Traditionally players who leave D.C. sports teams go on to have frustratingly good seasons and careers in other cities. Under Mike Rizzo, however, the Nationals have had a knack for figuring out when to sell high on players, and those moves have paid off well for the team so far this season.
Below is a look at players who were on the Nationals last season, along with a look at how well they’ve done halfway through 2011:
Adam Dunn – Chicago White Sox signed as a free agent. 4-years $65 million.
.160/.292/.307, 9 HR’s, 34 RBI’s, 117 SO’s
The Nationals had the opportunity to extend Adam Dunn, but Rizzo refused to give Dunn a four-year deal. He also refused to budge at the trade deadline and wouldn’t move the slugging first baseman for a deal he felt wasn’t fair. The result? The Nationals drafted potential future star pitcher Alex Meyer with the 21st overall pick in the draft with their compensation pick for Dunn.
So far this season Dunn has been dreadful in Chicago. At least Jayson Werth isn’t this bad. Dunn is without doubt having the worst season of his career. The baseball gods would have to put Babe Ruth’s spirit in his body in order for Dunn to reach 38 HR’s, a number he has totaled every season since 2003.
Matt Capps – Minnesota Twins traded in July 2010 for Wilson Ramos
38.2 IP, 2-4, 15 saves, 4.42 ERA, 1.112 WHIP
The Twins were hurting last season with the absence of Joe Nathan in their bullpen, so they went out and got the best closer available in Matt Capps. They paid a premium though, giving up a top rated catching prospect, Wilson Ramos.
How badly does Minnesota wish they could take this one back? Joe Mauer’s injury problems leave question marks at catcher, something that Ramos would’ve provided a definite answer for. The emergence of Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard made this move even more enticing last summer.
Adam Kennedy – Seattle Mariners signed as a free agent. Minor league contract.
.259/.307/.393, 6 HR’s, 30 RBI’s
Sure, Kennedy is having a slightly better season in the Pacific Northwest than he did in Washington last year. Sure, he’s a veteran. Imagine if Kennedy was still here though. Imagine life without Danny Espinosa’s bat, glove and speed at second base. I can’t.
Kennedy also picked up a DUI this offseason, not something that would have flied well in a Nationals clubhouse that Rizzo has worked hard to clean up.
Josh Willingham –Oakland Athletics traded during 2011 offseason for Henry Rodriguez and Corey Brown
.241/.311/.424, 11 HR’s, 44 RBI’s
In a rather surprising move, the Nats traded oft-injured Josh Willingham to the American League for flame throwing bullpen hand Henry Rodriguez. Since the move, Willingham has struggled to make the impact in Oakland that he did in Washington, and Rodriguez has carved out a place for himself in the Nationals bullpen.
There’s no question that Willingham’s numbers are affected by the colossal stadium out in Oakland. He’s already posted 81 strikeouts this season, after accumulating just 85 total last year. A’s general manager Billy Beane was surely anticipating much more from Willingham. I wouldn’t be surprised if the A’s ship him off before the deadline.
Willie Harris – New York Mets signed as a free agent. Minor league contract.
.250/.350/.331, 1 HR, 10 RBI’s
Harris has value because he plays all over the field. The Nationals had to part ways with him last season when the utility man hit an abysmal .183 in 132 games. Harris should be in everyone’s thoughts after the death of his baby earlier in July.
Nyjer Morgan – Milwaukee Brewers traded for Cutter Dykstra
.325/.353/.491, 3 HR’s, 19 RBI’s, 6 steals
Here’s the first player on the list that the Nationals may have second thoughts about, outside of behavioral issues. Morgan was given up for basically nothing and his play is more reminiscent of his surge during the second half of 2009, rather than last season’s embarrassment. Roger Bernadina has been solid as of late leading off but Morgan is having a better 2011 campaign.