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June 25, 2012

11:03
A.M.

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

Total Responses: 36

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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.
Q.

Run Differential as an overrated stat

Why do you seem to like run differential so much as a stat? Doesn't run differential mask the strength of a team that excels at winning close games, but occasionally chooses to lose a blow out in order to save the pen? In our series against the Orioles, for example, we outscored them 20-16 yet lost 4 out of 6 games. According to run differential, we are the better team, but we if this was the World Series, we'd go home the loser.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Over any 5-yr period run-differential and W-L will converge. So it isn't a better or worse stat that W-L, it's just a "canary in the coal mine" tip off to what is likely going to happen next.

The Nats are a better team than the Orioles. The Birds best pitchers __Hammel and Chen__ happened to start in both series. Strasburg only pitched in one of them and Gio Gonzalez in neither. Just the luck of how the rotation fell. The O's have the No. 1 bullpen in baseball this year and that keyed their 4-0 record in one-run games.

But the O's +4 run differential shows that they're lucky/good by about 5 wins. That's a lot. Part of the 13-6 record in one-run games is the good bullpen. But most of it is good fortune.

The Nats, 14-12 in 1-run games, aren't as good as they look either. Run-diff would suggest that they are a 90-win team, not their current 95-win pace. Run-diff is a counterbalance to the normal fan desire to think that a team's record tells them 90% of what they need to know. It just doesn't. You need to look at both __then add some common sense: who's been hurt, who's coming back, who's been unsustainablely good or bad, etc.

Run-diff won't always be right in predicting the next turn in the road __but it does more other than not. For example, the Cards are much better than their record and will show it. The Marlins are more worse than they seem. Ozzie Guillen had a chew-out meeting with them before Sunday's game. (The won 7-0.)

There isn't anybody in baseball (at least in recent years) who doesn't look at run-diff as a sobering, useful tool to offer a reality check on how you are plying. 

But I'd still rather have the W-L record in hand __like both the lucky Orioles and lucky Nats__ than a pretty run differential. Within ONE season, you can "outrun" run differential. But you can't out-run it for long.

– June 25, 2012 11:04 AM
Q.

Team First Mentality

Boz - one of the more enjoyable aspects of the Nationals this year is that they all see to be true team players...not a single out of control ego or narcissistic head-case among them, as far as I can tell.  How much of that happened by chance and how much was it Mike Rizzo's (and others?) design?  As the team experiences more success in the years to come, how do they keep it that way?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Part of it is Rizzo deliberately adding "good makeup" people. Also, it's Rizzo's ability to JUDGE what constitutes good makeup. Some teams are ruined for years by a decision-makers tone-deafness to evaluating people __with Dan Snyder and Peter Angelos high on the list of those who wouldn't have a clue how to identify somebody who can "work well with other," gain respect and help other perform their best. In part, that's because they aren't those types of people themselves! Rizzo is.

Also, a manager who is respected due to past accomplishments helps create a stable clubhouse. Players know they don't have the clout to undermine him. There were a half-dozen players last year, at least, who would grouse about Riggleman or even challenge his authority, like Marquis. But part of that was Rig's track record. He was a "what's be ever done" guy. (That was one sensible reason reason that he wanted a contract extension so badly __to compensate for his lack of reputation. Davey could care less because he doesn't NEED to care. He's Davey Johnson. The burden of proof is on the guy doing the bitching.

Bowden wanted "chemistry," too. They all do. But he sometimes created just the opposite __partly because he was so desperate for talent on a small budget and had to go dumpster diving. He was smart but, again,  not a "plays well with others" person. Or he was some days and then not the next.

You're right: Morale is a big factor for the Nats. And players like __the list is so long it's silly__ are the reason. Desmond, Werth, Jackson, Strasburg (a demon competitor), Ankiel, LaRoche, Z'man (getting the shot yesterday which always has unknown long-term impact), Storen-Clippard friendship, Gio's personality, etc.

– June 25, 2012 11:04 AM
Q.

Are Rizzo and Davy being delusional about hitting issue

The madding sad fact is if the Nats had just avg hitting they would have at least 9 more wins so far this season . So why is management being so stubborn to do anything about the sitution. Three of the players in the line up Sunday have avg below .230 and 5 below .250. This complaint is not new. Last year we had the same anemic hitting with Matt Stairs as the poster boy of awful hitting and this year Xavier Nady has taken his place with an even lower BA. Great pitching is being wasted with less then awful batting. What gives or doesn't as this case maybe.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Nats have a problem because rational analysis __and eyeball evaluation__ aren't 'working" right now. The Nats have five players with career OPS over .800 __Morse, Z'man, Werth, LaRoche and Harper. FIVE. That ought to be more than enough to be an average offensive team. Also, Desmond and Espinosa are over .700 career (near MLN average). And Flores at N0. 8 is no problem. You OUGHT to be able to bat them in ANY order and score more than the Nats have last season and this year.

But it hasn't happened.

I watched Earl Weaver display patience, until everybody around him was ready to go crazy, for 10 years. There was only ONE year when it didn't pan out.

In Aug-Sept, when Harper, Z'man, LaR, Werth, Morse bat in a row __assuming they're all healthy, the Nats will hit a lot better. That's what Clippard was talking about in my column this a.m. The players believe the same thing __hold the fort because there are enough PROVEN good (not great) hitters already on hand. Plus the X Factor: Harper. 

– June 25, 2012 11:04 AM
Q.

Tyler Moore

Tyler Moore was drafted by the Nationals three times. Out of high school in 2005, out of community college in 2006 and finally (third time was the charm) out of Mississippi State in 2008. Is this unusual that seemingly no other franchise was interested in this kid who has improved every year in the minors and has hit 73 home runs in the last three years?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Thanks, I didn't know about the triple draft. It shows that the Nats spotted him before Rizzo or most of the current front office was aboard.

I think it's time to start Moore everyday in LF and see what he can do, especially because of lack of offense now. With the weather hot now let Lombardozzi give periodic rest to Espinosa, Desmond and come off the bench as utility man. Or give Moore a day off against tough RHer since Lombo has hit better vs RHers. Lombo's .263/.326 OBP could jump back up quickly, especially in Colorado where the vast OF allopws so many hits to fall. But I really want to see more of Moore.

– June 25, 2012 11:04 AM
Q.

Storen

Do you think he should lose his job to Clippard?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I think a lot can happen between now and the time Storen gets back, probably after the All-Star game.

By keeping Storen as the set-up man, if that's how it goes, you put him back in a lower-pressure environment after the first arm surgery of his career. He's not happy about it. But he seems to accept it. 

If Clippard continues to be lights out it would put extra pressure on Storen to be not only perfect but spectacularly perfect when he comes back.

The current situation reminds me of the crowded O's bullpen under Johnson in '97 when the Birds got to the ALCS. Randy Myers saved 45 games, but Anmando Benitez, who touched 100, saved 9 and had a 2.45 ERA. Jese Orosco, a star of the '86 Mets for Johnson, acceepted a lesser role even though he had a  2.32 ERA and Arthur Rhodes, who was STILL pitching LAST year, was effective, too (3.02). 

 

– June 25, 2012 11:14 AM
Q.

Clippard

In previous chats you were against Clippard moving into the closer role.  What do you think of the move in light of Storen coming back?

A.
Thomas Boswell :

When somebody saves 12-for-12 in saves and allows only 1 hit, that's how you get your role in the pecking order reevaluated. Clippard's ERA the last two years has been 1.83 and 1.95 __that's prime Mariano Rivera over 105 appearances.

Is he really THAT good? Storen calls Clippard "the man with the invisible fastball." Meaning he can miss with it right down the middle at 94 m.p.h. in a 2-0 count to a good hitter __a pitch that should be crushed__ and they swing right through it like it's invisible. All the other pitchers talk about it like it's black magic. They know it's his delivery __all arms and legs, 'throwing' the glove at the hitter, comes straight over the top with a fastball that has "hop" like you used to see far more often.

It's another case of Weaver's Everything Changes Everything. Storen is excellent __2.75 ERA. But he's never been as good as Clippard has been the last two years. Personally, I wouldn't have said anything about it. Never make your decision public until you have to. But maybe Davey thought Clip deserved the pat on the back. Or maybe he wanted to get the fuss about it out of the way before Storen came back so he'd have his mind right.  Don't know. Maybe (even) there is a trade brewing for a major hitter and either Clip or Storen is in it. By elevating Clippard's status, another team could say __re4gardless of which they got__ "we got an EXCEPTIONAL closer as part of this deal. But, let me add, I've heard NOTHING about any trade. I think they just want to have a monster bullpen when he gets back.

But, man, if Henry Rodriguez comes back to '11 form when he returns soon, that is one crowded bullpen, with more arms in the minors, too.

– June 25, 2012 11:24 AM
Q.

Lucas Giolito

What is your gut feeling? Do you think they sign him?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Yes,

I don't think they draft him unless they think they have an excellent chance to sign him. BUT if they don't, they get the 17th overal pick next year (I assume the rule hasn't changed in the new CBA). So there is little risk for the Nats. BIG difference between not signing a 1/1 like SS or Harper and falling back even one position to 1/2 the next year. But you could use a 1/17 pick to get a college player next year and, if he worked out, he'd be in the majors before Giolito, who still in high school.

The Nats say they won't go high enough in $$$ for Giolito to incur a penalty for going over the allowed total payments to draftees. But that's what you'd expect them to say.  My guess: they'll get it done and if they have to get a penalty, they'll live with it, just as long as they don't go so high it costs them a draft-pick penalty.

Let me add one point. I usually actually know what I am talking about on draft stuff like this. But with all the new draft rules, I could be wrong on anything in this answer! Bottom line: They love the Giolito pick, must have done homework on his "signability," and if they don't sign him it's a wasted opportunity for a big arm. Ergo: They will sign him.   

– June 25, 2012 11:31 AM
Q.

Bob Carpenter

Did you watch the Fox broadcast of the Nats-Orioles game on Saturday? Bob Carpenter was much less of a homer I assume because he wasn't working for MASN that night and perhaps had a more national audience. Regardless he was very different and very good....he's very good on MASN as well. Anyway I thought it interesting to note the differences based the different bosses. I really enjoy F.P. Santangelo too.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Media pros have more than one tone of voice. What comes out of their mouths isn't an accident. You know who your audience is. When I was interviewed for the "Baseball" series, for instance, I was talking to a different audience than if I'd been on a local radio or TV show. It's not conscious. You just know.

– June 25, 2012 11:33 AM
Q.

Gio and Harper

I was at the O's game Sat. night - got there early for BP with my 6 and 9 yr old. 2 observations 1) What a joy Gio Gonzalez is !!! He was interacting with the fans,(most of us in orange) tossing balls to the kids and had a huge smile on his face the whole time. When BP ended the many of the fans actually gave him a round of applause. We didn't get a ball but my 9 yr old daughter said,"Daddy, if there was an award for nicest player, Gio should win it." 2) I remember watching George Brett take BP at Memorial Stadium in the early 80's. He hit nothing but line drives that short-hopped or went over the wall between right-center and left-center. I was reminded of that when I saw Harper take BP. Is Harper projected as a Brett type of hitter or more of the "classic" power hitter?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Thanks. That's Gio. 24/7/365.

Harper has said that he'd like to grow up to be worthy of comparison to George Brett. I think that's the best available analogy because Breet led the league in triples three times (including a year with 20) and stole 20 bases twice. Harper is faster. But Brett ran like a wild man. I don't think Harper will ever hit .390 like Brett in '80, but he might match his .305 career batting average.

However, there's no doubt that Harper has more HR power and draws more walks. Brett played hard, had injuries, but none that seemed to change his career. I loved his brawl with Nettles when they crashed into eachother at 3rd in Yankee Stadium. I didn't know whom to root for! Two of my favorite guys and interviews.  The Yankee story from the last '70's goes that Reggie Jackson once slapped a beer bottle out of Nettles hand at a post-clinching party and Nettles knocked him out with a left hook "before the bottle hit the floor." Sounds too good to be true. But enough people sure told the story. Brett was the same hard-edged type. And his nickname was "Mullet." Harper knows EVERYTHING __well, a lot__ about players (and rock music) before his time. I wouldn't put it past him to have worn the mullet when he first came up in honor of Brett. I'll ask. One of Harper's recent walk-up songs was by Counting Crows. Counting Crows?! They were formed just before Harper was born. Lotta reasons to like the kid, aren't there?

Also, Brett workedf hard to go from average at 3rd base to winning one gold glove. It may take years for Harper to be a smooth "plus" OF, not just a hustler with a big arm __ibut I bet he gets there.   

– June 25, 2012 11:43 AM
Q.

Zimmerman

If Zimmerman goes out for a couple of weeks who do you anticipate will play 3rd base?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Zim is going old school. He got the cortisone shot in his shoulder  yesterday and looked better in some at bats.

I started covering baseball in the era when "getting a shot" was standard. I have NEVER figured out how I feel about them. Many players get through a season with their help __Palmer certainly did it__ but they mask the pain so you have to have a LOT of confidence in the doctor that tells you that "you won't hurt yourself worse, or if you do it will be in a way that can be repaired with minor surgery." That, apparently, is what Z'man is hearing now. The "worst case" is that he developes small bone chips that can be cleanup up with minor surgery after the season.

Hold your breath. I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard a ballplayer say that his "worst case" if he kept playing was "X," and it turned out to be "Y."

Here's what I think is the core issue. Z''man thinks he owes his employer and his teammates something for the $100M extension. He has been sufficiently paid to justify taking the risk. Also, the Nats WANT him still to be productive in 2019 when they're still paying him. So, in theory, their motivations are the same. It's the "in theory" part I don't like.

If I had to say __glad I don't__ I'd do what he's doing now. But don't make a habit of it in future years. He'll only be 34-35 when his current contract runs out. He's an elite player who ought to have a shot at playing until 38+.

For $125M (roughly all the money he's made in the past, plus the extension), the team doesn't own your eyes or your spinal column, etc. But do they have a strong "minority interest" in your right shoulder? I kind of think they do. So, cross your fingers. There are plenty of current stars who don't go this path.

One thought, the Phils were a play hurt team. Don't know how many played with "shots" for how many years. But, as a group, they're gettin' kinda old kinda fast. If this is a problem for Z'man, it's probably five years from now.

Again, all this is specualtion __inevitable speculation__ but still not backed by any medical diploma. I've read a bunch of "comments" by fans on Z'man Shoulder blogs. I'd say that the level of ignorance is close to 100%, yet the level of certainty is also close to 100%. When you hear somebody, including me, talk about Z'man shoulder and cortisone shots and potentialrisk/reward, just roll your eyes. Unless you are an orthopedic surgeon.

– June 25, 2012 11:56 AM
Q.

Zack Greinke

With all the talk about his personality and how he may not thrive in a high-pressure market like NY, Boston or Philly, wouldn't DC be the perfect place for him? It's a team that looks like a contender for years to come and he would just blend in as another part of the best staff in baseball. That said, are there any ideas of what kind of contract Milwaukee has offered him so that we can gauge his market value?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I'd rather sign Edwin Jackson, 28, to a major extension during this season than try to get Greinke during the off-season. Same age. But you are paying a big premium for Z's Cy Young Award. Yet the last two seasons Jackson has been just about as effective (less K's but similar ERA) __and he loves D.C. and the team loves him.

It's be tough to do an in-season extension for any Boras client __he always wants to "test the market" and "set a record." But it's not impossible because Jackson is not going "set the bar" for the industry at his position. 

You never know with pitchers, but Jackson is an exceptional athlete/person and has little/no history of injury. You may get the "same" pitcher __or close__ for a lot less money. How many >$125M players can the Nats afford, even if their attendance rises and their RSM fee goes up? Don't you want to have enough left to take your best shot at keeping Strasburg and/or Harper.

Unless it says New York or Los Angeles on your jersey, you can't have everthing. 

– June 25, 2012 12:02 PM
Q.

Wang

What do you think the Nats will do with CMW now?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Keep him in the bullpen until Storen comes back and they need the spot. I suspect he's had his shot with the Nats as a starter, assuming Detwiler's last two appearances indicate that he's going to go on a good run again like he had last Augus Sept and this spring.

Everybody wanted a happy ending for Wang in D.C. I suspect he's shown enough __probably more than enough__ that if the Nats let him go (you can't get anythjing in trade) therw will be "second-division" teams with plnety of interest in giving him a chance.

Look at the Rockies! Don't know if Wang's sinker would be effective in Denver. Just saying look at how decimated teams get. The next four days the Nats send their top four pitchers against Jeff Francis (1-0, 8.56 ERA), Friedrich (4-4, 5.65), Outman (0-3, 8.64) and White (2-6, 6.45). Who the hell ARE they? They may not even know each other. The Rox are going w a four-man rotation because they can't come up with a fifth starter. They hate Mark Guthrie so badly they've put him in the bullpen. Insteresting how much comes out after a seemingly perfect player like Guthrie (Stanford) leaves a team. Now, the rewritten history has him as an entitled guy who thought he was as good as a Mussina and telling other pitchers what/whom to listen to and what to ignore. 

Neither version is probably true. But once you get traded __and flop__ the perception of your personality enters an Alternate Reality Machine and comes out as somebody unrecognizable.

– June 25, 2012 12:10 PM
Q.

trade deadline.....

Will the Nats be active? What would they want to go after??
A.
Thomas Boswell :

They don't want to touch their staff. And shouldn't.

They think that their lineup, when healthy, might be average in Aug/Sept/Oct. As presently constituted, even without Strasburg after Sept 10th, they could go to the post-season, maybe win the NL East, go straight to the Division Series. Or not. But this isn't the year when you want to give up a lot of future value to "make a run" in '12. What, you shut down Strasburg, but you trade aeway value for a rental player for 2/3 months? DSeems crazy to me.

One exception. The big vulnerability here is an injury to Flores. A trade for the best available back-up catcher __someone who knows how to handle a top staff__ would be worth the investment. No back-up catcher on earth is worth that much in trade. Nats have plenty of farm depth. That's the insurance policy they really need.

Who might it be? I'll look into it. Solano has looked good in his rare starts. That's not the point. You can't let a shot at an NL East title or wildcard spot get wrecked because you ran out of cacthers who could function in a playoff race.

– June 25, 2012 12:16 PM
Q.

Bo Porter

Boz - relevance here might not be particularly high, given all the topical material to cover. However, I saw a few clips on Bo Porter over the weekend, and its on my brain. DC skipper or elsewhere, could you size up his (future) managerial style in a nutshell? Reading journalists and hearing former players, I suspect he'll be: a "work very hard, but prioritize people" (USMC) kind of guy, a player's manager (not "easy-going"-- more like a caring person who impacts players on a very personal level ... a confidant who, years later, you keep on speed-dial), unorthodox (football-carrying outfield drill), focused on "winning culture", smart student of the game (tho not particularly cocky with it, like Davey). FWIW, he's not just learning lessons from DJ. Being an Iowa alum, he'll effectively be a branch of the Hayden Frye coaching tree (H.Frye = smart, tough[USMC], "team is a family", culture-driven [recall, he ditched Iowa unis for Pittsburgh Steelers Colors]). Accurate? Good fit for Nats?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

My dad got his masters in English at Iowa in the '30's so I've always been a fan. Talked about that with Bo in spring training. He'll manage somewhere, someday. At this point, your analysis is probably better than mine would be. Porter was an almost legendary athlete in N.J., but got hurt. So he knows a wide range of "athlete experiences," not just Being A Star.

And he "scored" the winning run against the Rays last week when he got out of the way of a wild throw __by inches__ with an "acrobatic" leap. Because the ball  missed him, it went into the Rays dugout for a "free" run (by Harper). The Nats won by one run. Bo's maybe the only third base coach in baseball who can "make that play!"  

– June 25, 2012 12:21 PM
Q.

Denard Span

Do people realize what a steal this guy would be for the Nats? Solves the CF and leadoff issues and is signed to a VERY team friendly deal. He has to be the top target either this July or in the offseason, right?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Forget Span. I wouldn't take him as a gift. Just clogs up the CF picture.

No power, few steals the last two years and a ~.333 on-base percentage the last two years. This solves CF? You hear Span rumors a lot, so I understand your question. Plenty of people ask it. I just think it's way wrong. (And, fwiw, last time I checked months ago, the Nats had no interest in Span at any price.)

– June 25, 2012 12:24 PM
Q.

DC Drafts

Has anyone noticed that after the NBA draft, every DC team will have landed arguably a top 2 talent in each of their respective drafts? RGIII is a no-brainer, Giolito was a potential top 2 talent if not for his injury, Forsberg was ranked #2 on a ton of predraft lists, and obviously at 3, the Wizards' pick will be top 2 on many boards.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Nice point. Thanks.

– June 25, 2012 12:25 PM
Q.

Big contracts

The last two big contracts (Werth and Zimmerman) aren't exactly tearing it up for two guys making a quarter of a billion combined. Do you think that will affect the team's approach to free agency this winter in terms of tightening the proverbial purse straps? With a few impact free agents like Greinke, Bourn, and Upton, the prices might be high. But wouldn't you go after a known commodity like Greinke as opposed to possibly having to spend too much to keep Edwin Jackson after a career year?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Good point about signing Jackson off a career year. But he'd still be far cheaper than the high-profile Greinke.

I watch Bourn and Upton closely now. Bourn makes flashy catches, but sometimes after mediocre jumps. I suspect he's a little over-rated defensively. Upton really focused vs the Nats __showing his wares. Great bat speed. But his mediocre career and '12 OBP means that he's no leadoff solution.

I think the Nats already have their answer in CF for the next 2-3 years until you find out how good Goodwin is in the minors. His name is Bryce Harper.

Werth already locks up a corner OF spot. Morse is signed through '13. The Nats and LaRoche have a "mutual option." So, Adam might opt out. But he might be back. The Nats offense needs punch more than it needs a pretyy good, but not great leadoff man. The only offense-changer at leadoff who's likely to be available is Bourn, hitting .311 with 20 SB so far.

– June 25, 2012 12:34 PM
Q.

DeRosa

With DeRosa coming back shortly, is that the opportune time to sit Ryan Zimmerman and get that shoulder healed?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Z'man now plans to tough it out, get shots and play the rest of the year. Well, that's Plan A, anyway.

– June 25, 2012 12:36 PM
Q.

future agony

Tom, looking to the next 3-4 years, it is hard to figure how this club, currently made up, will scare anybody from an offensive standpoint. Espinosa is an out from the left side. Lombo is an out from the right side. Harper most certainly will not be used in the 2 hole, so there is another problem. Zimm is in a 700 at bat slump, injured or not. Morse may or may not be the forse he was FOR ONE YEAR. Desi looks OK. Ramos/Flores will be alright. Werth will be 35-36-37 in the next 3 years. LaRoche is OK but without a long term deal. I don't mind 2-1 or 3-2 ballgames but are we looking at 3-5 years worth of them? No pitching staff can be THAT good for that long can they?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

You state the worst case very well.

I don't think it's THAT bad. If you can work up a multi-player trade for a big mid-order bat, please send it to Rizzo.

– June 25, 2012 12:37 PM
Q.

First Base

Why can't this organization develop a legitimate first baseman? If (when) LaRoche walks this winter and if Morse isn't the long-term answer, there's going to be a pretty glaring hole at that position.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

A LH-hitting 1st baseman is what they haven't produced. If they needed a RHed 1st baseman, Tyler Moore and Chris Marrero __one of the other__ would probably pan out. But even with LaRoche on a 30 HR, 100 RBI pace, they are still "too RHed." 

– June 25, 2012 12:39 PM
Q.

Strasburg

Last year Justin Verlander won the AL MVP and Cy Young awards. He pitched 251 innings and, according to fangraphs, had a 7.0 WAR. Strasburg in his career has pitched 176 innings and, according to fangraphs, has a career 6.6 WAR. I guess my question is....WHAT? Is this guy actually underrated?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Yes, probably.

(I see the same stuff.)

– June 25, 2012 12:40 PM
Q.

500 HRs

if Adam Dunn gets to 500 career home runs..........well, do I even need to ask the rest of this question?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Dunn currently on pace for 53 HR, 119 RBI, 259 strikeouts, 131 walks, a .215 average, .362 on-base average, 95 runs.

The Big Dunn-key is one unique baseball animal. But nobody wants to face him and the guys, like Ryan Z'man and now Konerko, who hit in front of him seem to have career years with him protecting them.

He'll hit 550 HR, won't make the HOF, won't care and will still be a great guy.

– June 25, 2012 12:45 PM
Q.

NL East

The NL East is crumbling around the Nats. The Mets should fade at some point, the Braves just lost their ace, the Phillies look finished and might turn into sellers, and the Marlins have been awful. Is it possible that the Nats run away with this division after all?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Big talk in June is very bad luck. And I'm firmly convinced that strange things happen __either good or bad__ when teams go into Coors Field for 4-game series.

But the Nats are just one of those +10 streaks __like the 14-4 to start the year__ away from being in very good position in the NL East. I always talk about those "runs." But every team that wins a division does it that way every year. 

The Nats have had a no-let-up schedule almost all year. In future they have an 18-=game span with 11 games against (current) losers. Then, starting July 26, they have 15 straight games against teams that (now) have losing records. There are other runs of 5-straight losers, 7-straight and then 10 of their last 13 games are against teams with sub-.500 records.

But will those teams agree to STAY losers. The Nats play the Phils in 6 of those last 13 games. Will it be with the Phils playing well and semi-healthy or will they be out of it by then? Last three games of season, Phils AT Nats. The Phils look awful now after thei doubleheader loss yesterday. But you never know. Utley is due back, maybe this week. Will he be as rusty as Morse, who's done little in his first 80 ABs? Or will he come back and spark them some?

Don't count chickens. But one of the possibilities __among many__ IS that the Nats open a significant lead. Didn't think I'd be saying that __even as one of several scenarios__ in late June.

– June 25, 2012 12:52 PM
Q.

Yankees radio

I was driving through Connecticut listening to the Yankees/Nats games the day before Father's Day. They were very critical of the location of the booths that radio/tv and other press people use, complaining that the height of the booths in the stadium made it difficult to tell what kind of pitches were being thrown. Full-blown Yankee arrogance in their voices, but do you agree?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The press box should be in the Worst Possible Seat where you can still do your job properly. As I tweeted yesterday from Camden Yards, the Baltimore press box is so fabulous that it might be too good. (Don't move it!) The three worse press boxes, by far, are Washington (six-stories high, equivalent to $11 seat), Pittsburgh and St. Louis. No, a beat person can't do their job properly, imo. A columnist can. It's amazing the work that Adam Kilgore produces under such a disadvantage. You'd never know. But he works like a dog. Make that a whole pack of dogs.

One reason Nats Park NEVER gets any credit at all as one of the good parks __somewhere between 10th- to-16th best__ is because every writer/broadcaster who comes there hates the working conditions (on the moon) so much that they refuse to say a nice word.  It's not conscious. It's just "I hate this place, I hate this place." They don't get out and see the whole park. They think everybody else is as miserableas they are just because they are sitting in the 35,000th best seat in the park.

Personally, I like loking at the Capital dome and walking around the upper deck. For $11, it's a helluva pretty FAN seat. But if I were age 30 and starting out, I'd hate the place.

– June 25, 2012 12:59 PM
Q.

Names on Their Backs

Why don't the Yankees have their names on their backs? And are they the only team that doesn't have them? Isn't it hard on the announcers? And the fans?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Yankees think you should already know who ALL of them are.

And if you don't, then they don't think you are worth telling.

Oh, sorry, I forgot. The reason is "tradition."

– June 25, 2012 1:00 PM
Q.

Nationals Park really as bad in comparison to other parks

The continued critics of all things Nationals took full swings at Nationals Park this last series. So is Nationals Park as bad as these people say. Are the Lerners bothered by this perception. I feel the Centerfield Plaza and the Parking Lots are just there and not used to better effect. But is it just a lot of carping for no reason or is it valid as a point of criticism.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

See previous answer.

Camden Yards is grogeous to look at. But it doesn't have a fraction of the flow of Nats Park because you can't see the game from the concourses and you are constantly blocked from going to different parts of the park. If you just want to go and sit in one seat, great. But if you like to move sometimes, and I do, then Nats Park is one of the best in that respect.

The Nats upper deck is much better. And Nats Park, with 7,000 less seating capacity, has more seats that are closer to the field. Seat-for-comparable-seat, Nats Park is always a closer view. Camden Yards was as good as anybody knew how to build in 1991. But by 2008, a lot of new parks had been built and all those ideas, about flow and 6,000 Railbird perches and a huge CF and RF area for food (and drink) really give the newer parks an edge over Camden Yards and those built right afterward.

Still, walking in yesterday, I thought,m for the 500th time, "God, what a gorgeous ballpark." And the wareholuse still looks great. It all works. They even survived the huge hotels beyound LF which now blend in (sort of.) 

However, if you put the Camden Yards press box six stories high and the Nats press box where the 200 level is now, I bet the tone of the reviews would change. Camden Yards would still win. But Nats Park would get its due __it's in the middle-of-the-pack, and no wolrse__ in the greatest era of ballpark building. And as SE gets built out, the experience will improve steadily over the next 3-to-5 years. That's when you get a final verdict, imo.

– June 25, 2012 1:09 PM
Q.

Would 'Plus One' to re-energize the NCAA football bowl games

Bos: First, thanks for your solid insight into the inner workings of baseball statistics and how to apply them to the Nats - you've really helped put into perspective how extraordinary this team's performance has been this season. Switching gears to NCAA football championships: I've concluded that the best solution is a 'Plus One' championship game between the two highest ranked (using the current blend of polls and expert rankings) teams based on 1) regular season record, 2) the relative strength/ranking of a team's bowl opponent, and 3) how badly they outscore that bowl opponent. As I see it, this maximizes a team's motivation to win every possible game, play the strongest bowl opponent and then dominate in that bowl game. Better than a 4-team playoff, this approach would make many bowl games relevant for players and fans. Play the championship game 2 weeks after Jan 1 so that the teams have time to prepare and fans can make arrangements to attend the game. Your thoughts?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I view this simplistically. Two teams is too arbitrary. There's so much chance for a 3rd or 4th team to get screwed.

But MORE than four teams in a playogff system is just ridiculous. Unnecessary.

So I think the 4-team playoff is the best you'll get. Come on, if you can't beat out any of FOUR teams to get into the picture, how big an injustice can that be? Not THAT big.

Two wasn't enough. Four is just fine, even though somebody will always grouse. Lets see how it works. I bet it works fine.

– June 25, 2012 1:12 PM
Q.

Ugh

If the Heat and the Yankees played each other, I'd root for a tie.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Check, please.

– June 25, 2012 1:12 PM
Q.

Baseball Commentators

What do you think of Jim Palmer as a baseball commentator?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I've always liked him. Very smart and often tart. He's in the minority oif baseball announcers where I make sure the volume stays "on."

– June 25, 2012 1:14 PM
Q.

Strasburg

Can you please write a definitive column laying out why Strasburg will be shut down after 160-170 innings and that it would be idiotic to do otherwise? Maybe that will get the so-called "experts" on Baseball Tonight to shut up
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Good idea.

– June 25, 2012 1:14 PM
Q.

Give the O's pitching some credit, too!

After all, they outpitched the Nats!
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Hammel is for real. Chen needs to stand up under a full 162-game schedule. The other three starters are suspect. The bullpen is excellent. Defense poor. Lot of power but only an average offense. As noted, O's-Nats two series distorted by only one start in six games by Strasburg/Gio vs four starts by Hammel/Chen. It didn't "measure" the two teams, it was just fun and drew almost 250,000 for six games.

Talking to Dan Duquette yesterday, he said that attendance was trending up about 5,500 this year. Paraphrase: "All fans want the same thing: Hope."

By next year I think it'll be clear that DC-Baltimore can support two teams just fine. Can Florida?

– June 25, 2012 1:18 PM
Q.

Nats Coaching Staff -- Unsung Heros

I nominate Steve McCatty for the consistently excellent job he has done with the pitching staff since he's been here, and Bo Porter for the controlled aggression he directs on the basepaths. Who are your nominees?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

You picked two good ones.

– June 25, 2012 1:20 PM
Q.

Signing Dunn

Tom, I remember you pushing strongly for the Nats to resign Adam Dunn two years ago. When he had a ghastly first season with the White Sox last year, it looked like the Nats were smart to pass him up. But now he leads the AL in homers. Do you still stand by your original advocacy? Or is it "Yes, but not at $15M"??
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I thought they should resign Dunn and Willingham. Both are having big years. But remember, the Nats also got comp picks in the draft for them. We'll have to see how those players __two of the four big-name picks last year__ work out.

 

– June 25, 2012 1:22 PM
Q.

Jim Palmer

Man I'm glad we don't have to listen to that guy every game. If i had to drink everytime he said "I" or "me/my" I'd be in the hospital. Makes me like FP even more.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Another county heard from.

– June 25, 2012 1:24 PM
Q.

They hate Mark Guthrie so badly they've put him in the bullpen.

They hate him so bad they don't even remember his name.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Jeremy thanks you. So do I!

Okay, Tiger Woods should be a little worried. There are countless Nats, baseball, Orioles questions, a few on Caps draft and ZERO on the PGA Tour event at Congressional Country Club THIS WEEK.

They will be 11 players who've won major championships, led by Woods and Jim Furyk. I'm sure we'll have much more to chat about on that next Monday.

See you next week and many thanks.

 

– June 25, 2012 1:27 PM
Q.

Pressbox location

The pressbox is located in middle of $18 seats, and is lower than some of the seats in those sections. I should know, my spouse and I had to pay $17 (partial plan) in 2008 and we could look down into the pressbox from our seats.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

It's pretty way up there, isn't it?

(The TV guys, seven stories up, are the $11 seats.)

– June 25, 2012 1:34 PM
Q.

 

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