Nats not satisfied with .500 ?

A preview of the upcoming 2010 baseball season…(Originally written 2/15/10) With pitchers and catchers reporting in two days, the Washington Nationals are hoping to wipe the taste of back-to-back 100 loss seasons from their mouth in 2010. With the additions of Jason Marquis, “Pudge”Rodriguez, Adam Kennedy, Brian Bruney, Matt Capps and now Chien-Ming Wang, the Nats are hoping for a change in luck.

Wang wont be ready until June, But Marquis and John Lannan will head a rotation of young and inexperienced starters. Will phenom Steve Strasburg be a part of the team opening day?The recent minor league signing of Miguel Batista who can also pitch in relief and the return of second year starter Craig Stammen are expected to provide some quality innings. The Nats are awaiting Jordan Zimmerman to recover from off season arm surgery and isnt expected to return until late summer. Otherwise, they’ll use other stop gap measures such as Scott Olsen and other economical fixes to stay afloat. Bruney and Capps will compete for the closer role.

The lineup has some pop and speed but all too often do not get it done when it matters most. With Nyjer Morgan leading the way in centerfield, Kennedy and Christian Guzman will try to get on base for Josh Willingham and the dangerous bats of Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman.

The defense should improve with Morgan patrolling center for his first”full” season and a healthy Guzman and Kennedy up the middle in the infield. Pitchers will also pitch with more confidence, especially when ahead in the count having Rodriguez behind the plate.

Marquis mentioned that the organization shouldn’t be satisfied with only 81 wins this year, which is the right attitude coming into any season. I believe the Nats are on the right path to becoming an annually solid team with new ownership that cares about building the franchise and developing the farm system.

81 wins does represent mediocrity in a 162 game marathon season, but would be a 22 win improvement for the Nationals. However, with the Phillies, Braves, Marlins and Mets sharing their division…81 wins may just be out of reach this year.

Predicted finish: Fifth Place NL East (73-89)

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