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[January 18th] -- First, sorry I haven't posted in a while. Daily posting was number two on my New Year's resolution list, but the real world isn't a perfect place in terms of allowing said resolutions to be fulfilled. We have been given the opportunity to adopt our special-needs foster son. We've had him since he was a month old (he's almost 3 now) and - assuming the paperwork goes through - it looks like he'll become the newest member of Nats' Nation. Any of you who have gone through the process knows how difficult - and time consuming - it can be.

That said, we're thrilled at the opportunity.

On to baseball.

How good will Michael Burgess be? Your guess is as good as mine, but if you use his stats in the Gulf Coast League this past year as a yardstick, he should do very well indeed.

I was looking up a player on the 1994 GCL Expos and noticed Vlad Guerrero's first year stats. They were impressive, and from there he matured into one of the most feared hitters of his generation. But let's take a look at his numbers compared to Burgess' when extrapolated out to 550 at-bats, a full Major League season. See what you think:

1994 - Guerrero: R:98 -- H:176 -- 2B:53 -- 3B: 12 -- HR:20 -- RBI:102 -- BB:44 -- K:73 -- Ave:.314 -- OPS:.928

2007 - Burgess: R:94 -- H:184 -- 2B:26 -- 3B:13 -- HR:34 -- RBI:137 -- BB:107 -- 159 -- Ave:.333 -- OPS:1.059

The two players had very similar first years, though there were some differences. Guerrero's power wasn't as developed as Burgess. Vlad had 27 more doubles but 14 less homers. Burgess walked a lot more though he struck out more often too. Guerrero's .366 OBP was very good but pales in comparison to Burgess' .442.

I'm not suggesting that Burgess is the next Vlad Guerrero. What I am saying is that Burgess has the potential to be a great player. After being initially over matched when he was promoted to Vermont at the end of the season, Burgess found his stroke and did well in 19 games. Again, based on a full season, Burgess produced: .286-24-80.

Looks like the Nationals' outfield will be even more crowded in the very near future.

Certain Uncertainty: Usually, a baseball team heads into spring training with a few question marks and a good deal of certainty. For the Nationals, the offense is so questionable that it could be one of the better, or one of the worst, offenses in the National League. As of today, Ronnie Belliard is about the only "sure thing" in the lineup.

Will it be Nick Johnson or Dmitri Young at first? And if it's Johnson, will he come close to repeating 2007's numbers?

Will Felipe Lopez rebound from a poor 2007, or for that matter will he even start? He'll be playing in a smaller park this year so if he does rebound, a .275-18-60 is not out of the question. And if he doesn't rebound, will Cristian Guzman play enough defense to make his offense palatable?

It may seem strange to list Ryan Zimmerman as a question mark, but really, no one knows if he'll have another "nice" year, something like .280-25-100, or will he have that breakout year we've all been waiting for, say .310-35-120?

Wily Mo Pena has the talent to hit .280-45-120. But will he? And if he doesn't, will Jim Bowden settle for .260-22-75 or will Pena be benched in favor of Elijah Dukes, another player who may - or may not - hit 35 homers and drive in 100 RBI's. And what of Lastings Milledge? As the only real center fielder among the bunch, Milledge has more opportunity to grow slowly as a starter than the others. But he's already hit at the Major League level, so a .285-25-85 effort would surprise no one. And Austin Kearns has shown the ability to hit 25 homers and drive in 100 runs, but he just can't seem to do it year in and year out. Based on past history, 2008 will be the year he shows up and plays well every day.

Paul Lo Duca is perhaps the biggest question mark with the least importance; it really won't matter if Lo Duca hits well or not. He just has to catch the ball behind the plate.

The Nationals could end up hitting 200 homers, or they might barely break 100. Spring Training won't tell us anything, but we'll know something by July 1st.

Man, if the Nationals can keep all these players (and their top end ability)

Pena [.275-35-120]
Milledge [.320-25-100]
Dukes [.285-40-125]
Marrero [.280-35-100]
Burgess [.300-40-120]

Wow -- this team might be great if Bowden doesn't do anything stupid
I'm the producer of the Nationals pre-game and post-game show for MASN. As we get ready for this season and the Nationals, I was hoping to get in touch with you (and a number of other bloggers) about this season. What I am hoping to do is create a short, recurring segment on our show (w/ Johnny Holliday and Ray Knight) about what bloggers are writing about concerning the Nationals. What I am looking for now is a database of blog sites we can feature on the show...

For example:

"On today's Nationals Blog Beat, xxx from Beltway Boys writes 'Austin Kearns has been playing great'..."

Is this something you would be interested in?

Any further ideas you have could work as well...

Matt Perl

Sorry I am leaving this as a comment, but for the life of me I can't find an email link.

For the past five years I have run the popular Ohio State sports blog, BuckeyeBanter.com, and thought, I love baseball, so I started a Columbus Clippers blog.

I realize that this may be the last season that the Clippers will be Washington's Triple-A affiliate. But I am also finding out that I just might be the only team-specific minor league baseball blog on the Internet. So I have to start networking somewhere.

I will add a link to your site on mine and hope you will reciprocate.

Farid, you've disappeared again! I hope all is well with you.
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