Washington Nationals (59-103, last place in NL East)
Manny Acta managed 87 games before getting the boot. Jesus Flores, Christian Guzman and others suffered injuries. Adam Dunn looked lost in the outfield. The woes were endless. Heck, they couldn’t even spell their name right.
The one bright spot for the Nationals was Ryan Zimmerman, who earned a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in 2009. The 24-year old third baseman batted .292 with an .888 on-base plus slugging percentage.
Although it was very painful to watch the Nationals last season, there is reason to believe that the Nationals won’t be as terrible as they were in the past.
The 2010 Season
It’s so easy to write off the Nationals. They aren’t going to contend this year, and perhaps not for a few more. However, the Nationals always seem to be that pesky team that doesn’t quit and gives up a good fight — at least it seems that way when the play the Phillies.
The Nationals are young, but they added a veteran presence. The Nationals signed Jason Marquis, Ivan Rodriguez, Chein-Ming Wang, and Adam Kennedy. While none of these moves are hugely significant, they could change the vibe of the clubhouse, which no longer include Lastings Milledge or Elijiah Dukes.
The new veterans could certainly help out some of the younger and talented players. Ian Desmond has a lot of potential, and earned the starting shortstop job this spring. In addition, the speedy centerfielder Nyjer Morgan is capable of stealing 50 bases, or more.
Although Stephen Strasburg did not break camp, there’s a great chance that he could be in the Nationals’ starting rotation by June. Strasburg impressed this spring, and many said that they’ve never seen the ball explode out of a pitcher’s hand like Strasburg.
As of now, the Nationals’ one-two punch is Jason Marquis and John Lannan, who has improved throughout his career.
While Strasburg is the organization’s biggest pitching prospect, Drew Storen should not be overlooked. The reliever has closer potential and could be called up this season.
For now, the Nationals will go with Matt Capps as their closer, who will attempt to rebound from a poor season with the Pirates.
The Nationals aren’t ready for contention this year, but may in about two or three years. And if they draft Bryce Harper in this year’s draft — look out!