After laying the foundation for the Washington Nationals and the best record in Major League Baseball, Stan Kasten took his talents to Venice Beach as part of the consortium who bought the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Kasten was the architect of the five year plan that saw the Expos move from Montreal to Washington and was part of the front office team who drafted Steven Strasburg.
However, now that the Dodgers have pulled off the blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox he may have helped to do more damage to the Nats championship hopes than shutting down Strasburg will.
For all the bashing Mike Rizzo and the Nationals front office are taking for the pending shutdown of their ace, Washington fortified its staff with enough front line starters that will make them a tough out in October even without Strasburg.
Kasten’s vision, born during his time with the Atlanta Braves, was to purge aging veterans past their prime and acquire good young arms to give them depth in the farm system. Thus, the back end of their rotation could be middle of the rotation starters for other teams in the league.
That is why Davey Johnson and Rizzo continue to remain confident in the face of unwavering national criticism.
If they hold true to shutting down Strasburg at 160 innings he should make six more starts if he continues to average just over six plus innings per outing. Contrary to popular belief it won’t decimate their pitching staff.
Gio Gonzalez—acquired from the Oakland A’s for two pitching prospects among four players last December—will remain at the top of the rotation and Cy Young's conversation if he continues to pitch like an ace.
Jordan Zimmerman, who was shutdown after 160 innings last year, has pitched like a number one starter in the three spot.Considering how Edwin Jackson pitched down the stretch last year for the Cardinals Washington’s rotation will be set.
But the Dodgers have been a nemesis for the Nationals, especially when at Chavez Ravine.
Since moving to Washington, they are 17-27 vs. Los Angeles and have won just of 5-18 in Dodgertown. They were swept in April before the Dodgers fortified the lineup with Adrian Gonzalez.
A recent offensive drought has left Washington in the midst of a five game slide with the Atlanta Braves charging in the NL east.
Its ironic that a pitching rich team built in the likeness of the Braves during the 90’s could be facing a similar post season fate. The adage that good pitching stops good hitting in October netted Kasten’s team just one world championship. Landing a power hitting first baseman who is a proven run producer for the pennant stretch was a stroke of brilliance regardless for the Dodgers no matter what cost.
Despite laying the foundation for the success of the Nationals, revisionist history has rendered Kasten an afterthought in D.C.. He deftly navigated the transition from Montreal and made them relevant in a town that was without baseball for 30 years.
Kasten also restored credibility to the organization by hiring Rizzo after the embarrassing fiasco where Jim Bowden and Jose Rijo were bamboozled by the fraudulent prospect Smiley Gonzalez who used his cousin‘s birth certificate and got a $1 million signing bonus.
When the Nationals inevitably shutdown Strasburg they still won’t go quietly from the NL playoffs. However, if they face Kasten’s Dodgers in the post season, the architect of their dream season may be the reason it ends in a nightmare.