Bowden's weekly column in the Examiner.
For Nats, answers will come from within
By Jim Bowden
Published: Thursday, July 28, 2005 12:01 AM EDT
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Washington Nationals General Manager
All fans like trades. Trades are sexy and fun and bring hope. We've had discussions with almost every club in the last 72 hours. But sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make.
That might be the case as the trading deadline comes up Sunday at 4 p.m.
Our plan is not to trade all of our top prospects in the minors. The plan is to build the franchise to win year after year. The only way we'll trade a top prospect is if we get a No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher who would make a major difference in our chances of winning the World Series.
And we really missed Nick Johnson when he was gone, Preston Wilson will add support and Vinny Castilla was hampered with bad knees. His knees are getting better and hopefully he'll get back to driving in runs. The offense will have to come from within, because it's unrealistic to think you'll acquire the type of impact bat that's better than what we have.
It's not going to happen.
Meantime, we have to understand the formula that has won. It's important to realize that when we were on pace to win 100 games on July 4th, we did it with tremendous pitching and defense.
Since the All-Star break our defense has suffered because of injuries. Wednesday night was the first time all year we've had our best starting eight on the field at the same time. Nick was on the disabled list, Vinny wasn't playing because of bad knees.
And because Cristian Guzman wasn't hitting we had to sub for him at short. Brad Wilkerson went from center to first and all of a sudden 50 percent of our position players weren't in the lineup or were out of position.
Instead of winning one-run games we went into last night having lost seven straight one-run games. Don't point to the offense or the bullpen as the cause. Rather than giving the other team 27 outs, in the last three weeks we've given them 32 because we didn't make plays or committed errors that we didn't make in the first half.
Some would say we overachieved in the first half, but I say we underachieved because most position players who are capable of hitting have had subpar years. So I would expect people like Wilkerson, Jose Vidro and Guzman to have good second halves.
When we traded for Preston, we felt he was capable of 30 homers and 100 RBIs. That's what he's done in the past. He'll continue to do that. When we made the deal we discussed with manager Frank Robinson what it meant to our club. Jose Guillen would play right, Preston left and Brad center with Ryan Church as the fourth outfielder and Marlon Byrd as the fifth. The plan is for the vets to play the second half. That gives us the best chance to win and score runs.
So even if we can't make a trade, we have as good a chance at winning the division as anyone else.
Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden provides an exclusive column to The Examiner each week, ranging on topics from the Nats to the state of Major League Baseball.
As told to Examiner correspondent John Keim.