I’m not here to argue with Passan, in fact, I’m going to highlight some of his best points in the piece:
On the Lerner Letter:
Between talking about how “the actions we are taking now will strengthen the franchise and keep us in the position of being a perennial contender” and shouting out general manager Mike Rizzo while not bothering to mention manager Dave Martinez by name, Lerner saw the abnormality of the Nationals’ 2018 season and happily raised it. Every day, it seems, brings a new twist to a team that entered the season with championship aspirations and finally brandished the white flag Tuesday, with 125 games of sub-.500 baseball under their belts.
On Rizzo and Kintzler:
There may not be another general manager who would trade a player because he falsely believed him to be a source in a critical story, but then Rizzo is one of a kind and Brandon Kintzler is headed to the playoffs with the Cubs, so there’s that.
On Possibly a Bright Future:
The ills that plague the Nationals are more bacterial than viral, solvable so long as the proper prescription is handed out. There can be, as Lerner alluded to in his letter, a bright future in Washington. Max Scherzer is under contract long-term. Juan Soto is a star. Anthony Rendon is around for another year. Trea Turner is the shortstop of the present and future. Stephen Strasburg, when healthy, is a solid No. 2 starter. Adam Eaton is a nice part of any core. Victor Robles is on the come. There are pieces.
The easiest target is Martinez, a first-year manager whose fortunes pale next to his neophyte contemporaries: the Red Sox’s Alex Cora, the Yankees’ Aaron Boone and the Phillies’ Gabe Kapler. Even worse for Martinez is that the man he replaced, Dusty Baker, had won a pair of division titles, gone 192-132 and engendered great faith among players in his two seasons with the Nationals. As one person who values managerial dynamics put it: “Managers are generally overrated until they aren’t. On teams with big stars, the manager needs to be better than most, bigger than most, more skilled than most or those stars only shine for themselves.”
Again, no argument. The pieces are there, the execution was not. Blame Davey, Blame Rizzo, Blame Lerner, you can make a case for each and for all (let’s not forget the players too).
I do still go back to the Kintzler situation and question the rationale being a little extreme. Rumors fly from the clubhouse, Rizzo assumes/decides that Kintzler was involved, Kintzler pleads “on his children” that it wasn’t him, Rizzo ships him out anyway.
This was/is a weird, weird, season…