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[April 3rd] -- Dawn rose on the second season of the Washington Nationals early this morning. Twenty-five players, some new, some not, woke up in a suburban New York hotel and asked many of the same questions that we have been all spring. Is the offense really better? How will the Soriano saga play out over the next weeks and months? Will the Nationals win any games not started by Livan Hernandez and John Patterson?

We don't know. Neither do they.

The Nationals offense is set for the next several years at catcher, first, second, third, center and (probably) right. Only short and left are "iffy." That's usually a good thing, but when your team was the worst run producing team in the majors the previous year, and 75% of them will be a long-term part of the team, should we be happy? Pedro Astacio, a last minute replacement for Brian Lawrence who was lost for the year, is now himself lost for an indefinite period. He had an ERA over 10.00 this spring. Should we be sad?

Such is the state of the Nationals for 2006.

I think the Nationals will win their opener today. Livan Hernandez has lost his last two opening-day assignments, and statistical probability alone points to a win against the Mets. Not going up against Pedro Martinez helps. Going up against an aging Tom Glavine helps even more. Yes, they'll win today. But how many more games can they win in 2006? I doesn't matter. This is the last season the Nationals will be forced to wonder in the wilderness because of their idolatry. Soon will come a new owner, his accompanying checkbook, and a new management team not bent on self-destruction. We can survive a 73 win season as we wait for the Nationals to join the real world.

Five years in the wilderness. That's not bad. It could have been forty.

"Soon will come a new owner, his accompanying checkbook, and a new management team not bent on self-destruction."

Not necessarily. Royals, Pirates, and Devil Rays have owners, but no checkbook and management team not bent on self destruction.

Hopefully, we are lucky.
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