July 30, 2009

Whose Deadline Is It?

Maintaining the status quo would be "an epic fail." There's no reason for Nick Johnson to be on this team come August 1st. The team cannot take this lineup into 2010. The Pirates have liquidated half their roster and prospects are falling from the skies. Even with all that, Mike Rizzo doesn't anticipate any big moves. Which makes sense when you consider that only Joe Beimel really needs to be shown the door.

L.A. Joe is a lefty reliever on a cheap one-year deal. He is archtypical deadline trade bait, and the third left-hander in a bad team's bullpen. Come October 5, 2009 he's gone one way or another. Joe Beimel is a less accomplished Mike Stanton, who became Shairon Martis in July 2006. The odds of turning a lefty reliever into a young starter aren't good, but it's a gamble you take every time.

Beyond that, it's not fair to say that the continued presence of Willingham, Dunn and Guzman on the roster next week is an unmitigated front office failure. A disappointment, maybe. Josh, Adam and Cristian are all under team control through 2010. Dave Nichols may be right to say that the Nats cannot "come into spring training with Johnson at first base, Willingham in right, Dunn in left and Guzman at short." That doesn't mean that everyone has to be dealt by Friday afternoon. Offseason trades work too.

As for Nick, he's a potential free agent, apparently seeking a lucrative two-year deal. Unfortunately there's no 1B-of-the-future waiting in the wings. The idea of moving Adam Dunn to first is superficially attractive, but if you think watching Dunn butcher 2 or 3 balls a game in left field is painful, imagine him trying to make every catch at first base. As for Josh Willingham, well you don't want someone with chronic back issues crouching on the infield every day.

So trade Joe Biemel. For anything. Do it today. As for the rest, if you can get a Matt Holliday/Jack Wilson/Cliff Lee-type package (quality and quantity) do it. Otherwise remember, the winter meetings are practically right around the corner.

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