Happy New Year.
The twenty-game turnaround. It's rare, but it's not like we haven't seen it here before.
The idea that the 2010 Nats can get to .500 has been dancing in the heads of many Nats' fans since the end of the '09 campaign. The Nats went 33-37 in their final 70 games, so, wishful thinking or not, the idea that they could get to 81-81 doesn't seem totally implausible.
GM Mike Rizzo knows going from 59 wins to 81 wins is a herculean task; he can quote you chapter and verse on how many times it's happened.
Those of you who were around in the 1960's may recall the '69 Senators going 86-76, the only season the expansion Senators reached or topped .500. The '68 club had won only 65 games under Jim Lemon; Ted Williams' leadership brought an additional 21 victories.
It didn't last; the 1970 club went 70-92....but they lost their final 14 games that year. Before that streak started, they were 70-78, with a near- .500 finish still possible. The disastrous McLain trade with Detroit came during in the '70 World Series, and Bob Short had already made up his mind to move to greener pastures by then anyway.
The '88 Orioles were even more woeful than the '09 Nationals. They dropped their first 21 en route to a 54-107 season. In '89, though, they contended in the AL East, losing the title the final weekend. They won 87 times that year for Frank Robinson, a turnaround of 33 games, though again, it didn't last. The 1990 Birds won only 76 games and finished 5th.
The Nationals have stabilized their front office, which has already had positive results in the way the franchise is perceived throughout the game. Look for some more new faces in uniform by the time spring training gets underway next month. Instant gratificatiion isn't a regular part of baseball, and a 20 game turnaround is against the odds, though not out of the question. From my perspective, a 15-game swing - to the 74-75 win range - is a reasonable expectation for the 2010 Nats.
Beyond that? Gravy.