Six days ago, the Nationals were reeling from a 3-7 road trip that included an ugly sweep in Milwaukee. The status of Stephen Strasburg's shoulder wasn't worth pausing one second to contemplate. Matt Capps and Cristian Guzman were members of the roster. Adam Dunn was, too, though there was reason to worry he might not be by week's end. Yunesky Maya was in the Dominican Republic, his visa not yet secured. Scott Olsen and John Lannan were pitching in the minor leagues.
And, of course, there was no reason for anyone in Washington to know Miss Iowa's name.
Turned out to be quite an eventful week, huh?
Now that the dust has settled, there's time to catch our breath and evaluate what happened during that homestand. Two trades were made, one really big one wasn't. Strasburg went on the DL but resumed throwing yesterday and reprted no problems. Olsen and Lannan each returned from the minors and each pitched well. The Nationals took four of six from the Braves and Phillies, highlighted by Saturday night's dramatic, Ryan Zimmerman walk-off.
And, of course, Miss Iowa threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Miguel Batista, who thankfully wasn't wearing a two-piece and high heels at the time.
So here's my question to all of you as I board my flight to Phoenix: Do the events of the last week leave you more or less encouraged about the state of the Nationals? Did they take positive steps forward, or did they take a step back?
My quick take: Other than the Strasburg shut-down, it was a very encouraging week. Mike Rizzo make a couple of sensible trades, one which may have landed the club its long-term catcher. He also resisted making a trade that would have sent the best power threat this town has seen since Frank Howard packing, the right choice. The rotation held up in Strasburg's absence and got a much-needed boost from Olsen and Lannan.
Obviously, Strasburg's progress and quick return is necessary for the week to be considered a true success. But for now, the signs are good.
I'm more encouraged about this team moving forward today than I was one week ago. Are you?