The Christmas tree in Washington is a little bare this year and it has nothing to do with the 70+ degree temperatures. This year it looks like the holidays are going to be all about deferred compensation–you know, that stuff they told you in college. Study hard, eschew the wild times and you will get the last laugh. Don’ know how well that worked, but dear ole Saint Nick…if we can wait until Global Warming eases a bit, could you slide the big enchilada under the big Saguaro before the end of the Yule Season.
What I am hoping yet to find in my stocking—cause I have been a good muthertrucker—is Kelly Johnson, Scott Kazmir and Yeonis Cespedes. Not only have I been good, but I am a believer. I believe in Santa (Mike Rizzo) and his ability to deliver the goods. All of the above free agents come without draft pick compensation, so the Nationals keep their first round pick. Are you writing this down, Santa?
And more importantly they make the team much better and free Santa to do some more shopping later. Kelly Johnson is the left-handed bat that can play second base, third and left field. He won’t cost much money or long-term commitment and he allows Trea Turner to play at the big league level in 2016. Kazmir is more interesting than Wei-yen Chen or Gallardo–each of whom cost a draft pick—and his new reliance on his changeup and less on the fastball, means he could pitch well for most of the contract-maybe even four years.
And then there is Yeonis Cespedes. He is the bat that covers up Harper and plays right or center, depending on who is the better defender in CF. Construct the lineup however you wish, but if it has Harper, Cespedes and Zimmerman hitting in the heart of it for any appreciable part of the season, then the team is going to be difficult for even the Mets to pitch to.
With Kasmir in the rotation as my third starter, I can say goodbye to Gio Gonzalez. Santa probably likes Gio, everybody else does. But he is also a head case. He eats innings—well sort of, if you assume six innings 32 times a season is what you are looking for. He should be a better pitcher than he is, but he cannot maintain his focus and doesn’t have stamina past about 80 pitches.
There are any number of teams that would be willing to take a chance that a change of scenery would re-ignite Gio’s mojo or at least give them 180 innings of 3.85 ERA. The Texas Rangers could use a dependable arm and they have several relievers who might complement the existing bullpen arms in DC. The Rangers are reputed to be willing to trade from their bullpen depth and either Sam Dyson or Shawn Tolleson would be a nice return for a package that was fronted by Gio. Throw in Drew Storen and bring back Jurickson Profar and a prospect or two and we are done.
Oops!! There is still that cantankerous SOB Jonathan Papelbon. Tell you what Santa. Wrap him in the Washington Post Sports Page, do something about the smell, and just hope for the best. Santa is all about holiday miracles and that would be the star on the tree. I promise to keep it up longer than usual this seasons to give you another chance. But either way, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a World Series New Year!!