SBD/Issue 56/Franchises

Four Years After Moving To DC, Nationals Still Lack Identity

Nats Continue Struggles In DC
Four years after the Nationals relocated to DC from Montreal, the team is "still not sure what they want to be when they grow up," according to Jerry Crasnick of As MLB's free agency season "gets into full swing, the Nationals have an air of futility about them." Coming off a 59-102 season, the worst record in MLB, they have "lots of work to do to become competitive and rekindle interest" in the DC market, and "obstacles abound." While the Nationals have "pledged unswerving commitment to the draft and the concept of building from within, there's not much help on the way." The team is "making their way into a hot stove blog or rumor mill," and have been "mentioned as a potential destination" for free agent 1B Mark Teixeira or P A.J. Burnett. However, front-office sources and MLB agents have a "hard time seeing a fit, conceptually or economically." Crasnick wrote the Nationals are "bad enough that a single star isn't going to vault them into contention." They ranked 19th in MLB in attendance last season, their first at Nationals Park, and their "television and radio ratings are horrendous." Even though Nationals Owner the Lerner family has made its "fortune in the real estate business," the team just reached a settlement with DC over $3.5M in unpaid rent at the ballpark, which shows there has been a "bit of a downturn in that market of late." One MLB agent said of the Nationals potentially signing top free agent players, "Where are the resources within the organization that could allow them to do these things?" Meanwhile, Crasnick noted it is "no secret in baseball circles" that Nationals President Stan Kasten has "chafed over his role in the hierarchy." An MLB exec said Kasten is "miserable" in his current role with the team. Kasten declined an interview request from ESPN, but recently said that he will be back with the team in '09 (, 12/3).

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