The Slow Crawl to the Finish
While everyone else in the world is excited for the holiday season baseball fans are waiting for February for pitchers and catchers to report and beyond that April 1 when the real game begin. All this off-season stuff is nice and all, but April 1 is when we start to find out if the Royals truly are contenders or if all the money the Dodgers spent is going to help them pass the Giants. It is even worse if you are a fan of a team like the Washington Nationals. In years past there would be a segment of Nats fans looking at a deal like the one for Kevin Correia and lamenting the fact the Nationals didn't think of it first.
Those days are gone. The Nationals don't need to make any moves. They would like to bring back LaRoche, trade Morse, and bring in a lefty reliever, but they don't need to. Using the career average fWARs for the Nats current projected 25 man roster if the Nats went into the season with their current roster they would duplicate last season's win total of 98 games. That is without the defense of LaRoche, and since WAR is based on playing time, accounting for injuries. The Nationals have a contending and possible World Series roster as it stands right now, and that means the rest of this off-season is going to be very boring.
LaRoche will sign to play baseball somewhere presuming this waiting for a job thing doesn't sour him on the entire sport and he decides to retire. The Nationals are different now than they were just a few seasons ago where they needed to sign players like Pudge Rodriguez and Jason Marquis to fill out a roster. The Nats have a 25 man roster in place, and beyond that a very good 25 man roster. Even at this time last year the Nats would have been unable to field a team. Remember when they signed Rick Ankiel on Super Bowl Sunday and it felt like a decent move because it added depth to a shallow outfield. Now the Nationals outfield is Harper, Span, Werth with Bernadina as the fourth outfielder and others like Corey Brown and Eury Perez waiting in AAA to fill in.
If these next few months are boring and pass slowly it won't be because the hot stove isn't full of action. Justin Upton still might be traded. Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, Anibal Sanchez, and Kyle Lohse are all still waiting to find homes, and there might be a move or two that surprise us, but chances are high that those moves won't come from Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals.
For Nationals fans all there is to do is to wait. Wait and wonder at what will be. If the unfinished business Davey Johnson and Bryce Harper spoke of will get finished? Will Nats fans get to take vengeance on Pete Kozma and the Cardinals this October? The questions of the Nationals fan are not ones that can be answered in the off-season. The Nationals have a team, a very good team, waiting to take the field and continue what was started in 2012. Whether they can finish the job has yet to be determined and answers will only start to present themselves once April 1 arrives. Until then there is nothing to do but wait, and let this slow and boring off-season rumble to its end.