The pressure is on Washington Nationals GM Jim Bowden.
When you yourself and every baseball writer covering the team can clearly identify a roster's weak spots, the GM must know that the way in which he addresses those needs this winter will color the tone of the commentary heading into a new stadium and yet another new start for a well-traveled franchise that seems to have finally found a home...which will be ready...uh...soon...after...you know the whole parking thing is settled(Park at RFK? Seriously?)...but really the FUTURE IS NOW!!!
The cards are on the table...
According to mlb.com's Jim Molony in his creatively titled article, "What are teams looking for?" the Nationals are willing to deal Ryan Church, Nook Logan, Felipe Lopez and Chad Cordero in return for someone to play, "Center field, starting pitching and leadoff hitter, in that order..."
...and back on 11/07, mlb.com's Nationals writer Bill Ladson wrote, in his article, "Nats in market for outfield, pitching help," that the Nationals, "...most likely will have to deal closer Chad Cordero, outfielder Ryan Church and possibly infielder Felipe Lopez," as they look for pitching, and continue their pursuit of free agents Torii Hunter, Aaron Rowand, and Andruw Jones. Mr Ladson also notes that the Nationals are interested in oft-injured outfielder Rocco Baldelli, currently a member of the Tampa Bay Rays...
That's the Tampa Bay Rays...
SBN Tampa Bay Rays blog...
Rocco Baldellli has played just 127 games over the last two seasons, but the D-RAYS 1st Round pick, (6th overall in 2000), does have a .282 career batting average in 4 Major League seasons in Tampa Bay, during which he's tallied 89 doubles, 17 triples, 48 HR's and 228 RBI's with 58 steals in 419 games, for a 162-game average of .282, 34 doubles, 19 HR's and 89 RBI's...
...(Which still, I must say is not that much better than Ryan Church's .272, 43 doubles, 15 HR's and 70 RBI's in 144 games)...
espn.com's Bob Klapisch, in his story, "Nats desperately need to score more runs," says that the Nationals need starting pitching, a leadoff hitter, and overall run production. Klapisch lists Church and Cordero as the players most likely to move, Ross Detwiler, most likely to earn a call-up...and the Nationals "Outlook" according to Klapisch:
"The Nationals could impact the market if they decide to
trade Cordero. It might bring them enough in return to
think about climbing to .500 status in a year or two."
It might not take a trade to settle the center field situation...the solution might currently be playing baseball in the Arizona Fall League according to washingtonpost.com Nationals writer Barry Svrluga's article, "Prospects Remain Dialed In Under Sun..."
That's right Justin Maxwell. Maxwell is not only preparing to compete for the Nationals center field spot next Spring, he's writing a column at mlb.com about his Fall League experience...
As for the leadoff hitter? Guess who hit .304 with 17 hits in 56 at bats, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR, 7 RBI's, 6 walks, and a .375 OBP as a leadoff hitter last season, and has a .279 career batting average in the leadoff spot?...
Cristian Guzman? That's right. Is it reasonable to expect a full season from Guzman in '08 after missing all of '06 and three-quarter of '07? Guzman did hit .328 overall in '07 and was hot as a leadoff hitter when he went down with injury?...
If Bowden could fill the leadoff and center spots from within organization, and deal Lopez, Logan, or Church for MLB-ready pitching talent, I think I could live with...
LF Wily Mo Pena
CF Justin Maxwell
RF Austin Kearns
3B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Cristian Guzman
2B Ronnie Belliard
1B Nick Johson/Dmitri Young
C Brian Schneider/Jesus Flores
SP-Matt Chico, Shawn Hill, John Patterson, Colin Balester, John Lannan, Jason Bergmann, Michael O'Connor, Livan Hernandez?
Set-up- Jon Rauch
Closer- Chad Cordero...
....C'mon they're not really gonna trade Cordero are they?
*SBN Baseball Writer Award Season Record
The writers of the SB Nation are 2 for 2, having correctly predicted the winners of the MLB NL and AL Rookie of the Year awards with their votes, while the Baseball Writers Association of America made their choices public today and officially awarded Ryan Braun (Milwaukee) and Dustin Pedroia (Boston) their respective division's awards...*