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“All those guys weren’t sitting here a year ago as the plan,” Bowden said. “They weren’t there. So we’ve made really good progress in what the long-term plan is. Since Stan and the Lerners took over, it has been two years, and our development system continues to get better. Our young players at the big league level continue to get better, and it’s right on target as to what Stan wanted to accomplish when he and the Lerners took over.”

Only the most ardent (and patient) fans, though, are likely to find the silver linings in an otherwise downtrodden season.

How, then, do the Nationals convince a casual fan base that sees only the poor winning percentage that actual progress is taking place?

“You have to win at this level for that to happen,” Bowden said. “But I think certainly the e-mails we get from fans, they understand the progress that we’ve made and the direction we’re going in. Everyone has been up front with the fans from the very beginning, and they understand. Does anyone like losing 90 games? No, nobody likes that.”