Crawling Out of the Basement? Part Four: Washington Nationals

Dave AugustineContributor IJune 26, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 13:  Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals bats against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on May 13, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Could a team needing to get out of the basement be any more obvious than the Washington Nationals? At 21-49 (as of June 25), the Nats look to be leading the races to the top pick in the 2010 entry draft. 

Maybe that isn't such a bad thing, considering the fortunes of Stephen Strasburg being taken first overall by the struggling franchise this summer. Agent Scott Boras is aiming for a six-year, $50 million contract for his prized possession. With the way Jim Bowden ruined this franchise with players like Paul Lo Duca and Dmitri Young, Strasburg is a steal.

The offseason brought slugger Adam Dunn to what looked like a potent lineup. Cristian Guzman currently has a .336 batting average, and first baseman Nick Johnson is hitting .310. Mix into the equation a blossoming superstar in Ryan Zimmerman, and voila! You have the worst team in baseball! 

So how is this possible?

Look 60 feet, six inches in front of home plate, and you've answered the $10 million question. The Nats rank at the bottom of the NL with their starters' ERA of 4.97 and an overall 5.17 team ERA. 

That's not even the worst of it. Washington currently leads the majors in errors with 66 (Major League average is 43). 

Three weeks ago, I attended a Mets-Nationals game at Nationals Park and was disgusted before I even had a chance to sit down in my seat. The stadium was in a part of town where traffic is a mess, and parking was so scarce I wanted to rip my hair out! I ended up spending $40 to park! I'm told there are cheaper spots, but that's just ridiculous! 

The ticket prices weren't too bad, but the concessions were nothing special. The only special part was the extremely long waiting time it took to get anything. You would think the stadium would be more convenient for fans. No average fan is going to want to see a losing team at these prices. 

For the Nationals to get any better, they are going to need to start trading away the "pieces to the puzzle." Keep Ryan Zimmerman and Jordan Zimmermann and work on trading away players like Johnson, Dunn, Austin Kearns, and Guzman while there is still some value for them. 

This is one of those teams that's not going to get fixed overnight, but with the right moves, they can be duking it out with the Mets and Phillies at the top of the NL East before too long.