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You Traded WHO for WHAT?

Posted By Marien Hornyak On Jul 31 2011 @ 8:39 pm In Washington Nationals | 1 Comment

Saturday was a very emotional day in my house.  Not because our local Italian Ice store was out of my favorite flavor, but because the Washington Nationals had made two big trades. I was livid! 

First they traded utility player Jerry Hairston, Jr. to the Brewers for outfield prospect Erik Komatsu and then they sent pitcher Jason Marquis to the Diamondbacks for infield prospect Zach Walters. [1]

I knew all along that either Hairston or Laynce Nix would be traded, since the Nats seem to have an overabundance of utility players.  Regarding Marquis,  I was surprised (and disappointed) but Marquis will be a free agent at the end of the season. Why not trade him and get something in return?  My big issue with both trades is that both players were traded for “prospects.”  I don’t have anything against “prospects” per se – but most teams who trade solid and established major league players for a prospects also gets a wad of cash or a PTBNL (player to be named later).  In this case, the Nationals just got one prospect in each deal.  That’s it? No million dollars, no future draft pick, just a guy who plays in the minors and hopes to make it big someday.  No offense to Walters or Komatsu (as I know neither personally), but what about trading for a pitcher? [2]

Jerry Hairston was hitting .268 with 2 HR and 22 RBIs as a quality reserve player.  He filled in nicely at third base when Ryan Zimmerman missed more than a month (abdominal strain) and could always be counted on when needed.  While he Tweeted on Saturday that he was happy to be leaving DC (you have three airports to choose from, Jerry - buh-bye!), he was a good player worth more than just one prospect.  Marquis, who had gone 8-5 this year with an ERA of 3.95, was he traded for just one minor-league prospect?

I know that this is the time for contending teams to strengthen their lineups and for losing teams to reinforce their farm systems, but Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo should have asked for more in each trade.  Manager Davey Johnson has said before that he wants to strengthen the depth of the young OF in the farm system, but I’m starting to wonder why this is so important. 

How about pitching?  The Nationals don’t have five solid guys who can give them consistent quality starts – there’s John Lannan, Jordan Zimmerman and geriatric Liván Hernandez, but that’s it!  I know Tom Milone and Brad Peacock are doing great in Syracuse while Stephen Strasburg will likely be back next spring, but what about the remaining two months of this season?  Just because your team isn’t in contention doesn’t mean you can pack it in for the final two months!  I think the reason they want so much outfield depth is that with their lousy pitching, they realize the ball is going to be hit to the outfield a whole lot and therefore those guys are going to see a lot of action! [3]

Next, Washington sent Roger Bernadina down to AAA Syracuse. Why?  I know he wasn’t getting the job done as leadoff hitter, but he was fielding respectably and could have been placed further down in the lineup.  So they had to make room for Jonny Gomes and sent Roger down.  But wait!  What’s Brian Bixler doing back in the majors?  Playing left and center in relief of Gomes and Ankiel!  This is getting confusing!

So the Nationals are going to be pretty darn good two years from now, when all these prospects mature and play some great baseball.  But wait!  What stops good hitting?  Why, good pitching, of course and it seems like the Nationals don’t have much of a long-term plan in that department.

At least the Nationals took 2 of 3 from the Mets this weekend and seem to be playing better.  Jayson Werth is finally hitting (!), Ryan Zimmerman has a modest 9-game hitting streak going and Michael Morse continues to hit consistently.  I am hoping they take 2 out of 3 from the up-and-down Braves this week before leaving on a road series that includes Colorado, Chicago and Philadelphia.

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[2] Image: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/psb/uploads/2011/07/marquis.jpg

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