Ladies and Gentlemen: Your 2011 Washington Nationals

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, January 05, 2011 | | 10 comments »

With the Washington Nationals signing of 1B Adam LaRoche yesterday, the Nats have essentially solidified their lineup for next season.  Really.  All that's left is to pick up a right-handed hitting utility player for the bench.

Despite all the national media insisting the Nats are still "in" on Carl Pavano, GM Mike Rizzo told Tom Boswell the other day the Nats haven't spoken with the free agent starter since the Winter Meetings. 
"I hear we are 'the finalist' along with the Twins," said Rizzo, acerbically. "We've never spoken to Pavano and we haven't talked to his agent since the winter meetings."
So unless Rizzo can pull off a trade for his coveted front of the rotation starter, the Nats are probably done acquiring impact players this off-season.

Here's how the roster looks at this point.

LINEUP
CF Nyjer Morgan.  Get used to it.
SS Ian Desmond.  Look for his error total to drop this season due to maturity, not 1B defense.
3B Ryan Zimmerman.  Forget protection, Zim is merely entering the prime of his career.
1B Adam LaRoche.  Not a traditional cleanup hitter, but breaks up a bunch of right-handed bats.
RF Jayson Werth.  Expected to be "The Man" for the first time in his career. Is he up to it?
LF Roger Bernadina. Left-handed hitting part of left field platoon, with better defense.
2B Danny Espinosa.  Will win a Gold Glove if he gets 500 at bats.
C Pudge Rodriguez.  Trudging his way toward 3000 hits.

BENCH
OF Michael Morse.  Will platoon with Bernie.  Good pop off bench. Suited for this role.
OF Rick Ankiel.  Nyjer Morgan insurance.  Can play all three OF spots credibly.  Great throwing arm.
INF Alberto Gonzalez.  The General plays every infield spot--best infield arm on the team. Can't hit a lick.
C Jesus Flores or Wilson Ramos.  The most interesting battle in spring training.
TBD Do the Nats use the last position player spot on PH Deluxe Matt Stairs, or find another utility guy?

STARTERS
RHSP Livan Hernandez.  Livo is your opening day starter.  Book it.
LHSP John Lannan.  Hopefully he really did figure something out during his minor league stint. K rate up in second half.
RHSP Jordan Zimmermann.  A full off-season working out instead of re-habbing and normal spring will do him wonders.
RHSP Jason Marquis.  His spot to lose.  Nats must hope he resembles old self and can flip him at deadline.
TBD Final starter spot open to competition. Maya (DWL Pitcher of the Year), Gaudin, Mock, Martin, Detwiler all candidates

BULLPEN
CL Drew Storen.  In reality, Manager Jim Riggleman will probably start with committee.
RHSU Tyler Clippard.  Hopefully being overworked last season wion't have negative impact, but watch for injury.
LHSU  Sean Burnett.  Relievers are volatile, but Burnett was very solid last season.
RHRP Craig Stammen.  Does what he's told.
LHRP Doug Slaten.  He's still with the team?
RHRP Henry Rodriguez.  100-MPH fastball will see plenty of innings.
RHRP Collin Balester.  Was impressive in late 2010 callup, as long as he doesn't make a habit of falling off the mound.

10 comments

  1. DetectiveTragg // January 5, 2011 at 12:00 PM  

    Let the show begin!

  2. Sec314 // January 5, 2011 at 2:07 PM  

    I'd rather they sign David Eckstein and show Alberto Gonzalez the door.

  3. bdrube // January 5, 2011 at 2:19 PM  

    Well, if Maya lives up to expectations coming out of winter ball and there is a minimum of injuries they COULD make a run at .500.

  4. Anonymous // January 6, 2011 at 1:05 AM  

    "2B Danny Espinosa. Will win a Gold Glove if he gets 500 at bats."
    -->Really? That's a lofty goal especially for someone that media sources refers to has perchant for making errors.

  5. David // January 6, 2011 at 1:10 AM  

    you forgot Wang as a potential 5th starter. if he's healthy going into Spring Training he's our #1 or #2. he's got the best track record of anyone on the staff. by far. i guess Livo would be #2.

  6. Dave Nichols // January 6, 2011 at 1:55 PM  

    @anon: can you gove me some links where Espinosa's defense has been critizing as you imply? twice he's been voted in the minor leagues as having best range and best arm of the league.

    @David: I didn't forget about Wang. I excluded him because until I see him on a mound in spring training facing major leaguers and getting them out, I am assuming he's still damaged goods.

    thanks all for your comments!

  7. Anonymous // January 6, 2011 at 4:59 PM  

    "A scout I talked to last month in Philadelphia said Espinosa's athleticism is just a hair behind Desmond's, though both players have a penchant for making errors."

    http://www.masnsports.com/the_goessling_game/2010/09/espinosa-appears-to-be-on-his-way-to-the-nationals.html

  8. Dave Nichols // January 6, 2011 at 5:11 PM  

    @anon: thanks. i appreciate the link. one anonymous scout's take isn't enough to change my opinion, but I appreciate your input.

  9. kfoutah // January 8, 2011 at 4:45 AM  

    The knocks on Espinosa's defense all come from him playing SS. His minor league error numbers at the position show that. There isn't a word that can be said against him at second base because most scouts haven't seen him there. But our eyeballs, and sabermetric stats point out that Espinosa is an extraordinary second baseman, and should be in the GG conversation if he plays like he did in September all year. He posted a UZR of 2.1 in a month (which is what an average 2b produces over the course of an entire season.) and his UZR/150 is 13.3, which is ridiculously high.

  10. Anonymous // January 10, 2011 at 12:01 PM  

    In 25 games at 2B (not Short) in 2010 with the Nats, 211.1 innings and 131 Total Chances, Espinosa had a Fielding Percentage of 1.000 Since I realize that's not a number Nats fans are used to seeing when viewing defensive stats, that means he was perfect... :)
    DaveB