Pitchers and catchers are in, position players are starting to show up. Meanwhile, some young prospect threw down in Viera this weekend. Teammates were calling him Jesus, people were talking about how he’s the best thing they’ve ever seen, and there was a general feeling of optimism for the future. So let’s get on the train to positivityland and figure out what is the ideal scenario for this team. Not record-wise. If everything goes right they probably won’t be very good. And I’m talking about the big boy team right now, so I’ll avoid talking about development of guys that won’t see the pros this year.  I’m talking about what would help set up a winning season in 2011 – a complete list of things that would be good for this team, but trying to keep them all realistic. So, no, I’m not going to say that it would be awesome of Craig Stammen struck out 250 hitters and won a Cy Young, or if Josh Willingham became a gold glove outfielder.

Instead, here’s a list of the good things I’d hope to see, that actually have a chance to happen

  • Ryan Zimmerman’s 2009 wasn’t his peak, it was just how he’s going to hit as he approaches his prime
  • Nyjer Morgan is really a .300+ hitter, putting his OBP north of .360 and his SBs over 40
  • Elijah Dukes stays healthy all year, and hits in the neighborhood of .275/.375/.475
  • Adam Dunn fields well enough at first base to not endanger the lives of fans sitting dangerously close to the path of an errant throw from shortstop
  • Ian Desmond masters the art of fielding the “easy ones”, continues to hit, and is starting by the end of the year at SS
  • Guzman hits over .315 for the first few months of the season, and is traded to a contender desperate for some temporary middle infield help – Nats actually get a half a prospect out of the deal
  • Willingham hits as well as he did last year, but consistently over the season, rather than all of it before August
  • Jesus Flores gets healthy and plays over half the games at catcher, while Pudge happily acts as an often-used backup and mentor
  • Justin Maxwell emerges as a legitimate 4th outfielder
  • Adam Kennedy hits like he did in Oakland last year and fields like he did in St Louis the year before
  • Stephen Strasburg is as good as advertised, comes up in time to push his arbitration a year later, and pitches in the majors enough to impress everyone
  • Jordan Zimmermann is pitching by September, in any league, and is looking like he did last spring
  • Scott Olsen recovers from injury and apathy to look like he did when he was 22.
  • Ross Detwiler pitches strongly once he returns, building on his good, but lucky, September
  • Someone emerges out of the J.D. Martin, Garrett Mock, Craig Stammen, Collin Balester group and reveals himself to be more than a spot starter
  • John Lannan continues
  • Matt Capps pitches like he did in 2007-2008, not 2009
  • Tyler Clippard continues to flourish in his role as a reliever – he walked a few too many last year but he struck out a surprising number of people in his time in the majors last year
  • Chien-Ming Wang returns to pre-injury form and becomes the teams best starting pitcher for the moment
  • A somewhat patchwork bullpen becomes stronger with good performances by several of the group of Clippard, Capps, Brian Bruney, Sean Burnett, Ron Villone and Eddie Guardado an eventual Drew Storen. Actually, when you look at the list of names, it doesn’t look nearly as patchwork as it did before.

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s a pretty comprehensive list of what COULD go right this year. Of course, not all of these things will happen, but some of them will. It’s going to come down to which ones, and how many of them.

By Charlie