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.

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

Associated Press
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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Red Sox 11, Yankees 6: The Red Sox clinch the AL East and they do it as Mookie Betts, I presume, clinches the AL MVP Award. He has a strong case for it on the merits, but his three-run homer in the eighth in the division-clinching game, in a week in which he was hobbled by an injury, are the sprinkles the voters like to see on top of that MVP cake. (See Jones, Chipper, 1999). Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt each hit homers as well. Giancarlo Stanton hit a grand slam in a losing cause. The Yankees loss also drops them to a mere game and a half above the A’s for the top Wild Card slot because . . .

Athletics 21, Angels 3: . . . Oakland romped in a game that was . . . something less than competitive. Marcus Semien had three hits and drove in five while Stephen Piscotty homered and drove in four. Angels Catcher Francisco Arcia pitched the last two innings. He gave up three runs but he also hit a homer, which I’ll call a “net two” in my wholly invented plus/minus system for two-way players. That made him better than three of the other Angels pitchers yesterday, none of whom had the chance —  or the guts! — to bat. Look for the Calcaterra Plus/Minus System to be adopted widely in the coming years. It’ll come in handy literally tens of times. Maybe.

Blue Jays 9, Rays 8: The Rays led this one 9-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth, but Jaime Schultz and Sergio Romo could not hold that lead, giving up three home runs in the final frame, including Justin Smoak‘s walkoff blast. Danny Jansen hit a three-run shot in the ninth and Lourdes Gurriel hit a two-run shot. As I noted the other day, Tampa Bay has been surging in the past month or so. Surging so much that they had even entered the fringes of the Wild Card discussion, pulling to within five and a half games as of yesterday morning. This gut-punch loss, however, drops them back to six and a half back with ten games to play.

Braves 8, Phillies 3Kevin Gausman allowed three runs in six and a third innings and Lucas Duda hit a pinch-hit double to drive in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning and give Atlanta the win. Coming into yesterday’s action, the Braves led the Phillies by five and a half. Daunting, but since the two teams had seven matchups against one another in the season’s final eleven days, Philly had a puncher’s chance. They needed to win most of these matchups and otherwise hold serve, but it could be done. Now, one day later, it’s that much harder. Indeed, If Atlanta takes two of three this weekend, it’s all over.

Mets 5, Nationals 4: The Mets blew an early three-run lead, built thanks to homers from Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce. Max Scherzer settled down after that, however, and ended up striking out 13 Mets in seven innings of work. The Nationals still trailed but came back from a two-run deficit in the eighth inning to force extras. That’s all the scoring they’d do, though, and their old friend Jose Lobaton hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the top of the 12th to give New York the win. Between him, Dusty Baker and a bunch of relievers they case off, the Nationals have a whole army of departed Force Ghosts watching them from the sidelines like Yoda and Obi-Wan watched Luke. Except, of course, they’re watching the Nationals face plant as opposed to triumph.

White Sox 5, Indians 4Matt Davidson hit a run-scoring single with two out in the 11th to give the White Sox the win. Sox reliever Hector Sanchez pitched three scoreless innings to end the game. It was the White Sox’ first win in Cleveland this year in nine tries.

Tigers 11, Royals 8: Christin Stewart hit two homers — career homers number one and number two — drew a bases-loaded walk and drove in six in all. It was the most RBI a Tigers player has had in a game in 11 years. Given that those 11 years covered Miguel Cabrera‘s prime, that’s quite a trick. It was only Stewart’s 11th career game. He’ll remember it for the rest of his life.

Reds 4, Marlins 2: Cody Reed pitched six shutout innings — picking up his first win as a starter — and Scooter Gennett homered and doubled as the Reds take the first game of a four-game series in Miami. Question: will this be the least-attended four-game series in baseball this year? It’s gotta be in the top five.