December 5, 2006 [LINK / comment]

Nats rebuild for the l-o-n-g term

The implicit message to fans from the Nationals' front office is pretty clear: Don't get your hopes up for the 2007 season, because the owners are focusing exclusively on rebuilding the franchise's pool of young talent. General Manager Jim Bowden was quote by the Washington Post that "we're not looking for short-term fixes, because that could hurt the long-term fixes we really need to make." That means we shouldn't expect any big deals to acquire star talent such as Alfonso Soriano. So, the final year of baseball at RFK Stadium looks to be rather melancholy. Is putting the Washington-area fan base at risk really such a smart move? In 2005 the team exceeded expectations by winning 81 games and losing 81, while 2,720,322 fans attended games at RFK Stadium, or at least paid to get in. In 2006 their record dropped to 71-91, while annual attendance dropped to 2,152,528. Extrapolating from these two data points, we might expect a 61-101 win-loss record in 2007, and total attendance of just 1,584,734. Let's hope the Lerner family has higher short-term ambitions than that.