In a recent radio interview, Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo declared that while the Nats are definitely giving all their prospects a look, winning each game is still the ultimate goal. Of course, Rizzo needs to say that in order to appease short-minded fans, but the bottom line is that the Nationals SHOULD NOT be trying to win every game. I’m pretty sure Rizzo and Co. agree with that.
I know, I know… “What about the fans who pay for the tickets? Don’t they deserve a manager who is playing to win?” Not really, especially if it means the Nats are giving themselves a slight edge in being able to compete next year. Think about it, will there ever be a better time to see big time prospects compete at the highest level? Consider this scenario: The St. Louis Cardinals are in town, only a few games back for the NL West. They have a 1-run lead over the Nationals in the bottom of the 8th. Chris Marrero is on third with 1 out and the pitcher’s spot coming up. Who does Davey go with to pinch hit? Pudge Rodriguez or a guy like Steve Lombardozzi? Fans who want to win TODAY probably chant for Pudge, but the sophisticated Nationals fans want Stevey up there. Why not see how the young infielder handles himself a clutch situation? When it comes time to make roster decisions next spring, this moment might be the deciding factor in a Desmond/Espinosa trade. Don’t you want all the information you can possibly get on a young star? No offense to I-Rod, but we’ve seen all we need to out of the future Hall of Famer.
Which brings me back to the 13-inning heart-breaker last night. Would it have been nice to carry home a Curly-W on the third night of Strasmas? Sure, but I’m content with the way the game was played out. I’ve been seeing calls for Davey’s head after letting Balester pitch the 13th instead of Clippard, but in reality the outcome of the game is really secondary. Strasburg pitched great once again, which is the only thing that really matters.
Hang in there Nats fans. If all goes to plan, this time next year the Nats just might be playing for keeps.