VIERA, Fla. -- Bob Carpenter is now in his ninth season as the television play-by-play voice of the Nationals, and he feels the 2014 team is more balanced than it was last year.
In Carpenter's opinion, the team is not going to rely only on starting pitching.
Last year, the Nats' offense got off to a slow start, and it didn't help that outfielder Bryce Harper had to miss time because of a knee injury. The team didn't get it going until the second half of the season. It turned out to be too late, as the Nats finished in second place behind the Braves in the National League East.
It could be a different story in 2014, according to Carpenter.
"I think the Nationals have all the ingredients in what you are looking for in a ballclub," Carpenter said. "The defense has to be better than it was at times last year. Obviously, the offense has to get off to a better start than last year. When you add a guy like Doug Fister and whoever becomes the fifth starter -- whether it's Taylor Jordan or Tanner Roark -- it's a solid rotation. The bullpen looks good. I don't see any weaknesses on this ballclub."
Based on the way they have played this spring, Carpenter expects the Nationals to be more aggressive on the bases. They are not going to rely on the three-run home run like they did in the last couple of years.
"I talked about [being aggressive] in our spring telecast," Carpenter said. "I think it's a wonderful addition to the game instead of waiting around for the three-run homer, because sometimes the double play comes before the three-run homer does and you are out of the inning. [Manager] Matt [Williams] is trying to keep the players out of double-play situations.
"I know this was just a joke on [hitting coach] Rick Schu's part, but I overheard him tell Wilson Ramos to work on his delayed steal. If that happens, we are on to something. But when you look at Nate McLouth coming over here, Ian Desmond can run. Obviously, Denard Span can run, Jayson Werth can run, Ryan Zimmerman is a good baserunner. I love the running game to go along with the power game."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.