Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Boswell Gets a Jump on April Fool's Day
Washington Post sports columnist Tom Boswell shows off his sly wit in a column this morning, by predicting mind-blowingly great things from the post-2007 Nationals who, he says "will have resources that surpass any team in Los Angeles, Boston or Chicago and may equal the Yankees in their ability to land a free agent." Right, and wasn't it great for Joe Gibbs to come out of retirement to return the Redskins to their glory days?

Boswell attributes the Nats' $36 million dollar payroll (third lowest in baseball, he says) to the genius of Stan Kasten. I attribute it to cheapness. They're saving money so they can spend it on stadium enhancements (cherry trees and a scoreboard is mostly what I hear about, how exciting!), and be poised to, in the future, "sign several of the best players in baseball," which they can do, because they'll be rich when the new ballpark opens next year.

The Nats will be just like the Tigers, who leveraged a new park into a league championship, by developing young players and spending $40.6 million on free agents Magglio Ordonez, Ivan Rodriguez, Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones. I don't argue that the Tigers got great value and great contributions from those guys. But I think it had less to do with genius than luck. Ordonez had been injured most of the two previous years. People weren't exactly pounding the door down for IRod or Kenny Rogers, for several reasons. And anytime you get a good performance from Todd Jones, consider yourself lucky. Things aligned perfectly for the Tigers last year, and that's not likely to happen again, for the Nats or for any other team, anytime soon.

Boswell doesn't mention the Brewers or the Pirates, two teams that have new stadiums and that continue to not be very competitive.

I hate to be this negative about a team that I'll spend the summer following, live and on MASN, as soon as I find it. But things don't look so rosy to me, especially when I read in the very same edition of the Post that only 30,000 seats have been sold for opening day. Opening day! How many people are going to show up for the Nats/Marlins showdown the next day? I don't think the intrigue of the season debut of number two starter Sean Hill is going to fill many seats.

So the plan for this season is this: Emotionally and financially support a team that did absolutely nothing to improve itself this off-season, that features a starting rotation of an injury-prone "ace" and four minor leaguers, and that includes a probable starting first baseman who seems to be a little unbalanced mentally, significantly overweight physically and can't field or run, because we need to trust the genius of Stan Kasten and company (who can't seem to figure out how to do some pretty simple things, like mail season tickets or distribute cheap MP3 players to season ticket holders in a timely manner), and believe that when the new stadium is built people who can't be bothered coming to opening day this year will be presenting Kasten and the Lerners with boatloads of cash that can be used to outbid the Yankees for free agents.

If you believe that, I've got a Damien Jackson autographed bat that I'd like to sell you (for $350). But I hope I'm wrong, and I'll be sitting in section 212 hoping for the best.


cleavers44 said...

Agreed, that Boswell column was insanely optomistic. I wasn't expecting that the Nats would be good this year, but they still could've spent a reasonable amount of money to get a couple pitchers to at least eat up some innings.

tadcranky said...

From the looks of Dmitri Young, at least he'll be able to eat up something.

See ya Monday.