Restoring the rosters: No. 6 - Montreal/Washington
This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1. No. 30 - Cincinnati No. 29 - Kansas City No. 28 - San Diego No. 27 - Milwaukee No. 26 - Baltimore No. 25 - Chicago (AL) No. 24 - Chicago (NL) No. 23 - Pittsburgh No. 22 - Detroit No. 21 - Tampa Bay No. 20 - New York (NL) No. 19 - Houston No. 18 - Oakland No. 17 - St. Louis No. 16 - Florida No. 15 - San Francisco No. 14 - Texas No. 13 - Cleveland No. 12 - Minnesota No. 11 - Arizona No. 10 - Los Angeles (AL) No. 9 - Toronto No. 8 - Boston No. 7 - Colorado It was the most enjoyable roster to construct, even if it’s no longer quite as strong as it was a couple of years ago. Coming it at No. 6, it’s your ExpoNats. Rotation Cliff Lee Javier Vazquez John Lannan Jordan Zimmerman Randy Johnson Bullpen Armando Galarraga Jason Bergmann Chad Cordero Collin Balester Bill Bray Darrell Rasner Miguel Batista Or Stephen Strasburg, if you like. I haven’t included any other 2009 draft picks in these rankings, though, and I’m not sure it’s fair to start now. It’s not as though the Nationals deserve credit for unearthing the right-hander. The rotation is strong if one is willing to overlook the injuries. Zimmerman will miss most or all of 2010 after Tommy John surgery and Johnson may not be back next year after missing the last couple of months with a strained shoulder. If those two had to be replaced, then Galarraga and Balester would enter the rotation and there’d be little left for the bullpen. Cordero probably won’t ever be what he was before wrecking his shoulder, and Bray has also displayed little ability to stay healthy. Once past the 12 pitchers above, one is down to Craig Stammen, the perpetually injured Shawn Hill, Chris Schroder and Mike Lincoln. Lineup LF Milton Bradley CF Grady Sizemore 3B Ryan Zimmerman 1B Jason Bay RF Vladimir Guerrero 2B Brandon Phillips SS Orlando Cabrera C Brian Schneider Bench INF Jamey Carroll OF Matt Stairs INF Geoff Blum C Michael Barrett OF Jerry Owens The lineup is pretty remarkable, even with Jose Vidro, Cliff Floyd, Mark Grudzielanek, Brad Wilkerson and Rondell White having fallen by the wayside. The top six players are all All-Star-type performers when they’re going well. Sure, Bay has to be played out of position at first base, but I think he might actually be more valuable there anyway. The defense wouldn’t be much worse than the offense with legitimate Gold Glovers at third, second and in center. The bench isn’t bad, either. Carroll is getting on base 37 percent of the time this year, and Stairs could still produce an 800 OPS if given more than five at-bats per week. Barrett is iffy after two years ruined by injury, but at 32, he’s not yet too old to bounce back. If not him, then Luke Montz would have to be the backup. Summary It’s fun to think what might have been, unless, of course, you’re a spurned Expos fan. The team may well have gone to the World Series in 1994 if not for the strike. In 14 years since, the ExpoNats have finished fourth or fifth 12 times, including the last six years in a row. The franchise hasn’t seen the postseason since 1981, and another last-place finish is surely on the way in 2009. The hopes are now pinned on Strasburg and the Zimmerman(n)s and... well, not much else. There’s still a long road ahead. But at least it’s no longer being traversed by a Segway.