Nationals Indecision - NBC4 Washington

Nationals Indecision

24 hours left and Nats haven't made any moves

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    If NJ's still on the team on August 1, Mike Rizzo hasn't done his job.

    Apparently the Nats are so loaded with talent and potential for the coming years that they don't need to make a change.  At least that's how you could read it considering all the moves they haven't made and how two-thirds of the league's players have seemingly changed hands.

    It's a tough spot for the Nats.  They're a bad team, so they should trade their players away.  But because they're a bad team, they don't have much that other teams would want.

    Still, there are some pieces that could and should be moved.  And the longer interim GM Mike Rizzo has waited, the less likely those pieces actually will go elsewhere.

    Consider Nick Johnson.  He's easily the team's most tradeable option.  A first baseman with good on-base skills, his contract is up at the end of the season -- the classic rent-a-player.  Both the Giant and BoSox have traded for first basemen within the last two weeks, both for inferior players to Nick Johnson.  So why isn't NJ playing by an ocean somewhere?

    Then there's Joe Beimel, a so-so lefty reliever who, too, is a free agent at the end of the year.  Teams are always looking for an extra lefty arm, yet there's been no match yet -- even as the Dodgers traded for O's closer George Sherrill today.  There's hardly even any buzz.

    How 'bout Josh Willingham?  He's 30, which isn't exactly ancient, but it does mean that he's probably not going to be here in four seasons.  Considering his contract, he should have a decent amount of value to someone else.  But where's the buzz?

    You can't just give your players away, of course, but with NJ and Beimel, especially, the team needs to get something -- anything! -- for them before they lose them for nothing, if it's not too late already.

    This is a team that's going to lose 110 games or so.  There's no point to trying to hold on to these guys to win a few extra games down the stretch.  They may not have many valuable assets, but a prospect who has even a 3 percent chance of helping five years from now has more value than 60 remaining games of Nick Johnson.

    Nobody's suggesting that an interim GM with an interim manager are holding back in the hopes that postive short-term results will help their employment chances next year.  But the appearance of a conflict of interest is usually just as damaging as an actual conflict would be.

    Rizzo seems like he's been hoping to hit a grand slam with these deals, which is the same criticism many lobbed at Jim Bowden.  If he's that tough to deal with and that unreasonable in his demands, might that tell us something about what to expect in the future, should he win the job permanently?

    Just as what happens with Stephen Strasburg's signing is a bellwether for Rizzo, what happens at tomorrow's deadline -- and what's happened before -- should be similarly important.  With about 24 hours left, we'll see what kind of GM he could be.

    Chris Needham used to write Capitol Punishment.  Now he twitters in anger about the lousy team.