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Tag:Drew Storen
Posted on: April 28, 2011 9:19 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 9:38 pm
 

Riggleman won't name closer

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jim RigglemanThe Nationals still don't have a closer, manager Jim Riggleman told reporters before Thursday night's game -- and it has nothing to do with Sean Burnett's four-run ninth on Wednesday.

"I don't think I even want to use the word," Riggleman said, according to Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com. "I just what to get outs in the ninth. Let's finish the game, get outs. I'm not going to get too caught up in who gets the save. I just want us to get the save."

Good for Riggleman -- who even though his radio ads shun sabermetrics, he's going with prevailing sabermetric theory that the closer is overrated and the save stat is silly.

I'm actually more neutral in the debate. I understand the argument against the closer and think the rules to get a save are arbitrary and silly -- but I do believe a guy who can handle the last three outs is rare. Just because a guy usually goes into the ninth inning doesn't make him a closer. A closer has an attitude and brings an attitude. If you have a closer -- and not a lot of teams do -- you use him.

But if you don't have a closer -- like Riggleman -- why not go with matchups, like the Nationals manager says he will.

"If it's a situation where it's predominantly right-handers, definitely it would be Drew [Storen]," Riggleman said. "If it's predominantly left-handed, I would want to have Burnie there, but I would also want to do is not eliminate Burnie from being available in the seventh or eighth."

It would seem by conventional standards, Storen would be the choice -- he's saved each of his last four save opportunities (including Thursday's win over the Mets) and Burnett has allowed six runs in his last seven innings. But when you don't have a closer, why name one? Kudos to Riggleman.

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Posted on: March 29, 2011 11:14 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/29: Breaking training

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Chris Capuano3 UP

Chris Capuano, Mets -- The Mets' fifth starter closed out spring not only with three scoreless innings on Tuesday, but he also added a three-run double in the Mets' 8-2 victory over the Nationals. Capuano finished the spring with a 1.93 ERA, but won't pitch until April 9 because the Mets' schedule doesn't need a fifth starter until then. He'll spend the first series of the season in the bullpen.

Jaime Garcia, Cardinals -- Garcia had a much-needed good outing in the Cardinals' last game of the spring, going six innings and allowing just one run and three hits. He'd allowed 37 hits and 24 runs in 17 innings before Tuesday.

Major League Baseball -- In addition to new 7-day disabled list for concussions, MLB also includes mandatory baseline neurophysiological testing in the spring for player and umpires, which will help evaluate when players can return from concussions. 

3 DOWN

Drew Storen, Nationals -- Storen faced nine batters in the seventh inning of the Nationals' loss to the Mets, allowing four runs and seven hits, while recording just two outs. Three of the runs came on a homer by David Wright. It broke a streak of three straight outing without allowing a run. Sean Burnett had another scoreless inning this spring, likely taking the closer's job away from Storen.

Matt Garza, Cubs -- The new Cubs starter leaves Arizona with a 10.38 ERA after giving up seven runs on 11 hits and two walks in three-plus innings. On the bright side, he did strike out seven. Garza is scheduled to start the Cubs' third game of the season. Garza didn't give the Cactus League rave reviews after his first spring in Arizona, saying it "sucks."

Stars on the DL -- The list of pitchers added to the disabled list keeps growing. The latest is San Francisco closer Brian Wilson, who manager Bruce Bochy said on Tuesday will start the season on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle.

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Posted on: March 25, 2011 9:06 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/25: Beachy brings it



By Matt Snyder


3 UP

Brandon Beachy, Braves. Fresh off being named the Braves' No. 5 starter to open the season -- over the favorite, Mike Minor -- Beachy went out and dominated the Tigers. He threw six innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while strking out six. He took his spring ERA all the way down to 1.13. That is two earned runs in 16 innings, to go nicely with 16 strikeouts. His WHIP is a minuscule 0.63. If he carries this over into the season, the Braves will have an even more formidable rotation.

Drew Storen, Nationals. It's been a rough spring for Storen, who was initially expected to be the Nats' closer but has since been tabbed as part of a committee in the back-end of the bullpen. Friday, though, he was plugged in for the ninth inning with a one-run lead and made it stand. He threw a perfect inning, striking out two batters.

Adam Jones, Orioles. Breakout season on the horizon? He's got the goods. Friday he showed it, too. Jones went 3-4 with his fifth bomb of the spring, this one a two-run job off Scott Baker.

3 DOWN

Brandon McCarthy, A's. The former big-time prospect was having a really solid spring in his quest to earn the A's final starting spot, but he was roughed up Friday. He allowed 10 hits and six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. He even walked his first batter of the spring. Of course, he did strike out six, so the 20:1 K:BB rate should be enough for him to grab that last spot. He's looking to hold off Tyson Ross and Rich Harden -- if he's ever healthy. Ross is only 23, but he's sporting a 0.59 ERA in 15 1/3 spring innings.

Mitch Talbot, Indians. The Tribe's No. 4 starter was crushed by the Brewers Friday. He gave up 14 hits and seven earned runs in six innings. He even gave up a grand slam to Carlos Gomez. Yes, that same Carlos Gomez who only has 17 career home runs in 1,308 career at-bats. Of course, he does have three this spring, so maybe he's looking to muscle up this year.

Edinson Volquez, Reds. He's here because the outing was termed as "solid" and he said afterward that he "felt great." (MLB.com ) Really? If you're the Reds and this is your ace -- especially considering Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto are on the shelf and Bronson Arroyo is getting tested for valley fever -- it's gotta be a bit troubling, no? I see five innings pitched, nine hits, three earned runs and four walks. So that's 13 baserunners (a gawdawful 2.60 WHIP), including four extra base hits, and a 5.40 ERA from an ace in his last outing before the regular season. Spring stats don't mean anything and it's possible he's going to flip a switch before the real games start. I'm just saying it's pretty surprising this was considered such a good outing by Volquez and the Reds.

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 9:18 pm
 

New teammates help Nats' Storen

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Few players have had as bad of a spring as Nationals reliever Drew Storen. Coming into the spring, Storen was the favorite to land the closer's gig in D.C., but in 7 2/3 innings, he'd allowed 12 runs, 10 earned, and 16 hits.

Drew StorenMonday, Storen had just his second clean inning of the spring, a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up the save against the Astros and lower his spring ERA to 10.38.

Storen said the success followed ditching his high leg kick and went back to a slide step. He has less power that way, but it messes with the hitter's timing. At least that's what two of his new teammates told him, and it may be working.

"I've got to give credit to Matt Stairs and Jayson Werth for saying something about it to me," Storen told MASNSports.com's Pete Kerzel. "They kind of asked, 'What did you do with the slide step?' and they talked about how irritating it was to face that and how it annoyed the hitters. … That's priceless feedback."

Manager Jim Riggleman is standing by Storen, for now.

"The thing with Drew -- [or] anybody else who struggles a little bit at times during the spring -- there's a history there, or a track record," Riggleman said. "He came up and really did a good job for us last year. That's the sample of work you draw from more than a few [bad] spring training outings. Any progress he makes to get away from where he's been the last couple of weeks, [and] he'll be on our ballclub. He's earned that trust level with what he can do late in the ballgame with his quality of pitches."

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Posted on: March 19, 2011 11:21 am
Edited on: March 19, 2011 11:49 am
 

Pepper: Live from my mother's basement!

By Matt Snyder

It just won't go away, this petty little feud.

I speak, of course, of the "old school" baseball people who hate blogging -- yet blog themselves, which is weird -- and despise anyone who dares to disagree with their beliefs, especially when it comes to "newer" statistics (though OBP is hardly new). Check out this really awesome paragraph from Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle :
It won't be long before we get the first wave of nonsense from stat-crazed dunces claiming there's nothing to be learned from a batting average, won-loss record or RBI total. Listen, just go back to bed, OK? Strip down to those fourth-day undies, head downstairs (to "your mother's basement and your mother's computer," as Chipper Jones so aptly describes it) and churn out some more crap. For more than a century, .220 meant something. So did .278, .301, .350, an 18-4 record, or 118 RBIs. Now it all means nothing because a bunch of nonathletes are trying to reinvent the game?
Now, I'm not gonna go nuts. Several people already have across the 'net, though the great Joe Posnanski already took care of the heavy lifting in the most rational post possible -- and came back for a little more .

I'll just add that my personal feeling is that it's always dangerous to side with someone who attacks people for simply disagreeing. I prefer on-base percentage over batting average because not making outs is a much better measure of a good baseball player than disregarding walks and hit-by-pitches and figuring a hit percentage. In fact, I don't understand how it's not obvious -- seriously, a walk doesn't even count in batting average! -- but I'm not about to attack the character of someone who disagrees. If you feel compelled to freak out and use a decade-old joke that makes no sense, maybe you are the one with the problem? Just a thought.

As for the "non-athlete" thing, I have a short anecdote to illustrate my point. I realized I hated batting average as compared to OBP one time when I went 0-1 with three walks and three runs scored -- noticing it was a .000 batting average for the day, yet a pretty damn good day of helping my team win.

And the game wasn't even in my mother's basement. Seriously!

Honestly, though, don't you think guys in a similar situation in the bigs would feel the same way? What about a pitcher who throws a complete game and only allows one unearned run, yet loses 1-0. And he goes home and sees on MLB Network that a pitcher for the Yankees allowed seven earned runs in five innings and got the win because the Bombers' offense went nuts. Judging pitchers on wins and losses would have us believe the latter performed better. Really?

Again, I don't understand how it's not obvious these stats aren't the best ones. If this was elementary school you'd get an F for disagreeing. Maybe I should start making lame jokes in return instead of having an actual, meaningful conversation. Apparently that's the best way to plead your case when it comes to the old school.

MORNEAU AT NIGHT: Justin Morneau played his first night game in a long, long time Friday night, and things went well. "It's just different. For the most part, the stuff has come on later in the day. So I wanted to see, because we usually play night games during the season, I wanted to see where I was at, and I felt pretty good." That "stuff" to which he is referring, in case you've been asleep since last July, would be lingering symptoms from his concussion. (MLB.com )

STOREN STRUGGLES: Second-year pitcher Drew Storen was supposed to be the Nationals' closer this season. He still very well may be eventually, as he has the highest upside of any of the candidates. But he's had a pretty disastrous spring and might be in jeopardy of being optioned to the minors. It's not likely, but possible. (Washington Post )

DON'T DOUBT DAVIS: Doug Davis has worked out for four teams in Arizona and is looking to catch on somewhere (MLB Trade Rumors ). It's uncertain that he'll definitely be able to grab a job in a rotation at some point this year, but I don't plan on wagering against the veteran. He's already kicked cancer's butt.

UBALDO GETS NOD: We've been posting the announcements of opening day starters as stand-alone pieces, but Ubaldo Jimenez as the Rockies' opening day starter is far too obvious. It would have been shocking if he wasn't handed that responsibility. Just a heads-up, don't expect posts on CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay or Felix Hernandez on this subject either. (MLB.com )

ELVIS MUSCLES UP:
Elvis Andrus hit a home run Friday. He hasn't done so in a regular-season game since September 2 ... of 2009. (ESPN Dallas )

FANS HAVE CLOUT?
You always wonder if teams take these sort of things under consideration, but it's incredibly rare -- if not unprecedented -- for a team to admit fan venom played into a move. But the Mets did so with Luis Castillo (ESPN New York ). Manager Terry Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson both admitted that the Mets' fans' collective hatred of Castillo played a role in the team cutting him.

WESTY'S ROAD BACK: Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland has stared death in the eyes and survived. Now he's on the comeback trail. I won't even attempt to do this lengthy feature justice, instead I'll just say please go read it. It's great stuff. (Boston.com )

RETURN TO DODGERTOWN? The Dodgers' spring training games are not drawing well. In fact, attedance is down 42.3 percent from last season in Camelback Ranch. The average draw per game is barely over half the capacity. (Los Angeles Times )

A QUESTION OF DURABILITY:
Scott Rolen hasn't played more than 140 games since 2006 and not more than 150 since 2003. He's 36. He faltered in a big way in the second half last season. But he's saying all the right things and preaching accountability. (MLB.com )

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Posted on: March 15, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: March 15, 2011 11:52 am
 

Pepper: Injury bug biting Brewers



By Matt Snyder


Whether it's Zack Greinke's rib injury, Yuniesky Betancourt's quad or Carlos Gomez's back, things generally haven't been feeling physically well at Brewers camp. They seem to have at least a minor malady for everyone on the team -- even two guys with an intercostal injury, which I didn't even know was a thing. Apparently they are muscles on the rib cage that help contract the chest.

Chris Dickerson is someone who has that issue. He hurt his Monday against the Giants, when he had an ugly collision with Pablo Sandoval. It wasn't exactly a Casey-level beatdown, but Dickerson seemed to have lost. The collision prompted a somewhat humorous/somewhat realistic quote from Randy Wolf.

"Thank God Sandoval lost 30 pounds or that might have been a decapitation," Wolf told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel . "I thought he dislocated his shoulder. It sounded bad."

Wolf later added he's afraid to walk to his car, and he may not have been kidding.

The Brewers can take solace in the fact that it's only spring and they haven't lost anyone for the season yet, like their division-mate Cardinals.

DREW'S MOOD HATS: Potential Nationals closer Drew Storen had struggled this spring, but put together a solid outing Monday. If you peered inside the brim of his hat, you'd have seen: "Down." "Precise." "Focus through the target." The youngster followed his own advice, setting the Tigers down in order in his one inning of work. Writing reminder messages in his hats isn't new for Storen, as he's already cycled through four this spring and has countless left from last year.

"It's kind of like a mood ring, it's a mood hat," he told the Washington Times . "I keep them all. Since there's so much going on, I'll be the first to admit, you get caught up in thinking about throwing things and try to do too much. It's just a nice, easy way to bring your mind back into it."

If a quirk like this seems weird, you've never been around a baseball locker room. In fact, this is relatively normal. Hey, whatever works.

STRASBURG PROGRESSING: Speaking of Nationals pitchers drafted in the first round in 2009, Stephen Strasburg is reportedly making good progress as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. He's now throwing 90 feet off flat ground and eyes a September return. As you might remember, he had the surgery last September and the normal recovery period is 12-18 months. But just because he has high expectations doesn't mean he's impatient.

"I have to no choice [but to be patient]. I can't just wake up the next morning expecting to get on the mound. It's a slow gradual process. It's about the slow steady progress. It has to take its time and let the body heal naturally." (MLB.com )

IN OR OUT? Luis Castillo might win the second base job for the Mets out of camp because they have no better options. But manager Terry Collins reportedly doesn't really want Castillo around -- only he hasn't officially said as much. Some believe the higher-ups on the Mets would rather Castillo start, but J.P. Ricciardi backs Brad Emaus. Basically, no one really knows what is going on. (ESPN New York )

BELTRE BACK:
Monday, Adrian Beltre made his spring debut, and it went off without a hitch. The third baseman -- who had been sidelined with a strained calf -- played five innings, going 1-3. His only issue had nothing to do with his calf and should be completely expected under the circumstances. "I felt a little bit rusty," he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram .

PLAY IT AGAIN, RICH: In the least surprising news of the spring, Rich Harden needs to see a doctor. He hasn't thrown a bullpen since February 15, but felt an issue in his lat muscle Sunday and it looks like he's going to be shut down again. (MLB.com ) It's sad to say, but even at age 29, it's hard to see him ever regaining form for an extended period of time. That sparkling 2008 season -- 10-2, 2.07 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 181 K in 148 innings -- will likely go down as his best. With the kind of stuff he has, when healthy, that's a shame. UPDATE: Susan Slusser reports Harden will throw Wednesday and he hasn't suffered a setback.

WHAT IF ... : MLB Trade Rumors has put together a list of what the free agent class might look like at the end of this season if no one had signed extensions. It's worth a look for entertainment purposes.

IT'S ONLY SPRING, BUT ... : ... the Diamondbacks suck. The always-great Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic points out the Snakes would have a record of 4-13-3 if you only count the first five innings of every game this spring -- which is when the major-league starters are still in the game. Perhaps nothing could be more telling than a quote from manager Kirk Gibson: "I'm ready to be impressed, I can tell you that." Such a statement in the spring is troubling, because most of the time optimism is in the air.

BARTMAN MOVIE OUT SOON: Catching Hell , an ESPN 30-for-30 documentary about the infamous Steve Bartman foul ball (Cubs, Moises Alou, Marlins, 2003 NLCS, Game 6 ... c'mon, you know this) will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 20-May 1 in New York City. The one thing that's amazing to me in the years since that inning is how much people -- non-Cubs fans, to be specific -- seem to enjoy pointing out the loss wasn't Bartman's fault. The insinuation behind this is that all Cubs fans blame the loss on Bartman, which couldn't be further from the truth. Go talk to a group of educated Cubs fans and Alex Gonzalez's name is much more blasphemous. I'll reserve judgment on the movie until it comes out, but I can't help but think some myths are going to be further perpetuated because a few jerk fans threw things at Bartman -- which was reprehensible. In fact, expect a further rant from me on the subject when the movie is released. (Chicago Tribune )

"BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE!" We've all heard it in spring training. We've all mocked it. But a sample of players the past few years who have declared they are in the best shape of their life have actually outperformed expectations more than players who didn't make such a declaration in the spring. It doesn't mean there's always merit behind the claim, but it's certainly an interesting query. (Baseball Prospectus )

THE GREEK GOD OF JOKES:
Kevin Youkilis walked and then struck out to Yankees 20-year-old prospect Manny Banuelos Monday night. So, naturally, Banuelos is a stud, right? "He's going to be a Hall of Famer," Youkilis told reporters (New York Times ). He made it clear he was kidding, but didn't want to go overboard. When he got serious about the potential phenom, he was respectful.

"He's got three pitches he can throw pretty good, now he has to learn how to pitch," said Youkilis, adding: "If he figures it out, he'll be all right. Being left-handed and throwing hard, if you throw three good pitches and you're left-handed, you don't even have to throw 90."

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Posted on: December 13, 2010 6:13 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2010 10:44 pm
 

Finding a match for Greinke difficult

Ian Desmond The Nationals want to deal for a pitcher and are "aggressively pursuing" a trade for Matt Garza or Zack Greinke, a major-league source tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post .

The Nationals like both pitchers, but have the problem that they don't exactly have the pieces either the Royals or Rays are looking for in return, especially since the team isn't ready to get rid of shortstop Ian Desmond (pictured) or starter Jordan Zimmermann.

"[Desmond] is a guy they think is going to be their shortstop for the next 10 years. That's a really tough guy for them [to trade]. It almost negates getting that pitcher," a source told Kilgore. "Everyone else [aside from Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth] is fair game. They're not going to move Desmond. They'd move [Danny] Espinosa in a  heartbeat."

The Nats could get rid of Josh Willingham, but he's arbitration-eligible, Roger Bernadina and even relievers Drew Storen or Sean Burnett. The team could also move catcher Wilson Ramos.

"I don't see Washington having enough to do a deal with Kansas City," the source said. "I don't see that they have enough to offer unless they were willing to discuss a Desmond or a Jordan Zimmermann, and I don't see that happening. I can't see anyone else for Kansas City that gets them excited enough to do it."

The best fit for a Greinke deal, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick writes , could be Toronto, which has expressed interest in the right-hander. The Blue Jays have catching prospects Travis D'Arnaud, J.P. Arencibia and Carlos Perez, plus outfielders Anthony Gose and Travis Snider. The Jays have balked at giving the Royals Snider and Kyle Drabek, the pitcher they got for Roy Halladay.

Crasnick writes the Yankees and Rangers probably aren't a match for a Greinke trade.

The Brewers have also inquired, and the Reds were reportedly interested in Cliff Lee at the trade deadline last season. Cincinnati has the prospects, but not the payroll flexibility to be able to afford the $27 million left on Greinke's contract.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: October 8, 2010 12:56 am
Edited on: October 8, 2010 3:00 pm
 

R.I.P. Nationals: Strasburg goes down to injury

RIP As the sports world waits for the crowning of a champion, 22 other teams are busy preparing for spring training. What went wrong for these teams, and what does 2011 hold? MLB Facts and Rumors here at CBS Sports will be answering those questions through all of October. Remember Strasmas? Well, the Washington Nationals got some coal.

It's not often a team with 90-plus losses has something to look forward to, but the Nationals sure do: 2011 being over.

You see, when 2012 opens, the Nationals will have phenom ace Stephen Strasburg fully healthy, likely with a few late-season 2011 rehab starts under his belt and a young team ready to go after the division.

Until then? More losing in the nation's capital.

WHAT WENT WRONG

The team lost 93 games. A lot went wrong. The most notable, as is to no one's surprise, is Stephen Strasburg getting knocked out for about a year with Tommy John surgery. Of course, if Rob Dibble had his way, Strasburg would probably have pitched every remaining game of the Nats after first suffering the injury.

Now that the obligatory Dibble insult is out of the way, what else went wrong? Ivan Rodriguez, Adam Kennedy and Cristian Guzman all struggled with OPS' south of .700, dragging down the Nats' offense. On the pitching side, only Livan Hernandez and Strasburg had ERAs under 4.00. The other five who received at least 13 starts? 4.65 (John Lannan), 5.13 (Craig Stammen), 5.15 (Luis Atilano), 5.56 (Scott Olsen) and 6.60 (Jason Marquis). Yikes.

Unfortunately, the GM in Mike Rizzo is responsible for a colossal mistake in not trading Adam Dunn. Many teams were hot to trot over the lefty, with even the White Sox striking to acquire Edwin Jackson because it was thought the Nats were interested in the starter. No trade was achieved because Rizzo felt that the offers weren't commensurate with what he could get in compensation draft picks. Alas, there is no guarantee the Nats end up with a first-rounder, and it is a large step to say that someone yet to be drafted holds that much value over someone in the system, already signed, with the bonus out of the way.

Stephen Strasburg WHAT WENT RIGHT

Although Strasburg's (photo, right) injury definitely belongs in the "wrong" column, it also belongs in the "right" one as well. Why? Because Strasburg zipped through the minors and unveiled a filthy arsenal once he hit the majors with a fastball sniffing 100 and an absolutely devastating arsenal of breaking pitches. Washington has a Cy Young contender for years.

If Strasburg is looking for hope to return from TJ surgery, he can check out Jordan Zimmermann, who made 10 rehab starts in the minors after going under the knife last season. He made seven starts down the stretch and showed enough that the potential he displayed when he first came up is still there.

The Nats astutely picked up closer Matt Capps for a bargain in free agency, saw him excel as a closer and flipped him for the catcher of the future in Wilson Ramos -- all while promoting their own stud prospect reliever in Drew Storen, who proved he can close for years to come. Speaking of the bullpen, Tyler Clippard and Sean Burnett pretty much came from nowhere to establish what should be a nice bullpen for the Nats in 2011. Miguel Batista, a veteran journeyman, also had what figures to be his last quality year.

Mike Morse, a Quad-A player, pounded 15 home runs in 266 at-bats, and the Nats may have suddenly found a new power-hitter which will ease the sting of the eventual loss of Adam Dunn.

Lastly, no "what went right" selection is complete without the ageless Livan Hernandez, who improbably finished with a 3.66 ERA, tossing 211 2/3 innings at 35. Swan song? Probably, given he stumbled in the second half. Still awesome.

HELP ON THE WAY

The Nationals already promoted Storen and Ramos, so they technically don't belong here, but bear with me. The 22-year-old Storen, as previously mentioned, is Washington's closer of the future while Ramos figures to split time with Pudge behind the dish in 2011. There's another catcher actually on the way as well in Jesus Flores, a Rule 5 pick all the way back in 2007.

Unfortunately, Flores missed all of 2010 and most of 2009 due to injury, but he could eventually give the Nats an incredible tandem in Flores and Ramos. And the team has a top catching prospect down on the farm in Derek Norris. Now that's depth. (But ask the Rangers how much their vaunted catching depth worked out for them this season.)

Danny Espinosa also saw late-season action for the Nats, but impressed along with fellow preseason top prospect Ian Desmond, who manned short. Espinosa will slot in at second and give the Nats an exciting, young double play combo.
 
Adam Dunn EXPECTATIONS FOR 2011

The Nats have reached the point where they can tentatively start expecting to contend. That means a 90-loss season won't be accepted in 2011 and would certainly spell the demise of skipper Jim Riggleman, even sans Strasburg. Although the free-agent machinations of the team (especially to replace Dunn) will go along way towards managing expectations.

The team won't harbor any illusions that the squad can finish .500, even if Dunn returns, but finishing in the neighborhood of 77-85 figures to be the goal behind the scenes.

SUGGESTIONS FOR 2011

The Nationals seem pretty set on moving on from Adam Dunn (photo, right) due to his horrendous defense and skyrocketing contract. One player the Nats may want to peek at is Carlos Pena, coming off a year where he hit below the Mendoza Line. He has proven, however, that he can hit significantly better than that. (His career average is .241 -- wouldn't exactly call that good, but a darn sight better than .196.) And the power is certainly still there, something Washington needs. Pena is also gifted with the glove. So let's see: down season making him cheap, power and a good glove. Works for me.

The team also needs to figure out its rotation. Right now, Hernandez, Zimmermann, Lannan and Marquis figure to take up the first four spots. Stammen and Atilano could fight for the No. 5 spot but the team could really use a solid free-agent option who is long on leadership but a little long in the tooth as well to depress his price. What the Nats need to do is avoid multi-year deals, though -- there wasn't ever any reason to hand Marquis two years, and there won't be a reason to hand someone like Kevin Millwood two years. Stick to one year deals around $6-8 million, and the Nats can find someone just fine.

2011 PREDICTION

While Rizzo seems like a solid general manager, his track record is less than stellar. Combine that with the loss of Strasburg, and the Nationals seem headed to another 90-loss season in 2011. Check back in 2012, though.

Check out the rest of the R.I.P. reports here.

-- Evan Brunell

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com