Winter Meetings bring possibility, anxiety

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In D.C., mentioning the Nationals on the street right now would be a crime, with the 5-6 Redskins poised to make a mediocre run into forgettable history. (The Capitals? What Capitals? The Wizards? Is that some new fringe card game like Pokemon? ). But months from now, when the hot summer sun is beating down and the ballpark is alive once again, with fans, music and baseball, this week will be an important one to look back on – in fact, it may be the biggest factor in those summer months. So go ahead, talk about the team. Just don’t be worried when you get some crazy looks. Because, believe it or not, despite the temperature and the date, the Nationals are at a critical junction, possibly more critical than any they’ll face all season, and it’s unclear to everyone, maybe even including the General Manager Mike Rizzo, where they’ll go from here.

The Lerners, who sit up in ownership, have serious decisions to make about how they’ll use their money – whether it’ll be taking on an already bloated contract, trading a fan favorite (yes, your favorite player, be worried) or adding a free agent. Mike Rizzo has some serious decisions to make as well, regarding the cutting and trading of Papelbon and Storen, respectively, adding to the bullpen, and adding offensive pop as well as figuring out who it’s okay to part with. And in all likelihood, if the Nats feel like making a huge splash, it’s going to happen this week, at the Winter Meetings in Nashville.

If there was ever a moment for front office staff to feel like players on the first day of Spring Training, full of belief and hope that they can really go all the way this year, it would be at the Winter Meetings. The Winter Meetings, which for reasons unknown, are run by Minor League Baseball, have no boundaries. For one time, and only one time during the year, everything and everyone seems to be on the table. Rumors fly rampant and only the most elite of the stars are left out of them. Free-agents meet with teams (paging Ben Zobrist…) For the Nationals, they’ve been linked to everyone from O’Day to Chapman, Zobrist to Rollins and everyone in between, including Jonathan Lucroy. Players on the table have ranged from Strasburg to Ramos as well as Espinosa and Escobar. Papelbon and Storen, two players ironically linked, have come up in every conversation. It’s a given that some moves will be made. However, the question of what the right moves are still looms.

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The Signs of Opening Day……. Sign or Slump?

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WOO-HOO! It’s finally here! (No, not the Mayan apocalypse – think about the context).

Yes, after 5 whole months of waiting, we have been reunited with our national pastime. Now, technically, it opened on March 29th in Japan, but it’s not opening day for me until you can smell the hot dogs from a mile away.

I was fortunate enough to see the Red Sox play the Nats, and let me tell you it was loads of fun, even though I was so confused since I was cheering and booing on every play. Thank goodness I’m going to NORMAL opening day for the Nats (well, the home opener) so I’m not so confused. That game really showed how these teams could both go far this year for me.

So, anyways, today was, in america, opening day. Where to start, where to start? (This is the first regular season post for Sports According to Will ever!!!!)

First of all, the mighty, marvelous, Marlins. Didn’t exactly seem like it last night or today so far – in fact, they seem like the opposite. After a 4-1 loss to the Cardinals, and losing 2-0 to the Reds through the sixth inning today, they aren’t giving their beautiful ballpark a beautiful start. Though it’s only opening day, I just want to say I’m not surprised. (Read all my articles about Miami to find out why I say this, because I don’t feel like repeating myself today.) Are the Marlins just choking a bit, or is this a sign? I have to say this is a slump. The Marlins may be choking under the pressure of their new ballpark.

Next, the Nats beating the Cubbies. Wo. Stephen Strasburg pitched very well, and only gave up one run and five hits through 7. But the other hero of this game, an unsung one, was Ian Desmond. Now for all of you who aren’t Nats fans, which is a lot of my readers, Ian Desmond wasn’t very good last year. He, in terms had a stinky year. (But let’s not forget – can YOU hit a 95 MPH fastball?). But this could be a turning point for him. 3 hits, and an RBI on opening day may be a signal for him. Plus, pitchers Tyler Clippard and Brad Lidge both did their parts. (I have more articles about the Nats in the archives), but the Nats should be a wild card this year if all goes well and if Atlanta is as old as they look. (More on that later). This is obviously a sign, that the Nats could be in the playoffs if they play their cards right.

Third, the Red Sox seemed to have recapped last season in a game. Coming so close – and then being beat out. What happened was Jose Valverde BLEW A SAVE for his beloved Tigers, and the Red Sox tied it up. But, like last year, the pitching choked at the last minute and they lost. Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen again this year, but I think it’s a good wake up call for the Red Sox that things aren’t going to be easy. I think this is just a slump. I believe that if discipline and ego stay at a good level, the Red Sox could take a wild card or maybe even snag a division title.

Lastly, the Mets beat the Braves. Whoop-dee-doo. I know. Such a big deal, right? Yeah, that’s actually a pretty big deal for the NL. If the Braves are getting older and losing to the Mets, it could open up a wild card spot and make things even more competitive in the NL – not as if they aren’t. Plus, it’s a sign – the Braves are getting kind of old. The Braves could be in the mix, but they lack the young talent that many other NL teams have to make the playoffs, so I do think this is a sign, because Atlanta is seeming old, and acting like it.

This is just my opinion, but there is one sign that I’m pretty sure about – this season’s gonna be awesome!