The general mood I am getting from television and the newspaper is that people are really down on the team. Obviously, losing 102 games would bring anyone down, but people are starting to think this team has no future, either. Most like to place the blame on the Lerner’s tight leash, a credit crunch within the organization, if you will. People are saying that the best thing to do is to sign a big name free agent, a top flight pitcher, to show that they are willing to spend. While it isn’t a horrible idea (they’d lose their #1 draft pick, but they’d still have the top 10 pick leftover from Aaron Crow not signing), I’m not sure if signing CC Sabathia or someone like that would get this team over any hump. Their farm system is still recovering from years under MLB management, and it will take more years to build a real contender. Of course, you don’t want to start losing good young players like Milledge, Dukes, or Zimmerman before the new prospects get up. So it is a tightrope walk.

They Have a Choice

The one thing the management could do that would make me feel like they are willing to spend the money to become a contender would be to sign the consensus top pick. Signing a big name free agent, while exciting, won’t show me that they are ready to compete, it will show me that they want to make sure that they sell tickets. Not a bad thing, but not what I care about. I want to see them sign the big draft picks, spend to make sure they sign, and have a guy that can come up and help in a big way for a long time. This year, that guy will probably be Stephen Strasburg, a RHP from San Diego State. Jim Callis of Baseball America said today “Stephen Strasburg stands above the rest of this draft class like David Price did above the 2006 draft class.” If nothing changes, and the Nats DON’T pick him first, it will show that they don’t want to sign the best player at #1, they want to sign the most affordable one.

If the Nats finished in 2nd-to-last place, we might not be able to tell. But Strasburg will probably remain everyone’s number 1 pick, whether or not the Nats sign him will be a strong indicator as to what this team wants to do.

From last week

Last week I mentioned a few things the Nats could have done, they disappointed on most levels:

  • Didn’t win 100 games (but did finish in last, giving them the #1 draft pick)
  • Guzman didn’t play much at the end, and finished with 183 hits, out of the top 10 all time for the franchise
  • Zimmerman and Milledge ended up leading the team in HRs, with 14 each
  • Redding got shelled, finishing 10-11, not 11-10
  • Lannan pitched ok, didn’t get his 10th win, but didn’t regress into the bad pitcher he was from the end of July to the beginning of September
  • Balester got absolutely rocked in his last start. Not a good confidence booster for the offseason.
  • Dukes finished off of his torrid pace. His final splits after the 1 for 32 start: .288/.407/.520

The playoffs

Should be exciting games in the 4 Division Series matchups. My picks from March were decent but nothing special. I got 4 out of the 8 playoff teams right – Red Sox, Angels, Brewers and Cubs. But I had the Indians winning the AL, that may not be possible at this point. Right now I’m picking the Angels to beat the Rays in the ALCS. For the NLCS, I have the Cubs over the Brewers. And I’ll stick with my preseason prediction of the Cubbies winning the World Series. I’ll be paying attention to the playoffs, not the Nats, over the next few weeks.

By Charlie