As the trade deadline draws near, there appear to be very few buzzards circling the desicated carcass that is the 2008 Washington Nationals. With a 25-man roster that would shame many AAA clubs, that's hardly surprising, but it does pose an unusual challenge for embattled GM Jim Bowden.
Obtaining the best deal for a top-flight player like Alfonso Soriano is one type of test. Identifying a promising minor leaguer to exchange for a Marlon Anderson/Daryle Ward-type role player is another. But pawning off your overpriced crap on another team may be the truest measure of a general manager's skill.
In that regard, Nationals fans have some cause for hope. Free agent signings and contract extensions may not be Trader Jim's forte (witness the nickname) but getting the Seattle Mariners to take on Jose Vidro (and his contract!) in return for Chris Snelling and ¡Fruto! was an undisputed masterwork of general managing. Sure, neither amounted to anything more than Langerhanscendetalism! (and, eventually, Wily Mo Penamonium!) but that's not the point.
JimBo successfully identified a GM who had convinced himself that our overpriced crap was the key to his season, and pulled the trigger. Doing that once is luck, but if he can do it again with Felipe Lopez, Paul LoDuca, Odalis Perez or, Deo volente, all three... well folks, that's a skill, and not one to be taken lightly.
Of course, that's an optimistic scenario. Overpriced crap doesn't usually generate a sellers market; and it's entirely possible that all three of the terrible triumverate will be on the roster August 1st. But the next 24 hours will be a good test for our GM, whose leash seems to be growing shorter by the day.