Feb 24, 2014; Viera, FL, USA; Washington Nationals managerMatt Williams
(9) hits while Mike Rizzo watches from the cart in spring training action at space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
As part of a short series leading up to and through the opening week of the season, District on Deck writers will share their thoughts on several questions regarding the 2014 Washington Nationals. These are just the opinions of our staff, so feel free to voice your own in the comments below! Today we will continue with Ryan D’Amelio, one of our newest writers who joined District on Deck earlier this month.
What are your thoughts of the roster general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Matt Williams have put together?
I think Mike Rizzo had his best offseason so far as the Nationals’ general manager. He addressed every need by signing Nate McLouth and acquiring Jerry Blevins and Doug Fister. The one thing I will say is I would have liked to see them acquire a left-handed power bat for the last bench spot.
Who will be the best/most important player on the Nationals this season and why?
I think the best player on the Nationals will be Bryce Harper. He is healthy and ready to go. His spring wasn’t great but no one should worry. He should hit 25+ home runs and I wouldn’t be surprised if he stole 20 bases as well.
I believe the most important player will be Adam LaRoche. If LaRoche hits remotely close to how he hit two years ago, the Nationals will be thrilled. If he hits as poor as he did last year, the Nats’ offense could struggle. LaRoche is in a contract year so this year will mean a lot for him. Bottom line is if LaRoche produces, the Nationals have a solid offense. But if he doesn’t, their offense is merely average.
What will be the single most important development for the Nationals in 2014 and why?
I think the most important development for the Nationals will be the back end of the bullpen. It was clear Rafael Soriano struggled last year. He seemed to make every save opportunity interesting. If he and Drew Storen return to form, look for the Nats to win a lot of close games.
Any other thoughts on the 2014 Washington Nationals?
Other than that, expect the Nationals to be really aggressive in all aspects of the game. Especially on the base paths. Look for Harper, Denard Span, Ian Desmond and McLouth to be around 20 stolen bases by the end of the season.