Sunday, July 13, 2008

No, This Is Not OK, Not at All OK

I've tended not to criticize the Lerners' spending because a) free agency is full of old, declining players who if they are any good now, won't be by the time we're actually contending and will become an albatross (see Carlos Delgado), and b) they've spent money on things that will bring the core of good, young players to build around--scouting, the international market, paying above slot for McGeary, Smiley Gonzalez... I'm ok with passing on Soriano or Rowand or Hunter. I'm not ok with sticking to some idiotic "slot" system that exists more to make cheapskate owners seem more like law-abiding citizens than the cheapskate owners they are.

Mark Lerner's comments in the Nationals Journal blog today are extremely disconcerting. If he truly intends to pass on draft picks whom we desperately need to continue to restock the system, then we really, truly have very little hope for the future. Not to be doom and gloom, but Lerner is describing the way the Royals and Pirates are run, and the results will be the same. This better be part of some negotiating ploy.


Steve Shoup said...

In response to Lerner's quote, i'm gonna take it with a grain of salt. I am one who does think spending $20 million on a pitcher is a bit much. Sabathia and Sheets are great and will get paid quite well but they only play one out of every 5 days. Even if we doubled our payroll that would be 20% for one player, who doesn't play every day. And on top of that is Starting pitching our biggest concern? We have gotten plenty of great outings from Redding, Perez, Lannan, and Bergmann, add Balester, Clippard, Mock, Chico and Hill and we have a number of quality arms for our rotation next season. And as for Tex, he is great and all and from Maryland but we will be bidding with the Yanks and the O's among others to pay $20 million for a position that we already have over $10.5 million committed to next year (Johnson and Young). Now Hudson is someone i would pay for my guess is he'll be in around $9 million a year, but we are weak at 2B and with him and if we either resign Guzman or buck up for Furcal we would have a pretty good Middle infield. I think the majority of the money the nats spend next year should go to the bullpen and adding bats to our line-up.

As for the second part of Lerner's statement about signing draft picks... what else is he going to say? "oh we will give these 22 and 18 year olds everything they want!!" Last year McGeary and Smoker went down to the wire, it happens every year and to every team that bases their picks on talent not signability. Last year with the O's Wieters was said to be looking for a Major league contract and Tex. money $7.5 mil, it ended up going to the last minute and while he ended up still getting $3.5 million over slot he didnt get the ML deal or the full bonus amount. Its a process and i'm sure Lerner is just touting the company line to hold the players feet to the fire. I have little doubt that they will sign most of those top five, the only one i'm worried about is Nieto but if there are health concerns about his shoulder then the Nats should not break the bank for him.

Nationals Fan said...

Boy I hope you are right. And they still mostly have gotten the benefit of the doubt from me, and I get a lot of heat from others about it. But I think so far they've spent on the things that are smart to spend on. No, they haven't been perfect, but I think too many fans are just asking them to spend stupid money to "show they are trying," and I have no interest in that whatsoever.

20m for a pitcher is just fine with me if it puts you over the top to win a WS. If it gets you to 78 wins and saddles you with a bad contract for a declining player, that Richie Sexson, Kevin Millwood, Carlos Delgado, or fill in any number of examples. I think there's far too much likelihood that Tex, Sheets, CC, and Soriano are likely to be these types of examples in their latter days. I don't expect or really even want the Lerners to do like the Yankees and spend dumb money and smart money. Just spend the smart money is fine with me. But they darn well better spend the smart money!! That means sign the damn picks, extend Zimmerman, no excuses.

Steve Shoup said...

I think an interesting idea for next year for a SP is Oliver Perez, he's 26 and a lefty and not going to cost anywhere near 20 million a year. I think with signing him he headlines your rotation next year and then becomes a great #3 when Detwiler and Crow come up. Add Lannan to the mix and you have an impressive rotation with 3 lefties.

Mike said...

Not signing free agents doesn't bother me, at least not now. But not signing Crow would be a bitter pill to swallow. And if they won't go over slot for Crow, what will happen next year if they get the number one pick? I'm not going to pass judgment until the deadline has passed and he isn't in the organization, but I think this would be a really tough sell to the fans.

Brian said...

As for the second part of Lerner's statement about signing draft picks... what else is he going to say? "oh we will give these 22 and 18 year olds everything they want!!"

Why couldn't he had said something as non-inflammatory as "Stan, Jim, Dana, etc have told me some good things about the players we've selected. We are negotiating with them and hope to continue the process of rebuilding."

There is no value added for him to make the stick to slot comments. It's a disingenuous negotiating ploy that serves the Nats very little given the negative PR that comes with it.

Nationals Fan said...

I completely agree with Brian. The slot "system" is complete BS. It's not only a disingenuous ploy, but I think also ineffective. It says "this franchise isn't serious about winning" and makes us a less desirable destination for players young and old.

If at the end of the day you decide some pick isn't worth what he's asking, fine, explain that after the deadline. Better not be Aaron Crow, but it's not impossible to imagine a scenario where one of our picks doesn't get signed. But don't give me this slot BS. It's just insulting to fans' intelligence and helps nothing.

Steve Shoup said...

I agree with you about the PR nightmare his comments made and that the slot system is a joke, but I don't think we can pass judgement until after the deadline and we see what really happened. I don't mind him taking a bit of a hardline with these players, plenty of teams have horror stories of either paying too much in bonuses or giving players ML contracts when they weren't ready for them. I'm just saying the dust should settle before we declare that the Lerners are cheap or that the Nats wasted their draft. And remember we won't always sign our top 20 picks every year, last year the Red Sox, Angels, and Dodgers all didn't sign 1 of their picks in the first 5 rounds, and those are three of the biggest market teams in baseball.