Today, I’m kicking off a new series – over the next three weeks, we’ll rank all thirty MLB organizations, but rather than doing it just by some portion of their franchise (whether major league talent, minor league talent, front office talent, etc…), we’ll do an all encompassing overview of where each major league club stands. The following list should be viewed as something like organizational health, top to bottom.
Today, we kick off the list with the franchise that has more work to do to get back on track than any other in baseball.
#30: Washington Nationals
Front Office: D-
This was an F before Jim Bowden left. With him out of the picture, there’s a door open for the franchise to start making moves to send the team in the right direction. Unfortunately, Stan Kasten doesn’t seem to be walking through the door. A new general manager could overhaul the organization and establish a new path, but right now, the leadership is in limbo and no one really knows where they’re going to head.
Major League Talent: C-
There’s some good young players in the fold – Ryan Zimmerman, Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge, John Lannan, and Joel Hanrahan all showed that they have some major league abilities last year. Adam Dunn and Cristian Guzman are solid veteran role players. But the guys who have star power come with significant risks, and the guys the team can count on have limited upsides. It’s just not a roster that fits well together, either. In a best case scenario, the Nationals could finish .500 this year, and even that’s a longshot.
Minor League Talent: C
There’s some good young arms in Jordan Zimmerman, Collin Balester, and Ross Detwiler on the farm. And, if you give them credit for potentially drafting Stephen Strasburg with the #1 pick this summer, then there’s quite a bit of hope for their future rotation. But the depth of position player prospects is remarkably thin, and the Esmailyn Gonzalez revelation didn’t help at all. For a team that’s been pretty bad for a while, you’d expect a better farm system. This one’s not very good.
Yes, this is kind of kicking a group of men when he’s down, but it’s impossible to find an organization in worse shape than the Nats. They’re coming off a major league worst 102 loss season and their GM just resigned amidst a scandal over significant issues with their Dominican scouting operations. Rather than hiring a new general manager, the team president is just handling business himself while giving Asst. GM Mike Rizzo some increased authority without a promotion.
There are things Nationals fans can cling to in hoping for the future, but 2009 isn’t going to be much fun, and 2010 probably won’t be either.