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The Premature 2010 Prediction Question

Ever since General Manager Mike Rizzo's We-Are-Not-Rebuilding trading deadline declaration, I've heard the viewpoint -- with increasing frequency -- that the Washington Nationals aren't all that far away from becoming a drastically improved team.

Just from Wednesday, for instance:

Ronnie Belliard: "I think that team, they're going to surprise a lot of people next year."

Mike MacDougal: "Next year is going to be very interesting, and I think a lot of guys around here are excited about it."

Jim Riggleman: "I've said it many times, and only time will tell if I'm right, but I think this ballclub is not that far away."

So really, I'm just curious to gauge the agreement/disagreement. The offseason player movement will change opinions, no doubt, but for now let's assume that the free agency and trade markets net the Nats a starting middle infielder (strong glove, .250 or .260 bat) and a Wolf-Garland type starting pitcher. Take off the rose-colored glasses.

By Chico Harlan  |  September 24, 2009; 8:46 AM ET
 
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Next: The Let's-Avoid-100 Lineup, Take II

Comments

I voted 71-75 thinking that the Nats improve the starting rotation through Free Agency and get Nyjer Morgan back.

What is truly amazing is looking at individual stats from this year like Zim's 100 RBIs and 30+ HRs, Dunn's 100 RBI's and Nick Johnson stayed healthy the entire year for the Nats with a .400+ OBP which all should have factored into a 75 win season then you look at the bullpen and 5.00+ ERA's in the starting rotation and you see why the team will lose 100+ this year.

Posted by: dmacman88 | September 24, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

I like my rose-colored glasses, thank you very much. I'm not sure I could watch remain a Nats fan without them.

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | September 24, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I don't tend to do seasonal predictions, even with known quantities, and I'm even less inclined to do them when we don't even know what horses will be in the barn.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 24, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I am with you nervousnatsfan, I hang onto those glasses with both hands. I want to believe!

Posted by: mjwies11 | September 24, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Forgot to say that Mike Rizzo is supposed to have a chat at noon today, per Nats Insider.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 24, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

i'm kind of embarrased i don't know this, but the nats should be horrified. has any nats starter ever won 10 games? i truly can't remember.

i predicted 59 wins earlier this year. i really thought i was sand bagging. sheesh.

i miss zimmermann. and i think it's too early to predict next year.

Posted by: longterm | September 24, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

c'mon, 1a, it's just for fun. and it's not like anyone's going to see your vote and hold you to it.

in fact, it cracks me up Chico's asking this now. All this survey is really asking is, "how rosy are your glasses?".

And nervous, i voted 81-85, so I'm with you too. my glasses are practically opaque. =)

Posted by: NatsNut | September 24, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I think Redding got 10 wins.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 24, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I looked up the starter wins:

08- Redding led with 10 wins
07-Chico (pitcher not writer) led with 7 wins
06-Ramon Ortiz led with 11 wins
05-Livo led with 15 (!!) amd Loaiza came in 2nd with 12 wins.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 24, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Wow, that's an impressive list. Thanks, Natsnut.

Posted by: longterm | September 24, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

these are the only ones over 10. ALL other pitchers since 2005 were under 10 wins.

So yea, longterm, although there have been a couple over 10, your point is still valid. It's only 4 out of how many?

Posted by: NatsNut | September 24, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

@ longterm

Impressive? Pathetic.

Posted by: Intrudr | September 24, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Lets not forget that on top of being 70-75 win team, we will draft phenom Bryce Harper too.

Posted by: kingtutts | September 24, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I don't see how chico can call this poll "premature" -- the 97 losses next year are already in the books.


Oh, wait -- you mentioned *Rizzo* and not *Bowden* !

I doubt that Rizzo can charm the Lerners into thinking they can field an inexpensive team that will magically live up to all of its "potential"

(Milledge, Dukes, Hernandez, Gonzales, Bergmannnnn . . . .)

with nearly the shamelessness of that used-car salesman Jim Bowden

(sorry to all the used-car salesmen reading this; that wasn't fair to you).


Maybe we'll get 75 wins after all.

Posted by: mistermuleboy | September 24, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Not to mention we get Flores back. And a full season of a more patient Elijah Dukes and probably a full season of Ian Desmond.

This lineup is pretty scary:
Morgan
Guzman
Zim
Dunn
Willingham
Dukes
Flores
Desmond

Posted by: kingtutts | September 24, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

One key area to look at is the position players that the Nats currently have. Who besides RZimm do you have to build a team around? There are huge question marks with every last one of them. The Nats are not 1 or 2 position players away - they are more like 4 or 5. Players like Willingham and Morgan I believe have played over their norms, and you really can't expect the same thing going forward. Dunn was, and should be nothing more than a 2 year think and should be traded while he still has value. With all of this production the Nats should've been at least 10 wins better, but they're not, and you can't put that all on the pitching.

Anyway, my prediction is they continue to be a 65 win team, at best for the next 2-3 years. The Nats have to rebuild the farm system and that takes time.

Posted by: bendersx6 | September 24, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I, for one, still think Dukes has .280/25/100 in him.

Posted by: kingtutts | September 24, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

>I, for one, still think Dukes has .280/25/100 in him.

Who'd he eat? Is that perhaps where Austin Kearns and his supposed production disappeared to?

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | September 24, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Not to mention we get Flores back. And a full season of a more patient Elijah Dukes and probably a full season of Ian Desmond.

This lineup is pretty scary:
Morgan
Guzman
Zim
Dunn
Willingham
Dukes
Flores
Desmond

Posted by: kingtutts | September 24, 2009 10:24 AM
++++++++++++++++++++
I like the lineup however I feel if that is your Opening Day lineup prediction that Flores won't be ready until end of May 2010.

I am totally in agreement with the rest as I think the nucleus is here and just need to add starting pitching and bullpen.

If the team got 2 quality starters to push Lannan back to #3 in the rotation and then JD Martin and Craig Stammen with Stephen Strasburg in the wings and Jordan Zimmermann for 2011 and some help in the bullpen this team will achieve 70+ in 2010.

In 2011, then they can concentrate on 1st base and Shortstop and make a serious run at the NL East.

I love dreaming!!!!!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | September 24, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Got a question for the rulebook guys:

Orr drove in the winning run last night with a sacrifice fly that the right fielder dropped. I see the box score credits him with a SF, but don't you have to make out for it to be a sacrifice? Seems to me it should simply be charged as an error to the RF, allowing the winning run to score.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 24, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Oh, regarding predictions for next year - I've learned to not make any baseball predictions beyond the Yankees winning the World Series (now that Hillary Clinton isn't New York's senator any more, the Curse of Hillary is gone).

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 24, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand why people don't see Dunn being in the long-term future. He's only 29, and first base is a natural position for a big guy like him, where age and immobility aren't as crucial as say, third. And there's no reason he shouldn't be able to pop 40 HRs a year for another five years or more.

What am I missing?

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 24, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

The basic choice for the scorer on Orr's fly ball would be hit or error, right? So the scorer chose error. Given that, had the player not made the error it would have been both an out and a sacrifice fly/RBI for Orr. So what was the error made on? A sacrifice fly, which is a good thing for the batter. Therefore, the scorer still gives Orr credit for that. Perhaps the scoring would have been different had the play occurred in the visiting team's ballpark. Official scoring is in many cases a judgment call, so there's frequently an advantage given to home team players because the home team picks the official scorer.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | September 24, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Did I miss the discussion, or did we not have it, re: Hudson claiming that he never even TOOK a physical for the Nats last off-season. Boz and others have reported that they refused to sign him b/c he failed a physical. He denied it yesterday...

Posted by: cdstej | September 24, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

But, NatsNut, as a wise man once said: It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 24, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

It's not that unusual for a sacrifice to be credited when no out is made. If on a bunt, you go for the lead runner and don't get him, the batter reaches on a fielder's choice but also gets a sacrifice.

Posted by: nats24 | September 24, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

@kingtutts.

As to Flores lets see how his shoulder heals and rehabs first. The catcher throws as much as the pitcher.

Posted by: WashOut | September 24, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

61 to 65 wins because I won't let the Nats fool me again until they stabilize their pitching staff, catching situation and infield.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 24, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I truly, truly hope our Nats have a respectable season next year. So tired at being laughed at when I root for our team. So, here's hoping for a couple of free-agents, one being a front-line pitcher, and an 80-win season.
Go Nats !!

Posted by: scmonty1 | September 24, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

In other news, I recently received the Monumental Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Capital Region edition of SABR's National Pastime periodical. I couldn't make it to the conference due to other commitments, but am enjoying reading the pieces. My fave so far is Mark Pattison's piece on phenom Joe Hardy. Loved the bibliographic sources on that one, especially Shirley Ujest. :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 24, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

>I, for one, still think Dukes has .280/25/100 in him.

Who'd he eat? Is that perhaps where Austin Kearns and his supposed production disappeared to?

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | September 24, 2009 10:57 AM

******************

good one, FTETPTBCC.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 24, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Aha! Validation:

Tom Boswell: Critism of Guzman's fielding is overdone...But he is worth having...Don't undersell Guzman...

Posted by: NatsNut | September 24, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I think the nats need more than just what is listed in this story. Veteran starters yes, but we desperately need long relief guys who have eras in the 3s, not the 5s.

2nd baseman is a given; we should also be considering catching depth and a replacement for Dukes. yes his arm is fantastic, but we need more than 8 Hrs from that position.

Posted by: tboss | September 24, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I'd extend Dunn. Hard to find 40 homer seasons nowadays and he's gonna keep hitting them for a long time.

Posted by: longterm | September 24, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse


I think we have the makings of a good ballclub. The middle infield needs to be shored up. Also the pitching, especially relief is just the pits. However I think that can be resolved with three or four free agents. Also our young pitching should continue to improve. My prediction:Lingering around .500, with a 76 to 84 win season. Also the Mets will be in the basement. The Mets have no money(thanks to Madoff), poor morale, and the injuries played some part in their demise, but not all. They are totally lethargic. No pitching except for Santana who is returning from injury. The Nats are heading to NL East

Posted by: nickgoldblatt | September 24, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Per previsous discussion with @BinM,

'Pears they have to "fix" the whole "middle" along with starting pitching and the bullpen.

"Middle" (BinM seems to agree):
Catcher, shortstop, second base, centerfield.

Catcher appears to now be in crisis? Centerfield appears to be handled with the return of Nyjer Morgan and Roger Bernardina, also Justin Maxwell. Second base: FA (Belliard or Hudson), Desmond, Orr. Shortstop: Guzman, Desmond, perhaps Espinosa?

They need at least 2 pitchers in the Bedard, Lackey, Pineiro, Lackey category. I still think Storen is ready? Perhaps Wilkie? Add that to what they have and perhaps they have a bullpen in the making?

So, with the corners set: Dunn, Zimmerman, Willingham, Dukes pretty much set ...

... they seem to need those pitchers? And next year new pitchers will be pushing for big league debuts? They probably need a Victor Martinez type catcher? And a decision about second base and shortstop?

Could Rizzo come up with those parts in the offseason? We'll just have to wait and see?

Posted by: periculum | September 24, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

"They need at least 2 pitchers in the Bedard, Lackey, Pineiro, Lackey category."

Meant to say Wolf, Bedard, Lackey, Pineiro.

Posted by: periculum | September 24, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

When I think of where the Nats need to be I look at their lineup in comparison to the Phillies. 1B Dunn and Howard, basically even. Willingham and Ibanez, basically even although Ibanez is having his best year ever. I'd take Morgan over Victorino in CF, and I'd take Flores at C, and of course Zimmerman by a wide margin at 3B. I would even think Guzman and Rollins are fairly even at SS. The big differences are at 2B and RF where they have two 30+ homer and 100+ RBI guys. I don't see Dukes hitting 30 homers a year but he could produce 100 RBIs over a full season. We're not going to find an Utley out there but a solid professional 2B that can be in the .275/15/75 range would help immensely. Desmond could do that I would think.

The Phils fielding/defense is also better and more savvy - and of course their pitching staff is seasoned, professional, and deep - which is probably the biggest difference between the two teams. I have to give them credit, they're a very solid team but a good barometer also of where the Nats should strive to be.

Posted by: AsstGM | September 24, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I think the nats need more than just what is listed in this story. Veteran starters yes, but we desperately need long relief guys who have eras in the 3s, not the 5s.

2nd baseman is a given; we should also be considering catching depth and a replacement for Dukes. yes his arm is fantastic, but we need more than 8 Hrs from that position.

Posted by: tboss | September 24, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

-------------------------------------------

Its kind of an unfair statement at this point as he spent a month in the minors and a stint on the 15 day DL. His 8 bombs are in 331 at bats. Thats 16 HRs in a full season. He's also only 24. I think he has 20+ homer potential next season, but then again no one confuses me for a prophet.

Posted by: kingtutts | September 24, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

AsstGM

Guzman and Rollins are equal? I'm not sure that is totally accurate. Rollins can defend remember. And while Guzman hits more Rollins slugging % is a lot higher. Although neither of them seem to walk much.

Posted by: soundbloke | September 24, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I'll trade Guzman for Rollins. Sounds fair.

Posted by: longterm | September 24, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

To that 4 percent who is voting for "more than 85 wins" next year, I have an important message for you:

I am oil minister at a very rich, West African country. I have obtained your names from a very exclusive list and I have a once-in-a-lifetime economic opportunity for you. Please forward me your current Visa or MasterCard number, including password and expiration date, as well as your bank deposit number and account password. You shall be hearing from us shortly, as we plan on depositing the sum of $1.4 million (U.S.) dollars into your account soon.

Please, people, get a grip. There's reality, irrational exuberance and, then way out there, the folks who think the 2010 Nats will win more than 85 games. Two seasons, maybe.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | September 24, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Flores back--maybe. Z'nn back--maybe. Olsen back--probably not. Nyjer back--for how long? Dukes learns to hit, actually hit, not slap at, curveballs--or not. New pitcher is Not The Next Brian Lawrence -- or he is. Dunn and Guzman in contract years, which should help--or not. New infielder is Not The Next Rennie Stennett (c. 1980)--seems pretty safe, but Hudson could give it a go.

Yeah, they're going to surprise people, all right--every time they win a series. You'll need the Hubble to see .500 from where they finish, given only 2 new guys.

To win, they're going to have to beat *somebody*. The Mets won't stay this bad/unlucky, the Phillies will get older, but not fast enough to help us, the Braves are already getting better, and the Marlins still pretty much own them until proven otherwise (although this year showed some improvement).

A more interesting question is, if they don't get off to a hot start (and I mean 50-31 hot), will they draw more than about 1.35 million next year, i.e., half of 2005's total?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 24, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

but for last call on yesterday's game, I've got to think that expression on Torre's face was: "Man, I gotta get my team out of here--it's rubbing off!"

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 24, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I missed one: Cristian Guzman's shoulder injury is back (per Ladson).

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 24, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Here's what I don't get and is starting to irritate me about people who talk about this team: Attendance.

I don't know if anyone else has noticed that attendance this year has been pretty good considering what place we're in around a 22.5k average over all game this season. http://www.sportsnetwork.com/merge/tsnform.aspx?c=sportsnetwork&page=mlb/teams/006/attendance.aspx?team=006

I know the marlins hardly draw a crowd at all (having a hard time finding the numbers)and they're in playoff contention.

Posted by: Elbaryn | September 24, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Fair enough, Elbaryn. Phillies, Mets, and Cubs fans alone ought to be good for half a million, maybe more.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 24, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

@Elbaryn:

I'm glad you brought up the subject of attendance.

Washington gets a bad rap on this. Considering the product on the field, this is a pretty good baseball town. It isn't NY or Chi or Boston, but it's better than a lot and benefits from the East Coast fans who have migrated here.

Put a contending team on the field and you will see 30,000+ every night and improved TV ratings. It is critical that Rizzo and Kasten persuade the Lerners that this is so. The alternative is a continued downward spiral and the loss of a great opportunity.

I was at last night's game and, as much fun as it was (it was ugly, maybe, but highly entertaining), I couldn't help thinking how thrilling a late September game like that would have been if it really meant something.

Posted by: Meridian1 | September 24, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Following on Meridian ...

A few weeks ago, I was watching the Marlins game -- I think it was the Marlins -- the Sunday game where the Nats came from behind in the ninth, I think started by Willie Less Harris's solo homer.

I thought the fans were really into a game that they had every right to have checked out of, and the loud cheering was totally to their credit. I'm pretty sure the players and maybe Riggleman commented on it too.

From the beginning, the crowds here have really been behind the hometown nine. Plenty of comments from players over these few years.

Posted by: Scooter_ | September 24, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Am I a regular enough poster to nominate Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me for post of the day?

Posted by: soundbloke | September 24, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

re: Attendance, I really enjoyed reading the SI article on Detroit. I think it shows that a combination of winning and some creative thinking/marketing by the team can have a significant impact on attendance in only one season.

Posted by: NeedANatsFix | September 24, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm not saying this team is perfect but the same tired old arguements about how this is a bad team (natinals mistake, which came from the printer, attendance, manny acta) has overrun its course with me.

I love baseball and I think some things need to stop here and now like the selling of other teams merch at home, it may have happened once but that's too much.

Also I keep hearing Rizzo and Kasten talking about being aggressive in the off season, hell if its anything like what Rizzo has done during the season (tried to rebuild the bull pen twice, called and hired a catcher on the spot) then I'm all for it.

I'm waiting for the off season to place my final judgment.

Posted by: Elbaryn | September 24, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

@soundbloke--Yes, you are a regular. And, yes, I accept the nomination of my party for post of the day. And may God bless the United States of America.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | September 24, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

but for last call on yesterday's game, I've got to think that expression on Torre's face was: "Man, I gotta get my team out of here--it's rubbing off!"

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 24, 2009 2:09 PM
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Torre was pissed and what was hilarious was the team bus left before all the players got on.

Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez had to walk out on the street and catch a cab.

I bet it wasn't a good time in the Visiting clubhouse after that loss!!!!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | September 24, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

At least they didn't end up under it...

Hey, gang! Let's avoid 100 losses!! How we gonna do that? See the new post for details...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 24, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

What the 2010 team looks like and how well they perform on the the field is greatly dependent on how Rizzo addresses the middle infield, getting a veteran starter and strengthening the relief corp.

If for example, the Nats can sign Orlando Hudson to play 2B, they greatly improve they middle infield defense, even if Guzman plays SS. Personally, I would make a play for both 2B Orlando Hudson and SS Marco Scutaro and trade Guzman along with whoever they can get away with for either middle infield, 1B or pitching prospects. True, both Hudson and Scutaro at type A free agents, but this would be a one time thing to build a strong defensing team for the next two years, while the farm system builds in strength.

Starting pitchers I would target (that is at least try to sign one of) are; (in no particular order) Brandon Webb, Jon Garland, (if they are available) Joel Pineiro, Erik Bedard, Jason Marquis or Justin Duchscherer. If they could sign two, the Nats rotation would be pretty solid. A rotation which would hopefully be supported by an improved bullpen.

Speaking of the bullpen, there will be quite a few quality relievers (that is to say, greatly superior than what passed for a reliever in DC this year) on the market and with this upcoming off-season's free agent market, it will be the perfect time for the Nats to make major strides towards becoming a legitimate contender.

For very probably less that $30 million in signings (including payroll upgrade acquired via trades) the Nats could be more than respectable, both on the field and in the stands. Imagine how much fun home games would be with 35 to 40,000 fans there every game.

Posted by: KenzAFan | September 24, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

If Flores is healthy and can play the majority of the year and if the two free agents we signto fill the middle of the rotation play to their potential the Nats can win 70 even with some growing pains in 2010. I am looking forward to 2011 with the Zimm Reaper and Strasburg in full effect with Lannan to cement the rotation.

Posted by: markfd | September 24, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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