I had some questions about the Nationals, and Patrick Reddington of Federal Baseball was kind enough to answer them in advance of the Mets' visit to Washington, D.C. for a three-game series this weekend. Thanks, Patrick!
I also answered a few questions about the Mets over at Federal Baseball so be sure to check that out, too.
Chris McShane: Chien-Ming Wang is set to make his major league return tonight after having anterior capsule surgery, the same surgery from which Johan Santana is attempting to recover. What, if any, expectations do you have for Wang for the rest of the year, and do you see him back in DC in 2012?
Patrick Reddington: I have no expectations whatsoever for CMW simply because I really never believed this night would happen. It was such a slow rehab process over the last two years that you wondered if the $3M+ the Nats invested in him would just be written off, but to the surprise of many he actually made it back. It took a few months more than he originally hoped, but as the Nats stated often throughout the process, it wasn't a structured recovery like Nats fans have seen Jordan Zimmermann and now Stephen Strasburg go through the last few years after Tommy John where there are milestones and clear markers of progress so it was just wait and see with Wang. He has two months now to impress enough for the Nats to give him another chance after this year. This organization loves tall sinker ballers, so if he's anything close to what he was before the injury I could see him hanging around past this year.
CM: Does the Jonny Gomes trade make any sense for the Nationals?
PR: Matt Stairs was done so they needed some pop off the bench, but Gomes will likely be more than a bench bat. He's likely a platoon partner with Laynce Nix who has taken a lot of the playing time in left but can't hit left-handers. Gomes' .321/.426/.518 slash vs LHP is the main reason he's here. The Nats are left-hand heavy in the outfield after Jayson Werth with Laynce Nix, Roger Bernadina and Rick Ankiel (and occasionally Jerry Hairston) all unable to hit left-handers. Also though Chris Manno (22, left-handed) seemed an odd prospect to include, Bill Rhinehart was 26 at Double-A and had a few other prospects (2010 Nats' minor league Player of the Year Tyler Moore and '06 1st Round pick Chris Marrero) ahead of him on the organizational depth chart at 1B, so they dealt from a strength and got something they needed on the MLB roster. Not too enthusiastic about Gomes or upset about losing the prospects, honestly.
CM: How's Davey Johnson working out after Jim Riggleman's surprising resignation?
PR: First of all, I'm with Jim Riggleman in that I didn't think he was going to be the manager after this season either, so while I was surprised at the way he left, I'm not too shocked that he figured out what a lot of folks saw. Though the Nats' GM praised the job he did endlessly, it seemed apparent that someone else would be brought in when the Nats were closer to being contenders. I like Davey Johnson and like the fact that he was in the organization already and familiar with the players throughout the system, but it's been a tough transition. I like that he's gone with a more consistent lineup, Riggleman rarely put the same team on the field day-to-day, but some of Johnson's decisions with the bullpen have folks wondering around here.
CM: Is there a sense of excitement that the Nationals will be competitive in the near future with Stephen Strasburg returning and Bryce Harper potentially debuting next season?
PR: The last few drafts, getting two once-in-a-generation-type talents in consecutive years, definitely have those fans who are paying attention to the whole organization excited. The Nats have stockpiled pitching and there is a lot of talent in the system behind Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and the young pitchers who are already in the majors. Strasburg could be back by September to throw a few innings, which unfortunately is right when Zimmermann will reach his innings-limit for the year, but 2012-13 with those two in the rotation is definitely something to look forward to. And how can you not be excited to see what Harper can do once he gets up. The real exciting part for me is that they already started the youth movement at the major league level with Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond and Drew Storen (if he's not traded). They have young talented kids learning on the job who'll have plenty of experience by the time the Strasburgs and Harpers are on the roster. But it's the pitching with names like Brad Meyers, Brad Peacock, Tom Milone, A.J. Cole and Sammy Solis (among others) that really have me thinking good things about the future in the nation's capital.