The District Sports Page's Dave Nichols organized a virtual roundtable discussion which we'll feature over the next week, inviting local writers covering the Washington Nationals to discuss issues facing the defending NL East Champs heading into the 2013 campaign. Invited to participate in the conversation, along with yours truly, were the following writers:
- Dave Nichols - Editor-in-Chief, District Sports Page
- Alyssa Wolice - Staff Writer, District Sports Page
- Ted Starkey - Contributor to DSP, author and Editor at SBNation.com
- Ryan Kelley - DSP Prospects Writer and founder of BaseballNewshound.com
- Tom Bridge - Editor, We Love D.C.
- Joe Drugan - Managing Editor, The Nats Blog
If you're on the Twitter and aren't already following the folks listed above, you should be. Dave Nichols' Nationals coverage can be found at @NationalsDSP. The DSP's Alyssa Wolice is at @AWolice. The DSP and SB Nation's Ted Starkey can be located at @TedStarkey. Ryan Kelley can be found at @BBNewsHound. Tom Bridge and We Love DC's sports coverage can be found @WeLoveDCSports. And Joe Drugan posts on Twitter at @TheNatsBlogJoe.
The first topic of discussion? Grading the offseason. Here's what we had to say about the job Nats' GM Mike Rizzo did in preparing the Nationals for their defense of the NL East crown. And yes, we gave Rizzo an A. What of it?:
Federal Baseball: It would be hard to argue that the offseason was anything but an A. After winning 98 games, the Nationals added the center fielder/leadoff man they’ve been looking for and improved the outfield defense at the same time by trading for Denard Span and they moved Bryce Harper to left with Jayson Werth in right. It’s tough giving up a pitcher as talented as Alex Meyer for Span, but Mike Rizzo got a controllable player for a few years at a ridiculous discount compared to what the free agent center fielders got on the market this winter and improved his overall outfield defense at the same time while giving the OF prospects in the system time to develop. That’s good GMing.
They re-signed Adam LaRoche and have Tyler Moore to back up at first if necessary and Chris Marrero behind him with Matt Skole in the system, so they were set at first and able to trade one year of control of Michael Morse for a pitcher in A.J. Cole who essentially replaces Meyer in the organization. In addition to Cole, they added two more young prospects in the deal to replenish the system a bit. On top of that the Nationals went out and signed a shutdown (when healthy) closer in Rafael Soriano to an extremely team-friendly deal to solidify the back of a bullpen that can go head-to-head with the Braves’ pen and then added Dan Haren, who, again, when healthy and at his best, could be a significant upgrade over Edwin Jackson.
Did they have to add a legit late-inning lefty to earn the A+? Rizzo did try according to Davey Johnson, so it would seem they thought so in spite of the fact that they’re comfortable with their RHPs going against lefties.
Read the rest of the writers' responses through the link below, and thanks to the District Sports Page's Mr. Nichols for organizing the discussion: