Overheard at Nationals Park tonight...
Nats Fan #1: It just goes to show what you can do with a little payroll. I mean, think what Bowden could do if he had the D'Backs' payroll?
Nats Fan #2: Hmmm... $66 million? That's enough money for two more LoDucas or Dmitris. The D'Backs' two biggest money free agents are... Randy Johnson (5.18 ERA) and Doug Davis (65 IP).
Nats Fan #1: OK, so maybe it's not the payroll. But you're setting unrealistic expectations expecting the Nationals to be able to draft guys as talented as Justin Upton.
Nats Fan #2: Well, actually, it's a heck of a lot easier when you have the #1 pick overall.
Nats Fan #1: OK fine, but you want the team to just go in the tank? I mean, how long did the D'Backs toil before finally getting good?
Nats Fan #2: Not as long as we have.
Nats Fan #1: OK, smart guy, so what's your point?
Nats Fan #2: Have a plan. Commit to rebuilding. Trade your veterans to stockpile youth. Don't spend dumb money on free agents that do nothing but keep you around 75-80 wins as far as the eye can see. Touch bottom, get some top draft picks, and get better/younger/cheaper. Lock up your studs long-term. Don't give up young pitching for anything. Then when the youth gets ripe buy a couple free agents to put you over the top. Although I admit it helps if your GM's draft track record looks more like this than this.
Nats Fan #1: Oh, that's a fine plan, but how often does that work? I mean look at the tops of the standings around baseball and what do you see? It's all big payroll teams loaded with the free agents the Lerners won't pay for.
Nats Fan #2: Fans of the Rays, Brewers, Twins, and Marlins would beg to differ. Not to mention the Mets, Mariners, Blue Jays, Astros, and Dodgers.
Nats Fan #1: But those are small market teams. We're a big market cash cow. We could be good now if only those cheeeeeep Lerners would open the checkbook. I mean, look at this team, and this one, and that one. Those teams didn't wait to spend. They went out and spent what it took to get the best free agents available to win now. And look where it got them!
Nats Fan #2: Maybe it's the hitting coach?