Trying to bring a little common sense to the game of baseball. But considering many of the people who read baseball blogs, I'm probably just pissing into the wind.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Washington Nationals preview

A team that is going to challenge the Mets for supremacy of fourth place in their division. They’ll hit, no doubt about that. But can they pitch. Or do it well enough. For some reason, they remind me more an expansion team than other expansion teams ever have. They’re on the rise, but can the get to the top before the young talent starts disappearing?


Ivan Rodriguez. When Hall of Famers go bad. He’s okay behind the plate still, but not with the bat. Can’t get on base, can’t run, no power, no extra base hits, and not a lot to offer here. He should help a young pitching staff, if he chooses to, but what he’s mostly doing now is blocking young prospects. He’s better suited to a team like Toronto than Washington.

Upside:  still can do something with young pitchers

Downside:  the defense goes away

Score:  - 1

First base:

Adam LaRoche. Starting his nomadic trek through the National League, he’ll be a first baseman for hire. Has some power, but strikes out entirely too much and doesn’t walk enough. He’ll be the left handed bat to protect Worth, if he can hit. Hits a lot of doubles, so if he can have an average year, he’ll be a help. Not with the glove, but not useless to this team.

Upside:  becomes the left handed Frank Howard

Downside:  plays like his brother

Score:  0

Second base:

Danny Espinosa. A rookie who got some extended playing time last year; he didn’t do much with it. Has shown power and speed and a glove in the minors, but will have to prove he can do it here. He’s a switch hitter, which gives him some leverage, and can’t really fail that much. He’s young, which is the main thing, and could grow into the job if given time.

Upside:  gets close to his minor league numbers

Downside:  does them in the minors

Score:  - 2

Third base:

Ryan Zimmerman. The Franchise. At least until Strasburg and Harper get an extended stay in the league. An all around player, he’s getting better every year. A few more walks would be nice, but isn’t as important, as he can other things. Doesn’t use his speed much, but doesn’t need to. He’s getting better with the glove, and that will help the team a lot.

Upside:  just keeps getting better

Downside:  none really

Score:  + 1

Short stop:

Ian Desmond. Not a terrible year for a rookie, but it has to get better. Showed some speed, and had some extra base hits, but not too much power. Fits the bat model of a short stop, but the glove isn’t there. Bad news for this kind of team. If your short stop can’t hit, he should be able to field. If he can’t field, he should hit. Desmond is in no mans land.

Upside:  gets better

Downside:  last year was as good as it gets

Score:  - 1

Left field:

Rick Ankiel. Another lost year for Ankiel, this one due to injuries. He’s bouncing around a lot, and getting old not to be holding down a full time job. No power last year and he doesn’t walk at all. Too many strike outs and no extra base hits. Still has a decent glove, but he’s playing his third position in the last three years. If he’s healthy, the park will get him back on track. If not, he’s looking at the tail end of his career.
Upside:  finally becomes Rick Ankiel.

Downside:  no more baseball

Score:   - 1


Nyjer Morgan. All the talent in the world, and he’s not doing enough with it. Can run like the wind, but not as well. Doesn’t use his speed for doubles and triples, and he’s not a good base stealer. Hits for a high average, so his on base percentage is okay, but needs to be better. Good defensively, so that his saving grace. This is his make or break year. He has to get it done.

Upside:  learns to use his speed effectively

Downside:  keeps running the bases like I do

Score:  - 1

Right field:

Jayson Werth. Proving it is about the money, he uses a championship run and a career year to get rich. He can do a little of everything. Gets on base, has power, can run, doesn’t strike out too much, and can play defense. He’ll be a good veteran presence on this team, but has to hit to earn his way. The offense isn’t as good as it has been in the past, and he needs to get back to that level.

Upside:  likes his new park as much as his old one

Downside:  too busy cashing pay checks to watch video

Score:  + 1

Pinch hitter/general utility:

Jerry Hairston, Jr. An all around player, he’ll get a lot of time in a lot of different positions, but will be an option off the bench also. He doesn’t run as well as he used to, but is starting to get some homerun power, which will help his game. Doesn’t walk that much, so he’ll have to hit. Good defensively at most places except short stop, where he’ll get some fill in time.

Upside:  doesn’t get called on to do too much

Downside:  has to start

Score:   0

Backup catcher:

Wilson Ramos. The heir apparent, but he has to wait this year. He’ll still get a lot of playing time, and if gets the job done, he could edge Rodriguez out. He hits okay, with some extra base power, and should learn some plate discipline. Okay with the glove so far, he’s got a good tutor. If the Nationals aren’t contending, and he’s hitting, he’ll have the job at the trade deadline.

Upside:  ends up the starter

Downside:  ends up in the minors for more seasoning

Score:  - 2

Backup first baseman:

Mike Morse. An all around player, he’ll see time here, the outfield, and the infield. Kind of a super utility guy, in case you’ve never heard of that. Had a good year last year, in a limited role. Developed some power and learned to take a walk. A guy like this is also valuable to a team, and he could provide a platoon or step in starter, if needed. He’s better suited to the bench however.

Upside:  hits like he did last year without being a starter

Downside:  has to start at one or more positions

Score:  + 1

Back-up infielder:

Alberto Gonzalez. No power and he doesn’t run. Doesn’t hit for average or get on base. He can play all three infield positions, but third is his best. That’s taken, and he’s not a good defender at the others where he might be needed more. Didn’t do badly when he started on a regular basis, and could go back to that. He probably won’t, as the other guys are all younger.

Upside:  doesn’t have to do too much

Downside:  can’t hit like he did when he started, if needed

Score:  - 2

Back-up outfielder:

Roger Bernadina. A starter last year, that won’t make any difference this year, barring a long term injury. Showed medium power and some speed, but too few walks and too many strikeouts gets Rick Ankiel signed. Yeah, life isn’t fair. Has extensive time at all three positions, but isn’t really suited for center. Much better on the corners. He still will get a lot of time out there.

Upside:  might be better suited as a fourth outfielder

Downside:  has to start in center field

Score:  - 1

Rotation (front 3):

Livan Hernandez, John Lannan, and Jason Marquis. Not good, really. Hernandez had an okay year last year, but he can’t keep it doing it year after year. There not much to these guys, except some innings when they are healthy. Any of these guys can be replaced by any warm body at any time, and they’re all waiting for the shoe to drop when Strasburg comes back.

Upside:  anyone can replace them and be as effective

Downside:  no one does

Score:  - 1

Rotation (back end):

Jordan Zimmerman and Tom Gorzelanny. If Zimmerman is healthy, these guys are as good as the first three. No reason any of them are listed where they are. Strikeouts are good, but they need innings. They’re young, and still have some time to develop. Once Strasburg is back, they might make a good rotation. There is hope, but it will take more time.

Upside: still have time

Downside:  the time is here

Score:  - 1


Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett, Doug Slaten, Craig Stammen, and Todd Coffey. Clippard and Burnett are good, and strike out a lot of guys. They don’t throw too many innings, which will be an issue. Stammen was a starter, and could be again, but he wasn’t getting the job done. Slaten and Coffey are filler pieces. None of them will go too many innings except Stammen, so they’ll be burned out quickly.

Upside: won’t really matter if they’re good or not

Downside:  will matter

Score:  0


Drew Storen. Pitched well as a rookie last year, but not as a closer. He’ll get the chance at 22, so he’s a risk, but a good risk to take, as there are low expectations. Not a lot of strikeouts for a closer, but that should get better this year. A few too many walks, so it will be an issue. The bright side is, he won’t get a lot of save opportunities, so he won’t blow too many of them.

Upside:  is able to work into the role and becomes successful

Downside:  isn’t able to make the conversion to closer

Score:  0

Team speed (which includes base running):

Not too bad. Could, and should, be a help. Stolen bases and triples, which are good, and a sign of speed. Lots of caught stealing, which really isn’t good. Good base running around the infield and outfield. This will help with defensive range. Without the power and ability to get on base, they will need to use every tool they have. They will need all the help they can get on defense also.

Upside:  helps the offense and defense

Downside:  still doesn’t matter

Score:   + 1

Team defense:

Should be good. Good throughout the infield, and the outfield. Some down spots at first base, and short stop isn’t the best it could be. Rodriguez will still have flash backs, and help the staff. The staff will need all the help they can get, as they will allow a lot of base runners. Not giving away outs will be crucial, and the outfield play will make a big difference.

Upside:  gives the pitchers confidence and lets them pitch more innings

Downside:  injuries and slumps take the gloves out of the line up

Score:  + 1

Team batting:

Not good, minus the speed. No power, they don’t get on base, and they don’t hit for average. There is some talent, but there won’t be enough. Too many questions marks, like Ankiel, Desmond and Morgan. Werth and Zimmerman will get the job done, but they can’t do it alone. LaRoche will be somewhere in between. They won’t score enough to make the pitching better.

Upside:  career year for everyone

Downside:  worse than the pitching

Score:  - 1

Team pitching:

Will get the Mets into 4th place. There really isn’t anything here except a couple of short men, a second year closer who’s never closed, and Zimmerman coming back form an injury. The farm system has got some young guys, and Strasburg might be back. But that’s a lot to hope for. These guys won’t pitch too many innings, and the bullpen will be a revolving door. The waiver wire will be singing.

Upside:  the few guys who can pitch do well and show what the future might be

Downside:  the guys who can’t pitch do that very well

Score:  - 1

Total score:    - 9

1 comment:

  1. Jason Marquis is one of those pitchers I have a great deal of trouble getting a handle on. He usually has a decent first half of the season, then tanks in the second half, always putting up a huge ERA in both halves. He's one of those guys you want to keep around then trade at the All Star break. Can't figure out guys like that.