SO I'VE BEEN THINKING ....
While I'm happy, no I'm elated -- happy is how I feel when my son cleans his room while elated is how I feel when I realize how close I am to graduating from college -- about the deal, I'm feeling a little disoriented right now. For the past couple of months, we've all known that Stan Kasten and Jim Bowden were going to trade away all the stars come the middle of July and the team would then begin a rebuilding process that would last several years.
How exactly is this rebuilding?
The Nationals now have five players who should be in the starting lineup when the new stadium opens. Brian Schneider, Nick Johnson, Felipe Lopez, Ryan Zimmerman and Austin Kearns are slam-dunk guarantees to around for the next several years. If Alfonso Soriano re-signs, something that is becoming more and more possible with each passing day, the Nationals will have six starters in place. If John Patterson and Mike O'Connor remain in the starting rotation, the Nats will need, what, two position players and three starting pitchers to flesh out the team. The Nationals have a few players, like Kory Casto, who will be ready in 2008 as well.
So, where's the rebuilding?
Perhaps Jim Bowden will trade away another three or four starters in the next week and things will begin to play out as we'd all imagined, but what if -- what if Bowden and Stan Kasten looks at the team's starting lineup tonight in Pittsburgh and says, "Wow, I like that!" What then? Might the Lerners dip into their pockets and buy a pitcher or two on the free-agent market and tell Bowden to "go for it" in 2007? Rotoworld was so impressed with the trade that they said they would "take back everything we've said about Jim Bowden," ending by saying that the Nationals could make a "playoff run" with the team as assembled this year.
So if the Nationals are suddenly "close" to being a "plus" team again, why blow it up after making what the pundits at ESPN called the "steal of the century?" Wouldn't it make more sense to, say, trade Livan Hernandez, Ramon Ortiz, Jose Vidro and Jose Guillen for prospects, (pitching, pitching, pitching), use Marlon Anderson and/or Damian Jackson at second, and resign Alfonso Soriano to a long term deal and then "call it good?"
Suddenly, I'm no longer a proponent of "blowing it all up and starting over." Finally, I like the texture of this team. Let's see what Bowden does next. I wiped his slate clean after this remarkable trade. For the first time, I think the guy has a "vision," a workable idea that, with a little bit of patience and a lot of Mr. Lerner's dollars, can work.
I'm willing to wait and see. I don't want to, mind you; I'm to excited. But I will. Jim Bowden has earned it.
NATS NOTES: I scanned all the blogs and articles written yesterday for the best line or remark regarding the trade. My favorite comes from Bucs Dugout with a story entitled "At least we're not the Reds Today." How priceless is that? Here is a Pirates blogger, suffering through one of his team's worst seasons ever, and he's telling his readers, "Hey! It could be worse ... we could be the Reds." Too funny.
If Bowden can spin any one or hell, any combination of Livan, Ramon, Vidro, and Guillen for a good young starter then I'd probably lean into the "keep Soriano" camp. I think Katsen would go and sign that one guy we might need and then I think we could closer than we think to being a good team. But if Bowden can't do that I still think you have to trade Alfonso, because buying a couple of pitchers that are good on the free-agent market is not cheap and I don't see Katsen bumping up payroll next year 15-20 million
Yes, I so excited about the McLain trade when it happened. Somehow, I didn't realize what Bob Short gave up. And of course, McLain went 10-22 that year and Joe Coleman wan 20 games a couple of times for the Tigers. That said, I firmly believe that you can pick up enough middle-relief during the winter to make your team above-average in the pen. Sign a bunch of one-year wonders and call it good.
This trade is a building block. At some point, you have to have major league hitters in your lineup. They are hard to find. But middle-relief? They aren't a "dime a dozen," but they're close.
Why did you have to remind me about that McLain trade? It still hurts .... :)
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