Without the big name closer, this team is capable right now of winning the World Series. Laugh, if you will. Wonder, if someone hit the eggnog too early. Cringe as you read this. This team can win everything with the players under contract in 2017.
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Sure, we do not know who will catch. Wal-Mart will sell plenty of antacids—or adult beverages—to get you through the ninth without an established closer. Bench depth is so thin that Wilmer Difo made the last out of the season against Clayton Kershaw.
For everything that went wrong the last month, the Nationals still won the division with ease and forced the Los Angeles Dodgers to use a starting pitcher on one day rest to win the series. When you think about it, the Wilson Ramos injury or Strasburg’s flexor mass strain, the 2016 Nats almost advanced.
You know there are surprises coming. Not having a closer established by April or a plan behind the plate will not happen. Chances are Washington will bring in a veteran starting pitcher and trade the glut of prospects that cannot crack the roster now. Who knows what the team will look like come next spring.
What we know is 2016 saw the most productive offense in team history. Except for Ramos, everyone in the starting lineup is back come April. Goodness, they may surprise us all and make a deal with the “Buffalo.”
The 2016 squad won the division by a healthy margin and finished with the second-best record in the National League. Daniel Murphy may not chase .350 again, but his swing is tailored to Nationals Park.
Never underestimate a team’s hunger. If you feel 2016 was disappointing, how do you think they feel. All season, the glamor story was the Chicago Cubs. They won, and the dreaded cursed team story is gone.
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For Jayson Werth, his contract ends after 2017. He wants to shower Dan Kolko several times before Werth retires or moves on. Dusty Baker does not want to go into the history books as a manager who never won the big one. Mike Rizzo has constructed above-average teams. He would love the credit for a great one.
Yes, winning requires luck. Sometimes the Nationals received more bad than good. Make no mistake, the core of the Washington Nationals can win a championship. They need to believe in themselves and get the right players to complement what is there.