Restoring the rosters: No. 6 – Montreal/Washington

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
No. 12 – Minnesota
No. 11 – Arizona
No. 10 – Los Angeles (AL)
No. 9 – Toronto
No. 8 – Boston
No. 7 – Colorado
It was the most enjoyable roster to construct, even if it’s no longer quite as strong as it was a couple of years ago. Coming it at No. 6, it’s your ExpoNats.
Rotation
Cliff Lee
Javier Vazquez
John Lannan
Jordan Zimmerman
Randy Johnson
Bullpen
Armando Galarraga
Jason Bergmann
Chad Cordero
Collin Balester
Bill Bray
Darrell Rasner
Miguel Batista
Or Stephen Strasburg, if you like. I haven’t included any other 2009 draft picks in these rankings, though, and I’m not sure it’s fair to start now. It’s not as though the Nationals deserve credit for unearthing the right-hander.
The rotation is strong if one is willing to overlook the injuries. Zimmerman will miss most or all of 2010 after Tommy John surgery and Johnson may not be back next year after missing the last couple of months with a strained shoulder. If those two had to be replaced, then Galarraga and Balester would enter the rotation and there’d be little left for the bullpen. Cordero probably won’t ever be what he was before wrecking his shoulder, and Bray has also displayed little ability to stay healthy.
Once past the 12 pitchers above, one is down to Craig Stammen, the perpetually injured Shawn Hill, Chris Schroder and Mike Lincoln.
Lineup
LF Milton Bradley
CF Grady Sizemore
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Jason Bay
RF Vladimir Guerrero
2B Brandon Phillips
SS Orlando Cabrera
C Brian Schneider
Bench
INF Jamey Carroll
OF Matt Stairs
INF Geoff Blum
C Michael Barrett
OF Jerry Owens
The lineup is pretty remarkable, even with Jose Vidro, Cliff Floyd, Mark Grudzielanek, Brad Wilkerson and Rondell White having fallen by the wayside. The top six players are all All-Star-type performers when they’re going well. Sure, Bay has to be played out of position at first base, but I think he might actually be more valuable there anyway. The defense wouldn’t be much worse than the offense with legitimate Gold Glovers at third, second and in center.
The bench isn’t bad, either. Carroll is getting on base 37 percent of the time this year, and Stairs could still produce an 800 OPS if given more than five at-bats per week. Barrett is iffy after two years ruined by injury, but at 32, he’s not yet too old to bounce back. If not him, then Luke Montz would have to be the backup.
Summary
It’s fun to think what might have been, unless, of course, you’re a spurned Expos fan. The team may well have gone to the World Series in 1994 if not for the strike. In 14 years since, the ExpoNats have finished fourth or fifth 12 times, including the last six years in a row. The franchise hasn’t seen the postseason since 1981, and another last-place finish is surely on the way in 2009. The hopes are now pinned on Strasburg and the Zimmerman(n)s and… well, not much else. There’s still a long road ahead.
But at least it’s no longer being traversed by a Segway.

Edwin Encarnacion: “I think [the Blue Jays] got too hasty in making their decision.”

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
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1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Indians early last month. The 34-year-old had spent the last seven and a half seasons with the Blue Jays, but his future elsewhere appeared to be written on the wall when the Jays signed Kendrys Morales in November to essentially occupy Encarnacion’s role.

Encarnacion spoke about testing free agency for the first time in his career and the situation that led to him leaving Toronto for Cleveland. Via Jorge L. Ortiz of USA TODAY:

“Toronto was always my first option, but I had never been a free agent, and anybody who gets to free agency wants to find out what’s out there,’’ he said. “I think they got too hasty in making their decision, but now I’m with Cleveland and I’m happy to be here.’’

Encarnacion last season hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and an AL-best 127 RBI. He’s now on the team that defeated his Blue Jays in the ALCS to advance to the World Series. Encarnacion effectively replaces Mike Napoli, who returned to the Rangers.

Sammy Sosa compares himself to Jesus Christ

Sammy Sosa
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I’m on record saying that Sammy Sosa has been rather hosed by baseball history.

The guy did amazing things. Unheard-of things. He was truly astounding at this peak and was incredibly important to both his franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole. His repayment: he’s a pariah. His club won’t claim him and his greatness, by any measure, has not just been overlooked but denied by most who even bother to consider him.

Yes, he had PED associations, but they were extraordinarily vague ones. He’s in the same boat as David Ortiz as far as documented PED evidence against him, but Ortiz will be a first ballot Hall of Famer while Sosa barely clings to the ballot. He hit homers at the same cartoonish rate as Mark McGwire, but while Big Mac has been embraced by baseball and has coached for years, Sosa can’t get into Wrigley Field unless he buys a ticket and even then the Cubs might try to hustle him out of sight. The man has been treated poorly by any measure.

Yet, it’s still possible to overstate the case. Like Sosa did in this interview with Chuck Wasserstrom:

It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” Sosa told chuckbloggerstrom.com. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (bleep) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”

At least he was basically joking about it. Still, it’s a totally unfair and almost offensive comparison.

I mean, anyone who watched Sosa’s career knows that he had trouble laying off breaking stuff low and away. In contrast . . .