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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

WaPo: Boswell - Those ‘Poor’ Nats (RR)

The most striking fact about the Nats may also be the most overlooked. A team that will be rich as soon as its new ballpark opens next year has slashed its payroll to abject poverty levels this season—cutting from $63.3 million in ‘06 to $36 million in ‘07, the game’s third lowest.
As a result, over the next few offseasons the Nats should be able to sign several of the best players in baseball. And they better. Even last winter’s orgy of free agent spending plays into the Nats’ hands since it should deplete the future buying power of several keys rivals, such as the Cubs. Nats fans should demand nothing less than swift and radical improvement each season.

“That’s absolutely true,” team president Stan Kasten said on Tuesday when asked about purging payroll to create financial flexibility and firepower the next few seasons. “It wasn’t an accident. We’re pleased with our path and pace. We’re prepared to be very, very aggressive (in free agency) once ‘job one’ is done, which is the building of our (player development) foundation.”
The closest parallel to the Nats’ current situation is not Kasten’s old Braves teams but the American League champion Tigers. They were awful as recently as ‘03 when they finished 43-119, but had a new park to amp revenue if they could field a compelling team. So, they systematically grabbed free agents while fostering the farm system. Detroit bought Magglio Ordoñez, Ivan Rodriguez and Kenny Rogers, all all-stars last summer, and closer Todd Jones. It took three winters to amass them.

Boswell’s latest.

NTNgod Posted: March 28, 2007 at 03:38 AM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nationals

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   1. KRE Posted: March 28, 2007 at 09:57 AM (#2319396)
Certainly possible, but I don't think the Nationals have shored up their farm system yet. Spending a bunch of money on free agents to chase third place probably won't help Washington in the long run if those veterans aren't the compliment to a strong core of talent developed in-house.

New stadiums are nice, but the bigger question is how soon the Nationals farm system will be ready to deliver major league ready talent to the big league club.
   2. Grumbledook Posted: March 28, 2007 at 02:39 PM (#2319488)
Am I missing something here? The Nationals are about to get a new stadium, but within the same division, so are the Mets (and possibly the Marlins). The Nationals are in a sizeable market (which they share with the Orioles), but the Mets are in a bigger market, and the Braves, Phillies and Marlins all play in sizeable markets without any other MLB teams. The Mets, Phillies and Braves all control their own regional sports networks, while the one that carries the Nationals games (MASN) is controlled by Angelos. I fail to see an 800-pound gorilla in the making. If the Nationals becomes competitive, the franchise could transform itself into a force to be reckoned with, but so could every other team in the division (including their fellow have-not the Marlins, who unlike the Nationals, moved into the rebuilding phase with a solid farm system).

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