What is an X-Factor? It is defined as an intangible, a hard-to-describe influence or quality; an important element with unknown positive consequences.
When it comes to predicting the future, few things are certain in baseball. X-Factor players are hard to find and require good team chemistry and special tools and the ability to handle high pressure situations. The non-waiver trade deadline is 4 days away on Monday August 1st instead of the traditional July 31st because MLB didn’t want it to end on a Sunday. That deadline is a certainty, but we are not sure what move(s) Mike Rizzo will make if any. But patience is a virtue.
The best pieces Rizzo could acquire might be as simple as looking at what he has in the Nationals’ system. Trea Turner, the sparkplug, could be that 8th positional player as the ‘full Zobrist’ who can play multiple positions and redefine what on-base-percentage means. Turner has now played 2nd base, shortstop, and centerfield for the Nationals. Turner is finding a simple way to get on base which is hit ’em where they ain’t as well as hustle hard and force the opposing defense to make mistakes and yessss it is working so nicely.
Twice in the last week, Dusty Baker has repeated himself with the Deshields reference about Trea Turner. “I was told by Delino Shields that he’s an impact player,” Baker said. “He’s made his impact felt in a short period of time he’s been here.” Delino Deshields coached Turner in the Arizona Fall League after he was drafted by the San Diego Padres. Turner is a one-man game changer.
“I’m used to speed,” Baker said last week about Trea Turner. “I love speed. You heard me say that in Spring Training. Speed kills. And it does a lot of things and it creates a lot of mistakes. Not to talk about myself, but I signed on speed and I had fast cars and a lot of tickets. So, I love speed.” Dusty loves speed. Does Dusty like Trea enough to get him some starts against the Giants?
All the talking heads think the Nationals need a new closer after the bullpen blow-up on Tuesday while Dusty Baker made it crystal clear that Papelbon was his closer. The king is dead, long live the king. Will Rizzo acquire a new closer or a closer 1A who can co-close with Papelbon when he is not available? Will Rizzo look within the system and decide to go with Koda Glover and Reynaldo Lopez to beef up the bullpen for some more heat?
Could Rizzo go 180° and acquire someone like Chris Sale because he is the best player available? Seemingly no team has as many Top 15 minor league prospects than the Nationals, but is it wise to make the type of move that Omar Minaya did on June 27, 2002 where he traded the Expos top 3 prospects in Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, and Brandon Phillips in a short-term move for Bartolo Colon? That trade goes down as the worst transaction in the millennium until we see how that Shelby Miller trade turns out.
The team could go in the direction of a 4th outfielder like Jay Bruce, Carlos Beltran or a blockbuster to get a player now who could help for the rest of this year as well as years ahead. Charlie Blackmon has a .500 OBP against Aroldis Chapman by the way, and Paul Goldschmidt is 2-6 against Chapman. Furthermore, both Jayson Werth and Danny Espinosa are 2-4 each against Chapman. My enemies’ enemy could be a wise move, just saying.
In Rizzo We Trust, In Dusty We Trusty.