BACK TO REALITY & IT'S GOOD TO BE BACK
And so they did. The Nationals finished 31-50 and limped home with a .500 record.
So, thirty-seven innings into the season, we really don't know much more than we did during that last week of spring training. The great majority of journalists and bloggers are predicting anywhere from 75-85 wins, and that sounds about right.
I think it's great that players on the Braves and Phillies have remarked that the Nationals seem much improved. They are right, of course. How much improved still remains to be seen. There is no question, however, that the new players have a far higher upside than those they replaced. So they could be much better than anticipated if they all play up to their potential.
Cristian Guzman (SS) - .275-7-50
Lastings Milledge (CF) - .289-24-75
Ryan Zimmerman (3B) - .290-30-110
Nick Johnson (1B) - .280-20-90
Austin Kearns (RF) - .270-24-88
Pena/Dukes (LF) - .265-25-75
Ronnie Belliard (2B) - .275-13-55
LoDuca / Estrada (C) - .270-10-50
The starting pitching staff could be equally potent - again - if health issues stop dogging the Nationals:
Odalis Perez: 12-10 4.00
Matt Chico: 12-11 4.22
Tim Redding: 13-8 3.66
Jason Bergman: 11-9 3.88
Shawn Hill: 10-5 3.44 (assuming he returns in time)
So lets cut those 18 extra wins in half.
The wild card in all of this is how well the team's minor league pitchers will do this year. I mean, did you see that starting rotation for Columbus? Mike O'Connor. John Lannan. Tyler Clippard. Colin Balestar. Garrett Mock. Lannan of course, will join the Nats over the weekend. If these pitchers can fill the holes in the team's rotation due to injuries or poor performance, those 82 wins seem a certainty.
So it's not like any success O'Connor might have this year would come as a surprise. He's already had success - good success - at the major league level. If he returns to form, the Nationals could then have five - count 'em, FIVE - major league caliber pitchers at the AAA level.
Who said that all that pitching help is years away?
First Impressions of 2008:
- Jason Bergman (8.84) and Matt Chico (5.06) don't have very impressive ERA's, but I think they both pitched well in their first outings of the year. One of Chico's three runs given up came via a mistake by Lastings Milledge in the outfield, and another run was a one-pitch mistake that was hit for a homer. And Jason Bergman was lights-out for five innings before he tired and lost command of his pitches. His new change looked good. I'll bet that both of these guys will end the year with 10-12 wins and an ERA near 4.00.
- Even though Ryan Zimmerman is batting just .167 and has just three hits, the Nationals could easily have a record of 1-3 without him. Had he started this way in 2005 or 2006, I'd be worried. No more. He's proven he's a stud.
- I have no idea if Odalis Perez will ever pitch that well again for the Nationals this year, but boy, I hope he does.
- How stupid will the Nationals look if Jesus Flores is hitting .350 or so when they send him down to Harrisburg to "get better?" All he did in his first game was go 3-4 with 2 doubles.
Links to this post: