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October 29, 2012

10:55
A.M.

Ask Boswell: Redskins, Caps, Nationals and more

Total Responses: 39

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.

Sweeping & Being Swept

This is bizarre. First the Tigers sweep the Yankees, and then they are swept by the Giants. Is this rare? If we would have beaten the Cards, do you think we would have beaten the Giants? We did beat them in the regular season. And then the Skins are stung to death by Big Ben and his Killer Bees! What a weekend!
A.
Thomas Boswell :

First, just wanted to wish everybody good luck, fingers crossed, with Sandy. Thinking of everybody back home, including family and friend. To give a sense of the size of storm, the news here in DETROIT is talking about the possibility of power outages HERE in a couple of days due to the storm as it comes inland.

This was only the third time a team has swept a rival who got into the Series with a sweep. So, it's very unusual.

The Nats won 5 of 6 from the Giants this season and really made them look bad, almost a mismatch. BUT the Giants were playing MUCH better at the end of the season and the Nats were degrading as September went on.

No, if they had met in the NLCS I don't think the Nats would have beaten them. The Giants hit very well in the second half and their experience from '10 would have been a huge factor __especially in pitching where the Giants whole staff is cool as ice and the Nats were revved much too high in some cases. Also, in a 7-game NLCS the Nats would have missed Strasburg more. In a 5-game series with Gio getting 2 of 5 starts, it shouldn't matter as much __though he didn't pitch up to that expectation.

The good news is that this Series showed how close the Nationals are. The Giants just swept the Series and you can have a sensible discussion of which team is best. With Strasburg for a full season and a good winter in the free agent and trade market, the Nats should be as good as anybody in the NL next year. But not the favorite __because until you have experience (and not just 5 games) you just don't have it.

 

– October 29, 2012 11:07 AM
Q.

Jim Haslett and the 3-4 Defense...

Boz (my fav writer!!!)... why on Earth did the Skins hire Jim Haslett and switch to this 3-4 defense?! It has gotten progressively worse every year under Haslett!!! Prior to his arrival, the 4-3 defense was perennial top 10 defense. Aren't the Skins just "outsmarting" themselves with this FAILED decision?! Goodness... same old skins. At least we have The TRUTH!! RGIII!!!!
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I second-guessed the switch to the 3-4 from the beginning. But that defense has so many injuries now __and the defensive backfield was poor BEFORE it got hurt and is now awful__ that it's hard to judge.

Still, when you make a complete personnel shift like that, you need to be right. So far, no. But that doesn't mean, when (or if) they are ever healthy that it can't work. Shanahan's worst problem in Denver and the reason he left was cinsistently bad defense. It was a top priority when he came to DC.

Gibbs last defense gave up 310 points. The two Zorn defenses gave up 296, then 336. Shanahan's defenses have given up 377 and 367 with 227 so far this year __a paace, obviously, for an atrocious 454.

– October 29, 2012 11:07 AM
Q.

SF Giants

Do you still think the Giants' pitching is overrated?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Yes, to a degree. I was talking to Ray Ratto from the SF Chronicle after the game and he said the same thing. The hitters are underrated, the pitchers excellent but not as good as '10. Overall, a better team. The starting rotation's road ERA's for the whole season tell the truth __better than average, but not much. Any good staff in the SF park looks great. But in the Series __fabulous. Maybe their best quality is now their experience. They can pitch their best when it counts the most.

The Series exaggerates, especially pitchers, when weather is cold and both ballpark are big. Bochy talked about how his rotation was actually in a slump early in post-season . ERA was 4.11 vs Reds, then off to bad start vs St. Louis until they gave up only 1 run in last 27 innings. Then they were rolling and you saw them at their best in the Series: 1.46.

Lincecum gave them amazing length in the bullpen. Hope he comes back to something like his old form again in '13.

– October 29, 2012 11:07 AM
Q.

Play calling...

So please explain to me why, when the 'skins need 15 or so yards, do they throw a lateral pass...I don't get it. I did like the play where RGIII was the pass receiver, but otherwise, they still reek.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

"Otherwise they still reek" is pithy.

And, after the injuries, apparently accurate.

This was a team with little depth. Then they tried to make cheap fixes after the cap hit crimped their ability to spend. There's always a reason that a player is available cheaply __low talent, gets hurt, recovers slowly. Something. When injuries hit the lack of depth was exposed. The only alternative was to use draft picks to trade down for multiple rookies to add (some) depth.

Wouldn't you rather trade up and get RGIII even if you have to wait a couple of years to put a team around him? I would.

– October 29, 2012 11:07 AM
Q.

Maryland QB injuries

Have you ever seen anything like this before, in any sport at one position?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Can't remember a local team getting hit this badly at the most crucial position. My son the Md grad was just saying how good the freshman was looking. And the next QB is....a converted linebacker? Is that actually right or are we getting bad info in the World Series press box?

– October 29, 2012 11:07 AM
Q.

The Shanahans

Hi Tom, Are the Shanahans done? Is Snyder going to have to (overpay) beg someone else to take the Redskins job? Other than RG3, this team looks like its goose is cooked.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

A week ago people were talking 8-8 because RGIII could keep them in (almost) any game. Now the world has come to an end because it's tough to beat the Steelers in the rain in Pittsburgh __if your receivers (apparently) drop 8-to-10 balls but the Steelers complete 73% of their passes?

I think before the season I talked about 6-10 being a sensible target. RGIII looked so good that there was some reason to hope for more. But when the injuries kept coming __especially at spots where they were already weak (DB, Davis at TE and receivers)__ it was just too much. That had to be about the worst collection of pass catchers you'll ever see witghout Davis or Garcon.

Not that we know anything about Garcon exept that when he's 10 yards behind the defense he can catch one TD bomb in Game 1, then be injured and out for weeks and weeks and weeks with a bad wheel that hehurt while running out a TD.

If that isn't a "Redskins injury," what is? The cap hit keeps you from going after a 1,000-yd+ receiver. So you go for a guy who's never had 1,000 (even playing with Peyton Manning), but you hope he gets better when more balls are thrown to him and he stays in one piece for less than one QUARTER.

– October 29, 2012 11:14 AM
Q.

NL Rules?

I'm 30 years old and for most of my basebal llife, the AL has donimated All Star and World Series p lay. My Dad is 56 and whebn he was growing up it was the o pposite. The AL couldn't buy an All Star win. But now the tide seems to be turning once again. The NL has won the last 3 All Star Games and World Series. I know hindsight is great, but we think any NL playoff team, would have easily handled the Tigers. Sort of like in 2007, when any AL p layoff team would almost certainly have swept th Rockies. Go Nats!
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I gthink that interleague play establishes that the A.L. is still clearly the stronger league. In part it's because great hitters who become free agents __like Pujols and Fielder__ find it logical to migrate to the A.L. because they can become designated hitters late in their careers. An A.L. team can, on average, offer a mega-free-agent hitter about two more years of guaranteed salary because they know that as long as the guy can drag a bat to the plate and lumber around the bases, he can still be productive as a DH.

It's been fun to see the N.L. win the last three All-Star games and get home field in the Series. And it has helped. TWICE the Giants have used back-to-back wins in Games 1 and 2 to jump to a 2-0 lead. And as I wrote after Game 2, that is a HUGE lead because it offers such a psychological cushion __you know you will get to come back home for a Game Six, so it relaxes you throughout the three-game set in the other ballpark. And it adds tension to the team in Detroit's position because they think __whether they want to or not__ "we almost HAVE to sweep all three at home." That's a big burden.

So, over the next few years, as the Nats figure to be in the think of this pitcure, D.C. fans should pay plenty of attention to the All-Styar game. It's a goofy system, but I think it's becoming obvious that home field matters in the WS and, for some reason, more than it used to matter.

– October 29, 2012 11:21 AM
Q.

The World Champion San Francisco Giants

Boz; In 2003, you wrote an article that I've held onto as sort of my "baseball playoff bible", where you said that postseason baseball is won by teams with great pitching and defense. There will be Yankees' fans saying that they lost "their world championship" because of their offensive failings until pitchers and catchers report. There will be Nats' fans still screaming about Rizzo sitting Strasburg (Forgetting that 6-0 lead in Game 5), saying that's the reason they lost. To those Yankees and Nats fans--FORGET THAT NOISE. The Giants had reasons to fold. Losing Brian Wilson the first week of the season. All those moves the Dodgers made, combined with the suspension of Melky Cabrera. I keep thinking that they shouldn't have won Game 3 in the Division Series--but somehow they did, then won the series. The Cardinals??!? After the way they broke the Rangers' hearts last year, then the Nationals' hearts??!? One of the reasons baseball is so fascinating is because it's about managing failure. A team is GOING to make 27 outs (Or in the case of last night, 30 outs). It's about what the team does between that first out and the 27th, including how those outs get used (Thinking of Brandon Crawford's sac-bunt in the top of the 10th) that makes this game almost science and art. Boz, the words in that article from 2003 will always ring true after October 1st every year with me.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Thanks very much.

October is almost always lower scoring. In most years, it's like going back in time __maybe not 100 years to Dead Ball days but certainly to a pitching-and-defense, plus athleticism era when baseball had balance.

One of the first things Rizzo told me, and others, when he took over as GM was that the Nats would focus on building a team constructed for the post-season. To him, that meant power-arm starters __so he ended up with Strasburg, Gio and Z'mann who are prototypes of post-season pitchers. (Okay, they were too hyper and either lacked control in Gio's case or command in Z'amnn's case vs St. Louis.) 

And Rizzo said, "We're going to get much more atheltic so we playh better defense and can run the bases." That's one reason he wouldn't resign Adam Dunn __probably at any price. He liked Dunn personally but did everything to make sure he didn't come back (even as Kasten wanted him to stay). Also, he didn't want Willingham's defense in LF. Up the middle, he got Ramos and believed in Desmond; that was a remarkable insight because nobody else thought he'd ever make less than 25 errors a year, if not 35. Also, he was part of moving Espinosa to 2nd where he is an exceptional defender with a great arm. That's part of why __at least as long as he bats 7th__ the Espinosa trade-off between power+defense vs ~190 Ks is a sound decision. Also, giving Harper a chance to learn CF in a season where the Nats probably weren't going to win the Series anyway was a way to get a great athlete in the middle of the defense.

Keeping LaRoche __and I really wonder how that can get done when he's almost certainly going to get over-pay offers from other teams, including perhaps the Orioles__ would be consistent with that pitching and defense theme.

A team also has to be built for its park. Bochy was very good at says how he and GM Sabean had gone for pitching, defense, speed and less power because their park was huge but other parks in their division (San Diego, Dodgers) were big-to-huge.

The Nats play in a "normal" park. That's why they strive for a balance of power, speed and defense while trying to keep both the staff and lineup balanced between RHed and LHed players. They've done a good job of it.

So, to your point, the Nats are VERY MUCH being built for October. Detwiler, Storen, etc., are also power arms. But experience is the one thing you can only get by "experiencing" it. The Nats got some great experience winning the NLEast in September and battling back to tie the DS, then go ahead 6-0 in Game Five. But part of playoff baseball experience is pain. You have to reach a fearless point __like the Giants pitchers__ where you just don't have "consequences" __either good or bad__ on your mind in crucial spots. You have to get past that and "be in the moment." Cliche, sure. The truth? That, too. The 29 walks in 44 innings in the DS is the problem that has to get solved before you can say the Nats are a pitching-and-defense team that's suited to the playoffs. There is no defense for a walk. Throughout the Series I watched Giant pitchers with a lead (even small ones) as they attacked and relievers who went after everybody, including Cabrera and Fielder. You can't beat 'em by avoiding 'em.  

– October 29, 2012 11:37 AM
Q.

WAPO and sports chats

Looks like your the last sports chat left. Better start doing your schedule in pencil. Pathetic!
A.
Haley Crum :

(Producer)

Tracee Hamilton chats weekly (although her travel schedule sometimes doesn't allow).  You can find the chat schedule on live.washingtonpost.com.  Thank you!

– October 29, 2012 11:37 AM
Q.

baseball

I was going to ask you a question, but since you never use my questions I'll take a pass.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

We get a LOT of questions. Even in 2 1/2 hours from the time I start until I stop I seldom even get to read 100% of them. I hope you'll keep trying.

– October 29, 2012 11:38 AM
Q.

Redskins Defense

I apologize for the satirical question, but what is the point of the Redskins having their defense on the field? Its not like they can stop anybody. They would have the same results even if the defense did not take the field. A college offense would shred this defense. Agree or disagree?

A.
Thomas Boswell :

Sorry to give a serious answer to a funny question. All you have to do is go into a major college football lockerroom, then one in the NFL to know that they are as different in size and strength as two diofferent species. Any NFL would annihilate any college team. Don't be fooled by height and weight. Plenty of the big guys in college are still close to being fat guys. The NFL giants are mostly made out of concrete (and probably other substances still to be determined).   

– October 29, 2012 11:40 AM
Q.

Bryce Harper

He's 20. He's great. I was just wondering how many athletes across all sports you would trade Bryce for one-for-one? I can't think of more than a handful, considering our non-need for a QB now.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I'd trade Harpoer for Trout because Trout has actually put up a monster year. You never absolutely know what a player can do until he does it. But I suspect that in one year or two, I probably wouldn't make that deal. Or at least it would be one of those Williams vs DiMaggio or Mantle vs Mays debates.

Oh, I'm serious. There's virtually nobody in baseball who thinks that the most likely outcome for Harper is anything but a superstar career. But he has to do it. He has to continue to learn and mature. Even though, most of the time __temper aside__ he's already quite mature.

RGIII is, to a degree, at the mercy of his (poor) team and, like any NFL QB, faces the possibility of serious injury. I see him more like Strasburg _-as highly likely to max out his ability, but not a certainty, RGIII because of his team and his violent sport, Strasburg because of his treacherous proffession: pitching with all its arm injuries. 

Harper, as an everyday player, has much less chance than either of them of having a One Event bad break that changes his whole career. And a hitter __see "Ted Williams"__ can hit no matter what team he plays for.

The only thing that can stop a player who is as good at 19-20-21 as Mantle, Mays, Griffey, A-Rod, Harper, Trout, Pujols, Frank Robby and many others who bloomed early is themselves. I don't think that will be aa big problem for Harper. He loves to learn, plays hard. We'll see how he copes with actually "being a star," rather than aspiring to become a star since, despite his wonderful season, he's not a true star yet. (No matter what WAR says.)

– October 29, 2012 11:50 AM
Q.

SC RB injury

A dislocated knee is the most serious type of knee injury. No not because of the extensive ligament and tendon damage but because it can often be fatal. I suffered a similar knee injury 32 years ago. Problem is you can rupture the artery and die. Sometime after my injury I was told a had 33% chance of dying, a 33% of losing my leg below my knee etc. Rehab was almost a year. The head of orthopedics at FX Hospital our family ortho wouldnt touch my knee. The late Dr Pat Palumbo former Skins doc put my knee back together. He said I can only participate in one contact sport. Hopefully young Mr Lattimore is also concentrating on his studies and girls.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I'm glad I didn't know this in 1967 (or 1968?) when I had the same injury playing play-ground basketball outdoors in January. I won't describe it. Except for Joe T I've never seen anything more "displaced." The guys with me wouldn't even touch me, so I had to put the thing back in place myself, twice. Yes, it took years to recover and it never really came back 100%. But now days they do a vastly b etter job. Then, you didn't put any weight on it for 6 weeks. (I don't really remember how long.) Now they have you trying to put some weight on it almost immediately so the muscles don't atrophy. But when I heard what Lattimore's injury was and the announcer said, "You may not want to look," I definitely didn't look. I had dreams/nightmares, once in a while, for years. I got run over by a car as a kid. Right over one leg. I barely dreamed about that at all. So that's a testimonial to how "memorable" dislocated knees are. I wish Lattimore well. How much he comes back, as I understand it, probably has more to do with the damage to things around the dislocated patella. I think he's got a shot at 100% because the treatment is so much better now. (I still don't have that damn medical degree, so any actual "scientific" point made in this post may be entirely ridiculous.)   

– October 29, 2012 11:58 AM
Q.

Nats Park

Is there any particular reason they didn't point it towards the water? There's no skyline to view in DC and while it would be pointing towards Anacostia, Cincy's ballpark points over their river to freaking Kentucky!
A.
Thomas Boswell :

They debated the alignment of the park a hundred ways. I've forgotten the details. But there was no way to get the Dome in CF. I ended up deciding that they did the best they could. From the upper deck there are some of the best vistas of the whole Washington area __maybe the best, actually.

I think that looking out __from the upper deck in LF__ at the US Capital, Washington Monument, Cathedral (in the distance), Library of Congress dome, Navy ships and the whole Virginia/Crystal City skyline is a lot better than having a similar number of seats looking across a rather humble river toward a skyline of generic trees. But it's an interesting subject.

– October 29, 2012 12:02 PM
Q.

Boring

I'm 78 years old and this is the first World Series I can remember in the last 70 years that I didn't care who won. I'm an old geezer who doesn't like the expanded playoffs that seem to go on forever, but realize I've lost that battle. I only watched parts of most of the games but can't tell my kids and grandkids that or they would get very worried.

A.
Thomas Boswell :

Game Four was excellent. Game One with the Panda's 3 homers was certainly memorable. But my cab driver to Game Four __a big Tiger fan but with a thick accent (said he was from Russia)__ said, "Both teams, not too good. The last two games, the same __nothing happened."

Don't tell Leyland and Bochy. They thought both games were full of great strategy. But "strategy" is hard to turn into an ESPN Top 10 highlight since it happens inside the manager's head.

– October 29, 2012 12:06 PM
Q.

Redskins . . . ouch.

Pretty bad when a team wearing Three Stooges uniforms makes comedy of the Redskins Injuries have hurt, no doubt, and it's easy to blame Jim Haslett. But what's he got to work with? Dropping 10 passes, though, was even worse. Next week, everyone is gonna believe Carolina will be beaten, but hey, the Panthers almost beat the Bears today. RGIII might be the league MVP, given what the Redskins expect from him, which is everything. Sad.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

People love to rate all-time-ugly uniforms. But those were the first uniforms I ever saw that when I first glimpsed them I actually let out a "Arrrghh!"

They were THE WORST I have ever seen in any sport. Except maybe the year the Chicago White Sox wore the  black-and-white uniforms that looked like short pants.

In a way, the Steelers HAD to win. How would you like to have to wear those uniforms, then for eternity be reminded that the day you wore them you lost (to the Redskins).

– October 29, 2012 12:09 PM
Q.

team chemistry

Mr. Boswell- DO YOU THINK BECAUSE RGIII is getting all the attention that this might be effecting Redskin team chemistry? Something is lacking. IT could be skill, but that means Shanahan and his boys are doing something wrong, don't you think?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

DHall might not be so good for team chemistry. But RGIII pretty much defines the good kind. Without him at QB  is there any doubt that the Skins would be worse than last year's team? Imagine Grossman with this cast of characters!

Let me shamelessly "retweet" myself from yesterday: "Heard the DHall news. First good break for Skins in weeks. If he's suspended, defensive backfield finally gets an upgrade."  

– October 29, 2012 12:14 PM
Q.

Tigers

Bos, this sounds ridiculous about a team that went to the World Series, but other than the ALCS (yea) didn't the Tigers underperform all year? They have one of the highest payrolls in baseball and play in a laughably weak division with only one other reasonably competitive team. They have Fielder, Cabrera, Verlander. Yet they barely snuck into the playoffs and took 5 gmes to vanquish the A's. I'm an AL fan but couldn't get excited about them at all in the WS. Turns out I was right..

A.
Thomas Boswell :

Got to say that Leyland frequently sounded slightly appologeticx for the bunch he was sending out there, especially after Valverde became useless with his Game One stinker. He talked, honestly, about how the Tiger offense had been "hot and cold" all year and "more cold."

More and more it is obvious that the three-level baseball playoffs resembles, in some ways, the NHL playoffs where you need to jell (or get lucky) late in the season, come into the playoffs hot, then get lucky in the draw and play the team you match-up with the best.

From Nats point of view, I thought they matched up well with the Braves and maybe the Giants but would have a 50-50 shot against the Cards and the hardest time with the Reds. The "draw" actually opened up for them about as well as it could have __if they had escaped the Cards. They missed the Reds. They'd have had a decent chance against Giants __though with hindsight I'd say the Giants would've won__ and then none of the handsomer teams (on paper) in the AL (the aging, collapsing Yankees, the underachieving Rangers or mysteriously lousy Angels) even got to the World Series.

I don't think the Nats would've gotten to the Series even if the Freese Frame pitch had been strike three to win Game Five. But if they had gotten there, the Tigers were so rusty from their layoff, so worried about their bullpen and so ready to go into a team hitting slump in cold weather that I think the Nats would/could have beaten them. Though, come on, if closing out a Division Series caused them to have a nervous breakdown __which is to be expected of the SECOND-YOUNGEST team in MLB__ then it is hard to imagine them closing out a Series.

I think it's good to view '12 as a huge 98-win NLEast title success, throw out 20-variable scenarios for "if they'd won Game Five" and just enjoy the odff-season and look forward to next year with even more interest.

Some teams somehow win a World Series too fast for their own good. This is just a thoery. Can't prove it. But I think one of the reasons that the Marlins have had such a horrible time building a decent fan base in Miami is because they won TWO World Series too fast. The players deserved their rings, but the town and franchise didn't "earn" their titles in a traditional sense. They built ($$) those eteams then broken up. There was no pain in the process of reaching the ultimate goal. So, South Floirda was left with an "Is that all there is to a fire?" sensation? 

Contrast that with how absolutely insane San Francisco went last year when the Giants won their first World Series since '54.

You know, Arizona, and their attendance, may have had some of the same problem. The franchise went out and bought itself an instant winner. But their fans never got to see the PROCESS of actually building an almost entirely home-grown winner __like the Nats.   

– October 29, 2012 12:28 PM
Q.

Melky Cabrera

Would the nats sign him to a one year deal?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I hope not.

– October 29, 2012 12:29 PM
Q.

Queen of Soul

Didn't anybody remind the Detroit Tigers that, had the Series gone to a Game 5, the National Anthem, instead of being sung by some Fox TV dweeb, would have been sung by Aretha Franklin? That should have been incentive enough to start scoring some runs.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Can't beat Aretha. She might have been worth a three-run first inning, even off Cain.

– October 29, 2012 12:30 PM
Q.

Redskins

So now we see what happens when we face a clearly excellent defense. But I can't help but wonder what may have happened if we had caught a few more balls. Sadly, I suspect Pittsburgh would have left the offensive tap open a little longer and taken the win anyway.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I want to see the tape __if airplanes every fly back to the East Coast again.

Hard to believe "10 drops." Even though, as you know from these chats, that's in line with my view of the Skins receivers who, for 20 years, have been the worst group in the NFL. I mean The Worst, not among the worst. I did the numbers a year ago. Many Skins fans think that the quality of the receivers they've seen in the last two decades is fairly normal for the NFL. It's NOT.

– October 29, 2012 12:33 PM
Q.

free agency upon us

Thomas, Now that free agency is upon us, I think the Nats had better be prepared to upgrade the roster. I think Bryce will be a 30/100 guy so that in and of itself will be an upgrade. The rest of the division will be healthier and in some cases better. What obvious upgrades make sense to you going forward? Who to sign? Who to resign? Who to trade?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

It's early. I need to study up and report out more on this. But I think a quality free agent starting pitcher is the place to start: Greinke (probably not), Peavy, Dempster. Doubt Jackson comes back. If LaRoche leaves __I hope not, but that's the way to bet, imo__ I think a powerhouse rotation with depth will take your further over the next three years than spending a ton of money on a CF like Bourn or Upton, neither of whom impress me a gerat deal. A lot of WARs are useful. But I see Michael Bourn >20 times every year and there is no way he is close to a 6.4 WAR player ('12) or 4.1, 4.7 and 4.5 the previous years. His speed and defense are in a gradual decline. Every time I see him him for a series I come away saying, "THAT is NOT a great centerfielder, just a good one who gets some bad jumps." But you would have to PAY for him as if he were a huge talent.

– October 29, 2012 12:39 PM
Q.

Kurt Suzuki

What do the nats do with him if Ramos is healthy?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Suzuki is signed for '13 ($6.25M) and the Nats are delighted. Ramos had a big injury. No way to tell how fast or how completely he comes back. But there's also no way (apparently) that he could be expected to catch 100 games next year. So a Suzuki/Ramos combination is an ideal transition to '14. You have a year to find out how much Ramos recovers and how muchn you like/love Suzuki. But the Nats say, firmly, that Ramos is their catcher of the future. Their Pkan A is that he gets healthy and takes over the job __a catcher with real power__ for years.

– October 29, 2012 12:41 PM
Q.

Redskins poorly constructed

How is this defense so bad? They have no push on the defensive line. Their secondary is beyond horrible. Is it the scheme, lack of talent, something else?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I'd start with "lack of talent." Especially without Orakpo, two projected starting safeties, etc. There is no way for this defense to get better. Help is NOT on the way. There are no options. They guys you are seeing on the field now ARE Plan B and Plan C. The Skins havd to "talk nice" about them. What are you going to say, "Oh, my God, we're going to have to send 'em out there again next week!" You just hope Fletcher gets healthier, not more injured.

– October 29, 2012 12:45 PM
Q.

D'ANGELO HALL

He seems to get burned all the time. When do you foresee the Redskins looking for other options?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

As I said last week, the Redskins have the easiest defense in the NFL to read: Just look for "23."

How many Redskins coaches in a row have called this guy "a team leader." In what possible sense. I don't mean he's not an NFL quality player or that he doesn't have a playing-making sense. But he has always been over-hyped and always bought into that view of himself or led the bandwagon for himself.

– October 29, 2012 12:47 PM
Q.

D. Hall

I can see why Hall went ballistic. There were at least two blown calls the refs did not call against the Steelers (holding & def pass interference). He was not flagged for taking off his helmet. The Pitt player had just thrown Hall to the ground using Hall's helmet and the refs did nothing about it. Hall took off his helmet to talk to the official and after asking the ref about it I'm sure it was the official's response that infuriated Hall to the point of Hall lashing out at the ref with his profanity laced tirade. The flags did not come out until that had happened. Does that justify what Hall did? Certainly not but I can see why he did what he did.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Glad to have the other side preseented.

– October 29, 2012 12:47 PM
Q.

Nats Trades

Do you see the Nats making any trades for pitching?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

They absolutely have to sign a rotation-piece free agent pitcher if they don't resign Jackson and non-tender Lannan, which is the general assumption. (But you know what they say about "assumptions")

– October 29, 2012 12:49 PM
Q.

Wizards have fallen off the Washington sports map!!!

I've been a Washingtonian sports fans for more than two decades now, but I've felt such lack of interest in the Wizards as I have witnessed this year. And this is with the Caps not even playing!!! I feel like there was more interest in the Bullets during the days of Googs and Chapman than there is in this current team...With Nats and RG3Skins' resurgence, if the Wizards don't get in the playoffs next year, the Wizards will really sink into the black hole of the sports world. Any thoughts?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I agree. Perhaps being lousy for the large majority of the last third-of-a-century had something to do with it. Looked at from a multi-decade persapective, only the existence of the legendarily awful Sacremento Kings kept them from getting the blistering they usually deserved. Yes, I know they had a few decent teams.

This franchise has not topped 45 wins __45 lousy wins__ since '78-'79. Now THAT is an epic fail.

– October 29, 2012 12:53 PM
Q.

Epinosa

Will Danny make the leap like Desmond this year?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

IMO, you absolutely have to wait and find out. Because Espinosa's ceiling in his third full-time year at 2nd base is comparable to Desmond's in his third full years at SS in '12.

That is a fairly normal time line. Chase Utley's first big year was at 26. So was Brandon Phillips. Espinosa turns 26 next April.

– October 29, 2012 12:56 PM
Q.

Perspective

Bos, Lets put this in perspective. I understand injuries are part of the game. I get it. Good teams overcome them, bad teams do not. But, for the sake of insanity, tell me where you think the Skins would be today with the full time serviices of Garcon, Davis, Brown, Carriker, Orakpo, Jackson, Merriwether, Helu and/or Hightower? If healthy, how much better would this club be?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Well, you can't wish them ALL back. It's the NFL. People get disaasembled on a regular basis. Maybe the question should be: What would they be like with only half or two-third of these injuries? 

– October 29, 2012 12:59 PM
Q.

Nats Playoff Performance

Tom, it seems to me that the only member of the Nats who came out of our playoff larger than he went in was Ross Detwiler. Tyler Moore gets honorable mention. Am I forgetting anyone? And did anyone really hurt themselves (in the eyes of the organization) in the NLDS? Thanks, Bob on Furnace Mountain
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Gio needs better composure. Storen, who normally attacks, just has to remember to do it the next time he gets in a post-season situation. And with four wildcards now it's not going to be as hard for good teams to make a lot of post-season appearances. If you win 88, you're going to be "in" almost all of the time in the N.L. Jackson's stock went down. Werth showed he liked the stage. So did Z''amn, at least at bat. Desmond looked confident hitting, a little nervy on defense. Z'mann "overthrew" in Game Two. Again, a standard example of too-amped. When he came in relief in Game Four, he was focused, determined to atone and blew everybody away. That's who he CAN be in October __think Matt Cain.

Strasburg has always risen on big stages. It should be fun if/when he gets his 1st post-season chance, especially as many fires as he must have banked up inside him after all the grief he and the Nats took for a difficult but obviously justifiable decision.

– October 29, 2012 1:05 PM
Q.

coin toss

Boz, Shanny, that genius of numbers, has won the coin toss 7 stright games and hes defferred, letting opposing teams get rolling out of the gate against what is maybe the worst Skins D in a couple generations. I understand wanting the ball after halftime. But, why would Shanny the magnificent put his entire team behind the 8 ball early in each game just because the odds favor winning and deferring?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The way you put it, it does seemed like one of the stupidest decisions in the history of sports.

The ways of true genius are hard to fathom. Or maybe he's just conned himself into thinking that he doesn't have a defense that's going to give up 450 points. But it sure looks like it is.

– October 29, 2012 1:09 PM
Q.

San Fran fans

I have long been extremely jealous of the crowd in San Fran. Do you think DC can/will ever get to that point?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

There wasn't much difference between the S.F. and St. Louis crowds, always justifiably praised, and the insanity of the Nats fans at Games Four and Five. That was the biggest surprise of the whole post-season to me. The crowd probably stood for 60-to-75 straight minutes from the top of the sixth inning (cheering Detwiler) until the Werth walk-off in Game Four. Z'amnn got them nuts with K-K-K. Then Clippard struck out the side. Then Storen almost did it. So they were standing and demanding the next strikeout and they almost got 9 in 3 innings. And then they cheered for a Nats run in the bottom of every inning to break the 1-1 tie.  I kept looking out and saying, "The whole lower deck is STILL standing and screaming and waving! Who are these poeple? And where have they been hiding for the last six years?" And plenty of the upper deck, too.

– October 29, 2012 1:14 PM
Q.

Boz

I'm stuck at home...entertain me!!!
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I'm tryin'.

Ain't much else to do by the highway in Dearborn except worry about the folks back home.

– October 29, 2012 1:15 PM
Q.

Nats. vs. Giants

Hi Tom, Thanks for doing this chat during Sandy. Do you see similarities between the Nats and the Giants especially in terms of their pitching? They both seem to rely on a deep staff that has lots of power pitching. The Nats offense seems to be far and away better than the Giants though.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Yes. A lot of similar thinking. And payroll expectations. Brian Sabean wins the world titles while the guy across the Bay gets the movies. They're both remarkable in their ways and within their constraints.

Nats have a normal pitcher-hitter park. So you need at least normal power. The Giants have an under-rated offense. Look at their home/road splits.

– October 29, 2012 1:18 PM
Q.

World Series

Why has NL team been able to shut down AL team three years in a row, while NL does so bad in interleague play?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

It's truly amazing. The combined record in the last three Series is 12-4 fcor the NL and the combined score (even more surprising to me) is 83-48. Very decisive.

Maybe no-DH baseball actually is real baseball.

– October 29, 2012 1:21 PM
Q.

Small ball Giants

The stuff about the Giants mastering the fundamentals is dead on. I'm in Chicago and watch the Cubs all season, and it amazed me during the World Series to see these Giants players effortlessly doing things like hitting the cutoff, making accurate throws, legging out extra bases, getting that situational hit, etc. They made it look easy when apparently it isn't for everyone.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Exactly. The Giants breed a culture of unselfishness and smart play. Buck is doing the same thing in Baltimore with the Orioles and anyone who watches the Nats know that they have excellent chemistry and value fundamentals/defense.

But most teams don't.

– October 29, 2012 1:23 PM
Q.

Terps QB

Nope- you've got it right. The new Terps QB is a Freshman linebacker who was an option QB in high school. His backup is a tight end. Two of them went down due to freak injuries without contact (the first and the third). One got blindsided by an illegal block during an interception return. I'm an alumni who is not a Randy Edsall supporter, but even I think we can give him a pass for the rest of the season. In the meantime, does anyone remember how to run a single wing offense, because with this quarterbacking situation we're probably going to look more like the 1920's than a modern offense.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Wow.

Actually, I asked an NFL DC a couple of years ago if there were similarities between the current college offenses __and NFL variations__ with a snap back to the QB and the old single-wing attacks of the '20 and '30's with spinners and counters. Of course, they use wideouts and far more passes now. But he said, "There a lot of similarity in some of the old single-wing tailback plays."

On that note, I am going to watch about 36 straight hours of Sally coverage on the Weather Channel, when I'm not on the cell phone with my family (I hope). Good luck to everybody. Fingers crossed for you.

See you next week. (Yes, I'm guessing that, despite Jim Cantore, there will be a Next Week.)

– October 29, 2012 1:29 PM
Q.

Good/Bad?

Did the Giants play really well or were the Tigers just really bad? Or a little of both?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

More Giants played gfood than Tigers played bad. Verlander's bad start, which Leyland attributed to him being "on fast forward" (nerves), and Fieldre's obvious anxiety were the Tiger flaws. 

That would be Sandy, not Sally. It is extremely unwise to insult a 10,000-mile-wide storm. I apologize profusely.   

– October 29, 2012 1:32 PM
Q.

 

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