Sixteen days until opening day, and the Nats have looked pretty good so far this spring. While Bryce Harper has received much of the press surrounding the team this spring, their steady play and winning record have not garnered as much attention. There is more optimism surrounding this team than any I can recall since their initial spring of 2005.
I do think there are a good number of supporters who drank a lot of the Kool-Aid this year; that is to say they have been impressed with the team’s spring performance so far but seem to have forgotten that the Nats went 0 for 2 this offseason when trying to land a couple of top-flight starters to the mix. I do believe that starting pitching will remain their weakest point this season. Livan and Jordan Zimmermann have looked great so far this spring, but we need to keep in mind that JZimm has all of 4 wins in his major league career and that we can’t expect Livan to duplicate his impressive season from a year ago. I do expect Marquis to bounce back nicely since he appears to be healthy. No one knows which John Lannan will show up this year, but we all hope it’s the one who may be primed for a breakout season. On the offensive side, I love that Morse has had a great spring and seized the LF job. I’ve been impressed by him ever since we acquired him. I really hope Espinosa matures quickly as a major league hitter, and I’m hopeful that Ian Desmond is able to cut down on his errors so that we don’t lose his bat in the lineup. Center field could be a mess for awhile until someone separates themselves. Let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later. I’m just trying to be optimistic but also realistic. Go Nats!
Posted in Opening Day, Spring Training, Starting Rotation, Uncategorized, Washington Nationals
Tagged Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond, Jason Marquis, John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann, Livan Hernandez, Michael Morse, Nationals, Spring Training, Washington Nationals, Washington Nationals Blog
Josh Willingham: I was hoping that talk of him playing first base was just a crazy idea from Bill Ladson, but the fact that Willingham has commented on it means the team has at least floated the idea. I’ve already mentioned how ridiculous this is. He said he could learn how to field ground balls in spring training. So we want to replace Dunn with someone who has to learn how to field ground balls again? Who is much shorter than Dunn and coming off of an injury? Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy, but I want to start winning at some point. Also, you heard it here first, but that knee will be a problem again next season for Willingham. He injured it back in the summer. They said it was a meniscus tear. Now they are saying he will begin baseball activities again around Christmas time. Conversely, Brandon Banks of the Redskins had a meniscus tear and subsequent surgery on November 3rd. He is suiting up and playing tonight again the eagles. It’s football. He gets hit on the knee every time to has the ball. He weighs 150 pounds.
Something else is wrong with Willingham’s knee. The only silver lining is that Morse may end up playing first base and given a chance to get his bat in the lineup every day.
Also, I hope the Nats’ “attempt” to sign Lee does not keep receiving press. Hopefully he’ll just sign with the Yankees or Rangers quickly and get it over with. There is zero chance that he would sign with us. They are just going to make him an offer as a PR move for the team. Sorry to be so pessimistic, but it’s just sad to predict and then watch another offseason unfold like this. I hope team ownership proves me wrong.
I cannot believe what I am reading about the Nationals likely trading for a No. 1 starter. I am 100% in favor of signing 2 front-line starters, but a trade is one of the most idiotic moves I can think of. They have spent years at the bottom of the standings, building up their farm system and developing a nice stable of prospects. Now they want to trade them away for a starting pitcher. Trade away some prospects when it’s a for guy who will put you over the top in a pennant race. Otherwise, just sign someone in free agency! If Cliff Lee is the #1 guy this offseason, yes he will command a lot of money. But look at it this way. If you are going to pay a guy $20 million per season vs $15 million for a different frontline starter that you’d trade for, that seems ridiculous. Here’s why. If you trade for a guy, he’ll have maybe 2 seasons left on his contract. So over those 2 years, you’re saving $10 million but will have traded away several top prospects. Is that worth $10 million? To put it conversely, if you went to another team and said, I’ll pay you $10 million cash, just hand over 3 of your top prospects in your farm system, would anyone take that offer? No way. Any that is basically what we’d be doing here. As fans, we’ve tolerated 5 losing seasons in a row while being told it’s in the name of building a winner through rebuilding and restocking our farm system. And now you want to trade those away? We’ll have to see the actual salaries we’re talking about and which prospects it ends up being, but giving away top prospects when you could sign someone through free agency is so ridiculous, I cannot believe people with “baseball minds” are considering this.
I’m not going to go into a player by player review of what the Nats have accomplished or failed to accomplish this season. However, I’m going to share a few key thoughts about how the Nats should approach the second half of the season.
Put on the trading block any pitcher on the active roster not named Strasburg, Storen or Clippard. You’ll notice I did not protect Capps there. While Capps is having a great year, holding onto a solid closer is not as critical when you are not headed to the post-season. And he could probably bring more in return right now than any other non-protected pitcher on the staff. Plus, he’s not making a ton of money this season, so a lot of teams would jump at the chance to have him. More on this later.
Play Nyjer every day in center until July 31st, hope for a surge, and try and trade him too. If he is not traded by the 31st and he has not gotten more consistent in every aspect of his game, then beginning in August make Bernie the starting CF and start Morse in right the rest of the season. We need to see if these guys are going to be able to be everyday players next season.
Trade Guz if we can get anything decent in return. Sign Dunn now to an extension.
Finally, we have got to be active in the free agent market this offseason. We need 2 quality starting pitchers, a closer if Capps is traded, another solid setup man, a big name second baseman who can hit for power and average, and a big bat in RF if Bernie or Morse don’t look like the solution by the end of the season. SPEND THE MONEY Lerners! We can’t wait any longer for the guys in the farm system to mature and hopefully become stars at the major league level. If you wait 3 more years, Zim’s contract will be up and who know if he’ll really re-sign here if we haven’t shown a commitment to winning by then. We don’t need to be buyers at the trade deadline. But please, be buyers in the offseason. If only takes cash to do that; you don’t have to part with top prospects. Take a chance on spending some money. We could contend next year if we do this. Thanks for reading.
Well, we’re 2 weeks from Opening Day, and the starting rotation is all but set. Lannan has looked great and will be on the mound Opening Day. Marquis has not looked sharp, but folks are optimistic that he’ll regain his form with a few more outings. Olsen has also been penciled in, which is a concern because he’s coming off injuries and his velocity, never high to begin with, is off. It appears that Mock and Livo will round out the rotation. While Mock has had great control this Spring, he still comes into the season as an unproven commodity at the major league level. Hernandez will likely be an innings-eater as usual, but can he keep his era under 5? He got a late start this spring, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for a guy who, when healthy, consistently pitches 200-inning seasons. Prediction here is that the top 2 guys will solidly anchor the rotation, and that Olsen will be given a long leash to prove that he is healthy and effective. If Mock is ineffective early and/or Livo’s arm tired midway through the season, look for Martin or Stammen to come in and get another crack. One of them will likely already be on the opening day roster as a long reliever.
Posted in Opening Day, Spring Training, Starting Rotation
Tagged Craig Stammen, Garrett Mock, J.D. Martin, Jason Marquis, John Lannan, Livan Hernandez, Nationals, Scott Olsen, Spring Training
I’m not going to go into detail about how redundant and depressing the story on the Nats’ home page was today about their lack of free agent signings. I recommend you go to Nationals.com, read that story, but then read the 57 comments below the story (as of 5:14 pm). Everything is pretty much covered there, from the optimists to the majority of the fans who are fed up with the Lerners standing behind a losing team and making no attempt to improve the current squad and get people to fill the stands. I’ll continue to be a season ticket holder, but I would not be surprised if they average 15,000 fans per game this year. They need to pull off a trade for a name that will draw some fans and make an occasional game exciting, or it is going to be another long season, only this time with very few fans.