DC Baseball; Guzman/Castilla sign

I’m sure you have all heard the news that the Montreal Expos are moving to Washington, D.C. (Here is a link to the official DC Baseball website, and here is a link to the MVN coverage of the Washington team, written by Jean-Pierre Allard, who I like to call the “poet-laureate” of MVN.) Here I am to give my official opinion on the Washington movement, which I believe I am qualified to state such an opinion based on my reading the articles released by various sources on ESPN and the Associated Press, and reading Jean-Pierre’s (vitriolic?) musings throughout the season.
My opinion is thus: While Selig completely botched this attempt in every way possible, (such as his handling of the Expos organization, its fans, baseball in general, timing of everything, the list goes on) the fact remains that I think this is the most absolute perfect move. Now mind, I am not saying the perfect move for the Expos, I am speaking about the move to the DC area. Now I suppose the Expos were the right team to be moved (although it is maintained by some that if only they had built an open-air stadium celebrating Montreal, they would still be there) but the fact remains (as it did two sentences ago) that this is a great move. I personally believe attendance is going to thrive, and by the time the novelty of a (not very good) team wears off, they will immediately be presented with a brand new baseball stadium, which will spike attendance yet again (hmm, coincidence?) and then after all this is said and done, six years down the road, the DC Club will emerge from the doldrums and become a fixature at the top of the NL East standings for a good, long while.
Why? Well, for one, the Braves can’t hang around this long (but then again, they have so far). Two, the Mets … well, they’re the Mets, OK? The Phillies in six years will be rebuilding, and the Marlins are going to be caught in that familiar position that strikes most teams for the next six years – good enough to hang around, not so good to really compete. The Expos have the lowest payroll of them all, the most promise, a new place, a new stadium, a new everything. This is going to revitalize the franchise. While they may never be a power like the Yankees, I see them as being a consistent team ala Los Angeles year in and year out.
The payroll is still going to be relatively low, ensuring that the owners coming in will have flexibility to raise it as high as they please. Not only that, but the Expos generally have young players, and that’s always better than having old players.
Washington DC is a big tourist city, and now has something to attract tourists in the summer – catch a game of the Nationals! It is also an aesthetically beautiful city, and I see no reason why baseball should fail in Washington. Then again, it failed twice. Perhaps I’m being optimistic here, but I doubt it. Washington DC baseball is going to flourish – mark my words.
Vinny Castilla and Cristian Guzman are Washingtonians now.
Castilla (3B) signed a two-year, 6.2 million contract, and Guzman (SS) signed a 4-year, 16.8 million contract. The belief going around the baseballosphere so far is that this is an okay deal. Guzman will shore up Washington for four years, from ages 27-31, or in other terms, in the prime of his career. He is an amazing defensive shortstop and while he doesn’t have a good batting eye, he has a good batting average. Maicer Izturis, the brother of Cesar (on the Dodgers) is 24 years old and statistically seems to draw a lot of comparisons to Guzman. Izturis can spend the year at the AAA Edmonton Trappers, allowing him to fully mature. He can then become a utility player/second baseman for the Washingtonians (if Vidro is moved). If Vidro is not, Izturis will be a very good utility player. When Guzman’s contract is up, Izturis will be 28, in the prime of his career, able to step into the shortstop vacancy.
As for Vinny Castilla, he didn’t have such a great year outside of Coors Field last year, when a Rockie. Last year, at home, he hit .321/.379/.575. On the road, he hit .218/.281/.493. That’s not so good, but then you remember this: he can still hit well enough to be a starter. Not only that, but he has a two-year contract, and the last several years, statistically, show him as an improvement over Tony Batista, the Expo third-baseman this past year. In the minor leagues, the Washingtonians have a third baseman they acquired from the Cubs in the Nomar/Cabrera swap, Brendan Harris. Harris is also 24, so can spend another year in AAA, whetting his appetite. He profiles to be a good player, but didn’t hit for beans in his cups of coffee with the Cubs and Expos last year, hence the reasoning to have him play 2005 in AAA. Then in Castilla’s last year as a Washingtonian, Harris could either repeat AAA, or come up as a utility infielder. Then Castilla leaves, and Harris seamlessly steps in.
Also factor in that Guzman and Castilla are “name” players, which the Washingtonians sorely lack. They have Jose Vidro and … who? Exactly. Guzman and Castilla are names most people have heard of, because Castilla has power and has been in the playoffs. Guzman has been a good shortstop for years past and has been in the playoffs. Hence, people have heard of them. If you were a fan of the Washingtonians, a casual fan, not a sabermetric fan, would you be more excited if the Expos got Cristian Guzman or Jhonny Peralta? Guzman has the better bet of being known more than Jhonny, even though Jhonny will be much better than Guzman. (Jhonny was the AAA Most Valuable Player, playing shortstop for the Cleveland Indians’ AAA affiliate.)
I came across this article on how RFK may be a hitter’s park. More good news for Vinny Castilla.