As anyone who has read this blog for a while knows, I don't take kindly to teams saying "they can't afford" to do anything. For the vast majority of teams, yes, yes they can afford to do it. It's that the owners choose not to. Which is fine - their team, their choice, but let's call it what it is. The Nats are saying money is an issues in two different areas.
First they are saying they are out of the Tanaka bidding. This doesn't bother me as much because the outlay of money is quite large and the implication from Rizzo is that the large amount of money that would be spent here will be spent to sign some current young Nats to long term deals. If you aren't going to be luxury tax payers (and it is onerous) it would be hard to do all three, given the money already promised to Werth, Zimm, and Gio and other contracts (Stras, Bryce) coming up.
The second one though is a big penny-wise pound foolish to me. Boz writes :
But Rizzo had a tight budget for a lefty reliever and backup catcher. The Nats couldn’t — or wouldn’t — go for more than a one-year deal.
Really? Of the names he mentioned some of the deals are very small. Molina signed a 2 year deal... for 2.5 million total. Matt Thornton signed a 2 year, 7 million dollar deal. No offense but 3.5 million? 1.25 million? This has to be considered throw away money for a team going all out to challenge for a playoff spot. If you don't think these guys make your team better that's fine, but if you didn't want to go 2 years 3 million for Molina because "what if I'm stuck with him for 1.5 million in 2015!" then you shouldn't be owning a major league team.
The second thing that causes a tiny bit of worry is the whole "Doug Fister will be great just like Zimmermann is great because of the range of our infielders" thing. That could be true. It also could be that the Nats are relying on something that will get worse over the next few years. Zimmerman's range was a horrendous -10.2 last year. Even if you think it was because he was hurt and he was better at the end of the year, he hasn't had good range since 2010. Adam LaRoche had a poor year in the field last year, and for someone getting old and never a great fielder that portends another subpar season. Anthony Rendon, while theoretically a plus a second base, is still a bit of a question mark. He was a very good fielder but one who based on scouting reports relied on quick action more than pure range. That's perfect for thirds but not quite as good for 2nd base. Add in the fact that his ankles are made of chicken bones and I worry about him as well. Finally, while range has never been an issue for Desmond, he continues to have issues with errors.
Add it all together and you had an infield D that was fairly average last year. It has potential to be worse if Rendon's good year was a mirage and LaRoche continues to slide (I expect Zimm to bounce back a little bit) I'm not saying DOOOM! or anything like that. This won't make ZNN or Fister or anyone else bad pitchers, but if you are counting on great infield D to make them superior pitchers... well I wouldn't count on that.