Only 3 days...I'm excited! Anyways, The topic du jour seems to be Tom Boswells amazingly insightful and thorough article on how the Nats are really just baby Yankees. That we're going to harvest the money trees Kasten planted on his estate and soon Kansas City will be selling out games because the Nats are in town. While I too look forward to the days when the Nats are considered among the games elite, you've got mix a little reality with that fantasy.
Does Mr Boswell really believe his own words when he says that the Nats are going to have bounds of money to spend simply because they're cutting the salary of the current team? We all know that how much money you can spend is really based on two things. How much money does your team earn? And how rich is your owner. While I can only one day dream of making the coin that the Lerner's make, in the grand scheme of major league baseball, they're average. Add to that fact that the nationals don't have the earnings clout of teams like the Yankees, Cubs, and Red Sox, and there's really not much reason to believe Washington will ever dominate the free agent market (Not a bad thing).
Another thing to consider is the history of the major teams in Major League Baseball. When was that last time the Yankees/Cubs/Sox all had quiet off-seasons, none of them really splashing the cash. It just doesn't happens. The big teams will keep on spending, and the small-market teams won't. The bright side is that the Nationals have the market and the resources to become one of those big things. And that's the exciting part!
Credit to BallWonk for the snazzy image
Where Nats bloggers and their readers fearlessly answer the questions that all nats fans want to know. Such as:
1. Nationals season record.
2. Nationals NL East division place and games back (if any).
3. Date on which Nick Johnson first appears in a Nationals game.
4. Date on which Nick Johnson suffers season-ending injury.
5. Nationals team leader in pitching starts, with number of starts.
6. Total number of starting pitchers used.
7. Number of ejections for Manny Acta.
8. Guzman's batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging average.
9. Nationals home runs at RFK.
10. Paid attendance for the July 21 game against Colorado at RFK (our only Fox national broadcast of 2007).
With all the answers here in my Gray's Sports Almanac (2000-2050), this oughta be a piece of cake.
2. Fourth, 16 games out
3. May 19
4. Not gonna happen, cause I'm an optimist
5. Matt Chico, 27, Because he's the only lefty starter
7. 3, He's got a latin temper (thanks Jim Gaffigan)
8. .290, .315, .375
And you can take that to the bank!
Alright, I'm going to try to guess the final roster, a few days before it's announced. At this point, it's pretty easy, but I'll take a win.
Dimitri Young (starter)
Nick Johnson (40-day DL)
Christian Guzman (Comeback player of the year)
Jesus Flores (Rule 5 pick)
Nook Logan (not for long Nook, as I call him)
1: John Patterson
2: Shawn Hill
3: Jerome Williams
4: Matt Chico
5: Jason Bergmann
(Jason Simontacci will take Bergmann's spot after he comes back from injury)
Levale Speigner (another Rule 5 pick)
Ryan Wagner (JUGGS)
There are some levels of variance at play (Logan's health, how Bergmann does, trades...), but this should be the roster as of Monday.
I predict, if our pitching equals last year's, which is not too difficult, we finish 81-81, just like in 2005. I'm an optimist, who wants to watch and blog if you think the team is as bad as everyone else says?
Tell me where I went wrong. Tell your friends.
Join the Nationals Report (me) at Schooner's bar at CNU for opening day, at 1:00. They've got cheap beer, good wings, and pizza by the slice. I know of at least two people who will be there, so c'mon down.
And by cheap seats, I mean my chair in the office which is immeasurably more comfortable than a bleacher, though somehow much less satisfying. Anyways I'm watching (hitting refresh on MLB's box score) today's game and for once it looks like we're actually battling a decent team. Granted the Mets are 4-10 this spring and we all know spring training means nothing, but still GO NATS! As far as the game goes, Zimm is raking at the plate as he is apt to do. Guz actually came through with a pinch hit RBI single, and Shawn Hill had yet another decent showing on the mound. Looks like we're got our #2!!!! A scary observation now, Joel Hanrahan somehow halved his ERA with a 2 inning 3 run outing...simply amazing. Ray King didn't do much better either. What happened to the decent bullpen we were supposed to have. I can deal with losing a lot this year, but its going to be really rough when we're giving up leads late. War Ryan (Juggs) Wagner!!! Bow down to my MS Paint skillz, I would have found a nats picture of him, but he's not good enough!
• Heard around Florida: Nationals G.M. Jim Bowden is on the hot seat. One rumor suggested that Chuck LaMar, a recent Nats hire, could be a candidate to replace Bowden. But that seems like a stretch, considering LaMar's struggles in Tampa.
Say what you will about Trader Jim, but I personally don't want anyone who was responsible for the Devil Rays anywhere near my team. What's your take?
Spring Training is a poor representation of a team's potential for the regular season, usually. I say usually because most of the time, a team has a majority of its starting positions and pitchers locked in, and Spring Training is a time for getting their starters ready for the season, and for having a look at their AAA team. In the case of the Nationals, what you see is what you get.
The obvious clusterf.....area of concern, is the Rotation. Let's access the situation, shall we? John Patterson, the "ace" of our staff, is a Tommy John veteran (as is a good portion of our pitching retreads) has gotten close to the gold standard of 200 innings once in his career, in 2005 (the year where he earned his "ace" status). I'm not seeing him as a 20 win pitcher, but I doubt Johan Santana could win 20 games with this cast.
After Patterson, we've got.....Tim Redding (Astros and White Sox reject, who has a Spring Training ERA of 40.50 (granted it was one start, but the number was sexy). Jerome Williams, considered to be a lock on the 2nd or 3rd spot, has shown nothing. Jason Simontacci stands out of the crowd as being "not awful". So we've got that going for us.
Senior Fruto has disappointed, with a 54.00 ERA. Other lowlights include Joel Haranahan at 135.00 ERA, with 5 runs in 0.1 innings, Mike Bacsick, 37.80 ERA, lowered substantially by a good outing against the Braves today, Luis Martinez, 2.1 IP 5 runs, 15.43 ERA.
So, one could say that our pitching is "not good". They would be masters of understatement, and not familiar with a Thesaurus. A year of rebuilding is painful to watch, but it could be worse. We could be the Royals. We could have no hope in sight, and no talent to watch. What we do have is Ryan Zimmerman, who is tearing the cover off the ball, Brian Schneider, who may finally bust out with a full season of baseball, as opposed to falling apart after the all-star break like he usually does. We've also got young players that are going to bloom into something to see, see Matt Chico, Colten Willams, and Chris Marrero.
So, when you're watching a 12-5 game, and our pitchers are making you think about driving down to RFK, with your spikes and glove, remember you're never going to be a professional baseball player, and to thank your lucky stars we're not the Royals.