Grading The Nationals Offseason
Both Yahoo! Sports and ESPN took a look at the Nats offseason today.
Jayson Stark of ESPN said: “The Nationals probably paid Werth $40 million more than any other club would have, but he’s a better all-around player than Willingham. They were also hell-bent to upgrade defensively over Dunn, and LaRoche does that,” and gave the club a C+
Steven Henson of Yahoo! Sports said: “By (2013) Harper will be the everyday right fielder. By then the middle infield of Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa could be a strength instead of a question mark. By then either Wilson Ramos or Derek Norris could be the league’s best catcher. By then Drew Storen could be an All-Star closer. By then Ryan Zimmerman – the team’s best player – might have agreed to another long-term extension instead of dashing out the door.”
Personally, I think both of Stark and Henson had good representations of the Nats offseason here. In a nutshell, they oppened with a bang, outspending everyone for a very good, but not great player in Jayson Werth. He wasn’t a player that anyone felt they needed, but the action of signing him spoke worlds of the clubs coming plans.
Then, as the winter moved on, they were not able to lure the great pitchers they desperately needed, no matter what htey offered. In between their failing efforts though, they were able to add some solid pieces to sure up the roster they did have, including adding relievers Todd Coffey and Henry Rodriguez, and bench players Jerry Hairston and Rick Ankiel.
The Nationals did improve, but not to the degree that many had hoped. It’s up in the air whether or not they’ll have a better season this year than they did last year. They lost Adam Dunn but added Jayson Werth, lost Josh Willingham but added Adam LaRoche. That alone is probably a net loss in the short term, but if you take into account the development of Desmond, Espinosa, Zimmermann and Detwiler, the club has a shot at doing better in 2011 than they did in 2010.
Ultimately though, the Nationals made amazing grounds this winter in the field of effort. While they failed to land some of the talent they set the sights on this winter, for the first time they set their sights high enough to make a difference. Considering the Nationals were in the hunt for not only Jayson Werth, who they signed, but also Cliff Lee, Zack Greinke, and Carl Pavano, it shows that finally Mike Rizzo and the Lerners aren’t looking to just get by in Washington, but to put money and effort on the line to build a championship.
Bryce Harper was named the top prospect according to Project Prospect.…Also in their top 100 list was Derek Norris, Danny Espinosa, Sammy Solis, Steve Lombardozzi,