This is part of a series of posts in which we call out all 30 teams for their wily offseason moves and tragic offseason blunders.
The Nationals have a lot to be excited about. They’ve got a new team president, a new manager and a new ballpark under construction. They’ve also got cool uniforms and a kid at thirdbase who is going to be putting up big numbers for years to come.
One thing the Nationals probably aren’t looking forward to is the next 492 games of baseball. Because this franchise isn’t going to win this year, next year, or the year after that. They are building for the long, long, long haul.
The Nationals’ pitching is the team’s biggest weakness. And that’s saying something, considering they also have the most anemic offence in the division. John Patterson is, if you want to use the word liberally, the “ace” of the staff.
This offseason the team lost Alfonso Soriano to free agency and traded 2B Jose Vidro to Seattle. They added nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. They signed Abraham Nunez, Travis Lee, D’Angelo Jimenez and Tony Womack. All got minor league contracts.
Lee, who could make $500,000 if he makes the team, was signed as insurance in the event Nick Johnson doesn’t recover from his broken right leg. Lee is coming off one of his worst seasons. In 114 games with the Devil Rays, the 31-year-old Lee hit .224 with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs. Tampa ended up giving him his unconditional release in early September.
Here’s GM Jim Bowden’s take on Travis Lee, who he was obviously stoked to acquire:
Nick Johnson is hurt, and Larry Broadway is not hitting in winter ball. We are short on depth … If Nick is hurt and Broadway doesn’t hit and his knee acts up again, then what you are going to do?
What, indeed, are you going to do? If you’re a Nationals fan, what you’re probably going to do is stay home this season. And next. And, most likely, the one after that.
Offseason grade: F
Acquisitions: Abraham Nunez, Travis Lee, D’Angelo Jimenez and Tony Womack.
Losses: Alfonso Soriano, Jose Vidro.
Projected Lineup, Rotation and Closer:
2B Felipe Lopez .281/.362/.365
LF Ryan Church .276/.366/.526
3B Ryan Zimmerman .287/.351/.471
1B Nick Johnson .290/.428/.520
RF Austin Kearns .250/.381/.429, 24 HR
C Brian Schneider .256/.320/.329
CF Nook Logan .300/.337/.389
SS Christian Guzman (none)
SP John Patterson 1-2, 4.43 ERA
SP Jerome Williams 0-2, 7.03 ERA
SP Tony Armas 9-12, 5.03 ERA
SP Zach Day 1-3, 4.73 ERA
SP Pedro Astacio 5-5, 5.98 ERA
CL Chad Cordero 7-4, 29 S, 3.19 ERA