First Yay Lannan!
The sweep of the Cardinals has only heightened a belief that was being made apparent by the "Don't Trade Marquis" movement. Nats fans want to win sooner rather than later. "Big deal", you say. "Everyone wants that". Well it is a big deal when sooner= 2012 and later = 2014. This isn't about giving up on a future that may never happen. The Nats will be better. This is about how much they'll be better, how soon they'll be better, and how long they'll be better.
Let's all agree that the goal is to be playoff level competitive in 2013. Maybe not high 80s / low 90s in wins, but at worst a bad-luck low 80s team with all signs pointing to a great 2014. What is the best way to get there? Do you start going "all-in" spending money on mid-level signings that are more luxuries than necessities to get that extra 2-3 wins? Or do you keep on building looking for players that can come up fairly quickly but are probably not going to make an impact on next year?
This next month is when that decision has to be made... maybe. Marquis, and on some level Nix - though only because the Nats OF situation is so dicey, is exactly the type of player I described. They don't bring enough extra talent to the table to be necessities, but are more useful than your run of the mill 3/4 starter and 3rd/4th OF. Resigning both of them would more likely than not put the Nats in line for a season with a couple more wins in 2012 than the alternative. (let's ignore the fact for now that they can trade them AND resign them). But does that mean the same for 2013? Maybe 2014?
Trading them sets up the possibility of something really special in 2013 and beyond. The right deals could fill the Nats to busting with young cheap major league talent through 2016. That could afford them more room to make key signings. With luck it could build a nice 4+year run or so. But it could also just end up being a small step back if those players don't pan out (which is always a strong possibility with prospects) When you hope to compete for a Wild Card (or more) every win does matter.
From what I gather Nats fans are tired of looking toward the future. They have their great young players in Strasburg and Bryce. They'd rather take the better bet on the near future, and hope through luck and $$$ that the far end of the run takes care of itself. Is that being short sighted or is it reasonable given that they know even regarded draft (like 2007) can disappoint?
The Nats may be one or two moves away from something really special and this win now attitude could be impatience that leads to a Nats team that always seems one player short of making it. Or it could be knowingly striking while the iron is hot. Fans are pretty sure 2012 can be good, who knows what could happen by 2014?
I stand firmly in the trade side. (and like I said this is ignoring the fact that you can re-sign these guys after a deal and I wouldn't be against that) The market seems to indicate that Marquis will be one of the hottest commodities on the market and his recent pitching is only helping drive up that interest. One right deal, one smart deal even if it's for a great A-ball guy that doesn't see the light of day until late 2013, to me that seems worth losing a player like Marquis. He's not a difference maker. You might be able to get back someone that is. You also insulate yourself against the possibilty of things going poorly in 2012. Another key injury or some steps back by young players and the 2013 dream could die. By not trading you are essentially wasting these years, if this happens.
But I don't live and die with the Nats. If they don't make the playoffs in the next few years I won't be crushed. That factors into my cold heartless robot opinions. If I were a die-hard than keeping Marquis might make more sense. They team has a chance now to win. They are better. They should keep continuing to improve. To not make a run now seems cruel, even if there might be a much better opening coming up, because that "might" also means "might not".
It's a tough decision for Rizzo and company. I hope for their sakes, and everyone elses, whichever way they choose to go works out.