Washington Nationals Sign Adam LaRoche

Adam BernacchioAnalyst IIIJanuary 8, 2011

PHOENIX - SEPTEMBER 06:  Adam LaRoche #25 of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against the San Francisco Giants during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on September 6, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Giants defeated the Diamondbacks 2-0 in eleven innings.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Can someone please tell the Washington Nationals they need starting pitching? Do they not realize that their No. 1 starter is Livan Hernandez?

I really have no idea what the Nationals game plan was or is this offseason. They have a garbage starting rotation, but go out and sign Jayson Werth to one of the more ridiculous contracts in baseball history. But then trade one of their few proven producers, Josh Willingham, to the Oakland A’s. Then they give Adam LaRoche a two-year contract and $15 million to play first base.


They remind me of those Tampa Bay Devil Rays teams back in the late '90s. Remember those teams? At a time when they should have gone young and try to build from within, they went out and spent on veteran hitters like Jose Canseco, Fred McGriff and Gregg Vaughn in order to excite their fanbase.

Much like the Nationals are doing now, the Devil Rays ignored improving their starting rotation and consistently finished in last place.  That’s where the Nationals are headed again in 2011.

I think LaRoche is a remarkably consistent player. He is almost a look for a .270 average and 25 HR every year. However, his cumulative WAR over the last three seasons is 6.4, which ranks him towards the bottom of Major League first basemen over that time period.

My point is that LaRoche is not going to help the Nationals win. LaRoche is the type of player where he is a good player on a bad team, but would be just a fringe player on a playoff caliber team. He is the offensive version of Brian Fuentes.

He might help the Nationals be somewhat “competitive,” but there is a difference between being competitive and winning. By the time the Nationals are a winning franchise (three to four years at a minimum), LaRoche will be gone and Werth will be a shell of his former self.

Plus, if they really want to be competitive—at least on the offensive side of the diamond—why not keep Willingham and go all in? Taking two steps forward and one step back on offense makes no sense to me.

Giving your fanbase false hope by signing veterans, so they think you are trying to win is not the way to go. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals have tried that approach and look where it got them.

If the Nationals plan on winning sooner rather than later, they need to figure out a way to develop some pitching. If they don’t, they will be back in the same position they are now in five years.

That being a last place team.

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