TMS MLB Preview 2009: Washington Nationals

All through March, Thunder Matt's Saloon will be previewing each Major League team. We'll give you the ins and outs of the upcoming 2009 season, how each team will do, and some other useless crap you'll wish you had never read.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

SO LONG:
3B Aaron Boone, P Tim Redding
WELCOME: P Daniel Cabrera, SS Alex Cintron, OF Adam Dunn, P Wil Ledezma, P Scott Olsen, OF Corey Patterson, C Javier Valentin, OF Josh Willingham

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Cristian Guzman SS
2. Lastings Milledge CF
3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B
4. Adam Dunn 1B
5. Elijah Dukes RF
6. Josh Willingham LF
7. Anderson Hernandez 2B
8. Jesus Flores C

Starting Rotation: John Lannan, Scott Olsen, Daniel Cabrera, Collin Balester, Shawn Hill
Setup: Saul Rivera, Steven Shell
Closer: Joel Hanrahan

The bottom line with the 2009 Nationals squad is that they didn't jettison nearly enough of their toxic waste, and only brought more in. Adam Dunn was actually a good signing for this club, but considering they already had Wiley Mo Pena, Dmitri Young, Austin Kearns, Elijah Dukes, and Lastings Milledge, not to mention the signing of Josh Willingham, where are all these corner outfielders and first basemen going to play? Someone tell Jim Bowden there's no DH in the NL. Oh wait, scratch that. Bowden had to resign as GM on accusations of skimming cash off the contracts of foreign players. He pretty much drove the Nationals into the ground during his tenure, so it's really for the best that they take a fresh approach.

It's a sad state of affairs when the additions of Daniel Cabrera and Scott Olsen legitimately strengthen your starting rotation. Both have a history of unpredictability on the mound and in social quarters. Olsen holds the distinction of being the only player on the team that has been tasered by police, and they have Elijah Dukes on their roster! Shawn Hill has managed to hang around the club, despite only putting up seven wins in five seasons with a career 4.93 ERA. Hey, at least he has a job in these tough economic times. A lot of guys can't say that.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: Yikes, slim pickings here. How about John Hanrahan? He's basically assured the closer job. The Nationals won't be very good, but there's a little bump in offensive production with Adam Dunn. That should equate to a lot of close games. Chad Cordero was able to rack up a decent number of saves despite playing for Nationals teams that were even worse than this one. For fantasy baseball purposes, Hanrahan could slightly be deemed "sexy".

Make it or Break it: It's time for Ryan Zimmerman to step up and become the player the Nationals were banking on. They don't need any pop out of him, they just need him to be a solid contact guy in the mold of Mark Grace. He needs to keep the batting average over .300 and stay healthy. The fans are already growing disenchanted with the club, so they need someone like Zimmerman to galvanize them. Is he ultimately the right guy for that? Probably not, but this year should tell us.

Cause for Hope: The Rays did it last year, right? Who says the Nationals can't go to the World Series this year? Ha, just kidding, it won't happen. The Nationals are destined for failure. The good news is that the city of Washington is already used to that.

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