View From the Other Side: Washington Nationals Series Preview

I sent off questions to Ed Chigliak from Northern Exposure, no no from Federal Baseball SB Nation's great Washington Nationals blog and he did a good job answering them. I'll admit, as a former Expo fan, I have a bit of a personal dislike for the Nationals. But Ed seems like a great guy and he always did such a good job helping Ruth Ann at the general store. 

Who has been the biggest surprise for the Nationals, good or bad, this season?

Shairon Martis is the biggest surprise in my opinion, and not just because he's (5-1) on a 17-46 team. The 22-year-old right-hander out of Willemstad, Curacao, who made a name for himself with a no-hitter in the inaugural World Baseball Classic, was acquired in a trade for reliever MIke Stanton in 2006 and surprised some just by making the rotation, now it's hard to imagine DC without him.

I know the Nationals, record isn't great but I get this feeling they are turning the corner, am I wrong?

If the Nationals sign this year's #1 pick Stephen Strasburg, they'll be officially around the corner. Washington was determined to rebuild the minor league system after the new ownership took over following the move from Montreal, and the fans are finally seeing the results of this effort at the major league level with the youngest starting staff in baseball showing the league what DC's been up to in the draft the last couple of years.

What are manager Manny Acta's strengths and weaknesses?

(I turned this one over to the Federal Baseball readers, or the DC Faithful as they're known)...

"He's uh, patient? Extremely loyal (to a fault - See Kearns, Hanny)..." - e chigliak

"Strength?...never argues with umpires. Weakness?...same." Kidding. Manny rocks. - ROSCOEtheNATSfan

"Weakness: has crappy team..." - Doghouse

"Well, positive attitude allegedly goes a long way with the kids. Doesn't call out his players in the press. Doesn't doubt himself." -ROSCOEtheNATSfan

"Can't say "smart," it'll start a flame war...Lessee, doesn't get rattled, but sometimes sticks to plans when adapting might be a better idea." - Doghouse

"Statuesque presence in the dugout...Stubborn like a rock. No idea how to use pitchers. Bad lineups. No accountability." ROSCOEtheNATSfan.

After finally being rid of Jim Bowden (who has to be in the top 10 of worst GM's ever) what do you think of Mike Rizzo?

I was impressed by Mike Rizzo's work with Arizona before he ever arrived in DC. If he somehow manages to get Scott Boras to agree to a reasonable deal for Stephen Strasburg, he'll have erased all memory of the Former DC GM. The true test for Rizzo is going to be what he can get back for the few assets DC has to offer as we head toward the trade deadline...(and I'd say Top 5 for Jimbo)...

Our brilliant GM JP Riccardi famously said 'Adam Dunn hates baseball', so was he right? And does it matter to you whether he likes the game or not as long as he keeps hitting the ball?

I think Mr. Riccardi publicly apologized for that statement, but I can see how someone watching Dunn's play might think he's not giving it his all. I've had my opinion of him changed by watching him everyday, though he's subpar defensively, his ability to take pitches and patiently wait for a pitch he can launch is truly impressive, and I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it myself as the year has gone on, but he's actually spraying enough singles to the opposite field that teams may have to stop employing the dramatic shift against him, so even now he's obviously willing to try to improve his game. The D though, ugh, sometimes it makes you wonder...

Which reliever do you what on the mound with the game on the line?

After the last two nights watching Mike MacDougal beat the Yankees, I'll say him, but that's only because everyone else has failed in the closer's role this year. If not MacDougal, either Joe Beimel or Ron Villone, but i'd welcome a healthy Chad Cordero or Jon Rauch back in a heartbeat...

 We'd like Nick Johnson, what do you figure it would take to get him from you?

Major league-ready relievers, and plural, yes. No one seems to be offering comparable talent because of his injury-history, so I wouldn't be too surprised if he stays, especially since the only other options at first are Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham, but if Johnson, or any of DC's vets are dealt it has to be for relief help that can pitch immediately at the major league level.

Is there anything else us Jay's fans should know about the Nationals?

As the Yankees just learned the hard way, the Nationals aren't as bad as you may have heard...please ignore the 46 losses as I say that...they're a young team that's eager to show they're not a joke, and I think the beating they've taken in the press has motivated them, so look out come September. Oh, and Jordan Zimmermann's got filthy stuff! Enjoy your stay in DC!!

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