NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- There's one thing you can say about manager Davey Johnson: He doesn't lack confidence. Last spring, Johnson predicted that the Nationals would finish in first place, and they did -- with the best record in baseball.
After the team agreed to terms with right-hander Dan Haren on a one-year deal on Tuesday, Johnson was bold once more, saying that he wants a World Series title with the Nats before he retires after the season.
"I think we're in a perfect position to show the world that we're a pretty good ballclub, and we can go farther into the postseason, and I want to be a part of that," Johnson said from the Winter Meetings. "I still have a love of the game, and I have a love of this organization. 'World Series or bust,' that's probably the slogan this year. But I'm comfortable with that."
Johnson is also comfortable with the way he managed Game 5 of the National League Division Series, against the Cardinals. Johnson was second-guessed for electing to pitch to shortstop Pete Kozma in the ninth inning rather than walk him to get to pitcher Jason Motte. Kozma singled to right, plating David Freese and Daniel Descalso to put his team on top, and the Cards ended up winning, 9-7.
"I had the right guy [Drew Storen] in there, and I liked giving guys an opportunity to pitch to hitters with the base open," Johnson said. "That little phenom shortstop came up and got the game-winning hit, and everybody thought I should have walked him. But I like to give [the pitcher] a chance, and I did it all year long.
"Sure, I can change my stripes and protect you guys from second-guessing me by doing something, but I like to give guys the opportunity to get any hitter out with a base open where they don't have to give in. ... I've done that my whole life, and I ain't changing."
As for the coming season, Johnson would love to have Adam LaRoche back, and for good reason -- namely, his bat and glovework at first base. LaRoche, a free agent, wants a three-year deal, but general manager Mike Rizzo said the team is not going beyond two.
During a recent golf tournament in Florida, Johnson made sure that Rizzo and LaRoche spoke often.
"Adam LaRoche is going to come back," Johnson said. "I mean, if I have to go to Kansas and take him and all his cattle to Florida, I will.
"I had a golf tournament to raise some money for Lighthouse for the Blind. ... There were two people there that I really wanted to see. One was Brooks Robinson, and he was outstanding, and he showed up. ... But the main guy was Adam LaRoche. I tried to give him the best [golf] team, had him and Rizzo around each other a lot, and I told him to bring a pen."
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.