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Nationals Free Agent Signings Should Bring Depth, Not Breadth

[October 28th] -- The frenzy is about to begin. You can feel it. The Nationals have already started. Other teams will soon follow. General managers are buying extra batteries for their cell phones. Websites have been created to do nothing else but track all of the moves.

The free-agent season is about to begin.

The Nationals dipped their toe in the water on Thursday, signing speedy utility man Damian Jackson and fleet-footed minor league second baseman Bernie Castro. The team will have money to spend, but the lack of an owner, and the tenuous position of Tony Taveres and Jim Bowden will make it difficult to "make a pitch" to the available "stars."

Forget the stars. Go for depth.

The Nationals starting eight were "good enough" to have snatched the wild-card this past season from Houston. What cost them was a severe lack of depth behind virtually every player on the team. Wil Cordero. Carlos Baerga, Jamie Carroll. Tony Blanco. Jeff Hammonds. These players started many games in 2005 for Washington. The pitching suffered from a similar lack of depth. Instead of blowing the meager dollars available on one "pretty good" free agent, the team should add depth and assume that the 2006 will see fewer injuries than in 2005.

Here are three players that I'd like to see in D.C. for 2006

  1. Eli Marrero: Marrero suffered through a bad season in 2005, but he was an important part of the Braves team that won their 13th consecutive pennant in 2004. He has been a .300 hitter with power, and can play most infield and outfield positions as well as catch. He and Damian Jackson would give Frank Robinson flexibility to make almost unlimited late inning moves
  2. Robert Fick: Another player who can catch, play the infield and outfield too. Bobby Cox said that Fick plays baseball the way it was meant to be played, like Ty Cobb but with a nicer personality
  3. Paul Byrd: He would make a great #3 or 4 starter for the Nationals, and could be had in the $5-6 million dollar range, an amount I think the team should have available for a starting pitcher. After suffering from arm problems, Byrd has put together back to back quality years

There are many others that could help the "boys," but one starting pitcher and a couple of utility players will give the team the strength to get through the injuries and the hot summer doldrums. Of course, Jimmy B. has to take care of Esteban and Hector Carrasco as well.

But Damian Jackson was a good start, that's for sure.

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