Sure it’s the off-season, sure there’s a lot of other things to do and yes, there’s not always a lot to report (or comment on), but everytime one of us droogsÂ sits down to write something for CFG, we are stopped cold by the idea thatÂ Mike Rizzo’s Big Idea for strengthening the Nats’ front four includes setting out hook and bait for Florida Marlins right hander Ricky Nolasco. Â It’s not that Carlos Enrique is such a bad pitcher — it’s just that he’s not what Nats fans had in mind for an off-season upgrade of baseball’s worst starting rotation. Once upon a time, the list for aÂ rotation make-over included the possibility of signing John Lackey or Jon Garland. Those were the days: “We don’t think that the free-agent class leads us to [pay big money],” Mike Rizzo told Nats beat reporter Bill Ladson. “I believe the things we need or want the most are out there, and we are going to address it. I don’t see us going after that super free agent like Matt Holliday or Jon Garland. I don’t see us playing on that level. We don’t think it’s a fit for us.”
It’s the last sentence that is bound to send shivers through the upper arms of Nats’ fans: when Mike Rizzo says that something’s not “a fit for us,” what he means to say is: “we’re not going to spend money to improve.” Ladson then opines that Nolasco’s name is being bandied about — which is hardly a surprise since, if you’re a Marlin, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll be traded.Â This isn’t the first time that Nolasco’s nameÂ has beenÂ linked to anywhere-but-Miami: Yardbarker says that Nolasco and Jorge Cantu are on the block (as well as Dan Uggla, of course): “Trading Nolasco, who had a terrible first two months of 2009 and returned to form after being sent down to the minors, should net the Marlins some top major league ready prospects. Nolasco pitched better than his 2009 stats indicate, so there should be many teams looking to deal for him.”
Okay, fine. So the Nats line up a trade for Nolasco. What top prospectsÂ in their top-notch farm system do they give up to get him? A recent Baseball America ranking of MLB farm systems put the Nats at #26,Â with this comment:Â Â “They have the best prospect in the game in No. 1 draft pick Stephen Strasburg, plusÂ solid talents in catcher Derek Norris, right-handerÂ Drew Storen andÂ shortstop Danny Espinosa. Beyond that, though, the Nats have very little help, especially at the upper levels, which is a pity considering the state of the big-league roster.” Who of that bunch would you give up to get Ricky? Derek Norris? Drew Storen? Danny Espinosa? How about: none of the above. It may be, of course, that Rizzo has something up his sleeve that will equal the Nyjer Morgan theft. Or it may be that Rizzo’s vetoÂ of signing a “super free agent”Â (a descriptionÂ he applies to Jon Garland) means that the Nats go into the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis next week with nothing to offer — and come out empty handed.