Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Nats Will Be Awful

I respectfully disagree with Rob Neyer, who blogged yesterday that the Washington Nationals won't lose 100 games.

Set aside that their starting shortstop is so bad that Baseball Prospectus included a "Cristian Antonio Guzman Award" - position player mostly likely to put up the lowest VORP in regular playing time - in their staff prediction article. And ignore Vegas's over/under line of only 94 losses.

The Nationals' best hitter, Nick Johnson, is less durable than a used piƱata - and that's when he starts the season healthy. Unfortunately for the team, the broken leg that ended Johnson's 2006 may have also ended his career. Johnson's replacement at first base is a running joke on the funniest baseball site around, which is good for laughs but not for scoring runs.

And the Nats will need runs, as their second through fifth starting pitchers have career major-league ERA's of 6.90 (Shawn Hill), N/A (Matt Chico, whose first start will be his MLB debut but had an equivalent ERA of 4.09 in double-A last year), 5.76 (Jay Bergmann), and 4.03 (Jerome Williams, he of the 7.30 ERA for last year's Cubs). If the Nationals didn't play in one of the best pitcher's parks in the game, they'd be a lock to allow 1,000 runs.

I'll put the 2007 Nationals at 61-101. And if John Patterson - the team's only legitimate MLB-quality starter - pitches like he did last night, then watch out '96 Tigers (53-109).

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