Thursday, July 17, 2008

Guzman, Rauch, Wade Davis, and More

Ladson had a piece today on reporting that negotiations on a new contract for Guzman are ongoing. The article repeats speculation that Guzman is willing to take less that he might get elsewhere to stay here in DC because "general manager Jim Bowden took a tremendous hit by the baseball community and local media for giving Guzman a four-year, $16.8 million deal after the 2004 season."

There was a quote from Bowden a couple days ago in the Post that addressed this more directly:
"I would never comment about negotiations publicly," Bowden said. "But I would hope, in our discussions, he's acknowledged he would sign with Washington for a lot less because he certainly recognizes he was hurt for most of the contract here and he's communicated through his agent, Stan King, that he feels indebted to us. Even though it's not his fault he was injured. But he still recognizes that. Because we all went through a lot of pain together. . . . It wasn't an easy four years. It's nice that the last year of it is the best year of it."
Its a nice gesture to have Guzman take less to play here, but I'd rather not sign a deal like that. First, I think Guzman is more valuable to us right now as a trading chit. There are a number of teams who are in the hunt and need a shortstop (Red Sox, Cardinals, Orioles, and Rays, among others), and Guzman, not Felipe, is the option who might bring some value in return.

I think if we sign him to discounted rate that we're married to him. Trading him away after he took less to stay has to be off the table. As I've blogged about before, Bowden already has a reputation for trading away players who had taken less money to stay with the Reds, and although I guess you can make some hay in short-term by trading away a guy who signed for less to play for you, it only hurts you in the end as players, agents, and everyone else just becomes less likely to want to deal with you in the future.

I also consider Guzman a very injury-prone player, and I am not convinced that we should expect him to continue at his current pace offensively. I would be surprised if he regressed to 2005's performance, but I think it's silly to assume that 2009-10 are going to be just like the last 3 months and nothing like the 3 years that preceded it.

Ladson's article also reports that the White Sox and Rays are scouting Rauch, which is good. He's probably our most valuable asset whom it would make sense for us to trade. I'm skeptical, but Wade Davis is mentioned as a possible return for Rauch, and certainly that's a deal I'd do in a heartbeat. He's a starting pitcher wh throws in the mid-90s with a plus curveball and was rated this offseason by Baseball America as the #4 prospect in the Rays' stacked system. For Davis, they can have Rauch and more.

After that happy thought, the article finishes by saying that the team was in fact interested in Matt Holliday ("mild interest") and may now be looking at... wait for it... Adam Dunn.

These rumors I hope are just Bowden trying to draw attention to himself. Regardless, it makes me crazy. I can live with rebuilding--if we're actually committed to rebuilding and doing it in a smart way. But if we're truly sniffing around these guys, that means can only mean that Bowden is thinking about giving up young players, and almost surely pitching, to acquire short-term rentals for teams going nowhere. Adam Dunn for Jordan Zimmermann? Don't think JimBo wouldn't think that one over.

These are trades that takes us back to the bad old days of young for old, improving for declining, more players for fewer back. These are trades that will move us further from our goal, to contend for a World Series. This is how you tread water around 75 wins for a generation. Kasten has had Bowden on a pretty tight leash and hasn't allowed any moves like this since the Lernerstan regime came in, but I don't even want to hear about rumors like this.

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