The Washington Nationals added major pieces to both the pitching staff and everyday lineup as we approach the Holiday break with two separate moves December 22. The first move added LHSP Gio Gonzalez(16-12,3.12 ERA, 197 Ks in 202 innings) from the Oakland A’s for 3 top level pitching prospects and as well as the Nationals #1 ranked minor league catcher. Washington forfeits their #3,#4 and #9th ranked prospects from the most recent list published by Baseball America(Dated November 14-27,2011). #3 RHP Brad Peacock was 15-3 in a split AA-AAA season before going 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in 12 major league innings. He projects as a #2 starter if things continue to progress. #4 RHP A.J. Cole(4-7,4.04 in 20 games at Low A)finished his first pro season in 2011 and is probably 2-3 years away from contributing at the major level. C Derek Norris is ranked #9 after hitting .210 with 20 home runs and 46 rbi at AA, the Nats can afford to trade catching with Wilson Ramos set to be a fixture behind home plate for years to come. The 4th player in the Gonzalez trade is LHP Tom Milone(1-0,3.81 in 5 starts) and is some that caught my eye. Once again, the Nationals have a deep farm system and solid major league product, so a player like Milone can be put in a deal for proper value.
In a move that will not draw as much as attention as the Gonzalez trade but could prove to be just as vital, Washington signed INF-OF Mark DeRosa. The 36 year old veteran can play both corner infield spots, 2nd base as well as some occasional spot play in the outfield. He has battled injuries the past two years but is a pro’s pro, very solid across the board and a very good offensive player. This type of guy can be very useful in the National League and he has experience playing for Nationals skipper Davey Johnson in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. This signing became more of a priority with the news that 1B Chris Marrero would not be ready to open the start of the 2012 season after he tore his left hamstring while playing winter ball.
Overall, this was a GREAT, not good day for the Nationals. They potentially have an excellent pitching staff top to bottom with Gonzalez joining RHs Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman and Chien-Ming Wang and LHs John Lannan and Ross Detwiller in what might be the deepest rotation in the National League East. When you slot this group with the strong 8-9th inning combination of set up man Tyler Clippard and closer Drew Storen, pitching should not be an issue. DeRosa is a veteran bat and clubhouse leader who can play 2-3 days a week while getting 30+ pinch hitting appearances. Position players wise, Washington could still use an everyday center fielder (who ideally bats leadoff) and with their abundance of major league ready pitching, they could make a trade(B.J. Upton? Denard Spann?).
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