Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Wednesday Roundup

It's only November but Nationals News is happening at such a furious pace that it's hard to keep up. I better get in shape before April!

Here's the latest from today's news:

  • has released its first 2006 MLB Power Rankings . The Nats are ranked dead last in the NL East and 21st out of 30 overall. Sickeningly, the team is ranked one notch below the 20th-ranked Orioles. Sadly, there is some truth to ESPN's justification of the Nats' ranking:

    Somebody will own the Nats by Opening Day, and the front office situation will be settled. But on the field, the Nationals, who played over their heads in the first half of '05, should get little help through free agency or trades. Rookie Ryan Zimmerman will make a big impact, but the Nats should take a step back in '06.

    I disagree that the team will get little help through free agency or trades. Sure, the team isn't going to land any big names but there is every reason to believe that some very plausible upgrades can be made that will keep the team competitive in the division. Damian Jackson is a good example. He's certainly not an impact player by himself but he represents a nice upgrade over a few departing players. Think of him as Carlos Baerga and Kenny Kelly rolled into one player. Jackson can come in as part of a double switch, pinch hit, or pinch run. Best of all, he only takes up one roster spot. The team will get better by adding guys like Jackson instead of having a bench full of one-dimensional "specialists" like they did in 2005.

  • The Washington Post reports that the Malek/Zients group is the frontrunner to own the team. We gather from the Post's lengthy profile that neither Malek nor Zients are interested in becoming a Snyderian micro-meddler, which is good for the team. The downside of this group, if you can call it a downside, is that Malek and Zients are supported by a small phalanx of minority investors. This could one day turn into a problem like the one currently facing the Cincinnati Reds, where the minority owners all sell off the majority of shares at once. In the Reds' case, 51% of the shares are for sale but controlling interest will remain with owner Carl Lindner. Who wants to buy 51% of a team and not have controlling interest? But never mind. Let's get any owner at all for this team and then worry about such minor squabbles.

  • The Post also reports that some stadium features may be cut in the face of rising building materials costs. According to Council Chairwoman Linda Cropp: "We'll have to reduce some things and not be able to do a Cadillac stadium, but we could do a Buick or a Ford." Well! If the new stadium is a Ford then what is RFK? A Le Car? A Yugo? Anyway.

    The Post reports that "potential cutbacks could come from features inside or outside the ballpark, such as reducing the size of concourses, suites and other amenities or moving parking above ground and reducing the number of retail stores at the site." JD notes that "a simple solution has probably already been arrived at, if not announced--to no longer include the land immediately south of N Street, which was always considered to be 'amenity space,' as part of the stadium construction, and instead let the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation handle that land's development as part of the Ballpark District." Sounds good to me. If they build it, I will come, and maybe buy season tickets.