Despite the fact that the Nats don't possess enough position players that could be considered part of a future Nats contender, because of the value of playing around .500, Rizzo isn't likely to trade Willingham and/or Dunn for prospects.
The Nats emerged from what was expected to be the toughest part of the schedule with a 23-22 record. Looks like no one told the Giants and the Padres that they were supposed to roll over for the offensive juggernaut that is the 2010 Washington Nationals. Capital Punishment is salivating over an upcoming schedule full of patsies and soft underbellies, but I'll believe it when I see it.
Nyjer Morgan continues to have problems at the plate and in the field, and, at least for one game, is no longer batting leadoff. The Nats' lack of outfield depth means that, even if the team were inclined to consider it, benching Morgan isn't an option.
Right field remains an offensive black hole. Roger Bernadina didn't show that his brief display of offensive prowess was anything more than a good week in an otherwise dreary season. Justin Maxwell is no longer the guy who the Nats say they want to get playing time every day in AAA, but has become the guy the Nats call upon to fill out the bench when there's an extra spot on the 25-man for a few days. No one wants to see Cristian Guzman or Mike -- excuse me -- Michael Morse out in right on a regular basis.
Rizzo should take a look at KC Royals mainstay David DeJesus. DeJesus has a career as an average to above-average hitter, he plays a good left or a decent right field, and he can play a credible center field in a pinch. Numbers-wise, DeJesus is basically 2007 Ryan Church. He has a team-friendly contract for 2011 and it's likely that the Royals are firmly in sell mode.
Before the season started, the Nats inquired after Kosuke Fukudome and Corey Hart. Fukudome is probably too expensive for the Nats to take unless the Cubs throw in a boatlaod of cash to pay his salary. The Nats might prefer a better, younger player like Hart, but if there's competition for him, do the Nats have the necessary pieces to stay in the running? The Nats farm system is thin, and sending too much of it away to acquire someone like Hart would be counterproductive.
But it's not a given that there won't be competition for DeJesus, so who should the Nats give up and where should they draw the line? Any of the soft-tossing grounder-inducing finesse pitchers that have passed through DC not named Lannan? Absolutely. Andrew Kown? Sure. Chris Marrero? Maybe, but he's still young. Andrew Thompson? I don't know. Derek Norris or Danny Espinosa? No deal.
DeJesus will never be a star, and he's 10 months older than Josh Willingham, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't be a good fit for the Nats. If necessary, DeJesus can bat leadoff for a team that can't ever seem to find a leadoff solution while filling the gap in right field and providing another source of offensive production.
Eventually, Rizzo is going to have to figure out what kind of team he has for 2011. We can presume a 2011 pitching rotation of Strasburg/Zimmermann/Marquis/pick two of Wang/Lannan/Stammen/Martin/Atilano, but who will be fielding all those grounders and fly balls? If my assumption is correct, the value of playing around .500 means that the better Willingham performs, the less likely Rizzo is to trade him this season. Zimmerman, Pudge/Flores, Desmond, and Willingham are the only position players that can be considered locks for 2011. Guzman will finally be gone next season and Kennedy has a buyout. By the end of this season, Nyjer might end up a non-tender candidate. It doesn't look like any position players will be graduating from the minors for next season. Adding DeJesus buys Rizzo time while adding stability to the roster.