Here are the important pieces of that roster and my predictions for how they’ll do in 2011.
Of course, they do not take into account injuries, demotions, promotions and guys named Stephen Strasburg returning from Tommy John surgery.
SS—Ian Desmond: .275-15-65, 25 steals
CF—Jayson Werth: .285-26-85, 20 steals
3B—Ryan Zimmerman: .300-30-100
1B—Adam LaRoche: .270-25-100
LF—Michael Morse: .280-28-85
2B—Danny Espinosa: .255-20-65
CF—Rick Ankiel: .255-13-50
C—Pudge Rodriguez/Wilson Ramos: .260-10-50
I’m a little concerned about Ian Desmond batting leadoff. Last year, he hit .326 batting second, but just .247 elsewhere. Hopefully, he’ll do as well acting as the team’s offensive catalyst.
Ankiel’s numbers are based on a platoon, but I’m not convinced yet that Jerry Hairston will be the right-handed complement to the former Cardinal, so I’m not going include his stats for now.
I have a feeling a trade might bring a right-handed platoon hitting center fielder pretty soon now.
1—Livan Hernandez: 10-10, 4.00
2—Jordan Zimmermann: 12-10, 3.79
3—John Lannan: 10-11, 4.00
4—Jason Marquis: 9-10, 4.20
5—Tom Gorzelanny: 8-9, 4.10
I’m not sure that Gorzelanny will finish the season in the starting rotation with Ross Detwiler (1-1, 2.65 this spring) and Yunesky Maya (1-1, 3.29) waiting in the wings at Triple-A Syracuse.
My guess is that Marquis will be traded to a contender sometime this summer and Gorzelanny will join the bullpen, making way for Detwiler and Maya.
Though no one is quite sure how the bullpen will fill out just yet, there is little doubt that the group will be at least as good as last season, perhaps better.
Several national writers have pointed to a weak rotation as the primary reason the Nationals won’t have a breakout season in 2011. Well, it is certainly a weak rotation for a contender, but it is perfectly acceptable for a team working hard for 80 wins.
The team’s future remains in the minor leagues for another season, but the current roster is good enough to win most any night it plays.
How good can they be in 2011? If the team gets stung with their usual number of injuries and off-year efforts, 75 wins would seem in order.
If everything goes right—and the Nationals are still waiting for one of those types of years—they could win 83 games.
But the reality—the hope, really—is that when October comes, the Nationals will have garnered around 80 wins and 2012 will find Ross Detwiler, Yunesky Maya and Stephen Strasburg replacing Jason Marquis, Tom Gorzelanny and Livan Hernandez in the rotation.
And the days of Nook Logan, Brandon Watson and Nyjer Morgan will once and for all be nothing but a distant memory for long-suffering Nationals fans.