Sports

Picking Splinters: Merry Mailbag

Mike,

I’m confused. What the heck are my Nationals doing? First they sign Jayson Werth to a mega-deal. That’s great, right? They’ve decided to spend and take a run at the postseason in 2011. But then they trade Josh Willingham for prospects. What gives? Are the Nats rebuilding or trying to contend?

Teddy R.

Teddy, until you wrote in, I was thinking you might have been pulling the strings to some of these moves so you wouldn’t be the only perennial loser in Washington. When the Nats splurged to sign Werth, I was excited. It was new behavior for a team that had sometimes bid on the high-priced free agents but never landed them. But the more I thought about the move, the more suspect it seemed. For starters, Washington just moved No. 1 draft pick and phenom of the future Bryce Harper to right field … where Werth will likely be for the next several seasons. So, one of them will have to move if they both make the roster at the same time.

My cohort at ESPN, Matt Meyers, just wrote an excellent article on the schizophrenic approach Washington has taken and makes the case that the moves seem counterproductive, particularly when you consider the Nats were prepared to mortgage even more of their precious few prospects in a bid to land Zach Greinke from the Royals. The comparison Meyers makes is a scary one, noting that these were the same strange sort of moves the Pittsburgh Pirates would make to placate fans without ever really replenishing their farm system.

Just looking at the weak crop of prospects gunning for jobs in Washington this spring should convince people that the Nats aren’t ready to contend in 2011, or likely in 2012 either. I’d brace for yet another top-10 draft pick in 2012, and you know what? That’s okay. Draft the best player on the board, spend the money on him and add to the base. Washington’s waited this long. We don’t need a cheap thrill for a season that sets the rebuilding process back by five years.

Hume,

What do you make of the mess that is the Washington Redskins QB situation right now?

Joe G.

Joe, I have no idea what’s going on in the land of the Burgundy and Gold. None. What they’re doing with Donovan McNabb makes no sense to me. Sure, Rex Grossman was good against the Cowboys, but that doesn’t make it the right move.

Grossman’s not the QB of the future, unless that future is 2006 and Daniel Snyder has a Delorean with a flux capacitor I’m not aware of. So the ‘Skins now have to snag a QB in the draft or in free agency. And what free agent QB will want to sign with a team so screwed up they’d sit at Hall of Fame signal caller for the final two minutes in favor of a guy with more turnovers than touchdowns?

And why pay McNabb with an extension if you’re just going to bury him again? I’ve seen more logic in most nursery schools than I’ve seen from the Redskins in the past seven seasons.

Splinter picker,

You sad to see Gilbert Arenas heading to Orlando?

Charlton H.

Not at all. Look, firearm issues aside, I loved Arenas’ playful antics as much as anyone, but I was never a fan of his contract extension. That the Wizards found a team silly enough to take it on shows exactly how much GMs believe the NBA is a star-driven league … and how desperate the Magic are to keep up in the East. I will gladly watch Rashard Lewis for a season and a half as the Wizards rebuild. The Wiz look lottery bound again, which means this team’s biggest fear should be a work stoppage. If college players fear there won’t be an NBA season it could water down what looks like it will be a sensational draft crop. Add a guy like Jared Sullinger to the mix, a free agent or two and man, you could really have a formidable squad in a season or two.