After the first month of the season, we hand out some letter grades to the Washington Nationals organization.
Judging by the Lastings Milledge cover photo, you should assume this is not a report card you'd be proud to take home to Mom.
We'll take a brief look at the rotation, the bullpen, catching, the infield, outfield, and management's handling of the first 30 days.
Shairon Martis (pictured) qualifies as a bright spot...that should tell you something about how awful the Nats rotation has been thus far.
Rookie Jordan Zimmerman (14K's, 3 BB's in 17 innings) looks promising through his first three starts, and is really the only thing saving this group from the "F" rating.
Daniel Cabrera has been miserable, walking 22 batters in 29.2 IP, and "ace" John Lannan is suffering from a serious case of the gopher balls, yielding seven taters in his six starts.
All in all, eventual No. 1 pick Steven Strasburg can't come soon enough
No great pictures of the no-name contingent in the Nats bullpen this year, unless you count Julian Tavarez in somebody else's uniform. So instead, these are the fireworks that go off after the home runs hit by the opposing teams.
This staff has six guys with more walks than strikeouts. Randy St. Claire has some explaining to do. I've liked him as a pitching coach in the past, but the Nationals must figure out how to throw more strikes if they expect to have any success on the mound.
Jesus Flores has done a nice job at the plate thus far, and is doing a solid job throwing out runners (6 of 15).
Problem here is once a week, when he needs a break, this slot in the lineup becomes a complete black hole.
All in all, the infield is doing a nice job. Ryan Zimmerman's the crown jewel of course, but all four regulars are performing above expectations at the plate thus far.
Cristian Guzman in particular has been on fire since his return from injury. All four are also adept with the leather, with no one dragging them down in the field.
Adam Dunn can mash—no doubt about it.
He adds a real threat to the middle of the Nationals' lineup. Elijah Dukes seems to finally be showing the potential we all know he's been carrying around the last few years, after a bit of a late start while the club tried to figure out what to do with Lastings Milledge.
Austin Kearns has also performed well thus far, but with Dunn in left and Kearns in right, the outfield defense suffers a bit as neither covers much ground.
Why is Manny Acta smiling?
I have no earthly idea.
This team can hit, no question, but they cannot throw the ball worth a darn.
At the same time, Nationals' management compounds the problem by having a very quick hook back to Syracuse for its relievers. It's not like there's some magic potion down there of quality guys to replace the current crew, yet they're still running through them.
The team needs to show a bit more patience, and then if all else fails, you let the kids such as Garrett Mock, Joel Hanrahan, Steven Shiell sink or swim.
We know what to expect from Saul Rivera, Julian Tavarez and Jason Bergmann. Running them back and forth through the turnstile isn't going to make anything better.