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Posted at 07:30 AM ET, 03/14/2011

A Nationals roster guess


With their 5-1 victory yesterday over the Marlins, the Nationals moved to 10-5 – the fourth-best spring record in the majors, for what that’s worth – and completed precisely half of their Grapefruit League schedule.

If you count the start of workouts, the Nationals are far closer to opening day than the start of spring training, which means the roster is starting to take shape. The complexion of the roster could very well change by the end of camp with a trade or a few surprises, which makes it tough to make a definitive guess about a few parts of the team. For now, here’s one crack at it:

STARTING ROTATION

1. Livan Hernandez

2. John Lannan

3. Jason Marquis

4. Jordan Zimmermann

5. Tom Gorzelanny

NOTES: The rotation won’t necessarily stay intact for long. Tom Gorzelanny will have to hold off Chad Gaudin, Ross Detwiler, Yunesky Maya and others to maintain his grip on the fifth spot. If Jason Marquis pitches well, he could become a trade candidate, given that he’s in the final year of his two-year contract.

BULLPEN

6. Todd Coffey

7. Sean Burnett

8. Drew Storen

9. Tyler Clippard

10. Henry Rodriguez

11. Doug Slaten

12. Chad Gaudin

NOTES: In this scenario, Collin Balester and Craig Stammen would draw the short straws. Stammen could fill the long reliever role that Gaudin appears in line for. Balester pitched great at the end of last season and probably deserves a spot, but Rodriguez’s dearth of options and the need for a long man could doom him.

CATCHERS

13. Ivan Rodriguez

14. Wilson Ramos

NOTES: Ramos has pretty clearly separated himself from Jesus Flores, who could use more time in Class AAA to knock off the rust from not playing during the regular season since 2009.

INFIELD

14. Danny Espinosa

15. Adam LaRoche

16. Ian Desmond

17. Ryan Zimmerman

NOTES: Self-explanatory.

OUTFIELD

18. Michael Morse

19. Nyjer Morgan

20. Jayson Werth

NOTES: Morgan’s grip on the center field job is far from solid, but the guess is that he’ll play just well enough during the spring for the Nationals to let him win or lose the job during the season. It would not be a surprise if Roger Bernadina wins the spot.

BENCH

21. Jerry Hairston

22. Rick Ankiel

23. Roger Bernadina

24. Alex Cora

25. Laynce Nix

NOTES: The most difficult part of the roster to sort out. In this scenario, Cora beats out Alberto Gonzalez, but it’s close call. It’s a hunch based on how much the Nationals seem to like Cora’s veteran presence. If that’s the case, Gonzalez would become a trade chip. Also, don’t discount Brian Bixler in that competition, either. He’s played his way into the mix. The bench is already heavy on left-handed outfielders with Bernadina and Ankiel, which makes giving the last spot to either Laynce Nix or Matt Stairs difficult, but it’s hard to see anyone else jumping up and grabbing that 25th spot. It’s a toss-up, but Nix probably provides more versatility with his glove than does Stairs. Either way, given the glut of left-handed outfield bats, which includes Morgan, too, you can see how the roster shapes up for a potential trade or two before the end the spring.

FROM THE POST

Michael Morse has found the opportunity he wanted in Washington.

By  |  07:30 AM ET, 03/14/2011

 
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