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2/6/08 The '08 Washington Nationals...Under Review...

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     Athlon Sports, producers of "America's Premier Sports Annuals" just published their "Baseball 2008" issue, which was the first non-fantasy '08 preview on the magazine rack at my local newsstand, so I quickly grabbed it, tried my best to ignore the $6.99 price printed above the barcode, and before I was even back in my car I was thumbing through the pages and looking for bits of Washington Nationals' news.

      Athlon Sports' writer Mike Berardino article, "NL Youth Movement", kicks off the '08 analysis of the Nationals with Mr. Berardino writing:

          "And let us not forget the rising Washington Nationals,
          whose gunslinging GM Jim Bowden added a pair of
          controversial youngsters this winter in Lastings Milledge
          (23) and Elijah Dukes (24). If they both reach their vast
          potential, they could take their place alongside standout
          third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (23)."

     Milledge and Zimmerman, both former 1st Round draft picks, Milledge selected with the 12th overall pick in 2003 by the New York Mets, and Zimmerman taken by the Nationals 4th overall in the 1st Round of the 2005 Amateur Draft, and Dukes, a 3rd Round pick in '02 by Tampa Bay, join former first rounders Expos' 1st Round pick in '05 Chad Cordero who went 20th that year, and John Patterson, the 5th overall pick by Montreal in 1996, the Cincinnati Reds' 1st Round pick, 7th overall in '98, Austin Kearns and Ryan Wagner, the Reds' 1st Round pick, 14th overall in '03...Dmitri Young, 1st Round, 4th overall to St. Louis in 1994, Matt Whitney, 1st Round of 2002 , Felipe Lopez, 1st Round, 8th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1998 and Ross Detwiler, the Nationals '07 first round pick, who went 6th overall...

     ...Making the total number of 1st Round picks on the Nationals "Active Roster' at washington.nationals.mlb.com...10. That's ten former 1st Round picks on an active roster of 40 heading into Spring Training for the '08 version of the Washington Nationals. (With only Detwiler, among the ten 1st Round picks, not expected to stay in DC after March). But that doesn't seem to impress the Athlon Sports' writers, who place the Nationals fourth in the NL East on the, "2008 Predictions" page.

     ...The Athlon Sports Baseball issue has Shawn Hill, Jason Bergmann, Matt Chico, John Lannan and Tyler Clippard listed as the Nationals' starting rotation in their best estimation, while mlb.com's Bill Ladson, in his article entitled, "Nationals Spring Training quick hits", at washington.nationals.mlb.com lists Hill, Patterson, Bergmann, Lannan and Chico as his predicted rotation, with the only difference being Clippard, about whom Mr. Ladson writes:

          "Clippard will compete for a rotation spot...He was on the
          fast track to the big leagues in 2005 and '06, but he took a
          step back last season."

     Both Athlon Sports and Bill Ladson have the same batting order listed...(with the only difference behind the plate, with Mr. Ladson's list representing a slightly-more current opinion, noting the possibility of catcher Johnny Estrada starting over the injured Lo Duca)...

  1. SS Cristian Guzman
  2. CF Lastings Milledge
  3. 3B Ryan Zimmerman
  4. 1B Dmitri Young
  5. LF Wily Mo Pena
  6. RF Austin Kearns
  7. 2B Ronnie Belliard
  8. C Lo Duca/Johnny Estrada
     Do you think the Nationals can finish higher than 4th in the NL East? Do you see anyone different starting at any position on the field? Different batting order? How about the starting rotation? It's time to start speculating...

*'08 Nationals' Links*

Athlon Sports:

http://www.athlonsports.com/baseball/

mlb.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Nationals Spring Training quick hits", at washington.nationals.mlb.com:

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080201&content_id=2362119&vkey=sp t2008news&fext=.jsp&c_id=was