Davey Johnson thinks the Nationals can win the pennant in 2012

Davey Johnson already set one hopeful baseline for his expectation of the upcoming season, even going as far to say the Washington Nationals could fire him if his squad misses out on the playoffs.

Now the Nats manager is publicly willing to go seven or eight wins further and envision a fall in which Washington puts the "Nat" in National League.

Yes, he's talking about a World Series appearance for the Nationals.

No, not in 2014 or 2015.

This season.

"As a baseball man, I look at the potential, the upside of everybody," Johnson told Sirius XM's Chris Russo [audio]. "If we just play to our potential — we don't have to play over it. If guys start doing things I know they're capable of doing, I think we can win the pennant."

It's hard to blame Johnson for his optimism, of course. Everyone wants to think highly of their team in spring training and it's not like a somewhat objective outsider hasn't already said the same thing. (Take a bow, Eric Byrnes!) The reason why Johnson's rosy outlook is making news is because you'd have to go all the way back to the Coolidge administration to find a legitimate sentence that includes Washington and the World Series.

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But while there's a certain "Tampa Bay in spring 2008" vibe to these outlooks, I can't assign any validity to the D.C. hope past the wing-and-a-prayer shot of getting in as the second wild card and hoping to catch lightning in a bottle en route to the Fall Classic. Not with an opening day ace (Stephen Strasburg) facing an innings limit of 160 frames. Not with Bryce Harper on this side of legal drinking age and occupying a sublet in Syracuse. Not in a division that's going to be a dogfight from start to finish.

Again, that's not to say that I don't appreciate what Johnson is trying to do here.

Just that it's going to be a few more springs where such a prediction doesn't cause anyone to turn their heads and ask him to come again.

What do you think? Can the Nationals win the NL pennant in 2012?

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