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What if the Nats don't do anything?

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What if the Nats don't do anything?

Already over a month into their offseason, the Nationals haven't given many answers or even signs as to their plan for 2013. Will they re-sign Adam LaRoche? Sign a top free agent?  We're still waiting. 

One theory that has perhaps been overlooked, and what Nats fans may fear, is if the Nationals did nothing at all. That is to say they didn't even sign LaRoche and just rolled with the players they already have under contract. This would mean slotting either Tyler Moore or Michael Morse at first base and looking to their minor league system for re-inforcements. 

While the Nationals' recent history would suggest they will not sit this offseason out, a recent story in The Washington Post says it's possible.

Here is what Nats manager Davey Johnson told columnist Thomas Boswell:

“I’m not pushing for anything. I don’t have a wish list. There’s nothing I think we have to go hog wild about this winter. We’re going to be strong next year. If we don’t do anything, we’ll be fine.

“Our payroll might go down,” he said, half-joking.

Rizzo had this to say about why this year could be different:

“In past winters, we’ve jumped out quickly” with signings, he said. “This time around, we don’t have any pressing needs. We’ll probably see where the landscape is after the winter meetings."

Davey later suggests the Nats are offering a two-year deal to LaRoche and that could be the final sticking point. He also suggests indirectly that the Nationals' offer is $25 million for those two seasons. The 33-year-old first baseman is likely looking at his final shot for a big free agent deal and just finished a career year. 

If LaRoche chooses to leave for a bigger deal somewhere else, the Nationals would have a hard time replacing what he did for them in 2012. Not only was LaRoche their most consistent offensive player, he was also a Gold Glove player on defense. Moore and Morse would both provide adequate defense at first base, but a drop-off would certainly be noticed. Both players are also solid offensive players, but Moore is inexperienced and Morse is injury prone.

LaRoche is also the biggest free agent prize at the first base position this offseason and it's not even close. In order to find a replacement for him outside of the organization it would likely mean a trade. Then they would be selling off some of the depth they are counting on helping them improve next season.

The Nationals have money to spend and could try and improve in a lot of areas this offseason. They could also stand pat and roll with what they already have. It still sounds like they want to sign LaRoche, but as their comments suggest, anything could happen.

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Nats begin final homestand with Roark set to face Diamondbacks

Nats begin final homestand with Roark set to face Diamondbacks

Nats (91-64) vs. Diamondbacks (64-91) at Nationals Park

The Nationals already have the NL East division locked up and know they will be playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series next week. But first, they have seven more regular season games, all at home. They begin that final homestand on Monday night with the Arizona Diamondbacks in town.

That means Matt Williams will make his return to Nationals Park for the first time since he was fired last October. He is now the third base coach of the D'Backs, who can technically help their division rivals, the Dodgers, by beating the Nats. L.A. and Washington are jockeying for home field advantage in that first round.

Bryce Harper (thumb) and Daniel Murphy remain out of the Nats' lineup. The Nats are still not ready to reveal the results of Harper's X-ray.

Tanner Roark (15-9, 2.70) will make his 32nd start of the season. He saw the D'Backs on Aug. 2 in Arizona and tossed 6 1/3 innings of three-run ball.

Opposite Roark will be former first round pick Archie Bradley (7-9, 5.02). Bradley pitched on Aug. 1 the first series between these teams and allowed eight runs - seven earned - in 3 1/3 innings.

First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Tanner Roark vs. Diamondbacks - Archie Bradley

NATS

CF Trea Turner
LF Jayson Werth
3B Anthony Rendon
C Wilson Ramos
2B Stephen Drew
1B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Brian Goodwin
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP Tanner Roark

DIAMONDBACKS

TBA
RHP Archie Bradley

CLICK HERE FOR LIVE STATS AND SCORES

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Thoughts on the death of Marlins superstar Jose Fernandez

Thoughts on the death of Marlins superstar Jose Fernandez

The baseball world lost one of its best on Sunday morning with the tragic death of Marlins superstar Jose Fernandez, an ace pitcher who at just 24 years old had already established himself as arguably the most feared right-hander in baseball.

He was a dominant force who was unquestionably one of the best players on the planet and a guy so many of us were genuinely excited to watch for years to come.

The details of his life off the field made his ending that much more tragic, how he had escaped from Cuba and been separated from his grandmother for so long.

How just a week ago he revealed on Intagram that he and his girlfriend were expecting a child.

RELATED: ORIOLES MANAGER REACTS TO TRAGIC PASSING OF FERNANDEZ

On the field, he had the talent to be a Hall of Famer, one of the best pitchers of all time. And by all accounts, he was a splendid person as well. On the mound his vibrant personality was easy to see through his emotional pitching style. It seemed like he was never stoic. There was always either a smile or a scowl. He lived in the moment and every pitch was an event.

It's clear how much opposing players admired him, not only with the outpour of condolences since his death, but with how they talked about him while he was still alive. Bryce Harper's famous quotes made to ESPN this spring training about how there should be more emotion and personality in the game honed in on Fernandez. He was the central example of his argument.

Here's what Harper told ESPN in March: "Jose Fernandez is a great example. Jose Fernandez will strike you out and stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist. And if you hit a homer and pimp it? He doesn't care. Because you got him. That's part of the game."

That's some serious respect from a guy who who had more plate appearances against Fernandez than any other player. Because he played in the same division as Fernandez, Harper faced him 26 times. He only got four hits - not one of them for extra bases - and posted a lowly .595 OPS. Yet, he admired Fernandez and enjoyed facing him.

A lot of Nationals players saw Fernandez frequently and none of them had success. Yes, none of them.

Jayson Werth went 1-for-20 with seven strikeouts. Wilson Ramos went 3-for-18 with six strikeouts. Danny Espinosa went 2-for-16. Anthony Rendon went 3-for-22 with nine strikeouts. Ryan Zimmerman, who went 4-for-15, was a relative standout in the bunch and he couldn't solve him, either.

Ian Desmond, who left the Nats to sign with the Rangers this offseason, went 0-for-17 with 12 strikeouts against Fernandez when he was in Washington. And Desmond is a three-time Silver Slugger and two-time All-Star.

Fernandez made 10 starts against the Nats in his career and went 7-0 with a 0.99 ERA. He gave up 34 hits in 63 2/3 innings and struck out 84 batters. 

Fernandez struck out 12.9 batters per nine innings this season, the best rate in the majors. In his last outing, which was against the Nationals, he tossed eight shutout innings with 12 strikeouts, no walks and just three hits allowed. He took a first-place team and made them look like they didn't even belong on the same field.

It didn't matter who you were. You were not going to hit his high-90s fastball that moved in all sorts of directions as it crossed the plate. You weren't going to hit his curveball, that dropped in the zone with zip and precision.

He was just that good. And now he's gone.

RELATED: NATIONALS ROAD TO 2016 NL EAST WAS RELATIVELY SMOOTH

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