They are good enough to possibly win the NL-East division. But the Mets seem to have all their starting pitchers healthy and also have a chance to win it. The Braves and Phillies are better. So this division is up for grabs. The Nats are slightly better now than they were at this time last year, but not by much.
They need the following: a 5th starter and a stronger bullpen. Their starting pitcher depth is not strong at all; they have Hellickson and Jackson who are nearing the end of journeyman careers, and they have A.J. Cole and other AAA arms who are not ready for The Show.
Are they ready for October? Not really. To get past the first round of the playoffs they need to acquire a stronger #3 starter; Gio has never won a game in the playoffs. The Nats need to do what the Astros did last year at the trade deadline, go get a starting pitcher who can win playoff games. In addition they need to upgrade the bullpen by 2 better arms than they now have. As the season plays out up to the trade deadline and some teams realize they are not going to be playing in October, candidates for the above needs will likely appear on the market.
As I was driving home listening to MLB radio, they said Brandon Phillips had tweeted them the following: “513 to 202.” Those are the area codes of Cincinnati and Wash, DC. That was about 9;30pm. When I got home I checked some of the baseball web sites and at 10pm, Ken Rosenthal (who is almost always right on this kind of news) reported that Phillips was signing with the Nats. I have no details yet, and it’s past my bed-time:)
Update as of 10am, Saturday, Dec. 19: the deal is pausing as the three parties deal with what is likely a last-minute demand for more from Brandon Phillips. I’m staying g on top of this.
Update as of 5pm Saturday, same date. The deal is off. Nat’s said take our offer as is. Phillips said no trade. That’s all she wrote.
Changing the subject, It’s clear to me Papelbon is killing Rizzo’s ability to attract the best players (such as Hayward and Zobrist). The Nats should buy out his contract and cut him loose.
Ok, here is the latest. The Nats are talking with the Reds about 2B Phillips! This would be a good choice. He has been an RBI machine and one of the best 2B guys in the NL for several years. The Reds are in SELL mode for sure and I doubt the price for Brandon will be very high. But the Lerners have already offered $200M for Heyward, so what the hey.
My other two acquisition choices if I were Rizzo are:
Andrew Miller for closer
Brett Gardiner for a lead-off CF.
All three are available for the right deal.
You saw it here:)