For the Nats, April was Forgettable
- Updated: May 16, 2009
For the Washington Nationals, April 2009 was a month to forget.
March was a bad sign of things to come. The club opened camp with the revelation that the future of the franchise, 19-year-old Esmailyn Gonzalez, was in fact 24-year-old Carlos Alverez Daniel Lugo. A resulting scandal broke out, the FBI got involved, and before you knew it, the Nats started the season without their General Manager and already on the hot seat.
Things got worse for the Nationals in April, and surprisingly, even more embarrassing. They kicked the season off with their president and supposed leader, Stan Kasten, calling in on a Philadelphia based sports talk radio station, urging Phillies fans to come to Washington to fill up the stands in the home opener. This of course did not sit well in the local media, as it appeared our team’s ownership not only had no faith in the clubs fans, but also didn’t really respect them. Nationals’ fans were outraged, offended, and downright hurt by their ownership right off the bat.
It didn’t take long for the scrutiny to go from a local level to a national one. The club became a countrywide laughing stock as they played with misspelled jersey’s one fateful April night, sporting uniforms with the name ‘Natinals.’ Many lost the little respect they had for the last place ball club. If that weren’t bad enough, anyone who still had faith in the club lost it when centerfielder Elijah Dukes got fined by Manny Acta for showing up five minutes late to practice. His reason? Signing autographs for little leaguers. It all worked out in the end though, as the little leaguers held a fundraiser to pay for Dukes’ fine.
The Nationals failures weren’t limited to the mistakes of their administrators though; they saw plenty of failures on the field as well. The team went 5-16 in April, in rather spectacular fashion. The team wasn’t hampered by poor team play necessarily, but marred by meager individual output. Blown save after blown save saw Joel Hanrahan lose his closer job. Saul Rivera and Steven Shell bit the bullet after poor early bullpen performances. A terrible first week saw a sub .200 Lastings Milledge first lose his starting spot, and then after only 27 at-bats, he was sent to Syracuse.
It wasn’t all-bad for the Nats in April though. We’ve seen flashes of offense in a way Washington has never seen before. Adam Dunn provides a power hitter the club has wanted for years. Cristian Guzman, despite his inability to walk, batted close to .400 in April. Most exciting however has been Ryan Zimmerman‘s hit streak that has blazed through the first month of the season, which with his four hits as of the day of this writing, has reached 29 straight games.
The brightest spot in April for the Nationals however had to be the debut of their top prospect, Jordan Zimmermann. Through his first four starts he has proven himself to already be the most consistent starter on the club. The young righty has shown great accuracy painting the corners with a mid 90’s fastball and has been able to throw his curve for both a strike and to make batters miss. So while April has been a month to forget for the Nationals, at least Jordan Zimmermann’s career gives us something to look forward to.