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Washington Nationals: Spring Training 2009 - The First Sunday Of Spring...

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Jim Bowden vs Omar Minaya...

If you think DC GM Jim Bowden has a thing for collecting his former Cincinnati Reds, he's neck and neck with New York Mets' GM (And Former Expos'-Sinking-Ship Captain) Omar Minaya, who just signed another former Expo/National, Livan Hernandez, to a Minor League deal, adding his name to a long list of former DC and Montreal players who are in camp with the Hated Mets.

Ryan Church, Brian Schneider, Marlon Anderson (though he'd been a Hated Met before), Tim Redding, Fernando Tatis...and even Tony Armas is a non-roster invitee to the Mets' camp and now the former Mr. National Himself, Livan Hernandez, the soft-tossing slow pitch specialist who threw for Minnesota and Colorado last season, winning 13 of 31 starts and posting ERA's which are higher than it'd probably be polite to mention when it comes to someone who gave DC so much...(including his glove after one particularly frustrating start...)...oh, that's right, the Mets signed Rob Mackowiak too...

Free Agent Pitchers?

In MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article entitled, "Competition in air as Nationals report", Mr. Ladson writes that DC GM Jim Bowden:

"...could sign a young starting pitcher or reliever at a reasonable price. The team has a plethora of outfielders, and Bowden could trade one of them for a starting pitcher."

Mr. Bowden's responds by acknowledging that, "There are certainly a couple of young starting pitchers out there that could help us," but I can't figure out which pitchers the DC GM is referring to...because MLBTraderumors.com has an updated list of available free agents, and only one starting pitcher is under 30-years old, (27-year-old former Brave Chuck James), with Chad Cordero the only reliever under thirty. No one really "young" is available. The Braves are looking for an outfielder, if it were to be a trade? Who else has been offering young pitching around? Anyone have an over-abundance of young quality starting pitching?

Is A Healthy Nick Johnson A Traded Nick Johnson? 

Washington Post writer Chico Harlan referred to new Washington Nationals' Hitting Coach Rick Eckstein as a "hitting savant" in a recent Nationals Journal post entitled, "Top Ten Questions For Spring Training", and apparently Nick "When He's Healthy" Johnson believes what Mr. Eckstein's selling, as he tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in an article entitled, "Johnson receptive to alter approach", that after hours studying tape of his swing and working with the "hitting savant", Johnson's determined, in Mr. Ladson's words, "...that his approach at the plate over the years was 'backwards.'" The results thus far of Johnson and Eckstein's new approach? Mr. Ladson reports:

"It looked like Johnson didn't miss a beat in the batting cage, hitting nothing but line drives to right field."

Manny Acta On XM's Live Weekend...

XM's MLB Live Weekend host Casey Stern had DC Manager Manny Acta on his radio show Saturday afternoon for a quick chat about the state of the nation's capitals' favorite baseball team as Washington got Spring Training started Saturday with pitchers and catchers (and more than a few others) arriving at Space Coast Stadium in sunny Viera, Florida. The Nationals' Skipper told Mr. Stern that Adam Dunn is the Nationals' first "legit" power threat (since Soriano, I suppose), and Mr. Acta says Dunn will play left and first, considering Nick Johnson's still on the team. Anderson Hernandez deserves a chance to be an everyday player. Mr. Acta thinks Daniel Cabrera will benefit from getting out of the AL East...Mr. Acta calls Ronnie Belliard his "security blanket" and admits that he eats his cereal with chocolate milk...(ed. note - "I wouldn't make that up...I transcribed my notes from the interview HERE.")

Position Battles, Another Opinion...

Washington Times' writer Ben Goessling weighed in on the position battles that are going to play out at the Nationals' Spring Training complex in an article entitled, "Clubhouse Competition", where Mr. Goessling predicts that a healthy Nick Johnson will push Josh Willingham to the bench alongside Austin Kearns in favor of Adam Dunn, Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes left to right. (ed. note - "Just as the federalbaseball.com readers are predicting in a current POLL.") As for the Nationals' starting rotation, Mr. Goessling thinks only the fifth spot in the rotation is up for grabs, and he doesn't have Collin Balester in the first four, which could mean more grooming for Jordan Zimmermann and new roles for some other Nationals' pitchers...?

11 Days away from the first game of Spring...2/25/09 @ Houston...