There was a lot of information to parse through and more than a few interesting items to consider in Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell's last chat transcript entitled, "Redskins, Stephen Strasburg, Nats and more -- Ask Boswell", but three things in particular that stood out for me. William Yoder at the Nats Blog wrote about one of the three topics yesterday in an article entitled, "Boswell: I've never seen a greater waste of talent than the way the Nats have used Kasten", which examined Mr. Boswell's thoughts on the largely unremarked upon role Mr. Kasten's played in shaping the nation's capital's Nats and how his talents have to some extent been squandered. The two other items of interest, in my mind, considering Mr. Boswell's been busy talking to the team as he's produced three feature-length articles in the last eight days, are his assertion that the Nationals, "...think [Yunesky Maya is] the third best pitcher in the organization right now, after Strasburg and [Jordan Zimmermann]," and his argument, as covered in Mr. Boswell's article, "Washington Nationals need to sign Harper and Dunn", for the Nats need to extend their big middle-of-the-order bat Adam Dunn.
Maya, a 28-year-old Cuban defectee, who signed as an international free agent and officially became a part of the Nationals' organization just after the July 31st Trade Deadline, has made two appearances in the Nationals' system so far, pitching 7.0 innings for the Gulf Coast Nationals in which he gave up 3 hits total and 2 runs, 1 earned, while walking two and striking out 5 in ground ball-filled performances which earned him a quick promotion to Class-A Potomac. Maya's first start for the P-Nats is in question, however, according to reports on Twitter (from the P-Nats in response to an article by the WaPost's Adam Kilgore), that, "Apparently Maya has a blister on his thumb, [and his] start in Potomac [is] now in doubt. Decision being made today," but the revelation that he's considered the third best arm in the organization behind Strasburg and Zimmermann, (who's reportedly one rehab start away from returning to the majors), make the Maya signing and the price they paid for what DC GM Mike Rizzo described in an introductory press conference as the first major international signing seem like even more of a coup.
As Mr. Boswell puts it in his response to a question in the chat:
"... they really stole an international star by paying $6.5M for Yunesky Maya, 28, the Cuban ex-patriot who was their Cy Young (equivalent) winner in '09 and has been dominant in the World Baseball Classic against Ichiro and many other big leaguers."
The Nats signed 25 of their top 26 Draft picks, including their second-straight no.1 overall selection, signed the top international free agent on the market away from several other deep-pocketed interested parties, they've already extended their FOF©, Ryan Zimmerman, their first 1st Round pick, through 2013 and successfully (so far [knocks on wood]) guided Stephen Strasburg through his first professional season and Jordan Zimmermann back from Tommy John surgery, and with 41 games remaining on the schedule, they're just seven wins from surpassing last season's win total...All that's left to do is sign Adam Dunn...if that's the Nats' intention. DC GM Mike Rizzo's already stated, in an interview with MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling on Rizzo's blog entitled, "Deals for Dunn and Harper", that "the worst-case scenario" if the Nats don't sign Dunn is that they'll , "...get two first-round draft picks for him. And that's very exciting to me. Being a scouting guy and an ex-scout, that's very exciting to me." But as Mr. Boswell writes in his chat, "...at $60M for four years, you can debate the risk/reward. At $40M for three years, if they can do that deal, I think it's dumb not to resign [Dunn]."
In response to one of the many questions about Dunn, Mr. Boswell notes that Nats' team President Stan Kasten, "...is very pro-Dunn...at a fitting price, of course," and Mr. Rizzo's on record describing Dunn as, "a prototypical clean-up hitter in the lineup that hits 40 HR's and drives in 100 runs," who's also a , "...great clubhouse presence," and Mr. Rizzo's acknowledged that he recognizes Dunn, "...means a lot to us and our fanbase." So now, with the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline a thing of the past, and Dunn pulled back off waivers after he was reportedly claimed, there's only one thing left to do...If Mr. Boswell's argument for Dunn's value in the chat don't convince you, how about future Hall of Fame third baseman Chipper Jones' opinion on the Nats' big middle-of-the-order bat, which he offered during visit with Fox Sports South's Atlanta Braves announcers Chip Caray and Joe Simpson during the Nats' series in Turner Field when asked if he was surprised Dunn hadn't been traded:
Chipper Jones: "...knowing Dunner the way I do, I know he didn't want to go, and I think he made it known that he was adamant about not wanting to go, I think he realizes what a good situation he's in in Washington with...you know, they're certainly a team that's on the rise with Strasburg on the hill, another young kid Jordan Zimmermann coming off Tommy John surgery they'll have back next year, they're going to have a 1-2 punch that's unbelievable here in the years to come. They've got some good young everyday players with [Ryan] Zimmerman and [Ian] Desmond out there on the left side of the infield. I think Dunner really wants Washington to be his home, and I think he's kinda won over the brass in the last couple of weeks..."
Boswell says sign him. Kasten's pro-Dunn (at a fitting price, of course). Rizzo recognizes his importance in the middle of the order. Even Chipper Jones thinks they should lock him up. If the Nats play .500 ball the rest of the way, (they're 17-23 in their last 40 GP), 70-72 wins is a significant improvement over last year's 59 wins, and that's with close to 40 HR's from Dunn and his close-to-100 runs batted in...without him? #signDunn. But In Rizzo We Trust.