Unsolicited Advice to Washington Nationals in Desperate Times...

Dave NicholsSenior Analyst IJuly 9, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 13:  Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals dives for a ball hit by Edgar Renteria #16 of the San Francisco Giants in the first inning of their game at AT&T Park on May 13, 2009 in San Francisco, California. Zimmerman dropped the ball on the play.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

OK, I'll be honest. I started to write a long, drawn-out column about the state of the Washington Nationals, why they are so bad, and how to keep perspective. But honestly, it felt like a repeat.

Instead, like most of my Internet writing brethren (and sisthren) and blog commenters out there today, I'm just going to spout off some random (and possibly radical) ideas about how to fix things to see if anything sticks (or stinks).
Historically desperate times call for historically desperate measures.

1) Call Up Shairon Martis, Garrett Mock, J.D. Martin, Collin Balestar; Go with Starter by Committee
Look, it's not about wins and losses anymore, so why try to pretend? The team already announced that they want to limit the number of innings of some of these guys. So call up the other starters, waive some of the lousy relievers, and let them share games.
That's right, Detwiler gets five innings and Mock gets the next four. Martin starts for five and Zimmermann closes with four. Rotate. There's no pressure on any one guy since they know how much they're going to pitch.
Stick with the plan unless someone is really getting rocked. Let them pitch through their mistakes without fear of getting yanked.
Oh, and maybe start calling some pitches from the dugout. Yesterday, with Detwiler abandoning the curve ball? Unacceptable.

2) Flip-Flop Cristian Guzman and Ryan Zimmerman
Yeah, I said it. What is Zimm's biggest problem at third? Making the standing throw. At plays on the run or diving he's one of the best in the league. But the grounder right to him? He throws it away.
Slide him over 40 feet where so many more plays are made on the move. He's already shown he can handle the pivot making double plays when the shift is employed. And his range can't be any smaller than Guzie's.
It worked pretty well for this guy...
Guzman showed during the All Star Game last season that he can handle the hot corner. He doesn't have the best arm in the majors, but that isn't his problem—it's range and desire. Playing third will make you pay attention or you'll lose your head.

3) DFA Ronnie Belliard and Call Up D'Meathook
Belliard is absolutely useless to this team. He can't hit, and he isn't the first or second option as a defensive replacement. And what's worse—he is becoming increasingly difficult in the locker room.
According to an article in the Times today, Dmitri Young is obviously in better shape than he's been in a long while and claims he's been game-ready since the end of April.
He's still an asset. Get him up here for a couple weeks of pinch-hitting and see if someone will give the Nats a "C" prospect for him.
Either way, the guy can hit falling out of bed, so he'd be a legit switch-hitting pinch-hitter off the bench.

4) Trade Adam Dunn to an American League Team
For all of our sakes. Ask for middle-of-the-diamond prospects. I know the guy is trying, and it's obvious the losing is killing him. That's what's so refreshing about Dunn—he'll tell you what he's thinking.
Mike Rizzo (unfairly by the interviewer, I might add) let himself get put in a corner the other day on the radio, saying, "We are not trading Adam Dunn."
But it's foolish to think that the team wouldn't listen to an offer if it were the right offer. It's not like Dunn is Mickey Mantle. For all his great skill, he's also an equally flawed player.
It's painfully obvious that his worth is as a hitter, and that worth would skyrocket if a team didn't have to worry about him costing them runs in the field.
It's not just the errors either. It's the balls he can't track down in the outfield, and that lets runners take extra bases. Or the lollipop throws that look like he's dogging it when folks don't realize that's all he's got out there.

5) After You Trade Dunn, Move Josh Willingham Back to Left and Call Up Elijah Dukes for Right Field
Where he's belonged all along. He OBP'd .386 last season in 334 plate appearances. After June season, he OBP'd .406 in 271 plate appearances. Give him a shot to replicate that.
If he doesn't, then ship him out. But it's foolhardy to let a 25-year-old with obvious talent flounder in Triple-A when your big league roster is full of older players that are performing worse than he is.

6) DFA Austin Kearns
It's time. The Blue Jays just ate B.J. Ryan's contract, and it's twice as much as Kearns'. Think of it this way: If you DFA him, you'll save the $1 million you'd have to buy him out with next season.