Monday, February 19, 2007

One Third

There's been so much actual news over the last few days that my sarcastic aggregator over there on the right short circuited. I hope to have it up and humming away again soon, but in the meantime it's up to me to sift through all this stuff. It's going to take more than one post, and this blog's subtitle, which was intended as a goal for me as well as a warning for you, is becoming increasingly inaccurate. Well, the first part of it, anyway.

The biggest, worst news is the status of Nick Johnson. In September, Austin Kearns broke Nick's femur in what I'm still convinced was a negotiating ploy ("Say, that's a real nice third baseman you got there. It'd be a real shame if something happened to him"). Johnson walked into camp over the weekend sporting what some observers took to be a cocky new pimp strut, but what was soon revealed to be just a run-of-the-mill, busted femur limp. When will he be back? No one knows. Maybe June. Maybe never.

And that's unfortunate. For Johnson, of course, it's just the latest in an awful series of setbacks. Whatever force or entity it is that decides these things decided to give Nick tremendous talent along with the inability to use it. He's far from the first player to have a potentially great career shrivel thanks to injuries, but it's the first time I've seen it from this close up, and it's depressing.

This is a significant blow to the Nats, to the extent that a team that has no intention of competing can suffer one. With Soriano gone (and rich!), Johnson was easily the best hitter on the roster, and a quick look at our options tells us how hard he'll be to replace. Larry Broadway? I'm rooting for him, but when Nick Johnson was his age he'd was already been in the majors -- well, on the major league DL -- for years. The Nats just picked up Dmitri Young, which I like, but no one wants to see him as the everyday first baseman. Travis Lee has an advantage over Nick in the looks department, but that's the extent of it.

A week ago, the Nationals looked like two-thirds of a pretty good team. Yeah, there was close to literally no starting pitching, but the bullpens looks good, and the lineup had real potential. They were like a novel with believable characters, a gripping plot, but no pictures. But now, the novel that is the Nats has lost its best character -- the wise-cracking robot who plays first base -- and there's that much less to recommend it. And someone, by the way, needs to write that novel.

1 comment:

El Gran Color Naranja said...

We've lost the wise-cracking robot? Dammit! Please tell me we still have the hog-riding beer-swilling granny catcher and the British monkey shortstop. Please!