NL East Capsule: Washington Nationals Predictions

Onan CocaContributor IFebruary 13, 2010

PHOENIX - OCTOBER 16:  Washington Nationals prospect Stephen Strasburg #37, playing for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, pitches in the Arizona Fall League game against the Scottsdale Scorpions at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on October 16, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If there is a team that could be considered the polar opposite of the juggernaut-like Philadelphia Phillies that team would be the Washington Nationals . The Nationals are a team on the rise under GM Mike Rizzo, in his short tenure he has added the best defensive OF in the game and made some moves to prepare the Nationals for contention in the not-to-distant future.

Washington Nationals

SS: Christian Guzman
CF: Nyjer Morgan
3B: Ryan Zimmerman
1B: Adam Dunn
LF: Josh Willingham
RF: Elijah Dukes
C: Ivan Rodriguez
2B: Adam Kennedy
Bench: OF Willie Harris, C Jesus Flores, IF Ian Desmond, OF Michael Morse, IF Alberto Gonzalez

Pitching Staff:
SP: Jason Marquis
SP: John Lannan
SP: Craig Stammen
SP: Scott Olsen
SP: J.D. Martin
CP: Matt Capps
RP: Brian Bruney, Tyler Clippard, Jason Bergman, Eddie Guardado, Sean Burnett, Garrett Mock

The Nationals offense was good in 2009 and occasionally even looked great. The pitching staff, however, was abysmal. GM Mike Rizzo took steps to fix that by drafting Stephen Strasburg the 2009 amateur draft and by signing Jason Marquis in the offseason.

There is also news today that the Nationals are the front-runner to sign Chien-Ming Wang from free agency...we'll see. Rizzo also completely remodeled the bullpen by adding Matt Capps, Brian Bruney, Eddie Guardado, and Garrett Mock (among others). The pitching staff "should" be better in 2010, the young arms have had some seasoning and they have added some stability.

Also, both the offense and defense should be better this year. A full year of Nyjer Morgan in the OF (and no Adam Dunn), dramatically improves the Nats defense. The offense added Adam Kennedy to play second and Ivan Rodriguez at catcher.

There are many reasons to be optimistic about the Nats in 2010, but the biggest reason will likely start the year in AAA—Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman two of the best young pitching prospects in baseball and they are preparing to join the Nationals...soon. In 2010 however, I think Nats fans should prepare for more of the same old, same old...fif th place in the NL East .  But out.