The trade deadline has come and gone, and many players remain on the team that may not be part of the 2011 World Series Champion Nationals. Alright, 2012? Anyway, the big bats of Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn remain on the team, and some people are having hissy fits about this. After all, they aren’t part of the solution, so they must be the problem, and should be moved. I see the validity in moving both of these players. Getting younger is difficult, and trading those guys can help you do it. Meanwhile Rizzo said  “We are in the building process, we are not rebuilding… I do not believe that this needs total rebuilding.” Cue more panic from the fanbase.

A couple of comments on this whole thing, sticking with the title’s theme of capitalizing words for EMPHASIS.

  1. Rizzo HAS to say that. Unless he is trading everyone available, he’s gotta say that they’re keeping the good players because they think they’re gonna be good soon. What do you want him to come out and say “we like these guys, even though the team sucks, because we want something to watch every day”? 
  2. It doesn’t mean ANYTHING. The trade fountain hasn’t dried up. He could trade Guzman tomorrow, since he’ll make it through waivers. Unlike Nick Johnson, Willingham and Dunn are perfectly tradable commodities during the winter meetings (like when Boston decides Papi is done or the Yankees are afraid to enter 2010 with Jesus Montero as their only viable DH) or next July. I’m not saying they’re going to get traded next year either, but don’t assume that because they didn’t get traded this time that Rizzo is an idiot. There will be value to be had for both of those guys, and if they continue to produce, they may be worth more when people see they can produce in even the worse environments.
  3. He MAY be right. Ok, I don’t think they’ll be good when Dunn is under contract. But could I see 4 pitchers (Strasburg, Lannan, Zimmermann and pick one from Detwiler/Martis/Mock/Stammen/Thompson crew) end up being good in another 12-18 months. Pick another from that crew and call him a servicable 5th starter. Then you have Morgan, Dukes, Flores, Zimmerman and Willingham as the position player core, this could be a good team. Add a couple of middle infielders, maybe one from the system (Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa) one from free agency and a short term 1B, and you’ve got a team in the NL. Pitching is the hardest thing to get, and they’re already on their way.
  4. They are doing MOSTLY what I would hope they could do. Does it exceed my expectations? No, exceeding my expectations would have been flipping Willingham for a future star. Or turning Guzman into anything. But they’ve made trades, 1 of the guys is a former 1st round pick who projects to be at least a 5th starter (pretty good trade for a 2 month rental) another may be more than solid after he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
  5. There ARE good signs for management. Bringing Dukes back up to play full time was important. Either he’s part of the future of this team or he’s not, but the evidence to make that decision should be gathered. I’m waiting for them to DFA Kearns, as I’d rather see a youngster play, like Leonard Davis or someone.
  6. They weren’t SUPPOSED to have signed the franchise savior yet. The Strasburg deal doesn’t worry me in that, while I am terrified they won’t sign him, I am glad they aren’t making this public. Public negotiations are a team being desperate or trying to cover their ass in case things blow up. At this point, I know it’s only 14 days away and you haven’t heard anything, that may be good news. This wasn’t ever getting done much before August 17, so hold on and hope, but don’t assume things are bad.

No, I’m not here to make excuses for the franchise. I think they have alot of issues – not the least of which is clearing up the ownership/management debacle. Nobody knows who is running the show over there. But not everything is a mess, and with the right series of breaks and moves, they could be a decent team sooner than most people think.

By Charlie