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What Dusty Baker likes and doesn't like about the 2016 Nats so far

What Dusty Baker likes and doesn't like about the 2016 Nats so far

Ten games over .500 and in first place in the NL East, there's not a lot for the Nationals to complain about at the moment. They are charging foward with one of the league's best records and their pitching staff has been particularly impressive.

Manager Dusty Baker likes where the Nats currently stand and this week highlighted two areas he feels extra good about as the Nationals continue their homestand against the Cardinals.

"Probably our defense," Baker said to start. "The fact that we don't usually give away outs and beat ourselves. You don't have to make the spectacular, but you have to concentrate enough to make the everyday regular play and then hope you do make a couple spectaculars along the way. Most teams that lose are teams that play poor defense." 

"And secondly, how this team is very resilient and unaffected by tough losses or even consecutive losses," he continued. "Because after the game, you could hear a church mouse run across the floor in the clubhouse. Then the next day you wouldn't know anything every happened. That's a sign of some pros."

As far as their defense goes, the Nationals rank favorably in Major League Baseball in several categories. They have made just 19 errors, the second-fewest of any team. Their .989 fielding percentage as a team is third. They are also third in the NL in defensive efficiency at .719. 

"It's a special group. We've got a lot of guys with Gold Glove-caliber abilities," first baseman Clint Robinson said. 

Second baseman Daniel Murphy leads the team in errors with five, but he's only on pace to make about 17 of them this season. That number wouldn't rank anywhere near the top of the league in most years.

The Nationals have the second-best team ERA at 2.82 and the second-best rotation ERA at 2.96. They would like to be higher than 13th in runs scored, but that still puts them in the top half of the league. 

The Nationals are at the very least above average pretty much across the board, but Baker and his players still see room for improvement. 

"We're in first place but we're kind of treading water. We haven't caught our stride yet," Baker said. "To have that 'put your foot on their throat' attitude when we get the lead, I'm hoping that we get more of that here. I have a pretty nice team. I'd like to see them be a little meaner."

"There's still a lot of guys that are still finding their stroke right now," shortstop Danny Espinosa said. "Our pitching staff has done a good job and defensively we've done good. We have guys on base. We're getting guys on base, we're just not hitting quite the way we can be hitting. We know that."

"There's always room for improvement. It's a tough league," Robinson said. "The division has turned out to be a lot tougher than I think a lot of people expected. Once we get our lineup firing, I think that's when you'll see a lot of special things."

Baker has referred all year to the idea of a killer instinct and how the Nationals could use more 'dog' in them. 

"I'm gonna give them some gunpowder," he joked on Friday.

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE