Look, I knew the Nats were going to suck this year. Anyone who knew anything about baseball knew the Nats were going to suck this year. But the sucking is so sucktastic, so very, very special, that I think everyone should pause and wonder if we have another Calvin Griffith on our hands for an owner.
Griffith, for those of you who don’t know, was the notoriously tightwadded owner of the original Senators (who eventually left town and became the Minnesota Twins). The Senators were perpetual non-competitors, leading to the term “First in war, first in peace and last in the American League.” Fans grew tired of the sucktastic act, giving Griffith just the opening he wanted to leave town.
The Nats’ lead owner is Ted Lerner. He looked over the landscape upon purchasing the team and rightly concluded that he should pour his resources into re-stocking and developing the pathetic farm system he was handed. I’ve got no qualms there — to a point. What I *DO* have qualms with is his decision to intentionally put a completely non-competitive team on the field — including perhaps the worst starting rotation in the entire history of major league baseball — instead of spending a few mill to find at least one veteran pitcher who could chew up a few innings and win a few games.
The payroll of the Nats this year is about $37 million. That is ahead of only two sad-sack teams — Florida and Tampa — in all of major league baseball, even though the Washington metro area ranks fourth in the country in population and is one of the nation’s most affluent metro areas. NO team in a market this big and rich should EVER have a baseball payroll that low, in my opinion. It borders on bad faith.
Let’s say the Nats had picked up one middlin’ sort of starting pitcher for, oh, $5 million a year. That would have moved the Nats from 28th in payroll among the 30 major league teams to — surprise! 27th. In fact, if the Nats DOUBLED their payroll, they’d still be in the bottom half of major league squads.That would still leave plenty of room for building up a system.
The Nats are a big-market team acting like a small-market…no, wait, a bush league…team. When their expected-to-be-mediocre bats didn’t click at all at the beginning of the season and their pitching lived down to expectations, the result was a 2-8 start. Already, the new owner is reaping what he has sown, and I’m not going to give him long after this year to prove to me he has a clue. I fear Lerner will join a fine Washington tradition of failed owners — in other words, he’ll be just like every other sports team owner in this town right now.