Whining Ninny's Aside, Washington Nationals on Verge of Being Not So Bad Anymore

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Whining Ninny's Aside, Washington Nationals on Verge of Being Not So Bad Anymore
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The baseball world is still whining and complaining about Jayson Werth's seven-year, $126 million contract with the Washington Nationals.

Let 'em whine, I say.

For some reason, the Nationals just can't placate anyone, so why try? For years, the team has been slapped about because they refused to spend millions of dollars on players who wouldn't help them become a contender.

Now the team thinks they are close enough to contending that they give a very good player $18 million a year and what happens? Those same people whine and complain that the Nationals pushed the pay scale up for the remaining free agents, costing other teams millions of dollars.

Let's be clear: I don't care about all the other teams. And why should I? They didn't much care about us while they were beating our brains in on the field, filling up our stadium with their fans and mocking us off the field.

If the Mets or Angels or whoever have to pay a few million more for Carl Crawford because of the Nationals, I say that's great.

There is no doubt that the Nationals overpaid for Jayson Werth. A couple of analysts on XM Radio said that the team gave Werth two more years and $4 million more per season than any other team; they were negotiating against themselves.

They were right but couldn't be more wrong.

The Nationals couldn't have signed Werth by giving him one more year at $1 more than the next closest team. No, they had to obliterate the competition and they had to do it fast. There is no doubt that the dollars and years of the contract were the absolute minimum it took to get Werth to Washington.

The only scenario that would make this a bad contract would be if this was the only contract that Washington signs this offseason. But the timing tells me that's not going to happen. The team announced the signing on Sunday, before the winter meetings even began. This was a signal to free-agent players and their agents that the team was open for business. If a player wasn't certain that the team was committed to winning, they are now.

Some random thoughts, in random order of course:

  • Though I love Josh Willingham, now is the time to trade him. Though he isn't Nick Johnson-fragile, he is close. The team could get two prospects in return and if they move Mike Morse to left, they wouldn't lose much in the way of offense. Morse's 2010 numbers (.289-15-41) works out to .289-32-90 for an entire season. No, I don't think he'll hit that well but he'll hit 25 homers and drive in 80 runs easily.
  • Many are upset that manager Jim Riggleman said that Nyjer Morgan was going to be the team's center fielder next season, but really, 2010 was his first bad year. Prior to last season, Morgan averaged .303/.362/.391 with 42 stolen bases over a 162-game season. The team can afford to give him another chance with Roger Bernadina in reserve should he falter.
  • I would much rather have Adam LaRoche at first the next couple of seasons than Carlos Pena. Last season, LaRoche batted .261-21-100, typical numbers for the 30-year-old. Pena, on the other hand, has seen his numbers decline each of the last four seasons.
  • I hope the Nationals re-sign Chien-Ming Wang. He has said he'll return if no one else offers him a major-league contract. He was too good over his career (and looked good during the Instructional League last fall) not to take one more chance. And while they are at it, here's hoping the Nationals sign Brandon Webb too.
  • Reports out yesterday morning hinted at a "Tyler Clippard and Ian Desmond for Matt Garza" trade. Garza, just 26, went 15-10, with a 3.91 ERA for Tampa Bay. The Nationals are deep in the bullpen and have Steve Lombardozzi ready to take over at second while Daniel Espinosa would return to his natural position, shortstop. I'd do it in a heartbeat.

I have little doubt that the Nationals will end the week a much-improved team, one that perhaps will be good enough to play .500 ball next year. That's .500 ball without Stephen Strasburg. Imagine what they might be able to do with him in 2011.

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