Instead of looking back, which folks are wont to do in the intervening week between the Holidays and the New Year, let's look forward, after all, who wants to relive a 102-loss season, wasn't one time through that experience enough? There's a new year next week and a new season in late March, early April...and still a lot of questions left to be answered about the composition of the '09 Washington Nationals' roster...
1. Should DC sign Adam Dunn? Will Dunn want to sign with DC?
Washington Post writer Chico Harlan mentioned the fact that there was a difference of opinion in the DC Front Office on this one in Mr. Harlan's Nationals Journal post entitled, "Teixeira to Yankees", where he writes that, "Perhaps they will explore Adam Dunn as an alternative, but even that is still part of an internal debate," and Mr. Dunn himself is on record stating, much like another first base target the Nationals just missed out on, that he'd like to play for a team with a chance to win, and it's been rumored that the Brewers, Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays have interest, (two of those three meet Dunn's criteria), so it will interesting to see if DC GM Jim Bowden's personal relationship with Dunn is enough to convince him to take the Nationals' money...??
2. So far, Lannan, Olsen and Cabrera are expected to start...Will Cabrera earn the spot, and if so, who fills the last two?
When asked this week, in the most recent edition of, "Mailbag: Why take a risk on Cabrera?", why the Washington Nationals were willing to take a chance on free agent pitcher Daniel Cabrera when he'd had minimal success over the previous five seasons in Baltimore?, MLB.com's Bill Ladson told the Nationals' fan, (who happened to be from Montreal):
"Washington admires Cabrera's potential and feel that pitching coach Randy St. Claire can fix him. Cabrera is 27 and the Nationals have always loved the way St. Claire has worked with young pitchers."
Is viewing Cabrera as a younger Tim Redding, with arguably more raw talent than the former Nationals' starter a fair assessment? It took Tim Redding seven years in the Majors before he found a real home in DC, having his best season as a pro as a 30-year-old veteran last year under Randy St. Claire's guidance...(uh, at least in the 1st half...)...Will facing one less batter make the difference for Cabrera, who's pitched exclusively for Baltimore in the America League? (excepting Interleague play...where Cabrera's compiled a (2-11) record with a 6.08 ERA in 16 starts and 1 relief appearance, allowing 93 hits, 64 ER's, 18 HR's and 45 walks with 70 K's in 94.2 IP against the National League...according to Cabrera's baseball-reference.com stat page).
Does Cabrera deserve a starting spot over Collin Balester, Shairon Martis or Jordan ZImmerman? Those are just a few of the other names being mentioned as serious contenders for a role in DC's '09 Rotation? If Shawn Hill's able to come back that's one less spot for the younger pitchers...and what about Matt Chico, Mike O'Connor, Tyler Clippard and Jason Bergmann, all of whom are currently on the Nationals' 40-Man Roster? Wait a minute, am I complaining about too much pitching?
3. If DC doesn't sign Dunn, Who backs up Nick Johnson at first?
Yes, this is essentially the same question Washington went into Spring Training last season asking, but unless they add Adam Dunn or another first baseman via signing or trade, it's still going to be the big question heading into the '09 season as well. DC GM Jim Bowden told a cyberquestioner, as quoted by MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in a transcript of an online Q&A entitled, "Bowden takes questions from fans", that Dmitri Young has:
"...worked very hard this offseason and has lost considerable weight. We expect him to be in the same shape in Spring Training that he was in when he won the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2007."
Johnson is 30, and hasn't played a full season since 2006 due to various injuries. Dmitri Young, 35, played 50 games last year, 136 games in '07, 48 in '06, so maybe this year will be a bounce back campaign again...But that's hard to count on with the nature of his recent health problems...Is Chris Marrero, drafted as a third baseman, turned into an outfielder, and then asked to play first, the answer, even though he suffered serious leg and ankle injuries last season and has never played above A-ball? Can Bill Rhinehart, who impressed this Spring, but hasn't played above and struggled at Double-AA Harrisburg late last season make a case for himself? Free agent signing, Matt Whitney? Larry Broadway? He's still unsigned as a MiLFA I believe...?(ed. note - " I need a better acronym than MiLFA...???")
These, clearly, aren't the only questions...I mean, how many outfielders can one team have? Who starts at second for DC in '09? Is DC Manager Manny Acta really pushing for a backup catcher that can challenge Jesus Flores for the starting job? Why not focus on the future now instead of dwelling on the past?...