First in war. First in peace. First in the NL East?

After a month-long hiatus from writing that took to me Europe and back, I have once again rejoined the world of baseball writing. In my absence, Jason Giambi rediscovered his stroke, Scott Podsednik beat out a field of more deserving players for his one inning the field during the All Star game, and Bobby Abreu finally garnered the recognition he deserved by belting a season’s worth of home runs during the derby in pitcher-friendly Comerica.

As the pennant races loom, I am going to look at two pieces of news surrounding the suprising Washington Nationals.

Nats look to bolster lineup

First up are the first-place Washington Nationals and their efforts to improve their injury-laden team. The Nats shipped right-hander Zach Day to the place where pitchers go to die, Coors Field, along with J.J. Davis for Preston Wilson. Wilson’s reputation as a player far exceeds his production, and it will be interesting to see which Wilson arrives in D.C. in the midst of an exciting pennant race.

Wilson, at 30, is something of a mid-level power hitter. Except for last year when he missed most of the season due to injuries, Wilson has never hit fewer than 23 home runs. Twice he has hit over 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs. But in seasons during which he hits fewer than 30 home runs, his RBI production drops precipitously. He’s maintained a career slugging percentage of .481, a career average of .265, and a career on-base percentage of .333.

The Nationals are banking on Wilson to return to his 2003 form. During that season, his career best in all offensive categories, he hit .282/.343/.537 with 36 home runs and 141 RBIs and seemed to be on the verge of stardom. Injuries struck in 2004, and this year, he’s at .258/.322/.491 with 15 home runs and 47 RBIs.

However, much of Wilson’s success this year comes at home, and these numbers should have raised a red flag in the Nationals’ front office. On the road this year, Wilson is hitting just .224/.280/.411 with 5 home runs. During his break-out year in 2003, Wilson hit 40 points lower on the road than in Coors and slugged 100 points lower. It is doubtful the Nationals will get the player Wilson was at Coors field.

That doesn’t mean Wilson won’t contribute to the Nats’ playoff run. He will give the lineup more depth and experience. When Nick Johnson returns, the Nats will have a very solid middle of the order with Wilson, Jose Vidro, Jose Guillen, and Johnson. Whether those hitters can get them to October will depend as much on the rubber, golden arm of Livan Hernandez and the continued success of Jon Patterson than on anything else.

Baseball and politics just don’t mix

In other Nationals news, Major League Baseball is in the process of selling off one of its hottest commodities. As they have received bid packages from numerous groups looking to buy the Washington Nationals, politicians on the right side of the aisle have begun to grumble about the process.

It seems that noted Democrat donor George Soros is among one of the groups bidding for the Nationals. Soros gave nearly $20 million to various organizations supporting the Kerry campaign in 2004, and Republicans were none too thrilled to see his name pop up again. In response, Tom Davis (R-VA), the Congressman who gained national attention for grilling baseball sluggers on steroids in March, has warned baseball over allowing Soros to win the bidding, and Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.) has threatened baseball’s antitrust exemption.

Ostensibly, these Congressmen claim that Soros’ support of decriminalizing marijuana would tar a sport already rocked by one drug scandal. But Davis was more blunt in saying that baseball has to make friends with people on power right now. “This is not the way to make them,” he was quoted as saying in various news outlets. Meanwhile, these same politicians have no problem praising the bid of Republican donor and one-time Nixon stooge Fred Malek. Malek investigated the “Jewish cabal” Nixon thought was hiding out in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I guess Marge Schott wasn’t up to that task.

But all of this brings me to one point: Politicians just shouldn’t threaten baseball owners over partisan politics. If the Congress wants to remove baseball’s antitrust exemptions, there are numerous other ways to accomplish that goal. If Congress wants to regulate drug use among athletes, that is there prerogative. But members of the majority party shouldn’t be threatening baseball because one potential owner is a big supporter of the opposition party. Once upon a time, Republicans were all about keeping their noses out of businesses and the actions of private individuals. Now, they are threatening baseball because of partisan politics.

It’s chilling when members of the current majority party start threatening baseball ownership over partisan politics. What’s to stop them from going after another big Democratic sponsor Peter Angelos? I don’t see Democrats jumping down George Steinbrenner’s throat for donating to the Republican Party of Florida, and I shouldn’t see members of Congress from either side of the aisle engaging in openly partisan maneuvering just so their guy gets to own the local team.

Baseball tolerated the steroid hearings; Republican and Democratic owners alike shouldn’t tolerate Davis’ and Sweeney’s threats. May the best bid win the rights to a franchise ever-increasing in value.

Advertisements

RSS River Ave. Blues

  • The case for trading Brett Gardner to make room for Darvish January 22, 2018
    The other day, Steven wrote about the rationale of trading David Robertson to clear some salary room to fit Yu Darvish’s hypothetical contract under the $197 million luxury tax threshold. Today, I’m here to make a case for trading away another established veteran player with a +$10M salary: Brett Gardner. We’ve talked about the Yankees’ […] The post The case […]
    Sung-Min Kim
  • Sorting out the Yankees’ potential non-roster Spring Training invitees for 2018 January 22, 2018
    Pitchers and catchers report to Tampa three weeks from tomorrow, and at some point soon, likely within the next two weeks, the Yankees will announce their 2018 Spring Training invitees. These are non-40-man roster players who get a chance to come to big league camp to strut their stuff. Some non-roster invitees are top prospects, […] The post Sorting out the […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Fan Confidence Poll: January 22nd, 2018 January 22, 2018
    2017 Regular Season Record: 91-71 (858 RS, 660 RA, 100-62 pythag. record), second in ALE 2017 Postseason Record: 7-6 (51 RS, 42 RA), won AL WC Game, won ALDS, lost ALCS Top stories from last week: There continue to be rumors connecting the Yankees to Yu Darvish. Unless he signs dirt cheap, there’s no way […] The post Fan Confidence Poll: January 22nd, 2018 a […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Weekend Open Thread January 21, 2018
    ?I finally had a chance to read Kiley McDaniel’s piece on the stats vs. scouts debate, which really isn’t a debate anymore. Every team uses both. There are a few clubs that lean analytical — from what I understand, the Rays use algorithms for basically everything, including the draft — but the very best organizations […] The post Weekend Open Thread appeared […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Sunday Thoughts: Infield, Sonny Gray, Pitch Clock, Luxury Tax January 21, 2018
    In waiting for baseball to begin again, I find myself asking “When will then be now?” Regardless of the actual time between the end of one season and the beginning of a new one, it seems to feel longer each year. Perhaps that’s especially true this year as my non-baseball diversions–college basketball and the New York Giants–have […] The post Sunday Thoughts […]
    Matt Imbrogno
  • Saturday Links: Pitch Clock, Martinez, Betances, Sanchez January 20, 2018
    Only four more Saturdays without baseball. Pretty cool. The Grapefruit League is about a month away. Anyway, here’s some news and notes on this baseball-less Saturday. MLBPA paving the way for pitch clock According to Ken Rosenthal, the MLBPA has formally rejected commissioner Rob Manfred’s latest pace-of-play proposal. That paves the way for MLB to […] The […]
    Mike Axisa
  • River Avenue Blues Podcast, Episode 19 January 19, 2018
    As promised, we’re answering your questions this week. Keep them coming, both to the voicemail and the email. The usual notes: You can subscribe basically anywhere at this point, so hooray for that. Some links of note: Apple Podcasts/iTunes Android Overcast Stitcher You can call our voicemail at 716-393-5330 to leave us questions for future […] The post Rive […]
    Joe Pawlikowski
  • RAB Live Chat January 19, 2018
    The post RAB Live Chat appeared first on River Avenue Blues.
    Mike Axisa
  • Prospect Profile: Freicer Perez January 19, 2018
    Freicer Perez | RHP Background Freicer Perez was signed by the Yankees for the bargain basement price of $10,000 back in 2014. A native of Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, the second-largest city in the country, Perez was a relative unknown in that year’s international free agent class, and was little more than a […] The post Prospect Profile: […]
    Domenic Lanza
  • Mailbag: Shaw, Hicks, Judge, Torres, Lynn, Coaching Staff January 19, 2018
    Ten questions in this week’s mailbag. The first Grapefruit League game is four weeks from today, you know. Baseball is getting closer. Anyway, RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is the email address. Many asked: What about Travis Shaw? A few days ago Jim Bowden reported the Brewers may sign Mike Moustakas and trade Shaw, and […] The post Mailbag: Shaw, Hicks, J […]
    Mike Axisa

Blog Stats

  • 62,642 hits

%d bloggers like this: