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[August 18th] -- I was busy working on another story yesterday when I heard about the Wily Mo Pena trade. I pushed the "clear" button and began to try to make sense of Jim Bowden's latest deal.

The previous story dealt with Austin Kearns and Ryan Church. I was going to suggest that the only way the Nationals could become a contending team with Kearns and Church in the outfield would be for them to share the same position. Kearns is batting .302 with a .901 OPS against lefties, .239 and .663 OPS against right-handers. Church has a .279, .801 OPS against righties and just .229, .665 against lefties. Were the two to share right field next year, they could easily combine for a .290-23-90 or better.

I had written, "The Nationals have several outfielders who play well in certain situations. Now Manny Acta needs to put them in situations where they will succeed."

So what do they do? They bring in yet another "part" to the puzzle.

Pena, 25, does have tremendous potential. Thus far, however, he hasn't lived up to it. Pena's problem is the same as that of Austin Kearns; he can't hit righties. This year, he's hitting .279, .819 OPS against lefties, .229, .665 OPS vs. right-handers.

For now, Manny has said that he is going to platoon Pena with Ryan Church, which makes a lot of sense were it not for the fact that Austin Kearns will continue to flail against righties. If Kearns faced all right-handers in a 550 at-bat season, his numbers would look like this: .239.. 21 doubles .. 0 triples .. 10 homers .. 51 RBI's .. 353 slugging %.

Kearns has never hit right-handers during his career. Neither has Pena. Unless the Nationals find another potent lefty bat to help out in right field, I don't see how the Nationals helped themselves with this move. At first glance, it seems as though the team did little more than bring in another broken part.

P.S. Jose Guillen is hitting .287-16-70 in Seattle. Just thought I'd mention it.

Chico Down, Not Out: Matt Chico has been demoted to Columbus where he'll start 2-3 games before returning when the roster expands September 1st.

This never would have happened if the Nationals had been as bad as everyone expected this year. If the team's record was, say 49-73, I doubt the team would have made this move. But because the team has the opportunity to surpass last year's record (and embarrass a lot of writers and journalists and fans), I'm afraid that the team is now beginning to place wins over continuing to grow their talent. Seems to me that Chico is better served working out his problems at the big-league level. There is a reason why so many players succeed in the minors while failing at the major league level. Who is to say that Chico's mechanical corrections in Columbus will return with him to Washington come September?

Tom Glavine went 7-17, 4.56 in his first year. He was never demoted. The Braves that year were much worse than the Nationals. Greg Maddux went 6-14, 5.61 in 1987 after being promoted from 'AAA.' He never went back down. The Cubs were much worse than the Nationals. The point is, Glavine and Maddux were promoted to bad rotations with the knowledge that they were going to have a difficult year. They learned from those difficult starts and I'm sure you'd agree that they have both had rather successful careers. Why then, does Matt Chico go down, replaced by Mike Bacsik of all people?

I thought we were all prepared to go through growing pains this year. What happened?

Oh My Gosh! So, what's needed to turn the current group of Nationals' players into a contender? Three players. Add Aaron Rowand and Adam Dunn (which the team can afford) and the team will be soooo close to contending for a playoff spot next year.

A starting pitcher would just about cinch it, but the going rate is just rediculous. If Barry Zito's $18 million a year didn't bother you, how about Carlos Zambrano's new deal with the Chicago Cubs. Zambrano, with 72 career wins, has earned an $18 million per year conract over five years.

It sounds as though it's going to take that much to sign any pitcher worth signing. That is, why spend $12 or $13 million dollars for a guy who's barely (if at all) going to win half the games he starts.

No. Looks like it's going to be aquisition via trade, at least for now.

Michael Burgess was selected with the pick awarded for Guillen signing with Seattle. Just thought I'd mention it. ;)
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