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1/1/08 Who Will Be In The Washington Nationals' '08 Outfield?

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     According to baseball-reference.com's 162-Game Average projections, the expected starting outfield for the '08 Washington Nationals, comprised of Wily Mo Pena in left, Lastings Milledge in center and Austin Kearns in right field, would combine for a .260 AVG with approximately 62 HR's and 231 RBI's.

     The three outfielders who saw the most time in the Nationals' outfield last season, Ryan Church, Nook Logan and Austin Kearns, combined for 31 HR's and 163 RBI's with a .267 AVG between them as an outfield. Wily Mo Pena hit 8 HR's after joining the Nationals late in the '07 season, Ryan Langerhans hit 6 HR's, Justin Maxwell smoked two in September and Chris Snelling's single long ball were the only other significant contributions to come from an outfielder on the roster.

     As of January 1, 2008, the Nationals will be choosing their bench/utilility/extra outfielders from among the following: Roger Bernadina, Garrett Guzman, Elijah Dukes, Willie Harris, Ryan Langerhans, Rob Mackowiak and Justin Maxwell, with maybe one or two prospects as extremely-long-shots to make the '08 Opening Day roster.

      Garrett Guzman, an '07 Rule 5 Draft pick from the MInnesota Twins organization, must remain on the Washington roster or a deal must be worked out to keep the Nationals from having to return him to the Twins. (As the Nationals did with Levale Speigner last season...)

      Roger Bernadina was added to the 40-Man roster in October after six seasons in the Montreal/Washington organizations' system, combining to hit .251 with 95 doubles, 38 HR's, 258 RBI's and 138 stolen bases, and he won't turn 24 until the beginning of June '08...

      Willie Harris will be turning thirty two weeks after Bernadina's birthday. The product of nine professional seasons up and down in the Orioles, White Sox, Red Sox and Braves' organizations, Harris hit .270 with 2 HR's, 32 RBI's and 17 steals in Atlanta last season. Harris was signed along with 7-year veteran outfielder Rob Mackowiac to serve in a utility role if they do make the Nationals' Opening Day roster...

      Ryan Langerhans looked lost for most of the '07 season with Atlanta, Oakland(briefly), and Washington, hitting just .167 on the season with 6 HR's and 23 RBI's, and Justin Maxwell was given a good look last September, when the twenty-three year old outfielder hit .269 with 2 HR's and 5 RBI's in 26 at bats, but both are probably long shots for the roster, Langerhans because he did look so lost, and Maxwell because many think he needs another year or two in the Minors...

     So with mlb.com's Bill Ladson confirming Lasting Milledge's starting spot in center in his article entitled, "National intrigue" at washington.nationals.mlb.com, in which Mr. Ladson writes that, "After two years on the bench with the Mets, Milledge will get the opportunity to start in center field for the Nationals," along with Manny Acta's confirmation in an earlier interview with Mr. Ladson entitled, "Q & A with Manny Acta" that:

          "...As far as right now, we are committed to let Wily (Mo
          Pena) go out there and get at least 500 at-bats and see
          what he could do...(so)...you have Wily Mo Pena -- and we
          are going to give him a chance to play left field, plus you
          have Austin Kearns in right field..."

     ...with, most likely, (imho) Elijah Dukes, Garrett Guzman and Willie Harris or Rob Mackowiac on the bench? Is this a significant improvement to the roster? It's certainly younger and more athletic, right? Who would you choose to start? Come off the bench? Is Justin Maxwell ready? Can Elijah Dukes outplay any of the three projected starters? How many times will Wily Mo Pena strike out in a full season? Can Pena handle it defensively? That's enough questions for now...

*Nationals '08 Outfield Links*

mlb.com' Bill Ladson's article "National intrigue" at washington.nationals.mlb.com:

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071218&content_id=2330327&vkey=ne ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was

mlb.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Q & A with Manny Acta" at washington.nationals.mlb.com:

http://www.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071012&content_id=2262744&vkey=news_was&fext=. jsp&c_id=was