Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Swirling Eddie

Preston Wilson? No. Eddie Guardado? Sure.

Rocket Bill dishes out the hot trade rumors:

According to a baseball source, the Nationals trying hard to acquire Rockies center fielder Preston Wilson and Mariners reliever Eddie Guardado before the All-Star break. The Rockies have made it no secret that they would like to deal Wilson, who is a free agent after
next season. Wilson has gone on record to say that he would be willing to play a corner position, which would be the case if he were traded to the Nationals. Wilson is currently hitting .258 with 14 home runs and 45 RBIs. Guardado is currently the Mariners closer, but he would more than likely be a setup man for the Nationals because of the emergence of Chad Cordero. Guardado is having the best season of his big-league career. He has 1.55 ERA in 29 games entering Tuesday's action.

Wilson, who turns 31 in a couple of weeks, is a pointless move if he is intended to provide anything more than depth. He would probably provide more potency as a right-handed mate in the left field platoon than Marlon Byrd (though Wilson's road splits don't necessary support that confidence), but Byrd possesses the ability to play center legitimately, which is a handy trait and one I gather Wilson no longer enjoys.

I suspect that Wilson's arrival would necessitate Byrd's departure---as part of the trade or otherwise. The Nats are running out of roster spots to accommodate guys Frank Robinson likes (e.g., Baerga, W-B Cordero), and it appears that Tony Blanco is around for the duration. If Wilson comes, then Byrd goes---and Wilson had better hit in order to compensate for the sacrifice of versatility and depth.

What really scares me is the thought that maybe BodesCo. has ramped up effort for an extra outfielder (say hello again to Juan Encarnacion---like it's the first time!) out of concern that Nick Johnson's heel injury would prove to be nagging. Even if my fear is not completely unfounded (though it may be), it is mitigated a bit by Rocket Bill's point that Wilson would be called on to play left; thus, unless Ryan Church were to move over to center, that means there is no contigency of fielding Brad Wilkerson at first base for which the team is currently planning.

All in all, I cannot say the prospect of acquiring Preston Wilson thrills me. Thus, I am comforted by two points raised in Ken Rosenthal's latest column, either of which is sufficient to make me breathe a bit easier on the subject of Wilson: 1) the Cubs are apparently in hot pursuit of Wilson's services, and 2) the Nats are one of the teams on Wilson's no-trade list.

You've earned that no-trade clause, Preston; no need to waive it just for us, buddy.

Guardado, 34, apparently has a limited no-trade clause that would prohibit a deal to one of 10 enumerated teams without his consent. A few days ago, Guardado told a Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter that he didn't know the identity of those teams, though I would surmise that the Nationals (as the ex-Expos) would have seemed sufficiently unattractive at the time his no-trade provision was drafted.

On the field, Guardado has been positively brilliant, sporting a fractional WHIP to buttress the low, low ERA. He's been white-hot lately, too; aside from one run on June 22, the last time Guardado allowed a run was on May 4. Caliente!

I know I'm probably supposed to rub my chin skeptically at the thought of unloading a prospect or two for a mid-30s, $4 million lefty (it looks like there is a mutual option beyond this season) who might not toss more than 25-30 innings for the duration of the season---especially since the Nats have few prospects with which to part in the first place. (Happy trails, Brendan Harris!) But I'm oddly geeked up about this one; it just seems like the kind of move a contender makes, and it's both novel and thrilling that the Nats are serious contenders. So please excuse a DC baseball fan's version of a "youthful indiscretion" here.

Plus, the guy can really pitch, and the Nats could use another trusted bullpenner to assume some of the slack from Ayala and non-W-B Cordero; we have to keep those guys fresh for the playoffs, right?

In the postseason, you can get by on four main relievers, and Guardado would provide a legitimate fourth to join Cordero, Ayala, and Eischen. Thus, the Nats would have wiggle room should one or both of Carrasco and Majewski blow up before then.

Get him, Bodes. You've got my blessing, for what it's worth.

The only problem with Guardado is that both the Yanks and Sawx are after him (not just for the usual "Just to get him" reasons either, they both could really use the guy), so the price is high. Like best minor league prospect high.
Excellent point.

It sort of ties into the no-trade discussion, though. Guardado would know he'd be the man if he were traded to Boston (plus, he'd almost certainly be in the playoffs; Nats are probably iffy to him).

I made a pretty big leap that Bodes actually COULD pull off a trade, huh?
Guardado wouldn't have stayed in Seattle if he wanted to be the man, I don't think (or maybe he loved Adrian Beltre too much as last year was a great "only this" year to have that guy on my fantasy team). And he stayed all those years in Minnesota before getting a shot at closing. Just doesn't strike me as a guy who really cares where he's pitching.
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