The long Washington Nationals offseason is halfway over and pitchers and catchers report in fewer than three weeks. The now typical standard NLDS loss seemingly cost Dusty Baker his job. The NLDS series opposition’s bench coach Dave Martinez takes over the Nats ensuring at the very least, much less entertaining press conferences.
I like to think that he trolled one specific former Nats blogger though.
Before the kind of tired best shape of their lives jokes begin in earnest, Charlie Slowes will call a Washington Capitals game (The Post). The former voice of the Bullets will be filling in for John Walton, on assignment at the Winter Olympics. Slowes hasn’t done much hockey, but nearly covered for Ron Weber during the ill-fated Easter Epic. Pat Lafontaine, of course, kept that game 7 from going to 5 overtimes and Slowes was not needed.
In other offseason news, Nats fan @serious_jammage posted most of the Nats walkoff homers since 2005. Lots of Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper, but also Wil Nieves.
The Adam Dunn walk-off on Mr. Walk-Off t-shirt night isn’t there yet, but will be added at a later date.
Last week, the looming unease regarding the franchise beyond this October got a little more complicated. A Mike Rizzo profile in USA Today included the general manager openly lobbying for his job. That didn’t work out too well for Dusty Baker or Jim Riggleman.
The other source of concern is of course, Harper. The Yankees trading for Giancarlo Stanton got him out of the NL East and seemingly pours cold water onto Harper taking his talents to the South Bronx.
There are still plenty of teams that will be interested in the slugging Vegas Golden Knights fan. The Phillies will make a run; their short right porch must be tempting. I kind of think Harper winds up with the Dodgers, but think there is a decent chance he stays in DC. At what price though? Does the apparent market correction in the 2018 Hot Stove League carry over to 2019? I can’t see him signing for less than Stanton did with the Marlins. Federal Baseball just addressed beyond 2018: A complete guide to the Nationals losing Bryce Harper in 2019.
The Nats (even though they are getting a little old), barring significant injuries (and even a slowly recovering Daniel Murphy), gross mismanagement (see Williams, Matt) and a lightning in a bottle run by a division rival, should win the NL East again. However, anything short of the NLCS is going to seem pretty anti-climatic.
DC sports fans are well-seasoned to cope with such an outcome.
Finally, the chronicler of those outcomes, Dan Steinberg has quit writing in favor of editing, at least for a while. Perhaps that’s what is holding the Nats back…