March 3, 2007


The best news of the day happened off the field. Congratulations to Brian Schneider on the birth of his first child. By all accounts, mother and daughter are doing great. So it turns out handling four new starters will be the easy part of Brian's 2007.

It's not good to lose to the Orioles. Ever. It's just not a habit we want this team to cultivate. Other things that are not good: having Joel Hanrahan pitch in meaningful game situations. Whew, good thing we figured that out now. Whether Stan, Jim and Manny envisioned Joel as a potential starter or a long reliever, I just can't think of many situations where an ERA of 135 (yes, that's one hundred and thirty five) will be of much use. Still, it's unfair to read too much into one spring outing, no matter how utterly, completely abyssmal.

That's what these Spring Training games are for. And we certainly should expect the Nationals to have far more chaff than wheat when the separating gets underway in earnest. With that in mind, here's a very preliminary WAG at the Nats 2007 Opening Day 25-man roster:
  • C Brian Schneider - New daddy will have his hands full with this pitching.
  • 1B Larry Broadway - If the team is serious, Broadway will be the Opening Day 1B.
  • 2B Felipe Lopez - If he can't lead off and play 2B, the options aren't pretty.
  • 3B Ryan Zimmerman - Pre-season favorite for Team MVP, token All-Star, etc.
  • SS Cristian Guzman - GUZMANIA is neither man nor idea, it's a force of nature.
  • LF Ryan Church - Maybe this is his year? Like Broadway, he's earned a shot.
  • CF Nook Logan - His flycatcher defense? Breathtaking. His flyswatter offense? Nauseating.
  • RF Austin Kearns - Right fielder by the grace of God; slugger by default.
  • IF Ronnie Belliard - Insurance against Guzman's injury or Lopez's failure to adjust.
  • C Robert Fick - Versatile vet and good clubhouse guy, as long as he never has to start.
  • OF Chris Snelling - Out of options. He stays or we lose him on waivers.
  • IF D'Angelo Jiminez - Better him than Macias, Womack or Batista.
  • C Jesus Flores - He stays or we give him back to the Mets. Ergo, he stays.
  • John Patterson - Closest we've got to a sure thing.
  • Jerome Williams - Young, undeniably talented, only real prospect in the bunch.
  • Tim Redding - If he can put in 200 innings and keep the ERA around 4.50 he's a steal.
  • Shawn Hill - A full season like his 2006 audition would be a bonus.
  • Jason Simontacchi - Somebody has to start the season as the 5th starter. Why not him?
  • Billy Traber - He's left-handed and he can "start." He'll stick.
  • Saul Rivera - Maybe, maybe not. But someone has to fill the slot.
  • Ryan Wagner - If he improves he could go from middle reliever to setup guy to closer.
  • Ray King - Rubber-armed lefty. Besides, every bullpen needs a jolly fat man.
  • Jon Rauch - Bullpen anchor will be expected to take the pressure off Ayala.
  • Luis Ayala - Hopefully he starts the season on the DL. If not, he'll be very limited.
  • Chad Cordero - He's The Chief. Until he gets traded.
There are a few assumptions at work here. The first is that Nick Johnson and "Irish Mike" O'Connor will start the season on the DL. The second is that they'll be joined by Alex Escobar, "rehabbing" his current injuries. Third, I expect Nook Logan and Larry Broadway to start the season in the bigs. How long they stay there is another question. Finally, Manny's 7-man bullpen will include at least one swingman like Billy Traber, capable of spot-starting if needed. And he will be needed.

Is it a great team? By no means. Is it even a competitive team? That's arguable. But I don't see it as the worst team in baseball either. Then again, I've been drinking.

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