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NATS BETTER THAN ROYALS, BUT STANDINGS DON'T SHOW IT

[May 13th] -- I have been trying to write this post for several days now, but with each succeeding devastating loss, it became more and more difficult to sit down and write about the Nationals.

I'll try now.

The Washington Nationals have twelve wins this season, only two more than the Kansas City Royals. In the standings at least, the teams seem equally bad. But in reality, that's not the case at all. Where the Royals are composed of guys either trying to make it in the big leagues or not good enough to play anywhere else, the Nationals' roster is peppered with all stars and budding super-stars. Yet, both teams are on pace to win roughly the same number of games come October 1st. Reggie Sanders is leading all of the Royals position players with four home runs. Five Nats have four or more homers, with two players in double figures. Few if any of the Royals would have much of a chance of starting on most other major league teams -- certainly none of them would start on the Nationals. Their free agent prize of 2006, Reggie Sanders, signed with the Royals because no one else wanted him, or at least at a dollar figure Sanders sought. Of the Nationals' eight starters, six of them (Schneider, Johnson, Vidro, Zimmerman, Soriano and Guillen) would start on many other teams. Even with the Nationals so thread-bare in the starting rotation, I don't see a single Royals' starter joining the Nats' rotation.

So why are the teams virtually tied in the standings?

First, the wear and tear of the past few years has got to have harmed the club, first as the Montreal Expos playing in front of Minor League crowds in stadiums north, and south, of the continental United States, and later as the Nats, with no owner, no stadium, no support from the D.C. City Council and no foreseeable hope for still some time to come. Second, while I like Frank Robinson, he seems to be making more tactical mistakes per game then any other manager I can think of. While the players publicly say they like Frank, I'll bet that they make fun of him behind closed doors.

On opening day, before a game was played, the Nationals looked like a 76 win team, a franchise who had six out of eight starters who likely would be part of the team for years to come. The starting pitching was thin, but the new owner's checkbook would have easily taken care of that by the time the next opening day rolled around. Now, new team president Stan Kasten has said that the team is going to build through the farm system, and that no new payroll dollars will be added anytime soon.

The players now know that there is only one option left on the table. Many of them will be traded in the coming weeks and months for those very minor league prospects that Kasten believes is going to turn the team around. How difficult it must be for a player to keep his mind on what's going on at home plate when he's unsure what's going to happen to him, and his team, tomorrow, or perhaps the next day.

Kasten and team Lerner might as well begin the process of trading the team's stars now. The Royals are proof that the difference between a good team playing bad and a bad team playing bad is only two games in the standings.


Comments:
The Nats should think long an hard before dumping players like Nick Johnson for prospects. Dumping proven solid major league players for prospects is a gamble because only a small percentage of prospects ever turn out to be good major league players. The Yankees have feasted off other teams for years by scooping up budding stars in exchange for a bunch of propects who never pan out.
 
I assume that Vidro is the missing sixth name in your list of the Nats starters who would start on many other teams?
 
Phil is 100% right, espeically when it comes to pitching prospects. You've got to trade for nearly certain major leaguers. An example of how to do it right? Trading Mulder for Haren. Someone young and unproven but that you've seen enough of in the majors to figure he'll at least be useful rotation filler,if not a star.

And don't pick on Reggie Sanders. The fact that more teams don't want him to start for them is the curious thing. .265 20+Hrs every year for relative peanuts from 1999-2005. How can the same player be a steal 5 out of 7 years?
 
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