Nationals Baseball: Not all bad

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Not all bad

My post yesterday had a distinct "Losers Forever" feeling to it and I didn't want you to get the wrong impression. Just because the Nats can't be winners now or in the near future doesn't mean the team is being managed poorly. (It does mean the team WAS managed poorly but that's a different post)

In my mind if the team keeps going the way it is - signing draft picks, stockpiling what minor league talent they have, making smart free agent signings and the occasional smart trade - they can keep moving in the right direction. Talent wise they'll get let's say 5 wins better every 3-4 years, and will top out probably in the 80-85 win range before there has to be some change in strategy.* When talent wise you top out at 85 wins well then in "good years" where everything is clicking you can challenge for Wild Cards or pennants. Of course there will be bad years in this decade long march. It won't be 1-2 wins more every years. More like 2010 : 71 2011 : 76 2012 : 73 2013 : 77 2014: 78 2015 : 82 2016 : 75 2017 : 84.

* At this point I think you either have to start raising payroll to be in the top of the league or you ned to "go for it" during a "good year". That'll give you a couple year run at the pennant if you're lucky but knock you back down a couple ladder rungs later.

Of course real good luck or real bad luck can mess with this plan. If Bryce is the next Pujols that helps speed things along. If Bryce is the next Shawn Abner that slows it down. That's just the way it works. Every team not throwing money around is going to need some breaks along the way.

Trading Dunn, Livan, Guzman, would be part of this strategy, though it would probably mean next year would be a slight step back, say 70 wins instead of 75. Not trading them would delay the progress for the sake a few more wins in the next couple years, but with a little luck and a savvy signing or two that could mean a WC challenging team. The only thing that would be detrimental to this team would be losing what little minor league depth they have. Dealing several guys under 25 in a quixotic run to 88 wins would be a mistake.

The team is on a boat to respectability, it's just a slow one.


Hoo said...

"The only thing that would be detrimental to this team would be losing what little minor league depth they have. Dealing several guys under 25 in a quixotic run to 88 wins would be a mistake. "

Not sure I entirely agree with this. If the Nats can get one of the missing pieces, RF or 2b for example by trading several prospects, I think that's a gamble strongly worth considering. Not for a half season of a player but thru 2013.

The first thing is obviously break open the wallet. Then it's look at trading for a difference maker. And I wouldn't mind trading a few prospects for a stud, (although it would probably have to be many, many considering how weak the minor league system is)

DezoPenguin said...

Hmm...While dealing guys like Livan while their value is very likely at max is one thing, I get very dubious about the idea of flushing what little quality talent we have now in the hope of developing quality talent in the future. Yes, with good luck and a dedication to good talent management, the Nats could turn into the next Rays. The problem is, there's only one Tampa Bay and a lot more Pittsburghs, where they keep trading away quality talent and never getting any better.

Admittedly, I don't want to see management thinking they're Houston or Baltimore, either (under the delusion they can challenge for the series every year), but if we're going to trade Dunn--a good, reasonably young player who for Heaven knows what reason actually wants to stay and play baseball in Washington, we'd better make sure we get an extreme return.

Harper said...

Hoo - Granted everything is relative, who the Nats get back and what their contracts are in comparison to who they give up, so nothing is impossible, but if the Nats give up what little depth they have they are just a couple injuries or total flameouts from being right back at the bottom of the minor league pile. As we've seen that's a hell of a place to dig yourself out from.

DezPenguin - I think that'll end up being the key to the whole offseason. If they can pry away a good prospect - like some AA player ready to be an everyday major leaguer in 1 maybe 2 years, then you let Dunn go and you then look at Willingham and Capps and say listen let's see what we can do to make this the best 2013 team possible. If you can't get that 3rd poetntial anchor (along with Strasburg and Zimmerman) then you go with what you got and keep building the minors slowly

Hoo said...

Harper: I approach this from the standpt that I want the Nats to keep Zimmerman for his career. If the Nats are still bumbling along in 2013, he's likely gone. I think in the back of his mind, he's ready for a playoff run in the next 2 years and getting rid of Dunn, W'ham pretty much precludes that from happening.

Of course, depleting the minor leagues isn't even a consideration if thee's no "opening up the big checkbook for next year."

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