Where are the Nats Going?

When I wrote about the team not signing Aaron Crow earlier this week, I really thought it was hard to get really upset. I mean, he didn’t want to sign, right? And they get a compensatory pick, right? So what’s the big deal. Well, since then, guys who do actual investigative reporting (my investigations consist of clicking places) and speaking with real live people have a few things to say. Here are a few snippets:

Keith Law, ESPN: (from an article blasting the organization) “If the Nationals genuinely didn’t know what Crow wanted, it was either willful ignorance or the worst case of a signability analysis I’ve ever seen… It’s a bad outcome for a franchise that needed another good draft to continue the farm system’s comeback, which has already had unforeseen setbacks this year with the struggles of their top two picks from 2007, Ross Detwiler and Josh Smoker.”

Jim Callis, Baseball America: “I blame them both. Both sides dug in and didn’t seriously try to compromise until hours before the deadline… I don’t think they’ll get as good a value as getting Crow at No. 9 would have been, though… It hasn’t been a good year for the Nats at the major or minor league level, so Bowden has to be in a bit of a hot seat.

Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus: “If I’m throwing out 100 points of blame on that one, I’m giving a solid 80 or 90 to Washington, from everything I’ve heard, they really messed that up.

I’m going to stop now before I get emotional. So what everyone is saying is the Nats really screwed this up, whether it was at the beginning of the process, the end, or somewhere in the middle, this wasn’t the outcome that should have happened.

I am not one of those “Fire the GM” guys, but right now I am pretty disappointed with the state of the franchise. There is little to be excited about this season. The trades for Dukes and Milledge look promising but not yet great, and Flores has been great. Other than that, I don’t see too much other than a farm system that has more players underacheiving than overacheiving. One thing I am sure about is that this idea of signing middling veteran players and hoping to get a good season out of them needs to stop. Redding and Perez have been fine, but despite having seasons better than anyone predicted, they didn’t get traded, and are just eating up roster spots. Getting rid of Lo Duca and Estrada was a good start, but there are way too many players on this team like that, and it needs to end. Trade away anyone over 29 as soon as possible. That includes Christian Guzman and if possible, Nick Johnson. They are NOT helping this team win, as evidenced by the record, and are NOT going to be part of the future, as it looks further and further away. The youth movement at middle infield is a start, but they need to go full steam ahead with this. I’d much rather see a bunch of 23 year olds who have a chance to be good some day lose 100 games than this group.

A few months ago, I might have said it doesn’t hurt to keep someone like Guzman in there. He can hit ok and he isn’t dragging the team down. I realize now that it does hurt, there should be someone there that has a chance to be part of the future. It is important to understand Guzman doesn’t help out a team like this. He may provide 2 or 3 wins over the young players he’s replacing… that only matters if you’re in a playoff hunt. Jim Bowden and the Nats need to realize that this experiment with inviting veterans to camp didn’t work, they are most likely not going to get any trade value for them. The Nats seem to be going in multiple directions at once, and until they totally commit to rebuilding from within, they will continue to need to be rebuilt.

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