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BOWDEN: WE'RE CLOSE TO MAKING CHANGES

[May 21st] -- That the Washington Nationals won their game Saturday night is newsworthy, I guess. Sporting the fourth worst record in the Major Leagues, the Nats played well in their 8-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. But the team made more news Saturday night, not for something they have done, but rather for something they are likely about to do.

In an interview with Bill Ladson at the team's official website, team general manager Jim Bowden for the first time indicated that the Nationals are considering jettisoning several of their veteran players. In fact, it seemed that the only thing keeping players like Felix Rodriguez, Royce Clayton and Joey Eischen on the 25 man roster is money. Not only would the team have to pay off the contracts of the veterans, but they would also incur the cost of the kids joining the team. But they aren't the only veterans who could lose their job to the team's youth movement. Damian Jackson could go as well. Do the Nationals need both Robert Fick and Marlon Anderson? Daryle Ward and Matthew LeCroy seem repetitive; they might keep one of them.

Bowden said that Billy Bray, Saul Rivera and Santiago Ramirez are ready now, while Kory Casto, Frank Diaz and Shawn Hill will be ready very soon. Casto will be moved back to the outfield, his original position, if the Nationals can't resign Alfonso Soriano, something that I doubt will happen.

Were I the person making the decisions, I would start trading for prospects in another month, when the "big boys" know what they need and know what they're willing to give up. Chad Cordero should be the first to go. A bad team doesn't need a closer, but boy-oh-boy, a pennant contender sure does. How badly would, say, the Braves, want a closer of the caliber of a Chad Cordero? Soriano, who hit his 15th home run on Saturday, is probably coveted by every team in contention. Surprisingly, fifteen teams have contacted the Nationals about Jose Guillen. The Mets have asked about Livan, but Bowden said that at a minimum, he'd want Lastings Milledge in return. Oh brother. Jose Vidro should be traded now, before his knee gives out.

But the house-cleaning needs to go deeper than that. Based on Stan Kasten's "free agents aren't the answer" pledge, it will be several years before the team is competitive again. By that time, both Nick Johnson and Brian Schneider will be in their early 30's and in the last year(s) of their contracts. Might as well trade them now and get some quality prospects in return. Both players could start for 75% of major league teams today. Nick Johnson would make a big difference in Boston or Los Angeles.

The players the Nationals could obtain in return for these players would begin to mature about the time the team moves into it's new stadium. You couldn't ask for better timing.


Comments:
This would never work... its only been what, 40 games, and many people have stop caring because of the shacky start. While the whole prospects speal is the right thing to do, for the fans to stay interested they need to put out at least a decent team. Kasten and who ever is the GM need to get a few good players while signing players like Ward, Guillen ect,. away to the highest bidder for prospects.
 
How easy is it to evaluate Cordero as a trade prospect? He had a fanastic season last year, until he tired in September and became ineffective. This year, in 17 innings pitched, he's given up 6 home runs. I think it would be hard to gauge his endurance without seeing how he handles 45 or 50 innings pitched. And those innings don't have to be save situations to see if he'll adjust his routine so he doesn't keeping allowing a home run every three innings or so. While he's demonstrated tremendous potential, he's far from being a Trevor Hoffman or Bob Wickman, a proven closer over time.
 
How can you speak of jettisoning veterans without including Bowden himself? As so many others have pointed out, the current state of the Nats' on-field product has much to do with his machinations. Just as the team can lose with prospects as well as it can with veterans, so it can be rebuilt without an ineffectual, puppet GM.

In this ultra-PC world of today, ownership can easily use his DUI - whether he's convicted or not - as an excuse to show him the door.
 
Keep Cordero. We aren't paying him squat right now anyway.
 
Agreed, we're not paying him squat, but a contending team in need of a solid closer might part with a "4th outfielder" type, a can't miss prospect and a "throw in," the type of player that turns into a star one out of every six trades. I'm willing to take that chance.
 
Lordy, Farid, you don't want to just have a youth movement, you want to blow the team up. I doubt this city, which was without baseball for thirty plus years, would tolerate five years of forty win seasons. I say, cut the fat, not the muscle. Lerner has enough bread to rebuild the farm system and field a semi competitive team.
PS. We already have about ten fourth outfielders.
 
How "solid" is a young closer who was ineffective after the beginning of September last year and who still has control issues into this May? If the closer on a contending team is ineffective after Labor Day, doesn't that make him useless at best, or, more likely, a liability? There's a difference between prospect, probable and proven. Cordero has shown tremendous potential, and he is young enough he might well be a prospect in most organizations. BUT with his record for HRs allowed (4 HRs in 6 appearances last September, and average of 1 HR in every 3 appearances this year), and the endurance question which showed up last September, he's not a proven, solid closer. Yet.
 
I notice both the Post and the Times are now running stories about how the team can't financially afford to release veterans and call up top minor league prospects like Bray and company. Looks to me like Bowden pretty well planted those stories in the media as a way of defending himself to the public. Still, if true, it's a fair point. Amazing if the team's payroll is so tight they can't afford an extra million dollars to call up three rookies on minimum salary.

That aside, I agree with Phil Dunn and Mariofan. We need to put a competent team on the field between now and '08; at least good enough to credibly aim for .500.
 
I have been reading your blog for some time, but as the Nats have gotten worse in the standings, you have become a bitter, bitter fan. And its difficult to read your stuff. Teams that need to rebuild, don't necessarily have to trade off every single veteran player they have to rebound. Good Veteran players provide STABILITY to younger players and in the long run make the team better as a whole.
Schneider, Johnson and Cordero are CHEAP by any standards. There is no reason to trade them for prospects. You would have NO TEAM. Guillen is trading himself. Soriano is making himself a "MUST HAVE" Power Hitter for any contender. This team has some good players, just not enough of them. Bowden messed up the flexibility of the bench by selling off Jamey Carroll and brought in too many similar skilled journeymen. This will be worked out by new management. Pitching injuries have killed the starting pitching and Ayala's loss has taken the bullpen 2 months to work it way out. Rauch to Stanton to Majewski to Chief is coming together. We have new PROFESSIONAL OWNERS. A NEW STADIUM ON THE WAY. WE HAVE DIRECTION!! Not at the hands of Bud Selig. Calm down. I have been to every home game this year. This team has had a terrible start. Give it 2 months to straighen out. Its baseball, its in our Nation's Capital. The Nats are going to be a GLAMOUR FRANCHISE.
And finally, at saturday nights 8-3 win over the Orioles, RFK STADIUM ROCKED in a way not seen since late in the 2005 season. Fans had something to cheer about, they were letting out their frustrations over the bad start, no TV, some clutch hitting and fielding,and The ANGELOS ORIOLES being in town. IT WAS FANTASTIC. Something you could not understand from your distant view. You need to enjoy the game more.
 
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