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The Washington Nationals Called "Biggest Offseason Losers" By USA TODAY...Chicago or DC? Will President Obama Throw Out Two First Pitches?

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The Washington Nationals Labeled Losers...

Having added only Josh Willingham, Scott Olsen and Daniel Cabrera to the Washington Nationals' 102-loss roster, the DC franchise is recognized by USA Today Sports Weekly's Bob Nightengale, in an article entitled, (brace yourself, DC Faithful), "Nationals not in Yankees' ballpark", in the most recent newstand edition of the supplement to the paper's sports coverage, where Mr. Nightengale cites New York's roster additions as the offseason's best, while awarding the Nationals the title of the "Biggest offseason losers", writing:

"They talked a big game all winter, but we're still waiting on the big signing. They don't look any better today than they did when they lost 102 games last season."

The Yankees, of course, were able to add around $450 million dollars in payroll, signing the best pitcher in baseball, CC Sabathia, (Arguably...Lincecum anyone?), as well as the best bat on the market, Mark Te - - - - - ra, and the biggest risk, in oft-injured pitcher A.J. Burnett, who has the stuff, when healthy, to be a number one starter on any staff in the league that doesn't also include Sabathia. Mr. Nightengale quotes the DC GM Jim Bowden in the article repeating the Nationals' offseason wish list of, "...a big bat in the middle of the lineup that hits left-handed and one or two more starting pitchers," that will speed up the franchise's rebuilding efforts, but as Mr. Nightengale concludes his gloomy condemnation, "...for a team entering its fifth season in D.C., little has changed."


On to some positive news, USA TODAY sports writer Andy Gardiner, in an article that's part of the Sports Weekly's College Preview entitled, "Rating regional powers", has a capsule entitled, "Aztec tops draft pyramid", where Mr Gardiner confirms San Diego State starter Stephen Strasburg as, "...the consensus favorite among baseball insiders to be the No.1 pick in June," which does, of course, belong to the Washington Nationals. The USA TODAY/ESPN coaches' poll has Strasburg's Aztecs listed amongst teams that received votes in the polling, but SDS didn't rank as one of the Top 25 programs in the country.

(ed. note - "For a more detailed, but slightly troubling look at Strasburg's delivery, check out the SBN's resident scout's opinion at Driveline Mechanics, where Kyle Boddy compared the young pitcher to Mark Prior in an article entitled, "Quick Note: Stephen Strasburg", earlier this winter.")

A-Hands Or Belli?

Assuming that the Washington Nationals are not going to add Orlando Hudson to their roster, it's going to be a battle between Anderson Hernandez and Ronnie Belliard for the second base job in DC, and Hernandez told's Bill Ladson, as quoted in an article entitled, "Hernandez has bigger things in mind", that after a successful winter league performance with the Dominican League champion Tigres de Licey:

"'I'm going for the second-base job,' Hernandez said during the Tigers-Giants series. 'I haven't been told anything specific [by the Nationals], but I want to make the team however I can, in whatever role I can.'"

As far back as October, in another article by's Bill Ladson entitled, "Nationals see reason for optimism in 2009", Belliard was identified as the backup second baseman behind, at that time, Hernandez and Emilio Bonifacio, who was subsequently dealt, along with two prospects, to Florida in return for Willingham and Olsen, who were both arbitration eligible and therefore not long for the Marlins. 

Hernandez started at second all winter with Licey, even after Belliard joined the team, (playing third and not hitting too well in the postseason), though he came through in the end, scoring the DWL Championship Series' winning running...on a single by Anderson Hernandez. Daringly Mixes Politics And Baseball...

Chicago Tribune reporter Dave van Dyck wrote this afternoon, in an article entitled, "White Sox invite President Barack Obama to throw out first pitch at season opener", that the Chicago White Sox did just that, requesting that the 44th President of the United States appear back in Chicago on April 6th for the Sox' season opener at Cellular Field, which shouldn't preclude President Obama's meeting the Washington Nationals' Team President Stan Kasten's request to throw out the first pitch in Nationals Park on April 13th against the Phillies a week later. 

Will President Obama accept the Nationals' invitation? As an uncredited piece back in USA TODAY Sports Weekly points out, "The team hopes Obama will continue a tradition that dates to William Howard Taft in 1910." The wikipedia page for Ceremonial First Pitches has a list of all the Presidential First Pitches, including President Taft's 1910 toss in National Park all the way up to W's high and wide offering in Nationals Park in last year's Inaugural Opener. 

If he accepts...Will President Obama throw a strike? Think anyone's given President Obama a Nationals cap yet?