The Nationals are bringing back Davey Johnson as their manager for the 2012 season. Forgive me if I didn’t leap for joy as I typed those words. Look, I have written before that I’m not the biggest fan of Johnson’s. I think he made a litany of bonehead, in-game moves during the 2011 season. He may have a calming presence in the clubhouse and be a well-respected baseball mind, but ultimately, a team, needs that baseball genius to win the World Series. This year’s championship is a classic example: perhaps no manager did a better job of creating a cohesive clubhouse than Ron Washington (and he certainly had an interesting cast of characters to bring together). But when it came down to crunch time, the abrasive Tony La Russa came up with the magic buttons in Game 6 and 7, even after an admittedly dreadful managerial performance in Game 5.
Hot Stove Thoughts
I really can’t write any more at this point about Johnson, because that’s just the reaction this hiring inspires: ehhh. So let’s move on to some more promising news: the Indians declined Grady Sizemore’s option, making him a free agent.
This, Nationals fans, is something to take note of. Everyone should be cheering for Mike Rizzo to go out and land Sizemore, as opposed to having to trade anything of value for a piece like B.J. Upton or Denard Span. Sizemore, when healthy (which I understand is the biggest if in the world), is EXACTLY what the Nationals need. You couldn’t create a better player from scratch to fit into the Nationals lineup next year. He plays solid defense, hits leadoff, hits for average, is a left-handed bat and is, by all accounts, not a problem child (looking at your here, Mr. Upton). This would allow the Nationals to not have to fool around with a Jayson Werth/Bryce Harper experiment in center field (which would decrease this team’s defensive capabilities significantly) and they don’t have to give up a piece like Drew Storen in a trade (nice try, Twins). Continue reading
Well it was fun while it lasted. Remember that irrational dream that maybe the Nationals could stay relevant throughout the second half? Well wave goodbye to that. I’m sorry, but a playoff team doesn’t drop two out of three to the Houston Astros, a team drowning in misery. The Astros are the worst team in baseball by 5 1/2 games! To make matters worse, Tom Gorzelanny didn’t even pitch in this series. So you can’t use that as an excuse. We threw our three best pitchers in Jason Marquis, Livan Hernandez and Jordan Zimmermann and dropped two out of three. And the one game we did win, we had to squeak out in the ninth inning! The Astros made a litany of mistakes, featured awful relievers out of the bullpen and the Nats couldn’t take advantage. This team has struggled on the road, and this was a glorious opportunity to right that ship. Jayson Werth even had a multi-hit game! And we lost! It was like it was opposite day in the Nats lineup. Werth hits, and everyone else doesn’t.
I think that, if it wasn’t already abundantly clear, this should be evidence that the Nats are SELLERS at the trade deadline, which is rapidly approaching. Jason Marquis, Livan Hernandez and Tom Gorzelanny are now all disposable. If you can get something decent for them, ship them out.
But the decisions on other players that will inevitably elicit phone calls from opposing GMs aren’t so cut and dry. Ivan Rodriguez is one of the all-time greats, a clear-cut Hall of Famer. But his stats this year are less than impressive. Is any team going to fork over a premium prospect for an aging 39-year-old catcher who, for the first time in his career, is having trouble staying healthy? I doubt it. So what is the gain for trading Rodriguez, who clearly still has value to the team as a backup and mentor to Wilson Ramos. He isn’t blocking any prospects, as Jesus Flores’ career now projects to not much more than a backup. Derek Norris, who was the second-best prospect in the Nationals system in 2010 according to Baseball America, is hitting an awe-inspiring .206 at AA Harrisburg. And offense was always supposed to be his calling card to the big leagues. Scouts remain skeptical whether he can advance enough as a receiver to stick at catcher in the big leagues. So what’s wrong with keeping Pudge around in a mentoring role? I think he would certainly bring more value to the organization over the next couple of seasons as a backup then some low-level prospect who might never make the big leagues. Continue reading