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Would a team of ex-Nats be any good?

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Would a team of ex-Nats be any good?

Sometimes when teams get good they have to let good players go. The 2007 Philadelphia Phillies, for instance, had Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse on their roster and neither were major contributors. Jayson Werth was of course also on Philly before coming to Washington. 

It took a lot of roster turnover to transform the Nats into what they are today, a playoff team and division champion. Just look at the 2010 squad, nine different pitchers who made appearances with that team have yet to pitch again in the majors. (Luis Atilano, Scott Olsen, J.D. Martin, Tyler Walker, Jesse English, Matt Chico, Joe Bisenius, Garrett Mock, and Jason Bergmann)

The Nationals over the past few years have traded players away and let others go via free agency, some simply because it was time they switched to the American League. But looking at who has left and where they are now, the talent pool of ex-Nationals players really isn’t that bad.

Here is how I see a team of former Nationals players (still active in the majors) stacking up. The stats included are those from their 2012 seasons.

BATTERS

C – Derek Norris (.201 BA, 7 HR, 34 RBI)
1B – Adam Dunn (.204 BA, 41 HR, 96 RBI)
2B – Emilio Bonifacio (.258 BA, 30 R, 30 SB)
SS – Jerry Hairston (.273 BA, 4 HR, 26 RBI)
3B – Alfonso Soriano (.262 BA, 32 HR, 108 RBI)
LF – Josh Willingham (.260 BA, 35 HR, 110 RBI)
CF – Justin Maxwell (.229 BA, 18 HR, 53 RBI)
RF – Jonny Gomes (.262 BA, 18 HR, 47 RBI)

BN – Wil Nieves (32 G, .301 BA, 8 RBI)
BN – Marlon Byrd (47 G, .210 BA, 10 R)
BN – Laynce Nix (.256 BA, 3 HR, 16 RBI)
BN – Pete Orr (35 G, .315 BA, 7 RBI)
BN – Austin Kearns (.245 BA, 21 R, 16 RBI)

A lineup of former Nationals looks a lot better after 2012 than it did a year before. Adam Dunn had a huge comeback from his awful 2011 with 41 home runs and a league-best 105 walks. He made his second career All-Star appearance and would be the centerpiece of this hypothetical batting order. Dunn along with Soriano, Willingham, Maxwell, Gomes, and even Norris would pack a ton of power.

The ex-Nationals lineup overall would be quite lopsided. Their infield in general would be old and ineffective. Hairston and Orr would likely platoon at shortstop given their age. And Alfonso Soriano would have to move back to the infield given the outfield depth. Willingham, Maxwell, Gomes, and Byrd would combine to man the outfield.

The Nats would be okay at catcher with Norris and Nieves. Norris is a decent starter having blocked the plate for the division champion Oakland Athletics. The bench would also be serviceable with Nix and the fourth outfielder ready to go. 

PITCHERS

SP – Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.74 ERA, 190.0 IP)
SP – Jason Marquis (8-11, 5.22 ERA, 127.2 IP)
SP – Livan Hernandez (4-1, 6.42 ERA, 67.1 IP)
SP – Brad Peacock (played in minors)
SP – Miguel Batista (1-3, 4.61 ERA, 52.2 IP)

The starting rotation of an ex-Nationals team would be its biggest weakness. The Nats themselves were poor in this department before getting Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, so this could be expected. Milone turned into a quality starting pitcher after being traded to Oakland and led the A.L. West champions in wins and innings pitched. The rest of the rotation, with the exception of Peacock, saw their best years a long time ago. Peacock had promise when he was traded to the A’s, but never made it out of the Pacific Coast League in 2012. He had an ugly 6.01 ERA through 134 2/3 innings in the minors.

CL – Joel Hanrahan (2.72 ERA, 36 SV, 59.2 IP)
RP – Joel Peralta (3.63 ERA, 0.985 WHIP, 67.0 IP)
RP – Jon Rauch (3.59 ERA, 0.988 WHIP, 57.2 IP)
RP – Matt Capps (3.68 ERA, 1.091 WHIP, 14 SV)
RP – Doug Slaten (2.77 ERA, 13.0 IP)
RP – Todd Coffey (4.66 ERA, 19.1 IP)
RP – Chad Gaudin (4-2, 4.54 ERA, 69.1 IP)

The bullpen of the ex-Nationals would be quite decent. Hanrahan is probably the posterboy of former Nats players as even general manager Mike Rizzo has expressed regret for trading him. Peralta, Rauch, and Capps are quality relievers and the overall depth is good. Slaten would be the only left-hander which would pose a problem.

OVERALL

All in all, the group of former Nationals still active in the major isn’t that bad. Making the playoffs would be unlikely, but there is certainly more talent there than the current Miami Marlins.

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Nationals rally against Rivero, beat Pirates 10-7

Nationals rally against Rivero, beat Pirates 10-7

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The tag was clearly fake. What happened next was all too real for the NL East champion Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper got hurt and needs X-rays.

Harper injured his left thumb making an awkward slide to avoid a pretend tag by Pittsburgh third baseman Jung Ho Kang, and the teams later cleared the benches Sunday in Washington's 10-7 win.

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said Harper was "sore" and would have X-rays on Monday. The reigning NL MVP had surgery to repair a torn ligament in the same thumb in 2014.

Harper led off the third inning with a triple. As he neared third, Kang acted as if a throw was coming and feigned a tag.

Harper went down, was checked by a trainer and stayed in. He scored on Anthony Rendon's double and was replaced in the field in the bottom half by Chris Heisey.

Kang insisted he merely intended to keep Harper from scoring when right fielder Josh Bell's throw was way off line.

"First of all, I meant no harm," Kang said through a translator. "During the relay play, I tried to hold the runner on third base. That's all I tried to do."

The next time Kang came up, Nationals starter A.J. Cole threw a fastball behind him and was immediately ejected by plate umpire Jordan Baker as the benches emptied.

Cole said he was trying to pitch inside to Kang. Baker said the entire situation wasn't ideal for a team that is focusing on a playoff run.

"We don't want guys suspended," Baker said. "But you know, boys will be boys, and you've still got to defend your teammates."

Washington's Jayson Werth was in the middle of the skirmish. Pirates outfielder Sean Rodriguez was ejected.

"I was very surprised I was the only one ejected considering," Rodriguez said. "I got blamed for being the one that instigated, but you can watch the film yourself."

Werth had a pinch-hit, two-run homer and Heisey had a go-ahead single during a five-run burst in the eighth. The Nationals' rally came against former teammate Felipe Rivero (1-5).

Rivero had allowed just four earned runs in his previous 25 innings since being traded from Washington to the Pirates.

Kang hit a two-run homer off Koda Glover to give the Pirates the lead in the seventh.

Shawn Kelley (3-2) wound up with the win. Former Pirates closer Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth for his 43rd save.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli did not play after taking a foul ball off his wrist Saturday. ... RHP Neftali Feliz (arm) threw off flat ground but is not yet ready for a return to the mound.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Tanner Roark (15-9 2.70 ERA) had his start pushed back one day after the Nationals clinched the NL East on Saturday night. He'll looking for his career-best 16th win as Washington hosts Arizona for a four-game series.

Pirates: Chad Kuhl (5-3, 3.73 ERA) will start as Pittsburgh begins a four-game series against the NL Central champion Chicago Cubs. Kuhl has allowed seven earned runs in 7 1/3 innings in his two previous starts against Chicago this season.

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Benches clear in confrontation between Nats and Pirates

Benches clear in confrontation between Nats and Pirates

With the division title clinched the night before, it seemed the Nationals were poised for an uneventful series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday afternoon. 

That wasn't to be, as the two clubs engaged in a benches clearing altercation in the bottom of the third inning. The tension started in the top of the frame, when Bryce Harper was injured while sliding to third base on a triple. The Nats took exception to Pirates third baseman Jung-ho Kang faking a tag on Harper, which may have led to the injury. 

So when Nats starter A.J. Cole threw behind Kang in the bottom of the inning, the near-fracas was ignited.

Cole was immediately ejected from the game, benches cleared, and each side exchanged words. The Pirates' Sean Rodriguez was also ejected from the game.