Washington, D.C. Welcomes Their Nationals Back To Nationals Park...

(ed. note - "I figured it would be best to just start it this way...")

Check the NatCast if you're heading to Nationals Park...

That's right, it's baseball in the nation's capital...the Washington Nationals welcome the Baltimore Orioles for the last game before they start counting, one last exhibition game before the Nationals head down to Florida to take on the Marlins at 4:10 pm EST on Monday afternoon to start the 2009 season. Tonight's game is on MASN in HD. It's on MLB.tv! It's on the MLB Network...this one is everywhere, and the baseball world will get a look at one of the two young arms in the Nationals' rotation, 21-year-old right-hander Shairon Martis, who starts for DC against the O's Alfredo Simon. 

Shake Things Up...

Nationals' Manager Manny Acta made two bold pronouncements in one article by MLB.com's Jim Hodges yesterday entitled, "Kearns favored for right field", which announced that it will most likely be Adam Dunn, Lastings Milledge and Austin Kearns left to right in the DC outfield come Opening Day, and if it ruffles some feathers, Mr. Acta's all right with that:

"'You know what? I'd rather have two or three guys that are unhappy on the bench that are talented and I know I can go to them and help me win, than to have three guys who are happy but who aren't talented,' said Acta."

The "unhappy (guys) on the bench" are presumably Elijah "Super" Dukes and "The Hammer" Josh Willingham, (who has already openly stated his dissatisfaction with assuming a bench role). (ed. note - "I'll leave it to you to decide who the happy/untalented guys were...?") But with bench players like Dukes and Willingham, the Nationals finally start to look like a real team, and all the outfielders will obviously see time whether or not it's as much as they'd like, and with this roster, the DC Manager is emboldended enough for the second pronouncement, as quoted again, by MLB.com's Jim Hodges:

"'I expect my team to play .500 baseball,' said Acta. 'I think our lineup is very respectable this year, especially with the addition of Dunn.'"

Hear that? Not everyone assumes the Nationals are going to spend the year in the NL East's basement...though, admittedly, it's pretty rare that a manager will say his team is going to be awful...but I for one believe Manny Acta believes that, the Nationals probably believed it last year too...It's just that no one else seems to agree...

Prediction Time...

Yahoo Sports.com's Kevin Kaduk, aka 'Duk, (who moderated the SBN's NL East Roundtable that I posted yesterday) and Yahoo! Sports writer David Brown have an NL East Preview entitled, "NL East preview: Phillies eye third straight title over Mets and Co.", at Yahoo Sports.com's Big League Stew in which they have the Nationals finishing 5th in the NL East, and have this to say about the nation's capital's favorite baseball team...

'Duk:

"'...I'd like to be positive about the Nats, as I think it'd be pretty cool if Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes had breakout seasons, but I don't see it happening. Realistically, what we're looking at is a team that's going to provide us plenty of drama in the Stephen Strasburg Derby and give the Padres a bit of company in the National League cellar...'"

David Brown:

"'I used to have a personal French-Canadian love affair with the Montreal Expos, but then they moved to our nation's capital and became corrupted by aliens, or whatever has passed for Nats management. The only thing they have gotten right is the "W" on the cap — which they stole from the Senators."

Or perhaps...

...You enjoy a more stat-based analytical approach to predicting what will happen in the NL East this season...in that case, Yahoo Sports.com has an article by AccuScore analyst Tim Williams entitled, "AccuScore: Projected NL Standings", where Mr. Williams describes how they arrived at the opinion that the Washington Nationals will finish 73-89 in 2009.

NY Daily News Says DC Is 5th...

NY Daily News Sports writer Bill Madden has the Nationals finishing in the basement of the NL East in his article entitled, "National League East Preview", and in his opinion the team has been "sadly mismanaged", and even though Washington "finally fired GM Jim Bowden this spring", they, "remain saddled with a terrible team possessed with only a few rays of hope..."

(ed. note - "...'possessed with'...?")

• Who's right about the Nationals? You can see for yourself, starting tonight...6:00 pm EST. The Nationals and the Orioles, one more time then it counts...Will Shairon Martis go the way of his fellow starters in their final Spring appearances:

John Lannan vs Toronto: 4.2 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 1 HR.

Scott Olsen vs Philadelphia: 6.0 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K's, 3 HR's.

Daniel Cabrera vs Baltimore: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 1 HR.

...or will Shairon Martis show the Orioles what it's going to be like from now on when you come to the nation's capital to play DC's favorite ballclub

Who's Watching The Nationals?

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