(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
In 2008, America had decided it had seen enough of "politics as normal" in the White House, and elected a new President to lead our nation. A mere two years later, America had decided it had again had enough, and changed the balance of power in the House of Representatives, and made it a lot closer in the Senate as well. Apparently, America can not decide what it wants to be.
I say all of that not because I want to start a political debate, or because I have some hidden agenda: I say it to point out the ridiculous comparison to the the town business that the Nationals bear. The Nationals have changed the make-up of their team in a ridiculous fashion several times over the past couple of years. The question is, have they gotten better, worse, or mostly just changed the faces of futility? Last year they finished dead last in the division with a 69-93 record. Will the changes be mostly cosmetic, or is there some real substance hidden at the Navy Yard? Let’s take a look, shall we?
Livan Hernandez is the old guy of this group. He brings a lot of veterany-ness to this team, but at 36, one has to wonder how much he’s got left in the tank. He put up a solid season last year with a WHIP of 1.32 and an ERA+ of 110, but you have to expect some regression as he gets a little older. Still, the man’s got WS rings, and has been around awhile, so don’t expect him to give up the ship easily.
SP John Lannan
Hey Jude, this younger guy, from time to time, will Ask Me Why he doesn’t get nearly the love he should. Sometimes, I just have to ask him whether he’s been living in a Yellow Submarine. I mean, Yeah Yeah Yeah, your ERA+ of 87 last year seems like an anomaly, but Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da: It’s been regressing since 2008, your sophomore season! You’d better get it together, because when Strasburg is ready, it could be "Hello, Goodbye."
The "marquis" signing (pun fully intended) of the 2009 offseason was the pick-up of Jason Marquis. Unfortunately he sucked. (2-9, ERA+ of 61, WHIP of 1.705) in a season where he dealt with some injuries, as did the rest of the staff. The Nationals will need him to rebound this year for the team to have a chance.
Jordan Zimmermann is a young guy who missed most of last season after undergoing TJ surgery. His rehab will be important for the Nationals to watch; not only because of his performance on the field, but also because it could serve as a prediction of what may happen with Stephen Strasburg, who normally would have the first spot on this list (as well as the first spot on my fantasy team.)
I’m sure the Nationals meant well here, but Gorzelanny has traditionally not been the answer for teams looking for another starting pitcher. He put up an ERA+ of 106 last year in Chicago, which is about career average, but maybe a change in scenery would be good for him.
Next guy up: Ross Detwiler
The bullpen seems fairly set in stone, save for the long reliever spot. Storen really impressed a lot of people last year, and should be A-OK as a closer. Clippard (known in DC as Peaches) is a dominant setup guy. Slaten/Stammen are a decent lefty/righty combo, and of course, we’re all familiar with Todd Coffey. Nothing is great here, but nothing terrible (except Wang, who probably won’t be healthy enough to get the spot anyway.)
C – Ivan Rodriguez
Pudge is getting old (39). OPS+ of 73. Calls the game well, good leader-type. Not much more to say about an all-star past his prime.
1B – Adam LaRoche
Congratulations, Adam. You get to replace Adam Dunn! Enjoy that job. Your defense is infinitely better, and you don’t hit as many homeruns. Career OPS+ of 114 should be nice though.
2B – Danny Espinosa
Espinosa is a rookie. Should have a nice glove, but no bat. Real Paul Janish Type.
SS – Ian Desmond
Desmond had a pretty bad rookie campaign, but hope springs eternal in March. He led the league in errors with 34, and Totalzone rates him low (admittedly, in less than one season) at 9 runs below average. One would hope that he improves across the board this year, especially if one has him on his fantasy baseball team.
3B – Ryan Zimmerman
Werth may be the big bopper on this team, but Zimmerman will be the star on this team for years to come. A legitimate all-star candidate at the age of 25, Zimmerman is going to be a legend in the DC area, the likes of which haven’t been seen since Walter Johnson. He put up an OPS+ of 142 last year.
LF – Michael Morse
Michael Morse seems to have won the starting spot here by virtue of the fact that he is Not Rick Ankiel. Actually, last year at age 28, he OPSed .870 in 293 PA’s, so there’s some potential here. The question is, can he keep it going in a full season?
CF – Nyjer Morgan
Morgan is a pretty fast dude, but he’s got to learn to keep his head on straight. Too much crazy for my taste, but if you like crazy along with a career OPS+ of 90, then Morgan’s your guy. He was 3rd in the NL with 34 stolen bases though.
RF – Jayson Werth
Werth definitely would be the "big addition" this year that the Nationals needed (if only they could have held on to Dunner!) . Werth put up a career-best line of .296/.388/.532/.921, and got a big fat 7 year, 122 million dollar contract from the Nationals at age 31. Good luck with that, Nationals!
Again, there’s not much to say here. Ramos came over in the Capps deal from Minnesota, and should be a lock to get the starting job whenever Pudge hangs it up. We’re all familiar with Cherry, who along with Alberto Gonzalez should be able to fill in any IF or OF position. (Gonzalez is probably just an IF). Bernardina is really fast, and Ankiel used to be a pitcher, but can really hit. That’s about all I have to say on that.
I can’t seem to locate a BHAS, a TOAS, or a JEAS among the crowd.
The Nationals had an offseason full of sound and fury, but it signifies nothing as they improve only one game to 72-90. It’s ok for them, though, because they’re just waiting for Strasburg to get healthy and Bryce Harper to get to the big leagues. As for a Christian Bale movie that represents them: I submit this:
There are going to be some Harsh Times in DC this year, but things will eventually come around.