Since the franchise’s move to the Nation’s capital in 2005, the Washington Nationals have had relatively quiet off-seasons. In 2010, the Nats bucked that trend in a big way.
Gone are Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham and their unsightly attempts at defense. In are the smooth-fielding Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche.
If Ian Desmond and Nyjer Morgan can play up to their potential defensively, Washington should be one of the better defensive teams in the NL.
With the additions of Rick Ankiel, Jerry Hairston Jr., and Matt Stairs to Mike Morse and Wilson Ramos, the Nats may finally have a bench they can count on.
The National’s have had bullpen problems since that magical 2005 season, but 2011 looks to be the end of that nightmarish run.
The Nats’ already lethal triumvirate of Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, and Sean Burnett has been bolstered by the arrival of the flame-throwing Henry Rodriguez, who seems to have solved the control problems that plagued him in Oakland.
And don’t underestimate the recoveries of Jordan Zimmermann and Jason Marquis. After missing nearly all of last year with injuries, the two talented hurlers could be like found money in 2011.
If Livan Hernandez and John Lannan can pick up where they left off in 2010, the Nationals may have one of the deepest staffs in all of baseball.
Unfortunately, those are gigantic ifs.
For all the moves that Nationals did make, there was just as many that they failed to get done.
The team still lacks a top of the line starting pitcher, despite the best efforts of GM Mike Rizzo. And the Nationals will struggle to fill the power void left by big Adam Dunn.
Make no mistake, while the Nationals will be improved, they will still struggle to win 80 games in 2011.
But it should be fun to watch, despite the absence of a Mr. Strasburg. But fear not, he’ll be back in 2012—with his friend Bryce.