As I feared, we traded Michael Morse away yesterday, or better yet pretty much gave him away to the Seattle Mariners. In return, we got back A.J Cole, whom we had drafted a few years ago and later included in the trade for Gio. Yes, we received another pitcher and a player to be named, but this trade was basically for Cole. In case you didn’t read the text of any articles about the trade, Cole started off the minor league season last year at 0-7. In Single A ball. He later got demoted to Low A ball. Like I said, we basically gave Morse away. The only redeeming thing about this deal is that it gives The Beast a chance to play every day, which he deserves. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was a bad trade. He was “cheap” salary-wise. He has lots of power, also hits for average, and is in his prime. He would have been great insurance in case someone got injured. And the money should not have been a factor, since the Lerners clearly are in a spending mode right now. He was also a very popular player, both in the clubhouse and with the fan base. Something to think about as you build the team in the future, Lerners and Rizzo. Part of the team’s appeal (beyond winning 98 games) was that they are for the most part all likeable. The fans felt a connection to them. A few tweaks to a team that led the league in wins is fine. When you start approaching too many adjustments, it become subtraction by addition. Good luck out there Michael. Hope you have a great season, and thanks for all you did for the Nationals.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, so I figure I better get something up in November before the month totally passes me by. Been recovering from rotator cuff surgery, so typing takes twice as long as usual. I’m using Chien-Ming Wang as a little bit of inspiration, since my shoulder feels worse right now than it did pre-surgery. Eventually they say it will be much better, so I have to hope I’ll be 100% again at some point. Wang came back to pitch in MLB, so I’m optimistic that I can get back to a weekend warrior level.
Many fans are keeping their eye on the winter meetings in Dallas, to see if the Nats come out of there with a piece or two that would enable a playoff push next year. I’m all for finding the right pieces, but not at the expense of mortgaging the future. Like many close observers of the Nats, I think 2013 will be the year to make a serious playoff push. I’m not trying to be pessimistic, just realistic, while playing in the same division as a few other perennial playoff teams. I would like to see us acquire a front line starter, either as an innings-eater and staff leader, such as Buhrle or possibly Oswalt (with an incentive-laden contract) via free agency, if the price is right. Or, we could trade for a higher-caliber, entering-their-prime starter, if they are under contract for at least 3 more years. A center fielder with either leadoff capability or power would be great, and I acknowledge that need along with everyone else. But I’d like to see a 1-2 year solution there, barring a trade. In 2 years, we’ll have a glut of outfielders, and not enough room to play them.
As for first base, I’m not sure whether to laugh or be angry at those who suggest we sign some help at first base. I’d prefer to keep Morse at first, for no other reason that him playing there coincided with him hitting over .300 and 30+ home runs. But if the front office is intent on playing LaRoche at first, then Morse can shift there when LaRoche needs a day off, which also frees up an outfield spot for a bench player to get a spot start and some ABs. To use a roster spot on another 1B would be downright silly.
If we enter spring training with no major signings or trades, I’m fine with that too, as long as that means we get a long look this season at Milone, Peacock, Lombardozzi, and others to see if they are going to be long-term pieces of the puzzle. And my acquiescence to that plan in 2012 would be with the strong assumption that we would be major free agent players for the pieces we need going into 2013.
I cannot believe what I am reading about the Nationals likely trading for a No. 1 starter. I am 100% in favor of signing 2 front-line starters, but a trade is one of the most idiotic moves I can think of. They have spent years at the bottom of the standings, building up their farm system and developing a nice stable of prospects. Now they want to trade them away for a starting pitcher. Trade away some prospects when it’s a for guy who will put you over the top in a pennant race. Otherwise, just sign someone in free agency! If Cliff Lee is the #1 guy this offseason, yes he will command a lot of money. But look at it this way. If you are going to pay a guy $20 million per season vs $15 million for a different frontline starter that you’d trade for, that seems ridiculous. Here’s why. If you trade for a guy, he’ll have maybe 2 seasons left on his contract. So over those 2 years, you’re saving $10 million but will have traded away several top prospects. Is that worth $10 million? To put it conversely, if you went to another team and said, I’ll pay you $10 million cash, just hand over 3 of your top prospects in your farm system, would anyone take that offer? No way. Any that is basically what we’d be doing here. As fans, we’ve tolerated 5 losing seasons in a row while being told it’s in the name of building a winner through rebuilding and restocking our farm system. And now you want to trade those away? We’ll have to see the actual salaries we’re talking about and which prospects it ends up being, but giving away top prospects when you could sign someone through free agency is so ridiculous, I cannot believe people with “baseball minds” are considering this.
Now that that baseball is breathing a collective, if temporary, sigh during this post-trade deadline week, let’s pause to take a look at what the Nats did (and didn’t do). As I had recommended earlier, we made the right move and traded Capps. In the the process we may have picked up our catcher of the future. We moved Guzman, who was a very capable hitter, for 2 pitching prospects that are having solid seasons (but not exactly kids at 25 and 26).
We held onto Adam Dunn instead of trading him for a pitcher who has an ERA over 5 this season and whose career average is not much below that. This made a lot of fans happy (including this one) and hopefully the Nats’ next move will be to try and repair some of the feelings between the 2 sides and get Dunn inked to that 4 year, 60 million dollar deal. Exposing him to waivers was not a great start. His price may have just gone up. We must have him in the lineup for his production and also as protection for Zim and the pitches Zim sees. Let’s get this done asap.
I just have to stay on this bit for another day. Either the Nationals’ front office thinks their fan base is stupid enough to completely forget what they wrote about Guzman just last week, or they are shamelessly plugging him for the All-Star game to pump up his trade value. Either situation is just silly. A quick comparison of 2 recent items on their website are copied below. I can’t take credit for my call-out of this article because I don’t have enough readers on here, but Incredibly, the Nats have since pulled this commentary from July 1 from their website. I mean, come on guys, this is ridiculous! One day you hate the guy, then the next you think he’s an All-Star! And to go so low as to pull it off your website (see my July 2 blog post for complete details), that’s just pretty underhanded.
From July 1:
“[Rizzo] is looking for a starting shortstop. The Nationals feel that Cristian Guzman, who is on the trading block, has lost a few steps with his glove.”
From July 7:
Nationals believe Guzman is an All-Star
When the Nationals face the Rockies on Tuesday in the middle game of their three-game series, it will be Day 2 of the Cristian Guzman 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote watch. Guzman is a two-time All-Star who was selected last season with the Nationals and in 2001 with the Twins. Zimmerman and manager Manny Acta said Sunday that Guzman deserved to go to St. Louis. Acta reiterated that stance Monday.
“He’s been very consistent from Day 1,” Acta said. “He’s hit over .300 this whole season, he plays every day, he has been healthy and he’s been good to our club.”
Guzman is having one of his better seasons, as he’s 12th in the NL in hitting at .314 with three home runs and 21 RBIs. He has 31 multihit games, which is tied for second in the NL.