August 10, 2009

Shipping Up to Boston

I'm shortstop Gooz
And I've paid my dues

My declining range

Is but a clever ruse

I might be shipping up to Boston

Could be shipping off to Boston

Possibly shipping out to Boston

To mostly rave reviews.

- with profuse apologies to Woody Guthrie

To waive or not to waive, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the infield to suffer the boots and bleeders of uncertain defense; or to take action against a bloated contract, and trade your starting shortstop to the Red Sox. Nationals Journal briefly lays out the options:

  1. Let Boston take him, and consider the $8M in salary relief a gift.
  2. Try to work out a trade and at least get something for Guzman
  3. Pull him back from waivers and keep him at least through the end of the season.
Reaction to the possibility of losing the Guz has ranged from unbridled enthusiasm to unadulterated glee. In this reading, Guzman's $8M contract next season is an albatross that will drag down the franchise and preclude everything from the Strasburg signing to the pursuit of a second baseman and/or closer in the offseason.

It's true that Guzman has the second largest contract on the team, behind Adam Dunn. But the Nationals' 2009 Opening Day payroll was $60M, hardly an onnerous burden, and more that $20M will be coming off that total with the subtraction of Johnson, Young, Kearns, Cabrera, Biemel, Belliard and several others. Some of that money will get eaten up in arbitration raises, particularly for Josh Willingham, but the suggestion that Guzman's salary could prevent the team from doing anything it needed to do is laughable.

Cristian Guzman is a slightly below average shortstop and a streaky hitter who doesn't walk and needs a .300 batting average to maintain his offensive value. It's also true that he's had that .300+ average for two and a half seasons now. Complicating the issue is the question of who replaces Guzie at short. Presumably the first choice would be the Attorney General, with Belliard getting the bulk of the time at 2B and Mike Morse or Ian Desmond called up for infield depth. If Belliard goes to second full time the team will also need a defensive replacement for Dunn at first base.

If there's a deal to be made for Guzman that returns something of value to DC, Rizzo should jump on it. Joe Posnanski has a theory that when dealing with a team like the Yankees or the Red Sox using their "must win now" mentality against them can be a valuable bargaining chip. That said, letting Cristian go for mere "salary relief" isn't the best interest of the Nationals in the short or long-term.


Kevin said...

It's not so much about saving the money as it is about Guzman not being worth what he's owed next season. Who replaces Guzman at SS this year and in 2010 should be almost irrelevant to the conversation.

Dave Nichols said...

thanks for the link! it's true; i do fully endorse the Red Sox waiver claim on Guzman. $8 million is a lot to spend on an empty batting average and a defensive liability.

i love to watch Guzie slap singles around the yard for week-long stretches at a time, but his three-pitch Ks are also getting more frequent by the day as well.

the Sox would be doing the Nats a favor here, and if Rizzo can extract anything from them, all the better.

Dave at Nats News Network

Charlie said...

I think it's a good idea to try to get rid of Guzman's salary in 2010. I wonder if it makes sense for the Nats to make a claim on JJ Hardy in Milwaukee. It is Boston's other option, and the Nats could effectively block it.

Worst case scenario, they'd get a SS to take Guzman's spot this year, and no salary commitments for 2010 at the position. And they could let Hardy go after this year.

Maybe I'm missing an angle here, but that seems to make sense to me.

The Nationals Review