A rival scout sizes up the NATIONALS
Arguably the best team in the National League.... I think BRYCE HARPER is learning he can't run through walls. He looks like he went home and got stronger to handle the wear and tear of the season. He could have a monster year.... Last year JAYSON WERTH went back to being the hitter he used to be. In Philly in 2009, with two strikes he had tons of hits to right center—when they tried to go away with a slider, he drove it. He's back to that.... RYAN ZIMMERMAN rushed to get back in the lineup last year, and I don't think his shoulder was right. He threw a little bit better when I saw him, but nowhere near how he was when he signed. He might be their first baseman next year.... DANNY ESPINOSA is like Jimmy Rollins: He has enough power to make himself a bad hitter. He can drive a ball in his happy zone, middle-in and down, but he chases balls that are up.... I think STEPHEN STRASBURG's going to be fine coming off his off-season surgery. He's playing around with a slider now to add to three plus pitches already....JORDAN ZIMMERMANN is maybe a tick below Strasburg in stuff, but he throws more strikes and has better command right now.... If ROSS DETWILER ever came available, we'd all get in line to get him. He can dominate the bottom of the strike zone at 92 to 96 and get a lot of ground balls. And he has a plus curveball.... DREW STOREN is throwing the ball well. Last year maybe his feelings were hurt that they brought [Rafael] Soriano in to close, and he tried to do too much: He was overthrowing, and his command wasn't as good.
2014 Projected Statistics and Run Totals by ROTOWIRE.COM
PROJECTED RUNS SCORED
NL AVERAGE 667
PROJECTED RUNS ALLOWED
NL AVERAGE 677
RYAN ZIMMERMAN's right shoulder continues to be an issue, with soreness keeping him off the field for a week of spring training. The onetime face of the franchise has seen that surgically repaired joint diminish his performance at third base, leading to 15 throwing errors last year and a period early in the season when he struggled just to get the ball across the diamond. The Nationals have already moved a first-round draft pick, ANTHONY RENDON, out of position (to second base) to accommodate Zimmerman, and in doing so blocked DANNY ESPINOSA. It's time to take the burden of the long throw off Zimmerman. If moving him to second is too radical, then slide him to first, allowing Rendon and Espinosa to play their best positions. If this means turning ADAM LAROCHE into a part-time player or trade bait, so be it. He is a middling first baseman who can be a free agent next fall, while the other three are under Washington's control for years to come.
JED JACOBSOHN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (HARPER)
TOM DIPACE (FISTER)