Russ Ortiz: A Giant (mistake! HAHHAHAHAHA)
Ryan Franklin: A Cardinal. (it's in there - trust me)
Mark Mulder: A Cardinal. (I got nothing to say I just didn't want to break the parenthesis pattern)
Granted the Nats never made contract offers to these guys, but it shows that pitchers out there are amenable to deals one might consider cheap (Ok not Mulder...why did I even put that guy there). Franklin getting 1 million for 1 yr, Thomson getting 500K for 1 yr and Ortiz getting 380K for one year. Pitchers will accept deals at their level. Which makes you wonder, what kind of deals did the Nats make that they could present 5 of them and end up with apparently no interest?
The offers range from Minor League contracts to $3 million.
If that's true then the Nats must not be offering anything more than 1 year contracts as 3 million is a pretty fair price in this market for a Ramon Ortiz. That's pretty much the right strategy if you are going with the down the "sign someone to take up space" road. You want these guys to spare your arms in 2007, but not any longer than that. The year after you could have young pitchers ready, you could be ready to compete with "real" pitchers, or you could have watched your scrub pitcher pitch himself out of the league. If they do well, you can always sign them again at a modest increase (just like the Nats are looking to do with Ortiz).
Of course pitchers are going to look for that multiple year security, and I guess Ramon, Tony, and Steve are expecting it, I guess. Still you have to wonder why Thomson, Ortiz the Lesser, and Franklin didn't hesitate to sign on for one year, but these 5 apparently are. Are the Nats vastly underpaying? (Say asking Ramon back for 1.5 million?) Is there something about the franchise itself that is unappealing? This is how poor play can perpetuate itself. Bad teams scare away good, and sometimes not so good, talent. Of course money is the great equalizer, so I'm not worried that the Nats can get the guys when they want to if they are willing to pay.
The question becomes, will they? We know the team isn't willing to pay in the short term to achieve minor goals. Will they pay in the future? I'm cautiously optimistic (I'd rather be just plain optimistic, but I have to work with what we know)
This is the first year of the Nats trip to respectability and despite the optimism of Kasten, it could be a long one. The farm system is barren like the Great Plains in winter. As we drive through this stretch to get to sunny green pastures, the team isn't paying for the gameboy to keep us entertained in the meantime, and they aren't deviating from the drive plan, even though some of us swear that we could detour at a site or two and not lose any time. I guess we'll spend the meantime playing the equivalent of the license plate game, seeing if the Nats can get to 70 wins.
Frank is gone. And it seems likely that he was led on a little bit as the team decided the most graceful way to let him go. It's a shame and not the way you'd like to handle a legend. At the same time if he really didn't have a place with the team, it's better that he's not there. It's bad news, but not a bad move. In the end, winning will do the most to interest the city in the Nats, and if they couldn't find a way to make Frank a part of that so be it. Anthony below has a little more to say about this.
Maybe I just didn't notice before but I found this Nats baseball park gallery link intersting. (about half-way down on the page -square in the middle) I'm a big fan of those cherry trees in the bleacher sections.