|2007 Postmortem: The Washington Nationals||| Print |||Send|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on December 13, 2007
AVG: Dmitri Young, .320
HR: Ryan Zimmerman, 24
RBI: Ryan Zimmerman, 91
Runs: Ryan Zimmerman, 99
SB: Felipe Lopez, 24
Wins: Jon Rauch, 8
ERA: Matt Chico, 4.63
Strikeouts: Matt Chico, 94
IP: Matt Chico, 167.0
Saves: Chad Cordero, 37
Best Move of the Season: The Washington Nationals picked up outfielder Wily Mo Pena from the Boston Red Sox during the season, and the outfielder performed well. In 37 games, Pena hit .293 with eight home runs. If he can continue that kind of production, he could be a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter, as long as the Nationals can stomach the strikeouts. Some team needs to give him an everyday job to see what he can do with 500 ABs.
Worst Move of the Season: Manager Manny Acta has done a good job working with this team, but it’s odd that he gave outfielders Ryan Langerhans and Nook Logan a combined 531 at bats. Langerhans’ OBP was an abysmal .273, while Logan was only slightly better at .304. Continuing to give outs away like this did nothing to help this ballclub. Even for a team this bad, there has to be some journeyman player who can perform better than this.
Key Player: He may not be a superstar, but Dmitri Young deserves plenty of credit for a better-than-expected 2007 season for the Nationals. The first baseman hit .320, got on base at a .378 clip, and slugged .491. He contributed offensively for a club that was starving for runs. Plus, his coming back from diabetes and being released from the Detroit Tigers in 2006 makes for a feel-good story.
Up and Coming Player: It’s really impossible to pick someone other than third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He is the young superstar the Nationals are trying to build around, but his sophomore year was not a good one, as he lost about 20 points off his batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. If he’s going to be the cornerstone, the Nationals are going to need .280/.370/.500 from him consistently, along with 25-28 homers and 100 RBIs. Otherwise, they need to find someone else to build around.
What Went Right: The Nationals are finally looking to rebuild their team through the draft. With their first two picks, they selected two touted left handed pitchers in Ross Detwiler and Josh Smoker, and their third pick was a high upside outfielder named Michael Burgess. If the Nationals keep trying to build up their team through the farm system, great things are in their future.
What Went Wrong: Pretty much everything at the major league level. The Nationals saw Zimmerman decline both offensively and defensively, learned that no one can hit lead off or second, had a relief pitcher lead the squad in wins, and watched as Chad Cordero killed his trade value by consistently blowing save opportunities.
But the starting pitching is what really ailed the Nationals. Matt Chico led the squad with only 167.0 innings thrown and Mike Bacsik was second with 118.0. If the Nationals are going to do anything in the future, they need consistent innings from their starting rotation. Otherwise, scrap-heap journeymen and too-young prospects will be thrown into the fire and that is only a recipe for disaster.
Offseason Preview: General manager Jim Bowden has made good on his label of wanting to turn a deal, and he has assembled a squad that could do well next season. Offensively, an outfield of Pena, Elijah Dukes, and Lastings Milledge may be a few years off, but still solid. At the corners in the infield are Young and Zimmerman, both of whom can produce. While the team could use some help up the middle, Ronnie Belliard and Christian Guzman should be decent replacements.
All Bowden needs to do is take a gamble on several pitchers that spent the majority of last season injured and are looking to re-establish themselves at the major league level. Guys like Kris Benson, Matt Clement, Bartolo Colon, and Freddy Garcia should be on his speed dial. If one of those arms turn around, the Nationals would get the quality innings they desperately need and perhaps some decent trade bait for the July 31 trade deadline.