With NatsFest officially in the books, we are one week closer to spring training. There are still a few weeks left of the offseason, however, and many are still talking about the Nationals.
* SI.com’s Jay Jaffe released his offseason report cards for each team in baseball. Jaffe was very impressed with Mike Rizzo’s offseason so far, which includes the hiring of first-year manager Matt Williams. Jaffe gave the Nationals an offseason grade of B+. He points out that the Nationals only spent $10.75 million on one free agent this offseason (outfielder Nate McLouth), while making key additions via trades in starting pitcher Doug Fister and reliever Jerry Blevins. Jaffe also notes that the Nats’ remaining question marks on the roster involve reliever Drew Storen and infielder Danny Espinosa. Don’t be too shocked if neither player is on the roster by the time opening day rolls around.
* Late last season, the Nationals shut down starting pitcher Taylor Jordan. Jordan, now 24, was in his first full season since having Tommy John surgery. The Nats have reputation for shutting down pitchers (see: Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg) one year after Tommy John surgery as too many innings could overtax their elbows. Jordan was no different. Despite the shutdown, SI’s Tom Verducci still lists Jordan as a candidate to have a down year because he experienced an innings increase of 47 2/3 last season. I would caution you to take that information with a grain of salt. No need to freak out, just a possibility. Jordan heads to spring training as a candidate for the fifth starter’s role.
* Are you a fan of ESPN’s “This is SportsCenter” commercials? Well, I definitely am and if you are, I have some good news! Bryce Harper and Strasburg filmed “This is SportsCenter” commercials last week in Bristol, Conn., with ESPN anchor Hannah Storm. Below are tweets from Storm and Harper confirming the news. The Washington Post has more details here. I’ll be sure to be on the lookout for these commercials.
* Finally, I’ll leave you this week with the cutest video from this past weekend’s NatsFest. During one of the kids’ Q&A sessions, a young Nats fan named Mary Claire asked Strasburg and second baseman Anthony Rendon, “How many girlfriends do you have?” Both players were amused by the question. But sorry ladies, Rendon has a girlfriend, while Strasburg has been married since 2010. Here’s the video:
If that doesn’t brighten up your Wednesday morning and put a little warmth in you heart, I don’t know what will.
That’s a wrap of what others are saying about the Nationals. Come back next week to read more Nationals Chatter.