Friday, June 09, 2006

Them wild-eyed boys that had been away

Well, winning is fun, isn't it?

Honestly, I can't say I've been watching very much or even listening. Life is so busy right now. I have a new job with weird hours and a commute that leaves me literally with only one hour of non-work time at home per weekday. With a newlywed wife and a baby on the way, it's awful hard to justify spending much of that hour on baseball.

But I do read Svrluga's game stories and the message boards on most days. I watch as much as I can of the Nats rare appearances on DCA 20, FOX and ESPN.

So I'm not completely ignorant of what's going on. And I do have stuff to say from time to time, but I rarely have time to post it here on the blog. When do I have the chance, sometimes my thoughts are old news.

There's a lot going on with the Nats, and here's some of what I think about Alfonso Soriano:

Soriano is having an unreal year. He's making all of us who decried the trade look a little foolish. I think it was a questionable trade when it was made, but sometimes these things work out.

It would be great to keep Soriano, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking it's simply a matter of the Lerners making a huge offer. Soriano has to want to stay here.

Soriano would be stupid to give up his free agency and sign before the end of the year. He's likely going to test the market.

If it becomes clear he won't sign before the trade deadline, the Nats would be irresponsible not to explore every possibility for a trade. There are plenty of teams who could use his bat and could offer us a nice package of mid- to top-line prospects. As much as we like the guy, we have to think about the long-term future of the franchise.

If we test our luck in the free agency market with him, we could lose him for only draft picks. And since the teams who would be most likely to sign him are good teams, it would be a lower pick in the first round.

If Soriano is indeed traded, Nationals fans CANNOT take this as evidence that the Lerners are going to be cheap and that Washington is doomed to lousy teams like the Senators. Franchises that are CONSISTENTLY competitive build good young players in the franchise. Trading Soriano is a rare chance to get 2, 3 or 4 good young players to be part of a consistent winning tradition. It would NOT mean the Lerners are giving up and planning to make this team another Kansas City or Tampa Bay type franchise.

Sure, we all want to win right now. And there's a small chance we could stay really hot and get into the mix this year. But if we lose Soriano after the year with only a low first round pick to show for it, we will have missed a huge chance to add a handful of players who can be part of a consistent winning tradition. I'm certainly willing to suffer through the rest of 2006 and 2007 in order to build a franchise that can win consistently over many years starting when the new stadium opens.

It usually takes around 90 wins to make the playoffs. With a record of 28-33 before Friday night's game, the Nats would have to go 62-39 over the rest of the season. That's not easy. Hanging on to Soriano in order to try to win in 2006 (with the risk of losing him in the off-season) would be pinning much of our hopes on 2006. That would be irresponsible.