I can cross another bucket list item off my list, and another ballpark. Another city down, one less to go before I see them all. My experience in DC was a good one, so get ready for a photo heavy post with lots of commentary about baseball and everything else in between I experienced.
Any conversation about baseball’s most-loaded team must begin with their R. Lee Ermey style manager, Davey Johnson. Johnson is baseball’s finest manager, having been perched on dugout top steps since Small Pox was a problem; he’s seen more baseball than any living man has forgotten.
Johnson is a no-nonsense, tough loving, thick skinned son of a gun. He’ll probably live to be 120 years old before crawling off into the woods somewhere and dying alone with his dignity like only the toughest old hombres would do. We actually were lucky enough to obtain footage from the Nationals Spring Training barracks just a few days ago. Let’s take a good look at Johnson addressing his troops during a routine, middle of the night bed check:
If there’s one thing Sergeant Davey hates to find, it’s an unlocked foot locker. How did you like when he went off at Dan Haren there in the video for having a jelly doughnut in his foot locker? In all fairness to the Gunnery Sergeant Davey and Haren; this came after Haren’s most recent troubling spring start.
Biggest Off-Season Moves:
- Signed Rafael Soriano
- Signed Denard Span
- Signed Dan Haren
- Traded away Mike Morse
The Nationals had an already absolutely loaded roster, even down into their minor leagues before any of these moves were made. Things seemed to line up perfectly for them to add three key veterans in spots that could afford some touching up with the perfect addition.
I have loved everything that this team has done in building it’s organization since General Manager Mike Rizzo took over. Now they’re in a position to really reap the benefits over the next five to seven years. They’ll have a chance to win a World Series every year in that window unless something goes wildly wrong. They’re also in position to trade a highly valued prospect in the farm system; of which there are many, should they need to acquire another Major League ready player to help them in their current run. Times are good right now for the Washington Nationals, and that is putting it lightly.
ESPN SweetSpot compares the 1986 Mets to the 2013 Nationals position by position, including bench. It’s a pretty cool little post.
Dave Schoenfield of SweetSpot has the two teams even, 6 to 6.
One other similarity between these: The Mets, like the Nationals, had a lot of young talent. Strawberry was 24, Dykstra 23, Backman 26, Mitchell 24, HoJo 25. On the pitching staff, Gooden, Darling, Fernandez, Aguilera and McDowell were all 25 or younger. Mets fans know all too well that this group of players would return to the playoffs only once more and never return to the World Series. The future of the Nationals looks bright, but success is never a sure thing.
You know what is a sure thing? The Nationals won’t be doing copious amounts of cocaine, tearing up commercial aircrafts (while showing their genitals to the stewardesses), and generally entering other towns with the soul goal being to drink as much beer as they can before leaving town.
It was just a different era back then, and one of the reasons that the 1986 Mets will remain one of my favorite teams of all-time no matter what 2013 holds for the Nationals; who are proud new owners of Dan Haren.
As part of our preview for the upcoming 2012 season, we’ll be doing a 10 Bold Predictions for 2012 series that will be featured between now and Opening Day. Our fourth prediction deals with who we see bringing home the World Series Title in 2012, the Anaheim Angels.
Some folks reading this post will be quick to jump at us and say that this is hardly a bold prediction. However, a deeper look would reveal that simply trying to predict who emerges out of the scuttlebutt of a 162 game season and three playoff series is no easy thing.
The Anaheim Angels are baseball’s closest version of the Miami Heat. They’re loaded. But even the Heat weren’t able to get the chemistry just right to get through the postseason and emerge as the NBA’s best in their first season of assembly.
The Angels will hardly be a lock. They’re predicted at an over/under of 89.5 wins heading into the season which is trailing the Yankees (93), Detroit (94), and Texas (94) in their own division. As a side prediction, its easy money that they get over 90 wins. Take that bet and run with it.
The 2011 version of the Angels brought home 86 wins last season, their Pythagorean W/L record was 85-77; meaning that their resulted play was right around where it should have been (they weren’t particularly lucky or unlucky). So you’re telling me that adding Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, LaTroy Hawkins, Chris Ianetta, and the return of a healthy Kendrys Morales will only be worth about three wins to last year’s total? Come on now.
But this bold prediction is not about the Angels 2012 win total, it’s about them being the only postseason team to win their final game in October.
The rotation is a beautiful thing, and being able to run out Jered Weaver, Wilson, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana on most nights will serve them well and keep them out of a lot of prolonged losing streaks. We particularly like being able to trot Santana out against most team’s fourth starters. In a postseason series, a deep pitching staff is what will push them past other teams we like such as Texas and Detroit.
They’ve got the offensive firepower in the lineup if they remain healthy to rattle the walls of any park. The mix of youth combined with veteran presence is very solid on this team up and down the lineup and they’ll have versatility to get creative at several spots. They still have one of the best managers in the game in Mike Scioscia.
It’s not easy to find a weakness. We perceive their only possible weakness to be defensively, which should remain around league average and won’t be enough to hold them down.
When the dust settles on the 2012 season, the cream will have risen to the top. And the Angels will be the sole survivor of the regular and postseason. The 2012 World Champions will be the Anaheim Angels. You can book it and lock it right now.