Building a Coalition Against the Nationals’ Offseason
In the midst of a malevolent election cycle, it is difficult for Americans to find common ground on much of anything. This past holiday season provided a nice example: my mother-in-law professed a devotion to Donald Trump despite not knowing much about his political platform (ironically, neither does he).
My own mother, a wonderful woman who has never met a liberal candidate she didn’t like, reiterated her support for Hillary, a seemingly wonderful woman who never met an intelligence classification standard she did like. We’re smart enough to avoid these divisive topics at dinner, but there’s one sentiment everyone (read: just me) shared: what the hell are the Washington Nationals doing?
Let’s start with the positive: the GM Mike Rizzo sold high on Yunel Escobar, acquiring a young bullpen arm that should help address their most glaring 2015 weakness. Free agent dollars were also allocated to the bullpen, spent on former NLDS nemesis Yusmeiro Petit, ex-Nat Oliver Perez, and Shawn Kelley, whose parents decided “Sean Kelly” was just too easy (or Irish).
They solidified their lineup with the signing of second baseman Daniel Murphy, a move that will cost them on defense but should provide consistent offensive production from a position that gave them next-to-nothing last season. They jettisoned inexperienced manager Matt Williams for his old boss Dusty Baker, a seasoned leader who has managed three franchises to the playoffs and possess a career .540 winning percentage.
Last but not least, they brought back Meadow’s husband.
Not too shabby, right?
- Baker was actually the Nats’ second choice; they insulted Bud Black so much with their initial one-year offer he ended negotiations quicker than Amber Rose killed Kayne
- The Nationals offered contracts to the following free agents and were turned down: Ben Zobrist, Jayson Heyward, Mike Leake, Darren O’Day, and Yoenis Cespedes
- In a few of these cases (e.g., Heyward and Cespedes), the Nationals actually offered the most guaranteed money, yet were still rejected because they tried to defer large portions of it, which is a cheap-ass small market tactic, not one for a team with MLB’s sixth-highest payroll and a billionaire owner
- Rizzo traded late-inning reliever Drew Storen (career ERA+ of 130 – Note: he’s good) for light-hitting outfielder Ben Revere (four career home runs; career OPS+ of 88 – Ed. Note: kinda sucks)
- Despite a need at shortstop and market factors in their favor, the Nationals will not resign Ian Desmond
- Jonathan Papelbon, the player who choked the unanimous National League MVP, Bryce Harper, is still on the team
Let’s re-read that last bullet: Jonathan Papelbon, a ridiculous and violent man, WHO CHOKED THE UNANIMOUS NL MVP, FAN FAVORITE, 23 YEAR-OLD FACE OF THE FRANCHISE AND QUITE POSSIBLY ALL OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, IS STILL ON THE TEAM (emphasis mine).
Are you MENTAL, Mike Rizzo? It’s not a rhetorical question.
The window is closing very quickly for the Nationals. Steve is entering a walk year, Jayson Werth’s hair follicles are the only healthy part of his body, Ryan Zimmerman has not played more than 130 games since 2013, and Max Scherzer turns the dreaded 32 this summer.