The 2009 NL East will be the most exciting division in Major League Baseball, bar none. Last season the world watched as the Philadelphia Phillies, a team thought to be competing for a wild card spot at best, went on to win the division and eventually defeat the Tampa Bay Rays to bring a World Championship to the city of brotherly love. Despite their recent success, this off-season’s transactions have guaranteed one thing: a division title is anything but a guarantee for this 2009 Phillies team. New York Mets GM Omar Minaya went out and imported two flame throwing relievers, J.J Putz and Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez. Atlanta Braves GM Frank Wren signed veteran sinkerballer Derek Lowe to anchor their rotation, and the Washington Nationals signed slugging first baseman/outfielder/Sabermetrics golden standard Adam Dunn to a two year deal. What does this mean? This means that the NL East will have 5 teams with a legitimate shot of finishing the year with a record over .500. If everything falls into place, 2009 should provide some intriguing late season baseball.
The Washington Nationals traded for left-hander Scott Olsen and outfielder Josh Willingham from the Florida Marlins for second baseman Emilio Bonifacio, first baseman Jake Smolinski, and righty P.J. Dean. While Bonifacio is a solid defensive second baseman with some on-base ability and tons of speed, and Smolinski may yet be a good hitter one day, this trade seems lopsided in the Nationals’ favor. Smolinski is only 19 years old and in his first 390 at-bats, has just five professional home runs. Bonifacio has no power. P.J. Dean has fifteen starts under his belt.
In the other corner, we have a solid major league left-handed pitcher with some upside still at 24 years old, and an everyday left fielder with middle-of-the-order power and a career .800+ OPS (not to mention his 62 homers in the past three years). Three young prospects with limited upside for two major league regulars controlled at under-market prices for at least the next couple of years - that seems like a slam dunk, even for an embattled GM like Jim Bowden.
Unfortunately, this deal really doesn’t make much sense for both sides in the end.
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