NL East: Shaken Up – Part 3: The Washington Nationals

The Good:

There are certainly SOME brightspots for DC: Nick Johnson is a very good player, putting up a .290 BA, 23 HRs, 77 RBIs, and posting 110 walks (second in NL). At third base Ryan Zimmerman has a very bright future (think David Wright but on a REAL bad team), with a 2006 of 110 RBI and a .287 BA in his first full season. The Nats have just resigned Austin Kearns and actually got pretty good value, considering the free agent market, and Chad Cordero’s a pretty good closer (former All-Star), converting 29 of 33 opportunities. John Patterson has nasty stuff, just ask his glove. Um…they’re not the Expos anymore?

The Bad:

Where to begin? This team has more problems then Marion Berry’s administration. How they managed to NOT trade Alfonso Soriano last year completely escapes me. After being a leadoff man and openly swinging for the fences everytime he was up to pump up his numbers, you think they might have gotten the idea. Their pitching without John Patterson is atrocious–anytime your “best” pitcher from ’06, Ramon Ortiz, is posting 11-16 with a 5.57 ERA, you know there’s problems. They had exactly three pitchers get more than twenty starts, none of them within a sniff of a winning record. Their bullpen is miserable. They were outscored last year by nearly 130 runs, and have now lost their best offensive player to free agency. This may be the worst team in the majors.

The Bottom Line:

To say the Nationals are in a rebuild mode is like saying Curt Schilling is a publicity whore. What they should be focused on doing is taking a page out of the Marlins’ playbook–know you’re going to suck but meanwhile stockpile assets for the next couple of years. Unfortunately, the Nationals team salary is 4x what the Marlins’ was last year, not to mention that the rest of the NL East is getting better, cramming Washington into baseball’s basement.

Prediction: 5th, 59-103

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