Quite in contrast with the otherwise thrifty spirit of the moment, all of a sudden it's in fashion among baseball clubs to eat money. Detroit cut loose Gary Sheffield with the understanding that they'll still have to pay him $14 million. The Phillies topped that by dropping Geoff Jenkins and Adam Eaton, for a grand total of $17.15 million in free money for those two. The Nationals, as in so many things, do what other teams do, only cheaper: they have cut ties with outfielder William Moore “Wily Mo” Pena, kissing goodbye to $2 million smackers.
If nothing else, Pena's Nationals tenure is a testament to the fact that evaluating ballplayers is hard. I, for one, thought he'd be great after Washington got him from the Red Sox. Maybe Boston's return in that trade (a player to be named later) should have tipped me off, but I was overwhelmed by his awesome power and alleged ability to play center field.
He demonstrated the first of those abilities in his 37 games with the Nats in 2007. 8 homers and a .504 slugging percentage portended mad crazy dingers going forward. Or so I thought.
Injuries, bad coaching, and defensive ineptitude made Pena a less than desirable guy to have on the roster. Washington's glut of outfielders – there are five in camp who are clearly better – sealed the deal, and now he's just like anyone else looking for a job. Well, anyone else who knows he's got a couple mil coming his way regardless.
My not very bold prediction: Pena will catch with on someone. That team's bloggers will get kind of excited (excited for dingers!) and will then, a year or so later, say to themselves, “Oh, yeah – Wily Mo. What happened to that guy?”
The Stephen Strasburg saga has a chance to be one of those very rare stories that involves the Nationals but interests non-Nats fans. Seriously, it doesn't happen often. Can you imagine if the Smiley Gonzalez thing had happened to a team with a national profile? Anyway, the place to go for Strasburgia is the Nationals Farm Authority, which has that beat on lock. In particular, check out this analysis of the much talked about $50 million dollar contract and its likelihood.
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Written by Ryan Moore