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Tracee Hamilton to discuss the Nats during First Things First

The Nationals will be the feature topic for Tracee Hamilton's daily chat at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Here's a sample:

After a week the Nationals are 3-4, not a surprising start. However, Jason Marquis, one of the Nats' biggest offseason acquisitions, has lost his first two starts (albeit to the defending NL champions) and the Nats have failed to find an everyday right fielder, leaving the platoon at that position to grow to the size of, well, a platoon.

Patience, preaches the Nats' front office. But did the Nats make enough moves in the offseason, and were the moves good enough, to at least move this ballclub forward from last season? I'm thinking maybe not. What do you think?

By Sports Editor  |  April 12, 2010; 10:36 PM ET
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Next: The Nationals' slow offensive start


That judgement cannot really be made at least until July. If the team is rebuilding that process continues. We'll have to wait and see how the starting pitching prospects fare during this summer's minor league season. Plus Kobernus appears to be hitting well. If that continues he could jump from Hagerstown to Harrisburg. Destin Hood has also started out well. There is Espinosa and Burgess. And trades that must occur to make further improvements.

Posted by: periculum | April 13, 2010 3:15 AM | Report abuse

@p--yes, but.
I took Tracee's question to mean "move the club ahead *this year*, so Kobernus et al. (but not Al Evans, the catcher) don't count if that's so--none of those guys should be up this year, and if they are, there's your answer right there: Hello, Trifecta. And she did say "in the off season", so trades and FA signings to come (and they will come), are also answering a good, but different, question.
That said, Wang was off-season, and if (huge if, yes) he pays off, that would almost be a season-changer (in Nats terms) by itself. Add Strasburg, who wasn't an off-season acquisition but let's throw him in anyway just 'cuz he's a new guy they got and he didn't play last year, and I think Wang probably benefits by not being the focus.
But to answer the question she asked, I think we might know sooner, if a majority of Marquis, Capps, Bruney, Pudge, and Kennedy either flame out or prove solid by the middle of May (those famous first six weeks against all good teams). OTOH, if they are ok, but not super or super-lousy, then I agree: wait for SS and Wang, see how it goes, assess in hindsight.
But Rizzo, by definition, doesn't have that luxury. He needs to find a right fielder, and probably another starter for 2010 only.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 13, 2010 4:41 AM | Report abuse

But suppose Marquis turns out to be (and it's WAY too early to be speculating this, shamelessly irresponsible of me) another occult shoulder or elbow gone sour. (Remember Brian Lawrence?) Olsen may well not hold up, even if his velocity is improving now. Wang was always a longshot. Detwiler is still unproven. Mock may knock around like this for years if he doesn't get it together very soon. Strasburg will be very good--*next* year, maybe 2012. Martin is a back-end starter at best. Chico is a back-end starter for a bad team, at best (great guy, I miss him anyway, but...). Livo is Livo; after July or August, the 2 good starts out of 3 will become 1 out of 3, maybe. If the league, and luck, catch up to Lannan, that leaves Stammen.
So yeah, they should have signed another starter.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 13, 2010 5:05 AM | Report abuse

The right fielder thing doesn't bother me as much. If Dunn has a typical year, and Zimm and Willingham and Morgan stay healthy, they'll score some runs with what they've got. Pitching and defense, however, are the soft spot. But get Crawford anyway.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 13, 2010 5:12 AM | Report abuse

I think the offseason moves did not move the club forward. Of the three main categories in need of serious attention, starting pitching, relief pitching and defense, only defense (Kennedy and Rodriquez) are an improvement at this point. Capps and Bruney look like more of the same to me. That said, Olsen and Wang could still work out well. Everyone else who can contribute to an improved on-the-field product this year (Strasburg, Storen, Clippard, Desmond) were not offseason moves.

Posted by: 24thStNE | April 13, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

If you're talking W-L record, it's too early to say.

What the Nationals have done, perhaps irreparably, is treated the fans (the few, the faithful), to an amazing array of actions showing the owners have no respect for the fan base. Stan Kasten is the leading edge of this program of condescension and neglect, but the Lerners obviously bear the brunt of the responsibility.

One of the ways of showing disrespect, but only one, is the obvious parsimony the club shows in acquiring free agents. A higher-priced free agent in his prime (not Pudge in his decline, now reporting back problems), brings perhaps no more certainty as to production, but indicates a commitment to excellence ASAP. One really complicating factor is that the Natloud and clear ionals have made known to the world at large that they're cheap and thus do not constitute a club that would be able to attract top talent, even if the money were there, which it's not.

It seems the Nats' future will depend on developing home-grown talent, and in that regard, Rizzo's bragadoccio notwithstanding, the farm system has yet to show any results. It's certainly not in the Minnesota Twins league, for sure.

Posted by: JohnRDC | April 13, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Just read Jermaine Dye's comments concerning the Nat's offer("i'm not going to bring my family all the way to Washington from Arizona with the offer that they(Nats)made it would have to be better than the other clubs") Really? hey jack you're a 37 yr.old semi-washed up outfielder(poor defense)with eroding skills,how's about this, keep you're family and yo azz in Arizona cause we don't need that type of Latrell Sprewell("i can't feed my family") attitude here in DC.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 13, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Sec3mysofa: For the clueless among us, who is Crawford?


Posted by: usmc53 | April 13, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay LF. Free agent after the season, 29 years old. Capable of batting .300 while hitting 15 dingers and stealing 60 bases.

Posted by: BobLHead | April 13, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

BobLHead, thanks for the info.

Go Nats!

Posted by: usmc53 | April 13, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

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