The Nationals are a baseball team. They are not the national team however, that would have to be the Yankeesâ€¦some might say the Cubsâ€¦but it is definitely not the Nationals who lost more games than anyone in baseball last year. My favorite team plays the Washington Nationals 19 times a year. Out of those 19 games I expect to win 16 or so. These are all indirect ways of saying the Washington Nationals are a franchise with some problems.
The Nationals were the Expos. Wait let me backupâ€¦Before that, Iâ€™m told the Nationals played in Washington D.C. and then moved to Minnesota to become the Twins. A new team was founded in Washington and called themselvesâ€¦the Nationals. They stayed for awhile and then moved to Texas to become the Rangers. The Expos were their own team, and decided to move to Washington to becomeâ€¦thatâ€™s rightâ€¦the Nationals. Itâ€™s all very confusing, but if youâ€™re a Nationalâ€™s fanâ€¦well maybe you should prepare yourself for an eventual move because this marriage of team and town seems to be a fleeting one at best.
But there is promise in the Nationals organization. They have been relatively bad for some time, and have been able to parlay that badness into high draft picks. This past year, the Nationals selected Stephen Strasburg (Cy Young reincarnated) with the first pick of the first round. Stephen Strasburg throws the ball 214 miles per hour. Or 100 miles per hour. One of those two. He has some pretty terrifying secondary pitches. He likes to smile.3
Stephen Strasburg, as well as the first pick of this coming yearâ€™s draft, are supposed to be the twin pillars of the Nationals franchise in the coming decade.
But thatâ€™s tomorrows news. Letâ€™s look at whatâ€™s happening today in the nationâ€™s capitol.
UTL â€“ Willie Harris, Ian Desmond, Jesus Flores
Closer â€“ Matt Capps
The reality is that the Nationals will be able to field a really respectable everyday lineup. Morgan is a fine leadoff hitter and has the ability to swipe maybe 40 bases. Adam Dunn is a lock to hit 40 home runs with 100 RBI. Cristian Guzman usually has about 175 singles at the end of every year. Pudge, Willingham, and Kennedy are all solid veterans that can help a locker room cope with losing 95+ games.
Ryan Zimmerman is the star of the team and after a 2009 that saw him compile a .292/30/106 lineâ€¦as well as a 30 game hitting streak, Nationals fans have to be excited that the team has an All Star locked up for the foreseeable future.
But back to that losing 95+ games bitâ€¦The Natâ€™s pitching staffâ€”while Iâ€™m sure are a bunch of nice guysâ€”is going to really struggle in that division this year. The Phillies, Mets, Braves and Marlins all boast fastball killer lineups. And thatâ€™s what the Nationals have. A bunch of pitchers that throw fastballs that donâ€™t move so fast.
Marquis is a great third or fourth starter on a playoff bound team, but heâ€™s no ace. Lannan is really aided by their huge stadium, but he quietly posted nice numbers last year. Scott Olsen looks to regain some of the promise he showed in Florida while Craig Stammen and J.D. Martin are two gentlemen I couldnâ€™t pick out of a lineupâ€¦and I watch this team 10 or 15 times a year. Washingtonâ€™s other young Zimmerman, Jordan, will miss the 2010 season following surgery to his pitching arm. If youâ€™re a home run ball collector, you could have a worse business plan than buying season tickets in the left field seats this summer.
Matt Capps had varying levels of success as Pittsburghâ€™s closer over the last few years, but heâ€™s probably not going to surprise anyone this year. If he notches 30 saves…it’s a good year.
The real story in Washington is when will Strasburg arrive, and how will he do against major league hitters? If you havenâ€™t seen his stuff, take a look at this. Those college kids look like theyâ€™re swinging blindfolded up there, but who knows what major league hitters will do against him…
Team MVP â€“ Zimmermanâ€¦heâ€™s simply their best player on offense or defense and he should improve upon last yearâ€™s legitimate breakout campaign
X-Factor â€“ Again itâ€™s Strasburgâ€¦if he comes up in the early summer months and dominates, fans in Washington will give the team a free pass for another season or two
Standings â€“ 5th in the NL East