I was reading an article the other day about a local athlete who is allegedly disliked by his teammates, has caused schisms and riffs among them, and who is more concerned about his image on social media, in commercials, and building a brand. This local athlete won rookie of the year in 2012, led his team to a division title, suffered injuries that held back his progress, and has yet to live up to his immense potential. I am of course talking about Bryce Harper. These exact same things can be said of a different local athlete on a different local team, and for that athlete circumstances are a lot different and mostly because that other local team is a complete comedy of errors.
Let’s imagine for a second that the local baseball team were suddenly bought by Dan Snyder. He has always wanted to own a winning team and has no idea how to make the football team a winner so he buys the baseball team that is already winning. The very first thing that happens is Mike Rizzo runs for the exit, and Dan Snyder hires Livan Hernandez to be his new team president and no GM is named because Dan Snyder is going to be the GM.
Since Dan Snyder knows nothing about baseball (which is exactly as much as he knows about football) he decides to listen to the will of the fans. Bryce Harper and Robert Griffin have so much in common Dan Snyder decides they should be treated the same and he can’t have people around that would upset his fans or bring any type of negative media attention. When the media learns that Snyder is thinking of trading Bryce Harper he has to show the media that they are wrong so he gives him a 15 year $400 million contract and then after destroying his trade value with such a ridiculous contract he trades Bryce Harper while agreeing to pay half the salary for a couple of relief pitchers.
Knowing that the Nationals failed in the playoffs Dan Snyder starts looking for a scapegoat and he finds two, Drew Storen and Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg is supposed to be an Ace and in his one start in the playoffs he didn’t through a complete game shutout and that cannot stand. Anonymous sources leak to the media that the Nationals are looking to trade Stephen Strasburg because pitching is too complex to him and some in the clubhouse have tired of his mental weakness. These reports lower his value to the point that all the Nationals get back for Strasburg is a utility infielder who Dan Snyder proclaims the second coming of Joe Morgan and names him the starting second baseman for 2015.
Drew Storen was the closer and failed to close yet another playoff game, and Dan Snyder simply can’t have that. As with Strasburg anonymous sources leak to the media how the Nationals have tired of Storen and need to get him out of town and bring in a proven closer with better make-up. The Nationals find it hard to find a trade partner after these reports leak as any interested team is just offering to take Storen off the Nationals hands since they want to get rid of him so badly. The Nationals decide to hold onto Storen but sign Andrew Miller and David Robertson both to five year $50 million deals to share the closer role. At the press conference introducing the two Snyder announces that Storen will spend the season in AAA.
With all the problem players dealt with and the closer role taken care of Snyder looks to the popular players that the fans want to keep. Doug Fister, Denard Span, Ian Desmond, and Jordan Zimmermann are all entering the last years of their deals and Snyder can’t allow players that the fans want to see lead so he offers them all record breaking deals. The Nationals payroll is now double that of the Dodgers and all they’ve managed to do is get rid of Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and Drew Storen while bringing in four relief pitchers and a utility infielder, but the off-season isn’t over yet and Snyder needs a 40 homer bat capable of winning the MVP award.
The answer to this is obviously Matt Kemp as he was really good a few years ago and since has started to decline and have trouble staying on the field, but his name has value and if he can stay healthy he’s the 40 homer MVP bat the Nationals need. Dan Snyder has the same respect for prospects as he does for draft picks and trades Lucas Giolito, AJ Cole, Michael Taylor, Steven Souza Jr., and Pedro Severino to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp.
After starting the season 7-5 the Nationals go on a four game losing streak and Matt Williams is relieved of duty and replaced by Lou Piniella. Dan Snyder’s roster can’t stay healthy and the lack of minor league depth hurts the team as they limp through the season and finish with a disappointing 76 wins. This is of course the fault of the biggest star on the team, Ian Desmond, who is run down in the media until all the fans turn on him and he is run out of town a year after signing a 7 year $190 million contract. The Nationals never get back on their feet and Nats Park becomes a ghost town despite the reports of a season ticket waiting list 80 years long.