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Baseball Told the Right WayIn-depth Baseball analysis on various topics regarding the sport we all love!
There is a baseball team in Washington. Who knew?
The new Washington Nationals continue to make moves, cutting a deal for Jose Guillen. Jim Bowden, new GM for the Nationals has already made his prescence felt. Maybe, not in a good way, but a prescence is a prescence, even if this one reeks of mediocrity.
Now Guillen has shown that he can hit. I was one of his biggest skeptics, and he has proved me wrong. I have no problem admitting it. He looks like a good bet to hit .300/.350/.500 and play a pretty good right field. He's not the "proven run producer" you will hear about on the four letter when they're not showing slow motion replays of Jermaine O'Neal punching out a fat kid, but he will definitely help an offense that featured 500 ABs from Endy "I can't steal first, but I sure can lead off" Chavez.
Guillen will replace the man he was traded for, Juan Rivera, in right. Bowden also sent Maicer Izturis to Anaheim to complete the deal. Izturis had a pretty good year in AAA but doesn't look like any more than a utility player in the bigs. Guillen is a step up from Rivera, but Rivera very quietly hit .307/.364/.465 in 391 ABs last season. If he can recreate that over a full season then he's almost as good as Guillen, at a fraction of the cost.
So a lot of people are calling this a good risk for Bowden to take. The risk being Guillen turns into a Carl Everett type headcase. The reward, apparently, is that Guillen is the "proven run producer" the Nationals will need. But there's a reasonable chance that Guillen is only marginally better than the man he replaces, and while I don't think Guillen will turn into Ron Artest any time soon, you gotta love nuggets like this from Bowden,
Bowden spoke to Guillen five minutes before going on a conference call with the media, and believes the outfielder has learned his lesson from taking anger management courses.So Bowden thinks Guillen has learned his lesson, but he hadn't even spoken to Guillen until AFTER he made a deal for him. So it wouldn't have mattered if Guillen had been a raving lunatic on the phone, swearing, and calling Bowden's mother a two-dollar whore, Guillen was still on his way to Washington.
Now for those of you with short memories, Jim Bowden is the former general manager of the Reds. He was there for 10 years, and he had a reasonable amount of success, but the front office under Bowden has never impressed me. He seems incabable of finding pitchers to fill out a staff and most of his trades have confused me. The Reds have had some good prospects come through their ranks recently so maybe there is some hope, maybe he can build a good scouting/developing department in Washington, but so far his moves at the head of the Nationals have, once again, confused me.
This move for Guillen, while most likely a popular one with the new fans, doesn't really make sense. The former Expos have holes all over the field. Right field wasn't one of them. Juan Rivera could have been a perfectly acceptable right fielder, a year younger than Guillen and at a savings of about $3M. If Bowden wasn't going to considerably upgrade from Rivera, he should have just left it alone and spent the money somewhere else.
But the money. Oh, the money. It isn't all about the money in Washington. How else then, could you explain the two other moves Bowden has made?
A little while ago, Bowden signed Vinny Castilla and Cristian Guzman to play 3rd and short. What Guzman? Oh, the Cristian Guzman of the .685 career OPS? I'm going to venture a guess that Maicer Izturis could have provided that.
Then again, whats another $16M to a major league baseball team?
And Castilla? Is Jim Bowden serious? The same Vinny Castilla who hit .218/.281/.493 away from Coors field last year? In fact, nobody this side of Dante Bichette has had more of a boost in his career from Coors field then Castilla. He is a career .334/.381/.614 hitter at Coors, and .256/.295/.433 hitter EVERYWHERE ELSE.
Welcome to Washington Vinny. Washington, meet Vinny Castilla, your 2005 version of Tony Batista (he hit .241/.272/.455 for the Expos last year, by the way). Not to mention, the Expos got Brendan Harris from the Cubs in the Nomar trade. Brendan Harris plays third and has shown he can hit in the minors, but now finds himself ostensibly blocked by Vinny F. Castilla for the next two years.
But, then again, whats another $3M a year over the next two years to the Washington Nationals?
I'll tell you what. I'll tell you exactly what. If Jim Bowden wasn't so concerned with bringing in veteran baseball players to appease the new fans in Washington, he might be able to put together a pretty decent squad.
Why not let Rivera play right and Harris play third? Why not use the $10M you save by leaving the "veteran prescence" exactly where it belongs, and sign Edgar Renteria to play short. Or Nomar. Or hell, block Brendan Harris and spend the $10M on Troy Glaus. I heard that Adrian Beltre character is pretty good too. A few more million could have gotten Beltre, and Bowden will undoubtedly spend that on some other mediocrity (I'm hearing Russ Ortiz or maybe even Cal Eldred, or both).
Fearless prediction: Vinny Castilla will have an OBP under .300 this year.
Look, Guillen is a pretty good baseball player. Cristian Guzman and Vinny Castilla are not. At least Guzman is young, and has a chance to get better, but Castilla has none. He will not be good. He will not even be average. Yet, he will probablly hit fifth and squeak out 30 HRs while making outs over 70% of the time. Bowden is setting up the fans of Washington to be disappointed, and he is doing it with indiscretion.
Throwing $3 and $4 million at mediocre veterans fills roster spots relatively cheaply, it helps your manager fill out his lineup with names he can recognize, and it keeps uneducated fans interested in the team.
At least until they start playing the games.
But when the 3 and 4 million dollar deals add up, and you've bought a $60M team that can't compete, and the fans start wondering how much more they can take of Cristian Guzman flailing hopelessly at a baseball, well then, what do you do?
Fire the coach.
I put the over-under on Frank Robinson's firing at a year and a half. It's impeccable baseball logic.