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December 5, 2011

11:02
A.M.

Ask Boswell about the Redskins, Capitals and all Washington sports

Total Responses: 30

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.

Redkins rebuilding year

Coming in the season, looking at all the off season moves of going much younger and therefore inexperienced. I felt the redskins were basically rebuilding. Isnt this what we are doing essentially though Shanahan wont admit to it?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Yes, that is what WE thought they were doing.

But does Shanahan, or anybody else, ever want to say the word "rebuilding" to Dan Snyder?

The Redskins live in two universes at once __the real one; and the one that they sell to their fans AND that I think the team's coaches and GMs feel that they HAVE to sell to Snyder. Only Gibbs II was immune. And that's probably why they (at least) got to the playoffs twice in four years with him. And only once in the last 19 years with any other Redskins coach.

– December 05, 2011 11:02 AM
Q.

Orakpo

Is he really 6-4? He's listed as the same height as Kerrigan, but I saw a picture of them standing next to each other and Kerrigan was at least 2 inches taller.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Looks like watching Orapko and Kerrigan __and Helu on offense__ is pretty much the best reason left to watch the Redskins. I get the impression Kerrigan might be a little taller but haven't noticed them side-by-side. Kerrigan had six tackles, Orakpo four on Sunday and both had a pass defended.

Let me use this as a pretext to go to another subject. Little noticed is that the Skins held the Jets to 266 yards of offense and 25 of that was on the final Greene TD when there might have been a little lost of interest.

London Fletcher had 17 tackles, nine unassisted. Yes, he is supposed to make tackles at ILB. But Perry Riley, who played well at the other ILB, had eight tackles, three unassisted. He looked about as down after the game as I can remember __he's very resilient emotionally. "It does wear on you," he said of the loses year after year. The last three years __4-12, 6-10 and 4-8 have just be a waste of wonderful performances by a 36-year-old who seems to be as good in his 14th seasons as he was on a Rams Super Bowl winner. He should have spent these years with a contender, not the Zorn-Cerrato disaster and now the s-l-o-w rebuild and the young knuckleheads.

Talk about a player who will be missed when he finally is gone. To me, he's the No. 1 reason the defense hass eldom shown much sign of quitting in recent years. Yes, the Eagles on Monday night last year was an exception.  But Fletcher just won't tolerate it. He's a wonderful influence of Orakpo, Kerrigan and Perry. They couldn't be much luckier in a mentor.

– December 05, 2011 11:02 AM
Q.

Nats CF

Why are you so high on BJ Upton when he has only had a .240 average and .320 OBP over the past three years?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

It'll interest you more, I suspect, if I mention that, after talking with Mike Rizzo at the Caps game on Saturday, I doubt the Nats will be trading for Upton. He's a free agent after '12, so the Nats wouldn't give up a significant piece of the current big-league-club puzzle. They'd probably be willing to pay him $5-to-$6M. Money not a problem. But the players the Rays would want in return would probably be prohibative. So, I got the feeling that, right now, BJ isn't one of the top two players on Rizzo's CF trade list. And forget Coco Crisp, too.

Who IS on the list? They tried to trade for Denard Span in mid-season. What's interesting is that if they aren't dead set on Upton __and they aren't__ then they are aiming to make a CF trade for a less high-profile player. Which means they have a much better chance of actually getting it done.

– December 05, 2011 11:02 AM
Q.

Can't Boise State sue somebody?

I mean, they lost one game by one point to a solid TCU team. Earlier in the year, they went to Atlanta and throttled the SEC runners-up Georgia. And not only they get booted from the BCS, they get put in a pre-Christmas game against losers of 4 straight Arizona State. Ouch.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The BCS gets what it probably deserves __an LSU-Alabama rematch. Maybe they can have a 3-0 championship game this time with one FG in OT.

The last one (6-3) was tolerable because I watched it on tape with 30-second jumps between plays.  And the defenses really were ferocious in an age of awful tackling in college football. But I'm not even sure I'll watch the rematch after I tape it. Maybe. 

Yes, I sympathize with Boise State and, like almost everybody, have rooted for them to upset the big boys. I'd missed that they fell all the way to pre-Xmas against a LLLL losing streak team. Nice system we've got here.

– December 05, 2011 11:02 AM
Q.

Peyton Manning and the Redskins?

ESPN has been speculating that Peyton Manning could possibly end up with the Redskins, if traded. Mel Kiper believes that Peyton Manning would put us in the playoffs, but all I have been reading all year is how many holes we have. Do you think Peyton Manning could fix the Redskins? What would the Redskins have to give up to get him, and why wouldn't we just trade up for Andrew Luck (who is not in his mid 30's) instead?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

What is this? Fantasy football?

Why on earth would Peyton Manning want to play for the Redskins? And why would you want to acquire a QB who has no reason to want to play for you? If I were Manning, after the career he's had, I'd retired before I'd play for the current Skins circus.

BESIDES the Redskins need to rebuild, they don't need to cling to a vet QB for a year or two. They need to draft The Right One and develop him.

I've always wondered: Can anyone stop Peyton Manning?

I'm pretty sure the Redskins could. If he played FOR them.

– December 05, 2011 11:03 AM
Q.

Woodbridge

Do you think GB will break NE's 18-1 record?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

No.

The Packers are very, very good. They aren't perfect.

Just glad the Giants didn't have the pleasure of b eating them.

Oh, how much did you love the way the Cowboys butchered the final 23 seconds of regulation against the Cards!? They have two timeouts left but don't use them to get closer than a 49-yeard field goal! Why? Because they are SCARED that they will get a penalty or go backwards! 

Then, they call a timeout that ices their own kicker. Bailey made the 49-yarder (which would have won the game) just after the TO was called. Then he comes up short the second time and they lose in OT.

So, the NFL world wasn't all bad for Skins fans on Sunday.

 

– December 05, 2011 11:03 AM
Q.

Hot stove fun

Hi Tom, Who cares about the redskins and caps. I'm already looking forward to spring training. I have a funny feeling the Nats end up with CJ Wilson and maybe Fielder. Buerhle and Oswalt are gonna cost too much for what you get in return. Also, we need more than a lead off hitter. There is no one to fear in the line up last year. Fielder would definitely fix that. Only problem would be Morse. He's better at first than in left. What are your thoughts as the fun of the hot stove season starts up? Nats fan in P'burgh
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Nats certainly like Buerhle and visited him with a Boras-like "package" on why he should become a Nat. Their stat folks showed that pitching in the N.L. (with no DH) in Nats Park (more pitcher freindly than the White Sox park) and with the defensive range of the Nats that Buerhle's ERA last year would have been 3.01 if he'd been in Washington.

(I hope they didn't include what his W-L record might have been if he'd gotten the same awful run support as Lannan and Livan. Marquis got all the runs __such as they were.)

So you can expect the Nats to make a better offer to Buerhle than they did to Jorge De La Rosa last year __and that was in the 3-yr/$33M range. The Nats assume they will be in the final 3-or-4 teams that Buerhle considers. Length of contract, not dollars-per-year, is likely to be the crux of it __and I agree. Three years makes sense. I don't think four years works nearly as well. The stat "comparables to Buerhle at the same age are a scary fast-aging group. I think Buerhle has more good years in him. But don't go crazy to get him.

Everybody focuses on a few glamor free agents. There are a ton of 'em out there. For example, who's the current 37-year-old free agent righthander that had a 3.01 ERA in 202 innings over 32 starts last year in the N.L.?

Hiroki Kuroda.

The Nats need a pitcher like Buerhle fotr three years or an older pitcher for 1 or 2 years.

I just don't see any signs that the Nats are seriously interested in Fielder (or Pujols). BUT let me add that Rizzo and the Nats are totally aware that the Yankees and Red Sox play in a completely different financial league. So, if you are after a player that interests them, you have to keep it a state secret. Rizzo is fairly open, in general terms, about what the Nats need __excpet when it comes to head-to-head competition of major FA with NYY or Boston. And it was Boston that thge Nats outbid to get Werth. Neither the Yanks or Red Sox is in the Fielder/Pujols picture.

HOWEVER, there is one new factor. The Marlins just signed Jose Reyes for $106M and are talking about Pujols, though few think they'd get both. But if the Marlins are that aggressive in their new park, does that change the way the Nats think about Fielder?

I really doubt it. As Davey Johnson said last week, it just doesn't seem like a fit when you have LaRoche at 1st base for '12 (and '13 with a team option if you want him) and Morse's best position (by far, imo) is 1st base. Morse is low cost with lets you spend money elsewhere. 

The current group-think in MLB seems to be working against CJ Wilson who came up small in the post-season/Series. If he comes down enough, maybe he'd be a fdit for the Nats but, again, a lot of things would have to align. Very doubtful. Oswalt would interest the Nats on a one or two-year deal. But his health means you don't offer him as many years as Buerhle. And, great a competitior as Roy is, his fastball doesn't look quite the same anymore and that sets up everything else. 

 

 

– December 05, 2011 11:03 AM
Q.

Trading for Andrew McCutcheon

Rumor last week was that McCutcheon could be had if the Pirates were blown away. Would this be a good time to sell high on Mike Morse? A package of Morse, Peacock, Desmond and Flores would really be a score for the Pirates and would not create many holes for the Nats. Morse had a great year, but he is out of position in LF. Move Espinosa to SS and Lombardozzi to 2B and you have a heck of an IF. If you sign Fielder and Buerhle - WOW! Crazy or a potential plan?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I'm afraid I'd vote for "crazy" on that one!

But your example is proof of all the potential for creative trades that the Nats now have __just like a real MLB baseball team! See, I told you it would be fun, eventually.

I think the Nats may wait a while for the big move in CF. Doubt they'd do a mega-package that would tempt the Pirates. They just scouted the Cuban 5-tool player Cespedes. They have seen him play 19 games and worked him out, too, I believe. But he may get $40-50M to sign and he's never played a pro game in the U.S.! The Nats will not go there.

Why take that kind of risk when Michael Bourne may be on the market for perhaps $60M after next season. Sorry, I haven't checked what year Bourne becomes a FA, but I think it's after '12. 

 

– December 05, 2011 11:09 AM
Q.

Rematch?

Alabama already had a chance against LSU -- at home -- and they lost. Maybe the worst BCS result yet.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

There is no "B," "C" or "S" in KARMA.

– December 05, 2011 11:10 AM
Q.

Weaver on Strategy

I see that O's new GM,Dan Duquette, makes "Weaver on Strategy" required reading. Did you think that book would still have legs almost 30 years after it came out and do you still have your original copy?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Okay, an admission. I don't own a copy. probably because I heard it all, a day at a time, for nine years with him. I don't think that anything Earl believed would work has been outdated at all. He hated the sac bunt long before anybody else. He understood the power of the Big Inning before anybody bothered to figure out that in (roughly) half of all MLB games, one team scores more runs in ONE inning than the other team does in the WHOLE game. Everybody now uses matchups just the way Weaver did; he understood that, in the minors, were he was a mediocre hitter, there were some good pitchers he could hit and some bad ones who owned him. He simply extrapolated his own expeerience __and baseball has come to agree with him (given a large enough data sample).

However, many things have been learned since he retired. But you can bet he'd be one of the best at sifting through all the data and spotting what was i9nsight and what was garbage.

I bet he'd love the new stat for "speed off the bat" of all batted balls. The harder you hit it, the  better. And, eventually, the guy who hits it hardest the most will find the holes. So, that's a good way __in theory__ to find mispriced talent.

Dan is a big numbers guy and smart. Wish him luck.

– December 05, 2011 11:16 AM
Q.

what's in a reputation

Do you believe Shanahan at this point still believes Grossman can run this team? As everyone knows he said he'd stake his reputation on Beck and Grossman. I'll give you a dollar if you can get him to admit his reputation is ruined. Will any reporter ask him what his reputation being ruined means? Retirement? ....probably business as usual?.... His reputation is definitely ruined..I guess we'll see about his integrity and being a man of his word
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Lets not get TOO worked up. Coaches and managers have been known to say things to help a player's confidence that were not precisely what they really believed!

HOWEVER, Shanny probably went a bridge too far in his wordings of his praise for Grossman and Beck. As wse've all said, Grossman isn't just incredibly turnover prone but is also streaky in his ability to throw the ball accurately. He had a half-dozen of the wildest throws __to open receivers__ that you'll see in one game vs the Jets. I watched the tape last night and thought, "Wow, that's off target by 10 feet on a ball that's in the air less than 40 yards."  Also, his one intyerception was meaningless on the last offensive play, BUT he probably deserved to have at least one or two interceptions earlier in the game. There were a lot of dropped INTs in that game, including DeAngelo on a ball he had a chatch to snatch out of Burress' hands.

Hall had a few words for Sanchez, about being "middle of the pack," during the week. Then he went out and backed it up, holding Plaxiuco to three catches for 33 yards. And Hall got NFC defensive player of the week for his big game against Seattle the previous week: seven tackles, seven passes defended and a key late-game INT. I take my shots at MeAngelo, but he's played well back-to-back since getting burned with the game on the line against the Cowboys (for the second time in one season.) 

– December 05, 2011 11:23 AM
Q.

Icing the Kicker

Boz, How clueless is Jason Garrett icing his own kicker? Even Whisenhunt commented on it after the game, when opposing coaches are generally falling all over themselves to praise the opposition.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Whisenhunt looked like the cat with the bird feathers sticking out of its mouth when he said he was glad Dallas iced its own kicker before he would have.

Would he really? If there's a psychological aspect to icing the kicker, then being iced by your own coach ought to carry more weight! Garrett had a semi-excuse about the play clock being down to 6 seconds and he wanted a time out so the whole FG operation would be clean. What went unsiad was that he was coaching scared because his team couldn't avoid earlier procedure penalties. Why not just say, "I better call time out before my brilliantly-coached guys can totally screw up again."

– December 05, 2011 11:26 AM
Q.

redskins

Given the 4 game suspensions for Davis and Williams, do you think the Redskins will trade one or both in the offseason? They are now both "damaged goods" and would be suspened for a year if they get caught again. Plus the team is not competivie right now and apears to be a couple of years away from being so.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Skins are so invested in the No. 4-overall Williams pick that, even if it were wise, I doubt they could cut ties. Seems to me the Skins have been very protective of Williams the last two years, at least in public. He has costly off-sides penalties and 15-yarders for losing his temper at bad times. He doesn't get criticized for it. 

Here are some Trent quotes from last week at practice, courtesy of Rick Maese. They sound pretty out of touch with reality for someone who had to know what has been swirtling around him for a long time. (Shanahan was asked about suspensions as long ago as the Miami game.)

Williams: "I’m just trying to get better with every game. This season is far better than last season. That’s all I’ll say. I’ve gotten better in every area. Stronger, little quicker. My leadership has stepped up a lot. I feel like a more complete player this year. Last year I was scrambling and trying to find my way."

On two 15-yard penalties: "I’ve got a lot of passion. I feel like I'm out there to be the best and whoever's out there is standing in my way. This is a life-long dream, so I just try to take advantage of every opportunity I get to play. There are a lot of people who aren't as fortunate to be doing what they love to do. I do get a little over competitive at times and do things past the whistle, but I can guarantee you you won't see those any more.

"I feel more comfortable. I feel like it's easier to speak to teammates when you have your stuff together. ... I try to lead by example, and that helps people when they see you going hard and taking nothing off of nobody."

Hmmmmm, there are lots of different way to lead by example.

I suspect, al;though a lot could change this week at Redskins Park, that both will be back next year. Davis will cost less, but he will still be just as talented. Perhaps he'd like to restore himself in the same town where he had his problem.

– December 05, 2011 11:35 AM
Q.

Ring of "Fame"

Is it time for DC to erect a new ring of "fame" -- this one at the Treasury Department -- for Juwan Howard, Gilbert Arenas, Deon Sanders, Albert Haynesworth, Jamoir Jagr, with room for Jason Werth and Alex Ovechkin? Ten more years of watching this level of perfromance from the "Great" 8 at 9 million per is not going to be pretty.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Nice.

But a big "ouch."

What a list.

On Saturday night, my son the huge Caps fan was trying to decide which gear to buy. Backstorm, Brooks Laich or Knuble. Ovechkin didn't make his jersey-list "cut." That's an "ouch," too, because he's exactly their demograhic __20-something and devoted to 'em. 

– December 05, 2011 11:39 AM
Q.

Urban Meyer's press conference

Was any reporter jaded enough to ask Urban Meyer if he was coming back to coaching because he wanted to spend less time with his family? Because less than one year ago, he was so sure he wanted to spend more time with his family.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Brilliant.

Just about everything about Urban Meyer rubs me the wrong way. It's irrational. I won't try to justify it. 

– December 05, 2011 11:41 AM
Q.

DC Baseball

Just a story, but on the bright side, coming back from commercial on last night's nationally televised NFL game, they showed a band playing in the streets of New Orleans and one of the guys was wearing a Nationals hat. Maybe only because it matched his red sweatshirt, but regardless, it's nice to see your city's ball cap out and about. I still remember one day on the metro, maybe midway through the 2005 season, noticing that there were more Nats hats on the train than other teams, and it made me so glad to have baseball here. Two months until pitchers and catchers?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Nice story.

I was e-mailing with an old friend, John Schulian. (He wrote wonderfully for the Post sports section, as well as his columns for the Philly Daily News and Chicago Suns Times before becoming an excellent TV script writer, often with Bochco's biggest hit series). He's lived in LA for many years and was talking with Ned Colletti, the Dodgers GM. Unsolicited, Colletti told Schullian that "the Nats are the team to watch."

That's 3,000 miles from here and out of the blue.

Okay, an Xmas gift plug for two collections of boxing writing published this year (which will be in my stocking this year) __one edited by Schulian and the late George Kimball__ called "At The Fights" and one strictly of John's pieces called "Sometimes They Even Shake Your Hand." Nobody writes sweeter about the sweet science (or almost anything else) than Schulian.

John, an ex-catcher at Utah, once wrote that Billy Martin was "a mouse studying to be a rat." As I remember, John showed up in Billy's office soon after. Luckily for Martin, nothing happened.

– December 05, 2011 11:50 AM
Q.

Third star

Can you explain how the media voted Ovechkin the third star in Thursday's game? Are they really that smitten with him? I saw he had 10 hits. He had several decent ones, but even that number seems inflated. And one shot! I'd have considered either goaltender, particularly Voukon bc they were so out-shot, or Brooks Laich, for the third star.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Come on, you don't really think that Ovechkin is over the hill at 26!? He's in a slump. He'll probably never be MVP-MVP Great Eight again, but he's not going to keep playing at his current level, either. The question is "how far back" can he get toward his MVP form.

The Caps problem right now is obvious __it's a team identity crisis that started just 11 months ago in January '11 when Boudreau and the brass decided the team needed to change its style so it would fare b etter in the playoffs. More defense, more crashing the crease, etc., etc. Why they waited until January I'll never know. That significant transition left them "between identities" in the '11 playoffs, imo. Then, over the summer, they decided that the team needed a tougher more disciplined coaching style to get rid of the lax atmosphere. So, Boudreau, who'd already changed his offensive coaching style, had to try to become a tough guy disciplinarian. Talk about doomed. Now, Dale Hunter, for lots of good reasons, wants them to play more like the best of the low-scoring late-'90's Cap teams. That's a THIRD big change in playing style or coaching style in less than a year. 

Do they have players that fit __or can adapt__ to the current system and the current tough coaching tone? We'll see. Laich said after the second game that it would "take months" to be fully familiar with everything Hunter wants them to do.

How Ovechkin fits into that picture, and how well he plays in a Hunter style game, is one of the biggest questions in the NHL, not just on the Capitals.

– December 05, 2011 11:57 AM
Q.

Jose Reyes

Miami gives Jose Reyes $106 million, but given his injury history, do you think it will end up being a smart move?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Miami has good motives. But Reyes does get hurt. And now Hanley Ramirez must move to third where his excellent bat is not nearly as unique as it was as a SS.

Hypothetically, if the Nats signed a $106M free agent and put him at third base, then had toi move Ryan Zimmerman to 1st base, Z'man's value would go down instantly because almost ALL 1st basemen can hit a ton.

So, the Marlins don't get full value from Reyes because they subtract value from Ramirez w the position switch. And despite some ugly plays due to lapses in concentration, Reyes was still a pretty good defensive SS who could make incredible throws from the hole.

Reyes is a gamble. But a good one for a team moving into a new ballpark. As I've said, that's what most teams do when they get a new park __spend, improve and radically increase their fan base. Or at least give themselves the chance to do it.  A new park only comes once every generation or two.

Irony: the Nats didn't sign such a star when the new park opened. But they lucked into drafting Strasburg and Harper by losing 205 games in tweo years. It sure didn't have to work out that way.  Say thanks once more to Jim Riggleman for improving the Mariners enough as interim manager so that they "lost" the No. 1 overall draft pick __and Strasburg with it__ to the Nats by ONE game.

– December 05, 2011 12:04 PM
Q.

Nats Season Tickets

Boz, why are Nats season tix not as discounted as the Wiz? Is it because of the longer number of home games? - DC in DC

A.
Thomas Boswell :

I think the Nats still do their "Red Carpoet Rewards" program so that all season tickets allow you to get extra tickets at a 2-for-1 rate. IOW, if you get a group of people together and split the tickets __I'm in a friend's group and the tickets are split many ways__ you end up paying 2/3 of the normal season-ticket price. Some saint in your group needs to do a lot of work. But it's a great saving.

If the Wiz are doing a deal better than that, more power to them. I'll try to find out.

– December 05, 2011 12:07 PM
Q.

Nationals Best In D.C.?

With the Redskins spiraling further downward, the carefully-constructed Capitals now seeming dysfunctional, the Wizards in early rebuilding mode, local college hoops and football quite dismal, isn't it possible that at this time next year we'll be saying, "Thank goodness we have our Wild Card Nationals!" Could their future be any brighter?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Enthusiasm is good. But the Caps, for all their recent problems, are much closer to being very good.

Also, if you look at the Nats run differential last year they "should" have been 78-83. That's a good improvement from 69-93. But they need to improve their bench a ton and have a few other things break their way to get into a serious wild card hunt. It's not a given.

Losing Laynce Nix to the Phils subtracts from that bench.  Phils offered two years. Besides the Phils other charms, including their park, Nix knew that the Nats wouldn't do a two-year deal with Harper moving into their OF picture. Nix can platoon in LF for Phils.

The Nats future is bright. It is not incendiary! Lots of things have to work out and, if you look at key players on almost any post-season team, it takes two or three years in the league __not one or two__ to mature. You probably aren't going to see the best of Espinosa and Ramos until '13-'14, n ot '12. You probably aren't going to see the best of Peacock, Detwiler, Milone until '13-'14-'15, not '12 or maybe '13. It takes time. Go look up the progression of the '76 through '83 Orioles __the first team I covered full time.

A few were stars instantly __Eddie Murray in '78 and Ripken in '82. But it was much more typical for core key players to move gradually into the picture and then STAY THERE for a half-dozen yhears. Rick Demsey, Al Bumbry, Rich Dauer, Mike Flanagan, Dennis Martinez, Storm Davis, Scott McGregor and late-blooming Mike Boddicker are all good examples of the "normal" rate of development for good-to-very-good but not HOF-b allot players. And the Orioles started from a base of 88 wins in '76. They didn't rebuild from those 205 loses.

Enjoy. But don't get ahead of yourself.

– December 05, 2011 12:17 PM
Q.

Nats Caps

As a Nats fan I hate to say this, but I think a lot of people wear those hats who aren't Nats fans. I live in Brooklyn, NY and I see a surprising number of people wearing Nats caps. But I think that's because Ice Cube wears one a lot.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Point taken.

– December 05, 2011 12:18 PM
Q.

RE THIRD STAR

What are you talking about? That question was about him being named the third star in Thursdays game, not about his overall play. It also compared his play that game to Voukon and Laich, who contributed more. Nothing about being over the hill or their new system. Did you even read the question?? Way to prove my point that the media has no idea what they're talking about when it comes to Ovechikin and blindly root for him
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I don't always answer the question or intend to. You made your point. If there's nothing much to add, I often turn to the general subject that's been raised. Since your name isn't on the question, I didn't think it would be a problem for you. Sorry if it is. I just used that as a starting point for one of the most debated subjects in the NHL. How good is Ovechkin now? And, under Hunter, how close will he come to his old form?  

– December 05, 2011 12:22 PM
Q.

Prince Fielder

I don't know how serious the Nats are about pursuing Fielder, but how concerned are you about his weight and conditioning?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I knew his father Cecil, who had 51 and 44 homer seasons at 26 and 27. Cecil certainly gained a lot of weight whjich presumably hurt him eventually, but he still had 39 homers and 117 RBI at age 32. Prince will turn 28 next May. So, even if genes are an issue, probably not for years. And Prince Fielder is aware of it, of course. Perhaps that's one reason he's a vegetarian (I believe).

– December 05, 2011 12:31 PM
Q.

Danny Smith

How does he still have a job? I understand we have good kick coverage but it seems like EVERY week there is a new issue on special teams. This week was the short kickoff. It has been like this for years now.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Last time I checked, the Skins had a solid edge on their opponents, head-to-head, in net punting yardage and kickoff returns. I don't think you can blame a coach for Gano kicking the ground before the ball on a crucial kickoff; in golf a "chili-dip."

Banks had a key 31-yard punt return that set up the fourth-quarter FG that put the Skins ahead 16-13 with 7:52 to play. That is special teams, too. If they win...

But, as with the blocked kicks and blocked extra point, the special teams have had ugly moments.   

– December 05, 2011 12:36 PM
Q.

2013 MLB Free Agents

2013 seems to be loaded with great players: Hamels, Cain, Greinke, Haren, Bourn, Hamilton. Do you see the Nats sitting out this offseason to pursue these players next year?

A.
Thomas Boswell :

Not "sitting out." There are a stunning number of useful FA bats-off-the-bench that probably won't be signed quickly. A few of these may have been locked up, put most are still out there: Branyan, Cantu, Hawpe, Hinske, Nady, Overbay, Thome, Burrell, Cuddyer, JDDrew, Vlad G, Ibanez, Conor Jackson, not to mention David Ortiz, Carlos Pena, Fukudome, D Lee and others who will soak up FA doillars and fill needs for other teams. A couple of these may have retired or will only sign for starting jobs, etc. But the poiunt is: look at the number of them? And I didn't give the whole list. Thjey should be able to give Johnson the bench he wants, even without Nix.

BUT the '13 class is part of the reason that Davey said last week that he thinks you should "make sure the cake is completely baked before you put on the icing." That was definitely his meaning.

– December 05, 2011 12:40 PM
Q.

Bad Decisions

Your article was spot on. But the worst bad decisions are being made at the top levels of this organization... Owner then Vice President Football Operations/Head Coach. The owner has replaced himself as VPFO with another inept manager who can not evaluate personnel in Shanahan. Case in point the dreadful QB position and the two players who hold that position. But over the past 9+ years (since 2002 Pepsi Rookie of the Week Award started) the teams with the most players getting the awards are GB-19, Pitt-15, Den-14, Dal 11. None of these teams had a system where the head coach was also the head of player personnel. The exception here is Denver. They have had good decisions on player personnel but not a coach who really knows what to do with them. the other end of the scale where the teams who have 3 or less Rookies of the week? Atl, Mia, Stl, with 3; Az, Bal, Cin & Was 2; Car, Ind, SD with 1; and Jax 0. The exceptions here have to be mainly Ind and Bal who make great mid-level player personnel decisions. So the bottom line here is and I hate to have to say this is Shanahan & Co must go. Shanahan the Player Personnel Director, Shanahan the Head Coach, Shanahan the "star" must go. There really is no way to replace the owner and his decision making but he needs to (hopefully) find a REAL honest to goodness Director of Player Personnel who knows what he is doing and get out of the way.
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Thomas Boswell :

Extreme positions are welcomed here when accompanied by facts! Thanks for the work on that.

To mix metaphors, the jury is still out on this Redskin version of Shanahan, but the clock is ticking.

 

– December 05, 2011 12:43 PM
Q.

The Redskins' Future?

Tom, Let's not over-analyze the Davis and Williams marijuana situation, and let's not over-analyze the continuing turnover debacle or Rex Grossman's ability to be average. That is all past and the season is effectively over. Rather, to what can we look forward? As a fan, I hope you can affirm the following statements, but I'm not so sure. (1) The team is becoming more disciplined and mature under Mike Shannahan, as compared to Zorn, Spurrier, etc. (2) The offense is showing signs of learning the Kyle/Mike passing and run-blocking game. (3) The 3-4 defense will be still stronger next year. (4) The team has some promising young players in ______. (5) The draft offers the ability to instantly fill holes at ________. Or, should I already plan on writing off the 2012 season as well?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Thanks. As a lifelong Washingtonian, I needed that.

I try to see all sides. But yesterday was especially bleak __especially on the improved discipline and maturity front. But, all your points, to varying degrees, hold some water. 

– December 05, 2011 12:46 PM
Q.

"High" draft choice

Tom, your column about the stupidity of Williams and Davis was spot on. But . . . what can the 'Skins do? These are two of the best players the Redskins have, they're on the hook for lots of money with Trent especially, not to mention he was the new regime's first draft choice. They can't just let them go, can they? What a mess. It gets tougher and tougher to be a lifelong 'skins fan.
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Thomas Boswell :

Who thought it could get much tougher for Skins fans?

– December 05, 2011 12:48 PM
Q.

Stupidity or addiction?

I'm concerned about Davis and Williams being written off as idiots for failing three drug tests. I think it's likely they have a marijuana addiction. Just as some people scoff at pot use because they consider it harmless, others seem to scoff at the idea that someone can't help themselves from smoking it. Do you really believe Davis and Williams are that stupid? I've never met them, but I assume you have. Isn't it possible they are addicted? Will the league offer them treatment during their suspension? If not, what do you think they're going to do with all that free time? Yep, smoke dope.

A.
Thomas Boswell :

I made one, but only one reference to this possibility in my column. We don't know all the details yet. But I take this seriously, at all levels, precisely because I have NOT thought "now there are a couple of guys without a clue" when I talked to Williams and Davis.

We live in an era when, since '92, I think all three U.S. Presidents have made public statements about what they did or didn't do when they "were young." Including the famous "didn't inhale" quote. (These are NOT "politcal" comments. These are Presidents from both parties.)

These Redskins are 23 and 25. So, lets not get too preachy. I tried not to. But lets try to help them, as well as discipline them, in any ways that turn out to be appropriate.

One more question, as soon as I find a happy one.

– December 05, 2011 12:54 PM
Q.

congrats to Ron Santo

on making it to the Hall of Fame Too bad he didn't live to see it.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Yes, I just saw that. Great news. Congrats indeed. I saw him play enough to know he was wonderful. And he did it all while being a diabetic.

I guess that will have to serve as "good news" for now.

See you all next week.  

– December 05, 2011 12:56 PM
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