2005 (take that "Cartaldo") I like Guzman.

Section 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | July 22, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

hmm, Phil Wood, someone who actually has an association with the team, has a different take than ESPN's sources. There's more than one way to skin an onion...

http://masnsports.com/2009/07/lannans-gem.html

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 22, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

luv

Actually, I can't take credit. Another poster, surly_w, originally coined the term.

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 22, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

When he gets a grounder he doesn't wing it over Nicks head on the throw to first, like some other "slick" infielders whose fielding value isn't questioned.

Posted by: anyone1 | July 22, 2009 9:13 AM

I think we've all questioned Zimmerman's defensive ability this season. So that's kind of a false equivalency. Jeez - who has gotten a free pass from scrutiny on this team? They're awful.

Posted by: Kev29 | July 22, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I think Keith Law (of, ironically ESPN) said it best on their MLB rumors page that everyone should plug their ears until 8/17 when it comes to the signing of SS. Obvious posturing by Boras thru Pedro Gomez, and really no new information. Boz told us days ago that SS has not heard directly from the Nats - and that seems to be the basis of ESPN's reporting.

As for Guzzie, his range sucks at short, which is why we need to move him to 2B and get the Attorney more starts in the hole. I think Guzzie can be an above-average 2B and 8 hitter. We're probably stuck with him for one more year due to his JimBo contract, but I think he can still be a valuable contributor if we marginalize his weaknesses by moving him - both in the field and in the order.

One last point about FoF's defense. Per an article on SI.com, the Fielding Bible rates Zim as the best defensive 3B in the NL, errors and all. He makes plays that no other 3B can make and his double-plays-turned are held and shoulders better than anyone else who plays the position. In short, his range more than makes up for his throwing errors. And eventually I expect him to get over his mental block on those easy throws.

Posted by: sec307 | July 22, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

The Blogfather used to say that all the time. Just saying.

---

One last point about FoF's defense. Per an article on SI.com, the Fielding Bible rates Zim as the best defensive 3B in the NL, errors and all. He makes plays that no other 3B can make and his double-plays-turned are held and shoulders better than anyone else who plays the position. In short, his range more than makes up for his throwing errors. And eventually I expect him to get over his mental block on those easy throws.

Posted by: sec307 | July 22, 2009 10:37 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 22, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I think Keith Law (of, ironically ESPN) said it best on their MLB rumors page that everyone should plug their ears until 8/17 when it comes to the signing of SS.

Posted by: sec307 | July 22, 2009 10:37 AM

And he's probably borrowing that line from Boz - who's been writing that since the Nats became the clear destination for Strasburg.

Posted by: Kev29 | July 22, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Mulva?

************
Bernazard particularly went after middle infield prospect Jose Coronado, using a slang term associated with a woman's anatomy, a source indicated.
Posted by: dclifer97 | July 22, 2009 9:38 AM

Posted by: erocks33 | July 22, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Went to the game last night. Just a gem of an evening. When I got home, I turned on SportsCenter and saw the ridiculous piece about the Nats not signing Strasburg. Worst part of the piece was when they quoted Mike Rizzo and placed the text on-screen with a picture of ... Stan Kasten! I understand not knowing what Rizzo looks like (or not having a stock photo to use of Rizzo), but even ESPN should know what Kasten looks like and that his mug shouldn't be on-screen when they're quoting someone else. ESPN is a joke.

Posted by: erocks33 | July 22, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

This is sort of a random question, but does anyone understand why Sean Rooney was promoted and Derek Norris wasn't? Norris's numbers are ridiculous at Hagerstown and now that Rooney's been moved up to Harrisburg, there's room for him in Potomac. I don't get it. Anyone know what happened there?

Posted by: rucks35 | July 22, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

OMG, are you guys serious in your hate for Guzman? I thought it was just really good snark until cartaldo guy stormed off in a huff.

I've never been Guzman's "mom" but he's far, far, far from the piece of crap you guys are describing. I don't even get Chico's "his defense is declining." He's always had so-so fielding.

He is probably the most consistent guy on the field. No big ups, no big downs. Consistent, consistent, consistent.

He swings at the first 2 pitches? He has ALWAYS swung at those. He doesn't walk? Since when is this new? Dude HITS. THE. BALL.

I really don't get it. I don't see a single thing different this year than he was last year, his all star year, yet there's all this new hate for him.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 22, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

whats up with this?????

The Nationals already function on a short-staffed basis in scouting, where they only have 3½ pro scouts (including part-timers and not including advance men). The Yankees, by contrast, have a major league-leading 15, with the Rays right behind at 14.

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ge-fullcount072109&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

Posted by: theredskin | July 22, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

We knew Boras would try this nonsense before we draft Strasburg.

We knew Guzman couldn't defend when he signed.

We knew...

Posted by: soundbloke | July 22, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

...cont'd,

Opening day last year was signature Guzman and it just makes me laugh. He swings at the very first pitch of the game, first of the season and first in the ballpark and lines a single to right. Classic.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 22, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

@rucks35

The vague consenus over at NFA is that Norris really needs to work on his catching skills and that is best done at Hagerstown, for what it's worth.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | July 22, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Mulva?

Posted by: erocks33 | July 22, 2009 10:45 AM

:-D

Great reference!

Posted by: Kev29 | July 22, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I think the leak about the Nats not signing strasburg, is obviously a leak by Boras. But more importantly I think it shows the nervousness by Strasburg to get signed. Boras is trying to make the media/fans outraged at the Nats FO for not proposing a significant contract. Boras knows that now is his best chance to make the most money. If Strasburg doesn't sign, then he is no better 3rd overall next year, and he has to hope he plays great in independent or Japanese ball. A big risk, especially if that 102mph arm blows his elbow.
I believe this is actually bringing the negotiations back from 50 mil to more like 15-20 mil.

Posted by: wrw0601 | July 22, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

'[Rauch's] totals across the last year (Jul. 23, 2008 through July 22, 2009) now go like this: 1-6 record, 5.23 ERA, 70 games.'

The implication here is that had Rauch stayed in D.C., he would have put up similar numbers, but that is a fallacy. We don't know that 'cause players ALL THE TIME do better on some teams versus others. Maybe Rauch just had a comfort level with the Nats that helped him perform and had he stayed he would have solidified an otherwise horrid bullpen. We can't be certain because we're dealing in hypotheticals.

Willingham is an excellent hitter and may be a valuable trade commodity, but his defense is atrocious. He would get more heat for it if everyone wasn't fixated on Adam Dunn's misadventures.

Posted by: tryks | July 22, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I thought for sure that Lannan's complete game shutout against the Mets that finished at 9;12pm EDT would be the lead story on Baseball Tonight instead it wss mentioned ONLY during Web Gems and that was just the score. No highlights, no discussion except to pass on the rumour as fact and trash the team and city.
Do you think that the Nationals are not paying enough kick back to ESPN to get coverage?
Is Scott Boras promising a percentage cut to ESPN or maybe Disney?

Posted by: CBinDC | July 22, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

"Willingham is an excellent hitter and may be a valuable trade commodity, but his defense is atrocious. He would get more heat for it if everyone wasn't fixated on Adam Dunn's misadventures."

Correct, but neither of them should be getting heat. Both bring in more runs than they give up, making them valuable starting players.

Posted by: Section506 | July 22, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Hi, letee - it's me, flynnie. WaPo makes makes me use a different i.d. if I sign on through a different internet provider. Hence flynnie 321. Was it just me, or did Guzman make a couple nifty double plays last night? I was listening whilst out and about, but he's playing hurt, he booted one in Houston, but that's going to happen, and I don't understand the hate. But I don't understand the hate for RZimm either. You'd think he hurled one into the dugout every night.

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 22, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

One thing we would know if RZimm is traded to the Red Sox for Buchholz, Manny Delcarmen and and 25 year old back-up 1b Aaron Bates, who can slug the ball.
We would know that the Lerners are leaving baseball decisions up to the baseball people, which we don't know now.

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 22, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

@Chico - You are bringing it strong today, "Diamond Jasno" Chico! Another great, thoughtful post. Rauch for Willingham - great insight! And a great move by the Nats.

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 22, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Bowden was fixated on Guzman immediately upon becoming the GM for the Nationals. Both Bowden and Guzman felt they had something to prove.

Then again, there wasn't much vocal opposition to the extension here on NJ last year. It seemed like fair market value. In fact, there some who indicated Guzman was taking a potential pay cut.

Of course, that was before the realities of the current economy had set in.

Posted by: JohninMpls | July 22, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I really, really do NOT want Kyle Kendrick on the Nationals -- this is the guy that repeatedly was throwing at Zimmerman last year, injuring his hand and throwing at his head. More than one start. I'm not rooting for this minor league bonehead no matter what uni he puts on. And there's no way in hell he's worth Josh Willingham.

Why are the Nationals continuing to scout young pitching -- how many do we need? We have no decent catcher with Flores seemingly permanently on the shelf, no major league second baseman and a shortstop that doesn't try. If Willingham is traded at all it should be for one of these positions. But I still think that the Nats should retain Willingham, he's getting much better defensively in RF and that guy can hit. He has not yet been appreciated here; I hope Riggleman changes that.

Posted by: raymitten | July 22, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

leetee, flynnie: it might just be my spin on it, but it seems that some of the commenters on NJ just need a "whipping boy" - Someone they can focus their anger on. Guzman's the target du jour who's range was exposed between Harris & Belliard. He looked fine last night, flanked by RZim & AGonz.

Posted by: BinM | July 22, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

You nailed it, BinM.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 22, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

BinM

I was practically blogged down when I posted that the Guzman signing was a reach by JimBow and would be an $8 million millstone on the trade market. There was no way that Guzman - whose OBP this season is 309 (yikes!) - is that much of an offensive catalyst for the guys who hit behind him in the linsup. He doesn't run any more as he's 7-for-15 in SB attempts the past two years. I'll give him the play he made last night, but how many other times on grounders to the left side have you heard Charlie or Dave say "Just past a diving Guzman?" He;s 31-years-old, is 5-10 220 and isn't going to get any better.

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 22, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

If Guzie was hitting like he did earlier in the season, ther'd be few complaints. Unfortunately, everyone who was red hot at the beginning of the year has cooled off to the point of being frosty.

Posted by: ramgut | July 22, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

"I'll give him the play he made last night, but how many other times on grounders to the left side have you heard Charlie or Dave say "Just past a diving Guzman?"

Never heard them say that. Guzman doesn't dive, he just shuffles in the general direction.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | July 22, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I like Guzman too and he's proven he can be a big part of a WS winner. He is also good trade bait if his contract isn't a stumbling block. Alberto Gonzalez is not the answer, not at SS anyway. I haven't seen Guzman make an error on anything routine, his errors have been on hard hit balls to his left, with the exception of the one he booted. I'm fine with him staying, I'm fine with him being traded or being replaced with a solid solution - which is what? Who's better that's available? Same with Nick? Who's better that's available? He's a nucleas guy too - I don't see the sense in trading him unless you can get two or three solid players for him.

That's sort of the problem with the Nats. You seem set in the OF with Dunn and Morgan. If the Nats like Willingham then there ya go - there's no change. In the infield you have Zimmerman set. I suppose you could supplant Guzman, 2B can certainly be upgraded, and I think Nick is a key piece but everyone else says trade him for some reason. If you make a change and want to keep Dunn, that's when the dominoes start to fall. I guess the solution is move Dunn to 1B, trade Nick, maybe trade Willingham, and get a LF and a RF that are athletic good glove/good bat guys. Wilson and Sanchez are available from Pittsburgh, snag both or one of them and your middle infield is set with two proven pros. What it would take to do that, who knows?

"Mulva?!"

Posted by: AsstGM | July 22, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Gonzalez, plus it looks as if Ian Desmond's bat has come to life in Syracuse. Then there is Danny Espinosa. Because he doesn't walk putting anywhere near the top of the lineup has turned out be a mistake.

Posted by: periculum | July 22, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"I don't see the sense in trading him unless you can get two or three solid players for him."

ummm, 31 y/o shortstops with declining range who have to get a hit to get on base generally don't draw one solid player, nevermind 2 or 3.

Guzman gets them to 2011. If people weren't so cheap, they'd take that and like it. What's a crummy $8MM of OPM?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 22, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

There's a lot of reasons they're losing, but Guzman isn't one of them.

OK, there aren't even that many reasons. Still.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 22, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

There's a lot of reasons they're losing, but Guzman isn't one of them.

OK, there aren't even that many reasons. Still.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 22, 2009

_________________________________________________

I think its synergy: there's a connection between featuring mostly very, very young pitching combined with less than average to poor fielding. Even when they were hitting .275 as a team they weren't able to make up for the mountain of walks plus errors.

Guzman's inability or intractability when it comes to taking walks at the top of the lineup plus his lackadaisical fielding at times certainly contributes. My take is that his inability to get walks is much worst.


On the other hand, on another team perhaps this is not as big a detriment if at all? They play him because he is a switch hitter who is a decent enough fielder. Which makes sense.

Posted by: lerici | July 22, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but.

When they were hitting, the problem wasn't the young, young pitchers--it was the sucky, sucky bullpen. By the time they got the bullpen off the killing floor, the hitters (mostly veterans) had stopped hitting. The bad defense was and is a problem, for all the pitchers, but Guzman is hardly the only guy on the field who's not making plays--why single him out?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 22, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I diagree about Guz's fielding this year. This has been his best fielding year. He is now almost adequate. For years he NEVER dove for anything, had limited range, and was, frankly, embarrassing to have out there. Perhaps his more consistent offense has given him the confidence to field better.

I will say the behind the back behind second base play earlier this year was the best infield play of the season and the best of his career.

Posted by: paulkp | July 22, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

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