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Washington Nationals: Opening Day Eve. Opening Day Roster.

Can the Washington Nationals shock the world this season and actually be competitive? Sure. Anything can happen when you step between the white lines. Will the Washington Nationals compete in the NL East this season? No one I talked to yesterday (or anywhere in the baseball world) seems to think they'll get more than 70 wins, so no. This is the kind of talk that started the day at Nats Park. It didn't get any better. Hey, but at least the Park was packed for the last exhibition game before Opening Day on Monday, that was a good sign? The first hint I got that things were once again not as they seemed in the half-if-not-completely full Nationals Park occurred when Red Sox' first baseman Kevin Youkilis stepped up to bat in the top of the first and (nearly) every fan in the section I was seated in broke out in chants of "Youk!!" right before the hulking infielder launched a two-run HR to left for an early 2-0 Sox' lead that would never be challenged. I had just settled into my seat when the "Youk!!" chants broke out, and hadn't really noticed that there wasn't one Washington Nationals fan in my row... or the row in front of me...or behind me for that matter. Two rows in front a husband and wife wearing Nats gear were my only hope, but several innings later when they could no longer endure the taunts of the so-called Red Sox Nation, the husband and wife (boyfriend and girlfriend? Who knows?) rose from their seats and unbuttoned their Nats jerseys to reveal New York Yankees '09 Championship t-shirts which they popped like college hoops players while shouting at the Sox fans, "Oh, this is just a 27th Championship tee!!" The Red Sox won the final exhibition game of the season. There's really nothing to dwell on there, except maybe the diving stab and toss to the covering pitcher Nats' first baseman Adam Dunn made yesterday...Cat-like-Dunn!! Other than that...


• 25-Man Roster.

• Opening Day Roster. 


• 25-Man Roster.

I wrote the game preview (or gamethread) for yesterday's Nats/Red Sox game on Friday night, a few hours before I packed the car and headed down from New Jersey to DC, and in discussing the previous day's Scott Olsen start, I projected, or assumed might be a better word, that the 26-year-old left-hander had earned a spot in the Nationals' starting rotation with his 5.0 inning, 5 hit, 7 K performance. But some time after I arrived on the outskirts of the nation's capital, and was stuck sitting in Cherry Blossom Festival traffic on US50 West, the Tweets started popping up in my phone announcing the final decisions on Washington's 2010 Opening Day roster. 

Garrett Mock, who struggled late in Spring Training after looking like he'd finally figured things out early in camp, was named the Nats' fifth starter over Olsen, who was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse along with outfielder Roger Bernadina, who had once again (right alongside Justin Maxwell in the Spring Disappointment Category) failed to make the Nats' 25-Man Roster, when the departure of right fielder Elijah Dukes had opened the spot up to any and every outfielder in the system who could claim it as their own. Instead of Dukes, Maxwell or Bernadina, it had been announced several days earlier that Willie Harris and Willy Taveras would share time in a right field platoon, with Mike Morse set to serve as a backup in the infield and outfield once Bernadina was sent down.

"What happens if Josh Willingham or Nyjer Morgan gets hurt now?" I asked Dave Nichols from the Nats News Network as we stood atop Nats Park's Red Loft, where we were surrounded by bloggers who'd come from as far away as Alaska in anticipation of Monday's season opener. "Do the Nationals go with Willy Taveras in left, Willie Harris in center and Morse in right?" As Dave from NNN responded, the Nationals would then have a total of maybe 12-13 HR's combined from the three, in what would be perhaps the worst-slugging outfield trio in recent memory. Let's hope for a healthy '09 for all Nats, but Hammer and Morgan in particular...

What about the bullpen? The Nationals' cleary-identifiable no.1 issue last season, on a team which had issues galore. Most of the roles were determined weeks ago, if not before Spring Training even began. All that was left to decide was who would join closer Matt Capps, set-up men Brian Bruney and Sean Burnett and middle relievers Tyler Clippard, Jason Bergmann and Miguel Batista. Would it be Jesse English, a 25-year-old left-hander claimed off waivers from San Francisco last September, who'd never pitched about Double-A in the Giants' system, or Tyler Walker, most-recently a Phillies' reliever, who'd thrown so poorly in Spring Training (giving up 13 ER, 5 HR's and 19 hits in 9.1 IP) that his role on the team was in question? The Nationals, who won't need a fifth starter until later in April decided to keep both, and will start the season with 8 relievers in the of whom will reassigned before the Nats' 4/11 game against the New York Mets.'s Keith Law took a moment yesterday to comment via Twitter (@keithlaw) on the Nationals' decision to go with 8 relievers on the Opening Day roster, as had been reported by Nats Insider's Mark Zuckerman in an article entitled, "Mock is the Fourth Starter" ("He put a hash tag (#) in front of roster fail," Dave from NNN pointed out):

"8th reliever = #rosterfail"

One of these days the Nationals will generate some positive news, and get positive notices in the press. One of these days the Nationals will pack their home park with their own fans. One day the Nationals might be picked to finish above fourth or fifth in the NL East by one writer out there somewhere. One day the Nationals' plan for rebuilding the franchise's farm system will begin to pay off...One day...probably not this year though. But at least fans of the Nats can hold on to hope that things will finally start turning around in June.

• Opening Day Roster... 

2010 Opening Day Roster: 


  1. John Lannan - LHP
  2. Jason Marquis - RHP
  3. Craig Stammen - RHP
  4. Garrett Mock - RHP

• My Predicted Starters: (posted on 3/3/10)

  1. Jason Marquis - RHP
  2. John Lannan - LHP
  3. Scott Olsen - LHP
  4. Garrett Mock - RHP
  5. Livan Hernandez - RHP
2010 Bullpen: 
  1. Matt Capps - RHP
  2. Brian Bruney - RHP
  3. Sean Burnett - LHP
  4. Tyler Clippard - RHP
  5. Jason Bergmann - RHP
  6. Miguel Batista - RHP
  7. Tyler Walker - RHP
  8. Jesse English - LHP
• My Predicted Bullpen: 
  1. Matt Capps - RHP
  2. Sean Burnett - LHP
  3. Brian Bruney - RHP
  4. Ron Villone - LHP
  5. Craig Stammen/Jason Bergmann - RHP
  6. Tyler Walker - RHP
  7. Tyler Clippard - RHP 
2010 Opening Day Infielders: 
  1. Adam Dunn - 1B
  2. Adam Kennedy - 2B
  3. Ian Desmond - SS
  4. Ryan Zimmerman - 3B (Word.)
  5. Cristian Guzman - (SU)
  6. Alberto Gonzalez - IF
2010 Opening Day Outfielders:
  1. Josh Willingham - LF
  2. Nyjer Morgan - CF
  3. Willie Harris - RF
  4. Willy Taveras - OF
  5. Mike Morse - IF/OF.
?'s For The DC Faithful:
• Opening Day is now just over 24 hours away...who's going to Nationals Park tomorrow? 
• Is that the least impressive outfield ever assembled? Close?
• Do the Nats stand a chance against Phillies' ace Roy Halladay?
• Mock over Olsen? Really? 
• Did anyone out there predict Jesse English would make the Opening Day roster? If they did, they're clearly from the future with knowledge of events that have already occurred...
• Jason Bergmann can not be denied? How does he keep sticking around? 
• Were you at yesterday's game? When did you first sigh and say, "Not again."