Now that we're through with the Mitchell Report it's time to talk 2008, and according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (ajc.com)'s sports writer David O'Brien's article, "Braves open 2008 in Washington," the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves will be assigned with officially kicking off the 2008 Major League Baseball season with what will most likely be an ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast from Nationals Park, on the Anacostia River in Washington, DC.
According to Mr. O'Brien's article, "It (the game) hasn't been announced yet," but the source for the story is described in our new scoop-crazed sports media as the ubiquitous, "...two people familiar with the negotiations," ...who are almost as well-known as the "sources familiar with the negotiations who are not authorized to speak,"...or the "anonymous team officials who ask for their identities to be protected while negotiations continue"...
Washington signed four players within the last twenty-four hours with Willie Harris, formerly of the Atlanta outfield, signing as a free agent after being non-tendered by the Braves, Mike O'Connor re-signing after the lefty was non-tendered by the Nationals, just yesterday, Jesus "Everday" Colome, who was (5-1) in 61 appearances and 61.1 innings pitched in '07, re-upping for his second season in DC after six seasons in Tampa Bay, and finally the fourth player to sign, free agent outfielder Rob Mackowiac, originally out of Pittsburgh's organization, who has a .262 BA over 7 MLB seasons with the Pirates, White Sox and Padres.
The arrival of OF/IF Willie Harris in DC, after his breakout season in Atlanta in '07, could mean that some of the younger outfielders on the Nationals are headed back to the Minors. Harris hit .270 in 117 games and 344 at bats for the Braves with 20 doubles, 8 triples, 2 HR's and 32 RBI's, totals which tied or surpassed the numbers he'd put up in any of his previous six MLB seasons, and he can play the infield as well as the outfield...
Harris joins an outfield that currently includes on the 40-Man Roster...
Roger Bernadina Elijah Dukes
Garrett Guzman Willie Harris
Austin Kearns Ryan Langerhans
Rob Mackowiac Justin Maxwell
Lastings Milledge Wily Mo Pena
Taking for granted that Kearns isn't going anywhere...The Nationals want to see Wily Mo Pena play full-time...Lastings Milledge has nothing left to prove in the Minors...Willie Harris, who you may have heard, can play just about every position infield or out...Rob Mackowiac who was signed to come off the bench with a bat...and Elijah Dukes, who, if he's going to be mentored by DY and Manager Manny Acta is going to have to stay in DC...?
...Then that leaves Justin Maxwell, Roger Bernadina, and Ryan Langerhans on the outside looking in heading into Spring Training. The voting readers of Federal Baseball, if they had their say, have overwhelmingly chosen an outfield of Wily Mo Pena, Lastings Milledge and Austin Kearns left to right in Nationals Park for Opening Day. We'll see what other outfielders have something to say about that...
(ed. note- I'm so glad Mike O'Connor's back. It'd been too long...)
NEW POLL>>>>> ?- Who Is The Nationals' Best Pickup Of The Offseason So Far????>>>>>
*LINKS AND LINKS AND...*
David O'Brien's Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, entitled, "Braves open 2008 in Washington,":
Jesus Colome's Career stats at baseball-refence.com:
Willie Harris' Career stats at baseball-reference.com:
Rob Mackowiac's Career stats at baseball-reference.com:
Mike O'Connor's Career stats at baseball-reference.com: