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A dose of optimism and Nationals links

It says something about where an organization is when the big story on the first day of workouts is that management tells the players it expects them to win. I didn't want to overcook the idea that the Nationals are changing their attitude, raising their expectations, preparing for a breakout year, etc. Lots of bad teams say similar things every year in late February. (Heck, last year Manny Acta said, "This is, I would say, the best team we've had the three years I've been here.") But, for all the reasons stated in the story linked above, it seems like this team's belief that they deserve raised expectations is both genuine and justified.

First, improvement over last season is pretty low-hanging fruit. Second, the new players charged with changing things aren't with the Nationals based on what they might do. They're here based on what they have done, and that has clearly excited the players who endured last season.

"I think there's just more optimism than there ever has been with this organization before," starter Scott Olsen said. "The players see the work the front office has done and the talent they've brought in here. The optimism comes from that. This is arguably the best collection of talent that this organization has put together in spring training. Everybody from the top to the bottom sees that."

Jim Riggleman expressed sincere and deep appreciation for the 2009 team. He believes if they did not play hard for him -- and that team finished the year winning seven straight with jack to play for -- he would not be with the team now. But, while praising them for their effort, he also recognized how little the players who did not transition from 2009 to 2010 brought to the table.

"With all due respect to everybody who was here last year, the guys who aren't here, it just didn't come to fruition in '09 for them," Riggleman said. "Not a lot of home runs and RBIs that were here last year are missing. But we do have an addition of some guys in there."

Elsewhere, Nats Insider shares some keen insights from Day 1 of live batting practice. Some are contemplating a Stephen Strasburg debut in Woodbridge. Fire Jim Bowden asks if the Lerners are loosening the proverbial belt. Ryan Zimmerman told "Baseball Tonight" that Stephen Strasburg "walks on water, he doesn't shower, never smells..."

Finally, I dare you not to click to read a story that begins, "The most expensive two pounds in baseball reside in the general vicinity of Ronnie Belliard's waistline."

By Adam Kilgore  |  February 27, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
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Next: Jesus Flores: 'I don't see any opportunity to start Opening Day'


Thank you Adam for not simply cutting and pasting. Much appreciated. The fresh vibe is everywhere now.

Posted by: longterm | February 27, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

The change in skippers has got be one of the biggest changes of all, though it does seem that people are pussyfooting around the issue and the differences between the two guys. The fact that Riggleman is emphasizing "attention to detail" this Spring is indicative of the change. Whatever some might think Acta's redeeming qualities might be, he clearly was a bad fit for DC. I'm glad to see Riggleman ushering in a new attitude, and era.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | February 27, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

We can all identify with low hanging fruit. I want some more of that!!

Posted by: cokedispatch | February 27, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I've seen a 200% (at least) increase in the quality of coverage here in the few days Kilgore has been here.

Between Kilgore, Goessling at MASN, Zuckerman, and Ladson on Twitter, it is nice to finally have a standard level of coverage for our team.

Posted by: JMW4th | February 27, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

CIL....I could not agree more, Acta was a nice guy, even I get that, I talked with him a few times at Spring Training briefly. The Media covering the team loved him and felt sorry for him.....what does that have to do with anything!

Check out this quote from an Indians reporter...."Acta's presence has provided a looser environment in camp".....boy to they have a rude shock coming there when looser changes to loser.

Posted by: JayBeee | February 27, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I agree on Kilgore and the step up in coverage across the board this Spring. Not near what you would see in Boston, NY, Balt or even Cleveland for that matter but it is a welcome start.

Posted by: JayBeee | February 27, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Enjoying the multiple posts, Adam. Also, the spring training pics in the WaPo's photo gallery make me wish I could go to Viera. Looks like great fun.

Posted by: NatsFly | February 27, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Off topic, but mlbtraderumors is reporting that FLop has agreed to terms w/StL on a 1-yr, $1.75M+ contract, and that Beimel is considering an offer (>$1M) from the Mets. End former Nat news.

Posted by: BinM | February 27, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Man, you aren't kidding about the Post's spring training photo gallery. They're gorgeous.

Posted by: NatsNut | February 27, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Took me a while to find it, but the photo gallery is great!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 27, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Good point, CiL. Interesting that the three reasons SK gave for the change from a year ago--addition of Burnett and Morgan, aggressive offseason moves, and "next wave" of coming players--can be credited to Rizzo, SK, and the Lerners, in ascending order. No mention of the change in managerial style brought on by JR and his "attention to detail," which of course began last summer, not the first day of 2010 camp. I know it's not easy to praise the new manager without seeming to badmouth the old one but Stan's smooth--he could do it if he wanted to. An interesting omission in any event.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | February 27, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Last week the photo gallery was being updated almost daily. Hope they continue that next week, but it is probably kind of expensive...

Posted by: NatsFly | February 27, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I thought it had been awhile since the photo gallery had been changed too, but I think they just kept the front picture the same because when I clicked on it, there were newer photos.

Posted by: NatsNut | February 27, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse


All you need is an iPhone and iPhoto ... the phones take pretty good photos and not bad videos. No reason it should be expensive. The silly Post pays Stats LLC to get the depth chart wrong ... they already waste plenty of money.

Posted by: periculum | February 27, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

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