The trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and things are getting tense in NatsTown. Mike Rizzo seems hell-bent on acquiring a center fielder, and the trade that is getting the most discussion still involves a swap of Drew Storen (and other pieces) for Denard Span.
July 31st is always a good day for wild trade rumors, but the talk surrounding this deal is odd. First – there are the conflicting reports. One Fox Sports reporter (Jon Morosi) says the Nationals are refusing to include Storen, while another Fox Sports guy (Ken Rosenthal) says Storen is already in. Second – neither fanbase wants to see the trade go through. Finally, there seems to be some dissention in Nats’ camp, as Tyler Clippard was originally part of the deal, and skipper Davey Johnson declared last night, “if he goes, I go.”
I spoke over the weekend to someone with direct knowledge of the Nationals personnel decision-making process. He justified moving Storen for reasons we have previously discussed. In short, relievers rarely are as good from one season to the next, and you should always sell high on them. From a pure baseball perspective, dealing a reliever for an everyday player makes sense.
What Rizzo needs to understand that not all decisions he makes can be driven by pure “baseball” motives. Storen is a popular guy, and home-grown. The Nationals have sold him as a future cornerstone, and would risk losing what is a very tenuous grip on its fanbase. The backlash Rizzo might face for such a deal would be amplified due to the timing. If Rizzo decides he needs to trade Storen to make this happen in the Winter, it would be buried under Wizards and Capitals headlines. If Storen is moved today, his absence would be very conspicuous at the ballpark and the chorus of boos would echo far beyond Sunday afternoon. Again, it is all about the timing.
Of course, there are other “baseball” issues that complicate a possible deal. Let us not forget Span is currently in AAA rehabbing from post-concussion symptoms. He has not played in almost two months and his play has been shaky at best in the minors (hitting .206 in 9 games). There is no guarantee he is going to be healthy. The Nats need to wait and see if he regains his old form before agreeing to any deal. Again, it is all about the timing.
Plus, is Span really their number one guy? All along, we have been told B.J. Upton (who I do not love, but they will be able to get much cheaper this Winter) was Rizzo’s top target. It seems now that he is so desperate to get a CF, he will take who ever he can get. Span might be the most “acquirable,” so he is jumping on a deal.
Yes, Span is a good player (as described here) and would fill a hole on the current Nationals roster. Drew Storen, however, may leave an even bigger hole to fill. He has performed on an All-Star level this year, something Span has never really done. Span’s WAR of 3.3 is solid, but not all that much better than Rick Ankiel (0.9) and Roger Bernadina (0.9). Michael Bourn, the guy the Nats missed out on, had much higher mark of 4.3 and Upton is at 2.1. We do not know what Drew Storen is capable of, but he is young and talented. There is the chance he burns out, but he also could be a guy the Nats trot out in the 9th inning with confidence for 5-10 years. Do you think something like that worked out well for the Yankees?
If Span was the Nationals had-to-have guy right now, and was clearly the best piece out there, it would be a different story. However, the Nationals are in last place, and do not need him right now. Take a deep breath, focus on selling off guys like Todd Coffey, and rethink this all before the Winter Meetings. One more time, it is all about the timing.
Things have gotten much calmer as the day has worn on, and my number one man Timmy Kurkjian is reporting that the deal is losing steam. Hopefully, Mike Rizzo realized that no matter how much he liked Denard Span, he does not have pressure on him to move now. He might be smart to see if Stephen Lombardozzi (a name mentioned in the rumors) could fill the leadoff hole internally. As Nats fans hearts race and wait for updates, Jayson Werth’s sage facial hair reminds us we have just got to let everything play out.
News and notes from Nationals Park:
- Some full details on the Marquis and Hairston moves.
- Yunesky Maya, making a surprise start, pitched great last night.
- Maya did, however, strain a muscle and will be sent down to AAA today. Atahualpa Severino will take his place.
Small notes from around the Bigs: The Indians, usually the ones selling aces this time of year, flipped the script last night. After trading Cy Young winners in ’08 and ’09 (C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee), the Tribe went out and got last year’s second runner-up in the NL Cy Young race in a deal. Ubaldo Jimenez will have to pass a physical first, but the Indians were able to make a deal by parting with Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, two absolutely top-notch pitching prospects. The Indians’ amazing work of stockpiling young arms (all of their current MLB starters are 26 and under) allowed them to make a deal where other teams could not.
As always, check out Patrick’s homepage for all of his thoughts on the Nationals. Please share your thoughts, complaints and comments below. For daily updates, you can subscribe to these articles (free at the top of the page) or follow Patrick on Twitter (@Neuman85). Enjoy today’s entertainment below!
Song of the Day: The Head and The Heart – “Lost in My Mind”
Nats Video of the Day: The description of this video “Boogie shoes knows no bounds.” That pretty much sums it up.