Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Washington Nationals Preview

The Nationals turned out not to be quite as terrible as everyone expected last year, thanks mostly to some patchwork starting pitching and timely hitting from dudes you've never heard of. Can they do that and more this year to become relevant in the NL East? Probably not, unless Jason Bergmann becomes a Cy Young contender.

2007 Record: 73-89

Key Losses: C Brian Schneider, OF Ryan Church

Key Additions: C Paul LoDuca, C Johnny Estrada, 3B Aaron Boone, P Odalis Perez, OF Lastings Milledge

Projected Lineup:
1. Christian Guzman SS
2. Lastings Milledge CF
3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B
4. Nick Johnson/Dimitri Young 1B
5. Austin Kearns RF
6. Willy Mo Pena LF
7. Paul LoDuca C
8. Ronnie Belliard 2B

Lineup Grade: C-. Outside of Ryan Zimmerman, this lineup does not have any "plus" hitters. Most of these players are aging role-players or young guys who haven't exactly lived up to their hype. Nick Johnson missed the entire '07 season, and the club will have to decide to go with him at 1B/cleanup, or their lone all-star from last year: Dimitri Young. I'm really not sure why the Nationals, with so many areas of their roster in need of attention, would have gone out and acquired two starting-caliber catchers.

Projected Rotation:
1. Shawn Hill
2. John Patterson
3. Jason Bergmann
4. Odalis Perez
5. Tim Redding/John Lannan
CL: Chad Cordero
Setup: Jon Rauch

Rotation Grade: D+. With all due respect to the much-loved Jason Bergmann, this rotation will not win too many games. Not a single one of these guys is even close to deserving the title of "Ace". #'s 1-3 all have injury histories and Odalis Perez is just another pitcher whose career has been ruined by facing Albert Pujols a few times too many. The lone bright spot on this team (besides young stunner Ryan Zimmerman) is the young, deep, and talented bullpen. No one is sleeping on Chad Cordero, and Jon Rauch will be a closer in the near future, I just don't know what team it will be for.

2008 Prediction: If the Nationals could repeat their 2007 results, I have to think it would be considered a moral victory. They were projected to lose 100 games last year, and anything better than that is icing on the cake. Only Zimmerman presents a true danger to opposing pitchers on a daily, every-at-bat basis, and the starting pitching is not stable or reliable. I do like Jason Bergmann though, not only because half of GDB's contributors have participated in numerous questionable activities and rowdy parties with his brother, but because when healthy he has actually been pretty good. In general, though, I don't think there is any reason to get excited about, or even pay much attention to, these Nationals.

2008 Record: 71-91


Young Knuckleballer said...

I think the Nat's Patheticness has been flying under the radar this year. They may be even worse than last year and 100 games is definitely well within their sights. Why didn't MLB just contract the Expos when they had the chance.

Young Knuckleballer said...

100 losses is what i meant there