Don't Try To Guess What the Washington Nationals Will Do

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Don't Try To Guess What the Washington Nationals Will Do
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
As the non-waiver trade deadline approaches on Friday, there are still rumors of deals floating around for Joe Beimel, but dance partners for the others seem to be dwindling. Shocking, but the market for slugging, defenseless corner outfielders or high-OBP, low-power first basemen seems to be drying up.
The Red Sox traded for Adam LaRoche, an inferior player to Nick Johnson in every way except for the ability to hit home runs. The Giants traded for Ryan Garko, a player inferior to Nick Johnson in every way but good looks. The Cardinals traded for Matt Holliday, an overall superior player to anything the Nats have to offer.
For all the talk last week about Willingham to the Phillies, it's a move that makes no sense, as the Phillies have three, ahem, all-star outfielders.
I could sit here and make something up about who might be the most likely trading partners for the Nationals for any of these players, but the truth is, it would be a waste of time. No one can predict what the Nats may or may not do.
Rumors were swirling today that the Nats are leaning toward Jerry DiPoto, Arizona director of scouting and player personnel, as the next GM. Whether this is true or not is immaterial. It effects the way Mike Rizzo does business regardless of the veracity.
If you held a gun to my head, I would guess that the Nats will probably find a taker for Beimel (possibly the Cubs), but not for any of the others. That would be bad.
What this team simply cannot do is come into spring training with Johnson at first base, Willingham in right, Dunn in left and Guzman at short. The recipe for this season's defensive disaster will be nothing but one year older, with less range and less overall effectiveness.
If the Nats want to resign Johnson for a year, and hope that Chris Marrero is ready in 2011, then they will have to move either Dunn or Willingham over the offseason. The team can't come into the season with defensive liabilities in both corners. One would be acceptable. But not both.
Trading Johnson earlier this season, when he was at his most effective, would have been preferable. At this point, the Nats have convinced themselves Johnson is more valuable to them that to others. They're right, of course, since they have no logical replacement.
Should he be traded, either Dunn or Willingham will be moved to first, and we'll see Dukes or Maxwell called up for the corner slot. And believe me, it's a roll of the dice as to which we would see.
The Nats are reportedly asking for a king's ransom for any of the three players, but are being offered a pauper's penance, at least in their minds.
As for Guzman, he is untradeable, on the hook for another $8 million next year. Not to mention, at .299/.314/.403 with 13 errors, .962 fielding percentage and -6.2 UZR/150 (third worst in the majors among qualifiers), performance-wise he's one of the least valuable players in the majors.
And let's not forget the pressure from ownership to avoid a sub-50 win season.
So with an "acting" GM—with rumors of his replacement swirling—peddling faulty players and asking for someone's first and second born sons, it's hard to envision anything significant happening in the next three days.
But again, guessing what this team will do is just a waste of time.
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