Last week, I started this blog with part one of my ten storylines that can sum up the 2009 Nationals season thus far. In case you forgot about it, you can catch 6-10 at http://teddyneverwins.com/2009/07/23/summing-up-the-2009-washington-nationals-season-part-1/.
So before I keep wasting my time, let’s get into the top five stories of 2009.
5. Say Hello to Nyjer Morgan
Having already been mentioned multiple times in this top ten list, it’s obvious that the trade to acquire Nyjer Morgan was pretty signifigant to the Nationals season. When the Nats made the trade they thought they were simply dumping an ineffective reliever in Joel Hanrahan on the Pirates and getting a good center fielder in Nyjer Morgan to platoon with Elijah Dukes and Willie Harris. What they didn’t realize was that Nyjer Morgan was about to take over the everyday job and play his way into becoming one of the best players on the roster. Morgan has been hitting .389 and has 13 stolen bases in his 22 games as a National and his defense has single handedlyhelped turn things around for this team. It’s safe to say that if he keeps playing like he has been, he’ll end up the team MVP despite not playing the entire season in Washington.
There is not much that needs to be said about this blunder. If it wasn’t bad enough that the Nationals started the season a horrific seven game losing streak, on April 17th they took the humiliation to the next level when two of their jerseys had the team name misspelled on the front. Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman had to endure the extra innings loss to the Marlins with the word “Natinals” boldly printed across their chests and turning the team into the biggest joke in sports at the time. In fact it was so embarrassing that even in July, if you asked the casual baseball fan to tell you one thing he can recall about the Washington nationals this season he’ll likely mention the jersey blunder.
3. Ryan Zimmerman Keeps the Hits Coming
Thankfully for the Nationals, while they were stumbling out of the gate and having to outlive the Natinals fiasco, Ryan Zimmerman was doing his best to keep fans interested in Washington baseball. After going 0-5 in the Nationals second game of the season, Ryan Zimmerman then went on an amazing 30 game hitting streak that turned heads across the nation and gave the Nationals the marquee star they desperately needed. What was even more impressive is that during the streak, Zimmerman hit .382 with 8 home runs and 26 RBIs with multihit games in a whopping 15 of the 30 games. During the streak, he firmly cemented his place as one of the game’s best young third basemen and was recognized for it with his first All Star appearance.
2. The Strasburg Era Begins…Or Does It?
It was no secret that Stephen Strasburg was going to be the number one overall pick in the 2009 Major League Baseball draft. He was after all the most dominant college pitcher of all time and a gold medal winner in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Not since mark Prior had there been a pitcher coming into the draft with as much hype as Strasburg and his 100+ MPH fastball carried. The Nationals made it clear that they were going to select the San Diego State Aztec despite rumors that his agent HitlerScott Boras was demanding a contract exceeding 50 million dollars, an unheard amount for a player with no major league experience. It has now been a few months since the draft occurred and Stephen Strasburg is still a player with no major league experience as there has been no progress in reaching a deal thus far. The Nationals front office and fans still remain confident that a deal will be made soon and Strasburg will start living up to the hype.
1. No Relief from the Bullpen
It really says a lot that the number one story to sum up the 2009 season has nothing to do with the signing of possibly the greatest prospect of all time nor the emergence of arguably the team’s biggest star, but rather the ineptitude of the team’s relief pitching. Just to put into perspective how bad the bullpen has been, through July 22nd the bullpen had a 5.26 ERA and had an appalling 21-15 blown save to save ratio. The team’s three most used relievers, Julian Tavarez, Joe Beimel, and Ron Villone all combined for a record of 7 -17. To further illustrate this point, the nationals have scored more runs than the Cubs, Giants, Astros, Twins, and Mariners, all teams that have winning records so far this season. Luckily for the nationals however, Chicago White Sox castoff Mike MacDougal has done surprisingly well since taking the closers job and Tyler Clippard is emerging as one of the team’s best long relievers.
So there you have it. You are now up to date on all things Washington Nationals without even having to watch a single game. Check back at season’s end to see which of these stories continue to be a major storyline and what may make it’s way into the top 10.