The idea floating around out there, even perpetuated by the front office, is that the Nats will be mild buyers this trade period. This would seem to suggest they understand what a lot of us understand: The Nats have some decent pieces right now. There is no reason yet to think there is a bright future certain for the Nats. Maybe the Nats should go for something right now.
OK fine, let's say the Nats do that. Then how do they get better, because they need to get significantly better on both offense and pitching to make any serious runs at the playoffs. If this is just a - let's keep Dunn and Willingham around and go for .500 -then what's the point? You could trade them - make some savvy signings and be right back around there with a couple more prospects in your pocket. No, this has to be about making a real push at the postseason.
Offensively they can improve in 5 slots. Catcher, 2nd, short, center and right. Catcher though will be tough to improve on (there just aren't a lot of good options out there) they already have Pudge signed for next year, they have Jesus coming back and arguably their best position minor leaguers (Norris, Bryce) are catchers. It seems like they are stuck here.
Short is possible, as is center but sigining a player for either position would be giving up on a plan that the Nats were "committed" to just 3 short months ago. Nyjer and Desmond would be cheap players. Nyjer would provide speed and fielding while Desmond would grow into a better hitter and fielder. You could sign someone for right but then you'd be going over Bernadina. It's a little early to claim that he's going to keep hitting well but so far he's been decent.
So if you want to stay committed to the plan and the one pleasant surprise the Nats have gotten this year the only place to improve is 2nd base. Is Chase Utley available? Because honestly that's the type of improvement they'd need at 2nd base to make a serious difference in their offense with just one player.
It has to be at least two positions. Which means giving up on someone, Desmond, Morgan, Bernadina, Flores (if they go after Victor Martinez), they have to write off someone at the end of the year. This makes the 2nd half of this year critical for these players. If the Nats are serious about getting better in 2011 and 2012 they likely have to kick someone to the curb. Right now it would almost certainly be Morgan, who looks completely lost, but it could easily be any of these guys. There's a lot of baseball left to play.
Of course the Nats could stay the course - if Morgan and Desmond look a lot better in the 2nd half and if Bernadina continues to hit well and if Flores comes back this year and looks good. if if if if.
And this is just the offense...