January 2, 2009

New Year, New Team?

To close the book on the 2008 Washington Nationals, (The book in question being Dante Alighieri's Inferno, if you were wondering.) here's a quick recap of the changes to version 1.0 of the 2009 Washington Nationals:

  • Out: 2B Emilio Bonifacio, SP Odalis Perez, INF Aaron Boone, RHRP Jesus Colome, SP Tim Redding and a mess of minor league free agents "headlined" by 1B Larry Broadway.

  • In: SP Scott Olsen, OF Josh Willingham, SP Daniel Cabrera, RHRP Terrell Young, and a mess of minor league free agents "headlined" by OF Corey Patterson.
So far the action is less Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and more Curb Appeal. Rumors of big doins' swirl: Adam Dunn!... Orlando Hudson!!... Milton Bradley!?!... Orlando Jones?... the Parker Brothers???, but as Uncle Teddy well knows talk is much, much cheaper than action. At least until the lawyers get involved.

To date all the worst team in baseball has to show for it's offseason efforts is a pat on the head from Scott Boras in the wake of the failed pursuit of the ex-Pride of Severna Park. And if you think the Boras-Lerner Mutual Admiration Society will knock one red cent off the price of Stephen Strasburg's contract come June, well you're probably Jim Bowden.

Call me a bleary-eyed pessimist, but hard experience suggests that we should probably be resigned to a 2009 roster that looks suspiciously like 2008. Young, potentially talented but altogether unproven and more than a little injury-prone. If the Nats are a proxy for the economy (I know, but stay with me) then the hot start, extended mid-year implosion, and disappointing limp to the finish line, could all presage a bleak season to come. Will 2009 be the year the Nats find their true bottom and being the slow, difficult process of retooling to become competitive? Or will artificial stimulus in the form of Dunn, Hudson and/or Bradley ease the pain of transition? Forget Red Sox-Yankees. The defining contest of 2009 will be free marketeers vs. Keynesians.

2009 Washington Nationals: It's not a season ticket, it's an individual mini-bailout!

No comments: