I think the story of the Nationals’ 2011 season could very well be one person:
Michael Morse. Now he might not be that much of a household name, but as a person that went to Nationals Park pretty frequently last season I can say the dude is a monster. Just look at his spray chart,
For that reason he was a bittersweet person to have in the cage during bp. You knew he was going to hit the ball a ways, but deciding whether to play him as a lefty or a righty was a whole other frustrating deal.
Gio Gonzalez, Mike Cameron, Mark DeRosa, Chad Durbin, Edwin Jackson, Brad Lidge, and Ryan Perry.
Laynce Nix, Collin Balester, Todd Coffey, Alex Cora, Jonny Gomes, Livan Hernandez, Tom Milone, and Brad Peacock.
Why?: With this past offseason, it may seem like the Nationals did really well. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been around the Nationals so much, but it seems to me that they lost a bunch of players that, yes, were not starters, but they are just below that cusp. Mind you, a B is still improving the team a bit, but I think most everyone christened their ship to a much improved season because of the additions. For me, they will improve if those that were already in the organization improve, because I am a little bit skeptical about whether Gio Gonzalez can stay healthy after building up such an innings count for the first time.
All that said, it still can be a great season in that the talent on the team surpasses the record they had last year if they can just *solidify* their rotation. I’m not talking about making it a strength of the team, but if they can just not lose games because of their starters, their lineup could win them 85 games. I kid you not, the only offensively deficient spot in that lineup is the Short Stop position with Ian Desmond. The next closest position to being offensively below-average is the Catcher position with Wilson Ramos (aka the guy every Twins fan wishes had never been traded in order to get Matt Capps).
Predicted Record Range: 85-90 wins. I say this tentatively, though. For whatever reason, I have this strange feeling in my gut that SOMEthing will go wrong with the Nationals this year. My first thought was that Gio Gonzalez will be injured, but now I’m starting to think that it might be Strasburg again. Whatever, enough of my crazy feelings, that’s it for this entry except that you need to vote on the poll below.
Next Up: Atlanta Braves, then the NL West
First team in NL West:
2011 was truly a fun year for the Cleveland Indians…the first half anyway:
Casey Kotchman, Jeremy Accardo, Jose Lopez, Derek Lowe, Felix Pie, Kevin Slowey, and Dan Wheeler.
Jim Thome, Adam Everett, and Austin Kearns.
Why?: This is a weird entry/grade. The addition far surpass the subtractions. That said, I usually don’t put in more than one or two players in the “Notable” lists that have been signed to a minor league contract. In this entry, however, I have five players that were signed to minor league contracts on the list. This serves as an indicator that a lot of the players aren’t game changers. In other words, the subtraction players aren’t that far away from equaling the value to a team that the addition players present, a fact which reflects itself in the grade I gave their offseason.
Also, Kosuke Fukudome and Chad Durbin have yet to sign, which may bring the Indians’ grade down as they were on the Indians last year.
Predicted Record Range: 77-82 wins
I think it’s safe to say the first year of the Roy Halladay Era in Philadelphia went well for the Phillies. The playoffs under their standards but still pretty good.
Cliff Lee, Delwyn Young, Brandon Moss, and Brian Bass.
Jayson Werth, Nate Robertson, Greg Dobbs, Jamie Moyer, and Chad Durbin.
Why?: They got Cliff Lee and this might have varying responses. Some may say higher than an A some may say lower. The reason I gave the Phillies an A is because Lee was the only difference maker they signed but that one player caused a HUGE spike in Phillie mentions and stock sale.
Did they gain enough in net player Werth (heh, how’d that get in there?) to deserve an A? No. Did they also go overboard the set budget and break their own rule about signing pitchers? Yes. However, the whole Lee situation has done them infinite wonders as far as publicity is concerned and therefore ticket sales (which is why I won’t go to Philadelphia that much this year). So, I did factor in what it did for them as a business as well as what it did for them as a team.
I also learned to never underestimate a Young, as demonstrated by both Dimitri and Delmon (did these people have names not in D?). So, the signing of young Delwyn did not hurt my grade.
Not much else happened besides the Cliff Lee signing but as those of you reading since December know and as those of you who haven’t can see here, I thought highly of how this signing was set up in the previous years.
Predicted Record Range: 94-99 This may seem a bit low considering how much I have lauded them in this entry but their line-up has pacified considerably with the loss of Utley and worth(so that’s where it went). Do I think that they will win the World Series if/when Utley comes back full force? Yes, but until then they will struggle in streaks to put runs up. I actually have the NL East being a race if not the Braves winning it.