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Davey Johnson Says Nationals Can Win Pennant, Needs a Drug Test

The NL East had two of the best teams in the National League last season. Neither one of them was the Nationals. That won’t stop manager Davey Johnson, whose option for 2012 was exercised by the team, from boasting about the Nats’ potential for the upcoming season.

“Winning the pennant. Winning the National League,” Johnson said of his expectations for the team. “I couldn’t have said that last spring. I didn’t think the talent was ready. After being there and seeing the progress that some young players made, I think we definitely can contend. I would be sorely disappointed if we didn’t do just that. The talent is there.

“I like the way we stack up against everybody in our division. I’m not just sticking out my chest and saying some hot air. My baseball instincts tell me that’s where we need to be, that’s where we need to go. And we can get there.”

The Nationals went 80-81 while the Phillies were 102-60 and the Braves were 89-73. If Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg are healthy for the season, the Nats have a shot at being a .500-or-better team. The Phillies have Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Madson as free agents, and Ryan Howard recovering from surgery on his ankle. They could drop off, but they and the Braves still look strong.

We can see the Nats competing in the division, but there’s a difference between having an improved season and being competitive, and actually going to the World Series. Davey Johnson says the Nats can win the pennant. That’s not going to happen. They still don’t have enough talent, and they need a few more bats.


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