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[February 26th] - It went from bad to worse.

It looks like the Nationals got rid of Vinny Castilla for nothing after all.

The doctors who operated on Brian Lawrence's shoulder Sunday morning at D.C.'s Washington Center Hospital said that the damage to his labrum was "extensive." In addition, there is a great deal of damage to his rotator cuff as well, making it highly unlikely that Lawrence will be able to return to the Nationals before spring training of next year.

Lawrence's 2006 contract calls for a very servicable $3.7 million dollar salary. However, the club has a team option to resign the former Padre at $5.7 million in 2007 or buy him out for $550,000. Even if [and this may be a big if] the new owner is in place and can afford to keep him, do they want to? $5.7 million is a lot of money to pay a pitcher who will have at best pitched a token number of innings in rehab before the team must make a decision. Lawrence may join Alfonso Soriano as two players who will never play a regular season game with the Nationals.

Nationals GM Jim Bowden is probably in "panic mode" tonight as he tries to find a suitable replacement for Lawrence. Pedro Astacio is being courted by the Reds and Rockies, and the Padres have a standing major league offer that would begin on May 1st, making it less likely that he'll sign with Washington. Bowden talked to the Red Sox today about David Wells, but his salary (up to $9 million) and his desire to go home to San Diego might make this a difficult deal to complete. The Boston Herald is reporting that Jim Bowden is also looking at Matt Clement or Bronson Arroyo, though Clement's salary may be a little high for the Nationals. The Red Sox seem interested in a package that would need to include Ryan Church or Nick Johnson. I'd rather see Alfonso Soriano included in any deal with Boston. I still think that Ryan Church will become a special player in this league.

It's bad news, but at least the team now knows what they are up against as they plan for the 2006 season. Let's hope Bowden remains sane over the next week or two and doesn't do anything stupid.


Asking Bowden not to do something stupid is like asking Howard Stern to behave himself. I can almost guarantee you that he will do something stupid regarding Nick Johnson and/or Ryan Church. He can't unload his great mistake, Soriano, because Soriano has no trade value.
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