A week ago I sent an email to the Umpbump staff suggesting that the Nationals maybe, with a little luck and a bit of offseason spending, could be a .500 team in 2010.
Is it me, or are the Nats looking like they may not be all that terrible next season? Dunn’s moving to 1B, where his iron glove plays a lot better. Nyjer Morgan is providing above-average defense in CF. Willingham is looking like he’s finally ready to realize his potential. Dukes is back after a successful stint at triple-A. Zimmerman is having a breakout year. The other Zimmerman, the pitcher, looks like the real thing. And Stephen Strasburg, we’re told, should be able to join the rotation right away. So if the Nats were agressive and added two average SPs in the offseason, they could actually be pretty decent in 2010 (though I’ll admit their bullpen could use some work). A lot would have to go right, of course. But I think they’ve got a shot at .500.
Paul had his doubts, pointing out that the Nats’ infield defense was still bad (and could be worse with Dunn at 1B), and that they’d have trouble outbidding other teams for free agent pitchers.
But I still thought they’d have a shot at respectability, mostly because I love how Morgan’s addition has improved the team’s defense.
Today, I’m not as excited about the Nats. That’s because a lot has already gone wrong. Specifically, Jordan Zimmermann will miss the next 18 months following ligament replacement surgery.
This is a huge blow to the Nats’ hopes. Zimmermann is the best pitcher on a terrible staff. I was willing to bet that if Washington got Zimmermann some help in 2010 — signed Strasburg and a couple free agent starters — that the team could win a few games.
But now? The Nats might still be better in 2010. But I wouldn’t hold my breath for .500.