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March 12, 2012

10:59
A.M.

Ask Boswell about the Washington Nationals, spring training, the Capitals, the Redskins and all Washington sports

Total Responses: 34

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Thomas Boswell

Thomas Boswell

A Washington Post columnist since 1984, Thomas Boswell is known for the many books he has written on baseball, including "How Life Imitates the World Series" and "Why Time Begins on Opening Day."

About the topic

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell answered your questions about the Redskins' game, the Capitals, the Nationals, the rest of D.C. sports and more.

Past Ask Boswell chats
Q.

QB choice

Tom, all this publicity about RGIII makes it sound as if he is the most incredible and promising QB ever born. Is there any chance that the Colts will choose him in the draft?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Redskins don't care. They'd be delighted with either. That was the whole point. They obviously THINK it is Griffin that they will get. But they'd have been insane to do this deal if they weren't equally happy at the idea of getting "Lucky." And they're not insane.

RGIII hasn't done his passing workout yet. What if he has a poor day? (I bet its a great day.) But say he does. There will be a lot of chatter!

My two cents is that I don't care either. Andrew Luck is rated (slightly) higher for lots of good reasons. His athelticism hasn't that far behind RGIII at the combine. He's bulkier and, in theory, more durable for the NFL pounding. Nobody knows how this really works out; you don't find out who "breaks in the NFL" until they actually play in the NFL. Luck is polished, played at a "QB school" in a conference that has produced countless NFL standouts and is more accustomed to an NFL style attack.

I've got to admit that pro decision makers tend to be sheep. In any "market" there is an enormous "herd mentality" at work. If the consensus clearly turns toward RGIII __even if it is all hot air__ the Colts will feel pressure to go with the other sheep.

But I think it'll be Luck, Griffin in that order.

– March 12, 2012 10:53 AM
Q.

RG3 Projection: Boom or Bust?

So personally, my feeling on the trade is that it's a steep price, but if Griffin pans out, then it is more than worth it, especially with the way the league favors the passing attack these days. Sports Illustrated had an article a year ago about saying: "If an NFL prospect scores at least a 26 on the Wonderlic test, starts at least 27 games in his college career and completes at least 60 percent of his passes, there's a good chance he will succeed at the NFL level." We don't know his Wonderlic score, but Griffin seems to pass those baseline standards. I realize that it's ridiculously early and no one really "knows" until a few years down the road, but what are your impressions on Griffin and do you think he will have success relative to the value given up in the deal?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I've seldom had my eye pop by the talent of a college QB. His speed is obvious. But his arm strength, especially on the run, is hard to believe. It's the combination, plus decent size (6-2, 223) and smarts/work ethic that makes people think, with reason, that he might be the whole package.

Lots of you probably watched the Alamo Bowl (66-42 win) and noticed that RGIII was "outshown" by Price of Washington 420+ yards to 295 and four TD passes to one. But I thought the whole game centered on the Huskies being terrified of Griffin on every play __so every other Baylor skill player had a monster day. And RGIII didn't mind.

Baylor had some nice wins __50-48 over TCU, 45-38 over Oklahoma, 66-42 over Texas Tech and 48-24 over Texas. Other point totals like: 48, 56, 35, 49, 42. Like watching a pinball machine.

If you want to see problems ahead for Griffin, his throwing motion may make him __in effect__ shorter than 6-2. So he'll have to be concerned about having passes batted back or deflected. But Shanahan loves those bootlegs off the stretch plays, so you'll see that speed-arm combination in open space a lot. 

OTOH, even with Griffin, Baylor (10-3) got destroyed a coup le of times on the road __26-49 and 24-59 (Okla St). It's not like Griffin can never be stopped or beaten.

Also, Washington laid some serious licks on him in the Alamo Bowl. RGIII didn't exactly do a wonderful job of protecting himself. I remember thinking, "This guy is going to get hurt if he tries to play 16 NFL with this level of abandon." He doesn't have that >240-pound QB frame that takes hits well. He's all muscle and bone.

All-in-all, the Redskins just had to do it, I think. It's a real What The Hell moment. You take your shot. If they'd made the same trade but, hypothetically, without the No. 1 pick in '14, the whole world would have said it was a steal. Maybe we get too obsessed with "playing expert." If he's a great QB, then it's a great deal. If he's a good QB, it'll be great entertainment at a high price. If he's a bust __and it's always possible with anybody__ oh, don't even say it.

My son the Skins nut called immediately. "Talk me down, dad, I'm too excited...It was a high price, but so what. It was needed...He's got the tools and the right mentality...He brings hope and enthusiasm. You have to take that chance...this team is so bad now and has done so many things to disappoint its fans that you have to do something." (Maybe he should do the chat.)

IT'S FUN. Sports is supposed to excite you. This does. What's the worst that happens? The Skins lose some more games? They go 5-11, 6-10 and Shanahan gets fired? Been there, done that. I'd certainly rathyer talk about and watch RGIII than most of what we've had to talk about and watch the last few years. On with the show. 

 

– March 12, 2012 11:00 AM
Q.

'Skins vs. Nats

Boz, The poor Nats can't catch a break. Less than a month away from the most promising season in their (short) history, and their flagship radio station spends 7 straight hours of coverage on a player the 'Skins haven't officially drafted yet. (This was after one of the lead anchors of said flagship went on the air in Philly to call Bryce Harper a name that is unprintable in a family paper and claimed that there were only 15 Nats fans.) I love RG3, and pray that the 'Skins don't ruin his career, but now that DC is back into all 'Skins all the time mode, any chance the Nats will get their scores printed in the paper this season?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Sorry, not with you on this. Boston seems to have a good time rooting for winners in four different pro sports and still has energy for college sports.

This year is still a mystery, but if the Nats become a 90-win team that is an annual contender in '13-'16, there will be plenty of excitment around the team.

BTW, I hope that NOBODY thinks the Redskins will have a winning record next year. I went through those 17 QBs taken with the 1/1 or 1/2 pick in the last 20 drafts __all of them huge names with massive hype.

How many had winning records in the games they started in thier rookie seasons? This includes, Both Mannings, Vick, McNabb, Bledsoe, Stafford, Rivers, Cam Newton, Bradford and Carson Palmer as well as the "others" __ J Russell, Carr, Couch, Leaf Mirer, Alex Smith.

NONE.

Just get your mind around the reality that there's probably a 95% chance that the Redskins will have a losing record next year. If I predicted 8-8 it would be a radical idea.

Now the '13 season and beyond is a different question. Two off-seasons to sign free agents and draft. If RGIII turns out to be very good (or better than that), then the Skins are probably over .500 then. But even that includes a lot of ifs.

The Nats and Caps will get what they deserve. Or close to it. The Caps "rock the red" success shows that this isn't a one-sport town, even though the Skins are No. 1 by far. 

– March 12, 2012 11:00 AM
Q.

Abe's watch

So under Abe's watch, the "Bullets" became the "Wizards" b/c Abe wanted to disassociate himself with violence, but in 2007, Ovie and the boys were marketed as the "Young Guns?" One word for Abe: Busted.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

That's a curiosity I hadn't noticed.

Seems like bullets and guns both tend to backfire.

 

 


– March 12, 2012 11:01 AM
Q.

Nats Offense

Boz- What's plan B if the Nats' tenuous offense gets a few injuries such as Morse or Zimmerman getting hurt for an extended period? Unless Werth comes back strong, I don't see anyone else to drive in runs. Anyone in the minors? Can LaRoche carry the load?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Offense looks like the potential problem. It's the reason I keep saying 85-86 wins even though the pitching __especially Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson and Jordan Zimmermann__ looks so good so far.

You look for minor spring training injuries that could get worse or refuse to go away quickly __Morse has already had a cortisone shot, LaRoche twisted his ankle, etc.

All it takes is one March/April injury to a middle-of-the-order bat to put even more pressure on the Nats to bring up Harper in late April or for the May 1 game at home against the D-Backs when they get back from a West Coast road trip.

Sometimes early bad news opens up good news later. If LaRoche hadn't gotten hurt last spring would Morse __who was in a bad early slump__ ever have gotten the opportunity to play without pressure...and hit 31 homers.

The LaRoche injury meant that Morse HAD to play every day for months. There was nobody else. That relaxed him. Odd, the LaRoche and Z'man injuries put more pressure on Werth __which huirt him. But it probably helped Morse because he knew that if he went 1-for-20 he wasn't coming out of the lineup. And he's a worrier.

– March 12, 2012 11:01 AM
Q.

Skins Trade

I spent most of Friday night considering not renewing my season tickets after this trade. I think the Skins gave up way too much to get RGIII. Its like throwing all your money in the pot hoping the one card completes your straight flush, if it doesn't you are left with a lot of nothing. Doesn't this trade prove the mistake of having the coach be in charge of player decisions too. Shanny is much more likely to mortgage the future in an attempt to win now and why should he care about the health of the team in 4 years. Its also a desperate gamble to try to make up for the folly of years of bad decisions and a detour from a slow steady build to the top.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Interesting take. Especially since it's true that Shanahan has a short-term motivation to move up to get RGIII after his mistakes on McNabb, Beck and Grossman. Whatever he really thought, he gave them huge endorsements when such enthusiasm wasn't necessary. Also, this buys Shanny an extra year because everybody will, or already has seen what I saw __rookie QBs taken 1/1 or 1/2 (almost) never win. (Yes, there are BIG exceptions, like Matt Ryan who was picked third overall and started his career 43-19 so far and 11-5 as a rookie.

Okay, here is MY negative case scenario. You're going to hear my positive views more. But the line of reasoning that I'll lay out next makes me nervous.

Here's the unsettling thought. Peyton Manning could have come to the Redskins. They were ready to pay. But he didn't. He didn't even include them in his A List. Why? Maybe he didn't want to play twice a year against his brother, or play in an outdoor stadium or switch conferences or whatever.

But one major factor had to be: They aren't ready to contend in the next couple of years. Or Manning must not have thought they could or he'd at least have taken the Skins more seriously.

If Manning had come, he'd have attracted free agent Reggie Wayne and perhaps others who wanted to play with him. Now, they'll go where he goes. They sure won't sign with an unproven developing QB, no matter how fast he runs or rings up points at Baylor. If Manning had come to D.C., the Skins would still have had all four of the draft picks they swapped for the RGIII pick. But Peyton still wasn't interested. He's a pretty astute NFL observer. So, if the Skins were not "promising" enough for Manning when they HAD those three No. 1 picks and a No. 2 pick this year, how appealing are they now with a rookie QB MINUS all those draft picks and with less chance of attracting key offensive free agents who might have wanted to play with Manning?

Everybody talks about the "cap room" that the Skins have for FAs. But, for a veteran offensive player, there are 15-to-20 teams that are more appealing __competitively__ than the Redskins with a rookie at QB, no matter how "promising" he is. He isn't Peyton Manning. Or Eli. Or any of the Top Dozen established QBs in the league. On reputation and draft status, RGIII isn't even Luck. A free agent wants to know what he's getting into. What do the Skins offer? A 5-11 record. A demanding coach who couldn't get along with Haynesworth or McNabb and prefers lesser-skilled team-first model citizens. A crazy demanding town and an owner that some players think is a nightmare. To be blunt, the main things the Skins have to attract free agents is money (that's good), little competition at key positions and the hope that RGIII lives up to his billing.

In short, it's going to be much, much harder to put a team around Griffin than it would Manning. Partly, it's all the traded draft picks, partly it's the uncertainty about any rookie QB. The idea that free agents will flock to DC to play with RGIII seems unlikely. Unless you overpay them considerably. And this tends to "self-select" exactly the kind of "show-me-the-money" bums that the Skins have signed the last dozen years.

Kinda sorry I thought of that. 

– March 12, 2012 11:10 AM
Q.

Trade for a Center Fielder

A lot of people have been calling for a trade b the Nats to obtain a center fielder. Assuming Harper comes to the Nationals some time this year, and with Morse and Werth on the roster, where would a new center fielder fit into the lineup?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I've searched for every imaginable potential CF. I came up with Lorenzo Cain in Houston only to discover that he just got the starting job there after they traded Melky Cabrera.

Jason Bourgeois isn't good enough, even though he hits RH. Peter Bourjos (Angels) is now a Top 10 CF. It's going to take more than a Lannan to get him; and the Angels don't need starting pitching.

Everybody says, "The Nats will trade for CF before Opening Day." Yeah, who? Good luck. Seriously. If Mike Rizzo can pull this off, congrats. Marlon Byrd?

You'll see Ankiel in CF with Werth moving there when a lefty starts and Mark DeRosa playing RF on those days. That is, until/unless Harper arrives. Then we hold our breath and see how well Werth can play CF and if he can stay healthy covering all that ground every day.

CF may only bed one piece of the puzzle, but it is a BIG piece. And it's a logical reason that so many people think the Nats are still a year away from being a serious contender, as opposed to a team that will still have hot-streak hopes in September. Hey, that later option isn't so bad!

Nice to see Gio Gonzalez looking so good. As I've said, because he was with the A's, only the baseball nuts knew how good he was. He's not Clayton Kershaw, but he's really eye-popping; with slightly better control (and run support) his best years are probably ahead of him. Which is saying a lot after 15-9 and 16-12.  

– March 12, 2012 11:20 AM
Q.

Nats and Desi

So what's up with Desi changing his swing over the offseason? Is Davey going to fix that (and is how frustrated are he and Eck with Desi)? We can't wait 2 months for him to become our leadoff. We need him to do it day 1.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Yes, I bet they were surprised and disappointed to see that he'd messed with what Davey was working with him on __and succeeding__ last winter.

The Nats middle infield may be solidified for many years by June if Desmond hits well and con tinues to improve his fielding (errors) just a little.

But if he doesn't, it opens what will be a necessary and interersting debate. If this doesn't interest you, please skip it.

First, could Espinosa really play shortstop at an MLB level? Here are Esp and Des minor league numbers.

Espinosa: 259 games at SS, 44 errors, .964 fielding percentage and 4.39 chances/game.

Desmond: 630 games at SS, 189 errors, .936 fielding percentage and 4.40 chances/game (range).

In minors, same range, Espinosa made 44% less errors. Everybody makes less errors in majors. Desmond's MLB % is .957, up 21 points. Espinosa might be in the .980's __a league-leader level some years.

Most think Desmond has better range, turns DP better because of experience while Espinosa has softer hands and an even stronger arm, though both have guns. The "highest ceiling" middle infield defensively, for range/athleticism, is Desmond and Espinosa. Never heard anybody say any different.

But Anthony Rendon, who has three doubles so far down in Florida, is one of the better high-average hitting infield prospect in a decade, supposedly, and an excellent glove at 3rd. So, even though he's nowhere near as fast as Desmond and Espinosa, could he play good enough 2nd? If he hits, someday we may get an answer because Hiters Always Play (somewhere).

Steve Lombardozzi is another great "problem." He made two errors in 129 games at 2nd in the minors last year on below-MLB quality fields(.997). He's always had fine hands, but that's just stupidly good. In 447 g in minors: .298/.369/.411 __same at every level. Hit .309/.360/430 at AA/AAA last year w 30 steals. Now 15 pounds bigger.

I have no idea how it will end up, or should end up, in a couple of years. Let 'em all 'play ball' and decide it themselves. All appear to be "plus" attitude, too. Desmond: accountable, vocal leader, plays hurt, helps a clubhouse. That buys him a lot of time to pan out as a hitter.

One other important point to be fair to Desmond. His career stat profile is almost identical to Orlando Cabrera. And I think it's a sensible analogy.Cabrera has never made an All-Star team and been traded so often that he's played for nine teams. But that is because somebody always WANTS him. Cabrera has 2,055 career hits, a couple of Gold Gloves and played on a World Series winner (Red Sox).  As a hitter: career .272/.317/.390. With only slight (and normal) improvement, that is Desmond who's now .262/.304/.387 career.

There's always a place for a Greg Gagne or Billy Spiers. And if Desmond's hitting actually gets to his 2nd-half level of '11, he's better than that.

 

 

 

– March 12, 2012 11:34 AM
Q.

3 First Round Picks

Does the NFL, like the MLB, value draft picks too highly? Yes, Washington gave up a lot. But it seems most pundits who declared the Rams the winner of the RG3 trade operate under the assumption that 1st rounders will become superstars and later-round picks will not.

A.
Thomas Boswell :

Few things are studied more than the value of No. 1 draft picks. They matter so much because that's where most of the franchise-changing players are found. Yes, there are plenty of low-round stars. But that's a crap shoot. A first-round pick has a real sensible chance to be a star.

Also, under the new NFL CBA, rookies have less leverage in contracts, so they are cheaper and thus more valuable. Adding to the "they gave up a lot" argument.

– March 12, 2012 11:36 AM
Q.

Rory KIng

Boz, With Mickelson over 40 and Tiger breaking down how big a deal is it for the PGA tour that Rory McIlroy has come along as he has in the past year?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

It's huge. The crowds at Congressional, which really loved him and let him know it, had an impact on his decision to play more in the U.S. than he'd previously anticipated. So, some folks on this chat who were out there roaring for "RORY" last June may have helped bend the shape of U.S. goal history a bit.

Phil still has a ton of game, is having a fine season and will be a force at the Masters.

But Tiger's injury has really bad news, imo. Every time Tiger has shown significant pain __in his face, by limping, by favoring a leg or certainly by withdrawing from an event (especially with only seven holes left to play)__ he has really been hurt. And usually injured __like the four-month layoff after the Masters last year that cost him a chance to play in the U.S. and British Opens.

Everybody knows he worshipped his Special Forces father and fanticized about being a SEAL. So ask yourself, this guy played 90 holes to win the U.s. Open on a broken leg. Do you think what he has now is just a minor ache or do you think his Achilles Heel hurts like hell and he quit because he is scared to death of how badly he might hurt it?

I'd say it's less than 50-50 he plays in the Masters and less than 10% that he plays well enough with that heel to contend. The best hope: He finally quit this time BEFORE he really hurt himself. Lets hope so. But that's not his pattern. And his whole left leg __central to golf__ is a mess.  

– March 12, 2012 11:43 AM
Q.

Sec 114, Row E

Desi's new swing: is he trying to get more contact and be a better leadoff hitter? Or is it ego-based and he's trying to hit more home runs?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

It is conscientiousness run amok.

– March 12, 2012 11:45 AM
Q.

Lombardozzi on the Bench?

What happend to "He needs to play every day"? It seems like Lombo is considered almost a lock to be the bench Middle Infielder. He didn't hit in September playing that role. What makes anyone think he can hit as a backup now? Sec314
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The problem, if their is one, is that everybody assumes he has a future (somewhere) as an everyday player. You don't want to mess up his development.

Still remember what a fine clutch Series his dad, Steve, Sr., had for the Twins in '87. Same type of player. Had a homer in Game One, also a thre-hit game and finally a clutch RBI in Game Seven. Hit over .400.

With DeRosa available, too, can Lombo get enough at bats as a utility man to continue his proper development? Tough one. 

– March 12, 2012 11:48 AM
Q.

Nats vs. 'Skins

This isn't Boston. When your flagship radio station rips Nats fans and covers football for 7 straight hours in March, you know there is a large, football shaped object to overcome to get coverage.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I think they'll probably take note of the World Series 'round about '15 or '16. These things take time. Who knows, maybe RGIII, Ovechkin (signs of life in Caps land!), Wall and Strasburg-Harper-Gio-Zim-Zim are all in the post-season by '15. The pendulum always swings. (But, God, it can take a looooong time.)

– March 12, 2012 11:52 AM
Q.

RG3

This strikes me as a typical Dan Snyder panic move. Manning has no interest. Shanahan is 11-21. FedEx field is a tough sell,even with 10,000 seats removed for "party decks." Nats looking good and getting positive local and national press. Possible synergy with a newish creative owner for Wizards/Caps. My question is, if this is such a good move, why didn't the Skins try to make it before Manning and the Colts parted ways. Maybe the Colts would have taken this offer for the number 1 pick, and kept Manning. That sort of attempt would indicate planning. Not this. I think we're going to get a first hand look at the personell skills that got Shanny fired in Denver.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Good points. This IS a typical Dan Snyder move. For all the reasons you mentioned. That doesn't mean it won't work. Pay Any Price For The Glamor Star Of The Moment isn't always dumb.

Though the teams that gave up a total of 26 players-plus-picks for Ollie Matson, Werschel Walker and Rocky Williams all regretted it.

Almost all teams end up saying that the plan they finally followed was "Plan A all along." I think Manning was Plan A. It didn't happen. I think RGIII was Plan B. But it's one hell of a fascinating Plan B. It's done. Give it a chance. He certainly seems like one admirable young man. 

 

 

– March 12, 2012 11:57 AM
Q.

"Allen not worried by loss of picks"

Huh? What am I missing here?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Like father like son!!!

I think the Post ran that same headline 175 times in the '70's.

– March 12, 2012 11:58 AM
Q.

Luck vs Griffin

Isn't the bigger story that the Redskins gave up so much for someone who isn't even the best player at his position in the draft?!?!?!
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Point taken.

What do Aaron Rodgers, Phil Rivers, Drew Brees and Donovan McNabb have in common?

Like RGIII, they were all the second quarterback taken in their draft class.

But, in the last 30 years, that's pretty much the whole list of Great 2nd QBs Picked. (Others include Flacco, Sanchez.)

– March 12, 2012 12:02 PM
Q.

How long does Shanahan get to prove he's right?

Cam Newton won 6 games last year. That was a 4-game improvement over 2010. If RG III can do the same and the Redskins go 9-7, they may still be on the outside of the playoffs. And Shanahan's record in Washington will be 20-28. And the team will not have a first round pick for two more years. Is that success?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I realize that everyone, perhaps including me, will go crazy evaluating RGIII next year. But history says it is almost meaningless __especially in W-L terms.

But Year Two as a starter almost always tells you the truth.

– March 12, 2012 12:03 PM
Q.

Lost Picks

So how do the Skins mitigate the loss of their first round picks the next two years? They don't have much to trade and have wholes to fill.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

They have the cap room to offer really obscene free agent contracts to players who shouldn't want to go to a 5-11 team with a rookie QB __but can probably be "induced to do so."

The verdict on where free agents will sign starts arriving TOMORROW.

– March 12, 2012 12:05 PM
Q.

Manning

So let's get this straight, the Redskins aren't even on Peyton Manning's list of teams to visit because they're so horrible/inept but giving up 4 draft picks to draft Griffin is somehow the way to go for a team with so little talent?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Gosh, what a negative interpretation.

However, you said it a whole lot faster than I did in an earlier answer. (I hate when that happens.)

– March 12, 2012 12:06 PM
Q.

Time to axe Grunfeld

When are you guys going to stop avoiding the subject and publicly call for Grunfeld to be fired? The latest reports have both Blatche and McGee being dangled as trade bait. Recall that last season, Grunfeld gave Blatche a huge $35 mil contract extension even when his contract was not up, and both players were drafted by Grunfeld. Now, both are on the outs. Grunfeld is good at spending and wasting the owners money. He is in charge of dismantling a team that he built. The list of coaching, FA, draft, and re-sign busts are long, and they include Arenas (2 contracts totalling $165 mil), Jamison, Blatche, McGee, Rubio pick for Miller and Foye, $40 mil to Etan Thomas, Opech, Juan Carlos Navarro, Vessely who can't shoot, Dom McGuire, Caron and Haywood for nothing, 3 consecutive lottery seasons with a 4th coming, etc. The games are now unwatchable. They are now resorting to hot dog, soda, popcorn, and pretzel buffets to get fans interested. Don't give Grunfeld another chance at the lottery and free agency.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

"When are you guys..."

Clearly, you must not read my chats!

When a franchise assembles a very bad team that has an epically bad locker room character for years, who is responsible for that?

Oh, that's right. It's Gilbert Arenas fault, plus bad luck. Okay, free passes all around.

– March 12, 2012 12:10 PM
Q.

Expectations

We've seen many high draft picks get crushed under the weight of very high expectations; can this kid Griffin handle it? We know the talent is there but what's between his ears?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

There appears to be about 789,532 pounds of really GREAT stuff between his ears. And in his heart, too.

As I pointed out in m y column, RGIII's ONLY job is to be the best quarterback he can be. He didn't make the trade. He didn't swap all those picks for himself. The Redskins did it. If he is "only" a good QB, then he should get full credit: "Hey, this guy became a good NFL quarterback. Nice work." If that means it's a bad TRADE, that's on the people who made the trade.

This is different than free agency. A player like Jayson Werth didn't MAKE the Nats give him $126-million. Ultimately, it's on M ike Riozzo. But Werth DID negotiated for it. He hired Scott Boras to get the most $ he could.  So, Werth is in the responsibility pitcure. At some level, he accepts responsibility to trying to get and then signing a $126-million deal.

RGIII didn't do ANYTHING. He didn't negotiate. He didn't represent himself as being "worth" seven-jillion high draft picks.

So, imo, just let him play. Believe me, I'll stick to my guns on this.  

– March 12, 2012 12:16 PM
Q.

Gio and Sabermetrics

Have you seen that curve? WHIP, WAR, Who Cares!
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Yes, I saw it from behind a fece just eight feet behind Gio in a side session in Fla. It's amazing.

Stats and bar-arguments can be fun. But they're nowhere close to the thrill of the sights you see in sports that make you jump out of your seat or scream. 

I watched the tape of Gio's last game in Oakland last year __11 strikeouts. In Strasburg, J Zim and GG you have three of the best breaking balls you'll ever see on one staff. Palmer-McNally-Cuellar-Dotson and Flanagan-McGregor-Martinez-Boddicker  were excellent staffs. But they didn't have the stuff of this Nats staff. But can the Nats turn it into production? To a degree, GG already has and Jackson has started in two World Series. But they have to prove how good they are. Being together should help.

– March 12, 2012 12:22 PM
Q.

Tiger's Leg

Tom, With all the news of the Redskins trade, I hope you'll take a Tiger question: How many years does he have before his legs completely fail him? I think he has three years left. He has a way of downplaying the injury and then being in a boot for two majors. Do achilles ever heal well to allow an athlete to perform at a high level?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Looks like he's got five years or less. He might win a Miracle Major, like Jack's at 46. Tiger is so fit that I thought he had 6-8-even-10 more years, just as Phil still looks fully competitive at 41. But yesterday was very vivid. That told a story. It's not the last time he'll limp off a course.

Nicklaus' back gave him recurring problems in his 40's adn was one reason he only had one major after 40. If you hit a million golf balls for 30 years __10 to 40__ something wears out. Always.

– March 12, 2012 12:27 PM
Q.

Nats Pitching

I am GIDDY at the thought of our Pitching staff both starters and pen. Do we have a Top 5 staff? Plus I love Davey tweaking the Phillies with his Top 3 comparison.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

A top-five staff?

Dude, the Nationals had the SEVENTH best ERA in baseball LAST year!

Now they have added Gonzalez and Jackson, plus Strasburg for 26 starts (not 5) and Wang (maybe) for 32 starts, not 10. 

And they didn't lose anybody. They can't even find a place for Lannan and Detwiler, who's really come on since last August, can't get out of the long-man job. He's waiting his turn like all those O's pitchers from the good days in the '60's to early-'80's. 

Davey enjoys tweaking the Phils. He used to do that with Whitey Herzog and the Cards. We'll see how it works. I'm reserving judgment. But it's always been his style: You can't beat 'em until you're willing to look 'em straight in the eye.

– March 12, 2012 12:32 PM
Q.

RG3!!

How can you not be excited about this one despite what the Redskins have given up? Griffin is an amazing, charismatic, intelligent young man; his set of skills both on and off the field make him worth the gamble. Enough with washed-up QBs, or as Mike Wise put it, "another town's star." This young man will not only revamp the franchise and give this devoted fan base something to be excited about, it will make the Redskins relevant again. I'm a Packers fan who's lived in the area for almost 3 years now and I couldn't be more excited about what this means for the team and its fans!
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I'm excited. And that's exactly how I feel most of the time.

Until a lifelong of watching sports for a living reminds me that it's wise to look at all sides.

But YOU don't HAVE to look at all sides! Good Lord, if you're enjoying it, then just GO with it.

When the Caps got Ovechkin, you don't say, "Oh, he'll probably never win back-to-back MVPs." You say, "He MIGHT ACTUALLY win back-to-bnack MVPs."

When the Nats get Strasburg and harper, you don't say, "Oh, neither of THEM will ever be MVP or Cy Young." Until proven otherwise, you say, "THose are the type of players who really MIGHT do those things."

Finally, D.C. is getting lucky again. There are several athletes in town now on whom the ceiling is so high that it hurts your neck when you look up.

No matter how it all turns out, THAT is very different.

– March 12, 2012 12:36 PM
Q.

Look at me, I can be centerfield

Why isn't Bryce Harper considered to be a CF candidate? He has the athletic tools to play the position. I understand that as he ages, he might outgrow CF. But why not wait until then to move him to a corner outfield spot?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

He was a catcher two years ago. He may grow into CF.

But if he ends up 6-foot-5, 250 pounds __look at his 6-6 older brother__ he may be too big for CF. So, put him in RF first. Then adjust.

– March 12, 2012 12:38 PM
Q.

What others are saying about RGIII

On RGIII. The best line I heard was from a NFL writer who said basically said "the teams who have a great QB already are saying Skins paid too much and the teams with mediocre QBs are envious of the Skins".
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Check.

– March 12, 2012 12:38 PM
Q.

Caps

Just when they were breaking our hearts and all the writers had them out of the playoffs, the Caps win on the ROAD no less.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

(What did I tell ya last week!)

Never be in a hurry to bury or break up teams with real talent.

– March 12, 2012 12:40 PM
Q.

NIT and the Terps

Was something political with the Terps not getting a NIT bid? Not a great season but definitely a NIT capable team.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

WHAT???????

If true, "they was robbed."

– March 12, 2012 12:40 PM
Q.

Spring Training Bound

I'm heading down to Florida next week for some Nats spring training games. What kinds of fan activities are available besides just showing up and watching the game? How early can you get to the park? What kind of access to players is common? Any suggestions to add to the fun of a day at the ballpark?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Come a couple of hours early. Ask around to find out if, on future days, there might be workouts __open to the public__ when the team in on the road. Many times at least half the best players and pitchers stay in Viera to "get their work in." That's very relaxed. You may get a chance to chat, get autographs. I can't promise. But it always seems to me that the best time for a fan to interact with players is __BY FAR__ in spring training. 

If you can, stay in Cocoa Beach or Melbourne Beach __25-to-30 minutes away__ and get some ocean vacation as part of the trip, too.

– March 12, 2012 12:43 PM
Q.

Young Guns

Steve Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Robert Griffin III. Our cup runneth over. Is Washington a great sports town or what? As a baseball fan I was enjoying thinking about the Nats being the only major league show in town for a while, but as a lifelong 'skins fan now I can' t wait for the preseason opener. I'm writing my check for my season tickets today before the feeling wears off. I don't even need a sip of Kool-Ade. So what if we overpaid. This was a Jayson Werth moment. They did what they had to do to get back into the game. Unlike Werth, however, the new guy is the new face of the franchise, and maybe of Washington sports. I guess I don't have a question, I'm just loving it.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Amen.

Too many barren years (decades) in this burg. Time for some fun.

– March 12, 2012 12:45 PM
Q.

Peter King

Did you see Peter King's comments that when he interviewed for the Redskins beat he was told by Ben Bradlee that it was taken more seriously than the Supreme Court? Probably not much of an overstatement and fun inside baseball look at the biz.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Hadn't seen that. Thanks.

 

– March 12, 2012 12:49 PM
Q.

No Caps questions!?

No one wants to ask you about the Caps! We've got three straight and don't seem to be missing Mike Green during his suspension. Is this confirmation that he hasn't been too valuable since his return from injury? And with him tending to fall off during the playoffs, what do you think the rest of his season looks like?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I'm surprised, too. Several times this year it's felt like the Caps have "turned the season around." Of course, it really feels that way now.

BUT the next fibe games, starting tomorrow night, all on the road, are the key to whether they win the Division. If they do, then they probably win a round in the playoffs, too, and the whole tone of the season changes.

FWIW, within the Caps, they actually think they match up well against the Rangers in a 1-vs-8 first-rder.

That's it for today. There aren't many Robert Griffin III Mondays. Lotta fun. Thanks everybody.

 

– March 12, 2012 12:53 PM
Q.

RG III

Not a question, but an opinion. I think the trade that allows Washington to select Griffin or Luck is the most brilliant move they have made in years, and I don't think it was a move that was forced on Shanahan by Snyder, as some of your readers suggest. I have been a fan for over 50 years (showing my age) through good times and bad and I believe that sometimes you have to roll the dice if you want a chance to win. Some of your negative readers should find some other team to support. What were the alternatives if they didn't go for one of these guys, Grossman and Beck reprise?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The last word.

– March 12, 2012 12:55 PM
Q.

 

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