Beware of the Nationals?
This article was inspired by Jayson Stark's piece written for ESPN. In it, Stark states that the Nationals were among three teams to have the best off-season in terms of free agent acquisitions. Consequently, he jumped all over the Mets and picked to be in the top three of having the worst off-season. I disagree with Starks anaylsis regarding the off season of the Mets. By the way, the Dodgers topped the list with the worst off season, the Pirates were listed second.But I do agree with half of what Stark stated, the Nationals had a great off-season and I give them a lot of credit. They are spending money and have improved their team tremendously-but it was done with journeymen. Now, I don't want to put water on a team that has improved, but are the Nationals playoff bound? I know one thing, they sure could have make themselves a thorn in the side the Mets. Maybe now they have made themselves a thorn in the entire N.L East as well. Good for them. As I see it, the Nationals are a team that can win a lot more. However, I think the Nationals have set themselves up to be more than dangerous in seasons to come rather than 2010. As of right now, The Nationals look more like the Tampa Rays of 2004-5. If they are handled the right way, they could be contenders within 3 to 4 years. And here's how.It all begins with Stephan Strasburg who should not be pitching in the majors until he is absolutely ready. Using him as are starting point, the Nationals should do everything in their power to make sure that Wang, Bruney, Villone and Marquis have solid pitching performances. The better they pitch, the more attractive trade bait they become and if done the right way, these guys can turn the National Farm System into a who's who of great prospects. Come the trade deadline, the Nationals can clean up, especially if Wang returns to form. He could fetch at least 2 good prospects if anything. Think about it, if Wang can pitch, wouldn't you like to see him on the Mets? Especially if a starter goes down and were in the playoff hunt? If these players are performing above expectations, why not cash in? What about I-Rod? You know somewhere in this league a team is going to need a catcher with some experience. The same would apply to Adam Kennedy. All the Nationals have to do is wait and hope that these players stay healthy. I would even go as far as trading Zimmerman, who could really be at peak value this year. When the trade deadline comes along, the Nats could be sitting pretty and getting ready for a feeding frenzy. They play their cards right and they can get themselves a nice young, cheap team. All they have to do is wait for them to mature.Florida did this years ago and it took them to a World Championship, Tampa followed suit and now it looks like the Pirates are buying into it as well. If the Nationals try to run their team using the same blueprint, we might see that Presidents Race done in October.