How To Fix The Nats For 2016: Washington Nationals State Of The Union
Chuck Booth (Owner/Lead Analyst) Follow @chuckbooth3024
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So having been back from my 224 MLB Game all year trip in 2015 – I was happy to have put in such a great season of witnessing games. My real disappointment was the Nationals not making the playoffs in 2015.
I am guilty as charged for having a National League favorite team in Washington, and also be a Yankees fan for the American League.
I am a Nats fan because they used to be the Montreal Expos before 2005. It was a tough negotiation to have been a fan when they moved to D.C., but I followed the team. I saw some bad baseball via MLB.TV for about 6 or 7 years.
Once Stephen Strasburg entered the scene, followed by Bryce Harper, my enthusiasm hit a massive high again.
On August.29/2014 (my birthday last year) the Nationals came into Safeco Field and destroyed the Mariners 8 – 3. The club hit 6 HRs in the tilt, and I told my buddy right then and there I was going to see this club play more in my trip than everyone else. They were exciting to watch live!
I was lucky enough to watch 30 games at Nationals Park this season – and saw the squad play another 20 times on the road over 8 or so parks. It was and up and campaign for sure.
Bryce Harper emerged as a superstar this year, while I must have seen Max Scherzer throw an almost no-hitter on about 5 occasions. Other than these guys, and a great year by Yunel Escobar, or Denard Span being in the lineup, the Nats played well underneath their talent level in 2015.
It was a season marred by many blowups. I call the Jonathon Papelbon trade the straw that broke the camel’s back. Not unhappy to see Matt Williams lose his job over these fiasco’s too.
There was no need to bring the former Phillies and Red Sox reliever. Drew Storen was one of the best Closers in the game of baseball before this happened. I get the sentiment to build for the playoffs, but Papelbon worked as a cancer in the clubhouse.
Papelbon choking Harper was just a small glimpse of what was wrong with the franchise.
The worst part of the final analysis, was that the club wasted the final year of Jordan Zimmerman. Doug Fister, Denard Span and Ian Desmond will be donning uniforms for other clubs next year.
I like the hiring of Dusty Baker in preference to the guy they originally coveted in with Bud Black. Baker is the kind of players coach that will gain respect from the veterans, but still be able to be a players coach. Baker has made the playoffs with any team has managed.
What the ‘Lizzard’ will work with is a lot of talent still.
On the Infield:
Anthony Rendon will move over to the 3B position after having an injury filled season in 2015. One could say that his not being his 2014 self hurt the club the most. Look for a bounce back year in 2016.
Yunel Escobar was one of the biggest surprises in the National League, with a .314/.375/.415 3 Slash Line. He will take over for Desmond at SS. This is the only saving grace the team could say for trading away Tyler Clippard.
Danny Espinosa was leaned on far more extensively than the club would have liked this season, but he put up a respectable campaign with a .719 OPS and 13 HRs in 367 AB this past year. The club would be better served to have him back in a bench role once again.
Ryan Zimmerman couldn’t stay healthy yet once again, but reeled in 73 RBI in 346 AB. He will never play a full season again, but that is why they have Clint Robinson.
Clint Robinson is a perfect Utility guy, and was pressed hard into action the last year. a .782 OPS in about 300 AB helped stem the tide for the injury to Zimmerman.
Denard Span should have been given a Qualifying Offer at $15.88 MIL. It would be an overpay for sure by about $4 MIL for the year, but it would give the team another year to develop Michael A. Taylor. Now that they have refused, I am hoping they can still come up with a deal for the guy..
If you don’t think he is important, the squad was 36 – 25 in the games he appeared in. He is the quintessential Leadoff man for this team.
Jayson Werth being healthy and productive is also paramount to the success of the club. He doesn’t need to be near the MVP caliber type of guy, but he needs to be above average.
The Pitching Staff will be fine in 2016, and can withstand the loss of Jordan Zimmerman.
Stephen Strasburg was 6 – 2, with a 1.90 ERA in the 2nd half of the year, and with he being a Free Agent in 2017, look for an awesome year out of this guy.
Max Scherzer should be more settled in during 2016, and especially with Matt Williams not being the manager anymore.
Gio Gonzalez is a great #3 Starter. There is no problem with this guy.
Tanner Roark and Joe Ross will round out the rotation. There could be a need for another solid Starting Pitching somewhere, however the club should not overspend for that slot.
The Nats should pursue a reunion with Tyler Clippard, who probably saw his stock fall with his playoff run, and they should try to trade Papelbon out of Washington. Perhaps a dance partner of Toronto would be perfect there.
The squad could also benefit from signing a few other Bullpen arms!
I will say this for a lot of teams, but the perfect player for the Nationals may be Ben Zobrist. The ability to play Infield and Outfield would be a great asset.
Obviously signing Span would be a great move. If they can’t match whatever another team will pay for that CF, I hope the Nats will take a look at Howie Kendrick for 2B then. He is the kind of professional hitter any team could use.
The club could also stand to sign a few Starting Pitchers for depth at the back end of the rotation. Maybe a J.A. Happ, Alfredo Simon or Mike Pelfrey to help eat some innings.
Really, the team could pull off whatever Free Agent deals they may but the strength of the squad will be to be healthy in 2016 from the core guys returning.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***
I am happy to be back at the helm of the MLB Reports, after completing my record 224 Games in the MLB Trip in 2015. It was the 4th time I have seen all 30 MLB Parks since 2008.
During that time away I was fortunate to do 100 Media Interviews and be named the Baseball Blogger Alliance President.
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Posted on November 6, 2015, in MLB Teams State Of the Unions and tagged 2015 NL MVP, anthony rendon, ben zobrist, bryce harper, bud black, Clint Robinson, danny espinosa, doug fister, drew storen, dusty baker, gio gonzalez, howie kendrick, ian desmond, j.a. happ, jayson werth, Joe Ross, jordan zimmerman, matt williams, max scherzer, michael taylor, mike pelfrey, Monteal Expos, nationals park, new york mets, NL east, stephen strasburg, Tanner Roark, tyler clippard, washington nationals, yunel escobar. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
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