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BLOWING UP A TEAM CAN BE GOOD FOR IT'S HEALTH

[May 2nd] -- If you place your ear to the ground, you can almost hear it. Those once faint whispers are now more like hushed tones, words and ideas that were once secretive are now, almost, an understood fact.

The Washington Nationals are probably weeks away from being blown up.

The Nationals' payroll is $13 million dollars higher than last season, yet the team looks like it's going to cross the finish line fifteen or so games worse than they did in 2005. From the 300 level at RFK, it's kind of hard to see where those dollars were spent. And really, with a new owner in the offing (and his check book), why not blow up an under-performing team now, get some prospects for the few bloated veterans we do have, and wait for Mr. Lerner's money to cure what ails the team this fall? Of course, it goes without saying that Jim Bowden has to, just has to, be in the middle when the explosion goes off. We can use his breath to ignite the dynamite.

The Nationals are little more than a corpse at this point, but can quickly and easily be healed with medicinal money, that is, the health that free agency can bring. Mr. Lerner will want to quickly justify his being named as new owner of the team, and I have little doubt that the money will flow like water over Great Falls. Until then, the Nationals can either lose gracefully with their current complement of players, or they can lose ugly with current prospects at the major league level and newly acquired prospects flooding the dry lake bed that is the team's minor league system.

I vote for a quick and painless death for the '06 Nationals followed by a resurrection into the perfect team.

Heck, even Bill Ladson sees it coming. In his mailbag on Monday, he said he would trade Jose Guillen and Felix Rodriguez for prospects. Well, if you're going to trade Guillen during his walk year, why not trade Alfonso Soriano as well. The two of them could bring several promising minor leaguers in return, not to mention saving $14 million in salary. I mean, they could buy each Nationals' fan a team jacket with that kind of money.

Those are the easy choices; there might have to be some hard ones as well. Right now, the only position players who are guaranteed a job under the new ownership are Ryan Zimmerman, Jose Vidro and Brian Schneider. I know, I know; Nick Johnson just signed that long-term deal, but at a price that would allow him to be easily moved to another team if Larry Broadway (.354 at New Orleans) becomes too good to remain at AAA or if a stud becomes available on the free-agent market. Ryan Church and Marlon Byrd could both be ready to become full-time players, but not on the same team. Both have .280-15-70 potential, good numbers for a third outfielder on a great team. Both starting both, though, would indicate a team without a strong offense.

Is Livan Hernandez' contract as bloated as he is? I guess it depends if all those innings have taken a toll on his arm, like it appeared until that last game against the Cardinals. His eight million dollars could go a long way to help buy the team a new shortstop. Jon Rauch, at least so far, has shown that he just might be ready to take his place next to John Patterson as soon-to-be studs in the starting rotation.

The team has many middle relievers and backup position players that will be in demand as contending team's begin their push towards the playoffs. The fact that G.M. Jim Bowden signed about 100 of them this off season shows that they are easily replaceable.

2006 is a lost season. Like I've said in many previous posts, I probably love this team more than last season's because they need the love more. But by adding prospects gained along with free agents signed, the Nationals could answer both it's short and long-term needs in one short year. My guess is that Mr. Lerner will buy the team two star-quality position players and at least one star type pitcher.

You know that old saying, "Things look darkest before the dawn?" Well, who ever said it was right. The lowest point this team will have to face is happening right now. Once Mr. Lerner is formally announced as "savior," the dawn will make the team's future very, very bright.

Yeah, baby. That's what I'm talking about.


Comments:
Good post, Farid. Only two points of disagreement. I think Vidro has to go and I think Livan has to stay.

Vidro is older, injury-prone, and paid a lot of money. We simply can't be caught with him whenever his skills go away completely.

Livan is nothing if not an innings eater. If we don't have enough of them, it's going to hurt our other pitchers by default. Every starter moves up a spot (tougher competition) every reliever would have to work that much more.
 
I still think Broadway should get a look in LF. If he proves capable, it's a way to get another serviceable bat into the lineup.
 
You know that old saying, "Things look darkest before the dawn?" Well, who ever said it was right.

Ohhhh, this is scary. This gave me serious deja vu.
 
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