WASHINGTON - MARCH 29: Stan Kasten, President of the Washington Nationals, talks to fans before the exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park March 29, 2008 in Washington DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
The Nationals have a potentially bright future with prospects like Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Drew Storen, Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond.
But that future will have to go on without team president Stan Kasten, who said Thursday he will resign at the end of the season.
The marketing maven's announcement comes with the Nationals headed toward a third consecutive last-place finish in the NL East, Strasburg scheduled to miss the entire 2011 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and doubts as to whether the team's top home run hitter will return or leave the team for more cash via free agency.
Kasten immediately became the public face of that group and spoke about the plan he wanted to implement to improve the club, focusing on pitching and grooming young talent.
While the franchise has made some strides in improving its crop of minor league players, the big league team has struggled to be competitive, especially in the tough NL East against powerhouses Philadelphia and Atlanta, as well as the New York Mets and their high payroll.
Payrolls may be high on Kasten's list of reasons for leaving, as the franchise has not invested money in the short-term on high-priced free agents to compete now, instead continuing to wait for the team's young prospects to develop.
The waiting has been a bit much for some fans, who no longer show up for games. Just this week the team posted its smallest crowd at Nats Park since baseball returned to D.C. in 2005. Attendance was announced as 10,999 in Monday's 8-2 loss to the Astros.
To combat the same issue next year, the team has offered a sweet season-ticket deal: buy two season tickets and get two additional season tickets free. Is it a smart marketing ploy or an embarrassment to the franchise?
By what transpired with Kasten this week, many might vote for the latter.