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Will the Nationals Compete in the Near Future?

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 14:  National League All-Star Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals takes a practice swing during the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Josh LevittSenior Analyst IAugust 4, 2009

 Apparently, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo likes the Nationals a whole lot more than most of us do:

"We are in a building process. We are not rebuilding," Rizzo said, almost defiantly, after the trade deadline passed Friday. "This is a team that, is in my opinion, not far away from being a good, solid baseball team. We've got some good, core players in Jesus Flores and Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, Nyjer Morgan, Cristian Guzman. These are good, core players that can
win in the very near future."
There are a few big problems with Rizzo's quote that give me absolutely no reason to believe that the Nationals will contend in the near future.

1. Where is the pitching?
Outside of John Lannan, the Nationals pitching, especially their bullpen, is horrific and difficult to watch. The team has a combined 5.05 ERA, which is good for 29th in all of MLB. The pitching staff ranks in dead last in almost every major pitching category in the National League. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.

The positive here is that Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler have talent, but it might take them years to figure it out on the major league level.

2. Adam Dunn and Cristian Guzman are signed only through 2010.
Does that mean Rizzo thinks the Nationals can compete in 2010? Ask any Nationals fan and they will tell you that there is very little chance this team will do anything in 2010. The idea that either one of these guys is a possible long-term building block is hard to imagine right now.

3. Should they rebuild?
Rizzo states that the Nationals are experiencing a "building process" and they are NOT rebuilding. I don't agree with his thinking. The Nationals need a major infusion of talent if they are going to compete in the long term. If I was Mike Rizzo, I would have been much more active during the trading deadline and performed a "Pirates-like fire sale" in order to bring back some quality minor leaguers or young players.

Wouldn't that have made sense?

Unless Rizzo thinks that the Nationals pitching staff is going to completely turn it around in 2010, then this comment is rather ludicrous. I understand that a GM has to be positive and present a positive spin on things to the public, but the harsh reality facing the Nationals is that there is still much rebuilding to be done and this team is still YEARS away from contending.

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