Not that we get our drawers in a pinch over players who strike out a lot, but Nick Johnson had cut way down on his strikeouts from 2002 to 2003, only to increase his rate with the Expos last year. While it wasn't to 2002 levels, it was a jump from last year:That's it?! I have a load of questions about Johnson, more than I have about any other National. Such as:These are not drastic fluctuations, but he had more walks than strikeouts in 2003, something he couldn't repeat last year. Anytime somebody who struck out 98 times as a rookie gets to the point where they've got more walks than strikeouts, then that's a good sign. Maintaining it would be even better, of course.
- Is Bowden going to trade him?
- If he does, will we get anything good? How about Mike Cameron?
- Will Johnson ever be healthy for a full year?
- What's he going to make in arbitration?
- Even if he is healthy, will he be any good? He put up a .251/.359/.398 line in 2004 and slumped drastically as the season went on, and I don't know why. Nagging injuries? Disinterest? Hangover? That's the kind of thing I'd like to know before I decide what kind of names I want to call Bowden when he makes the trade.
Brad Wilkerson, who appears to be everybody's favorite Nat, avoided arbitration by signing a one-year deal for $3.05 million. Wilk's spent three full years in the majors, and he's been a solid player in all three. 2004 was his best year, an incremental improvement on his '03. That $3 million should be a real bargain. Here's something that bugs me, and the Transaction Guy is only the latest to do it:
I have Wilkerson pencilled in as the Nats’ centerfielder, but if they move Nick Johnson (something they’ve been trying to do all winter) then Wilkerson will move back to first.Consider this: Montreal's manager in 2003 played Endy Chavez in center field 135 times, even though he couldn't hit and Wilkerson was on the roster. In 2004, the Expos manager put Chavez out there in 127 games, and Wilkerson played center only 18 times. Endy Chavez is still on the roster, and Frank Robinson is still the manager. I have no idea why anyone thinks that Robinson is suddenly going to start reading Bill James abstracts and discover that Chavez shouldn't be starting at any position. Wilkerson will be in left field or at first. He will not be a regular centerfielder.
I mentioned Mike Cameron above. It looks like the Mets are about to sign Carlos Beltran, which could impact us a couple of ways. My attainable dream of finishing ahead of the Mets in 2005 is looking a lot less attainable, for one thing. Also, the Mets are apparently going to move Mike Cameron to right field, and they'd be better off trading him. Cameron is a decent hitter, not a great on-base guy but with some power, but his real value is defensive. He's considered one of the handful of greatest defensive centerfielders out there, and putting him in right wastes his greatest talent and gives the Mets a subpar bat for a corner outfield position. The Mets are in need of a first baseman (assuming they don't sign Carlos Delgado), and we have one our GM seems not to want. I don't think Nick Johnson would be enough to get Cameron by himself, and Tomo Ohka would seem to be the most likely other guy to be traded, since he doesn't want to re-sign for what Bowden wants to give him. Should Bowden do Johnson and Ohka for Cameron? I can't decide. Both players coming from the Nats are undervalued in one way or another, and Cameron is six years older than Johnson. However, it would help our remaining pitchers to have a player of Cameron's prowess in center, and it might save the Nats money, depending on what Johnson and Ohka get in arbitration and assuming no cash or other players changed hands (I'm having hard time finding the terms of Cameron's contract. He made $4.3 mil last year, but it might go up for the next couple). Cameron had surgery this winter and is out until May, but that means we get a month of Endy in center, as opposed a whole year if we don't get Cameron. Basically it comes to what you think Johnson's going to do the next few years.