What It Feels Like To Be A Washington Nationals Fan...

(ed. note - "Or maybe more accurately, 'What If Feels LIke To Be An Out-Of-Town Washington Nationals Fan'...")

-- From the Newark Star-Ledger Sports Page's "Summing Up" section, a list of MLB Free Agent Signings so far this offseason:

National League

ARIZONA - Felipe Lopez, (re-signed) Tony Clark

ATLANTA - (re-signed) Greg Norton

CHICAGO - (re-signed) Ryan Dempster

CINCINNATI - Mike Lincoln, David Weathers, Arthur Rhodes

COLORADO - Alan Embree

HOUSTON - (re-signed) Doug Brocail, Mike Hampton, Jason Michaels, Aaron Boone

LOS ANGELES - (re-signed) Casey Blake, Mark Loretta, (re-signed) Rafael Furcal

MILWAUKEE - Jorge Julio, (re-signed) Mike Lamb, Trot Nixon

METS - Francisco Rodriguez

PHILADELPHIA - (re-signed) Jamie Moyer, Raul Ibanez

PITTSBURGH - Ramon Vazquez

ST. LOUIS - Trever Miller

SAN FRANCISCO - Jeremy Affeldt, Bobby Howry, Edgar Renteria, Randy Johnson

(ed. note - "If you don't notice a problem here, click on the link below for an explanation and the rest of the post...")

Still Wondering?

You see, the problem isn't that the Washington Nationals didn't sign any free agents this Winter...They did! They signed RHP Daniel "The Project" Cabrera to a Major League contract, so it's not a case of the 'Ledger not listing Minor League deals or something, it's just that Washington's been left off the list...The Cabrera signing was in all the papers...I read it in the Washington Post...Maybe the Yankees were doing something when the 'Ledger was compiling the list that distracted them...Does Daniel Cabrera not merit a mention...?

Tale Of The Tape...

According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article yesterday entitled, "Nationals miss out on Bradley", after Milton Bradley signed with the Chicago Cubs, the Washington Nationals decided not to pursue any further free agent possibilities in center field, instead opting to, "...let Elijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge compete for the center-field job." If you were Nationals' Manager Manny Acta, who would you want starting in center for DC on Opening Day 2009:

Milledge vs Dukes '08 Stats

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG OPS
Lastings Milledge 138 523 65 140 24  2 14  61 24 .268 .330 .402 .731
Elijah Dukes  82 276 48 73 16  2 13  44 13 .264 .386 .478 .864

Backstory...

Lastings Milledge (24-years-old as of 4/5/09) worried the Washington Nationals with his shaky defensive play down the stretch in '08, and Elijah Dukes, also 24-years-old, recovered well from the injuries he suffered, earning himself the nickname Elijah "Super" Dukes, but the recurring problems with his right leg led some to wonder if he might not be injury-prone...Milledge led the Nationals in RBI's last season, passing Jesus Flores late in the season when the catcher was injured. Dukes walked 12 more times and finished just 1 HR shy of Milledge's team-leading (tied w/ Zim) 14 HR's, showing far more patience and power at the plate than Milledge, in 56 fewer games played. Dukes also posted the best OBP by any Nationals' player with 50 or more games played and had the best SLG of any legit player. The talk all Fall has been about moving Milledge to a corner, and most reports have included a mention of the fact that the Nationals believe Dukes can play center field...Who is it gonna be?

Here's the challenge...Bring your stats. Pull them from anywhere you want and state your case...Milledge vs Dukes for CF in DC...vote for your center fielder either in the Comments Section or in the Latest POLL:

Who Plays CF In DC In '09?

Something Else To Read...(If you haven't already...)

One of Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's recent Nationals Journal posts, this one entitled, "Right Off The Stove", promises a list of, "...the Nationals' remaining options/strategies from now 'til Viera, Florida," the Washington Nationals' Spring home, but if you read the post, you might notice that it really ends up just being a list of the things the Washington Nationals are not going to do...They're not interested in bringing Manny Ramirez to DC because of his age...They'd like to sign Adam Dunn or Orlando Hernandez, but as Mr. Harlan writes, "...the team is pessimistic about signing either player,"...They were interested in Xavier Nady, but not anymore, and don't think they can get Nick Swisher...and they might have an interest in bringing back Chad Cordero or Odalis Perez, but they're in no rush to do so...and in Mr. Harlan's opinion, the '09 DC starting rotation going into camp?...John Lannan, Scott Olsen, Collin Balester, Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Cabrera. 

Do you think any team in baseball is afraid of that rotation? Am I the only one who is kinda looking forward to watching that rotation?

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE - PLAYOFF UPDATE...

Washington Nationals' infielder Alberto "The General" Gonzalez was 2 for 3 with a walk and a double Tuesday for the Aguilas de Zulia, who lost to the Leones de Caracas by a score of 6-4 at the Leones' home park, Estadio Universitario in Caracas, Venezuela. Jose Castillo, (one of five free agents the Nationals signed on December 23, 2008, as reported by MLB.com's Bill Ladson in an article entitled, "Nats sign five to minor league deals"), who has played the majority of his major league career in the Pirates' infield, is playing left field for the Leones de Caracas this winter, and Castillo was 2 for 3 with a walk, 1 HR and 2 RBI's Tuesday, earning himself a mention in MLB.com's uncredited Tuesday Caribbean Leagues roundup. Castillo hit .320 with 14 doubles, 8 HR's and 37 RBI's in 50 games and 181 AB's in the Venezuelan Winter League's Regular Season. 

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