In 2005, the Montreal Expos moved to Washington and became the Nationals, and were tasked with making a failing team work in a new market. Topps was also tasked with marketing this new team in their sets, and giving an accurate representation of the team while the season was still going on. They had an insert set denoting the team's inaugural lineup, they had plenty of Nats in the base set...but it wasn't enough, was it?
Here, for the record, is all the Nats Topps were able to provide: Termel Sledge, Brian Schneider, Tomo Ohka, Endy Chavez, Cristian Guzman, Tony Armas Jr., Sunny Kim, Nick Johnson, Chad Cordero, Esteban Loaiza, Vinny Castilla, Jose Guillen, Jose Vidro, Brad Wilkerson, Livan Hernandez, Marlon Byrd and Frank Diaz.
Then, after the season, Topps apologized for their underrepresentation by producing a special retail set of the Nationals in mostly posed shots. This included some of the deeper roster cuts, like John Patterson, Gary Bennett, Ryan Church, Jared Sandberg, Brendan Harris, Zach Day, Luis Ayala, Jeffrey Hammonds, Jamey Carroll and Brandon Watson. And you'd think that'd cover the rest of the bases.
There are still cards I need to create for this. So while Topps tried to do an exhaustive job...there are still holes.
For instance, former Rockies all-star Preston Wilson, who was beginning to fall on hard career times, was traded to the Nats midseason. They had time to put him in Update...they didn't. Wilson was actually a nice piece of the second half for the Nats; in 68 games, he hit .261 with 43 RBIs and 10 home runs. Along with his Cards numbers in 2006, these were some of the last great numbers of his career.
The Nationals went through a ton of extra infielders in their inaugural season. First they had Junior Spivey, who did well with Milwaukee and Arizona. Spivey was another midseason trade, cause the Brewers weren't happy with his stuff. In 28 games with Washington, Spivey was a decent defensive option but hit .221. He'd never make the majors again after this season.
They also tried Deivi Cruz after a midseason trade, after some decent numbers with the Giants. Cruz, also for HIS last career numbers in the majors, hit .255 with 1 RBI in 20 games. Cruz was mostly used as a defensive substitution, and even his defensive numbers were failing by this point.
And the Nats also went for former Expo Wil Cordero, who did very well for them in the early 90s as well as just a year or so earlier. Cordero had 29 games as a National and hit .118 with only 6 hits. After the cut, like the theme, he wouldn't make the majors again.
CARLOS BAERGA WAS STILL PLAYING IN 2005, PEOPLE. After a couple years with the Diamondbacks, Baerga was clearly a bench guy, far from his status as an all-star second baseman with Cleveland. In 2005 he was a bench backup with Washington, and...look, these are pretty decent numbers. In 93 games, he hit .253 with 19 RBIs, but his fielding clearly wasn't to 1993 levels. Baerga would retire after the season.
Even stranger, former Dodgers and Yankees reliever Antonio Osuna suited up for the Nats for four games. He'd done some strong, consistent stuff for years, but by 2005, he was running out of juice. In those 4 games he'd leave with a 42.43 ERA, with 11 earned runs in 2.1 innings. Oof. Like everyone in this post except Preston Wilson, the 2005 Nationals would finish off Osuna's career.
I guarantee the next one's gonna be happier.