Leading up to the start of the 2009 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 30 teams. Today’s team is the Washington Nationals. Stay tuned as Diamond Hoggers will preview every team division by division until the start of the regular season.
The Washington Nationals are summed up in one word: moribund. They need picked up and it’s most likely not going to happen this year. When it does you’ll be able to color everyone in and out of baseball surprised. They should be better however. They aren’t completely helpless still.
The big addition was the former object of our affection, Adam Dunn. Dunn will be the centerpiece in the lineup and in the cleanup spot in the order night in and night out like he always should of been. The order will start with Christian Guzman who jumpstarted his dying career last year with a very impressive season. We think he’s unlikely to do it again but still should settle in as a solid everyday guy. Lastings Milledge should hit second and is likely to begin making a household name if he can avoid problems that brash guys in his mold (like Milton Bradley) did early on in their highly hyped careers. The third hitter in the lineup will be Mr. National himself Ryan Zimmerman (pictured). The third baseman is a good hitter who got the winning hit in the first game at the Nationals new park. He will struggle to put up huge numbers in that park as all players will but he can flat out hit and a .300 season is on the horizon.
After Dunn, either Josh Willingham or Nick Johnson will hit 5th and 6th. Willingham was added to an already crowded outfield because of uncertainty in Austin Kearns. Adding to that uncertainty for Kearns is the fact that many Nationals fans think the guy is done as a player and that Elijah Dukes will beat him out for the rightfield spot. Also still lurking is Wily Mo Pena. Pena is probably destined to be a pinch hitter and spot starter his entire career and he’ll sprinkle in a 25 homer season somewhere again. The catcher is Jesus Flores and he’ll round out the bottom of the lineup with the second baseman Anderson Hernandez. Both of them are relative unknowns at this point. We’ll see.
The Nats cut ties with Odalis Perez, though he was one of their more effective pitchers last year. John Lannan, Scott Olsen, Daniel Cabrera, Collin Balester, and Jordan Zimmermann are the guys most likely to begin the season as the rotation but it could be subject to change shortly thereafter. Matt Chico could be one of the guys who finds his way back into the rotation, even though he’s horrible. The ceiling for any of those guys is at best a #2 starter in this league on most teams. They’ll be helped by their ballpark though.
The closer is Joel Hanrahan. He’s extremely ordinary and you’re looking at a 25 save season at best for the guy if he can hold onto the job all year. They’d be wise to give the job to John Rauch who is their most solid reliever. From there they have Saul Rivera, Jesus Colome, Steven Shell and Jason Bergmann as guys who could contribute.
Nationals fans are just hoping for a 75 win season. That tells you a lot about this team. You’re looking at a sure fire last place team in the NL East. The Nationals fans should look forward to Adam Dunn trying to hit 40 dingers for the 6th straight year and the continued emergence of Ryan Zimmerman and maybe even Elijah Dukes. That’s about as good as it gets for this franchise for now.