NEW YORK -- Before Spring Training started, general manager Jim Bowden took a page from former Red Sox manager Dick Williams and predicted the Nationals would win more games than they would lose this season.
Bowden had every reason to think this way after acquiring outfielders Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes and catcher Paul Lo Duca. Add Ryan Zimmerman, Nick Johnson, Austin Kearns and Wily Mo Pena into the mix, and one would think that Washington would be a better team than last year.
However, the Nationals are 4-10 entering Wednesday's action. The offense has sputtered and the pitching has been mediocre at best.
It also hasn't helped that the team has been hit with injuries. Dukes and first baseman Dmitri Young have missed time because of hamstring and back problems, respectively. Closer Chad Cordero started the season on the disabled list because of right shoulder tendinitis. Though he is not on the disabled list, Lo Duca has been shelved for the time being by a right hand injury.
Asked how he was holding up during the bad start, Bowden admitted that he is frustrated by what he is seeing on the field.
"It's very frustrating," Bowden said. "We are disappointed. We felt this team was capable of winning more games. Getting out of the gate, they have not played well. The bullpen was supposed to be the strength of our club, but it has become one of the large weaknesses of the club. They are knocking us out of games that we are in.
"We thought we would score more runs. We thought we [improved] some positions to improve our offense, and we are not scoring any runs. The starting pitching has been inconsistent, although we have had some good outings. If you had your bullpen and your offense going, you would win.
"We thought our bench would be one of the strengths of the club. When they have been given opportunities, they haven't cashed in. So it has been a disaster from top to bottom. So we have to realize that it's 14 games, and there is a lot of time to turn that around."
Bowden mentioned that there have been some bright spots. He said Milledge is talented and has a great work ethic. Bowden is also happy to see that first baseman Johnson is healthy and is still the patient hitter that he was in 2006.
"Lastings has played really well," Bowden said. "His work ethic has been really noticed here. He prepares for games, studies the video. He really wants to be successful. He has a tremendous intellectual capacity to understand the game and what it takes to be a good player. I knew all the talent was there. I'm glad to see the intangibles are there, also.
"Nick Johnson's health has been a bright spot. I think Johnson's example of taking pitches is a really positive thing to watch, especially for our young hitters."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.