This post started out as a comment to the well discussed "Moves the Nats Need To Make" post from a couple days ago. It was a good post. But no one who commented on it was thinking like a team with the richest owners in baseball and a finite window to capitalize on some serious momentum and talent. Here's what I wrote:
Not Far Enough
I’m going to drop a bomb at the end of this. Skip down to HITTING if you want.
Several great points have been made, both in the original post and in many of the comments following it. The problem with the Nationals this year is that it seems as though in a minimum of 75% of their games (generous), when I look at the box score afterwards, at least one if not more players hitting sub .200 was in the starting lineup. Some games in May and June, there would be as many as three players in the lineup (Tracy, Shark, Moore) who had a better statistical chance of going 0 for 4 than getting a hit. In the National League, when you already have an automatic out in the pitcher (aside from Stras, Gio, and a few others in the league) you simply can’t afford to have that number of sub .200 hitters even on your roster, much less in your lineup. It’s mind blowing how many games we trotted out someone who was basically an automatic out more than 8 out of 10 at bats.
Regarding what has been said already, Tracy HAS to be DFA. It’s time to move the Shark to a team that will give him more PT and a shot at putting his career back on track. And while Moore has promise, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and think that he is going to solve what’s wrong with this offense- that’s the wishful "OMG we have so much TALENT" thinking that has the potential to kill this team long term.
Here’s what needs to happen in the offseason: PITCHING if a veteran left handed reliever wants to sign with us, make it happen. Otherwise bank on Krol progressing and Storen rebounding. Give Garcia a chance either as a long reliver or 5th starter, and let competition in Spring Training determine the 5th starter. Who knows who the next Detwiler could be, or what might have been had Haren not been simply handed the job. There’s talent aplenty, someone could step up, and if not be ready to make a trade at the deadline.
Here’s where everyone is going to think I"m crazy: HITTING We need to act like a big market team. The Nats have a 2-4 year window left, and hopes were originally not for only one title but multiple. So how do we get there? Well, unfortunately our farm system is no longer stacked and there isn’t much on the free agent market. But there are two players who could help the Nats. They would cost a ton of money, but Robinson Cano or (more likely) Jacoby Ellsbury would help this team tremendously. Cano is a longshot in the extreme- but add him at 2B, put Rendon at 3B, and trade LaRoche and put Zim at 1B (bound to happen eventually) and all of a sudden you have a left handed middle of the order bat to replace and upgrade from LaRoche AND 2B solved. No more .270 no power Lombardozzi, he can be a straight utility player, no more nightmare that is Espinosa, no more of LaRoche’s slumps or Zim’s throwing errors. That’s a lot of problems solved, and the Lerner’s can afford it. Not to mention how much DC folks like myself would love to make NYC superiority dicks feel impotent.
The better option is Ellsbury. Span was a good idea, but he wasn’t the answer as a starter- he’s an upgrade over the Shark as a 4th outfielder but not a starter for a contender. Rizzo has to take his promotion as a license to admit that he screwed up. Ellsbury may never hit for power again, but if he can hit .300 and steal 30 bags he’s something the Nats have never had at leadoff, and what Rizzo REALLY wanted to begin with. He’s the second best hitter available and a good CF, which is what we tried and failed to get from Span. I know it sounds crazy, but outbidding the Red Sox for him will be easier than outbidding the Yankees for Cano, and Ellsbury is younger. What, is Harper going to hit leadoff on occasion next year again? If we were willing to pay Werth what we did before Stras and Harper were even up and rocking, we shouldn't flinch at shelling out for Ellsbury now. That's how WS teams are made on the East Coast.
We are a team that needs offense so badly, there is no wrong acquisition if it brings guaranteed offense. And Cano and Ellsbury are the only two guaranteed bats on the FA market. Name another FA option who can upgrade this lineup, which needs upgrading desperately. We can’t part with any more prospects via trade, so we have to sign someone. And don't think for a second that Brian Goodwin, Corey Brown, or Tyler Moore are going to be the bats that we need to go to the WS, at least not in the next 2 seasons. The idea that there is enough talent on this roster and in the farm system to win multiple WS in the next 2-4 years is a fallacy- we have the pitching staff and are close on offense, but something serious has to be added. Aside from trading the Lincoln Memorial for Ginacarlo Stanton, how else is Washington going to add the one more serious bat that we need to be more than tease? If anything, drastic measures have to be taken so next year, when the team hovers around .500 again and is chasing the Braves, the "why did they shut down Stras when they had a chance" talk doesn’t consume this franchise and poison the future. One more .500 season, and everything will be questioned, and don't think that Harper, a lifelong Yankee fan and lover of the spotlight, won't start mentally packing his bags for brighter lights, no matter what he says publicly. Stras will have resentment growing inside him and start doing the same thing if he keeps pitching with no run support, "waiting for guys to come around". The time is now. Richest owners in baseball. Carpe Free Agent. Get a little moxie back.