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With Stan Kasten's resignation, the Nationals are at a crossroads

Morning brushback

Stan Kasten announced his departure yesterday, and it sure feels like the Nationals are at a crossroads. This week, they drew the smallest crowd since baseball returned to Washington. Stephen Strasburg is out in San Diego, barely into his rehab from Tommy John surgery. Bryce Harper played his first game in the instructional league yesterday. They still need to decide what to do about Adam Dunn, perhaps the most recognizable player on their roster. They're probably going to lose somewhere close 95 games.

They will deal with all of these things without Kasten, a man recognized in every corner of the organization as the franchise leader. Kasten, on a near-daily basis, joked with players, wrangled with agents, jousted with reporters, discussed with Mike Rizzo and planned with ownership. It's hard to put a finger on what exactly he did, in part because of he did everything.

The Nationals are not sure what will happen without Kasten, how they'll replace his leadership, his energy, his experience and his -- yeah, pretty much everything. At this moment, the Nationals have a lot of good things going on on the field, despite their record. Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa up the middle alone is a reason for a season ticket holder to smile. Will they be able to finish it from here?

Kasten withheld his complete thoughts, but gave a partial opinion.

"I think now is not the time for that global assessment," Kasten said. "But I will say briefly, I think we are poised to really take off. I think we have ownership that is ready to take the next step. We talk a lot about it privately, and I have a high level of confidence that's going to happen."

Later, Kasten offered some more thoughts on getting from the present to the future.

"There's still plenty to do," he said. "I always think of the lifespan of building something in three phases. There's constructing, there's competing, there's contending. I really think we've come through the constructing. Now we're on the cusp of really competing. The line from constructing to competing is really long. It's a big difference and a big distance. The distance from competing to contending can be very short. A couple of key moves can make that change. I think that's where we are, on the cusp."

FROM THE POST

Stan Kasten stepped down yesterday, a decision he made a year ago.

On the field, the Nationals beat the Astros 7-2 without Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Jesus Flores hit a home yesterday in the Instructional League, and you can watch video of it -- and many other things -- at Space Coast Baseball.

Bryce Harper looked rusty his debut in the Instructional League, Mark DeCotis writes.

Stan Kasten's departure felt appropriate, Mark Zuckerman writes.

Mike Harris is going to miss Kasten.

By Adam Kilgore  | September 24, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brushback, franchise history  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: More from Stan Kasten on his departure and the Nationals
Next: Box Seats: Reaction to Kasten

Comments

AK you and your editors must be hung up on that attendence thing again. Lets figure this out, 2 weeknight and one late afternoon games in September against a non-pennenant chase opponent. The Nats are 25 games under .500, schools are open, the tourists have departed, the locals have come back to work ungoldy hours, WAPO has been pumping College Football and the local football team since late July and you guys are stuck on attendence. Give it a rest.

Talk about the real thing going on here. The Carnie Barker is leaving the building. Its a breath of fresh air if you ask me.

No more StanK double speak; no more "come on down, we love to have you" invites on WIP, no more "we are so close, I can smell it", no more Rob isn't feeling well and he asked for a few days off, no more "we'll get the attendence we deserve", no more "I don't think agents are good for game", no more "its all about me and what I want to do next", no more StanK with the sour puss trolling the Lexus Presidents Club seats asking "how am I doing". Not sure if StanK was a cross between Ed Koch and Frank Perdue. "Its takes a tough man to make a tender chicken", bye-bye StanKy!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | September 24, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Adam, any scuttlebutt on who might take Kasten's place?

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 24, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

>I think we have ownership that is ready to take the next step.

This remains to be seen.

Posted by: MartinZook | September 24, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

"It's hard to put a finger on what exactly [Kasten] did, in part because of [sic] he did everything."

Maybe he could add copyediting at the Post to his list of duties.

Why is it that no one ever says that about Branch Rickey, George Weiss, Buzzy Bavasi, Gabe Paul, Theo Epstein, Brian Cashman, etc.? People could tell you exactly what those guys did/do.

Nor do I understand why the idea of Ian Desmond continuing at SS should put a smile on anybody's face. Move him to second and put Espinosa over at short, and at least Nots fans will have less reason to feel nauseated.

As to this: "'. . . I think we are poised to really take off. I think we have ownership that is ready to take the next step. We talk a lot about it privately, and I have a high level of confidence that's going to happen.'"

Raw sewage, every last word. Kilgore should be ashamed for uncritically printing such a transparently dishonest and self-serving statement.


Posted by: Fairfax6 | September 24, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Yes, it's a step backwards.

Posted by: djorl | September 24, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I am not sure how I feel about Kasten. Now I understood what his plan was and I get it. Re-build the minor league system and all that. And I think that is a tried and proven methodology.

BUT

They misread the city and its feelings on baseball, where the team blew it was that they completely ignored the part about having a short term plan at the Major league level to go along with the long term plan. The team should have at least tried to field a competitive major league roster every year and I think most would agree that for 3 years now we didn't do that.

Posted by: alex35332 | September 24, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure why this is really a difficult question. It seems fairly obvious to me that ownership needs to: (1) re-sign Adam Dunn; (2) sign 1, possibly 2, legitimate, front line SPs; and (3) decide what to do about RF.

If the Lerners expect fans to continue to support the team, progress must be shown via a commitment to improving the talent and securing assets for the future. Not that hard.

Posted by: terrapin31590us | September 24, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Throw another relief pitcher into your list and we have a team.

Posted by: alex35332 | September 24, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

OMG, what WILL the Nats do without the leadership that has brought them so very far so very fast?? All is lost! The proverbial sky is falling!!!

Whatever. If Kasten's leadership brought the club to this point, I say good riddance.

The club lacks direction, identity and commitment; the results on the field have been awful by any standard, the club off the field has been a PR blunder bus, promotion of the club has been woeful, the farm (or the pipeline as Stan calls it) is mediocre not close to great. There is nothing bold about the makeup of the management team or even the roster itself. Stan's leaderhsip has not been so sterling.

And Stan can sing the praises of Desmond and Espinoza as saviors all he wants, it puts the club in the same league as the Royals and the Bucs -- look at those big young talents ready to take us, well, ready to take us to about a decade of losing big (you got us half way there Stan, how can you quit now?!).


Posted by: dfh21 | September 24, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

None of this matters. The Lerners bottom line is how many shekels they collect. Pure greed. Nothing more. Nothing less.

They don't draw crowds now because (over and above the obvious - they are fielding a AA baseball team and charging New York Yankee prices) they have no gimmick.

Like slick used car or jewelry salesmen, who rely on "70% off" sales, the Lerners need a gimmick. With Strasburg out for a year, they don't have one. Look for them to rush Bryce Harper along. I bet he is in the bigs around the All-Star break. So what if he isn't old enough to buy a beer. Use them up. Spit them out. Go find a new gimmick. Zimmerman is old news and going into his 6th year can hardly be called young or new. And frankly, there just isn't another noteworthy player on this minor-league level roster.

Don't fool yourself thinking somehow the same guys who count pencils and paperclips will significantly increase payroll. That would kill profitability and this is about making money.

Bottom line: Until the Lerners are gone, nothing of substance is going to change. Will StanK be missed? Maybe. Most likely not. I, for one, could care less if he stayed or left. He lost my respect when he essentially flipped the fans off and invited the Phillies down by the busload. (No, StanK we never forgot that.) Then his comment about us essentially shutting the he1l up and not worrying about winning or losing - just keep paying -- pretty much told me all I ever wanted to know about him.

Had we been able to foresee how awful the Lerners and StanK et al would turn out to be, I seriously doubt I would have supported baseball's return to DC.

Posted by: medic2010 | September 24, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

terrapin, I understand what you say, but let's follow your theme - all the GM needs to do is sign Dunn (discussed ad nauseum on the board), 2 front line starters - well, outside of Lee who is a FA next year that is dependible? Arroyo? Pavano? They aren't there. Same for RF - Crawford and Werth are the only guys who aren't better then what we already have. To get any of these guys you'll have to ridiculously overpay is such a mediocre free agaent year - remember every team's fans think these guys should be going to their team and there is only three of them.

Whether you like it or not, the plan of rebuilding thru the minors os the only way, Stan was right about that. You can argue we did a horrible job implementing the plan but to think this franchise will turn itself by buying players is a fool errand. Ask any Mets fan.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | September 24, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

From my perspective,Stan K turns out to be, well, not a truth-teller. "The Plan" he touted as being the Nats' roadmap to success in a few short years turns out to be a figment of his imagination. How do I know? Because even if he had a "Plan," which is debatable, he never obtained a buy-in from Ted Lerner on any such plan. Therefore it was a non-starter.

So why did he keep restating his confidence in the "Plan" as the future of the franchise? Don't know. It seems to me the only plan in actuality was to take advantage of consecutive last-place finishes to nab a couple of potential superstars, hoping they would increase the gate.

That's a plan?

Posted by: JohnRDC | September 24, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

"Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa up the middle alone is a reason for a season ticket holder to smile."
===
Why? Do we get cash back for errors?

Posted by: hubcap | September 24, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

AK you and your editors must be hung up on that attendence thing again. Lets figure this out, 2 weeknight and one late afternoon games in September against a non-pennenant chase opponent. The Nats are 25 games under .500, schools are open, the tourists have departed, the locals have come back to work ungoldy hours, WAPO has been pumping College Football and the local football team since late July and you guys are stuck on attendence. Give it a rest.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | September 24, 2010 8:19 AM

Tippy - is this a joke? Of course Adam's passing mention of the lowest attendance since the return in 2005 is relevant in a quick rundown of the week's events. That 10,999 number shows a number of things about the Nationals right now - they have not been able to gain traction with enough people in a region of over 5 million people to ensure decent crowds every night. The only reason for this is not being able to compete on the field - that's it! They've been branded a loser, thus limiting the number of season ticket holders which leads to low announced attendances. Rock bottom numbers show the frailty in the season ticket base - you can see the same things with the team in Baltimore.

The have schools, tourists, work and football in Philadelphia too - why don't they have announced attendances in the low 5 digits? Because they win - end of story. They had 44,000 last week DURING an Eagles game. Excuses don't bury a lead and 10,999 was a lead this week. That attendance and the departure of Kasten show that the franchise under the Lerners leadership has not gone as planned (or maybe it's gone exactly as planned...?).

Posted by: Kev29 | September 24, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Don't let the door hit you on the backside on the way out StanK, you jackass.

The guy is an arrogant PoS. How can this not be seen as a good thing. It's not like the Nats have been winning a lot or bringing in a ton of fans under his leadership. He failed and he should have been fired last year and run out of town on a rail.

Now, if we can find away to get the cheapass Lerners to sell, we are in business.

Posted by: Section505203 | September 24, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

The have schools, tourists, work and football in Philadelphia too - why don't they have announced attendances in the low 5 digits? Because they win - end of story. They had 44,000 last week DURING an Eagles game. Excuses don't bury a lead and 10,999 was a lead this week. That attendance and the departure of Kasten show that the franchise under the Lerners leadership has not gone as planned (or maybe it's gone exactly as planned...?).

Posted by: Kev29 | September 24, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Yes but look at the Philly turnout in the piss poor years. They weren't filling the vet a lot of the time.

Posted by: alex35332 | September 24, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

One other Kasten note from me: people will argue over the results, but I've never heard his effort criticized. It appears to me he had a plan and worked hard to execute the plan. I think he worked hard with good intent.

On to Baseball: I believe Morgan comes off suspension Sunday. I'd like to see Espinosa batting second to see how he responds to Morgan on base, moving runners up, batting in front of Zimmerman.

I'm hopeful we'll see Zimmerman and Dunn back in the lineup tonight. But if not, I'd like to see Morse play 1B.

Wilie Harris and Wil Nieves are presumptive departures at season end. I'd like to see them get in the games on the 28th/29th so I can cheer them one more time.

I'd also like to see Maya have at least one start without giving up the big inning. Not quite sure what to make of him yet.

Posted by: natbiscuits | September 24, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Regarding the Nats attendance for 2010, keep in mind that everyone who bought a season ticket plan got "Reward Points." So, for every 2 seats, STHs got 1 point. And that point could be traded in for a ticket in their equivalent section.

Considering that, the Nats gave away a lot of seats this year. What would attendance look like if the Nats weren't issuing so many free passes?

Posted by: comish4lif | September 24, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"[T]o think this franchise will turn itself by buying players is a fool errand. Ask any Mets fan."

OTOH, ask any Yankees fan and you'll get an entirely different answer.

Where would they be without Sabathia and Texeira? A.J. Burnett is having a lousy season, but he was an important contributor last year. And while they didn't sign A-Rod as a free agent, they sure didn't bring him up through the farm system. Even Andy Pettitte is a free agent signing in this go-round with the Yankees.

The point isn't to throw money around indiscriminately, but to target your needs, decide on the best people to fill the holes you have, and make them an offer more attractive than those they receive from other teams.

And don't let your own valuable free agent properties go elsewhere! Dunn has serious flaws, but he's certainly responsible for producing more runs than his lousy fielding allows, and his departure leaves an enormous hole in the lineup unlikely to be filled by anyone they might sign for a lesser sum of money.

Posted by: Fairfax6 | September 24, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Got to agree with Kev29. According to the Census Bureau, the DC Metropolitan Statistical Area has a population a little less than Philadelphia, slightly higher than Atlanta, and almost a million more than Boston.

Boston and Philadelphia have no problem putting fans in the seats. Atlanta - well the last series the Nats played there, the attendance didn't look so hot.

Okay, look, the Lerners are in this to make money, I think we all agree. But you have to figure they're questioning the marginal utility of the next dollar. You spend, say, $50 million on salaries and you make, say, $100 million in profits. Now, will spending an extra $20 million in salaries add up to another $20 million in profits? If so, then there's no FINANCIAL reason to spend the extra $2 million, since the bottom line remains the same. You only spend the extra $20 million if you'll make MORE than $20 million additional, through better team performance leading to better ticket sales.

My sense is that the Lerners have yet to be persuaded that spending extra money on salaries will make the team more profitable. That's conjecture on my part, and since baseball teams' books aren't open to the public, we can't know what the marginal utility is.

A thought: Would it be more accurate to describe the Lerners as "risk-averse" as opposed to cheap? I.E., they'll spend the big bucks, but only when it looks like a sure thing (Strasburg, Harper) - or as close to a sure thing as baseball has.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 24, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

"What would attendance look like if the Nats weren't issuing so many free passes?"

What would attendance look like if they counted only the people who showed up, and not the number of tickets purchased? It used to be the National League attendance figures reflected only the former, they changed that policy in the fairly recent past.

Posted by: Fairfax6 | September 24, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Considering that, the Nats gave away a lot of seats this year. What would attendance look like if the Nats weren't issuing so many free passes?

Posted by: comish4lif | September 24, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse
---

Attendance is tickets sold. So this is irrelevant. That's why you see different figures for "sold out" games -- look at some of the early Strasburg starts. All were sold out, but the "attendance" announced was different for each one (and in each case different than the Nationals Park capacity).

Posted by: cdstej | September 24, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, I must bear the brunt of the blame for Kasten resigning.

You see, 2 years ago, at the fan-fest before the exhibition, me & wife spotted Stan and got our picture with him, he says "why me, you got all those players out there?" We said, "they come and go, you'll always be here!"

Jinx.

Just like my t-shirt jersey collection I've bought over all the seasons - Terrmel Sledge, Jose Vidro, Nick Johnson.

I also just got JMax, so I hope he does well next year in his future career on another team!

Posted by: VladiHondo | September 24, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Yes but look at the Philly turnout in the piss poor years. They weren't filling the vet a lot of the time.

Posted by: alex35332 | September 24, 2010 10:26 AM

Exactly my point. When the Phillies were largely non-competitive between '94 and '03 they struggled at the box office. Yet now we think of them being up there with the Red Sox and Cardinals in drawing power - because their ownership and front office put together a winning team.

Something similar would happen here - I guarantee it. And we wouldn't have to win a World Series, just get over .500 with some exciting players. Heck, look at the Caps - they've done jack in the playoffs but they play exciting hockey in the regular season. They came close to filling Verizon Center during the blizzards last winter! People will drop what they're doing and not worry about excuses when they have a winner to watch.

Posted by: Kev29 | September 24, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Attendance is tickets sold. So this is irrelevant. That's why you see different figures for "sold out" games -- look at some of the early Strasburg starts. All were sold out, but the "attendance" announced was different for each one (and in each case different than the Nationals Park capacity).

Posted by: cdstej | September 24, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

My gf works in the ticket office, from what she tells me, sold out means that they have sold all normal tickets and start selling unsold luxury box tickets as individual tickets, along with the selling of "standing room only" tickets.

Posted by: alex35332 | September 24, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

"Jinx. Just like my t-shirt jersey collection I've bought over all the seasons - Terrmel Sledge, Jose Vidro, Nick Johnson."

At least it doesn't include an Elijah Dukes, a Dmitri Young, or a Lastings Milledge.

Or does it? :-)

Posted by: Fairfax6 | September 24, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

that's the rub fairfax; to use FA well and not waste money. The Yanks have the luxury of buying what they want at whatever price for players to get onto a storied franchise that goes to the post season virtually every year, so you cannot compare the Yanks to any other teams when it comes to spending on FAs. My point is if it is better to spend 10M a year for Arroyo to get you 10 wins vs. (whatever Martin makes) vs. 8 wins. Until you develop players within your organization all you are doing is spinning your wheels with free agency and we aren't developing those players; heck, SS and Harper won't even be developed by us, they just fell into our laps.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | September 24, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Move him to second and put Espinosa over at short, and at least Nots fans will have less reason to feel nauseated.

Also send Espinosa back to the minor leagues before he is completely destroyed up here. With the guy with more range at second and nobody at short the Nats will have a ready excuse for any continued losing.

Posted by: markfromark | September 24, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

My point is if it is better to spend 10M a year for Arroyo to get you 10 wins vs. (whatever Martin makes) vs. 8 wins. Until you develop players within your organization all you are doing is spinning your wheels with free agency and we aren't developing those players; heck, SS and Harper won't even be developed by us, they just fell into our laps.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | September 24, 2010 10:47 AM

I think they need to do both. I am all about the Nationals concentration on drastically improving the farm system. Absolutely needs to be done. And it is bearing a little bit of fruit already - don't pay too much attention to the slump, Espinosa can play. However, I don't see any reason why you can't add to the amount of major league ready talent with free agents in the meantime. One complaint that some have had this season is that we've rushed some guys up when they should be seasoned in the minors more. That's easier to do when you have a real MLB 25 man roster.

Kasten's "Plan" was used to make it appear that there was a strategy behind that lack of spending, but it's just salary management to protect the bottom line. Does anyone think that young player development would have been worse off for us having Orlando Hudson (who would have cost the club nothing but money) at second base right now - maybe with Desmond and Espy splitting time at SS this month?

Posted by: Kev29 | September 24, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"Jesus Flores hit a home yesterday in the Instructional League"

What? That poor little boy is trying to get better from his injury, and he hit a HOUSE? That's terrible! How will that make him any better? What is wrong with those instructors in Florida for letting him do that? Don't they know houses are hard and he could get hurt even worse?

What? You say he hit a HOMER? Well, that's very different. Never mind.

Signed, Emily Litella

Posted by: FeelWood | September 24, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

"[Y]ou cannot compare the Yanks to any other teams when it comes to spending on FAs."

Actually, yes you can. They do it right, so you'd damn well better emulate them.

But forget about the Yankees, look at the Diamondbacks in 2001. Randy Johnson, Mark Grace, Steve Finley, Jay Bell, Reggie Sanders, Craig Counsell, Miguel Batista, all of them free agents. The only important contributor who spent any time in their farm system was relief pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim. Aside from a couple of expansion draft picks, all other regular or semi-regular players came via trades.

What it takes is ownership that isn't obsessed with every last nickel that gets spent. That's the most imporant element, and it's lacking here.

Posted by: Fairfax6 | September 24, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

>>the Nationals are at a crossroads

Where exactly would that be--- the intersection of Major and Minor League Road!??

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | September 24, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

"[Y]ou cannot compare the Yanks to any other teams when it comes to spending on FAs."

Actually, yes you can. They do it right, so you'd damn well better emulate them.

Posted by: Fairfax6 | September 24, 2010 11:11 AM

Yes, I suppose that's why the Yankees signed injury-prone Nick Johnson before this season, and then after he got hurt they picked up the mighty Austin Kearns at the trade deadline to fill out their batting order.

Yes, perhaps the Nationals really should do more to emulate the Yankees. They do it right.

Posted by: FeelWood | September 24, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Good to "see" you, Ms. Litella. Better a house than the broad side of a barn, I suppose. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 24, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

"Yes, I suppose that's why the Yankees signed injury-prone Nick Johnson before this season, and then after he got hurt they picked up the mighty Austin Kearns at the trade deadline to fill out their batting order.

Yes, perhaps the Nationals really should do more to emulate the Yankees. They do it right."

You cannot seriously be suggesting that the Yankees are not a franchise worthy of emulation, or that their methods haven't been extraordinarily successful.

But then the name you post with suggests an activity indulged in by apes at the zoo, so I guess you might really be that clueless.

Posted by: Fairfax6 | September 24, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I saw almost nothing in these comments that spoke well of Kasten. He was foisted on this team by Bud Selig along with Jim Bowden and Kasten did as much for the team as Bowden did. The idea that Boswell raised in his column that Kasten tried to get the Lerners to spend more money is laughable. Kasten was in charge of the Crow signing along with Bowden and they botched it because Kasten was a shill for Selig's slotting system. You don't see Kasten in charge of anything because he doesn't deserve to be. If he wants to work for the Commissioner's office, maybe they can find him work more directly. That would at least be an honest application of his talents.

Posted by: Juliasdad | September 24, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa up the middle alone is a reason for a season ticket holder to smile."

I have been a season ticket holder since 2005 and I seriously doubt I am going to spend thousands of dollar to see Desmond and Espinosa next year. Stan Kasten gave season ticket holders something the on field product could not...hope.... Without Stan, that Hope is gone (or greatly diminished) and so (in all likely hood) is this season ticket holder.....

Posted by: Y2kob | September 24, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"You cannot seriously be suggesting that the Yankees are not a franchise worthy of emulation, or that their methods haven't been extraordinarily successful."

----

Worthy of emulation? Maybe. Capable of emulation? No way. Come on, even if the Lerners really opened up the wallets and competed like an upper tier market, they can't emulate the Yanks. That's the largest media market in the world, with major finance and corporate money buying seats/suites, with their own cable channel, with worldwide recognition, with major merchandise sales, and incredible history. You can't just spend $ to match that. It's just not possible. And absent a hard salary cap (a la the NFL), no one can EVER match that in MLB.

It does no one any good criticizing the Lerners for not doing the impossible; they have enough difficulty doing what they can and should.

Posted by: cdstej | September 24, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Ticket holder since Day One, blah, blah.

Some really good stuff here today – enjoying the analysis. I think I’ve come around from the type of fan who tended to side with SK, just ‘cuz, to seeing the holes. Sure, it’s probably a combination of the Lerners and SK but he’s been, to use a phrase from one of the Post pieces, in charge of just about everything from toilet paper to input on players. So it’s on him.

And it blows me away when I think about this being the end of our 6th season (!) in town and we’re just spinning our wheels.

Posted by: gonatsgo1 | September 24, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

It does no one any good criticizing the Lerners for not doing the impossible; they have enough difficulty doing what they can and should.

Posted by: cdstej | September 24, 2010 11:52 AM

Well said

Posted by: Kev29 | September 24, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

>Until you develop players within your organization all you are doing is spinning your wheels with free agency and we aren't developing those players; heck, SS and Harper won't even be developed by us, they just fell into our laps.

Posted by: SCNatsFan

This is why they get away with this stuff - The Nats need to create competition at all the spots. You can start right off the bat by doing that at the major league level and working backward from there. If you have players fighting for a spot on the big league roster, the prospects get more time in the minors and become better players. Also what happens is that some of those prospects might not be all that - in other words, their minor league numbers might not be a true indicator of their major league potential. But, since you have guys producing at the major league level, and these guys are signed for a few years, you can bundle your 'prospects' and trade them for some real talent. It's like Ramos on the Twins - there are some experts that think his bat is barely passable for the big leagues, but he fills a need for a bad team like the Nats, and the Twins end up with help at the major league level as a result. They traded him because they have Joe Mauer in front of him. There are no stars holding up prospects on the Nats, they get rushed up here at every opportunity. It's like Espinosa, they'll wear him out from the left side of the plate next year, and it'll be brutal to watch, instead of giving him another year to figure things out in the minors. Long story short - if you create competition at the big league level, you create inventory for trades at the minor league level. This is exactly why the Nats rarely make a trade - they don't have anything they're willing to part with because they have no depth. Now they've got the reputation for overrating their prospects, which makes it even HARDER to make trades that benefit you.

Posted by: Brue | September 24, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

"Worthy of emulation? Maybe. Capable of emulation? No way."

The point is that in simply trying, they'll encounter enough success to give fans the type of thrill that will solidify a base of popularity that will carry the franchise through the inevitable down times. Both the Red Sox and Braves have managed to have a tremendous amount of success, in spite of the fact that their markets don't possess the things you say NY has and this market lacks (and BTW, this being the nation's capital, there's a hell of a lot of powerful and financially lucrative entities that would be only too happy to spend money down at Nots Landing if the team wasn't so godawful).

BTW, I notice nobody's tried to contradict me about the Diamondbacks, who come from a much smaller, less lucrative market than the Nots, and have a record of success that puts this franchise to shame. As I said, forget the Yankees, try emulating the D-backs in their earliest years.

Posted by: Fairfax6 | September 24, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

It does no one any good criticizing the Lerners for not doing the impossible; they have enough difficulty doing what they can and should.

Posted by: cdstej | September 24, 2010 11:52 AM

Well said

Posted by: Kev29"

Only if you think this team should continue on its current treadmill of awful to godawful year after year.

The Lerners are the problem. Anyone who can't see that at this point deserve to have a team as awful as this one.

Posted by: Fairfax6 | September 24, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Brue:

"If you have players fighting for a spot on the big league roster, the prospects get more time in the minors and become better players. Also what happens is that some of those prospects might not be all that - in other words, their minor league numbers might not be a true indicator of their major league potential. But, since you have guys producing at the major league level, and these guys are signed for a few years, you can bundle your 'prospects' and trade them for some real talent. It's like Ramos on the Twins - there are some experts that think his bat is barely passable for the big leagues, but he fills a need for a bad team like the Nats, and the Twins end up with help at the major league level as a result. They traded him because they have Joe Mauer in front of him. There are no stars holding up prospects on the Nats, they get rushed up here at every opportunity. It's like Espinosa, they'll wear him out from the left side of the plate next year, and it'll be brutal to watch, instead of giving him another year to figure things out in the minors. Long story short - if you create competition at the big league level, you create inventory for trades at the minor league level. This is exactly why the Nats rarely make a trade - they don't have anything they're willing to part with because they have no depth. Now they've got the reputation for overrating their prospects, which makes it even HARDER to make trades that benefit you."

Now THAT is well said. Especially about Espinosa.

Posted by: Fairfax6 | September 24, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Only if you think this team should continue on its current treadmill of awful to godawful year after year.

The Lerners are the problem. Anyone who can't see that at this point deserve to have a team as awful as this one.

Posted by: Fairfax6 | September 24, 2010 12:37 PM

No, the Lerners should do better. Spend maybe $80 or $100 million on salary to bring in better players in an attempt to change the culture of losing. They shouldn't be expected to spend $200 million - that's just not realistic.

Are you really trying to tell the President of the Lerners are Cheap Club that I should realize that the Lerners are cheap? :-)

Posted by: Kev29 | September 24, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Let's be perfectly frank on what happened to both Joe Torre and Stan Kasten in the last week. Both high profile people that have seen lots of success in there time, basically gave up because of the acts of their owners. For Torre it was an easy choice, Dodger owner Frank McCourt is more interested in keeping his sham alive in Los Angeles and Torre knew that there is no future in the next couple of years for the Dodgers.

As for Kasten, he has had his share of battles with Nat owner Ted Lerner, who may not be as close to a poor owner as Peter Angelos has been, but for Lerner it's not about having the best team in baseball, something that Stan Kasten went after, but for Lerner it is how much can he make from the Nats.

Kasten was a very lucky man to work for Ted Turner in Atlanta, because Turner placed winning over money and gave Kasten carte-blance in Atlanta and Kasten delivered the goods.

Frankly if both men were leaving because of age or personal things, they wouldn't of left open the possibility of going someplace else and working for another team.

So if anyone believed Kasten's reason's he is a damn fool, if the Lerners gave Kasten the same financial resources as Ted Turner did, you could bet your bottom dollar that Kasten wouldn't of left.

So the reality of things is simple, ownership is only going to a certain level, if the Nats win great, if the Nats finish 25 games back like they have done the last couple of years, that's great for Lerner's also because at the end of the day they are making money off of this franchise and that is all that matters.

It's a shame but it's happening more and more in sports, the Ted Turners, Mark Cuba's, Ted Leonsis are very rare. As bad as the Washington Wizards have been, I will bet that they see a national championship way before the Nats because they have an owner that cares about winning first over profits.

So we are having to learn this lesson fast, that the Lerner's have more Angelos in them and it may be a long time before we see a team that we can be proud of.

It's a very sad day in Nats Town, because if a guy like Stan Kasten leaves, we won't find anyone good to replace him with, so we should all buckle up and expect a rocky next couple of years of more losing.

Posted by: Golfersal | September 24, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't want to be the Yankees or the Mets - I'd rather follow the model of the Twins or the Braves - just keep building and keep adding class ballplayers that know and accept their roles. Go after a free agent here and there without mortgaging the future, and develop your young pitching - although a couple proven SPs would be nice.

Posted by: AsstGM | September 24, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

The sad truth is that D.C. has NEVER been a baseball town, and because of the economics of modern baseball, never will be. There's no such thing as a frugal-yet successful owner in a mid-market MLB town.

Posted by: 11in66 | September 24, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

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