Saturday, December 1, 2012

Washington D.C. Nationals Season 21 Outlook

Season 20
Won/Loss (place in division) & Playoffs: 85-77 (3rd), missed playoffs
Offense: 749 runs (6th)
Pitching:  3.74 ERA (7th)

Major Changes
FA Departures:
  C Cory Lindblom, RP Jesus Olivares, SP Eduardo Solano, SP Chico Nunez, 2B Clay Lee, OF Jacque Cornelius
FA Signees: 3B Max (like my contract) Gutierrez (re-signed), SS Cozy Mashore, LR Luis Cruz, C Ronn Mahomes, C Carlton Reitz, OF Bo Hines
Acquired via trade:  SP Matthew Casey
Promoted:  IF Trent Jenkins (Sea 17 #52 overall)

Season 21 OutlookYou gotta give GM chase39 credit for being willing to make the big move.  He pulled off the biggest trade of the off-season, netting ace SP Matthew Casey, then opened the wallet to sign Max Gutierrez with the richest FA contract in a year full of rich ones.  Is it enough in the NL East, where all 3 of his competitors made aggressive moves?

Gutierrez is the big dog of the Nats' offense...looks like he'll man 2B full-time this year.  He's ably complimented in the power department by 1B Sandy Quinn (.275/35/138), 3B Joaquin Guzman (.264/33/94), CF Wallace Savage (.262/26/86) and RF Bo Hines (.313/26/104 with Atlanta).  200+ HR's is a distinct possibility.

The leadoff spot likely belongs to Tomas Pascual, who seemingly started his career in the Carter administration.  The ratings are starting to fall pretty fast, but he might have enough left for 1 more .300 season.

Casey joins Albert Velazquez to form one of the most formidable 1-2 punches at the front of any rotation.  Ernie Pittinger, Quinton Sadler and Louie Valdez are quietly effective at the back end. 

Herman Mahler saved 33 of 37 opportunities last year, but also presided over 10 losses.  He may start the season as the closer, but don't expect a lot of patience if he falters.  Lariel Blanco established himself as the iron-horse successor to Olivares after coming over in trade.  He posted a sterling 2.34 ERA in 132 innings of work.  Geoff Bonds and Irv Daniels didn't see a lot of action - they might be tested more severely this year.

Overall, this team looks really good.  The staff is likely to be a little tougher, and the offense is already pretty good.  The bad news is the Mets, Pirates and Phillies are all probably better, too.   Good chance we'll see 3 playoff teams from the East.

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