|Core Developing for Nationals||| Print ||
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on April 01, 2010
For the Nationals it's all about baby steps, but so long as they are steps in the right direction ownership and fans have to be pleased.Â Thanks to a lousy record and some smart planning the team landed the most highly touted pitching prospect, certainly of the modern age, but quite possibly of all time in Stephen Strasberg.Â Strasberg represents the future for this organization and looks to be an elite pitcher who'll bring this rotation out of the dumps and give it a respectability it has lacked since Pedro Martinez pitched for the team up in Montreal.
Everyone else, with the possible exception of Ryan Zimmerman, among the positional players are place holders, doing their time until the prospects in the system grow up enough to take over their positions.Â Some of that will happen before the end of this season, but it probably will be in 2012-2013 before this team has truly been transformed into a solid young team with plans to contend for years to come.
Thus you can expect the Nationals to be a team in flux this season, especially in the late summer as the non-waiver trading deadline comes, the waiver trading deadline comes and September allows them to expand their roster.Â Just who'll come, and who'll go is a question that only the player development side of their organization will be sure of before mid-summer.
Still this looks to be the best team that has played in the nation's capitol in several decades, and at least offensively they should be a lot of fun to watch.Â The pitching is still weak, and probably will be so all year, even with Strasberg likely to show up at some point.
The veterans in the starting rotation, John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Livan Hernandez and Scott Olsen, are all decent enough pitchers, but most would be No. 3 or 4 pitchers for other teams.Â But in the case of Olsen and Lannan there is still some degree of upside, while Marquis and Livan Hernandez are here more to serve as mentors than to lead this team to victory.
And in the Nationals front office they can taste victory -- it's in the plan for just a few years down the road, when the whole team will offer enough upside that they can lure top free agents into town and fill key holes.Â By the end of this year you can expect to see at least the framework for that plan as the team brings up its prospects to see just what they really can do at this point.Â Enough should stick to make the 2011 team one to watch carefully.
But until then the team's expectations aren't too high.Â For this year a run at .500 would be nice, a finish anywhere outside the cellar would be a huge plus.Â And if they don't get there this year, betting against them doing it in 2011, and taking another step up by 2012, would probably not be a very smart bet.