Blame Omar Miniya, Not Adam Wogan
[October 18th] -- Nationals general manager Jim Bowden fired the team's director of player development, Adam Wogan on Monday. Wogan had been with the team since 2002. Bowden indicated a desire to go in a "different direction" as the reason for the change.
The implication, of course, is that Wogan has done a poor job in stocking the minor league system with major league prospects. No question, the Nationals farm system is currently filled with a rag-tag bunch of career minor leaguers and below average prospects. But don't blame Wogan. Blame Omar Minaya.
Minaya, then the general manager of the Montreal Expos, made four trades between 2002 and 2004 that gutted the team's minor league system, trades that the team has yet to recover from. None of them made any sense, and all will haunt both him and the franchise for years to come.
This trade came days before the the start of the season. The question is, why did Minaya do it? Jason Bay had just completed his 2nd year as a professional, splitting the year between Classs 'A' Clinton and Jupiter, batting .310 with 14 homers and 71 RBI's. Serrano had finished his 4th year with the club at 'AA' Harrisburg. Serrano went 6-3 with the Senators, crafting a solid 2.17 ERA, saving 20 games. In 54 innings, he struck out an amazing 73 batters. The Nationals recieved in return Lou Collier, a nine-year minor league veteran who batted .252 with Brewers late in 2001. Jason Bay has become a star with the Pirates. He batted .306 with 32 homers, 101 RBI's and 21 stolen bases in 2005. Serrano is still in the minor leagues and Lou Collier was out of baseball. Minaya traded to top prospects for a career minor leaguer. Why?
TRADE #2 -- Date: June 27th 2002. Montreal Expos traded Lee Stevens, Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee to the Cleveland Indians for Bartolo Colon, Tim Drew and cash.
Grady Sizemore had batted .270 with a great .386 on-base percent during his time in the Expos farm system. Lee Stevens, a veteran first baseman, hit 25 homers and drove in 95 runs for the Expos the previous year. Brandon Phillips hit .298 in 2001 and was batting .327 at the time of the trade. Cliff Lee was named to the 'AA' all star game just before he was traded to Cleveland. Baseball America named him one of the 25 best lefties in the minor leagues and one of the six best pitchers in the Eastern league. Colon, in return, won ten games for the Expos. Ten. Sizemore batted .289 for the Indians in 2005 with 22 home runs and 81 RBI's. He stole 22 bases for the Tribe. Cliff Lee went 18-5 with a great [for the AL] ERA of 3.79.
TRADE 3# -- Date: February 2nd 2004. The Texas Rangers traded catcher Einar Diaz to the Montreal Expos for Chris Young.
Chris Young won 12 games for the Rangers in 2005, and Einar Diaz was released by the Nationals because the team didn't believe he would ever become a "major league catcher."
TRADE #4 -- Date: July 11th 2002. Florida Marlins traded Cliff Floyd, Wilton Guerrero, and Claudio Vargas to the Montreal Expos for Carl Pavano, Graeme Lloyd, Justin Wayne, Mike Mordecai and a player to be named later
Forget all the other players. Let's look at Cliff Floyd for Carl Pavano. The Expos later traded Floyd to theRed Sox for Sunny Kim and and couple of other non-descript players. Carl Pavano won 30 games with the Marlins in 2003 and 2004 before being traded to the Yankees [he was injured most of the season.]
Minaya also tried to trade several prospects to the Rangers for Juan Gonzalez after he had begun to have injury problems in 2003.
How much better would the Nationals have been in 2005 with the addition of Jason Bay and Grady Sizemore to the outfield, and Cliff Lee and Chris Young to the pitching staff? Brad Wilkerson and Ryan Church would have been available to trade for a quality third baseman and or short stop. The pitching staff would have consisted of: Livan Herandez, John Patterson, Esteban Loiaza, Cliff Lee and Chris Young and Carl Pavano. While the team ended the season with only three starters, this version of the Nats had six, SIX quality starters available.
My guess is that this version of the Nationals would have won 90 games this past season. The team as a whole would be very young, very deep and poised to be one of the best teams in the National League East for years to come.
Omar Minaya destroys the team's minor league system, and Adam Wogan gets fired for it. Man, only in Washington.