DUD MLB Preview: Washington Nationals

nationals

by Tommy Gimler

Davey Johnson said last week the Nationals should fire him if they don’t make the playoffs. So, do we start making a list of 2013 Nationals managerial candidates now?

I get the optimism in the Nationals clubhouse. I mean, how excited must catcher Wilson Ramos be to play some baseball? Hell, how excited must he be to do anything? An offseason kidnapping by Venezuelan gunmen will do that. The real question is, who is the poor bastard that has to room with him this spring? I can’t imagine those flashbacks being a treat at 4am.

There is a different feeling in the nation’s capital, however. No longer do fans come to the ballpark to watch Teddy Roosevelt lose another Presidents Race. The team is young, talented, and exciting to watch. Bryce Harper will spend most of the season with the big boys, and he’s only 19 years old. Think about that. When I was 19, I was crapping quarters I had accidentally swallowed the night before.

The Nationals are going to need Harper’s bat. Last season’s squad ranked 24th in runs scored, 24th in RBI, 27th in batting average, and 23rd in OPS. The good news is that those numbers really have no where to go but up.

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman spent most of 2011 battling an abdominal injury, and he has entered spring training much healthier and wealthier. Many thought the Nationals overpaid for Jayson Werth, but few saw the turd season coming that Werth turned in a year ago. He might never reach his Philadelphia stats, but his numbers will improve in every category.

2011 wasn’t all bad offensively for the Nationals. Michael Morse exploded onto the scene with a .303, 31 HR, 95 RBI campaign. Second baseman Danny Espinosa finished with 21 HR but did register the Rob Deer-esque 166 K’s.

By now you have heard of Stephen Strasburg unless you are deaf. Even if the Nationals are in the pennant race, Strasburg’s innings will be capped at 160. But those 160 innings are going to be phenomenal.

GM Mike Rizzo brought in Gio Gonzalez from Oakland as a solid number 2 and signed Edwin Jackson to a one-year deal to be the number 3. Jordan Zimmermann had an innings cap last year similar to Strasburg’s, and he could be an amazing surprise for a staff that finished last season 7th in ERA, 5th in fewest HR allowed, 5th in saves, and 12th in WHIP. They also allowed the 3rd fewest stolen bases.

The Nationals could be leading the NL East at the end of April with 13 games against the worst teams in baseball (they get the Cubs right away). They do get six interleague games against Baltimore, but 12 against the Yanks, Sox, Jays, and Rays could make for a brutal June. And if the Nationals are going to grab one of those wild card slots, they are going to have to earn it. Their final 19 games are against the Braves, Dodgers, Brewers, Cardinals, and Phillies.

The DUD Says: The Washington Nationals will be one of the most exciting teams to watch this season, and they will enjoy their first winning season since moving to D.C. Next to the Phillies, they have the best pitching in the NL East. Last year’s offense was worse than an Eddie Murphy flick, and they still won 80 games. They’ll win more than that, but it’s not their time yet. Oh, and they won’t fire Davey Johnson.

2012 record: 85-77 (2nd place, NL East)

Vegas Says: 81 wins (4th place, NL East)

Donnie Warts Says: Jesus. I’m eating. Look for them to win 85 games this season. Just a hair better than last year. Philly and Atlanta are just too tough for them. That’s all I got to say about that. My potatoes are getting cold.

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2 Responses to DUD MLB Preview: Washington Nationals

  1. From my blurry view at the RedPorch, they look like they’re going all the way this season…

  2. Also, you gotta know that there have been many incidents where Teddy was in the drivers seat and the victory was snatched away from him. One time the Baltimore Oriole jumped out of the crowd along the 1st base wall and tackled Teddy when he was a good 40 feet ahead of TJ, Abe and GW…it’s simply not fair…

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