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November 14, 2007 at 11:54 am ET
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Washington Nationals Offseason Report Card

I grew up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. That means for a long time, I was a Baltimore Orioles fan. It was a pretty abusive relationship, but I got out safe. (I really like my new family, by the way. They’re not as rich, but they’ve never neglected me, and we’re moving into a nice, new house soon. I don’t think of them as my adoptive team anymore though — I call them Mom and Dad, no problem.) My group of friends came over from O’s to Nats one by one. I wasn’t first to switch teams on a permanent basis, and I’m not last. There are a still a couple of Baltimore apologists among us, calling us traitors and bandwagon jumpers. That last one really hurts, because I didn’t know it was such bandwagon move to root for a team that was predicted by some to lose 120 games. These are the sad things that Orioles fans think: “You’re moving to greener pastures to root for the worst team in history!”

This offseason, rumors are that the Nationals are going to step up their payroll into the $65 to $70 million dollar range and make a run at being competitive in the next two to three years. While Jim Bowden has been reluctant to pay for big free agents in the past, the Nats are going to have a little money to throw around with the new stadium income, and will likely start this offseason with one big move.

The front office can use whatever method they want to evaluate the best players we could get, but I have my own metric with which to measure value: which player will make Orioles fans living in and around D.C. the most likely to finally switch favorite teams.

Torii Hunter, CF
Grade: A-plus

He’s the number one, and it’s not close. He’s got a personality, he can hit, and I don’t know if you knew this, but apparently he’s got a pretty sick glove out there. He’s said he wants to play here, because he’s aware of what he could do for baseball in a city with a predominantly black population. Socially-conscious, Gold Glove center fielders who express interest in your city before talks can open do not come often.

Also, he’s good friends with Dmitri Young, and any friend of SteakGrowsOn is a friend of mine. And since I brought it up: Hey, Dugout! You were the funniest thing that ever happened to baseball-related sports blogging! The next time you move, leave a forwarding address. I shouldn’t have to go to a search engine to find out where you post your chats!

Anyway, with Dmitri likely moving back to left field, we’re going to need a Gold Glove in center to cover the ground that big boy won’t get to. If we get Big Game Hunter, he might push the record for most Web Gems in a season. Apologies to Torry Holt, but you’re sharing “Big Game” now. Big Game Hunter just sounds better, and is a very underrated bar video game.

Andruw Jones, CF
Grade: B-plus

A couple years younger than Torii Hunter, but comes with the baggage of batting .222-26-94 in a contract year. Rumors were rumbling that Bowden wouldn’t sign a guy that Schuerholz passed on in some sort of buddy-buddy move, but with Schuerholz gone, it might open the door for talks. Could he be had at a discount from the $13.5M he earned last year? Common knowledge says he’ll bounce back, but .222 should not earn anyone an 8-digit salary. I don’t think Andruw Jones will hit that low again, and should bounce back to 35 homeruns in 2008. That sort of pop would give instant credibility to the Nationals lineup, and a little protection for Zimmerman and Kearns.

Tom Glavine, SP
Grade: B

We have one friend who kind of rooted for the Orioles, but swore that the Braves were his real team his whole life, so this is really just for him. Think of him more as a coach who would take the mound 30 times a year, and the move starts to make a little more sense. Orioles can have Mazonne, we’ll take his products.

Kris Benson, SP
Grade: D-minus

Enough said.

Kosuke Fukudome, RF
Grade: B-plus

I can’t blame any of you who responded, “Who?!” I would have been counted among those people until pretty recently. The two people who clamored over trying to draft Dice-K in our 2007 fantasy league are two of the Orioles fanboys. Because of that, a guy who had never thrown a pitch in the majors went 3rd round. These two knuckleheads would come to the Nats in a heartbeat if we signed a completely unknown factor with nothing but potential. This is never going to happen, as the only thing less efficient than paying for a free agent is paying a posting fee to try to sign a free agent.

Tough as nails.Aaron Rowand, CF
Grade: B-plus

Yes, another center fielder! What can I say, we need one. He can hit just fine, but his face into the wall play is what sticks with me. How cool was that? No concern for life or limb, he just went back and made the catch. Does this look like a baseball player you want on your team? Do you want a pretty face in centerfield, or do you want a mean mug who’ll go into the iron to make a catch? I thought so. I’ll go to war with Rowand on my side. People are touting the centerfield abilities of homegrown rookie Justin Maxwell (from Olney, MD, and played for the Terrapins), but I just don’t see him at the same level as these free agents. Maxwell can definitely play for us, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that he’s not winning any Orioles fans over to the right side of the Beltway. The common theme in the grading system seems to be defensive center fielders with stick, and I guess that just speaks to my group of friends: We love the glove.

Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Grade: F-minus

This is so low on the list that I would rethink the organization’s commitment to us fans. His crippling salary would leave no chance to spend more than the league minimum to field the other 24 men on the roster. He would replace fan favorite and 2006 rookie of the year Ryan Zimmerman. Ryan’s numbers might be replaceable (especially with an MVP), but people respect homegrown talent. At Thanksgiving, I’m way more impressed with my grandma’s apple pie (even if it is a little gooey) than the one my aunt bought on the drive over, and I think baseball fans are the same way.

Nationals Park
Grade: A-plus-plus-plus
Pretty, isn't it?
Yes, that’s just a computer rendering of what it might look like, but you can see the real progress here. Let’s not lie, RFK was kind of a dump. Bad food, bad angles, and no architectural personality to speak of. (True story: On a trip to St. Louis I got so drunk in old Busch I thought I was in D.C.) New stadium will pull some of these people over just because of amenities and convenience. Camden Yards is gorgeous. It just sucks that it becomes Fenway South in those games against the Red Sox, when that place should be drawing a faithful crowd nightly. Nationals Park will boast the biggest HD screen in the country, wide walkways, nice restaurants, and an intimate baseball environment. Every seat can see the entire field! Hell, the Phillies don’t even have that. I just have one question: Is it April yet?

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13 Responses to “Washington Nationals Offseason Report Card”
  1. Welcome to B&C, Mr. Brown (sounds too close to Mr. Shit) — good to have you aboard. Now don’t you even think about signing Rowand.

    Thank you.

  2. I really want Torii or Rowand for St. Louis. My boy Jimmy just can’t quite get it done the way he used to. *sniffle*

    That picture of Rowand is one of my absolute favorites.

  3. Adam Godson says:

    Welcome new guy! Keep your smelly National hands off Fukudome…he’s our guy, and they will be our uncreative t-shirts.

  4. I question the sanity of any DC type who still roots for the Orioles. But God bless ‘em. We could use the company.

    When I want to piss off Nationals fans, I tell them they should send Peter Angelos a thank you note for stepping aside and allowing DC to have a team. And for putting their games on TV, even. For years, I was an advocate of baseball in DC: triple-A baseball. I lobbied to get the O’s triple-A team moved to Washington.

    Anyway, I don’t tell too many people, but I like the Nationals. I love Manny Acta. And I already miss Rotunda Ray King.

    Welcome, Matt. (ha! “welcome mat!” ha!)

  5. Landon Evanson Landon says:

    Anybody that gets so drunk they think they’re in a different city belongs with us here at B & C! Welcome aboard Matt!

    Oh, and I won’t be as threatening as Meech about my center fielder so…please don’t sign Torii? Oh, who am I kidding.

  6. Matt Brown says:

    Michael: Yes, I get to be Quentin in Reservoir Dogs. I don’t mind.

    Patrick: I admit, Angelos has done more for the Nationals than he realizes. Hell, he drove me right into their arms! But wait a minute, I should send a thank you note to him for letting the team televise their baseball games? This isn’t Russia. Is this Russia? (You really DO know how to piss us off. Nicely done.)

  7. Metschick says:

    I cannot wait for the first Mets/Nats game in DC in 08 to head down there and check out the new digs. Very exciting.

    Unfortunately, the Nats are just like the Mets and haven’t released their schedule.

  8. I like your style, Brownie. Although you’ll need a different nickname than that because Brownie is too close to Townie. We can’t have any confusion.

    You’re off to a great start, and always remember. If the Rockies can make the World Series, so can your team.

    Unless it’s the Nationals.

    Welcome aboard.

  9. Brad Bortone Brad Bortone says:

    As a welcome aboard gift, I’d like to give you an entire box of Scott Schoeneweis-themed gifts, a Scott Schoeneweis jersey collection, autographed Scott Schoeneweis trading cards, and Scott Schoeneweis.

    Welcome aboard.

  10. Nick Kendall says:

    Remember, Old Leather Pants (Jim Bowden’s name in Cincinnati), has had one debacle when given a chance to sign players at a new stadium. Although I do think he can improve the team by trading more players who are actually injured but not tell the other team (Majewski). Anyway, welcome aboard. Do you want Griffey?

  11. Derek says:

    No posting fee for FUK U DO ME. He’s a straight up free agent. Add juvenile uniform sales and Japanese interest and the transaction seems to look a bit more … efficient, no?

  12. If the Nats get him, they should name the new ballpark the FuckYou Dome.

  13. jon says:

    You forgot Corey Patterson…F—–

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