Is it time for the Washington Nationals to regroup again?
The Nats finish the season's figurative first half with a losing record ... again. They're double digits back of the NL East leader ... again. They can't hit ... again. Or play defense ... again.
Is it time to blow up the Nats as they break for Tuesday's All-Star Game? Should they trade Adam Dunn or Josh Willingham for more pitching prospects? Bench Nyjer Morgan or Ian Desmond?
Relax -- the Nats need only tinkering, not another teardown. They shouldn't replicate the Washington Redskins' constant roster reversals that led to a decade of mediocrity.
This year means nothing. It's all about 2013 when the Nats should be a playoff contender. Pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen will mature. Ryan Zimmerman will enter his prime while 2010 first-rounder Bryce Harper should be ready.
This season's goal is to get near .500, which the Nats seem to be doing. They're not making the playoffs, so the point is growing chemistry and young players.
That doesn't mean fans should tolerate baseball's worst defense or endure a team-wide slump while every opposing pitcher does a Strasburg impression. But, the worst thing would be swapping players just to do it.
And that leads to Dunn nearing the July 31 trade deadline.
The big bopper is having a good season, but the Nats haven't re-signed him for 2011. That decision needs to be made in the next three weeks. If they can extend Dunn's deal, do it. He may be lead-footed at first and strikes out too often, but Dunn also loses balls into the bleachers. Fans dig the long ball and they need someone to follow on days Strasburg isn't pitching.
Instead, the Nats need to decide Morgan's future. Last summer, the center fielder was the spark that turned around the Nats in the second half of the season after coming from Pittsburgh. This year, Morgan's playing more like Willie Mays Hayes in Major League 2. The hitting, base stealing and defense are pretty much gone. Washington might move Roger Bernadina to center, but that leaves right field open.
Which is another reason Willingham stays. The Nats can't move a left fielder given uncertainty at center. Meanwhile, batting fifth with 15 homers has Willingham keeping pitchers from pitching around Dunn.
This looks like a quiet trade deadline for the Nats. And, that's a good thing.
Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more at TheRickSniderReport.com and Twitter @Snide_Remarks or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.