Bowden Still Chasing Wily Mo

Tucked at the bottom of Bill Ladson’s article about the Nationals’ attempts to convince Alfonso Soriano to play left field is a new trade rumor.  Well, a new old trade rumor.  According to Ladson:

"The Nationals already have feelers out for Reds outfielder Wily Mo Pena, and a Nationals scout is expected to look at him sometime this week.

The Nationals have been after Pena since last season. He is a player who Bowden acquired from the Yankees when he was the general manager of the Reds. Last year, Pena hit .254 with 19 home runs and 54 RBIs for Cincinnati. Bowden has always believed that Pena has the potential of being a similar player to Sammy Sosa."

Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA system calls for a breakout season for Wily Mo this year; something along the lines of .280 with 33 HRs in a full season.  In my own estimation, a healthy Pena might hit .253 with 33 HRs.  No one’s disputing his power, but only PECOTA thinks Pena can make a batting average jump along the lines of his comparables, Jesse Barfield and Willie Stargell.

The Reds’ desire in any Pena trade will be pitching, pitching, and more pitching.  On the Major League level, the Nationals feature John Patterson plus a whole lot of other guys that would not bring Pena in a trade.  It would be crazy for the team to trade Patterson, so let’s see what’s in the minors.

The Nats’ farm system is barren.  According to Baseball America, the club’s best young pitchers are Collin Balester, Mike Hinckley, Bill Bray, and Daryl Thompson.  I would’ve added Armando Galarraga, but the Nats traded him to Texas in the Soriano deal.  None of these guys are close to the Majors, so Bowden would probably have to rope in a third team to get one of their pitchers involved.  Even then, they don’t have much to offer. If Bowden can somehow turn Soriano, a huge mistake, into Pena, he deserves many accolades.     

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