Barring a major trade before spring training starts in roughly five weeks, the addition of first baseman Adam LaRoche is likely the final change the Nationals will make as far as the everyday lineup. Pitching is another story.
However, today we focus on what the Nats' lineup should look like after a lot of shaking and baking this offseason:
1. Nyjer Morgan (vs. RHP)/Roger Bernadina (vs. LHP), CF » The leadoff spot will belong to Morgan. But after seeing 2010, he should never face a lefty. So we'd stick Roger Bernadina in center and lead off on those days. Bernadina is a lefty, too, but hits southpaws better than righties.
2. Ian Desmond, SS » Had his most at-bats (184) here in 2010 and batted .326. In 341 at-bats elsewhere, he batted a combined .238.
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B » Pretty much been in this spot since 2006 for a reason.
4. Adam LaRoche, 1B » Provides balance between two right-handed hitters, is a consistent producer (has 80 or more RBI since 2006) and drove in 100 in 2010.
5. Jayson Werth, RF » If he were a lefty, he would have been given a shot to prove his, um, worth, as a cleanup hitter, but he's not, and the balance here is more important for 2011.
6. Mike Morse (vs. LHP)/Rick Ankiel (vs. RHP), LF » The mystery horse in this race is Bernadina, who might end up in this platoon. Either way, Morse would be the man vs. lefties, hands down, and would pick up some at-bats against righties as well. Ankiel has more power than Bernadina but lacks Bernadina's base running skills.
7. Pudge Rodriguez/Wilson Ramos/Jesus Flores?, C » Typical lineups have catcher at the eight-spot. We'd generally agree, but see No. 8 as to why we're not here. Future Hall of Famer Rodriguez would likely be the odd man out should Flores show he can return to pre-injury form.
8. Danny Espinosa, 2B » Like Desmond in 2010, the Nats will need to let Espinosa play in 2011 regardless of his production. We like him in this spot as he's more of a free swinger and likely to see more hittable pitches here in front of the pitcher. In 2010 he showed flashes of being a clutch hitter. This spot will accentuate that.