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The Nats are “enthusiastic” about signing Carlos Pena

Carlos Pena

Tampa Bay Rays’ Carlos Pena reacts as he crosses home plate after hitting a fifth-inning home run off Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Shawn Camp during a baseball game Wednesday, June 9, 2010, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)


Buster Olney reports that the Washington Nationals are “enthusiastic” about their chances of signing free agent first baseman Carlos Pena.

Interesting choice of words in that I don’t think as signing of Pena would bring much enthusiasm to Nats fans. Sure, he’s a more productive hitter than his [gulp] .196 average would suggest, but that’s faint praise. He needs to hit better to be able to carry first base, even on a last place team. There’s a chance that he could improve with a move to the National League, but at 33, improvement is by no means assured.

The interesting thing about this is that the guy Pena would replace -- Adam Dunn -- was derided by many because they saw only the strikeouts and didn’t appreciate that his great plate patience made him far more valuable than the average fan suspected. Pena would be an even more extreme case of that, with terrible contact hitting subbing in for Dunn’s K’s. Oh, and a good 10-12 fewer homers too.