The Nationals were at Shea over the weekend, so I made it a point to make it out to atleast one of the games. That game turned out to be game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader with the Mets. The Natties pulled out the win, 6-5, and ended up splitting the four-game series this weekend. As I've said, and many others have said now, the season has been going much better than people orginally predicted. Some thought we would challenge the all-time greats in regards to losing and ineptitude, but it turned out Jim Bowden, Stan Kasten and the rest of the gang over at RFK actually assembled a wildly mediocre (and sometimes adequate) collection of grizzled veterans and somewhat talented youngsters.
But here's my issue with the whole season. Just this past week, Jim Bowden locked up Ronnie Belliard to a two-year deal and reportedly is about to announce another two-year extension for the Natties lone all star this year, Dmitri Young. Now don't get me wrong here, Belliard and Young have had really solid seasons and have definitely overachieved big time in what people thought they would do this season. I mean it's been well documented how the Nats and Bowden basically picked the dude off the scrap heap after most MLB teams were scared off by his wife issues and overall lack of passion with the Tigers last season. Give Bowden credit, in his three years as GM in DC he has shown a knack for getting players like Belliard and Young for real cheap when everyone else seems to have given up on them. And that's all fine and dandy when you don't have an owner and there aren't any real goals to accomplish other than discover some young talent that could help you in the future. I was under the impression that guys like Young and Belliard were stopgaps not the solution.
Da Meat Hook will be in DC for a couple more seasons.
And although they've played well, the Nats still sit 15 games under .500 at this moment. They are still a losing team, so why is Bowden committing money to players who aren't part of the solution? He should be actively shopping players like Belliard and Young, just like he should have traded Soriano last year. I will agree with this though...both contracts given to Belliard and Young are quite reaosnable and very easy to trade in future years. The thing is that the positions they play are supposedly filled already under the grand scheme of things. I guee Bowden sees these as a security measure in case Johnson never comes back from the longest DL-stay for a broken leg ever. And Belliard can help because the likelihood that Felipe Lopez being the answer at second base dwindles by the day.
Like I've been saying for a few months now, the Nats are definitely better than expected this season. But my enthusiasm has to be tainted because I don't see them being a contender next season or even the season after that to be honest. I said it last year at this time and I'll say it again: I hope Bowden knows what he's doing. He's gotten a free pass so far, but if the results don't start showing up soon, his time could very well run out a lot quicker than you would think.
I think this is a photo of Jim at the yearly auction where he bids on old, overweight baseball players who want to come to Spring Training of the Natties