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2009 roster vs. 2010 roster

Oct 8, 2010, 3:02 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Danny Espinosa hadn't played above Class A this time last year.

At the conclusion of any baseball season, it's common to want to look forward, to figure out how a club's roster might change between now and spring training. And obviously that's a worthy endeavor. You want to identify a team's flaws and figure out how to fix them.

But there can also be some value in looking backward, not only to the beginning of the just-completed season, but all the way back to the end of the previous one. That can offer some perspective on what progress, if any, an organization has made over the last 12 months.

It's easy to forget now just what the Nationals' roster looked like one year ago. I tried to run through their end-of-2009 lineup, rotation and bullpen in my own head and flat-out couldn't remember who held certain spots. After doing some quick research, I was reminded that among the significant contributors at the end of 2009 were Josh Bard, Pete Orr, Garrett Mock and Ron Villone. Yikes.

So I decided to analyze, position-by-position, the state of the Nationals' roster in October 2009 vs. the state of the roster in October 2010. Have they made significant progress? Are they essentially the same? Have they gotten worse in any areas?

Let's take a look…

End of 2009: Josh Bard, Wil Nieves, Jesus Flores (injured)
End of 2010: Ivan Rodriguez, Wilson Ramos, Wil Nieves, Jesus Flores (injured)
Wow, how quickly we forget what a disaster this situation was a year ago. The Nationals really put all their eggs in the Jesus Flores basket,Read more ยป

  1. Mark Zuckerman - Oct 8, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    If you didn't see this posted under one of last night's playoff game threads, check out this Taiwanese video report of Chien-Ming Wang's one inning in Viera from the other day. Includes quotes from Mike Rizzo (who was there) and a shot of Jesus Flores throwing out a basestealer…

  2. zachattack1490 - Oct 8, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    I think the roster looks better. If Dunn doesn't re-sign, could there be a chance at moving Hammer to first base in attempt to keep him more durable? Good read, as always

  3. nationals anthems - Oct 8, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    Amen. You could say the same thing about all the minor league rosters too. There's a lot of water still gushing through the sieve (win value lost on the field?) but less this year than last and less next year than this.

  4. joemktg - Oct 8, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    FO did a nice job replacing some of the bad tiles, but to be a playoff team, we need a new roof. I'll settle for a competitive team that is slightly above .500, and to do that, I agree with the need to resolve the issues with CF, RF, 1B, the bench and TWO more starters. But that doesn't get you to October.

  5. LoveDaNats - Oct 8, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    Would they consider Michael Morse at first if they don't sign Dunn? And what are the odds Morse develops into a power hitter?

  6. JD - Oct 8, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    Mark, In my opinion you are mostly correct but I do have a couple of areas of disagreement: 1) I don't agree that Espinosa 'dominated' at AA; he hit .262 .334 .464 .798; in fact his numbers at AAA where somewhat better (small sample); I would caution against counting on him as the long term solution just yet. 2) If Dunn isn't signed I would seriously consider moving Morse to 1st and solving the lineup issues through trades for better outfielders.

  7. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Oct 8, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    This is putting lipstick on a pig. Team still lost 93 games. Sum was less the whole of its parts. Team needs much better starting pitching, defense, team speed and inspiration. Baseball IQ must be among the lowest in the game. Fundamentals, such as hitting to the right side with man on second and less than two out, are horrible. Missed cutoff men, missed signals, missed opportunities galore. How many errors in the field did our pitchers make? Can we turn a simple 1-4-3 double play? At times, it seemed insurmountable. When we watch the elite teams take endless pitches, work the count, foul off good pitches and excel in the field on the basepaths, I get more and more depressed compared to what I saw here for 162 games. Let's not fool ourselves — there is mucho work to be done to even get to .500, not to mention look the Phils and Yanks in the eye.

  8. swang - Oct 8, 2010 at 4:52 PM

    quick translations:WCM (Chinese family names are first) basically said that he felt nervous, and uncomfortable with the first batter, and that it was a relief to go past that. He felt OK. (didn't use any superlatives.) and essentially said "we'll see how I feel."Not exactly the everything is good, I feel wonderful type of stuff that 'Znn was talking about when he came back.WCM also mentioned that he wanted to stay with the Nationals and work through a full season in the MLB for a championship next year. Somebody has been hitting the Rizzo-weed a bit much, methinks.

  9. JD - Oct 8, 2010 at 4:54 PM

    The playoffs this year are really a showcase of what you need to succeed: You need 4 or 5 above average pitchers to get to the playoffs but you need 2 dominant type pitchers to win in the playoffs; this is why I think that philly and Texas look good and why the Giants with a mediocre lineup still have a chance. For the Nats only Strasburg and Zimmermann even have the potential to be dominant; I think that pitchers like Livo, Lannan and Maya would be destroyed if they had to pitch in the playoffs; Greinke is scheduled to earn $27 mil over the next 2 years and I think he wants out of KC; I would make them a very aggressive offer (provided he would want to come to DC; he has a limited no trade).

  10. Anonymous - Oct 8, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    Awesome post Mark.

  11. Jeeves - Oct 8, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    My problem with the Nats getting better extends very much into the minor leagues where in all the leagues, the organization managed only one all-star-Danny Espinosa. Other than than this year's draft, there are next to no quality pitchers or, for that matter, position players. And that has nothing to do with the bleak Expo years. The lower minors are stocked with Bowden and Rizzo draft picks, especially Rizzo's. Other than Ramos, Rizzo has made no significant trades and like his predecessor, over evaluates his own talent. He had a chance to get a good pitcher in Dan Hudson but wanted another top prospect as well. Now, what do the Nats have, possibly one draft pick. Rizzo does get his picks signed, I'll give him that, but how good are they going to be, excluding the obvious. The emphasis was going to be on potting and defense, but next year I see the distinct possibility of having Dunn, Willingham, and Morse all on the field at the same time, not to mention an inconsistent Desmond (who I like a lot and believe will cut down on his errors significantly next year-but…) and the head case Morgan, who can be great or terrible-take your pick.

  12. Another_Sam - Oct 8, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    You nailed it, MZ. I can nitpick with you on two of your findings, though: right field: so bad on both counts that one can't say which is better. same for starting rotation.Anyone else out there already eager for spring training?

  13. Feel Wood - Oct 8, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    "My problem with the Nats getting better extends very much into the minor leagues where in all the leagues, the organization managed only one all-star-Danny Espinosa. Other than than this year's draft, there are next to no quality pitchers or, for that matter, position players."If that is true, then how do you explain this?AAA Syracuse 76-67 2nd place in their divisionAA Harrisburg 77-65 2nd place in their divisionA Potomac 70-69 2nd place in their division, won the Mills CupThese teams were made up largely or even completely of players NOT from this year's draft. Yet in competition with their peers, these players did quite well. How can you reasonably say that there are absolutely no quality players among them?

  14. Anonymous - Oct 8, 2010 at 5:55 PM

    Other than Ramos, Rizzo has made no significant trades and like his predecessor, over evaluates his own talent. There's the Langerhans for Michael Morse trade? How about the Hanrahan + Lastings Millege for Burnett and Morgan? Burnett looks like he is another Matt Capps (also a former Pirate) as well as a Pirates #1 pick. Millege? He still fields worst than anyone the Nats have tried in right field in spite of his athletic gifts. Hanrahan has improve and some might say Millege looks better than Morgan (not in the field sorry). But Burnett and Morgan are left-handed … and that made all the difference people. Then there's the Guzman trade which led to two AA pitchers from the very deep Texas system who helped H-burg get to the playoffs.I think Mike Rizzo values his talent in the right way, I believe its the other franchises who say, hey it's the Nats!? So they low ball Rizzo. And Bowden although Bowden was a lot more disagreeable about it.Yeah, Rizzo wanted Beckham but that was before Espinosa made the scene. Plus we don't what other players were in that package to the ChiSox? Plus knowing Dunn hates to DH had to affect the decision making some.Rizzo has had only 2 years where he basically ran the draft and could not be overruled. That IS NOT I repeat IS NOT enough time to rebuild a farm system that was still in a shambles from MLB and Luria ownership? Most of the upper minors starting in Advance A were filled with older journey man players needed to fill in due to a lack of real prospects. The #1 starting pitching prospect in 2007/2008 was Balester? Bill Bray was considered a top potential? Michael O'Connor? Yep Bowden.I don't know about you but I sure am happier thinking about Silver Spikes finalist (to Strasburg) AJ Morris perhaps joining the team next year in the rotation or in the bullpen. Competition for Drew Storen. Lefty Danny Rosenbaum looks pretty good so far … and Solis.Rizzo knows he has to make some moves this offseason as far as trades. And FA signings. Let's wait and see what transpires. He is new at this job but he seems pretty organized and on top of things … let's give him a shot shall we!

  15. Anonymous - Oct 8, 2010 at 6:00 PM

    Note the team that finally got Hudson … AZ and a guy who worked pretty closely with Mike Rizzo. And they traded a guy Rizzo puportedly had interest in?AZ made the right moves. They got younger and better fast. Going with their own young prospects … and for other team's. Very much a Rizzo mindset. As for a potential first baseman other than Morse? Well the guy playing third base for the D-backs used to be Zimm's teammate at UVA. He might be available. Sure as shootin' he could play first base … and he has some huge power as well.

  16. Steve M. - Oct 8, 2010 at 6:10 PM

    This is UGLY with a capital "F":End of 2010: Alberto Gonzalez, Willie Harris, Justin Maxwell, Adam Kennedy, Kevin Mench

  17. Jeeves - Oct 8, 2010 at 6:14 PM

    Feel Wood, I did not say there were no quality players, but I suppose it depends on how you define quality. What pitching prospects anywhere in the organization would be considered a number one through three part of a good pitching rotation. I'm only counting those with rookie status, not Strasburg, or Zimmermann. Obviously, the so called experts couldn't find any. As far as position players are concerned, there is Espinosa, Norris, Marrero, who is poor defensively, and Burgess, who is definitely a question mark. Of course, there is Harper, who, like Strasburg, my poodles would have known to select. But remember, I wasn't counting this years draft, which, as yet, we know very little about. Sure, Pontomac won their league, but who on the team, other than Norris, would be considered first string major league material.

  18. Steve M. - Oct 8, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    Mark Zuckerman wrote…There are still question marks at first base and center and right fields, plus the stated need to add another starting pitcher and a need to improve the bench. But overall, this organization is in much better shape today than it was one year ago. Well said and I agree with you that this team looks better today in the offseason than last year. Mark, if you re-signed Dunn and had $25,000,000 left to raise the payroll to $87,000,0000 and freely spend Uncle Teddy's money, which player(s) would you get?

  19. natsfan1a - Oct 8, 2010 at 6:35 PM

    Livo (or at least the Livo of yore) begs to differ on this point (scroll down to the postseason stats when you get there):—I think that pitchers like Livo, Lannan and Maya would be destroyed if they had to pitch in the playoffs

  20. JD - Oct 8, 2010 at 6:51 PM

    Natsfan1a,There were some good games there but some real stinkers too and this was when his fastball was in the 90's not the 70's. I would not want to face Lee, Lincicum or Haliday with his stuff today.

  21. natsfan1a - Oct 8, 2010 at 7:53 PM

    Maybe we could do some sort of back to the future thing with Livo in those cases, JD. Eh, probably not. At any rate, I think it's going to be some time before we need to worry about Nats playoff scenarios. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. JD - Oct 8, 2010 at 8:11 PM

    Natsfan1a; When we get there I don't want to be the Twins; I want to be able to send out SS, Zimmermann, Greinke? knowing that we have a chance to win every time out. BTW; what does everyone think it would take to pry Greinke? I,m thinking we should make Zimmerman,Zimmermann,Strasburg and maybe Storen untouchable and then let them take any 3 players from our whole system.

  23. dale - Oct 8, 2010 at 8:20 PM

    I think a good piece would be about what the Nats need to do get into the second tier of teams (first tier being division winners). That would mean how far apart are they from Atlanta in terms of personnel? What would they need to become winners against the Marlins? Philadelphia, as currently built would destroy anyone, so lets not even go into that sphere.MZ, I pretty much agree with your assessment, looking at it from an improvement from October 2009 is a fair way of measuring progress.

  24. Donald - Oct 8, 2010 at 8:47 PM

    Excellent analysis. Now we need to wait to see how the team at the end of 2010 compares to the start of 2011. If we go into next season with basically this same set of players, I think that only buys us 10 more wins and another last place finish.

  25. JD - Oct 8, 2010 at 8:56 PM

    Donald, 10 more wins gets us out of last place; no way the whole division is over .500. Look for the Mets (no Santana) to take a further step back; Atlanta (weak lineup without Chipper and a downturn by Hudson) will also have trouble repeating their numbers.

  26. Phil Dunn - Oct 8, 2010 at 9:19 PM

    I am not so sure the Phillies will dominate the NL East three years from now. They have traded away a lot of their young talent for Halladay, Oswalt and Lee (last year). Beyond that, they are a rather old team presently.

  27. WeatherB - Oct 8, 2010 at 9:40 PM

    1) Re-sign Dunn (just pay the man, Rizzo!)2) We need to agressively go after Greinke, Lee and, in my world, Garza. All existing starters with the Nats (except Stras, Zimmermann and Livo) are expendable – that means Lannan, Marquis, Detwiler, Olsen. 3) Re-deploy outfielders, without Morgan and add a REAL centerfielder.I know, this is a huge order, but achieve this and winning 85+ games becomes likely in 2011.

  28. BinM - Oct 8, 2010 at 10:11 PM

    In terms of roster roll-over in the NL East, The Phillies will probably lose Werth, Moyer, maybe Durbin – just about everybody else is controlled through 2011. The Braves will lose Bobby Cox at the helm, Saito, Proctor & Wagner from the 'pen, Glaus & Hinske, from the IF, and maybe Diaz, Ross, D.Lee & Cabrera to FA; They'll have some rebuilding to do. The Marlins only have Hanley and J.Johnson under contract for next year; Otherwise, it's a bunch of renewable youngsters, Arbitration cases, or Free Agents. Loria reportedly has the $$ to spend to keep this team intact, but will he? The Mets, OTOH are saddled with a lot of long-term contracts (nine players for $104.25M+ in 2011), as well as a new GM/Manager search, so they don't have a great deal of either time or financial wiggle room to work with. The Nationals will have $$ coming off the books (some 'dead money' along with Olsen, Harris, maybe Kennedy & others); RZim is due an increase, and Arbitration cases (Willingham, Lannan, Burnett) will take up a bit more. They should, however have the funds available to fill some gaps ('LH power hitter'/SP/1B/RF/bench) through either trades (taking on some salary for talent), or Free Agency. Two or three 'smart' trades or signings in the off-season could jump the Nationals out of the cellar for 2011, imo.

  29. Anonymous - Oct 8, 2010 at 10:52 PM

    Unfortunately you might have to lose Zimmermann to get a Greinke. Plus some other pitchers. Desmond might also be a possibility. But how valuable is a top of the rotation guy? To understand the value you need only look at who is in the playoffs, who almost made it and of those that did which assets are currently dominating.

  30. Anonymous8 - Oct 9, 2010 at 4:39 AM

    Anon @ 6:52, unless I am mistaken, Greinke is a Free Agent so all it will take is money to sign him and you don't have to lose JZim'nn.

  31. JD - Oct 9, 2010 at 12:36 PM

    @non @ 12:39.Greinke is signed through 2012.

  32. Anonymous - Oct 10, 2010 at 12:37 AM

    Actually I understand that Grienke is under team control though 2013. To get him requires a trade of significant prospects.

  33. Andrew - Oct 10, 2010 at 1:17 PM

    Greinke is signed thru 2012 on a backloaded 4 year $38 million contract. He will be making $13.5 million for this year and next year. So the only way to get him is via a trade.I am sure the Royals would entertain low dollar prospects in trade for Greinke. Just depends what prospects they would want. Greinke didn't have a great 2010 as he went from a 2.16 ERA in 2009 to 4.17 in 2010.What do you give up for a career 3.82 ERA guy that you have to $13.5 million to?



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