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December 10, 2012

11:07
A.M.

Ask Boswell: Redskins, Caps, Nationals and more

Total Responses: 44

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.

RGIII's career

Not really a question - If RGIII doesn't get much more conservative fast, he's is going to be injured a lot and he will have a very, very short career. The way that he throws his body around is just asking for a Theismann-like career ending injury.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Writing my column I just couldn't get the images of RGIII's injury out of my mind. The Skins central question/s of this season is probably: How should RGIII be used, how much should he run, how much of this kind of contact can he take?

At the very least, if he keeps cutting back across the field where 340-pound D-linemen can hit him __and maybe hit him late sometimes__ he may have a short career at this level. Emphasis on "at this level." You want his speed to be a major threat for years, as it was with Young, Cunningham, Vick, Tarklenton, Staubach. You want AGE to slow him down, not injury.

Thought you'd like to see the number of carries by QBs in the NFL this year. How often do other QBs run the ball __not sacks, but plays listed as runs, either intentional or scrambles.

RGIII...112-748-6 TD. NFL leading 9 fumbles while running.

Newton...104-640-7

Kaepernick...46-351-5

Russell Wilson...69-310-0

Vick (before injured)...57-3-7.

Rodgers...46-234-1

Luck...49-223-5

Ponder...47.

I'd certainly rather see RGIII used at the Rodgers level of rushes __46, not 112. RGIII has GREAT passing ability. He doesn't have to rush for 748 yards! newton is 6-5, 250. Walk behind RGIII and while he's not spindly he's certainly not a typical NFL "specimen" QB like the 6-4 or 6-5 prototypes. Even Mark Brunnell looked like a major weight lifter.

This will be an endless debate. Right now, I'd say that the Skins are using RGIII at the absolute MAXIMUM amount of carries that you could imagine for a 217-ppound QB. On a 1-to-10 scale of risk, I'd say that RGIII himself, by being wreckless, and the Shanahans with play calling, are at a "9." 

How do youy get a guy to dial down to "6" or "7." Is it possible? I have no idea.

But a second-down cutback run into Ngata is a voluntary choice to court disaster. RGIII GOT HIMSELF hurt the instant he cut back. He should have gone out of bounds. Easy to say now. 

– December 10, 2012 11:02 AM
Q.

Kirk cousins

Hi Tom - if RGIII is out for any length of time, will the Skins still be able to use the "Pistol" offense, or will they have to go back the traditional stuff of the past? This is pretty exciting. Gill in NC

A.
Thomas Boswell :

I doubt they'd use the Pistol much with Cousins. It's an option offense used in college and in many high schools. You pull a ton of people into the box in most oif the Pistol formations. Many teams (including the NFL) play variations of the ancient 4-4 stack against it.

At the NFL level, you need an exception runner __either speed, power or like Cam Newton both__ to make it work. Because the threat of the QB keeping the ball, especially on zone read back to the weak side, has to be legit.

Cousins is not a big guy. Listed at 6-3, 209. Not burly at all.  Don't think he's made for Pistol punishment. But they'd have to change so much of their offense __or limit what they use__ that might be forced to stick with it for a week if they thought RGIII might miss 1, but only 1 week. Lotta wquestions this week.

Take away the Pistol and the Skins offense wouldn't look the same. Against the Giants on Monday night, the Skins ran 32 Pistol plays for 259 yards. 

As I've meentioned before, you might enjoy Googling the Pistol because it's used all the way down to youth football. It's novel in the NFL and it's only been around less than 15 years. But it's especially unconventional in the NFL because it's such a bunched formation and brings so much defensive brute force so close to the ball. It takes special personnel to make it work, especially since huge NFL lineman are rarely as good at trap blocking or pulling.   

– December 10, 2012 11:03 AM
Q.

Kirk Cousins

OK, I hereby apologize for all of the criticism I leveled at the Redskins last spring for drafting Kirk Cousins as well as RGIII.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Apologies accepted by the Skins, I'm sure.

I was covering something else during the draft and didn't get to comment at the time. There's no statute  of limitations on looking dumb, so I'll do it now: I thought it was one of the dumbest draft picks I'd ever seen. For all the reasons many others said at the time. I might have to rethink that!

It's be interesting later today and as the week goes on, to see whether Griffin can or should play on Sunday versus Browns. What's risk factor? Also, it worries my that RGIII seems quite determined to prove to his teammates that he has the courage for the QB position in the NFL. I wouldn't think that needed to be proved with all the hits he takes. "I think the guys were proud of me for coming back in," he said. And it was amazing, even more on replay, to watch him complete two passes on one leg. The all-arm throw to Garcon for 22 yards to the 16 was perfect. Still scary watching him jump on one leg, go to his knees, start to crawl. 

Watched the replay of the Cousins TD to Garcon a couple of more times. Nice pump fake, bought time, rolled right, actually had to throw hard to get the ball over Johnson but still ahead of Reed closing.

 

– December 10, 2012 11:03 AM
Q.

From where I sit

Still looks like the Ravens have a better shot at the playoffs than do the Redskins. But I don't think either team will be in the next Super Bow. Your thoughts?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

As all Ravens fans will tell you (I expect to hear from some of my friends of that ilk this week), this was the first time the Ravens played without either Ray Lewis or Suggs since '03.So, to them, it's probably not the "real" Raven defense.

Also, Ed Reed never seemed to get off the bus. He played a single deep safety all day and barely seemed to be engaged in the game. He was the last line of defense, but he was no force __six tackles, sixth among Baltimore defenders__ with no impact plays.

I wasn't impressed with Flacco when the game was on the line in the 2nd half. He started hot, burned Hall twice for TDs to Bouldin and, you'd think, was primed for a big day. Then his disappeared, except in the sense that poor pocket presence may have contributed to his INT to Fletcher. He just never seems to know who is around him, close to him. A QB needs a balance. He has to Stand And Deliver in the face of pressure. But he also needs a sixth sense of when it's time to protect the ball, throw it away. Flacco doesn't seem to have much of a 6th sense. 

It was amusing listening to Maske's running commentary of Flacco. How can I say this politely? Whenever Baltimore got the ball, he'd mutter, "The Redskins best player is coming back onto the field." (Flacco.)  (Sorry, Mark.)

To answer the question, as exciting as the last four weeks have been for the Skins, no, I don't see them in any Super Bowl. BUT they do have bragging rights over the entire NFC East after their Eagles-Cowboys-Giants blitz and now they've added the 295 bragging rights to their collection.

No, the Ravens, especially after the last two weeks, don't look like a Super Bowl team. Those who are now calling them "the four" team in the AFC probably have it right. They have been helped by a high "plus" turnover ratio, but still don't have the point differential of a 9-4 team. ProFootballReference says they "should" be 8-5. That's probably right.

– December 10, 2012 11:07 AM
Q.

No practice reps for backup QB

Morning, Boz....what a comeback amidst drama for the Redskins....RGIII's health is topic No. 1, 2, 3 and more today as folks worry about his status. My question, though, relates to the status of his backup QB, Cousins or, perhaps, Rex. Every NFL team seems to rarely give its backup QB any reps in practice, yet you don't need to be a coach to know that the substitute likely will be needed at some point. Why wouldn't a coach give his backup at least a half dozen snaps every practice? After all, unlike college, there's no time limit on how long a team can practice Perhaps you can explain.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Shanahan can answer that. But it seems to be pretty much universal that the backup only gets to work with the scout team.

I think coaches at all levels hate the sight of their backup quarterback. I think it ruins their day. I've been there in HS, running scout team plays to mimic the other team's QB. If you do something right, you feel like your own coach is ready to choke you because he's screaming at the 1st team defense like its an affront to the game of football that this lousy scout-team QB coould move the ball on them.

Oh, I'm sure Cousins never feels that way. ;-)  

– December 10, 2012 11:09 AM
Q.

Angelo (No D') Hall

This guy had a terrible game yesterday. He does not deserve his big contract. Not only did he coast and give up 2 TD's, but late in the game, after his man caught a ball, he just tugged on his jersey for about 15 more yards. Brandon Banks is done. Can Angelo be done also?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Boldin beat him __all together, "Like a drum"__ twice. And, yes, in the 4Q, he was "carried" by Boldin for 15 rather important yards __the ones from the Redskin 22-yard line down to the seven. I think that 13 of those yards are called __what is that term__ oh, yes, THE RED ZONE. DeAngelo was a passenger through most of it and that helped set up the score to put Baltimore ahead 28-20. 

I focused on Hall on several other plays and every time I watched him he did something good! Now if I could only watch him exclussively on every play of every game, his problems would be over. To his credit (I suppose), he was on an island with Boldin much of the day and Boldin "only" caught those three passes. Two TDs and a 28-yard gain to set up a TD __I expect Boldin feels he got the better of it, ya think?

Much of Hall's value is as a "playmaker." You know, INTs, strips, the DB blitz. If he isn't making plays...

– December 10, 2012 11:18 AM
Q.

Starting rotation depth

Hi Tom I find it hard to imagine any starter of worth will sign with the Nats now that there are five rotation certainties in place. So why did Rizzo non-tender Gorzelanny, who as the LHP long man could spot start? He has been effective at times, the non-tender now seems like a false economy.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

My quick take is that, after making $3M last year, Gorzelanny would be fairly expensive since he's arbitration eligible. The Nats thought that LHer Zach Duke (15-5 at Syracuse and an excellent Sept with Nats) was a duplicate piece at a fraction the price. Both are 29. I'd have to agree. Duke has 168 MLB starts, almost all with the horrid Pirates.  

– December 10, 2012 11:22 AM
Q.

Tim Tebow (Again)

Boz, why did the Jets take him if they weren't going to play him? Was it so he wouldn't play for Miami or another of their opponents? Did they deliberately take him to keep him from playing anywhere else? And why in heaven's name did he take their offer instead of Miami's? I can't help it; I really feel for him. It has to be a living nightmare for him. It's a dog in the manger thing, or at least so it seems.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Devil made them do it.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.) 

 

– December 10, 2012 11:23 AM
Q.

RGIII

It seems to me that everyone who was in favor of shutting down Strasburg should be against RGIII playing against Cleveland and everyone who wanted Strasburg to pitch 225 innings would want RGIII to play. Am I wrong here?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I think you may be right. Of course, it does depend on what we learn about the condition of RGIII's knee today and as the week goes on.

But, yesterday, I did have a Strasburg feeling. The Nats shut Strasburg down __for his long-term benefit__ when they had THE best record in baseball and were a lock to make the playoffs. And he wasn't even hurt. They were thinking out his whole career with them __even though he probably wasn't too happy about it.

The Skins are 7-6 and, the stat folks say, have a less than 50-50 chance to make the playoffs. So, the game at Cleveland may be a test of RGIII's judgment __he'll say he can play if he can walk, I suspect__ and Shanahan's, too. 

Making the playoffs is a big deal. But I believe the general idea of the whole thing is to go to Super Bowls and win them or go to the World Series and win.

The Redskins, after all the draft picks they gave away, aren't going anywhere any time soon without RGIII. So, they might want to factor that into their thinking. We see what brilliant coaching got them __6-10 and 5-11. Thought for the Day (for  Mike): A great QB makes every coach look like a genius.     

– December 10, 2012 11:31 AM
Q.

Nats center field

Tom, how do you look at the Nats' acquisition of Denard Span compared to the Phillies' of Ben Revere? Which team (Nats or Phillies) made the better deal? Span looks like a more finished product for a "win now" situation, but Revere might have more upside long term. Both players have value salary levels. The Nats can control Span for up to 3 years (hopefully still in his prime from age 29 to 31); the Phillies get Revere for at least five years just as Revere comes into his prime from age 25 to 29). Both are reputed to play outstanding defense. Span fits the lead-off mold better now (career OBP = .357 versus Revere's.319), but Revere is improving (.333 OBP in 2012) and he's much more of a stolen base threat (Revere had 40 SB in 2012 to Span's 17). The Phillies clearly paid the higher price. If you assume Alex Meyer and Trevor May are comparable, high ceiling, future top of the rotation talents, and Worley is a solid middle of the rotation starter (11-3, 3.01 in 21 starts in 2011), the Phillies clearly paid a higher price for Revere --- but is he worth it? Did the Nats get the right guy, or could they have gotten Revere even up for Meyer, and would that have been a better deal? Do the Nats think they have a better internal option than Revere for 2015 or 2016?

A.
Thomas Boswell :

Great question. Phils gave up known quantities, IMO. Worley is a proven useful pitcher. After five years in the minors, I doubt Trevor May has anything like top-of-the-roitation talent, no matter what anybody says. Lotta K's, but as wild as they come. If you are 10-13 in your fifth year as a pro with a 4.87 ERA, you aren't the next Clemens. OTOH, the Phils didn't get a proven talent in return as the Nats did with Span. Revere has been a terror in the minors, hitting .326 at all stops, but he has now had MORE than 1,000 plate appearances in the majors. That is a LOT. He's not raw. He has 0 homers (!) and an OPS 100 points lower than Span. No reason, at this point, that at 25, he's suddenly going to hit in MLB the way he did in the minors. Span has a .283 career MLB average. You know he'll hit.

Revere has speed __74 steals, 19 CS__ with Twins. Since when did the Phils collect guys to play in that park who have 0 career homers but 74 steals?

Nats got a solution to what they perceive as a need. Phils, rebuilding, took a flier on a talent. So, as you say, Nats are looking at Span as part of a 2-or-3 year window when they control him. It's a move a team makes coming off 98 wins. Revere might be a prize if he ever dupes his minor league success. It does not make you think the Phils are in "win now" mode. I thought they said they were.

Getting Young's bat to play 3rd, otoh, may be an upgrade, though Polanco had the better glove. 

– December 10, 2012 11:42 AM
Q.

A beautiful dream

Imagine Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin squaring off in this year's Super Bowl! You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

You're a dreamer.

(But dreams are allowed. However, I always hated that song.)

– December 10, 2012 11:43 AM
Q.

The O's!

I see that Mark Reynolds has signed with Cleveland. Any idea why the O's didn't try to sign him? Or did they? He seemed to do quite well, once he moved to 1B last year after Machado came up. How much does this hurt the O's, and do you have any idea who's gonna play 1B for tyhem next season. Is LaRoche on their radar?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

As long as Reynolds could be adequate at 3rd base, you could consider such an all-or-nothing HR-or-KKKKK player. But as a 1st baseman, where you can put almost any good hitter in your organization, Reynolds just isn't a good enough stick. His glove was nice over there. But that's not enough.

I know there have been times in recent months when LaRoche was on the O's radar. Don't know about now. They have a lot of LHed bats. Do they need another? Also, O's would have to go at least 3 yrs to top the Nats 2-yr offer. Look at LaRoche's 10 "most comparable" players at age 33. Plenty were useful at 33. But, of the 10, only Joe Adcock was good enough at 33-34-35 to be worth the kind of 3-yr deal LaRoche would want in B'more.   

– December 10, 2012 11:49 AM
Q.

How About Giving Cooley a Chance?

When is Shanahan Sr or Jr going to give Cpt Chaos a real chance to play. So far from what I have seen he has been on the field for less than what five plays and then it was only for blocking purposes. Paulsen & Paul have a combined 26 games with 26 Rec for 378 yds (not including fumbles & penalties). Cooley was open yesterday once but not targeted that I saw.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I noticed No. 47 for a split second yestyerday. It wouldn't be an awful idea to throw him a pass in the last game of the season. You might see 80K people stand up and cheer. That seldom hurts the home team.

– December 10, 2012 11:51 AM
Q.

Skins Confidence

The most telling thing for me over the last two weeks is the confidence the Skins offense has been building. In back to back weeks they have accomplished what only good teams can do. A clock killing end of game drive to cement the win and a final game tieing drive to send it to OT. The Skins of recent memory would have had two quick 3 or 4 and outs and lost both games.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Excellent points. This Skins team, thanks to Griffin, has a totally different feel. They think they'll find a way to win, not find a way to lose. Obviously, excellent QBs, throughout recorded time, have had a direct relationship with this phenomenon. I believe the word I am searching for is "causal."

– December 10, 2012 11:53 AM
Q.

The Decible Meter

What was louder: Werth's homerun in NLCS Game 4 or the OT Field Goal yesterday?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

It's gettin' pretty noisy around D.C.!

The total silence of the 10-to-15% Ravens fans __or whatever it was__ may have muted FedEx a hair! 

– December 10, 2012 11:57 AM
Q.

what's best for your team

Can someone explain to a famous QB in the DC area that the best way to help your team win is by being on the field? And sometimes that involves sliding and not getting 1 more yard by diving. Being tough is playing every down. Watching the games from a hospital is not the definition of tough.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

RGIII had an ACL at baylor. He's had a concussion this year. It's not like he has a "indestructible" reputation. Either he or the Skins or both have to preserve his future.

That has got to be the ultimate "easier said than done" NFL connundrum.

– December 10, 2012 11:59 AM
Q.

Nats

Have they done enough to win it all? Do they need to bring in another closer to "help" Storen, if need be? They tried it last season, but it failed. Still seems like a good idea to me, though.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Nats may have to revamp their off-season evaluations just a bit in light of what is happening 3,000 miles away. And one more quality reliever, not just "another" reliever who throws LHed may be needed. The bar has been raised.

The Dodgers continued onslaught over the weekend, signing Greinke for $146M and then their $36M 6-yr deal with Korean LHer Ryu, makes them the pre-season NL favorite, I'd expect.

The Dodgers new owners have committed themselves to $600M in salary in less than their first year.

Who's doing this? Who's turning the Dodgers into the Yankees of the N.L. but with a $250M payroll for '13 that (already) will be the biggest in baseball history?

Oh, Stan Kasten. (Guess he was the reason the Nats didn't spend much. Isd he trying to make a point? Or is it just the $6B RSN deal talking?)

As soon as the Kasten-c0nstructed group got the Dodgers, I mentioned here that '12 would be the last year for a long time that the road to the World Series did NOT go through Los Angeles. Well, that didn't take long.

I don't envy Don Mattingly that clubhouse. But he's got two former Cy Youngs in his rotation and FIVE multiple-time All-Stars in the lineup.

Of course, expectations for the Dodgers are now through the roof. They havben't done anythi8ng (by LA standrads) since '88. So, this a.m. in the LA Times I read that the Dodgers will either go to the World Series in '13 or be known as The Choking Dogs.

So, no pressure, guys.

– December 10, 2012 12:10 PM
Q.

Jamie Shields trade

What do you think of the Shields trade? Who comes out ahead? Do the Rays have enough pitching to remain AL East contenders, even after trading their No 1 starter?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Oh, for a second I thought you asked, "What should the NFL do to Protect The Shield." 

Bounty scandal still in the news, concussions every week, drunk driving issues reappear tragically, you name it, the NFL has it on its plate right now __lot of serious and sad societal issues swirling around a sports league.

Even without Shields, the Rays have so much pitching it's sick. They got younger and cheaper with a monster prospect (Wil Myers, 37 HR, Minor League POY) added and a six-deep deep rotation still in place.

The price that Shields (and Wade Davis) fetched shows you why the Nats couldn't play in this game and went for Haren instead. Myers-PLUS-three-other-prospects is a big price. 

– December 10, 2012 12:19 PM
Q.

Skins

This is turning out to be a special season, in so many ways. Have the Skins reached a "tipping point" in their re-build, after all these years? Sure seems like it, and it sure seems like the rest of the League is taking notice. All of a sudden, we've got a K, a RB, a QB, and a No 1 WR who look like the real deal. Would you agree? Have you had to re-evaluate Albert Morris, whom you pegged for fewer yards than he's gonna get? Nice to see relevant football in December in DC, for a change, isn't it?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

If RGIII stays in one piece, it sure feels like the corner has been turned. Look at all the other rookies who showed well on Sunday including Cousins and Crawford, plus the addition of a true speed receiver (at 212 lbs) in Garcon now that he's healthy. Suddenly, a dependable kicker, a void for years.

But Morris is really a proud pick for Shanahan, continuing his tradition of having a great eye for running backs. Morris could end up 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards (far) behind Adrian Peterson.

The list now is Peterson (1600), Marshawn Lynch, Sea 1,266, Doug Martin, TB, 1,234, MORRIS, 1,228 and Jamaal Charles, KC, 1.220.

That's a remarkable group of additions in one year __and in spots where they were truly needed: QB, RB, WR, K. Now you wonder how others like Orakpo and Davis will heal for the future. 

– December 10, 2012 12:26 PM
Q.

Good football vs Cheap shots

I got a good look at the photos published by the WashPo this morning of RGIII going down and Ngata still 3 or 4 full steps away before he projects himself like a flying missile at RGIII While watching the game, there were two shots, helmet to helmet on RGIII after he had gone out of bounds with no flag dropped. Though I doubt that the Ravens have a bounty program in effect, they seem to try and hit their opponents is such a way that injuries are more likely to result. Their whole team seems into it. I am from Maryland but I do not like to see any player injured in any sport on any team just for the sake of trying to take them out of the game.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Ravens have played in the Ray Lewis/Ed Reed style for many years. They are coming to take your head off. So, you can expect that they'll be one of the most violent teams in an ultra-violent league. (So you might want to run out of bounds on 2nd down, because you sure can't count on the Ravens setting the international standard for polite play.)

The Ravens defense reminds me of Samuel L. Jackson in "Pulp Fiction" when he casually shoots the guy on the sofa through the chest, killing him instantly, and then turns to the other drug dealer he's "questioning," and says, "Oh, did I alarm you?" 

– December 10, 2012 12:32 PM
Q.

idioms

Tom, is it "hair's breadth" or "hare's breath?" Please explain other than by saying it's your column.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

It should be "hair's breadth," not "hairsbreadth." However, with my spelling, it's a miracle it didn't come out as "hare's breath."

Unless you object, I think I'll just save "hare's breath" for a play when a back runs through a hole like a rabbit. 

("It's my column" is never the right answer.)

– December 10, 2012 12:37 PM
Q.

Fed Ex Field

How would you feel if you were Snyder and saw the magnificence that Cowboys stadium is, and then you come back home to the concrete jungle/prison that Fed Ex Field is? I can't see Snyder loving that long time.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I suspect he's noticed.

However, I'd say the Cowboy monstrosity is actually uglier, just in its own Jerry way.

– December 10, 2012 12:39 PM
Q.

No real equality

Why is Intentional Grounding and PF Roughing the Passer are offsetting penalties?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The rule is "off-setting penalties," not "off-setting felonies."

Though sometimes you wonder.

– December 10, 2012 12:39 PM
Q.

Harper

Will Harper be hitting cleanup this year and, if so, what's your thinking on this?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

If LaRoche doesn't return, it sure seemed like Davey was ploughing the road for Harper to hit cleanup last time we talked.

No matter where you bat Harper, the league will still pitch to him like he is Babe Ruth. Davey was amazed last year. He hit Harper in front of Z'man and LaRoche last year and the league pitched Harper "like he was Aaron" (in Davey's words) while ignoring his supposed protection.

So, if nobody can protect Harper, then you might as well let Harper protect somebody. Believe it or not, Harper, if he has a decent season, will probably protect Zimmerman and get him better pitches and more fastbvalls the way Adam Dunn did in '09 and '10 when Z'man had his best offensive years. 

Oh, you don't think Harper, as a rookie, was More Fearer than the Dunn of '09-'10? I'd say he was pitched with even more "respect" __a common baseball term for fear.   

– December 10, 2012 12:44 PM
Q.

Nats Depth

Should I be worried about our pitching depth? Our pitching was remarkably healthy this year and if that doesn't hold true, especially with questions about Haren's health I am not sure we can assume that will hold true this season. Don't we need another starter or two who could eat innings if needed?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

What, you don't call Maya depth? 

Last year, I thought the Nats had six starting pitchers, including Lannan, but never Wang. Now, they probably have six, including Duke, though he's not as good as Lannan was. (They did the decent thing letting Lannan free.)

There is a lot of second-line pitching on the loose out there now. When the musical chairs stops, there are guys who suddenly say, "I don't have a job? I'm OUT of baseball?" Livan Hernandez had that experience in '11, I think, and ended up starting 29 games. That's where/when contenders can find seventh and eighth starters for AAA. There's no rush. Rizzo will find another starter to put at AAA. because they need another one, imo. As good as Christian Garcia looked, you can't project someone who's had that much arm trouble. You hope he works out. But you don't build on that foundation, imo. 

– December 10, 2012 12:50 PM
Q.

Winning covers many mistakes by the refs

Am I the only fan that saw the obvious bias by the refs in the Ravens Redskins game yesterday? On Flacco's second touchdown throw, he should have been sacked before he threw the ball, he was saved by a hold by one of his offensive linemen. The lineman used both hands and both arms to hold. No call. Late in the game with the 'skins trailing, Morris runs for 10+ yards and a first down to keep the drive alive in Ravens territory. Wait, holding is called on the Redskins tight end, who grabbed a Ravens player's jersey for 2 seconds with one hand before letting go, and replay shows that he, the Ravens player did not even move during those two seconds and he was not impeded in any way. The loss of the 10 yard gain and the 10 yard penalty cost the Redskins a chance to score and take the lead. The earlier non call gave the Ravens a touchdown. I could go on.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Interesting, a LOT of questions about officiating yesterday. I'll let this one stand for all of them, including the thoughts on late-hits on RGIII.

I take this as a sign that the Redskins are over .500 and in the hunt! Paranoia is a good sign in fans __it means Your Team is relevant enough to be conspired against.

– December 10, 2012 12:54 PM
Q.

Adam

Don't you think that if Adam was going to resign that he would have by now? If he goes, have the Nat's alienated Morse?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Morse should consider it a compliment that the Nats are so comfortable with him as their 1st baseman that they aren't moving off two years for LaRoche. I don't know if he seees it as a compliment. But it sort of is one.

At times, several weeks ago, I suspected that the Nats, perhaps, really wanted to go with their original Plan A, which I assumed was LaRoche for two years, then let him go free agent at 33. Very standard. He was a stopgap between Dunn and the next bunch of kids. Then Morse fit for '13. So, no need for an expensive contract for a 1st baseman when you have so many options. IOW, don't insult a respected player, but let him go.

Now, I think I was wrong. Or, rather, circumstances have changed. While some players have gotten big deals, the market for LaRoche isn't as big or as high as I thought it would be. The Napoli and Ludwick contracts don't imply (to me) that LaRoche is a lock to get a 3-yr deal with a team he'd enjoy playing for. Texas, if Hamilton leaves, is possible. But they have a cheap alternative in Moreland, a LH hiter. Who wants to play in Seattle? The Orioels are possible, but with McClouth signed they have enough LH bats. Though not a 1st base AND a DH bat. Davis (33 HR) works better at DH.

IOW, I thought the Nats getting LaRoche on a two-year deal was just not going to happen. The classic "not a fit." But Davey loves him __that's not fake. 

I'm going to be fascinated to see how it works out. I understand all the reasons the Nats wouldn't want to go three years. But LaRoche finishes off one of the best defenses in baseball in quite a while and adds a LH bat. When I "grill" the stats, it says Morse will have a big year in '13 and LaRoche may not. But most baseball peiople certainly think the Nats look like a better more complete team with LaRoche at 1st.

Nice problems to have. But it IS a problem.

– December 10, 2012 1:03 PM
Q.

Nats Injury Syndrome

Any truth to the rumor that all Nats players are having their lats and obliques surgically removed this winter?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

CC: Mike Rizzo.

– December 10, 2012 1:04 PM
Q.

LaRoche Contract

Rizzo has a 2 year offer on the table for LaRoche, and history says he's not likely to budge. Moreover, with other options like Morse and Moore, there's no reason for him to. If another team needed help at 1B and was willing to give LaRoche 3 years, wouldn't they have done so already? You've said all along you see the Nats and LaRoche amicably parting ways. Still see it that way?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

You put it well.

I see a lot more "flux" and "lets see where the market goes for LaRoche" and more of a chance that he can take a two-year deal and not feel he short-changed himself. (But I think he owes it to himself to let it play out.) Coming off 33-100-GG he's sure not going to get LESS than 2 years! I hope he gets a choice of 3-yr somewhere and 2-yr Nats. Good guy, great season, deserves to have a good choice for Xmas.

But you're right: my "bad fit, too bad" take is now "flex."

– December 10, 2012 1:07 PM
Q.

'Skins success bad for Nats?

it looked like the Nats' success came at the perfect time - the Redskins have been so bad for so long that the DC area was ripe for the Nats to turn it into a baseball town. Now this RGIII fellow comes into town and the 'Skins are playing meaningful football in the middle of December! Do you think a resurgent 'Skins team hurts the Nats?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I'm a more-the-merrier kind of guy.

Hasn't Washington sports suffered enough for long enough in enough sports to just enjoy anything good that might like to happen?!

That's it for this week. Thanks for the tons of great questions.

If you get a chance, Google the Manuel Marquez KO PUNCH in the Pacquiao fight. The still photo is amazing. Talk about a totally flattened face at the moment of impact. Brutal sport, amazing picture.

– December 10, 2012 1:10 PM
Q.

Life without LaRoche that much worse?

I realize that the life with LaRoche is much preferred by the Nats. However, do you think there will be much of drop off in the quality of Nats play? Even without him, I have no doubt that the Nats will still win their share of games and make the playoffs (assuming the starting rotation stays relatively healthy). All starters are strike out pitchers. Offensive production should be about eqaul (though not as balanced),and Morse/Moore will probably make a few more errors. I feel like moving Zimmerman to first in 2014 and have Rendon starting at third would be the ideal way to make sure the core stays in tact.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Morse is consistently underrated as a hitter. In 1246 at bats as a Nat his slash line is .294/.343/.514 or an .857 OPS. That can bat cleanup, or certainly fifth, in almost any lineup. The guy is a Beast.

No, Nats offense wouldn't suffer much, or at all, with Morse, not LaRoche. And they are determined to go with speed, defense, LH leadoff man in CF in Span. But defense better with LaRoche.

One question: Can you assume that Rendon can stay healthy as a pro when he has never done it yet? Everybody is sky high on him. Great. But don't make too many decisions BEFORE you see him stay in one piece __at least for a while.

– December 10, 2012 1:14 PM
Q.

tthe field

is Danny too cheap to toss some seed around? Or is that the one from the old RFK days?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Oh, quite attractive, don't you think?

– December 10, 2012 1:15 PM
Q.

Ngata's hit on Griffin

Yes, I am a Ravens fan, but no matter...that was not a cheap shot. It was a football play. Get over it, Skins fans. Now, Pollard's helmet-first launch that just missed RGIII when he headed for the sidelines? THAT was a cheap shot.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Good point. Especially the second point.

– December 10, 2012 1:15 PM
Q.

Caps and Leonsis

Over the past years Ted has come across as the "fans" owner. He is visible in the arena and on his blog posts. It frustrates me that with what is happening to the NHL right now that he isn't giving his fans some hope or at least showing that he is fighting to get hockey back. I'v lost respect for the NHL and now for Ted Leonsis. Where is he when we need him??
A.
Thomas Boswell :

His position is pretty clear, isn't it? He's always listed as one of the "hard line" owners in favor of the lockout. I don't keep track of the internal NHL labor-management-war lineup. Life is way too short for that. But if that's not accurate, I'm pretty sure Ted would clear it up. He's not shy.

– December 10, 2012 1:18 PM
Q.

Kirk Cousins, coach killer

Did you see the Ravens fired Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator today? Maybe Kirk's auditioning for a job to replace Flacco in B-more?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Now the Skins are killing OTHER team's coaches.

– December 10, 2012 1:24 PM
Q.

Am I cynical or a realist?

I love watching RG III play, he's electric and exciting in a sport that has become too long and slow. But I feel like I should appreciate this while it lasts as it may be fleeting. I'm just not sure I can see him being a 10-year vet. I hope he's around for even longer, but Im having trouble seeing it.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I've never been so scared FOR a player in any sport. And I'd feel the same way if he played for the Bengals or Seahawks. Much more so than Strasburg, for some reason. It's part of a pitcher's fate to be at the mercy of his elbow and shoulder structure. But RGIII is so amazing and unique (sorry for the cliches, but he brings 'em out of you) that you just want to see him HAVE A CAREER.

– December 10, 2012 1:26 PM
Q.

Hi, Adam LaRoche here

So, Boz, Shane bleepin' Victorino gets a three-year deal before me? What did I do wrong? What's everybody waiting for?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Victorino must be ROTFLMAO. What a dumb deal. They must have drained all the IQ out of Fenway when Theo left. I PROMISE that is a bad contract.

– December 10, 2012 1:27 PM
Q.

Hall vs. Boldin

As I was watching the replays, it didn't appear that Hall was struggling to tackle Boldin so much as repeatedly swing at the football in an attempt to knock it loose. It may have been a poor choice, but at least it's better than "he was unable to tackle him." Also, in a strange way, it was better that the Ravens scored so quickly, so the Redskins could get the ball back.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

OK, we all saw him going for the ball. But 15 yards of "going for the ball" is outside my comfort zone.

But all D-Hall defenders are welcome.

– December 10, 2012 1:28 PM
Q.

Hockey?

Will they or won't they attempt a money grab of a season this year? Is the sport doomed - if idiots are running it?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

This has to be the saddest dumbest work stoppage I've ever seen in any sport. Usually, fans say, "I don't care if they ever come back." Which means they do care. This time: silence. Which means maybe they actually DON'T care if they ever come back.

– December 10, 2012 1:32 PM
Q.

Competitive drive makes RGIII what he is, and may ruin him.

Watching RGIII struggle to remain on the field after being injured, you could FEEL the competitiveness radiating off of him. How do the Redskins tame his drive to keep him alive, without ruining what makes him great in the first place?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Well, you nailed it.

– December 10, 2012 1:33 PM
Q.

cameron

hey, we got Cam fired. So we got that goin for us ...
A.
Thomas Boswell :

In the "bragging rights" department, I'd say that's a major Memory.

Outta here.

– December 10, 2012 1:33 PM
Q.

Caps

I believe you made the statement in a recent column that few care about the NHL lockout or something similar. I don't see how a local columnist could say something like that given the Caps recent history, e.g., 150 or straight sellouts, second highest local tv ratings among local pro teams (at least until Nats late last season), biggest pro superstar in town until RG3 arrived. There are PLENTY of us that miss hockey greatly.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

There are plenty of people in WASHINGTON that miss hockey because the Caps have been such an entertaining team. There do not appear to be a lot of people on Planet Earth who care deeply. That's the problem. 

– December 10, 2012 1:35 PM
Q.

Caps

I can't remember, did our hockey team move to another city or are they locked out again? Will hockey join tennis and boxing on my personal dust heap of sports that I used to love but no longer follow at all?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

See, like I was sayin'...

– December 10, 2012 1:36 PM
Q.

Michael Young

Michael Young had the lowest WAR of ANY position player last year, do you really think he's an upgrade for the Phillies? Personally, I can't wait for those fans to start booing him 2 weeks into the season
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Phils are hoping they get the guy who hit .338 in '11, not the batting bum of '12.

– December 10, 2012 1:39 PM
Q.

 

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