How long have we heard the hype around Washington? How long have we been hearing that THIS will be the Nationals year? Well, that time has come and gone. It’s Miami’s turn.
Washington has already hit the wall that has depleted them in the past: injuries. Casey Janssen has tendinitis in his rotator cuff, Anthony Rendon (the team’s best position player in 2014) is seeking a THIRD opinion on his sprained knee, Denard Span is out approximately the first month, and Jayson Werth and Nate McLouth won’t be ready for Opening Day. Add on the fact that Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, and Wilson Ramos can’t stay healthy. Even Bob Hendley, the Nationals third-base coach, missed time this spring with a calf injury.
Now, Washington has caught a bit of a break because none of the arms of their starting pitchers have flown off into the stands. Washington has, arguably, the best starting rotation in the MLB and could likely win 70 games with a lineup full of little leaguers.
The Nationals will also run into some problems midseason. Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmerman, Doug Fister, and Span are all in the final years of their contracts. If Washington has an injury-plagued first half of the year, and they find themselves in second or even third place in the NL East, what will they do with these players? There is ZERO doubt that a contender would come after players like those.
Some of you may be thinking that Miami has seen its own star go down due to injury in the form of Jose Fernandez. That is just one player, one VERY good player, but only one player.
The Marlins were winners very early in the offseason by signing Giancarlo Stanton to a major extension, and the recent signing of Christian Yelich to a nice extension just adds on.
The Marlins made moves outside of the organization too, moves that filled the holes the 2014 team left.
Dee Gordon adds a great amount of speed atop the Marlins lineup and will provide plenty of RBI opportunities for Stanton. Michael Morse provides power behind Stanton. Andre Rienzo could win a bullpen job. Mat Latos and Dan Haren will both be slotted in the rotation to start the year. Miami also added Martin Prado to play third base.
The Marlins added experience and clubhouse leaders, something the 2014 team was seriously lacking. Their moves may not have been as flashy as the Cubs’, White Sox’, or Nationals’ moves, but they certainly were effective.
The Marlins have a serviceable rotation while awaiting the return of Fernandez. Steve Cishek is quietly rising in the closer ranks. They have one of, if not the best outfield in the MLB. And they have a widely improved infield.
The window is closing very quickly for the Nationals, and they are one injury away from that window being slammed shut. On the flip side, the window for Miami is WIDE OPEN.
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