Baseball's vagabond franchise finally has found a home in Washington. Now it just needs to find an owner to help them emerge from the purgatory the team has been wallowing in for the past few seasons. A stable home will be good for at least five more wins a season, it probably won't be enough to get them out of last place in the much improved NL East.
Worth Every Penny
Don't be put off by the fact that Jose Guillen is playing for his sixth team in five years; he's a solid all-around player. Recycled from the scrap heap by the Reds in 2003, Guillen has averaged 29 home runs and 95 RBIs with a .302 average the past two seasons. Although it doesn't help your fantasy team, Guillen has one of the five best outfield arms in baseball, something that will endear him to manager Frank Robinson.
About to Blossom
Tony Armas Jr. was once traded for Pedro Martinez but after an impressive spring training in 2003, he experienced shoulder problems that sidelined him for the majority of two seasons. Now he's healthy and ready to take his place as one of the best power right-handers in the NL.
Vinny Castilla drove in an NL-leading 131 runs last season for the Rockies but he doesn't play his home games in Coors Field anymore. Two years ago while with the Braves, Castilla hit 22 home runs and drove in 76 runs, much more likely numbers in 2005 for him in pitcher-friendly RFK Stadium.
Do You Feel Lucky?
All of the scouts can't really be wrong about Nick Johnson's hitting prowess, can they? Not long ago Johnson was considered one of the finest young hitters in the game, but now he's almost an afterthought. He spent most of 2004 on the disabled list so Expos fans really never got a chance to see what Johnson can do. Maybe Nationals fans will.
Center fielder Endy Chavez stole 32 bases last season and is the obvious choice for speed in D.C. However, free-agent shortstop Cristian Guzman can run and should have the green light this season. His career high in steals with the Twins was 28 in 2000, but with the Nationals he's likely to be on the run more than ever. Look for 25 steals. Brad Wilkerson, who is a close second to Guillen for best player honors, stole 13 bases last season to make him an even more attractive commodity.
If Something Should Happen To Chad Cordero
Luis Ayala was a closer for Santillo in the Mexican league before having his contract purchased by the Expos in 2002. With seven saves in 15 chances the past two seasons and a 2.69 ERA in 2004, Ayala has done reasonably well when given the chance, although he's clearly no more than plan B.
Don't Forget About
Terrmel Sledge, Livan Hernandez, Zach Day, Brian Schneider
Don't Bother With
Claudio Vargas, Wil Cordero, Jamey Carroll
David Sabino is the associate editor in charge of statistics at Sports Illustrated and the author of the book, Dominate Your Fantasy Baseball League (Muska & Lipman/Premier-Trade).