Added: OF Jayson Werth, 1B Adam LaRoche, SP Tom Gorzelanny, RP Todd Coffey, OF Rick Ankiel, OF Laynce Nix, PH Matt Stairs

Lost: C Wil Nieves, 1B Adam Dunn, IF Adam Kennedy, IF/OF Michael Martinez, OF Michael Burgess, OF Willie Harris, OF Justin Maxwell, OF Josh Willingham, RHP Miguel Batista, RHP A.J. Morris, RHP Joel Peralta, LHP Graham Hicks, LHP Scott Olsen, LHP Aaron Thompson

Projected Lineup:
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Roger Bernadina
C Ivan Rodriguez
2B Danny Espinosa

RHP Livan Hernandez
RHP Jason Marquis
LHP John Lannan
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
LHP Tom Gorzelanny

CL RHP Drew Storen

Washington’s rotation in 2011 figures to be pretty bad. Livan Hernandez, in particular, is due for a major reality check, after posting an unsustainably low batting average on balls in play in 201o, as well as an unsustainable HR/FB ratio. Then again, things can only get better for Jason Marquis, who was terrible last season.

The Nationals made a couple of minor acquisitions this winter. New first baseman Adam LaRoche won’t send pulses racing, but he’ll replace some of the pop the team lost when Adam Dunn signed with the White Sox, and he’ll make far fewer errors. Meanwhile, Tom Gorzelanny will provide a stable if underwhelming presence in the rotation.

But the offseason’s big move was landing Werth. Does spending big bucks on a 31-year-old outfielder make sense for a last place team? Werth won’t make the Nationals competitive all by himself (he’s averaged 4 wins above replacement the last three seasons, while the Nationals finished 28 games out of first in 2010). The hope is that Washington’s young core develops fast enough to provide Werth and all-star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman the support they need. Team president Stan Kasten GM Mike Rizzo is betting Jordan Zimmerman rebounds from Tommy John surgery and develops into an ace this season, and that Stephen Strasburg does the same in 2012. He’s crossing his fingers no. 1 draft pick Bryce Harper breezes through the minor leagues. It’s all a lot to hope for.

While Werth was quick to take Washington’s money, a long line of free agent pitchers spurned the Nats this winter, including Carl Pavano. It seems a safe bet that, should CC Sabathia opt out of his contract at the end of the season, Kasten Rizzo will be waiting for him with a giant sack of bills.

In the meantime, this team is going to suck and the 2011 season will be measured by how many young players establish themselves as viable options for 2012 and beyond. Will Zimmermann emerge as an ace? Will Nyjer Morgan stop getting picked off every time he gets to first? Will Ian Desmond become a capable defensive shortstop? Stay tuned.

Grade: C

– Hot Offseason Index –

2 Responses to “Hot Offseason Action: Washington Nationals”

  1. tyrusray367 says:

    I seriously doubt Stan Kasten will be standing anywhere with anything other than his own wallet. In case you didn’t hear, he quit. It was in all the papers.

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