SO FAR, ALL'S QUIET ON THE TRADE FRONT
[November 29th] -- I believed Jim Bowden when he said that this might be a quiet off-season, but I didn't realize just how serious he was. Trades and signings have been coming hot and heavy for a couple of weeks now -- teams are filling their needs quickly -- and yet not a peep from the Washington Nationals. Oh, there has been a flury of rumors. Nick Johnson and Brian Schneider are being courted by the Yankees and Chad Cordero is being dangled in front of Theo Epstein and the Red Sox. Maybe they're all true, maybe none of them are. Tomo Ohka says he'd be interested in returning to Washington. Uh-huh. Remember what the Japanese manager said to his boss after beating the Giants in the movie "Mr. Baseball?" "It's going to cost you, chief." Sure, Ohka may want to return, but it's going to cost us, probably more than he's worth.
So why has nothing happened yet?
Two reasons, I think. First, the last thing that Stan Kasten wants to do is to freeze salary availability for a bunch of below-average players. Randy Wolf signed a one year deal with the Dodgers for $8 million dollars. Wasn't that what we were paying Livan Hernandez? If the Nationals traded Livan to clear payroll, why would they suddenly want to take back on a similar amount while signing an inferior pitcher? This year's free agent market just doesn't provide the type of players the Nationals need.
Second -- from the sounds of things anyway --, Bowden is looking to trade some of his established players for pitching and then hopes that players in the farm system, guys like Larry Broadway and Kory Casto, can take up the slack. I think that Bowden is willing to trade several more players away to continue to bolster the team's minor league pitching depth. And that makes sense. Like I've said over and over, if the Nationals aren't going to win with Johnson and Schneider, why keep them?
My guess is -- and this is purely subjective opinion -- that the Nats aren't going to do much in the free agent market. Perhaps they'll re-sign Ramon Ortiz, perhaps they'll trade away a few outfielders and take a chance on Jose Guillen on a one-year, incentive laden deal. What I think will happen, however, are a couple of large trades that will completely revamp the 25 man roster. I doubt that Bowden will trade Schneider (the team has no one else), but the rest of the team's young veterans will be available.
Don't fret being about able to hear the hush-puppy footsteps around the Nationals' offices these days. The noise will come soon enough, and then, as they say, "you can't tell the players without a scorecard."
How'd you figure that? John Sickles has predicted how Ryan Zimmerman will hit. Not next year, mind you. For the rest of his career. Sickles figures that Zim will play until he's 40, hit for a .284 career average and whack 446 home runs. Though I have no idea what parameters he uses to figure all those numbers, my prediction earlier this summer is almost identical.
Probably, we're both just as wrong.
You might not be aware of this, but the Orioles have been floating Jose Guillen's name publicly for a week now. I still thinks its better for him to come back to DC. But, it appears that The Nats have no interest in him, right now. If healthy, despite his DIVA status, he could help us, not just now--but a few years down the line. Guillen could still carry the team.