The Nationals have no pricey long-term commitments to starting pitchers. Because of that, they’ve been able to filter through a multitude of arms to see who sticks. The result hasn’t been pretty; the team’s 5.05 starter ERA is 15th out of 16 in the NL. So far 13 different pitchers have made starts for Washington, and only Matt Chico has a shot at 30 starts.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Imagine a 2007 rotation of Shawn Hill, Tim Redding, Jason Bergmann, John Lannan, and Chico. Others like Joel Hanrahan and prospect Collin Balester will also be trying to break in. Filler like Mike Bascik, Jason Simontacchi, and Jerome Williams can hopefully be avoided. Sure, none of these guys are household names. But if the Washington starters can improve their collective ERA from 5.05 to 4.55, they’ll be firmly in the middle of the pack in the NL.
Why do I bring this up? In part because I wanted to commend the Nationals for not wasting money on bad starting pitchers. But also to note Thom Loverro’s column from the Washington Times. Loverro’s column says Jim Bowden has indicated that at most he’ll sign one veteran on a one-year deal (I’m guessing $3-4MM.) Instead, money spent on free agents or acquired players this winter will focus on adding a big middle-of-the-order hitter.
Here are the free agent options. Adam Dunn’s name jumps to the forefront, but he only becomes a possibility if the Reds decline his $13MM option for 2008. That would be kind of dumb, but we’ll see. Otherwise, how about Barry Bonds? The brand new Nationals Ballpark (naming rights sold separately!) will be opening next year. Maybe Bonds would start the team off on the wrong foot, though he would provide a power boost on a low-risk one-year deal. Any other ideas on big-name hitters the Nats could sign or acquire?