Off-Season Changes Begin Quickly For Nats

There's a lot to do over the off-season and the Nationals didn't waste any time getting started. Even before Sunday's finale, the Nationals made coaching moves.

Manny Acta and Randy St. Claire are safe, but the other members of the coaching staff were dismissed prior to Sunday's game in Philadelphia. Bench coach Pat Corrales, base coaches Jerry Morales and Tim Tolman, hitting coach Lenny Harris and bullpen coach Rick Aponte were all given the news that the team would not be bringing them back for the 2009 season.

St. Claire is widely regarded as one of the best pitching coaches in the game and the Nationals were impressed with how he handled young pitchers, which led to him being retained as the clubs pitching coach.

Tolman (third base coach) and Harris faced almost constant criticism this season for how they performed their jobs. Tolman was often taken to task for the amount of runners that the Nationals had thrown out at the plate, while Harris took shots for the dismal play of the Nationals offense.

While Tolman simply accepted his demise, Harris suggested that injuries made his job a near impossible task.

"Last year, everything was good, because I had all my hitters," said Harris. "What hurt me was my big guns went down early and that hurt me a lot. ... That's something I have to learn, too, just in case I get a whole bunch of young guys at one time."

The team didn't announce any replacements for their coaching staff, but Rick Eckstein, who joined the staff late in the season, could be in line to become the team's next hitting coach.

more moves coming?

While the coaches were the first to go, they might not be the last. There are still rumors swirling about the possible demise of GM Jim Bowden and even team President Stan Kasten has been put into the rumor mill for possible dismissal.

Nationals fans are about to see just how patient the Lerner family is as the fate of Bowden and Kasten hang out there to be decided.

"We're number 30, which makes us number 1"

With their 8-3 loss to the Phillies on Sunday, the Nationals clinched their spot at the top of the June Draft order. They finished the team with 102 losses. Seattle - the only other club with over 100 losses - finished the season with 101 losses on the season.

All eyes will now turn to Stephen Strasburg, who is considered to be the number one pick for the 2009 Draft.

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