You expect changes with a young team. You expect changes with a bad team. You expect changes with a team that has a talented, ready for prime time prospect in the minors. So the Nats, who are all of those teams, should see some changes real soon. But just how many changes? Well some of them are obvious, like the rotation, but there is still possibilities for changes throughout the lineup, and of the course the bullpen is a work in progress. Changes are afoot, so if you don’t like the way this team looks right now, you’ll be happy to know it won’t look the same in short order.
I listed the team’s alleged lineup going in to the season, and then put out some possibilities that may be coming by the end of the year. This isn’t necessarily my prediction for April’s team and September’s team, just more a demonstration of a possibility. Now that all that caveating is out of the way…
Firstly, the rotation has the potential to change big time by as soon as June or July.
#1 – John Lannan
#2 – Jason Marquis
#3 – Garrett Mock
#4 – Livan Hernandez
#5 – Craig Stammen or Scott Olsen
Sure there are a million assumptions there, and two of the guys remain, but so does my point. Even the guys who are there now might not be considered in the same rotation spot. Heck, I’m not even sure if the start of the season rotation is right at this point. You’ll notice the fluidity of the rotation is evident in that mine season start rotation changed this week from what I had laid out last week.
C – Jesus Flores
1B – ???? (Possible Trade)
2B – Kennedy/Alberto Gonzalez
3B – Ryan Zimmerman
SS – Ian Desmond
LF – ???? (Possible Trade)
CF – Nyjer Morgan
RF – Harris/Mike Morse/Justin Maxwell
There could be many changes here as well. Keep in mind I’m not necessarily saying that Adam Kennedy is going to be replaced with Alberto Gonzalez, but I think the Nats would love it if he continued to hit the way he’s hitting in the spring, and would be happy to have him as the starter. And Danny Espinosa could be fighting for the job by next spring, even though I doubt he could do anything short of hitting a HR per game in AA to get a visit here this year. I know they say they want to re-sign Dunn, but if they don’t, why would he be here in September. For that matter, if his contract is ending, they could trade him and still sign him. I’m sure lots of teams would be interested in him for half a season. Willingham is another guy that I think they would listen to offers for, so he could be gone.
Without going over too many specifics, I’m not sure if Matt Capps, Miguel Batista, Tyler Walker or Jesse English are going to be on this team in a few months. Guys like Drew Storen, Josh Wilkie and someone like Aaron Thompson or even Matt Chico don’t have a role at some point in the near future.
What’s the Point?
Why does this all matter? Well, unlike the past years, when we’ve all realized that the team isn’t going to win the World Series yet never thought that anyone was going to step up in place of the mediocrity, there actually is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just look at the rotation that could be there the end of THIS year. That’s a real major league rotation. If Wang comes back healthy and succeeds, and Strasburg is up and Zimmermann recovers like almost every other guy who has Tommy John surgery, you’re lucky to have a #4 pitcher as good as John Lannan. With the lineup, there is less potential for guys holding on to spots for years to come, but it also is less disconcerting because finding an outfielder or two to shore up a team with quality pitching shouldn’t be hard. So don’t get too down if these guys don’t start hot right out of the gate. Chances are, they won’t be finishing the race anyway.