We continue the 2015 Team Previews today with baseball’s mightiest team on paper for the upcoming year, the Washington Nationals. We love watching Washington because of all the young talent they’ve drafted and developed into Major League players. The nucleus is ripe, and there are a few new faces that dot a star-studded roster.
Last year’s postseason was a tough pill to swallow if you were pulling for the Nationals to finally get to the World Series. They ended the regular season peaking at the right time, they had their guys at full-health; the stars seemed aligned. And then a lesser team in the Giants promptly dismissed the Nationals in four games. In some ways, maybe it was the best thing that could have happened other than getting to the Fall Classic. They probably don’t go out and sign Max Scherzer if they win it all. Matt Williams needed humbled. Bryce Harper showed just enough dominance that he could be a major force in 2015. They’re arguably a better team today than they were ever in 2014.
This might not be the National’s last chance to win the whole thing, but they’ll arguably never have a better chance. This kind of has to be the year if this group is going to get it done. They’re truly at their peak, in our opinion. The Braves are weak, and the Marlins don’t have the firepower to pull this off quite yet. They should dominate their division and just maybe, they’ll show the world why they’re 7/2 Vegas odds to win the NL Pennant in the upcoming season. Vegas loves these Nats. It’s for good reason.
On the heels of one of the most tragic days ever in the nation’s capital – a day that the Nationals game was rightfully cancelled – the Nationals played a doubleheader that ended up being their most magical day of the season.
They entered the ninth of their afternoon game down 5-3, and with Craig Kimbrel entering the game it looked to be lights out on the game and possibly the entire season. But the sun shined especially bright in the sky, and luck shined on the Nats. A Denard Span bouncer went through the legs of the great-gloved Andrelton Simmons with the Nationals down 5-4. That allowed the Nats to win 6-5.
The Nats then took the nightcap 4-0 with Tanner Roark throwing seven shutout innings. The Nationals are 4.5 games out of the Wildcard race with 11 left to play.
Denard Span had hits in both games, extending his hitting streak to an MLB best 28 games on the season.
Bryce Harper had a couple of knocks and a couple of runs in the second game.
It was the first time in his career that Craig Kimbrel had given up three runs in an outing.
I was at the Navy Yards just a few weeks back in my visit to Washington. We walked around near it after the game. It’s a quaint little area that will make for a great living spot for people that want to be around the park in DC in the future. It seemed relatively peaceful. And as horrible as this tragedy that so many are numb today in today’s sick world was unspeakable and cowardly; I feel like it helped bond a city and it’s new team today. The Washington Nationals made the people of that city forget about the ruin that had happened just a day before, even if it was just for a minute.
Good for the Nats. They’re not going to catch anyone, but they’re finally playing like the team they should have been all year.
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.
On this week’s edition of The Baseball Show, co-hosts Mike Rosenbaum and M.J. Lloyd along with myself discuss the following:
-Denard Span being traded to the Nationals for Alex Meyer
-Mike profiles Alex Meyer as a prospect
-B.J. Upton to Atlanta
-Possible destinations for Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, Zach Greinke and more players
-Reactions to the Evan Longoria contract extension
-Thoughts on the 2013 Hall of Fame nominees
This was a very quick edition of the podcast but a very fun show with lots of discussion. We hope you enjoy!