To get multiple voices on to the blog and to better get to know the Natmosphere we will begin a series called Nationals Introspective. Each week we will talk to one Nationals blogger about baseball, the Nationals, and blogging. Next up we have Ed Chigliak from Federal Baseball.
The Nats Blog: You were an Expos fan before becoming a Nationals fan. What was that transition like for you?
Federal Baseball: The transition from Montreal to DC really brought me back to baseball. My brother and I decided to travel to Montreal in the last few seasons of the Expos' existence so that we'd catch the last Olympic Stadium series between his Braves and my Expos each year, and I really started to follow the franchise again after I'd drifted away for a short time out of frustration over what they were doing to the team to drive down its value and eventually force the move out of Montreal. Imagine being denied September call-ups when you're competing for the Wild Card...those last few years drove away all but the most loyal Expos fans. So the move to Washington and the idea of a rebirth of the organization in the nation's capital was welcome as much as I hated the team leaving Montreal. However, I also knew what was left of the system that provided the whole league with stars for years, and knew it would take a long time to rebuild so I might have been a little more prepared for how long it's taken than most...
TNB: Federal Baseball was a big supporter of the attempts to get Adrolis Chapman to sign with Washington, why were you so gung-ho about him?
FB: I just thought adding a talented young pitcher like Aroldis Chapman after drafting and signing Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen in the '09 Draft gave the Nationals the chance to add two potential top-of-the-rotation No.1 overall-type pitchers and a future closer in a twelve month period to go along with whatever they end up getting out of the No.1 pick in the 2010 draft. What better way to jumpstart the building process? The possibility of a Strasburg, Chapman, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan and Ross Detwiler rotation in the future was the other thing that had me thinking it would be a good idea to sign the Cuban-born lefty. I'll be honest though, I just stuck with it throughout the process of teams courting him hoping that the Nationals would remain in the chase, but I grossly underestimated how far DC GM Mike Rizzo would actually go to get Chapman. The fact that Washington was in it til the end and actually offered the 5-years/$25 million that was reported stunned me...
TNB: RFK or Nats Park? Why?
FB: Or Olympic Stadium? Just kidding. RFK had a certain charm, and I dug the white seats in the outfield, and there were definitely some good memories there of the team's first game, Frank Robinson's last game, etc., but that first day at Nationals Park, I arrived 5 hours before the game and examined every inch of that park, then got to stay for the game and watch Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off dinger end the first night. I was sold on Nationals Park right there. Plus our Federal Baseball.com offices are located on the far left of the Red Porch.
TNB: What have you liked about the Nationals moves so far this winter?
FB: I liked signing Matt Capps, granted he can recover his form from a few years ago. I kept hearing the Braves talk about being interested in Capps, so I was really surprised when he ended up in Washington and even chose DC over Chicago. I like adding Jason Marquis. Though more than a few of the folks at Federal Baseball have pointed out his walk totals over the years and warned that it might be tough to take at times. Brian Bruney? I really just don't know much about, I try to avoid watching the Yankees, so I haven't seen him pitch really, but I like his attitude about joining the Nats, and think he can push pitchers like Capps and Storen to perform...I also think adding a good middle infielder is what they should be trying to do and hope they're as close to doing so now as I'm hearing...Pudge? I'll take his wisdom over Josh Bard's effort, I guess...and he did apparently help draw the pitchers who signed after he agreed to a deal, so he might be considered a success already...(alright, I'll admit I'd much rather see Ivan Rodriguez backing up a healthy Jesus Flores and I'm pretty sure that won't be the case this year...) But I think the additions to the front office will eventually prove to be the most important thing the Nationals did this winter.
TNB: What would you have liked to see them do differently?
FB: Sign Chapman, beat the Reds out there, would've liked that. But I appreciate the effort. I think adding a Ben Sheets, (if the A's hadn't overpaid) or a Jon Garland, (if he'd wanted to come to DC) would have been a good idea. I'm also not sure about all the various bullpen arms they've brought in and they're starting to make me wonder what their plans are for a lot of the starters in the system. Collin Balester, J.D. Martin, Craig Stammen, Garrett Mock, Shairon Martis, Ross Detwiler...where are all these pitchers going to be throwing this year?
TNB: Who do you think should be the number one starting pitcher for the team? What do you think our rotation will look like come June?
FB: I think maybe John Lannan has earned a season as the number two starter on the team. A little less pressure on Lannan might be a good thing after all the hard work he's put in during the last few seasons. Marquis is probably not a number one starter in any other organization, but he'll probably be on top in DC. I do think Stephen Strasburg will be up by June, barring any setbacks, and if I had to guess as to which pitchers will be in the rotation this June, I'd say, Marquis, Lannan, Olsen, Strasburg and Detwiler...
TNB: What's the one piece you'd most like to add to the team, and how would you go about getting it?
FB: Since I thought they should've signed Chapman, I'd say that they should have figured out a way to acquire one of the young pitchers out there who changed hands this winter, be it Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino, Max Scherzer or Edwin Jackson. There were rumors of a few Josh Willingham deals that fell through that probably could have brought a young arm back in return, if an offer was there I would have been alright with dealing the Hammer, though I'd have definitely signed a veteran outfielder rather than relying solely on Justin Maxwell and Roger Bernadina to come through with big seasons.
TNB: All time favorite Nationals moment? All time favorite Expos moment?
FB: Ryan Zimmerman's Nationals Park-opening-walk-off HR is definitely my favorite Nationals moment, followed closely by the signing of Strasburg this year, that deadline countdown and the news coming through that the Nationals did get him signed might have been the best moment in the last few years. All-Time favorite Expos moment? Vladimir Guerrero's last AB with Montreal. I was there sitting 10-12 rows behind home...Later in the game Frank Robinson let Vladimir take the field and pulled him so that the crowd could say goodbye as he walked off, but there was a chance for Vladi to get one more AB so the fans revolted and booed Robinson for quite a while after that...it was a classy move by Frank Robinson that I enjoyed, but can't believe how it blew up on Robinson.