Not only did the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-1 victory yesterday over the Los Angeles Dodgers prevent the Dodgers from clinching the NL West, but also did something else as well. With the Pirates victory, the Washington Nationals will have the worst record in baseball in 2009 and will have the number one pick in next year’s June draft.
Both the Pirates and the Nationals have six games remaining and even if they finish with the same record, the Nationals earned the first pick thanks to the Pirates winning the season series four games to three.
Believe it or not, the Nationals thought they could compete in 2009. They were very aggressive in the free agent market, pursuing — foolishly perhaps — Mark Teixeira, Orlando Hudson, and eventually signing Adam Dunn to a two-year deal. They also signed Joe Beimel and traded for Josh Willingham in hopes of improving their team.
Unfortunately, the 2009 season for the Nationals has been a disaster. General Manager Jim Bowden resigned before the season started, Manager Manny Acta was fired in July, they can’t play defense, they have no starting pitching outside of John Lannan, and their bullpen has been abysmal all season.
2010 will mark the fourth year in a row the Nationals will have a top-10 pick. 2010 will also mark the second year in a row they will have the number one overall pick. As we all know, in 2009, the Nationals drafted and signed Stephen Strasburg out of San Diego State.
All signs point to another Scott Boras client (Strasburg being the first), Bryce Harper being the number one pick in the 2010 draft. Regardless if the Nationals take Harper or not, they have to and I mean HAVE TO hit on these top picks in order to compete in the future.
All the Nationals have to do is look to the Kansas City Royals and the Pirates as examples of teams that haven’t hit on their draft picks year after year.