Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Bulgar-Slayer

First, blog stuff:

  • Nationals MLB News is a new addition and comes to us all the way from Ontario. Today Marc has a run-down of the competitors for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. I'd like to see Jon Rauch get a chance, but the acquisition of Esteban Loaiza makes that unlikely, at least at the start of the season.
  • I'm a little late in linking to District of Baseball, where Jeff comments on the news, casts a critical eye at the Examiner, and keeps track of the recent postings on several blogs.
  • Congrats to the Nat Fanatics, Ross and Lew, who were quoted in this MLB.com story about the ESPN Zone event yesterday.
  • The Nationals Inquirer has revealed his name and even provides a helpful pronunciation guide. With a name like Basil Tsimpris, he sounds more suited for a career as a Byzantine emperor than a baseball blogger, but jobs like that are hard to come by these days.

Check out this Nationals depth chart from MLB.com. You see what I see? That's right, they have Nick Johnson at #2 for first base, with Terrmel Sledge in left and Brad Wilkerson at first. On the other hand, Jim Bowden was quoted yesterday as saying that Johnson (along with Wilkerson and Brian Schneider) is part of "our core, the guys we want to build around." On the other other hand, Bodes was also quoted as saying "We don't want to spend money on a stop-gap solution. That doesn't make sense. We're better off giving the ball to Mike Hinckley or John Patterson or Jon Rauch and continuing to develop our young pitchers within. Our dollars are better spent on player development and scouting and building the ballclub the right way" right before he signed Loaiza.

John at Nationals Pastime has a sort of lukewarm defense of Jim Bowden today, which is a nice jumping-off point for my last (I hope) discussion of the Sosa mess.

I think pursuing a deal for Sosa along the lines of what the Orioles gave up was worthwhile. I also think it's commendable and quite probably the right decision not to mortgage our future by shipping off one of the two people on that short list.

It's tough to comment on whatever proposed trades there were, because what was seriously offered has not been made public. The Post tells us that the Cubs "asked for Nationals outfielders Brad Wilkerson and/or Terrmel Sledge." That's three different deals; two of them are awful, and one is merely not good. I don't think as much of Sledge as others seem to, and I wouldn't lose any sleep over his loss. However, a Sledge for Sosa trade would have virtually guaranteed the benching or trading of Nick Johnson - you're certainly not going to bench Wilkerson (for performance reasons) or Jose Guillen (for personal safety reasons), and Wilkerson seems more likely to play first than center. I also refuse to give Bowden credit for not trading Brad Wilkerson. Of course you don't trade Brad Wilkerson. That's like giving Dayn Perry an attaboy for every starlet he doesn't tell us he's masturbating to.

I'm afraid that my relentless complaining about Bowden might lead one to believe that I come to my conclusions out of malice or grumpiness. That's not the case. Bodes has spent $13 million or so on new players. Is this team $13 million better than it was last year, or just $13 million more expensive? At every turn, Bowden has ignored cheaper, younger, and possibly better solutions (Rivera, Harris, Church). He has shown himself to be excessively enamored of "100 RBI Guys" and ignorant as to what this team's actual needs are. Our three weakest positions are centerfield, shortstop, and third base. Bowden created two of these problems and hasn't fixed the other. It's nothing personal, it's not a vendetta, but Jim Bowden's not doing his job.


Marc Hulet said...

I think it is only fair to give Jim a shot (bad choice of words...) before ripping him to shreds (as every fan with a keyboard seems to be doing). Sure, some of his moves appear... unorthodoxed or risky. But remember, he is a professional general manager of a major league ball club. They don't give the reigns to just anybody (unfortunately... it would be a really cool job). I don't think Guzman is going to be as bad as everyone thinks; he's got some triples power, speed and a pretty good glove. Castilla... well, 20 home runs would be a shock. Guillen could be a steal (although Juan Rivera was pretty good himself).
Just remember that Bowden is in a very volatile situation and his job is on the line when the team is sold... he basically had to do something outrageous to keep his job. If he had sat back and played it safe, he would likely be out of a job when the team sells (and hey, it wasn't his money that he blew... just his reputation). But if his gamble pays off... he could end up with a nice cushy contract.

Basil said...

I think that's a decent defense (or, rather, defence), Marc. It seems reasonable that Bowden has to do something, or else he's little more than an MLB-imposed spendthrift trustee. On the other hand, four years is a lengthy, lengthy commitment to a guy like Guzman, whose career peaked (apparently) at age 24 or so. As for his triples, it's just one season's worth of data, but we could be looking at a turf creation: http://dcnatsinquirer.blogspot.com/2005/01/nat-of-day-jan-31.html

As for Castilla, would 20 homers be a good shock or a bad shock? By my recollection, his only two non-Coors, non-Enron seasons have been Tampa in 2000 and Atlanta in 2002-03. Only once did Castilla hit 20 homers. I'm not saying he won't hit 20 homers, but he'll have to hit way, way more than that to make up for his out-making and RBI-vulturing.