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.
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.
I’m not going to go into a player by player review of what the Nats have accomplished or failed to accomplish this season. However, I’m going to share a few key thoughts about how the Nats should approach the second half of the season.
Put on the trading block any pitcher on the active roster not named Strasburg, Storen or Clippard. You’ll notice I did not protect Capps there. While Capps is having a great year, holding onto a solid closer is not as critical when you are not headed to the post-season. And he could probably bring more in return right now than any other non-protected pitcher on the staff. Plus, he’s not making a ton of money this season, so a lot of teams would jump at the chance to have him. More on this later.
Play Nyjer every day in center until July 31st, hope for a surge, and try and trade him too. If he is not traded by the 31st and he has not gotten more consistent in every aspect of his game, then beginning in August make Bernie the starting CF and start Morse in right the rest of the season. We need to see if these guys are going to be able to be everyday players next season.
Trade Guz if we can get anything decent in return. Sign Dunn now to an extension.
Finally, we have got to be active in the free agent market this offseason. We need 2 quality starting pitchers, a closer if Capps is traded, another solid setup man, a big name second baseman who can hit for power and average, and a big bat in RF if Bernie or Morse don’t look like the solution by the end of the season. SPEND THE MONEY Lerners! We can’t wait any longer for the guys in the farm system to mature and hopefully become stars at the major league level. If you wait 3 more years, Zim’s contract will be up and who know if he’ll really re-sign here if we haven’t shown a commitment to winning by then. We don’t need to be buyers at the trade deadline. But please, be buyers in the offseason. If only takes cash to do that; you don’t have to part with top prospects. Take a chance on spending some money. We could contend next year if we do this. Thanks for reading.
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.
All sorts of speculation has been made the last few days about who will start in the corner outfield spots, first base and second base. Spring performance and injuries will cause most of this to be resolved as spring training rolls on. We can only hope that a dearth of injuries and a strong performance from the second base candidates and also Nick Johnson make these decisions tough ones. Right now you can pencil in Zimmerman, Flores, Dunn, Guzman and Milledge as starters, barring injury. If Johnson has a very strong spring, he will either be traded or will start at first base. I think the Nats will do all they can to trade him so that Dunn can play first and it will then be easier to sort out the corner outfield spots. If he is healthy, performs well, and they can’t trade him, then that leaves Dunn in the outfield, and a huge glut of outfielders vying for the final starting spot. If several of them have a strong spring, look for at least one of them to get traded.
Why would someone want one of the Nats’ excess outfielders? A straight salary move. If a team can dump a $5 million salary and start a similarly-talented player who is making $500,000, they will be eager to do it. The Nationals would be happy to get some prospects or draft picks for one of them. Conversely, when these types of moves cause some established veterans to hit the market this spring, there may be someone of interest to the Nationals, provided they would sign for a lower salary so that they can keep playing.