Are Nationals team to beat in the NL East?

When Jayson Werth signed his $127 million deal with the Nationals in 2010, the former Phillie heard from fans and some media that he was saying hello to a fortune but goodbye to the postseason.

“People said, ‘Well, it’s going to be tough for you to experience the playoffs again’,” Werth said. “I didn’t think that was so. When I spoke with the Nationals and examined the situation, I knew they were committed to winning and they are.”

There’s little doubt about that. The Nats have built a formidable team, thanks to very good drafts and boundless resources.

After interrupting the Phillies’ run of five straight NL East division titles, the Nats laid down the gauntlet by trading for center fielder Denard Span and signing free agent starter Dan Haren.

“We’re dead serious,” Werth said. “We want to win it all. We’re going for it..”

The Nats are a well-rounded club that has power to burn, which is something the Phillies lack. The one item left on Ruben Amaro’s holiday shopping list is a power-hitting corner outfielder.

Will Amaro entertain signing Nick Swisher, who is looking for a substantial deal that would cost the Phillies the 16th pick of the 2013 draft?

Will the Phillies try to ink a deal with Cody Ross, who is less expensive than Swisher and the Phillies can keep their draft pick? Or will Amaro make a trade or stand pat?

“I would think that Amaro will add a bat with power just to keep up with the Nats,” a NL scout said. “That’s a big issue for the Phillies. What if [Chase] Utley misses significant time? It can’t be all on [Ryan] Howard. They really need another guy that can drive the ball into the alleys or out of the park.

“There is still time to address that need and I think the Phillies will add somebody. They had a chance to sign Josh Willingham last year and didn’t. You don’t want to make the same mistake twice.”

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