(sure this whole thing is based on a hell of a lot of assumptions, the first one being that everyone does exactly the same as they have done regardless of different lineups and locations. Completley erroneous? Yes. Way to pass the time? Yes. It also looks at this in a clear - better record in July 2010 kind of way. Some of these things I still think would be great moves even if they didn't work themselves out in 3 months time)
First off, Rizzo could have "lost" the Dunn deal. The Nats wanted to deal Adam Dunn. The White Sox wanted to acquire him. The Nats asked for Gordon Beckham. White Sox countered with "any one minor leaguer". Rizzo countered with "so I can get Daniel Hudson and who else?" Talks broke down. Hudson went to the D-Backs for Edwin Jackson. The Nats let Dunn walk for a
First off, Rizzo could have "won" the Dunn deal. The Nats wanted to deal Adam Dunn. The White Sox wanted to acquire him. The Nats asked for Gordon Beckham. In the real world the Sox say no way, but let's say Williams was desperate and didn't like the struggles he saw so far in Beckham. Always favoring experience over youth, Williams bites and Beckham is now the Nats property. He's pencilled in as the starting 2nd baseman and Nats fans rejoice at getting a former #1 pick who's still a young prospect at a hard to fill position. Except that Beckham struggles terribly this season. He and Desmond, by now, are creating a big gaping hole at the end of the lineup, and the Nats offense is even more stagnant than we've seen.
With Dunn gone the Nats need to sign a first-baseman and their primary target appears to be Carlos Pena. But the Cubs sweep in and snatch him for 10 million dollars and the Nats go with LaRoche. It doesn't seem like a bad consolation prize until LaRoche comes up lame. But what if the Nats managed to get Pena? The early part of the year is similar as Pena struggled just as much but in the past month he's really turned it up. The Nats are the hottest team in June thanks to Pena and the sweet Nix / Morse platoon that has developed in left field.
Of course there's always Espinosa to fill in for either, but given Desmond and Beckham's age and Lombardozzi's rise - Danny is expendable. In fact he was already seen that way this year when offered in a deal for Zach Greinke. But Greinke didn't want to come to DC. He vetoed the deal and shipped off to Milwuakee instead. In alternate world red though, Greinke oks the deal. Drew Storen, Danny Espinosa and a couple of other guys head off to KC and Grienke is a Nat. The Nats don't sign Livan (they have their innings eater), but still make the Gorzelanny deal to see what he can be. Then Zack injures himself during the off-season. The Nats struggle to fill that hole with Maya and Detwiler, trying desperately not to start the clock on a real prospect before they have too. They hold off with a few more Ls then they would like until Greinke comes back. Then he struggles upon return. Not to mention the closer problems. With Storen out of the mix the Nats tried to make Burnett work, and then Coffey (to pull another Capps-ification) but both failed. They've settled on Clippard now but it took longer than anyone would have liked.
Why don't Morse and Nix play at the same time? That's because CF is taken by Mr. Tony Plush. Instead of Rizzo throwing out another guy who he doesn't like for a bag of used baseballs, the two work it out like grown-ups. Morgan apologizes to the fans citing a year-long slump making him crazy. Rizzo doesn't see any viable CF alternatives out there and goes against his nature a bit to give Morgan a 2nd chance. After a rocky and injury-riddled start he now is giving the Nats plus D in centerfield and the fans have once again come around to his infectious drive (or is it his good stats?). Other teams may hate him but he's their guy.
But that mess pales in comparison to the OF where Laynce Nix was never signed. It didn't make a lot of sense to sign Nix. Rick Ankiel, lefty bopper decent D, has almost the same skill set and was already signed for a million. The Nats could have easily chosen to roll with Bernadina as their 4th OF. Without Nix though the team has no fall back when Morse slumps early on. Bernadina is forced into action in left while Morse sits and Hairston takes over center most of the time. Those are the good days. On the bad ones Bernadina takes over center and Stairs plays in left. It's a bad offensively, and bad defensively for a while. Eventually Morse hits his way back into a starting role at first when LaRoche goes down but the OF looks like an unsolveable mess with two positions needing to be filled the rest of the season and no prospects to do it.
This team is stacked and ready to go. It probably still isn't ready to complete this year even though the Wild Card is right there. A lot of people think that with Morse doing pretty well and under a nice contract the Nats will still deal Nix and turn left field over to Morse full-time. They need to make some room anyway given that Bryce will be up sooner than later. The Nats have a killer young rotation in the works, have every position locked up, most cheaply, for the next few years. It's a team primed to explode next season. Enough so that Rizzo is thinking about trying to get the Lerners to eat year 2 of LaRoche's deal and make a play for Fielder. The future is now.
This team has promise for next year. Who wouldn't want a rotation led by Greinke, Strasburg, ZNN? But middle infield looks like an issue and at least this season the OF is one of the worst in the majors offensively and defensively. Morse will likely slide back to left in 2012, but given the hole the fans are desperate for Bryce to be moved up quickly. Next year does seem brighter but Nats fans have heard that before.