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[August 12th] -- It wasn't too long ago that a Google Search for John Lannan brought up images such as this one. When you're playing in the low minors, you just have to get used to stuff like this.

Especially when your stats were as bad as the picture.

And Lannan's were.

Playing for Savannah in 2006, Lannan went 6-8, 4.70, allowing nearly 14 base runners per 9 innings. He looked like just another guy in the Nationals' minor league system who had no real hope of being a factor in the major leagues.

Then came 2007.

Sure, the Nationals lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks last night 1-0, and have now lost two games in a row for the first time since late July. But you had to figure that was going to happen seeing how the team was going up against Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb who just happens to be in one of those consecutive scoreless inning streak that happens once every few years. Going into the season, we all said that wins didn't matter; it was all about player development. Well, meet John Lannan, the first real product of that development process. After three starts, Lannan is 1-1, 3.00 in 24 innings. Even more impressive, when you throw out that first "weird" game, Lannan has allowed just two runs in 14 innings.

The sample for Lannan is still quite small, so I'm not getting myself all in a tizzy over the kid. Remember Mike O'Connor's start last year? He was unhittable. That is, until he became very hittable after a half-dozen or so starts. But if he continues his solid play, the Nationals' rotation seems to have a great deal of potential heading into next year. If Shawn Hill, Jason Bergman, Matt Chico, Lannan, Ross Detweiler come through, well ..... wow. And if a couple of the bargain-basement pitchers (Redding, Bacsik, Simontacchi, etc.) continue their solid pitching into next season, the team might even have what could be termed an embarrassment of riches.


And if pigs could fly .....

The End Of Days: The signing deadline is almost upon us and it's still very uncertain as to whether Josh Smoker and Jack McGeary are going to sign. McGeary, a sure 1st round pick that slipped because of the near-certainty of his going to Stanford, would be a coup. No question, he would be "the" signing of 2007 if the Nationals cough up 1st round money. Will they? I hope so. That would be a wonderful way to show the fans that they are indeed going to invest in the team's infrastructure. I hope they sign one of the two - either one will be fine. If they don't, "the plan" gets pushed back a year as the Nats recoup the lost picks next year.

don't forget Collin Balester, Joel Hanrahan and the other young pitchers that could pitch for the Nats next year
It's hard to believe that pitching was considered the team's biggest weakness (of many!) going into spring training. Somehow, Manny and Randy have turned a sow's ear into a silk purse.
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