Monday, March 26, 2007

Your 2007 N.L. East Preview: Washington Nationals

Poor Manny Acta.

Oh, I mean, what a lucky guy that Manny Acta...he's finally a major league manager. That's the good news.

The bad news is that he's the manager of a team that some experts are saying could lose 130 games this season.

While I'm not willing to go quite that far, this team could very well be famously bad. Of course, we all thought that about the Florida Marlins last season, and they contended for the wild card. But the difference here is that the Marlins had some talented minor leaguers to build around, notably in the pitching staff.

The Nationals, meanwhile, signed Pedro Astacio.

Here is another big difference between Jeffrey Loria's current franchise and his former one: for as much crap as the Marlins have taken...and rightly so...for their infamous fire sales, they at least have gotten grade A quality prospects for them. The Nationals, meanwhile, made a fatal miscalculation in letting Alfonso Soriano get away for absolutely nothing, leaving the franchise having to sign guys like Pedro Astacio.

The Nationals rotation includes John Patterson (who because of injury pitched in only eight games in 2006) Shawn Hill (who has had a good spring, but because of injury pitched in only six games in 2006 and none in 2005) and Jason Simontacchi (who hasn't pitched in the major leagues since 2004). Throw in rookie Matt Chico and converted reliever Jason Bergmann and you have more fun than a barrel of Expos. It's so bad that the Nationals may consider bringing up pitching prospect Collin Balester before he's ready.

The bullpen features closer Chad Cordero, and the big and tall twins: Jon Rauch (tall) and Ray King (big). If the starters can ever get these guys a lead they may not be half bad. But if (when?) the Nationals fall out of the race, Cordero may be dealt for prospects...although considering how they handled the Soriano fiasco that's not a given.

Between Ryan Zimmerman, Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez (and maybe Dmitri Young, who is the new first baseman until Nick Johnson returns from his gruesome injury at Shea Stadium last season), the Nationals should have just enough firepower to steal some games against the more mediocre N.L. teams and keep them from entering the territory of the 1962 Mets. But there just isn't enough on this team to give them a realistic chance of being a Marlins' type surprise.

I just hope that Manny Acta's legacy as manager isn't judged on how this depleted roster performs for him. It just wouldn't be fair.

Prediction: Fifth place, 61-101


Mike said...

Zimmerman, Codero, and (a healthy) Patterson could steal a game here & there. Keep Zim away from Wags if the game is close.

We're still a week away from opening day and I think he's already taken Wags deep twice.

Anonymous said...

52 wins tops. The talk here in DC is that they are 5-10 years away from competiting.

The Nationals and their fans can not wait for the new Ballpark in 2008. I guess when you have nothing to cheer for on the field you cheer for the field itself.

Anonymous said...

THe nationals are a prime example of how liberalism fails in washington! totla failures!

Anonymous said...

Hey, anonymous anti-liberal guy---
1. You're boring.
2. All of your douchebag posts
have spelling errors in them.
Perhaps you should worry more
about your inability to spell
check. Liberals are the least
of your worries, trust me.
3. Yuck. Go away. You don't belong
here. You're like a turd
floating in a clear blue

Coop said...

Good call Mike. Nats are not on the top of my list for threatening teams, but can be scrappy like the Marlins were last year, esp towards the end.
I Heart Manny Acta though.

I.M. Forme said...

i have no proof of this, but a gypsy told me that Manny Acta was the worst Mets 3rd base coach in recorded history.

Anonymous said...

I hear Dmitri Young was signed to play 1B for an injured Nick Johnson ... he's a good guy and I hope he pulls it together.

Anonymous said...

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