Washington Nationals

 

2006 Finish: 71-91, last place in the NL West, 26 games back

Manager: Manny Acta, first year as manager

Comings: LF Chris Snelling, C Jesus Flores, 2B Ronnie Belliard, 1B Dmitri Young

Goings:  LF Alfonso Soriano, RF Jose Guillen, RHP Tony Armas, Jr., 2B Jose Vidro, RHP Zach Day, RHP Ramon Ortiz,

Offense:  As one Washingtonian might say, “This team stinks!” .  The offense is really bad with a couple exceptions.  3B Ryan Zimmerman was one of the top rookies in baseball and one of the most exciting young players in either league.  Last year he hit .287 with 20 HRs and 110 RBIs.  Their next best offensive player is 1B Nick Johnson and he is out with a broken leg.  There is still uncertainty on his return date.  Outfielders Ryan Church and Austin Kearns are both talented young players who lack consistency.  CF Nook Logan was taken off the retread pile from the Tigers.  2B Felipe Lopez is a fast and exciting player but is not really suited to hit leadoff.  He struck out 126 times last year.  SS Christian Guzman is coming off injury and has been a disappointment since signing with the Nationals. I really could see Lopez sliding over to short and former Cardinal Ronnie Belliard taking over at second.  C Brian Schneider was terrible with the bat last year, slugging .329.  C Jesus Flores is an interesting pick up from the Mets.  A Rule 5 Draft Pick, the Mets did not protect him because they figured no one would want to carry a third catcher.  But the Nationals system is so poor and the team so bad, the Nationals are going to take a shot with the young backstop.  LF Chris Snelling was brought over from Seattle in the Jose Vidro trade.  He has always been able to rake, but he has never been able to stay healthy.

Rotation:  RHP John Patterson is the leader of the staff and he only made 8 starts before undergoing forearm surgery last year.  He has 17 career wins.  Former Cardinal Jason Simontacchi has pitched fairly well in spring training compared to the rest of the canidates and looks to have possibly won a job.  The other canidates are:  RHP Tim Redding, RHP Jerome Williams, LHP Mike O’Connor, LHP Matt Chico, RHP Shawn Hill, etc.

Bullpen:  The bullpen does have some bright spots.  RHP Chad Cordero is one of the top young closer in the majors.  He will turn 25 on Sunday and already has 91 career saves.  RHP 6’11” Jon Rauch has become a solid setup man.  He appeared in 85 games and posted a 3.35 ERA.  RHP Luis Ayala missed all of 2006 but has an ERA of 2.75 in 214 career games.  Former Cardinal LHP Ray King is hoping to get his career back on track.  His weight is an issue as normal.  RHP Ryan Wagner was a highly regarded draft pick of the Reds who has yet to put it together.  He needs to work off his fastball more.

Prospects:

Chris Marrero-LF-Considered the top high school player in the country going into the 2006 season. Fell to 15th overall in the draft after a poor senior season.  Spent his high school career at 3B, but Washington is already set there so the Nationals moved him to left.  Crushed multiple homers at RFK during a workout for Jim Bowden during his last year of high school.  Has the power potential to eventually bat cleanup behind Zimmerman.

Analysis:  The only reason to watch this team is to watch the further development of Zimmerman.  The Nationals should compete for the top pick of the 2008 draft.

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