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May 21, 2012

11:05
A.M.

Readers asked Boswell about the Caps devastating Game 7 loss, Bryce Harper's 'Bam Bam' weekend, and anything else in the sports world.

Total Responses: 28

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, the Capitals, the Nationals, the rest of D.C. sports and more.

Past Ask Boswell chats
Q.

Strasburg Shutdown

Boz - What's with all the national press going crazy about a prospective August shutdown for Stras? Have you ever seen this much nonsense? Lost in all of the bloviating is the fact that he's only pitched a career maximum of 68 MLB innings (2010). I'm sure his college numbers are higher (but not too much?). While the Verducci Effect may or may not be real, increasing the maximum innings pitched from 68 to 160 seeme reasonable to me. After all, I'm not a GM, and Rizzo has spent his entire life in baseball.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Anybody who says Strasburg should go past 165 or so innings is only proving that they have a lot left to learn about baseball AND about the ethical responsibilities that franchises have to their athletes. When there is an established Best Medical Practice and you have a Strasburg (or anybody), then you follow that practice __because it is best for the team AND the player.

Maybe in 20 years the medical wisdom will change __or not. But it's shameful to abuse pitchers __who are so prone to injury anyway__ when there IS a method for getting Full Recovery for 90 percent of those who have Tommy John surgery. On the Nats staff, Ryan Mattheus and Sean Burnett also had TJ surgery far back in their careers and are back with the stuff they have before the operation. They were treated properly, given sufficient time to heal.

WHAT, Stephen Strasburg doesn't deserve at least as decent honorable treatment as Mattheus and Burnett!??? (Or Jordan Z'mann.)

Take these lemme-stir-the-pot people who babble about "let Strasburg pitch" and put them all in the same room so they have to endure listening to eachother. 

Just YESTERDAY Strasburg had some biceps tightness and came out after 5 IP. This guy produces unique torque, leverage, whatever you want to call it. Try to keep him in one piece until at least his 25th birthday __in summer '13__ when injuries tend to go down.

– May 21, 2012 11:03 AM
Q.

Nats

Boz - Maybe I'm looking for it. But it seems that pitchers are shaking off Flores' first few calls a lot more often than they did with Ramos. Do you think that's happening? If so, would that explain all the starting pitchers giving up more early seemingly all the sudden?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Good question. I love "Catcher's ERA," especially when properly applied. (If a catcher only worked Strasburg's games, he'd have a low Catcher's ERA, so that would be a bad illustration.)

This season, Flores catcher ERA in 18 games, 15 of them starts, is 2.54. Ramos in 24 games, all starts, was 3.11.

In '11, Pudge Rodriguez catcher ERA was 3.36, Flores 3.40 and Ramos 3.73.

So, maybe they should throw what Flores asks for!

But Flores bat, especially a No. 8 hitter who may hit 15-20 homers a year, is a special value. And Ramos threw out 34% last year and had almost as good a Catcher ERA as Pudge, one of the best, and Flores, a good defensive catcher. 

– May 21, 2012 11:06 AM
Q.

Nats over the next month

What can we expect from the next month? .500 or can we Hope for something better? How much is Morse missed?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Morse is missed a ton. It's incredibly hard to beat >.500 teams, especially on the road, when you spot them two of your 3-4-5 hitters in Morse and Werth, as well as a power bat in Ramos and Mark DeRosa, who hit about .550 in spring training and is miles better (off the bench) than Nady or Moore.

If the Nats go 13-17, I'd take it right now for 37-34. They'll get better as they get healthier. You can already see that it's likely the 2nd WC team will only need about an 86-76 record. Lotta of teams hanging around .500 at the 1/4 point in the season.

To get to 86-76 from 37-34 would take 49-42 and if everybody gets back as expected, that's plausible even w Strasburg shut down around Labor Day.

If Nats go 15-15 for 39-32 against teams this tough, then I think they'll make the playoffs __possibly easily. Atlanta (6 games) is totally legit.  You'll probably catch the Yanks and Red Sox as they get healthier or hotter.

Of course the Nats want to play >.500 in this stretch and their pitching may make it possible, especially since they've hit 26 homers in their last 18 games and are finally scoring better __around league average in that period.

You just want them to stay resilient, grasp that almost all these teams are realistic post-season possibilities and try not to do worse than 12-18 (36-35). They'll aim high. But fans should be more realistic. Tough schedule and a very beat up offense is not a good combo. IF Morse gets back June 1 and IF he starts hitting after he gets back, that's a huge help. Harper, Z'man, LaRoche and Morse is a decent middle-of-theorder. Though it looks a lot better with Werth, too. 

– May 21, 2012 11:06 AM
Q.

Espinosa lack of production

While Espinosa's fielding is solid, his lack of production is one of the many reasons the team's offense has been so poor. At what point, does Davey give Lombardozzi more at bats at the expense of Espinosa?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Davey is giving Lombardozzi (.333 and .400 OBP) a little more time starting.

Espinosa, a major talent, is probably already out of his slump. His last 16 games he's .263/.323/.491.

You can start Lombo twice a week __sometimes in LF, at 2nd or even move Espinosa to SS for a day and play Lombo at 2nd.  Just so he gets >300 plate appearances. 1) You don't give up __at all__ on a player with a ceiling as high as Espinosa. 2) You don't stunt the development of a rookie like Lombo who looks like a starter (for somebody) and leadoff man for years by not giving him enoughplaying time. You have to balance it.

If Lombo does play a bit more and Espinosa doesn't like sittting on the bench once every 7-to-10 days, then he can cut down his strikeouts and that will solve it because an Espinosa who "only" Ks 120 times a year would be a fixture in almost any team's lineup.

– May 21, 2012 11:06 AM
Q.

worlds are better

Tom, I was watching the Hockey World Championship. Yeah, I am a hockey geek. With Ovechkin and Semin and Malkin rolling through the ice, it was pretty to see. No clutching or grabbing but a free flowing game. No 100 blocked shots per game and no 10 minute cycles. It was actually fun to watch as opposed to the Stanley Cup playoffs which is much like watching grass grow. How can we change our game to emulate the World game?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

After the last "work stoppage" the NHL really wanted to promote a more open higher-scoring game. Teams figured out how to change defensive tactics __you see the dreaded "collapsing" defenses and shot blocking__ and make the NHL game as boring as possible. That's hard to do because the sport is so fast and exciting (especially in person.) But playoff hockey, if you are not passionately interested in one team, is terrible for drawing nin the general sports fan, imo. That's why the NHL just isn't on the same level as the NFL, MLB and NBA (in that order) in broad appeal.

– May 21, 2012 11:06 AM
Q.

Denver or San Francisco for a road trip?

Nats fan living in the west here. I can get to one series this summer -- either Denver or San Francisco. Given the relative strengths of the Nats vs. the Rockies/Giants AND the natures of those two stadiums (stadia?) which offers the best chance for a Nats series win? I recall Livo couldn't pitch in Denver, but how should the current five pitchers do there (vs. San Francisco)?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Go to S.F.

I've never enjoyed baseball in Denver and probably never will. It's a little harder to throw sharp breaking balls at high altitude (supposedly). Strasburg, Gio, Z'mann, Kackson all have exceptional breaking balls. The sinker-slider type does better in Denver. Or fastball-changeup (Ubaldo Jimenez). You want to strike out as many as possible in Denver because once the ball is hit in play there is so much acerage to cover.

Of course, all the games in S.F. will be 2-1 or 3-2!

– May 21, 2012 11:06 AM
Q.

O's and Adam Jones

What are you hearing about Adam Jones' fate? Guessing the plan was that the below .500 O's would trade him at the deadline. Now it looks like they may be in the thick of the race and trading him would REALLY turn players and fans off. I'm resigned to him playing out the year and signing with another team next year...maybe the Nats.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Don't think Jones is a free agent until after the '13 seaason. (Baseball-reference) But he is certainly raising his price by being on a 55-home-run pace so far! At 26-to-30 you expect to see huge years from everyday players. Jones is blooming right on schedule. The O's absolutely have to keep their home grown stars like Jones and Weiters when the time comes.

I'm going to be interested in how Wei-Yin Chen's stamina holds up pitching every fifth day in MLB rather than longer rest in Japan. His fastball is JUST fast enough to contrast with his soft stuff. Where will that 3.35 ERA go in July-August if his fastball is a foot or two shorter? But maybe he'll stay strong. With Hunter, Arrieta and Matusz all with ERA between 4.72 and 5.36, they need Chen and Hammel to hold up because no bullpen can stay as ridiculously effective as the Birds.

Like the Nats at 14-4, the Birds have played as well as they possibly could to get to 27-14 before Sunday. They don't have to keep that up. If they went 60-60 the rest of the season for 87-75,  they'd have a solid chance at the playoffs with the second wildcard team.

Can they go 60-60? The O's have fooled us with several "false" fast starts since '97. But this looks like a better club, even though the MLB-leading HR pace isn't going to continue.

– May 21, 2012 11:18 AM
Q.

Phillies, schmillies: Don't the Braves and Marlins matter more?

I understand the desire to generate a rivalry with the Phillies -- someone has to be your bete noire, I guess -- but aren't they a team in decline? And aren't the Braves and/or the Marlins the Nats' real and more serious rivals for NL East supremacy (and playoff berths) over the coming seasons?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Phils are in decline. Everybody knows it. But Halladay-Lee-Hamels still make them tough. The "old" Utley is gone. I doubt Howard will "be himself" this year after his late start. But if he is, then the Phils will be in ther race this year.

The Braves are the new power in the N.L. East (not yet the Nats). They won 89 last year. They shook off their September collapse. They were young; it happens. In fact, there may be a year soon when the Nats "collapse" and don't get what it looked like they had in their grasp with 10 days left in a season __maybe a wildcard spot or maybe the first year it looks like they have the N.L. East locked up. Usually, some brutal losing going along with the process of getting tough enough for some glorious winning.

I'm still not sold on the Marlins. They look like a .500 team __153-152 run differential. Hanley Ramirez (.232) and Jose Reyes (.247) aren't lighting it up. Is Hanely ever going to be a GREAT player again? Josh Johnson has some fine games but he's at 4.82 ERA after 8 starts and has some ugly ones, too. Long season, maybe I'm wrong about the Fish.

– May 21, 2012 11:25 AM
Q.

Hamilton

Do you the Nats will make a run at Josh Hamilton this offseason?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I wouldn't. He's 31. There are only two "corner" OF spots. Maybe Harper can't play CF everyday or can only do it a few years. You're obligated to Werth for five more years. You can sign a CF if you know he can play CF for the next 5 yrs. But that's not Hamilton.

Also, how many $100-million players can the Nats have?  Wouldn't you like to have some money for a Jordan Z'mann extension or money to sign either Strasburg or Harper past their current "walk" date?

IOW, you can afford a $75M CF. But not a $150M CF who's going to be 32 early never year.

– May 21, 2012 11:29 AM
Q.

center field

Put Strasburg out there on his off days. He's a hitter. On stras's start days: Gio to CF. Problem solved. Anything else I can help with?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I think you've fixed it!

Strasburg worked on his hitting in the off-season "with a buddy back home." LaRoche says, "He has a good approach." Meaning that he's hit three ballls off the wall in rightcenter field by waiting on fastball and he "turned" on a curve yesterday. No, 6-for-16 won't continue, but he could be "a good hitting pither." Davey said, "He hits about 10 out (of the park) in every BP."

– May 21, 2012 11:32 AM
Q.

Stras?

Is Stras ever tempted to put duck tape over Davey's mouth? First the Hot Stuff, now the tired arm? And of course the tired arm is getting all the National Writers beating the drum to shut him down to save him for the playoffs. (Can we actually get to the Playoffs before we discuss this)
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I chatted w Strasburg alone yesterday and I got the impression that the only thing about the Hot Stuff business that annoyed him was the idea that he was using it as an excuse. I said something about Davey not looking very happy that day about "young player mistakes" __Harper made a bad OF read that day that Johnson mentioned, too__ and Strasburg just laughed and nodded. Believe me, it won't happen again.

– May 21, 2012 11:35 AM
Q.

"Winning Epidemic" spreading in DC area?

Orioles, Ravens, Nationals, Capitals, Georgetown bball. All these teams are in the DC Metro Market and all are suddenly relevant in their respective sport (Ravens have been there for a while now). My question is: when a sports market has multiple teams that are winning, does this winning vibe spread to the other teams in the area? Could a few good seasons by the Nats and Caps somehow have a positive impact on the Skins and Wizards? Is there any proof to support the "winning is contagious, cross-sports" theory?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I'd say, "Yes."

But I've never seen any research on it.

Of course it felt like the whole Boston area got the Victory Bug when the Red Sox, Pats, Celts and Bruins all won titles.

I'm concerned about the Caps. Semin's going. Hunter's gone. What Ovechkin's role? Who wants to come in and try to coach a defensive style with a roster that is still at least half-built on a different model. GMGM really needs to come up with a strong hire, especially if you don't trade Ovechkin.

Did I say, "If you don't trade Ovechkin." With his huge contracts and his ability to fill seats, I don't see how you can deal him now. But it IS thinkable. And I know it  crossed the Casps minds __as a distant possibility__ several months ago. How do they feel now after going two seven-game series with Ovie, to a degree, buying in and certainly not complaining in public?

– May 21, 2012 11:41 AM
Q.

2005 Redoux?

I remember around 4th of July, 2005 you wrote a column saying something to the effect of "If the Nats play .500 ball the rest of the year, they will make the playoffs." Didn't quite work out. We've been thinking our pitching will halt any losing streaks this year but with Ross looking shaky lately and (dare I think it) Strassburg having problems, could we see another implosion like we had in 2005 this year?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

There is no similarity with '05. Thern, I was telling everybody that run differential showed that the Nats were incredibly lucky and would probably revert toward .500. And they couldn't afford injuries.

These Nats are playing at a 95-win pace with Storen and Morse lost for the whole season so far, plus all the recent injuries. If this team can get healthy by the All-Star break __with Morse, Storen, DeRosa and Lidge back and Werth in sight by early August__ I think they'll play well. 

This year is about winning (for the Nats) but also about  fun (for the fans). You're never going to see Harper at 19 again. Gio has Cy Young contender numbers so far  __5-1, 2.22 ERA and 60 K's in a fourth of a season.

The Nats should not allow themse,lves the "injury excuse." But fans should be realistic about it.

I had them at 85-86 wins before they got hurt. So many things have gone right __LaRoche, Harper, Gio, Jackson, Detwiler, Strasburg, Stammen, etc__ that I've STILL got them at 85-86 wins AFTER all the injuries.   

– May 21, 2012 11:48 AM
Q.

Caps

So Brooks Laich was Boudreau's biggest defender when the team wasn't playing well under him, talking about how the coaching staff had a great plan and the players were just failing to execute. Now, after this season ended, Brooks talks all about how the Caps now played "the right way" and how important it was to prevent a chance rather than create a chance, it wasn't important to score, yada, yada, yada. So is Brooks just a brown-noser and company man--or if he's telling the truth, why were the Caps allowed to play "the wrong way" for so long?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Brooks has that WWI first-man-over-the-top gung-ho attitude __a certain type of flinty-eyed leader type. He's going to see the glass "half-full" even it it only has a drop of water left in the bottom. He's ultra-intense and if you  play that way you HAVE to believe that all your effort is in a worthy cause. So, maybe, you "sell yourself" a little bit.

In my book, he's not conning others. He's always going to psyche himself up with positive-thinking stuff. IMO, he's not phony, he's just good-psycho.  

– May 21, 2012 11:53 AM
Q.

A Reaction from an ex-O's fan on this weekend's series

Mr. Boswell. I just wanted to see if by some chance you and other ex-O's fans felt the same way I do. I've been an O's fan for almost 15 years until the Nats came to town. In the beginning, the ambivalence of loyalty existed, but without knowing exactly when, I've become 100% loyal fan of Nats and stopped reading/following the O's. This weekend series, I believe, truly confirmed where my loyalty lies. I was very upset that O's won the series. I was upset because of the fact that O's have a better record than Nats (which makes no sense; O's aren't supposed to be this good). Mr. Boswell, what was your reaction to this series? Were you equally happy that O's won and have a good record?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Orioles are one of my favorite teams __in the American League.

 

– May 21, 2012 11:57 AM
Q.

Slow Trot...

Do you think there will be any retaliation for Stras' Slow Trot around the bases? My 75 year old mom could have gone around faster!
A.
Thomas Boswell :

No, just the opposite. He was trying NOT to show them up.

Strasburg has been encouraged to adopt the Don Sutton school of base-running. DON'T run __ever. Don't slide __ever.  If you can win 300 games like Sutton or win a Cy Young, like Strasburg may, WHY are you running on the bases? If you want to try to hit (or sac bunt) or "work the pitcher" to wear out the opposing pitcher, that's great. And it looks like Strasburg is a VASTLY improved hitter.  But don't RUN. You can only get (a little) tired or a LOT hurt.

We'll see to what degree he actually follows this sage advice.

– May 21, 2012 12:02 PM
Q.

Nats/Orioles

Boz, Which team has been the bigger surprise? Which team has the brighter future? Thanks
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Good question, inpart because you already know the answer. The O's are the bigger surprise. The Nats have the better future because their pitching is so good and deep and young and under team control for so many years.

(That said, pitchers get hurt.)

Also, the Nats future gets much brighter when MASN finally lives up to its contract and the Nats can plan on an additional $40-to-$60M-a-year in TV rights.

As far as I can tell, nobody knew or had written  that there was an MLB revenue-fairness committee that had been meeting to give a market-value opinion on the Nats TV rights. Or that it was due to provide that number to MLB on June 1 (or close). Or that the Nats, with the best-known RSN negotiator working for them__ were seeking almost $110M-a-year (!!!) as their new rate. That's quit a bit more than $29M a year!

Bud Selig and the rest of the owners need to do what they did when Angelos tried to block the move from Montreal __make it clear to him that he is on the losing side (this time of his own MASN-Nats contract) and needs to make the best of it.

Just a possibility to consider: any MASN data about the Nats __with several hundred million dollars in dispute__ is as trustworthy as North Korean election returns.

For example, Xavier Avery won the Player of the Game MASN fan-poll on Sunday in a 9-3 O's loss with over 80% of the "vote" and Strasburg barely visible.

Come on.

– May 21, 2012 12:11 PM
Q.

Harper

Harper seems to take lots of pitches and get on base a ton. Do you see Davey batting him lead off at anytime?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

For now, he loves him at No. 2, but often needs him at No. 5 until Morse is back.

But, before long, I suspect you'll probably see a lineup with Harper, Z'man, LaRoche and Morse at 2-3-4-5. If when you have Werth at No. 6, you'd have quite a few good hitters with decent to excellent protection behind them.

– May 21, 2012 12:14 PM
Q.

K Street

For now, I accept Strasburg's statement that whatever Davey was alluding to, about Stras' bicep is "normal" and he just overworked it during the week. I love that dedication and winning mentality-- I just wish he'd give some of the excess drive to Detwiler, who I doubt is as troubled by his start on Saturday as Stras was about Tuesday. Your thoughts? Will Davey "lannan" Det and move him into the pen when CMW returns? (Does anyone know if Stras got his homerun ball? I haven't heard any reports.)
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I'm sure the O's gave Stras his home run ball. If they didn't, Buck would probably fine evberybody in the bullpen, where it landed. "Done make THIS guy mad."

If/when Wang is throwing 91-93 on his sinker and has the quality breaking stuff that I saw in Florida, I think it's obvious that you put him in the rotation for at least a month to FIND OUT that this three-year $7-million (in total) project actually turned out to be. If he's great, you can use him this year, try to sign him for the future. If he's "just" good, then maybe you trade him before the July 31st deadline. If he's bad, then you just take Detwiler out of the bullpen as 6th starter and put him in the rotation "forever."

HOWEVER, if Wang is just hitting 89 mph and doesn't look that good now at AAA __which is what I've heard, but don't KNOW__ from his last couple of starts, then he's not back to what they saw in that Yankee start in spring training. Then I don't think you mess with Detwiler at all. His last 17 starts show (me) that he's part of the future unless he proves he's not.

This is where fine scouting matters. It's not "bring up Wang or now." It's HOW GOOD is Wang throwing the ball at AAA?" If he's 91-93 with great sink and breaking stuff, then, with all his experience and poise, you put the man in the rotation. If he's the "just okay" Wang of late last year __4.04 ERA, 4.57 FIP__ then you got a problem because he's not going to be zsuited to the bullpen and he's not good enough to displace Detwiler.

These things usually work themselves out on performance, and more quickly than you think.

– May 21, 2012 12:23 PM
Q.

Strasburg's adjustments

Do you get the sense that hitters are cheating on Strasburg's fastball, knowing he's trying to keep his pitch count low? I thought the Padres and O's both had success with that strategy, and Strasburg adjusted with more curves and changes against the O's.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Several O's are really good low fastball hitters. Strasburg seemed to adjust to that with almost 50 percent changeups and curves. If the Nats defense hadn't been so awfuil in the second inning, running up a big pitch count, Strasburg might have had a fine game.

However, he went deep in too many counts. He retired the last 10 hitters, seven w strikeouts. But I looked at it again this a.m. on tape and while good, it wasn't that dominant, by his standards.

I assume the biceps is nothing or not much. But with Strasburg, you want to see how he comes out of it. Sounds like, as he said, he was annoyed about his last start and worked too hard between starts to atone. Then he had the long 1st and 2nd inning. We'll see. 

– May 21, 2012 12:32 PM
Q.

Nats

What can we expect out of the month-plus of games exclusively against teams from the NL and AL Easts? The quality of those two divisions is incredible.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The A.L. East is 24 games over .500 already! And the N.L. East is 23 games over .500! What a death march!

In contrast, The AL Central is -17, the NL Central -21. The AL West, supposedly so strong, is -1 and the N.L. West -8.

Overall, the A.L. is 6 games over .500.

The Angels, hurt by Pujols awful start, are 8 games behind the Rangers already. They are damn lucky there is an extra wild card this year.

It really is unfair __and "un-baseball"__ for teams in the N.L. East, for example, to play 72 games against division rivals when the WORST team in the division right now is the Phils at .500! But the Cards get to play a zillion games against the lousy Cubs, Astros, Pirates and Brewers.

I have no solution. (Yet. I'm thinking. But so are a lot of other people. And "Houston to the A.L." is the best they've got?) 

– May 21, 2012 12:40 PM
Q.

Lessons from the O's

Regarding your story today: One observation I would add to yours is that Nats fans should look at the O's and realize that progress is not always measured in a straight line. Young players can regress before they improve, other key players can emerge from nowhere, and injuries are always a possibility. Markakis, Weiters and Jones have all had their ups and downs over the past few years before finally gelling into an excellent core. Nats fans would be wise to remember this when evaluating Espinosa, Harper, Detwiler and Henry Rodriguez.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

THANK YOU.

That is more intelligent and on point than any of my answers in this chat.

That's quite irritating!

BTW, eveybody wants to talk Nats-O's this a.m. That's OK. Caps are finished. It ain't NFL season. The Tiger Tournament at Congressional isn't until July.

I will say that as a lifelong NBA fan who's hated to see the deterioration in the level of sophistication in TEAM play in recent years, I'm very happy to see the Spurs and Pacers doing well. Also like OKC. 

My dream: Bird's Pacers with Hibbert, knock off the Heat.

Dream No. 2:  Spurs CRUSH Heat in Finals.

Watching Spurs destroy Clippers was just a clinic in what basketball (for me) is supposed to be. When people tell me the Spurs are boring, I think, "Wow, are YOU boring."

The Spurs are plenty "athletic." But they combined it with brains and years spent playing together. I just hope they stay healthy (knock, knock) so we can watch The Greatest Power Forward in history, Tim Duncan, lead his team to another world title by playing what Bob Ryan last week called, "Adult Basketball." 

My All-Time NBA team __to actually play together in a real Mt. Olympus  against YOUR five-pick team. The stakes: MY life.

So, this is a pretty serious All-Star Team!

Bill Russell, Tim Duncan, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson. Good luck with your team. (Because my team will know how to play together, rebound, defend and win.)

– May 21, 2012 12:51 PM
Q.

Lombardozzi in the future

Is there a place for Lombardozzi on the Nationals in the future? He's been a lot of fun to watch this season and it's clear he's a future starter- will it be with the nationals or elsewhere?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I love watching him. But if he played every day, scouts would analyze him better.

BUT his stats at EVERY LEVEL have been almost identical. The things he can do __apparently__ always translate to the next higher league. Career in the minors, hit .298 with .369 On-Base percentage. In the minors, he made two errors at 2nd in 122 games. So far, in limited time at 2nd in MLB, he has no errors.

 

– May 21, 2012 12:54 PM
Q.

Gio Gonzalez

Please let us know when we can talk Cy Young. The very early returns on this trade obviously favor the Nats, but Milone is doing OK in the majors, Peacock and Norris are doing pretty well in AAA, and AJ Cole is struggling in A ball. I think this will be one of the more interesting trades to track over the next five years. Likely to end up win-win for both teams. Can't think of a recent MLB trade like this, but reminds me of the NY Giants/Chargers trade on draft day (Manning for Rivers/picks that included Merriman) in which the "winner" of the trade seemed to flip yearly between the two teams.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The trade you DON'T want it to be like is the three-for-one that brought Glenn Davis to Baltimore for Schilling, Finley, Harnisch.

Tommy Milone is 25, so he's fully "developed." Has 5-3 record with 4.09 ERA. Gio trade looking very good __for both__ but really takes the Nats up a whole level because Gio is the lefty that should fit beteeen Strasburg and Z'mann.

 

– May 21, 2012 12:58 PM
Q.

Are the Yankees the AL version of the Phillies?

Am I crazy, or are the Yankees pretty lousy right now? They seem to have 1 reliable starter (CC), a weak bullpen and a lineup that looks really overpaid and old. You mentioned the Phillies are on the decline, is the same true for the Yanks?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies are all in decline. They are strung out on payroll with the new CBA hurting their ability to just keep on spending forever. Also, their RSN deals are already in place. But other teams are just getting the jolt from that massive new source of money, like the Rangers, Angels, Dodgers, Nationals.

The Yanks, Sox and Phils aren't going to disappear. But, as a group, they'll recede quite a bit. And that's very good for baseball.

Thanks for all the questions. See you next week. (Or on Twitter at ThomasBoswellWP)

 

– May 21, 2012 1:03 PM
Q.

Werth?

So how much of an impact will the loss of Werth be? I get the on field defense/offense, but what about on the bench and in the clubhouse? I get the sense he is very influential in the clubhouse.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Even when he's playing pretty well, as he was this spring, he's more valuable off the field. When he's playing his best __we'll see if that guy ever returns as a Nat__ he'd be of more value ON the field.

Nobody ever wanted to get back more. Phils fans may have some words for him the next three nights after his fully-merited blast at them after the bush comments of some of their fans as he left the field in his broken-wrist game.

– May 21, 2012 1:08 PM
Q.

Weekend Series

As a transplanted Baltimorean, I wanted to say what a great experience this weekend was. I didnt see any nastiness, but just good-natured baseball talk between fans of two teams. None of the Philly junk or the obnoxiousness of Yankee and Red Sox fans invading Baltimore. This weekend was the best in rivalry. I think fans of both teams deserve alot of credit.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

That's the last word. EVERYBODY has said the same thing __the Nats-O's crowds last weekend acted like great fans.

– May 21, 2012 1:09 PM
Q.

RE: Worlds are better

Olympic size rinks are 13 feet wider, which makes a huge difference, an extra 2600 square feet of ice surface Playing on a rink that size is cruel and unusual punishment when you are a defenseman over fifty, but for the fleet of foot, it gives you so much more room to work with.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The right point to make. Thanks.

 

– May 21, 2012 1:11 PM
Q.

 

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Host: