If the Washington Nationals have made more than their share of good moves in the last three years shouldn’t they be given the benefit of the doubt with pitcher Stephen Strasburg? The Nationals moves have been questioned before, but almost all of them have panned out.
The obvious ones that have been successful were part intelligence and part luck. It just happened that Strasburg was available when the team had the number one draft pick in 2009. They were also fortunate that outfielder Bryce Harper was available when they drafted number one in 2010. But the Nationals brass has done more than just be lucky.
In 2009 the team traded outfielder Ryan Langerhans to the Seattle Mariners for outfielder Michael Morse. Once thought to be a future star, Morse had spent most of his career in the minor leagues. The Nationals hoped that he would finally fulfill his potential with them. In 2010 he showed signs by hitting .289 with 15 home runs and 41 runs batted in while seeing action in 98 games. Still there were very few who thought he would come out of spring training 2011 as more than a utility player. Morse ended up becoming an every day player and batted .301 with 31 home runs and 95 RBI.
In 2009 the team singed current manager Davey Johnson as a senior adviser to general manager Mike Rizzo. There were those who thought Washington had made a mistake. Johnson had been away from the majors for nine years and was 66 years old. His health was also an issue.
Now Johnson is the skipper of a team that is 89-57, in first place in the National League East and seemingly headed to the post season. He may not have been hired to manage, but got the job when Jim Riggleman resigned in June of 2011. It seems like bringing Johnson aboard was a pretty good move.
In 2011, the team signed free agent outfielder Jayson Werth to a seven year 126 million dollar contract. It was believed that Washington paid too much for a man with one all-star appearance. Those close to the Nationals felt it necessary to prove that Washington was willing to play the free agent market. After struggling in 2011 and suffering a broken wrist in May, Werth is starting to contribute and may be a major player in October.
The Nationals planned to shut down Strasburg at the end of this season. In preparation they traded with the Oakland Athletics for pitcher Gio Gonzalez and signed free agent right hander Edwin Jackson. Now that Strasburg’s season is over Washington still has five quality starters in Gonzalez, Jackson, Jordan Zimmerman, Ross Detwiler and John Lannan.
In April, the team was criticized for bringing up Harper. At 19 he was thought to be too young and not ready for the big leagues. Another year of Triple A was suggested. At the moment Harper is batting .263 with 19 home runs, 50 RBI and a zest for the game that has rubbed off on his teammates and grated opponents.
These are just as few of the moves Washington has been questioned for which have worked out so far.
With this track record shouldn’t they get the benefit of the doubt on Strasburg?