After two high profile misses, the Washington Nationals spent too much time this winter quiet. Why and what does it mean?
It has been an interesting offseason for the Washington Nationals mixed with high expectations and disappointments.
Ken Rosenthal asked in a well thought out column Monday where the Nats sense of urgency is. His question is valid.
At the Winter Meetings, there was boasting of landing both Chris Sale AND Andrew McCutchen. Sale landed on Boston with the Red Sox while McCutchen remains with the Pittsburgh Pirates. All-Star closer Mark Melancon left, Kenley Jansen stayed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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After claiming they needed an established closer, we watched Greg Holland and Sergio Romo not sign with the Nationals, taking deals affordable elsewhere. With a week to go until Spring Training, your guess as who closes is as good as anybody’s. For all the talk of two-year windows and October failures, the Nationals decision to go into stealth mode is strange.
Look, it could work out. If everyone stays healthy and luck blesses Shawn Kelley as the closer, this is a championship team. Yet, injuries are inevitable. Problems buried on the horizon are months away from hitting the public. Heck, you still cannot buy single game tickets for this season.
These signs are a concern. Is the team overstretched in payroll? Are the overruns building the new Florida complex at West Palm Beach hurting the bottom line? How bad is that television contract with Peter Angelos’ MASN? All these things contribute to a degree, but reading the details of the contracts the Nats passed on is troubling.
We can quibble over how much Matt Wieters is worth, but is Derek Norris the best option on the board as catcher? If the closer position does not go as planned, whatever that is, does Washington have the prospects and cash to make a deal without gutting the future? Speaking of tomorrow, what about Bryce Harper?
Some answers will come when the team gets together in Florida. When game action starts, we finally see how things fit together for 2017. Something about the best made plans of mice and men.
For what started as a win right now mentality, the public switch to being happy to be where we are is not good. No team is perfect with every National League squad having obvious weaknesses. You must wonder if this team as is can beat the Dodgers or Chicago Cubs in a short series.
Goodness if the Atlanta Braves show a pulse this year, Washington will not cruise to the NL East crown. Instead, they will battle the New York Mets all summer for the right not to play in the Wild Card Game.
Let’s hope these nagging questions are nothing. Reality and history tell a different tale.