Every day, I will be presenting a season preview for individual MLB teams. Today we begin with the Washington Nationals.
Nationals fans were treated to a comparably exciting offseason this year. Their management went out and actually signed a number of free agents this winter. None of these names were among the upper echelon of players, however it was suprising to see the Nats so aggressive. Coupled with the dramatic last-minute signing of first overall choice Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals have something they can actually market to their fans (They were 24th in attendance averaging under 23,000 fans per game).
They have many of the pieces in place to be a competitive franchise. They have a beautiful ball park and a seemingly lucrative fan base. What is suprising about the Nationals is that their farm system has produced few major league ready players since the move to Washington. Sure, Zimmerman is a star but besides him, they have no players that fans can watch grow. They have lost so many games in recent years, but their farm system pales in comparison to the Rays or the DBacks. Besides Strasbourg, they really don't have a can't miss guy. Jordan Zimmermann was supposed to be that guy but he ran into injury problems last season.
With the hope that Jesus Flores develops into a high-level catcher, the Nats signed Pudge Rodriguez as a mentor, replicating the rebuilding magic he has had with the Marlins and the Tigers. Jason Marquis, who won ten games in a half a season with Colorado last year before fizzling down the stretch hopes to give quality innings to a beleagured staff. Brian Bruney comes over from the Yankees where he was once an accountable late innning guy. Tyler Walker pitched quality innings for the Phillies last year.
Steven Strasburg is indeed on the active roster and the Nats have little choice but to put him in the rotation to start the year. I am excited to see what this guy will do in the majors. He's supposed to be a once in a generation talent but we've all heard that before.
The Nats will have another difficult year in an improving NL East. Just about every team got better. The Nats fans should continue to hold on to their hope for better days. Management has shown the intention of making the team better. They signed free agents and their number one pick. The goal now is to build from within and create a core of hitters to go along with a rotation including Strasburg and Zimmermann. 5th in the NL East.