Is It Time for the Nats to Cash In?

It’s that time of year again. The All Star break is behind us, teams are taking stock of where they are this season, where they’re going, and their chances of reaching the playoffs. Normally this time of year, we talk about who the Nats should consider moving in order to acquire more young talent. But in case you haven’t noticed, they’re in first place in the NL East, and have been there for quite some time. The Nats are in a strong position to win the division, but they’re not there yet. Lots of rumors are floating about what moves they should make, but it aint about selling.

The pitching staff has been spectacular, but as soon as we were on the post-game side of the midsummer classic, it seemed like everyone starting talking about Strasburg. Are they really going to stick with his innings limit? Apparently, although we don’t know what that limit is. Are they going to shift starts so that he can play in October without hitting his limit? Apparently not. If he’s gone who’s going to replace their best pitcher? If say their second best pitcher, you might not be right. It seems like rather than sticking with the rotation as is, and calling up John Lannan (which many of us thought was the original plan), they are at least pursuing a trade for another starter.

This only brings up more questions. Their farm system is depleted after getting Gio Gonzalez (which seems to be well worth it after 1/2 a season) – are they willing to dimish it even more to get a guy they won’t need after this year? And believe me, while 4 top of the line guys SOUNDS great, you can’t use the 4th much in the playoffs, so it may be just take away from your abilities to fill in holes you truly have. And they may not even have a farm system capable of landing a top pitcher right now. So then what, trade away prospects for a back of the rotation guy? If that happened, I’m not sure if anyone would be happy.

While I’d love to see Strasburg stretched out by skipping starts, I’m not sure how feasable that is, and if that is dangerous for his health anyway. And for everyone who says that since he’s healthy, you can’t shut him down, I disagree. I think there’s too much evidence pointing to injuries after a significant increase in innings pitched to risk him. Now to that, people say that it shouldn’t matter, the team has a legitimate shot at an NL pennant and a World Series, and they need to do whatever they can right now. There’s no guarantee that Strasburg will get hurt if they let him pitch, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll stay healthy next year if they shut him down.

But to me, it’s like Apple stock. I got mine at $200. It’s worth $600 now. I could have sold it at $300 or $400, and made money. But I believe in the future of the company, so I’ll keep going with it, because I believe there will be a better payoff for me in the end. And that’s how I feel about this Nats team. It’s great that they are true contenders now. But they are built for the next 3-5 years, and they should be in the mix every single year for the forseeable future. And Zack Greinke or Ryan Dempster doesn’t guarantee anything for them either. The Nats shouldn’t cash in their stock today. They shouldn’t trade for a short term solution or risk their best pitcher a year after major surgery. Instead, hold steady, because the payout in the end will be even better.

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