SO, NOW WHAT?
Okay. The unknown is now known, as if we didn't know, you know? ( I don't think my 9th grade English teacher would have appreciated that last sentence) The point is we no longer have to worry about Soriano and his prospective cut of the Nationals $60 odd million dollar payroll for 2007.
Near as I can figure, the Nationals don't need very many (or any) free agent position players. Let's run down the starting eight (taking into account that some players may be out of their opening day position):
- 1B: Nick Johnson
- 2B: Felipe Lopez
- SS: Cristian Guzman
- 3B: Ryan Zimmerman
- LF: Kory Casto / Mike Restovich
- CF: Alex Escobar or Nook Logan
- RF: Austin Kearns
- C: Brian Schneider
And The reserves:
- [C] Brandon Harper
- [INF/OF] Robert Fick
- [INF] Bernie Castro
- [INF] To Be Determined
- [OF] Mike Restovich or Kory Casto
- [OF] Nook Logan or Alex Escobar
The starting eight will be strong enough and competitive enough with the other team's in the NL East. The reserves, are as good as the group that ended last season, maybe a little better (assuming that the team can sign another Marlon Anderson or Daryle Ward to fill the one open position).
Ryan Church is Jose Vidro are conspicuous by their omission. I can't see the Nationals keeping Vidro for another season -- he can still hit but he is embarrassing both himself and the team in the field. MLB scouts say that Felipe Lopez is a below average short stop but could be an above average second baseman. Cristian Guzman should be healthy and raring to make amends for his horrid 2005 season. My guess is that Vidro (and a significant amount of cash) will be shipped off for some so-so prospects, Lopes will move to second and Guzman will return to short.
I would miss Church, one of my favorite players. He would seem to be the odd-man out in the Nationals' outfield merry-go-round, especially if Escobar is healthy and the team fufills its promise to Kory Casto -- that he would get the chance to compete for the starting left-field spot if Soriano wasn't resigned. Church should bring a decent starting pitcher, and won't be missed if - if (if) Escobar remains healthy and/or Nook Logan repeats his 2006 September seven times next year. I think Kasto is ready, and Restovich is reliable. Kearns is good enough in right (see Chris, I said something positive about the guy).
And don't forget Jose Guillen. He could just as easily come back next season on a incentive-based contract and (almost) replace Soriano. Could a healthy Guillen hit .290-28-110? You bet he could, and provide a much better defense at the same time.
Now, the starting rotation is a different matter:
- John Patterson (assuming he's healthy and assuming 2005 wasn't a fluke)
- Mike O'Connor (assuming he pitches like his first month and not his last two)
- Shawn Hill (assuming he pitches like his first couple of starts and not his last few)
- Beltran Perez (assuming his last start was the fluke and not his first two)
- Jon Rauch (assuming he's willing to move into the rotation this year)
As you can see, we have five "assuming's" and zero "likely's." That's just scary as heck. The only way Jason Bergman and Billy Traber will make the Nationals' staff are as relievers. In reality, the Nats need to acquire three starting pitchers. Based on the ridiculous free-agent costs we've seen thus far, you'd have to assume that trades are the only venue that can add starters to the staff. Who do they have as bait?
- Ryan Church
- Jose Vidro
- Larry Broadway
So, the Nationals don't have any "stars" ready to move into the rotation in their farm system, and they aren't going to pay top-dollar for bargain-basement retreads, and they don't have many tradeable players that could fetch some arms.
So, now what?
I'm afraid that the Nationals only real option is to stock the rotation with pitchers who might one day be solid major league pitchers. Mike O'Connor, Shawn Hill and Beltran Perez are certainly no worse than Mark Redman of the Royals (11-10, 5.71). He's a free agent and will likely cost more than Ramon Ortiz did last year. Why spend the money? In the minors, guys like Marco Estrada or Matt Chico might get an opportunity if they have a "lights out" spring.
I just don't see the Nationals doing very much in the free agent market save signing a reserve infielder or a couple of relievers. That said, isn't what those twenty-one minor league free agents were signed for? No, I think the team is basically set, with any questions answered from within the organization.
And that's not a bad thing. We're all ready for some tough times for the next couple of years. Remember the old Fram oil filter ad, "You can pay me now, or you can pay me later?" We can pay for the hard times today, or we can pay later. I'd just as soon pay now and get it over with.
Heck, I'm 50; I'm not sure how many more seasons I have left in me.
Let's get on with it.
1. Trade Chad Cordero for Jeremy Sowers(LHP)of Indians.He's age 23 and the Nationals lost more games in the first 2-3 innings than in the last inning.Ayala or Zinicola can be the closer.
2. Trade Ryan Church for Charlie Heager(RHP)of the White Sox who is age 22 knuckleball pitcher tudored by Charlie Hough.
3. Trade Larry Broadway for Andy Sonnanstine(RHP)of devil Rays who is age 23 side-arm pitcher more advanced tham Chico & Mock
4. Trade Jon Rauch & another reliever for Elijah Dukes(CF)(S/R)
of Devil Rays. Dukes is a problem child with 5-tool potential(AAA)who the devil Rays would like to unload and they need good set-up man and short reliever.
from Doc Luv
1. Brandon Harper(C)(R/R)
2. J.R.House(C/1B/PH)(R/R)power hitter & minor league free agent!!
3. Daryle Ward(1B/OF/PH0(L/L)power hitter
4. Brian Daubach(PH)(L/R)Still has some pop in bat & minor league free agent!!
5. Restovich(R/R)or Casto (L/L)
6. Mark Reynolds(Inf/Of)(R/R) power hitting machine who can play anywhere.Trade with Arizona
Remember that Casto can play 3B!