If the Nats are mentioned in trade deadline stories, it's almost certain it'll be done negatively.
SI calls the Nats "losers"
CBS Sportline gives the Nats an "F"
And here's a "push" from Yahoo.
It's not because these guys are dumb (in fact Pasaan's basing his push off of Dunn walking with no arbitration - an admittedly awful scenario that would negate the good that's been done. Though I think it's disingenuous to base a grade off of work not yet done. Perhaps his schooling was different than mine) It's because sports analysts are simple creatures all reading from the same script. If you are not currently contending, or not "on the verge" then you should be a "seller". You should trade everyone that isn't young and nailed down and hope to get better in the future. Where in the future? They don't know, but they are sure that if you just trade that one guy success will follow. Of course this ignores the gaggle of teams yearly that do this and don't succeed 3-5 years down the road but why mess with an easy storyline?
So the Nats HAD to trade Dunn because they aren't good and aren't likely to be contending next year. It's a valid argument, but as we've discussed ad infinitum previously - it ignores the Nats wish to engage the fanbase NOW and their need to have a good team guaranteed by 2013 lest Zimmerman walk and the whole rebuilding process starts over. The Nats made two smart moves and will be able to build on that. That's not a losing trade deadline.
But build on that to what? .500? An outside chance at the Wild Card if EVERYTHING goes right? Because that's what we're looking at here. The Nats are "losers" but not because of what happened in the past week or so. Instead it was a long process that started years ago. One that placed the Nats where they are now, a terrible position for a trade deadline, with a couple of young studs who cry out for a win "soon" strategy, but little obvious old talent to deal for immediate help, and little obvious young talent to count on in the 3-5 year range.
Dunn could have been dealt for a major league ready guy but the market was only offering one of them back and neither Edwin Jackson or Daniel Hudson was likely to be the difference between the playoffs or not in 2011-2, especially on a team without Dunn's bat. He might have been dealt for some deeper prospects with eyes on 2013, but then you are asking for some terrible teams in the meantime, and 2013 only going from "total crapshoot" to "mostly crapshoot".
The Nats were caught in a no-win situation and tried to make it a win. Didn't work. In the meantime they made a couple of nice deals. That's not loser work though it is the work of a loser.
How do the Nats now shed that "loser" status? It starts first by signing Dunn. They have to get him back and yet they can't be giving him a 4 yr deal, and better get a bargain on 3 years. I'd be fine with them overpaying for a 2-yr deal. After that it's offseason signings and trades. They need a 2nd baseman, an outfielder, and another starter if they really want to win in 2011. The pickings are not great. It'll be tough goings making a good chance playoff team from that. I guess they could sign Hudson, then drive a dump truck of money over to Carl Crawford's house, then say to Cliff Lee - "Hey look! We signed Hudson and Crawford, you want to get overpaid to join this party?" Yeah, if only the team commits to a 100+ million dollar payroll and signs probably the two biggest free agents of the offseason beating out the Yankees, Red Sox, etc. then they have a good chance. It'll be an interesting offseason to say the least.