Lack of clutch plays continue to plague Nationals

After enduring a tougher than anticipated extended West Coast road trip where the Nationals finished up 4-6 on the 10 game swing, coming home to the Eastern Time Zone and completing arguably the toughest part of their schedule for the season, this team is in need of a jolt of energy. Collectively, this team has not hit or fielded the way a playoff contender should and after the 1/3rd mark of the season, this must change and in a hurry.

@ San Francisco Giants – May 20th – 23

In quite possiibly the biggest litmus test of the young season, The Nats had to travel to the picturesque AT&T Park to face the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants shorthanded in the starting rotation as Ross Detweiler missed his scheduled start on Monday with back spasms.  That proved to be a bad omen as Left-handed reliever Zack Duke lasted just 3 1/3 innings in the spot start as the Nats were shut out for the 6th time this season, this time 8-0 . Duke allowed four runs and seven hits in his first start of the year. In Wednesday’s matchup, the team wasted another sterling effort from Stephen Strasburg, who has come out of the slight slump from earlier this year striking out seven and allowing only  five hits in 7 innings. He retired 14 of the final 15 batters — six on strikeouts — and never allowed a runner past first in his last five innings yet the bullpen blew the lead in the 9th as Raphael Soriano blew the save on a defensive gaffe by Bryce Harper let a catchable ball fall bracing for impact of the wall where he was no where near.  Call it being shell shocked from his horrific crash last week.  Yunesky Maya (who was finally designated for assignment by the team on Friday) ended the game by giving up a massive two run homer to Pablo Sandoval completing the Giant comeback, with the 4-2 win.  In the 3rd game of the series, Bryce Harper had his hand in all of the winning plays in a 2-1 victory in 10 innings.  He made the game saving diving grab in the 8th inning and had 2 huge hits including his 12th HR of the season and a 1 out double in the 10th while scoring the winning run on Ian Desmond’s RBI single.

Home vs Philadelphia Phillies  May 25-25

Finally home and able to sleep in the comforts of their respective beds, The archrival Philadelphia Phillies and their sickening fans invade Nats Park for a 3 game set.  In the 1st game Jordan Zimmermann continued what has become his breakout season with another sterling performance in becoming the 1st 8 game winner in the National League giving up only 2 runs which actually RAISED his ERA to 1.71 in a 5-2 win.  Raphael Soriano saved his 2nd consecutive game to give him 14 for the season.  In Saturday’s game, Dan Haren pitched well enough to win, but Drew Storen’s inconsistencies appeared again as he surrendered the losing runs in the 8th inning as Philly defeated the Nats by the count of 5-3.  Drew’s ineffectiveness is most certainly a mental block that he, as a young pitcher, must overcome for this team to really reach maximum effectiveness.

Player of the Week

Ryan Zimmerman – 6 Hits, 1 HR, 4 RBIs and NO ERRORS

 

Next Week’s Schedule

A weird schedule quirk as the Battle of the Beltway commences with 2 games at Nats Park then 2 games at Orioles Park at Camden Yards.  After those games, a 3 games set at the 1st place Atlanta Braves.

A winning streak then a headscratching loss highlights the Nats week

 

“Untuck Em!”

 

If you were to go into this week under .500,   in 3rd place in the division and not really clicking on any cylinders on the field THEN you go out and win 5 in a row, 7 of 8 but lose Saturday’s game, to only place 1 game behind the 1st place Atlanta Braves, most fans would take that right?  But when that one loss brings up all of the losing characteristics that have plagued the team this season such as ANOTHER throwing error by Ryan Zimmermann (which of course lead to the losing runs), Stephen Strasburg  collapsing after that said error (again), and just not enough offense to compete, you have a fan base thats slightly concerned.

The week started off with 2nd year power bat, Tyler Moore shaking off a poor start to his season with a 3 Run HR in the 8th inning as the Nats defeated the Pirates in Pittsburgh by the score of 6-2.  Danny Espinosa homered and drove in three runs and Gio Gonzalez (3-2) won for just the third time in seven starts after winning 21 games last season.  The team had a day off on Monday in preparation for a 2 game Interleague set vs Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers. Luckily for the Nats, they would not face the two best pitchers on their rotation in former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and the undefeated Max Scherzer.  Tuesday’s game would be cancelled by rain which pushed the matchup of Jordan Zimmermann and Nats killer Anibal Sanchez ,  who was 8-0 with a 1.97 ERA in 19 starts against the Nationals while with the Marlins, to Wednesday.  Zimmermann continued his Cy Young pace after pitching 17 shutout innings in his prior two starts, the right-hander allowed one run in seven innings in a 3-1 win .  Bryce Harper connected with his team leading 10th HR of the season. In the finale on Thursday, Dan Haren nearly squandered a four-run lead as Washington’s three relievers had identical lines, each giving up a hit and striking out a batter in an inning in a 5-4 triumph, the teams 4th in a row.  Adam LaRoche seems to have worked his way out of his April slump with 2 hits for his 1st back to back multi-hit games of the year. LaRoche has eight hits in his last 14 at-bats, raising his average from .129 through May 1 to .196.  Rapael Soriano sewed up his 12th save in 13 chances.

A three game set vs the Chicago Cubs would bring back former Nats star Alfonso Soriano, who in his 1 season here in DC holds almost all single season batting records including HRs, Slugging Percentage and Extra Base Hits.  The one player on the roster that will probably be the guy to eventually bring down all of those records, Bryce Harper, did not play in Friday’s or Saturday’s game because of an ingrown toe nail (ouch!!!).  Also sitting out would be Jayson Werth, who has been hampered with a hamstring and would eventually be placed on the Disabled List on Saturday.  Neither of those players would be missed a bunch on Friday as Ian Desmond continued his torrid ways with 3 hits including a 2-run HR and a RBI double. Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki each drove in a pair of runs with a double, helping Washington beat the Chicago Cubs 7-3 for its seventh victory in the past eight games.  Ross Detweiler wasnt his sharpest, but did enough to earn his second win of the season.
Saturday’s aformentioned game continued a bad streak (Strasburg’s losing streak, now at 5), ended the team’s 5 game streak (longest of the season) with a disheartening 8-2 loss.  Ian Desmond had 3 hits again as he has developed into one of the games best shortstops and a keeper for this franchise for years to come.  We are seeing a true leader blossoming on and off the field before our very eyes.

 

Player of the Week:

Ian Desmond – 8 hits in 5 games which included 2 doubles, 2 HRs and 6 RBI’s. He also added a Stolen Base as well.

 

Next Week’s Schedule:

The Nats embark on their 1st extended West Coast road trip as they land in Los Angeles on Monday for a 3 game set, then on to San Diego for 4 gamer which concludes on Sunday

 

2013 Washington Nationals Season Preview

“The truth is you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed.”  – Eminem

Werth’s 9th inning Walk-off in Game 4

This could be the mantra for this years Washington Nationals.  What a difference a year makes.  Going into last season, we all knew they were going to shut down Strasburg in September, a possible Bryce Harper call up in September and genuine hopes of competing for a Wild Card birth towards the end of the season.  What we did get was the best season anyone could have asked for….97 Wins and the best record in the sport, Gio Gonzales winning over 20 games and finishing 2nd in the Cy Young voting, Davey Johnson winning Manager of the Year, Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond with career seasons while winning Silver Slugger awards and the 1st NL East Division title in Team History.  The season ended in heartbreak with a Game 5 9th inning debacle of a loss that hopefully fuels this year’s team for the extended playoff run that most prognosticators envision.

General Manager Mike Rizzo has put together what renowed baseball writer Peter Gammons has called a “SuperPower for years to come” on the MLB Network, Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine has the Nats as the World Series Champion in their respective Preseason predictions, and there is a fervor never seen in DC for this team and rightly so, the Nats are loaded in almost every aspect of the game.  One position of need Rizzo fixed in the offseason was acquiring a slick fielding leadoff guy to play CF, that man is Denard Span formerly of the Minnesota Twins.  His acquisition now moves Game 4 walkoff hero Jayson Werth down to the #2 spot in the batting order and moves 2012 Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper to RF which will alleviate some pressure off the 20 year old to learn a premium defensive position (although he did very well there last year obviously).  Ryan Zimmerman hopes to improve on his masterful 2nd half last year (aka After The Shot), along with All-Star SS Ian Desmond, with the improvement of defensive dynamo Danny Espinoza along with newly resigned Adam LaRoche, the infield may be the most balanced in all of the game.  The Catcher platoon of Kurt Suzuki and the return of Jesus Flores shores up the position.  The lineup 1-8 could have 5 or 6 guys that hit for 20+ HRs.   Harper is the crown jewel of the lineup and after having possibly the greatest individual season a teenager has ever had in the the game, HUGE numbers are being mentioned (like 30+ 100+ RBIs).  Im not thinking THAT big yet because this team is just so stacked, but if he was to have one of those type of season, do not be surprised.  Its a reason he was drafted #1 Overall and given the nickname “The Baseball Lebron”.  Just like Lebron has done in the NBA, he plays the game the right way and you may want to hate him, but once you watch him play the game with the wreckless abondon he shows every game, you cant help but cheer for the kid.

2013 = 1st Full Season of The Phenoms….World Series or Bust?

We know, we know….Strasburg was shut down and who knows what could have happened if he pitched in the playoffs…I know one thing, the guy who took his place in the rotation in the series vs the Cardinals, was BY FAR the best pitcher in the series.  That guy is Ross Detweiler, the player I expect to improve the most this season, which means the Nats again will have the best rotation in the sport.  The only reason Detweiler isnt the 4th starter after Edwin Jackson moved on in the offseason, is the acquisition of veteran Dan Haren to man that spot.  Haren along with Jordan Zimmerman, Gio and a FULL SEASON OF STRASBURG makes opposing managers quiver in their boots, as it should.  One portion of the roster that has perennially been the most solid has been the bullpen and this year shouldn’t be any different.  When you can toss out names such as Craig Stammen, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and new closer Rafael Soriano to close out games, more times than not, this team is gonna win….and win big.

Last year, I expected the team to win 81-84 games, this season, I can easily see the team matching the 98 wins of last year, and even eclipsing that mark.  Health and expectations will be the key, last year, the Nats were the Hunters, this year, they are the Hunted….how will the veterans on the team lead this team full of kids….will Davey Johnson push the right buttons? Will Drew Storen forget about last season’s last game and remember the form he had in the month of September….I say YES to all of these questions and I predict a Divisional Crown and a trip to at least the National League Championship series…..and yes they will bring home the first Major Sports Championship in this city in over 22 years!

Natitude…….

2012 Year In Review

2012 aka The Greatest Year in My Adult Sporting Fandom! LOL (I know, I know I’m a couple of days late….sue me! LOL)

With Robert Griffin III and The Redskins making the playoffs this season, people have easily forgotten how great of a season its been for ALL DC Sports fans.  Two Divisional Titles with epic performances from the young, old and obscure made this a classic year.

 

Bryce Harper

The Nationals were the best team in baseball virtually the whole 2nd half of the season (Record-wise).  The early call-up of rookie phenom (and eventual Rookie of the Year) Bryce Harper energized a fan base who early on wondered would the early success last especially with the lack of offense, injuries to Ryan Zimmerman, “Beast Mode” Michael Morse, Jesus Flores, Drew Storen and Jayson Werth (and eventually Breakout Star Ian Desmond would be lost for a month later in the season).  Davey Johnson and staff did a helluva job with the pitching staff, who was outstanding throughout the long campaign.  Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzales both made the All Star team as did the aforementioned Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper.  Ryan Zimmerman took “The Corizone Shot from God” and came back with numbers that would have made him an MVP candidate.  Our REAL MVP candidate was Adam LaRoche, who after an injury filled 2011, came back with a vengeance.  He displayed Gold Glove winning defense and Silver Slugger winning power.  He stabilized what became the biggest improvement of the team during the resurgence to respectability, the team overall defense.   The 2nd half of the season was just a joy to watch for all Nats fans and the day we clinched the Division crown was an absolute joy, one of the greatest sporting moments of my life (NEVER deleting that from the DVR!).  We didn’t go into the playoffs with our best squad with the shutdown of Strasburg and losing a couple of series going into postseason, but for me, just getting there THIS year was more than enough for me….just dont get swept LOL.  We all know what eventually happened, after Jayson Werth provided us with a DC Sports moment of the ages with the walk-off HR in the bottom of the 9th in Game 4, we eventually lost Game 5 in the bottom of the 9th off our young closer Drew Storen.  Honestly, the Cardinals played better than us throughout the series, and we walked waaaaaaaaay too many batters throughout the series that it would eventually bite us in the ass, and it did.  Regardless, The Nationals are now a major threat to win the whole thing next year (especially if we can resign LaRoche) and for years to come.  Denard Span will now man CF so Bryce Harper can become settled in at a corner outfield position along with Werth at the other.  Also coming to the team this off-season is veteran Dan Haren to become the 5th starter. If he can show us anything from his earlier years, this will be the best rotation in the league as if it wasn’t already.  Ill take Strasburg, Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detweiler (who was the best pitcher in the postseason) against any rotation in the majors today. Natitude is alive and well!

Joel Ward and teammates celebrate!

Our Capitals didnt dominate the Regular Season like we normally do, and maybe that was a good thing going into the Stanley Cup playoffs this year, finishing 7th overall in the Eastern Conference matching up with the defending Cup Champs, the Boston Bruins.  Rookie Goalie Brandon Holtby was just outstanding and Joel Ward scored a series clinching overtime goal in the 7th and deciding game.  After winning a game like that, us Caps fans thought that quite possibly the demons of Postseason’s Past could finally be exercised.  Alas they werent as we were defeated by the hated New York Rangers again in 7 games.  Coach Dale Hunter who took over in midseason after the firing of fan favorite Bruce Boudreau, declined to return for the next season and we hired (another) former Caps great in recent Hall of Famer Adam Oates to take over the reigns.  Hopefully there will be a damn season to start soon enough! LETS GET IT TOGETHER OWNERS!!!!

Not much to say about the Wizards sadly smh.  We are the worst franchise in the sport as our only two players worth a damn (John Wall and Nene) both started the season injured.  Fun Times on Fun Street!  Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton haven’t developed much at all and we have the worst record in the sport with no light at the end of the tunnel.  Thanks Ernie Grundfeld for ALL of this!

 

The Rooks!

Lastly, Our Washington Redskins.  I’m not going to write much because that’s going to go into another posting. I do want to acknowledge the fact that this team, region, fan base is re-energized.  Even if we didn’t make the playoffs this season, you could finally see that the fruits of the labor of Bruce Allen, Coach Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan and most importantly, the scouting department is finally coming to fruition.   Long gone are the days where just making the playoffs was the ultimate ceiling for the team, we can now build a true contender which one day could make “just” winning divisional titles commonplace.  HAIL!

Oh, I know this posting is about DC Sports, but I’m a HUGE Kentucky Wildcats fan….and we won that chip last year….don’t get mad at Calipari, DEAL WITH IT…”Coach YOUR team!” GO BIG BLUE!

How about those Nationals!

Hello readers!

Happy to say that I have my laptop back up and running again (Thanks to the homie Chris!) and Ive missed writing.  Ive also missed writing on a lot of different happenings in the sports world.  The Skins drafted the future savior in Heisman Trophy-winning QB Robert Griffin III, The Wizards FINALLY got rid of those immature douchebags Nick Young and Javale McGee, traded for Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza and drafted Florida freshman stud guard Bradley Beal and the Capitals lost in Game 7 in the 2nd rd of the playoffs to the New York Rangers.

Oh, and before I forget, the 2012 NCAA National Basketball Champions are none other than YOUR KENTUCKY WILDCATS! Led by Coach Calipari, we ran roughshod through the season and tourney with only 2 losses with eventual #1 draft pick Anthony Davis winning every major award you can possibly win.  We also had 5 other players drafted in this years NBA Draft (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrance Jones, Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller). Big Blue Nation is proud as hell of this team and ecstatic  to have our 8th National Title banner hanging in Rupp Arena.

But as great as all of those things are, the main reason I felt like writing is the ascension of the Washington Nationals as possibly the best team in the National League. If you would have told me that during the 1st half of the season, we would lose our starting catcher (Wilson Ramos), our closer (Drew Stanton), our best power bat (Michael Morse), our starting LF (Jayson Werth), lose 2 MORE catchers (Sandy Leon and Carlos Maldanado)  AND have our best overall player (Ryan Zimmerman) be a virtual non-factor and we would still have a CHANCE to compete for the divisional crown, I would have said you are on Bath Salts. Yet this team under the leadership of the great Davey Johnson and a pitching staff that has been simply outstanding, the team has a 4 game lead on the rest of the NL East and all eyes are on Washington for a good reason.

The starting rotation of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzales, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detweiler have exceeded the high expectations fans had coming into the season.  All 5 guys are power arms and have kept the team in games throughout the 1st half when the bats didn’t produce.  Strasburg and Gonzales earned All-Star nods for their efforts but Jordan Zimmermann could have easily earned one as well if he he were a little luckier.  This staff is good, deep and ready to make a sustained run towards the playoffs even if GM Mike Rizzo decides to shut down Strasburg at the 160-170 innings limit that is the usual norm the 1st season off of Tommy John surgery.  I understand that this team could make a run for the title this year, but I totally understand and agree with Rizzo if he shuts The Franchise down for the season.  We are equipped to make a extended run of winning, competing seasons and I would rather have a healthy Strasburg for 10 years than a tired, overworked one for this one.

Nationally, Bryce Harper has been the story and rightly so, the kid has been better than advertised while earning a All Star replacement nod as a 19 year old rookie becoming the youngest position player to ever play in the Midsummer Classic, but the most consistent player in the lineup has been the much maligned Ian Desmond.  Desi has transformed from an error prone rookie to a premier 2nd baseman and clutch hitter we all thought he could be, but with unexpected power.  He was originally chosen for the All Star game but did not have the chance to play because of an Oblique injury, which I hope doesn’t hinder an otherwise breakout season during the 2nd half because his bat is needed.

Going into the 2nd half of the season, we may see less of Strasburg but the schedule should actually be much easier than the 1st half looking at the winning percentages of the opposition. We do not have to see the AL East anymore (Thank God! LOL) and with the Phillies seemingly done for the season, we just have to worry about the Mets and Braves catching us.  I honestly don’t think the Mets have enough to keep up with us and we seem to own the Braves, so….I cant believe I’m actually typing this….but Id be damn surprised if we didn’t win the Division this season!  We start the 2nd half of the season tomorrow at Florida where we got swept earlier this year, If we can split there and then come home and continue what we’ve been doing, the DC Area should be preparing for home playoff games in October! I cant wait to watch this all unfold!

GO NATS!!!!! #Natitude

2011 Washington Nationals Season Preview

The 2010 version of the Nationals for the majority of fans meant only one thing, Stephen Strasburg.  And while he was as advertised during his 10 starts last year, he will be shelved for the 2011 season with Ligament Replacement aka “Tommy John” surgery on his right elbow.  This roster has also been revamped with a larger emphasis on the defensive side of the ball.  Gone are players such as fan favorite Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, Cristan Guzman and recently, the Nyjer Morgan experiment was deemed a failure by GM Mike Rizzo and was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers near the end of Spring Training.

Jayson Werth - The $126 Million Dollar Man

In their places are a new crop of players in which one was given a 7 year 126 Million dollar deal in former Philadelphia Phillie and World Series Champion Jayson Werth.  Most observers believe the Nats overpaid for him, but as it goes when your a team that is a perennial doormat, sometimes you may have to overpay to get top-level talent to come to your team, which I believe the case was here but that doesn’t mean he isn’t one of the best all around talents in baseball today.  He is a 5-tool (Hits for Power, average, a solid throwing arm from the field, solid Gold Glove defense and underrated base running skills) athlete and its never a bad thing to have great athletes on your roster.  Another Free Agent pickup to directly replace Adam Dunn is 1B Adam LaRoche.  He wont hit tape measure HRs as Dunn did for his 2 seasons here but he is one of the best defensive 1st basemen in baseball and his presense alone in the field should help cut down on the errors the team accumulated last season and instill a little more confidence in budding star SS Ian Desmond and rookie 2B Danny Espinoza, who replaces 2010 starter Cristan Guzman.  LaRoche also has some pop in his bat as well hitting 25 HRs and driving in 100 runs as well.

The Cornerstone of the infield, and franchise,  is the most underrated superstar in the game in 3B Ryan Zimmerman.  The perenial All Star and Silver Slugger award winner is the type of player franchises build around and this has been the case with the Nats.  He is basically guaranteed to play stellar defense, hit over .300, drive in over 100 runs and hit 30+ Hrs long as he’s healthy.  I’m sure  GM Mike Rizzo’s #1 priority (if it isnt, it should be) is to sign Zimmerman to a long, Werth-esque extension before he hits the Free Agent market after the 2012 season. The outfield will feature the aforementioned Werth, another FA pickup in Rick Ankiel and my choice for breakout player on 2011, Michael Morse, who hit 15 Hrs last season in a reduced role when he only saw action in 98 games and in this spring hit at a .361 and tied for the Major League lead with 8 spring dingers.  If that pop in his bat can translate into the Regular Season and give Manager Jim Riggleman the confidence he had in him to give him the starting job over Roger Bernadina, this could end up a special year for the Nats offense.

The pitching staff on the other hand, is a mixed bag.  You have the veteran Opening Day Starter Livan Hernandez and holdovers such as Jason Marquis who is trying to rebound from an awful 2010 campaign, John Lannan and Tom Gorzelanny who was picked up in the offseason in a trade with the Cubs as 4 of the 5 members of the rotations.  The 5th member of the rotation is the wild card named Jordan Zimmermann.  Now 19 months after his OWN Tommy John surgery, he has shown flashes of why the Nats brass think so highly of him. He was outstanding in the spring with an ERA under 3.00 and electric stuff that almost looks Stras-like.  He has the stuff of a 20 game winner.  Will that occur in 2011? Probably not, but imagine the top of the rotation in 2012 having a healthy Strasburg AND Zimmermann…as a fan, you can finally state that your team can compete every game with the best of the best pitchers and lineups.  The Bullpen was a pleasant surprise last season, with players such as Tyler Clippard, Scott Burnett, and the OTHER 2010 1st rd pick in Closer-of-the-Future Drew Storen.  If the ‘Pen can equal the success of last season, along with better defense and possibly a better starting rotation, this team could easily win 10-15 more games next year and truly compete for the division title in 2012.

And in 2012, expect 2011 #1 overall pick and Uber-prospect Bryce Harper to make his debut with the big club.  Harper is a 18 year old dynamo of a player who has been compared to the likes of Ken Griffey Jr, Alex Rodriguez and Darryl Strawberry in the type of impact he can have on a franchise from the day he puts on a major league jersey.  There have been inklings that have mentioned him in the same breath as Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle.  That has to bring a ton of pressure along with it but if his 1st forte into the “Major League” experience shows, he can compete as he spent Spring Training with the big boys and hit .389 with the big boys.  He was assigned to Single-A Hagerstown to start his career so if you want to see him before he is on the national stage in DC, check him out there.

All in all, this team keeps improving every season.  Gone are the days where there were players who couldn’t make most teams Triple A affiliates, this team has a lot of young major league talent.  Now is the time for those pieces to start their journey from afterthought to a solid team. a .500% mark this season would gladly be accepted as a benchmark for team success in 2011 which is obtainable if everything stated above falls into place.

The Washington Nationals Season Review

  Most baseball observers would normally call a second consecutive 100 loss season a total loss, but if you really dissect what has transpired since March, this franchise finally has reason to “believe in miracles” so to speak.

After FINALLY getting rid of GM/Buffoon Jim Bowden, the Front Office decided to give the keys to Assistant GM/Interim GM Mike Rizzo in August after making a bevy of deals to improve this team for years to come.  The Starting Rotation started off the season with the likes of Daniel Cabrera, Garrett Mock and young guys like John Lanham and a “closer” in John Hanrahan. When the season wound down, the team used 6 rookies to start and Lanham showed that he could be an anchor of this staff for years to come. 

 

Rizzo packaged Opening Day CF Lastings Millidge and “closer” John Hanrahan to the Pirates for Njyer Morgan, who from Day 1 became the TRUE CF/Top of the Order player we’ve been looking for since the team moved here 5 years ago.  Credit Mike Rizzo also for settling the bullpen as it was probably the worst in MLB History the 1st half of the season.

 

The #1 reason Mike Rizzo earned his job is by inking #1 Overall Draft Pick Stephen Strasburg moments before the deadline to a deal that did not murder the system.  Strasburg will report to Spring Training ready to live up to some LOFTY expectations, I hope the fans are patient but this IS DC, where patience sometimes isn’t a virtue.   Since the team ended up with the worst record in baseball again, we are guaranteed to have the #1 overall selection again and most baseball experts seem to think they will select Bryce Harper who has been dubbed “The Baseball LeBron” by Sports Illustrated.  Again, only time will tell….

 

The most pleasant development of this season has been the creation of a true heart of the order.  The 3-4-5′ hitters in Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham gives the team one of the best cornerstones in baseball.  Zimmerman and Willingham had career seasons and Adam Dunn cut down on his strikeouts and hit for a career high percentage without losing any of his trademark power or On Base percentage.  An injury to C Jesus Flores was a dagger to the plans for the seasons but he should be ready by Spring Training.  He has the ability to become an All Star-type catcher.  Other players such as Elijiah Dukes, Ian Desmond and Justin Maxwell (the latter 2 late season call-ups from Syracuse) seem to be keepers.  Also the pleasant surprise of new closer Mike MacDougle gives the front office one less position to shore up this offseason.  Once he became closer, he ended up with the best Save Percentage in Baseball, but the team as a whole, ended up with the worst.  Shows you how bad we really were early on.

 

This team would be well served to go into free agency looking for atleast 1 veteran starter, possibly 2, an eventual replacement for Cristian Guzman @ SS (or move him to 2nd so Ian Desmond can take over @ SS) and shore up the bullpen/bench, this team is definitely headed in the right direction for 2010.