Will it be a season where the Nats surprise? A step in the right direction? Or the same old, same old? I'm at least excited about this year as opposed to previous ones. There's only one aging and bad player starting (hey pudge!) on offense and any dislike of seeing Pudge out there will be mitigated by seeing Ramos play more and more. In fact three young guys (Ramos, Desmond, Espinosa) should get a ton of playing time. Morse, while probably no better than Willingham, has the air of mystery on his side. Werth, Zimm, and LaRoche should do what they do. Really only CF sits out there as a stinker of a position, but hey it's the Nats. It's their heritage. (really though - Hairston in an OF platoon? I mean... like... seriously? Tomorrow is April Fool's right?)
The pitching staff is less interesting to watch. Really it's a "how good is ZNN going to be" situation but the rest should be decent and I would name my first son Gorzelanny if he could hold down the 5th position (no I wouldn't) and not subject us to the Martin, Atilano, Mock, etc. AAA Revue. I guess closer is of interest too but whatever. It's relievers. It'll work itself out one way or another as people stress way too much about at bats of random importance that happen to take place in the 9th inning.
As all bloggers, columnists, beat guys, etc. do, it's time for me to make my win total prediction. I'll go with 79 wins. This would fall in the "step in the right direction" category, but the inability to get to 80 wins would be a nice psychological barrier between believing the season was a success or a failure. Your guesses?
Some other crazy predictions that are sure to be wrong:
- I'll go with Lannan being the best pitcher in the rotation. Livan worst.
- I think I've convinced myself that Desmond won't be starting at short all year long.
- Ankiel will have most starts in center, but he won't get to 81 games there.
- Storen will stick as closer. H-Rod won't pitch in the majors until September call-ups.
- Over/Under on Wang + Maya starts for the Nationals at 4. Who wants the over?
- "Team Leader" Pudge, the super veteran / professional becomes an unhappy distraction as he loses playing time to Ramos.
- I'll go with the Marlins crashing below the Nationals and the Braves to take the division as the Phillies offense implodes with the combination of Utely's injury, Howard's aging, and Rollins being only sometimes good anyway. Take that Cliff Lee - you big jerk
Guess the Rotation
The rotation ended up as Livan, Lannan, ZNN, Marquis, and Gorzelannnnnny. Obviously no one went 5 for 5, because of Strasburg but who won? A three way tie between Hoo, Cass, and me. Hooray me!
Hoo and I both had Lannan, ZNN and Marquis in the rotation. In fact we were the only two to have Lannan at all. Boo everyone for their Lannan hate. Cass had Zim, Marquis and Livan. Lots of Mayas and Wangs pushed everyone else to 2. Surprisingly - no one bombed out with 1 or 0. Considering we were making these guessing early last August - I say good job to all.
Guess the Nats LF
Morse took the lead early and ran away with it. Bdrube, cass, and Jack all had that scenario playing out. I give bdrube extra credit for calling the Morgan departure as well. (Unfortunately the Ankiel/Hairston platoon ruined his perfect record). There was a lot of Morse platoons, most with Ankiel who is a starter in a platoon so that's pretty close. You guys bought into Mike a lot earlier than I did. Only I was completely wrong as I had Bernadina in center (and if I let myself keep talking I would have had Morgan in center - probably Restovich in right the way I was going).