The Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals are on some prognosticators lists to appear in the World Series as opponents. Two franchises that I grew up as watching that had a yearly battle of ineptness. That version of the Nats has long taken a pathway elsewhere and the new version is the result of franchise shifting.
The Nationals have a pitching staff that resembles the famed Cleveland Indians staff of 1954. The Nats are loaded. The Nationals shelled out 210M to add Max Scherzer to their talent stockpile and that has resulted in a 15 game winner from 2014, Tanner Roark, operating out of the bullpen. Roark is twenty-eight years old and is under team control until 2020. Can the pitching rich get richer for Washington?
Yes, they can, as in sixth ranked MLB prospect Lucas Giolito and several other prospects in their prospect talent collection. Giolito is physically intimidating and has a talent level that hollers out elite. With Jordan Zimmermann approaching free agency the Nationals just may be willing to make a pitching deal with more talent on the way, so the possibility for trade winds is a favorable forecast.
The Nationals offense was quite productive in 2014 with 686 runs for a third place ranking in the NL. The Nats were in the upper echelon in OPB, OPS and home runs. Certainly hitting that would provide solace and comfort to any staff.
Then came the losses.
Adam LaRoche took his 26/92/.259 to Chicago. Jayson Werth had shoulder surgery. So did new hire Nate McLouth. Denard Span also joined the parade to the surgical unit and the dynamic Anthony Rendon has been sidelined with a pesky knee. The result is after the first handful of games the Nationals have virtually no offense. Injuries have neutered them.
Boston has an abundance of offensive talent that would certainly provide some degree of insurance for Washington if recoveries become stagnant or more DL visits ensue. The small sample of lost offense shows that with even a premier staff you do need support. Boston has bats and the Nationals have arms.
Craig managed a respectable spring training hitting .250 with a pair of home runs and nine RBI. His at bats during the regular season will be few and far between as the Red Sox have committed themselves to an outfield that excludes Craig on a regular basis. Craig appears recovered from the foot injury that derailed him during 2014 and could well return to being “The Clutchmaster.” Craig is thirty years old and under contract through 2017.
Coyle is very Dustin Pedroia like in size and performance. A gritty player who has demonstrated surprising power. Last season Coyle appeared in 97 games for Portland in the Eastern League and managed 16 home runs and 61 RBI and hitting .295 while stationed at second base. Coyle is now with Pawtucket, the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate, and playing second.
Coyle’s route to Boston is blocked by Pedroia, possibly Mookie Betts, versatile Brock Holt and the recent signing of Yoan Moncada. Coyle could represent a steal for a team – especially one that knows Dan Uggla is fast approaching his MLB expiration date.
For Boston, Roark is insurance. The current small sample has the euphoria of early season starter success, but will that continue? You never have enough pitching. Roark may not represent a “power arm,” but is a pitcher who can get 200 innings and keep you in the game. Roark would allow the Red Sox valuable time to have prospects mature in case of injury on the MLB staff.
For the Nationals the addition of an experienced MLB batsman and a promising young prospect could certainly add depth that may be needed. The Nationals have already seen what a spate of key injuries can do to an offense.
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