Nationals Baseball: Opening Day!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day!

As Banks once said (Josh not Ernie) : "It's a terrible day for a ballgame. Let's play 5 innings and go home and have some hot chocolate"

Will it be a season where the Nats surprise? A step in the right direction? Or the same old, same old? I'm at least excited about this year as opposed to previous ones. There's only one aging and bad player starting (hey pudge!) on offense and any dislike of seeing Pudge out there will be mitigated by seeing Ramos play more and more. In fact three young guys (Ramos, Desmond, Espinosa) should get a ton of playing time. Morse, while probably no better than Willingham, has the air of mystery on his side. Werth, Zimm, and LaRoche should do what they do. Really only CF sits out there as a stinker of a position, but hey it's the Nats. It's their heritage. (really though - Hairston in an OF platoon? I mean... like... seriously? Tomorrow is April Fool's right?)

The pitching staff is less interesting to watch. Really it's a "how good is ZNN going to be" situation but the rest should be decent and I would name my first son Gorzelanny if he could hold down the 5th position (no I wouldn't) and not subject us to the Martin, Atilano, Mock, etc. AAA Revue. I guess closer is of interest too but whatever. It's relievers. It'll work itself out one way or another as people stress way too much about at bats of random importance that happen to take place in the 9th inning.

As all bloggers, columnists, beat guys, etc. do, it's time for me to make my win total prediction. I'll go with 79 wins. This would fall in the "step in the right direction" category, but the inability to get to 80 wins would be a nice psychological barrier between believing the season was a success or a failure. Your guesses?

Some other crazy predictions that are sure to be wrong:
  • I'll go with Lannan being the best pitcher in the rotation. Livan worst.
  • I think I've convinced myself that Desmond won't be starting at short all year long.
  • Ankiel will have most starts in center, but he won't get to 81 games there.
  • Storen will stick as closer. H-Rod won't pitch in the majors until September call-ups.
  • Over/Under on Wang + Maya starts for the Nationals at 4. Who wants the over?
  • "Team Leader" Pudge, the super veteran / professional becomes an unhappy distraction as he loses playing time to Ramos.
  • I'll go with the Marlins crashing below the Nationals and the Braves to take the division as the Phillies offense implodes with the combination of Utely's injury, Howard's aging, and Rollins being only sometimes good anyway. Take that Cliff Lee - you big jerk

Guess the Rotation

The rotation ended up as Livan, Lannan, ZNN, Marquis, and Gorzelannnnnny. Obviously no one went 5 for 5, because of Strasburg but who won? A three way tie between Hoo, Cass, and me. Hooray me!

Hoo and I both had Lannan, ZNN and Marquis in the rotation. In fact we were the only two to have Lannan at all. Boo everyone for their Lannan hate. Cass had Zim, Marquis and Livan. Lots of Mayas and Wangs pushed everyone else to 2. Surprisingly - no one bombed out with 1 or 0. Considering we were making these guessing early last August - I say good job to all.

Guess the Nats LF

Morse took the lead early and ran away with it. Bdrube, cass, and Jack all had that scenario playing out. I give bdrube extra credit for calling the Morgan departure as well. (Unfortunately the Ankiel/Hairston platoon ruined his perfect record). There was a lot of Morse platoons, most with Ankiel who is a starter in a platoon so that's pretty close. You guys bought into Mike a lot earlier than I did. Only I was completely wrong as I had Bernadina in center (and if I let myself keep talking I would have had Morgan in center - probably Restovich in right the way I was going).


Hoo said...

I'll go with Gorz being best pitcher in rotation and Rizzo gets some kudos on that trade(and a bewildering pass on giving away W'ham and Morgan). The Nats annual CF mess continues. Morse continues to be a happy surprise. Desmond an unhappy surprise.

Closer by Cmte as Storen struggles some as Burnett gets several saves.

I'll take the over on Wang/Maya (with them all being Maya). End of year rotation is a tossup but I bet Maya, Det, Lannan are 3/5 as ZNN hits innings limit. BP has some major trades to make space for Bally-star and Kimball.

Agree on Pudge's frustration mounting as his quest for 3000 is supplaned by Ramos's ascension.

The best thing is that the Nats won't finish in the NL East basement this year. Huge step forward.

bdrube said...

Regarding your predictions, it's hard to argue given how much changes during the course of a season. Except for H-Rod...we HAVE to see him before September unless he is seriously hurt given that he's out of options. If we try to DFA him, some other GM will jump all over that 100 MPH arm.

My fearless prediction is a little different. I say we'll use only 45 players and 24 pitchers this year, beating our previous record lows of 46 (2010) and 25 (2005 & 2008). Better roster stability will be a tangible sign of improvement.

cass said...

Hey, I love Lannan! I just didn't see his late season renaissance coming. But I've been arguing for years that he's better than his FIP.

So I'm the only person who tied for the best in both contests, right? And last year I won the Federal Baseball late year follies contest (predicting stuff like Desmond's errors and Riggleman's double-switches). I also ran away with my work's prediction contest, having gussed 70 wins for last season. Since it looks like I'm on a hot streak, I'm guuesing that the following predictions are all gonna be wrong:

#wins: 70
5th place, but I may be overestimating the Mets here

I'm going to say that Zimmerman will be the big story in DC. He'll have a monster year and will be a viable MVP candidate. He won't win because the Nats won't be in contention due to poor starting pitching, but a lot of people will argue that he should have won the MVP when all is said and done. He'll have career numbers in on-base, slugging, and home runs while playing his usual great defense.

Burnett will crash and burn.

Storen will just be ok. He'll have some ups and downs.

Espinosa and Morse won't be as good as people think.

Desmond will make exactly 20 errors.

Zimmermann will be clearly the best pitcher. Yawn.

Strasburg and Harper will play together twice this year. Once in the minors and once in Washington. It'll be a sellout crowd in September. Harper will have Pujolsian numbers in the minors.

LaRoche will be awful and injured. Marerro will be called up and won't be very good either. He'll probably hit great in his debut and for maybe a week afterwards, causing everyone go get really excited. Then he'll suck the rest of the year.

Strasburg will win the Cy Young award in 2012. Ok, ok, so that's not a prediction for this year, but I gotta express my Strasburg fanboyism somehow.

Strasburg will start Game 1 of the World Series in either 2012 or 2013. See above.

Wally said...

ok, here are my random picks.

Best pitcher - Gorzy by WAR, Zimm by xFIP
Starter ERA - top half of NL
Wins - 71, 5th place
Offense - bottom third in NL
Defense - bottom third (not sure how to measure it)
CF - Bernie most games played, also under 81
Werth > 5 WAR
Zimm > 8 WAR (agreeing with Cass)
Desmond > 3 WAR, no one else over two
Laroche < 110 games played
Riggs let go by Aug 1, replaced by Davey Johnson

John O'Connor said...

Best starting pitcher: Zimmermann. Detwiler is #2.

Wins: 77, 4th place (I don't believe in the Mets)

All rational fans will be happy with the team defense

Centerfield is a disaster (not sure that's a prediction as much as an observation)

Riggleman continues to overmanage, lasts the year, but not back next year.

Harper struggles some in the minors, but adjusts well and finishes the year in Harrisburg.

Strasburg pitches in Washington in September. Front office figures he'll be throwing somewhere, migth as well give some hope to the locals.

Jury still out on Desmond at the end of the year. Hits and fields a little bit better, but still too many errors (say, 24).