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Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures

[November 30th] - It looks like the Washington Nationals will lose all of their free agents this off-season while being unable to make any substantive offers to the free agents from other teams. With the loss of Esteban Loiaza to the Oakland Athletics, and the likely loss of Hector Carrasco and Joey Eischen, the team finds itself in dire need of pitching. The problem they face is that they have no surplus minor leaguers to trade away. That leaves only their major league roster to tinker with. The only hope the Nats have is to trade some of their front-line players and hope that their backups can do an adequate job of replacing them.

Enter Ryan Church.

Church is one of the few players Washington has who is coveted by other teams and could bring a quality pitcher in return. Left field could then be manned by the tag-team of Terrmel Sledge and Marlon Byrd.

Sledge is coming off a hamstring injury that forced him to miss all but just a handful of games in 2005. He had a good rookie year in 2004, hitting .267-15-62 in 435 at bats with Montreal. He had a .352 obp and a .489 slugging average. In a platoon, Sledge would bat against righties. In 2004, he batted .277 with 13 homers and 46 rbi's against them. Against right-handers, he had a good home run ratio of one every 23 at-bats.

Marlon Byrd came to the Nats in a trade that sent Endy Chavez to the Phillies. He began the season well, spraying singles and playing good defense. After his average began to dip, however, he was sent to New Orleans with the admonition, "Learn how to hit with power." He listened, he learned, and kept his attitude positive. He was back with the team a month later, and began driving the ball for the first time in his career. Against lefties, Byrd hit .323 and had an on base percent of .369 while slugging at a .462 clip. Team GM Jim Bowden believes that Byrd can start and hit 20-25 homers over a full season.

Neither player could replace Ryan Church in left field, but together, they have the potential to outperform him. Based on their 2005 numbers, the two players could produce a combined .285-26-85 type season with a .365 on base percentage and a .470 slugging average. I don't think that Ryan Church is capable of those numbers at this point in his career.

By trading Church [and a couple of situational players], the Nationals could receive a quality starting pitcher and use existing players to replace him in left field. I'd hate to lose Church. My guess is he'll have a career similar to former Expo and current Indian Grady Sizemore, who hit .289-21-87 in 2005. But we have the spare parts to replace him, and the team is in desperate need for another quality starting pitcher.

This is the type of deal that can get done in spring training, when [God willing] the team will finally have an owner, a general manager who wants to run the team, and a stadium with blue prints approved by the minions on both sides of the bargaining table.

I'd e-mail Bowden and suggest this trade, but he's probably wearing his "red sox" tonight. Nats. Um, I mean nuts.

No no no!! I think the fans covet Church as well and I'd hate to see him go. This is probably the one rumor that scares me the most.
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