Pitchers and catchers reporting in a few days, but is the team complete? Most people want to trash the lack of activity this offseason from a team that couldn’t win 60 games last year. Personally, I think they are a much better team if you assume players will be healthy, factor in the trade with the Marlins, and assume the youngsters develop some year over year. Manny Acta believes the same thing. In fact, he recently said, “This club is better than [the 2007 team] that won 73 games.” And you know what? I believe him. But there are some questions that remain. Here is my list of questions going into the first weekend of baseball
- Are there going to be any acquisitions? They still need a lefty power bat, and Dunn is still out there. He may clog up the roster a bit, but as long as Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes get to start every day, I’m ok with that. I don’t mind clogging up 30 year olds Nick Johnson or Josh Willingham, even though I think they will both help to greatly improve the offense.
- What going to happen with Milledge in CF? Can he play there? Or is he going to have to go to a corner? If he moves to the corner, can his bat handle it? I like Dukes in center, my only fear would be that Milledge isn’t a valuable left fielder.
- What about health? Ryan Zimmerman was hurt last season, but that was really the first time. But Dukes, Shawn Hill, and Jesus Flores have to prove they can be healthy for the whole season. Nick Johnson is a whole other story.
- What’s up with Wily Mo? He came in 2007 and became the best offensive player for the last 2 months of the season. Last year he fizzled and got hurt, and maybe the injury was why he fizzled. People aren’t talking about him, but if he recovers that could be some of the power this team is looking for.
- Is there a bullpen? If so who’s in it? I am less concerned with others about this. I think Manny can put something together, and that most relievers are overrated. Look at the Yankees. Joe Torre couldn’t find a new reliever that was effective for about 10 seasons there, Joe Girardi comes in and finds 6 in one year. Between Mock, Colome, Hanrahan, Shell, and Rivera, I think the the potential is there.
- Is Ryan Zimmerman going to be a permanent fixture on this team? His numbers haven’t been outstanding, but he is only 23. I’d say lock him up now. You may not be getting David Wright or Evan Longoria, but you are still likely getting one of the best third baseman in the league for the next 7 or 8 years.
- Who’s gonna have a breakout year?
- Is anyone going to step up to play second base? Anderson Hernandez is penciled in as the starter, but I think that will be somewhat fluid. Will he be the guy, or is it someone else?
- Austin Kearns. What’s the deal?
- What’s up with Willie Harris? He’s probably not a viable starter on a legit team, but he makes a good 4th OFer. The problem is the Nats have like 40 OFers. Trade bait, perhaps?
- How’s the rotation going to pan out? I don’t have alot of confidence that Daniel Cabrera will find the strike zone, but he can still pitch 200 innings decently enough. Colin Balester probably isn’t going to be an ace, but he has a chance to develop into an effective starter. John Lannan has a chance to piggyback a strong 2008 season, while Shawn Hill appears to be healthy for the moment. Scott Olsen probably is their best pitcher going into the season.
- Meanwhile if any of those guys falter Jordan Zimmermann, Tyler Clippard, Mike O’Connor, and Shairon Martis all have a chance to step in.
- Are youngsters like Leonard Davis and Justin Maxwell going to contribute this year?
I’m sure there’s more, but those are the biggies to me right now.