The first paragraphs are a trick of the mind, really. Rather than start with the point, that this is the Nats plan and it may not work out, he sells the plan first. This downplays the uncertainty and plays up the potential. And he sells it in a particular way, a way that's necessary to make it work. He points out the possible best case scenarios / rosy views on the young players the Nats may bring up while leaving the current players simply named. This forces the reader to fill in the blanks on how these players will produce. What you end up doing, in most cases, is fill those in with how these players perform today. In essence, he, and us along for the read, builds a super team using the older players performances from the 2015 seasons and the younger players potential best outcomes for 2018.
In another section he frames the question for 2016 as not about winning this year but looking at the future. And again we see how Boz's positivity works. Here are the questions he asks :
How do the key kids look? How fast will they arrive? When will they become front-line contributors? What’s their ceiling: good or exceptional?Notice the lack of uncertainty and potential for failure here. It's assumed they will arrive, the question is "how fast" it will happen. It's assumed they will be front-line contributers, again the question is merely one of timing. It's assumed that their ceiling doesn't fall under "good". In Boz's head the question is not if the Nats young players are going to be good major league players. He's decided that that is a fact. The question is only if the timing works out.
He goes through players noting how they are both ready for the major leagues and yet needing time in the minors, or how they've turned a corner. It's not until about 2/3rds down in the column where a negative point is made. Treinen gets hit. How does Boz respond to his own question? By having Baker compare Treinen to Schilling, Ryan and Randy Johnson.** His next, and last, negative comment is about MAT's K issues, but it's surrounded by a crazy amount of positives. "wasn't over matched" "big hits at big times" "plus-plus center fielder who’ll steal bases and has power and a strong arm" oh yeah Ks a lot "superstar potential" "relaxed in the clutch - so rare!"
I've cut down on my Boz stuff over time because I've come to accept him for what he is; a great writer who happens to be a Nats fanboy. But this one was just a bit too over the top for me. It also connects to something I mentioned in yesterday's comments. Then, I was for the shutdown. I thought the Nats had a future that should be taken care of. Now, I'm for starting Giolito in the rotation. I think the Nats should play for today. What changed? Did I change? Perhaps a little. But the circumstances changed as well.
Here are the players the Nats had under control for 3 years that were 27 or under that had just given the Nats a good major league season in 2012:
Their proven set-up man; Clippard 27
Their closer; Storen 24
Four starters, one of which was thought of as a generational talent; Gonzalez 26, Detwiler 26, Zimmermann 26, Strasburg 23
Their starting shortstop and second baseman and third baseman; Desmond 26, Espinosa 25, Zimmerman 27
And a starting OF, again a player thought of as a generational talent; Bryce 19
That my friends is a core (and I didn't even put in Ramos, 24, catcher starter of the future who got injured and didn't play enough in 2012). Ten set positions likely filled for the next three seasons with young cheap talent (only Zim was under a big contract). Here's who fits the same description after 2015:
A potential set-up man : Rivero 23
That generational starting OF : Bryce 22
You could expand the 2015 group to include Ross, 22, a starting pitcher who gave them 40% of a season, but there's no comparison. If we look after 2016 things could be different.
Set-up man Rivero 24, starting SS Turner 23, starting 3B Rendon 26, starting OF Taylor 25, starting OF Bryce 22, starting pitchers Ross 23 and Giolito 21
That's pretty good, seven set positions, and you might start to argue that it's almost as good as 2012, but then you run into another issue. You can't look at it as 3 years because Bryce is only set for 2 more after 2016. And we're talking hypotheticals here. The 2012 players had done it. The 2016 players might do it. There's no way around it. The optimism for after 2015 should be much lower than the 2012 optimism based on talent alone.
Then there's also the issue of the competition. After 2012 the NL East looked to be a two-team battle in the future. The Phillies might have one more year left or the Mets or Marlins might put it together by 2015, but those arguments didn't seem very compelling based on how these teams were being run. It looked like the Nats v Braves for the next few years and then the Braves fell apart. From 2012-2015 the 3rd best team in the NL East didn't get to .500. There was only one team (and in 2014 no teams) in the Nats way.
The future going forward from 2015 doesn't seem as bright. The Mets look better situated to be a force for the next few years than the Braves did after 2012. The Braves are building up to be good soon after they move and the Phillies are once again under competent control and look to be on the right path as well, both having arguably Top 10 minor league systems (as do the Nats). The climb for the next group of young Nats will be much harder.
This is just looking at the East. In 2012 the Nats had the most young talent in the NL performing at the major league level. In 2015 it's the Cubs. The Nats could pass them, in theory, if all their players work out but still I hope the point has been made. Post-2012 was such a unique time, such a rare combination of talent coming together all at once right as the path to success seemed most clear, you could justify, in my mind, putting off today for tomorrow. Tomorrow's uncertainty didn't seem as great. The Nats seemed guaranteed to be successful for the next few years (and they were, just not as successful as they would have liked) Post-2015, I see it far differently. The talent hasn't come together yet. The path to success does not look clear. Tomorrow's uncertainty is high. The Nats don't seemed guaranteed of anything.
So bet on today I say. Boz may be wearing shades, but for me, the future isn't quite that bright.
** Both Ryan and Schilling "got it" at 25. Randy took a little longer really breaking through at 29. Randy and Nolan were never hittable. Schilling had some issues but got there by 28. Blake is hittable. Blake will be 28 this year. Blake isn't Schilling, Ryan or Randy.