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They're real, and are they spectacular?

First, the Nationals say they expect to win. And now they've gone and got, as Boz writes, "real pitchers." The influx of candidates to fill rotation spots behind John Lannan, Jason Marquis and a healthy Scott Olsen has created a widespread competition for the back end of the Nationals rotation, a competition that added some intensity to the opening days of camp.

When pitchers reported, pitching coach Steve McCatty told them, "There's a lot of spots that people are going to be fighting for. You don't have the luxury of just feeling like going out and getting your work done." The days when Odalis Perez can waltz into camp as a non-roster invitee and head north as the Opening Day starter are past.

"Probably a lot of people came over thinking, 'The Nationals is a great place for an opportunity,' " McCatty said. "But we made some trades. Add Jason in there. There's a lot of quality guys. It's not that you show up -- boom, you're automatically in. There's competition for spots."

The other day, McCatty said the multitudes had begun separating based on their bullpen and batting practice sessions. He wants to wait until live hitters from other teams face the candidates before making any kind of judgment.

"We write everything in pencil," McCatty said. "We'll see what happens when the games go."

Until then, we'll have to settle for watching pitchers throw batting practice. Some would just like to see Adam Dunn sign an extension. Dunn is known for his patience at the plate; what about everyone else? In case you missed this yesterday, MASN is going to televise the Nationals game March 9 against the Tigers.. I wonder why they chose that one.

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 2, 2010; 8:45 AM ET
 
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Next: Stephen Strasburg's starting point

Comments

McCatty may find out how good the guys are, but he better be quick about it, because Riggleman is there and all set to ruin the young arms the way he did to Wood and Prior in Chicago. In his handling of pitchers, Riggleman has shown himself to be dumb as a stump, and that's saying something because he has replaced Manny Acta, who previously had that award all to himself.

No wonder Rahm Emanuel stays angry and agitated. He had to deal with the Riggleman-led Cubbies when he was in Chicago. And now he's in DC and it's the same old, same old.

Posted by: JohnRDC | March 2, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the morning readings.

A Seinfeld fan, eh? Or did you just get in some steam room time? :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 2, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

What exactly do you think Rizzo means when he says "we expect to win"? What are the real expectations for the club in terms of wins and losses. Expecting to win is uber vague.

JohnRDC: Mark Prior never even played for Riggleman -- they missed each other by years. And Riggleman had Wood for one season, his 4th in professional ball and he threw something like 165 innings. Riggleman had zero to do with Prior and little to do with Wood.

Posted by: dfh21 | March 2, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Good work Kilgore. You understand how many people get in to work at 9 and the first thing they do is check these blogs. If there is not a post up by 9 it is a little disappointing.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | March 2, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

my thoughts too, 1a. We got us another Seinfeld fan. LOL

Posted by: NatsNut | March 2, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

dfh, try not to let facts get in the way of a good argument!

Posted by: sec231 | March 2, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

dfh21, I think .500 is an unrealistic goal yet something to shoot for but no way can a GM say that. Still, if Olsen stays healthy and Wang gets healthy and these guys resemble the pitchers they were then I think .500 is realistic - note I said if. I don't think we added the talent to improve to that level of being .500 yet.

You look at the Phillies; for years the culture of losing grew, FA didn't want to come there and they stunk. It took years to change the direction of the franchise to a thought that winning was expected and FAs wanted to play there; we can only hope Rizzo has us on that road instead of the road Detriot was on, where you got a tease of greatness only to return to below mediocre.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | March 2, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Loved the TITle and thought this was going to be about a different subject and actually liked this better!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 2, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

JohnRDC,

You would be best to keep your mouth (or keyboard) quiet when you don't know what you are talking about. Riggleman never had Prior in Chicago and only had Wood for a brief period of time. Riggs was fired from the Cubs job after the 1999 season. Get your facts correct. As for your comment that Riggleman is "dumb as a stump", I put much more faith in comments from players like Shawon Dunston and Mark Grace among others who have nothing but praise for Riggs (Grace called him the best manager he ever played for) than a blowhard such as yourself who can't bother to get his facts correct.

Posted by: CHAMP1464 | March 2, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

ScNats: I think that the club will be much improved, and I agree with you thatnk that they could get lucky and flirt with .500. But that requires luck -- Wang and Olsen coming back from injury. Guzman's glove getting better. Lanna repeating. Capps finding the old form. Dukes hitting stride, etc. And they'll need the ususal luck that all teams need, to avoid injury.

I am not sure that the Detroit road is so bad. They built a club that competes every year and which is loaded with young talent. The Tigers have been relavant since 2005, pulling over 2M fans/yr in that market, and with no signs of looking back.

They went out and spent on talent to usher in their new park, as the Twins are doing now. The Nats did not add much talent when they moved into Half Street, not sure why. The Nats have been pretty content in the culture of losing, I have to keep asking when that is going to change. They expect to win, but they really do not go all out to make that expectation a realistic one. I want them to find the urgency, let Rizzo built it, spend a few bucks of my beer money on MLB talent, etc.

Posted by: dfh21 | March 2, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

seriously, I can't even get one ticket to Opening Day?

Tried getting 4 tickets last week with my "Insider" password and all they kept offering me were the RF/LF Baseline seats @ $50 a pop. I thought, there's no way that all of the Upper Deck (OF Reserved, IF Gallery, Upper Infield, Lower RF, etc) could have been taken already. Heck, I even tried for the OF Reserved sections. No luck. I figured they held a bunch of seats for the general public for today's sale.

Nope. I was lucky to get on right away and not only couldn't I get 4 tickets in ANY section, I tried 3, then 2 and still no luck. Just for fun, thought I'd see if I could just get 1 ticket. No section would allow me to purchase 1 ticket. This system just flat out STINKS!

End of rant.

Posted by: erocks33 | March 2, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Im with erocks, I got in right at 10:02 after 2 minutes in the waiting room, tried to buy 7 tickets together, then 5 tickets together, then tried 4,3,2,1 and it has told me for a half hour that due to high volume they cant process.

Now all of the infield gallery tickets are gone, yet when you go to stub hub, you can buy up to 22 tickets together at a time in the infield gallery. Looks like the automated ticket vedors bought them all out again

Posted by: BigTrain | March 2, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

While I've been as much a kool-aid vendor as probably the Media Relations department, my optimism has stemmed from the desire that the team be successful. But Boswell's recent article sums things up really well, and Bergmann's comment is very telling.

When MLB was talking about bringing the Expos here there was a different feel to it, and then the Nationals did appear. The beginning of this season just feels different too. This really is Nationals 2.0 - if they had done nothing this offseason then I'd be a bit more cynical. But Capps, Marquis, Kennedy, Pudge, the promise of the injured pitchers, Stras...we all know who these new guys are, but I don't ever remember this much infusion of talent in such a short period of time. Plus - the GM has the people around him he wants. Ownership will respond to leadership and I think they've demonstrated their willingness to do that.

Beats having the GM resign in spring training, or having an open call for warm bodies that can throw a baseball. The Nationals started lower than an expansion team. As the Lerner's finish up their fourth year this July, I think in retrospect we'll see just how far things have come here soon. I gave 'em five years with no criticisms from me. Baseball in DC '10! Bring it ON!

Posted by: dand187 | March 2, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

JohnR, CHAMP is right. The culprit for ruining Wood and Prior is generally regarded to be Dusty Baker.

As for the Nats and .500, that may be a bit much. Still too many unanswered questions with the pitching but, as Boz points out today, for once the answers may be there in the end. I'm also not sure this team is good enough defensively.

I'd like to see 75 wins with a .500 record after the All-Star break and a rotation of Strasburg, Marquis, Lannan, Wang and Detwiler with J. Zimm's rehab proceeding on schedule.

I'd also like Elle Macpherson's phone number, so my grasp on reality might be a little iffy.

Posted by: baltova1 | March 2, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Seriously I hope the Nats win and are better than previous years. But quoting the coach of the team saying.. We are better...We expect to win.. blah blah blah....I mean come on. What do you expect them to say? That we stink?
Go back and look at any preseason article ever and they all say the same thing. Acta thought last year's team was the best team he ever had. How did that turn out? Just sayin.

Posted by: dovelevine | March 2, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

BTW just bought April Friday night tix to the Nats/Dodgers. Figured we better get in early while the games still matter.

Posted by: dovelevine | March 2, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I used the insider code at 10 am on the first day (18th) and got 2 in section 130, row PP.

I am only using 1 so if someone needs 1 at cost let me know.

Posted by: alm1000 | March 2, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

JD Martin ... even Boz ignores him ... just watch he'll be in there ... and then I - will - be- insufferable ... bwahahahahah ...

Posted by: periculum | March 2, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I am with you dovelevine I bought four tickets for the Jackie Robinson day. By the way, I the Nats was kind enough to offer me four tickets for opening day this morning for a whopping $268.00.

As for SS aka Jesus and when he should be brought up. I found the perfect day on the schedule. Those dates are either July 9-11 against the Giants. So what the significance you ask? Aside from Jesus vs. Cain or Lincecum, the Nats are running their Christmas in July promotion those games. Just think Jesus showing up on the Christmas (in July of course). The Nats are asking for toy donations those days, the games would be a sell out and the toy bins could be full for Tiny Tim and friends.

Posted by: hansenjo | March 2, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

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