The Washington Post reports that the Nationals are thinking of a trade for two Devil Rays:
"The Nationals continue to ask the Devil Rays about a deal that might include Tampa closer Danys Baez, but a source said the Nationals would also like to acquire infielder Julio Lugo, who is hitting .293 as the everyday shortstop."
There are three potential problems with this deal, if it's being considered. First, trading for Baez would definitely upgrade the bullpen, but we're worried that the price would be too high. Don't get us wrong, we agree that the Nats should improve their bullpen, but the Devil Rays are likely to demand a high price for Baez. Trading a closer is one of the best ways for a bad team like the Rays to improve themselves quickly. We think there are cheaper ways for the Nationals to get the bullpen help they need.
Second, Lugo is an average player. Only the Nationals could improve their OPS at shortstop more than 200 points merely by trading for an average player like Lugo. That's how bad Cristian Guzman is. Anyway, we expect that Lugo's .736 OPS would drop at RFK, so the improvement would be less than advertised.
Third, we think that this is more evidence that Jim Bowden is aiming too low. Instead of trading for average players like Lugo, how about going after impact players like Adam Dunn, Mike Cameron, Mike Sweeney, Alfonso Soriano, or Jason Giambi? All of these players would give the Nationals what they badly need--significant offense--and that's what the Nationals need to compete with the Braves down the stretch. Meanwhile, some of these players--like Jason Giambi (the Yankees appear willing to pay most of his contract)--would come at a significant discount.
The Nationals can take two paths. They can be an aggressive buyer in trades that dramatically improve the team's future or they can continue to tread water by tinkering at the margins of the lineup. We hope that someone soon knocks some sense into Bowden and that he wakes up realizing that he can aspire to more than what a small market GM can attain.