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March 18, 2013

11:02
A.M.

Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Total Responses: 25

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.

Zim's throwing mechanics

Boz, Last season Ryan Zimmerman's throwing mechanics reminded me of Kevin Costner's line in "Tin Cup" about his golf swing feeling like an unfolding lawn chair. Now that he's had the surgery to clean his shoulder out he's had to relearn his throwing motion. Have you seen it? How are his throws across the diamond? Do you think if he returns to his 2009 form he can retake the NL 3B Gold Glove from David Wright? Who do you think is the best 3B in the NL, assuming Zim is really back? Thanks, and I'd just like to say TWO WEEKS!
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Everybody here watches every time Z'man throws __with breath semi-held. I even watched him take infield yesterday back here in Viera when the travel team was on the road.

Last year, his makeshift motion had about three pieces __like watching Jim Furyk's golf swing. It was amazing he gogt thrfough the season with that awful thing. Now it's down to about two pieces.

IOW, it looks better but it certainly doesn't look good __not like he looked throwing overhand in his rookie year and '07. He knows it, says it will probably never be that good again. "I'd like to be able to do a lot of things like I did them at 21-22.

It's only on routine plays that he's alweays had a problem. So he has a lot of time on those throws. Right now he takes about twice as many crow hopps as a normal third baseman. For a second you think he's going to run the ball across the infield. But all those scary throws, even between innings in warmups that he threw last year, seem to be much less frequent. But he still short hops some to first and has throws tail inside the bag. You're right __this is a big issue. He got a $100-million extension last year. Did the Nats get a third baseman for a few more years or will he have to switch to first.

Perhaps most important, Z'man is over the moon about how good he feels, which tells you how bad it was last year. He thinks his throws are still steadily strengthening. And he's killing the ball at the plate down here. Z'man said he was "more nervous that I expected" in his 1st ST game on Saturday. Davey asked him afterwards, "Did you have any trouble finding the field?"' Since he'd only been a DH.

To give it a grade, he looked like an "F" last year. Now, I'd say, compared to a normal MLB 3rd baseman, he's a C+ on those routine throws. If he gets just a little better then he'll be a pleasure to watch again at 3rd because he's always been amazing on the tough off-balance throws. 

– March 18, 2013 11:02 AM
Q.

Bullpen

Though Adam didn't mention Storen's delicate psyche and the loss of the lefties in his article today, what are the chances that this year's mix of newbies and oddballs will not hold up in late innings against teams like St. Louis and Atlanta?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

That's why they got Rafael Soriano __so they don't have a heart attack when Storen or Clippard or Mattheus had a bad game. Soriano is a loooong established top reliever. When Storen looks poor __and he has__ you think, "Insurance policies, even ones that cost $28-million, sure looks smart." Clippard and Mattheuds have been sharp.

Johnson repeats that he thinks Storen analyzes too much __another way of saying 'trust your stuff. Don't nibble.' Storen has had poor springs before and, as long as his arm felt good (which it does) he's done well in the season. BUT imagine that he'd blown a lead to the Astros no-talent lineup the other night and he stll had Game Five hanging over him? Nothing but "how are you feeling?" questions about his psyche. With Solriano around, the reaction is,  "Oh, everything will work out. They're got more reliever and closers than any team needs."

I'd still prefer another lefty in the pen. This "we have RHers who get LHers out" doesn't quite ring true for me. The LH on LH late-inning matchup is a big p;art of modern baseball and it's that way for a reason. Every good team has killer lefty bats. BTW, Zach Duke has looked good and is probabbly quite decent "sixth starter."

– March 18, 2013 11:02 AM
Q.

Spring Training Options

Boz - Just back from a great week in FL. Really glad we decided to make the trip to Jupiter for Friday's Nats-Cards game and was impressed with the ballpark/facilities/atmosphere. The Cards & Marlins sure seem to have a good thing going there. Like the Nats, I've read recently that the Astros and Blue Jays are considering relocating from their current Spring Training locations. Any chance the Nats would explore a joint venture with one of theose clubs, and are there any inherent disadvantages to shared arrangements like the Cards/Marlins?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Nats need to get the hell out of Viera. Anywhere, anyhow, any cost. These 4-to-5-hour 'round trip rides to every away game are just a rinky-dink way to run a top ballclub. Nothing wrong with the town of Viera or its nice folks.But spring training is all about "location." Davey talks around the problem but I've had sources tell me he's livid. I'll deal with at more length.

Davey always rode with Rick Eckstein driving because, while Eckstein scared Davey to death at least he got where he was going in record time. I asked, "How fast is he driving these days?" Davey said, "Not very fast since he got the third ticket. We're traveling at exactly the speed limit these days."  

– March 18, 2013 11:05 AM
Q.

World Baseball Classic

Does it seem to you that the mainstream sports press remain a bit lukewarm to the WBC? Turning to the Post's online edition the day after the US were knocked out, there was nary a mention, not even a score, to be found on the entire front page. - David Crane
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The WBC is completely lost in the shuffle. If Team USA reached the finals, maybe there would be some interest. I've never seen a good event so overlooked. I get it, but it's too bad. Even I didn't  watch last night when Puerto Rico knocked out the defending champions from Japan to reach the Finals. It's thrilling to fans in a lot of other countries. And the gams are "Underdog Heaven." PR beat Japan with minor leaguers and castoffs. And Japan is REALLY proud of its WBC national team. There have been a lot of dazzling comebacks. The NETHERLANDS (which actually has done well in international play in recent times) plays the Dominican Republic for the right to meet Puerto Rico in the finals.

So, how many thought that Gio Gonzalez and Ross Detwiler, from quickly-ousted Team USA,  would be back with the Nats while Roger Bernadina and Eury Perez are still playing for the Netherlands in the WBC!

The only U.S team that hasn't embarassed itself was in '09 when Team USA finished third and was managed by (I'd forgotten) Davey Johnson. Is there something in baseball, anything, that he hasn't done?

– March 18, 2013 11:11 AM
Q.

Georgetown Madness

I've been burned the last couple of times picking Georgetown to go a long way in the tourney. Do I chance having them get to the final four ? Or get upset in round 2 ?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

In recent times I've consistently gotten them wrong in March and I watch a lot of their games. Everybody loves Otto Porter's total game and GU has both outside shooters and players committed to defense.

But I got a bad vibe from the anti-Syracuse comments by John Thompson and Leonsis after the last regular Hoya win. That came back to haunt them in the Big East tournament. In a year with so many evenly grouped teams that No. 1 seed, versus a No. 2, might make a difference. I've got GU in the Elite Eight but not the Final Four.

– March 18, 2013 11:17 AM
Q.

lefty needed

Boz, Aside from Danny's cuff, the only hole I see in the Nas roster is a big one, to me. Imagine needing to get Hayward or Freeman or Utley or Howard out late in a tight September pennant game and having NO LEFT HANDER in the pen. Talk all you want about splits and history that Clip and Storen have historically but I think the Nats will miss Burnett or someone like him more than once this year. Come September do you think the pen will have that lefty specialist?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I mentioned that I already have the same thoughts. But here is the Nats rationalization, and I have to admit that it has some justification. Would you rather have an accomplished closer working the 9th inning of a huge game or would you rather have a "lefthanded specialist." 

The answer is that you would ALWAYS want the top-end closer because he's simply a more dominant p;itcher. Well, the Nats have three closers. If you have Clippard, Storen and Soriano lined up for the 7th, 8th, 9th, would you bring in a lefty __just because he's a pretty decent lefty__ to replace any of them in any situation? The answer is, "NO." You'd just give them each their inning and live with theresults.

The problem may come when you can't line them up 7-8-9 because somebody has already worked three days in a row. Then you may wish you had the situational lefty.

If the Nats need a lefty reliever, they'll trade for one. It's that simple. They have enough trade peices to get a deal like that done almost any time they want. But they don't want to part with the "pieces."

The vulnerability of this team, as I've said in a couple of chats, is the health and effectiveness of the starting rotation. Strasburg had exceptional stuff on Saturday night here __the best he's thrown probably since last July. Detwiler has been his best self. Gio looked excellent in the WBC. Today, Jordan Zimmermann starts against Detroit. He's been the shakiest __an ERA near 6.00 due to one awful game. Talked to him yesterday. He feels good. We'll see if he's sharp today. Haren jokes that when Z'mann has "a dead arm" outting that he still throws 95. 

If there is concern, it might be about Dan Haren and especially his velocity. He topped at 89 in his last start but had one fastball as low as 83. Johnson didn't try to "romance it" and said he didn't look good. Did the 2 1/2-hour drive to the game hurt a pitcher with a history of back and hip problems? Haren said he "got stiff" from the ride. What if Haren had tried to bulldog it through the game and gotten hurt? he came out okay, but why take that chance? That alone is enough to "get the hell out of Viera." How can you invest $13-million in a veteran like Haren, then have him ride five hours 'round trip before and after he pitches? That defines "penny wise, pound foolish."   

– March 18, 2013 11:28 AM
Q.

I am just back from spring trainig...here is how to do it, IMHO

Plan on a few days. Split it up between the minor leagues and the major. (at least now). The Major leaguersfor the most part practice in the stadium, so you can not see much. Except for pitchers in bull pen sections. Cool things I did on the major side was said good morning to the team as they came in. I was the only one at the fence (the nats were playing away). Almost everyone talked to me (including the aloof Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth). I did get an autographed team ball (excluding a few players), and was thrown a ball from Strasburgs' Thursday Bull Pen section. But the real fun came on the minor league side. There is no fence. You can walk around the four practice fields (not on it, but around it), and talk to the players. During a non-significant game, I found myself sitting on the bleachers next to Lucus Giolito (Nice Kid), talking baseball. Bryce Harper maybe the cockiest kid around, and Werth may have the best beard, but Bryan Harper is nice, and has the best Mustache. Many of the people there are family members of the players, so be careful and be polite...and bring water. One other piece of advice: if you run in to a player around town, it is not cool to invade there space (that is what I heard at the fence line). And, remember, it might be 80 there, but it is not 80 here. Be prepared for cold when you get off the plane coming home.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Good stuff. Thanks. A lot of "the future" is on the minor league side.

– March 18, 2013 11:30 AM
Q.

Davey

Tom, you have spoken well of Davey Johnson's baseball brilliance over the past few years, but why could he not find a managerial job for so long?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

As I've also written many times, Davey burned a lot of bridges. Outspoken, going to do it his ways.He has a hard time hiding it when he's much smarter (about baseball) than the people who are above him. He's MUCH more mellow now. But even last year he had the yelling argument with Rizzo (who adores him) about, "If you think you can do better, you come down here and manage the team." (That isn't word-for-word correct. No time to look up the quote.)

A typical example of how Davbey extreme "player's manager" style can become a problem is the way he's run this spring training camp. "Basically, Davey has let us veterans do whatever we want for the first 75 per cent of camp," said Ryan Zimmerman. "Other managers just don't have the...well...guts to do that...Davey's under a lot of pressure (to play vets, to win enough ST games to keep everybody happy) but he will say, 'No. These gusy don't need 60, 70, 80 at bats in spring training."

I actually thought, at some points after he left the Dodgers in '00, that he was semi-blackballed as "too much of a handful to be worth the trouble." He's come back a wiser man. But his compulsive honesty may get him in trouble yet. However, "final year" and "70," is probably more than enough insulation. Now, finally, he's almost seen as a rediscovered baseball treasure.

(This morning, he casually called Peter Angelos "the Greek." Maybe the name slipped his mind for a second.)

– March 18, 2013 11:40 AM
Q.

Nats Starters and No injuries

Boz, One thing I haven't heard mentioned in all the NatsTalk is the fact that last year, I believe no starting pitchers missed starts due to injury. Is that correct? That was very fortunate. It would seem like the odds of that happening again would be pretty long. Do you feel the Nats have enough Nats have enough starting pitching depth to handle that? The coverage of multiple backups at every position has been well covered; except for starting pitchers.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I try not to repeat myslef (too much) in chats. But I keep mentioning that the reason I'd put the Nats down for ~95 wins this year, not the >100 that many anticipate, is because they got 150 starts in 162 games from the top five pitchers in their rotation last year.

The Nats are NOT a great hitting team, just a good one that was very good late in '12 when healthy. But they were No. 1 in the NL in ERA. That's the core __the power rotation. And the bulk of the IPs always come from those top starters. So, EVERY team is vulnerable to injuries to SP, but SO ARE THE NATS. They are NOT vulnerable at any other position. They are one of the deepest teams I've ever seen. And the bullpen is very long. Even Henry Rodriguez isn't hitting the mascot with any warmup pitches.

Example of concern for SP depth: The Nats sent quite a few players down to minor league camp. Who did Johnson talk to "for almost a half hour" with a translator? Yunesky Maya. When you are concerned about where Maya's head is at and want to make sure he understands that, if injuries come, he could be in the MLB rotation, that shows you the one area to watch.

But, come on, that applies to almost every othyer top team. Think the Dodgers aren't concerned about Greinke's sore elbow? Knock two starters out of the Giants rotation and do you think they go back to the Series. No, they're dead. You may only need three or 3 1/2 starters in the post-season. But you need five __and usually six or seven__ to get through a regular season and win a division.

– March 18, 2013 11:47 AM
Q.

REDSKINS FREE AGENCY SITUATION AND SEASON IMPLICATIONS

Mr. Bos, I understand we're so far away from football. But this whole situation with the Redskins and their inability to not due anything, really, in free agency this year, because of their own mistakes two to three years ago....I foresee this costing them wins and jeopardizing them remaining atop the NFC East in 2013. Your thoughts on this situation??....even though it's so early before the draft and everything else football?? Thanks for the chats.....Go Nats!
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The NFL's position is indefensible.

But they don't have to defend it.

The NFL owner got (read: "bullied") the NFL union to sign away its right to join in any colusion action. As a result, 30 NFL owners got to __in effect__ say, "Who don't we like? Who's a pain in the neck? Who needs to be put in their place so our comfy world will keep spinning nicely? Oh, look! Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones! Here is our chance to $%"&^ 'em."

So they did.

A Nats player wanted to talk about all the details of the Skins problem and how outrageous it was that the NFL had treated them unfairly. I tried to explain and I'll try again now.

What the NFL did to the Redskins was wrong. It can't be justified.

But in pro sports, if you don't go along with the group, then you better follow Al Davis' dictum, "Just win, baby." In other words, see around corners. Watch your back. Say to yourself, "We've made a lot of enemies. Maybe we don't deserve it. Or we do. But we HAVE them. That's reality. How do we protect ourselves?"

The Redskins followed an extremely agressive financial policy when they knew the other owners were practicing the "c" word. Part of that decision is: "What can go wrong if we follow this line of thinking? What can they do to us? Would they have the gall to do it? What would our legal position be? In othr words, if we do this, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT."

The Redskins miscalculated in a very cynical NFL world. They are "right" on the facts. But their '13 season will be played at a BIG financial disadvantage. They gambled. They knew there might be blow back. And, now, it looks like that gamble was a big lolser. Haynesworth and Hall are gone. And the combined impact of the $32-million in penalties over two years is probably something like "minus two wins" in '13. 

BTW, the Nats player, after we talked, said, "Oh, a bunch of sports owners got together and %^^$#ed somebody. Yeah, we all know how that happens."

And he walked off laughing. I thought, "That's the pro's laugh." It's a hardball world, regardless of sport. It's not good enough to be "right." You also have to figure out how to win in the end game. This time, the Skins didn't.

But the next 20 times they play Mara's Giants there will be some extra feelings. That, too, should be entertaining. You seldom have an absolute public throw down between the ownerships and front offices of two division-rival franchises. You do now. 

– March 18, 2013 12:04 PM
Q.

WBC

Hi, Bos. I live in Adams Morganh where the World Baseball Classic is THE hot topc of the day. Non-US residents get so excited or devastated dependinbg on how their teams are doing. In contrast, the US reaction is pretty muchgo hum. I'm a US citizen but get caught up in my neighboirs' excitement when they win. A top US team could clearly crush any one of them but for whatever reason (fear of injury?) we don't field one. U ntil we do, we're never going to win because 95% of the energy is going towards our opponents.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Adams Morgan was my favorite neighborhood I ever lived in. My wife and I had a rent-controled top-floor apartment at 17th and Columbia Road for an insanely low price and we could open the windows at night in summer and hear the roar of the lions from the zoo in back of us. Loved it. And I can just imagine it erupting during a WBC game! 

BTW, the U.S. DID field an exceptional team this year __with 14 All-Stars!!! We have no excuses. We lost. When you have Braun, Wright, Stanton, Mauer and others as the heart of your lineup and Dickey-Gonzalez-Vogelsong in your rotation with Kimbrel to close, why can't you BEAT PUERTO RICO? (Because they want it a lot more? Because you gag?)

Of course, the primary reason for all the upsets is because the name of the game in question is....baseball. Anything can happen in one game and usually does. Put together a team of MLB journeymen with a couple of good MLBers, plus guys who have played in AA and AAA and, volila, you have a team that might jell, get hot, get lucky, get inspired and reach the Final Four in the WBC.

It's just a matter of time before the French win the WBC. And they don't even have a team.

– March 18, 2013 12:12 PM
Q.

Baseball Gods

I am afraid that all of this talk by the Nationals of going all the way is offending the baseball gods. Just play the game and keep mouths shut. Thoughts?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

That would be my own inclination.

But team's take on the personalities of their key p[ersonalities. Who are the Nats key figures? What are they like? Rizzo, Johnson, Werth, Desmond, Strasburg, Harper and, to a degree, Gonzalez. They are all blunt, confident and have extremely high goals, for which they don't apologize.

We have already seen the first installment of "gloating at the Nationals" last year with the over-the-top vitriol toward the Strasburg shutdown and the reaction of the Cardinals to winning Game Five. LaRussa's best teams, Whitey Herzog's Cards and Johnson's Mets had a similar feel, though off the field, the Nats are a lot more mild mannered.

Rizzo got Werth to help teach the Nats to be as tough, old-school and cocky as the reigning team in their division __the Phillies. Fight fire with fire. Desmond (LaRussa's favorite player!) already had that fire. Harper burns visibly. Strasburg burns internally. Espinosa is abrassive cokcy. The team's stance suits its personality. It has edge. 

After ~80 years of being walked over by baseball, I'd think a team with this style might have some appeal for Washington fans.

– March 18, 2013 12:21 PM
Q.

Possible Article Idea

Boz, How many times has a major contender gone 2 straight years without a major injury to their starting rotation? To put a number on it, can we see how many years in a row a major contender has averaged 30 starts in a year from their starting rotation? I'm guessing the number is fairly low. This is what concerns me about the Nats this year.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Some entire starting staffs have long histories of avoiding injuries --from the '66-to-'71 O's to the 14-straight Braves teams. 

Remember, if the Nats give up 50 more runs in '13, they might also score 75 more. Despite all the necessary provisos, this is an exceptionally good team. They probably won't win 105 games, but they COULD. How many teams have you ever seen in spring training wheree that was a sane thing to say. Not that they "will" but that they obviously "could."

– March 18, 2013 12:25 PM
Q.

H Rod

Bos, love your writing, your weekly Q&A gets me though Mondays and go IAC! Quick question, are you concerned at all how much Davey trusts in Henry? All it takes is ONE bad pitch (even if it's during his warm up!) and he is completely rattled. With three proven closers already, don't you think we could get some good left handed pitching for him?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Davey sees big talent and thinks, "It is my JOB to make that guy a star." He doesn't give up easy.

And some wild flame throwers eventually ended up in the Top 20 (or maybe its Top 30) in history in saves, like Armando Benitez and Jose Mesa. You can't coach a 100 mph fastball AND a wipeout slider AND (brief) periods of excellent control. Is H-Rod a tease or a late-bloomer? He's out of options. And if the Nats give up on him (and ultimately released him if they couldn't trade him in the 10-day window) there would be teams who'd give him his next shot.

– March 18, 2013 12:29 PM
Q.

Chris Young

What are the chances that Young doesn't opt out of his contract this weekend? I'm nervous about the Nats' pitching depth, and he's nice insurance. I was actually surprised that we were able to sign him, and I have to believe that he could make another club's major league roster and, thus, wouldn't be wild about starting in the minors.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Adam's sitting next to me in the press box. He says chances are "slim" that Young ends up a Nat. He's a little too good for the Nats good. Somebody's going to want him on a major league deal if he continues to pitch adequately.

– March 18, 2013 12:31 PM
Q.

The State of NCAA Basketball

Tom - nice column this weekend from Dave Kindred about the disappointing state of college basketball. This gem summed it up for me: "A game built on grace and speed now often looks like guys playing football in their underwear." The conference and NCAA tourneys still have some appeal, but the increasingly dubious aspects of the sport (quick exodus of top players to NBA, conference realignments, inconsistent definitions and enforcement of charges/blocks/traveling/etc) rob much of the joy. Sports will rise and fall in popularity as the years go by, but college basketball seems to be on the verge of losing its soul...or has it already?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I liked Dave's piece. The only "shine" that college basketball ever had was in March. I saw it from the inside during all those years when I was the Post's high school sports editor and all the college crooks circled around every good player __talk about an ugly "Atheltes For Sale" business. You could reread that book by Ken denlinger and Len Shapiro in the '70's and little has changed __except to get worse.

March Madness is the Big Dance that takes our attention away from the chain-and-knife gang rumble in the parking lot out back. If the glitz of March fades and the bad taste of all the conference destruction stays in our mouths, you may see a cyclical downturn in college hoops. Basketball isn't going anywhere. But all sports have periods of relative health and illness. pro football (concussions, bounty gate) and NCAA basketball are getting sick, baseball is getting well.

'Round and 'round it goes.

– March 18, 2013 12:37 PM
Q.

Nats emergency Catcher?

Cool little nugget from Wagner yesterday on J. Solano playing LF in a spring game. This made me wonder - In the rare event something happens to both Suzuki and Wilson in a game, who is the Nats' emergency catcher? Werth was drafted as a C I think but has never played there in the majors (not sure about minors). Harper probably has the most recent experience as a C.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Lombardozzi.

He's the emergency everything. He could probably drive the bus, pitch batting practice, drag the infield, then pinch-hit (either side) in the 14th inning.

– March 18, 2013 12:39 PM
Q.

NFL & Injuries

I read Sally Jenkins' story on medical standards on the NFL, and she drove home the point that the way medicine is practiced for football players is quite a bit different from non-athletes. Is it that different from other sports as well, and if so, is this would could ultimately kill the league?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Jim Palmer told me LONG ago, "You don't think I go to a 'team doctor' do you? Those two words just don't go together."

Think about it. YOUR body. The TEAM's doctor.

– March 18, 2013 12:41 PM
Q.

Natitude: any reminder of the Orioles' glory years?

Hi Tom-- Great column about the Nats' growing confidence. I seem to recall that you often characterized the great Orioles teams of the late '70s and early '80s has having a quiet confidence, maybe even an arrogance, as they believed that they were always at least a little smarter and a little better than the teams they were facing. They were right to be confident, of course, as they put up the best record in the majors over a particular 25-year span. Can you please discuss what that was like and whether it was similar to the attitude you now see among the Nationals? If not, what are some of the differences? Thanks.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Both teams analytical, smart and a civilized locker room. Though the '76-'83 O's always had a few lunatics __Stan the Man Unusual, Brother Low, The Demper. 

The Nats had Mikey-Mo (Morse) and DeRow (Mark DeRosa) last year to keep things loose. For a Wharton grad, DeRosa was the funniest guy you could imagine. The Nats are still a VERY young team __second-youngest in MLB last year. Over time, they need to find an in-house zanny or three.

This Nats team may have more talent, potentially, than those O's, though Ripken and Murray became Hall of Famers. The Nats have more players who have highlight ability and very high ceilings. However, this team has a LONG way to go to compare to the teams Johnson played on.

The Nats lineup, especially Span and a less-powerful Werth (wrist still not 100%, may never be entirely the same as it was) at the top of the order needs to establish an identity.

– March 18, 2013 12:49 PM
Q.

Roy Halladay

What's your take? Is his arm used up or is he going to heal to be at least 75% of what he was?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The End usually looks the same for mid-30's power pitchers. This looks like the beginning of the end for Halladay to me. Last year was the (loud) warning shot. And his buddy Chris Carpenter may already be done. Two of the toughest gamers of this period. If this is how it finishes for them, they went down in flames, not going 9-10 until they were 41.

Tim Hudson and Dan Haren are the other two formidable pitchers to watch. They seem to have more in the tank. 

– March 18, 2013 12:53 PM
Q.

Nats vs. Redskins in popularity

I was a long time Senators fan and never jumped on the Orioles bandwagon. Since the Nats first arrived here I have been a fan. I am also a Redskins season ticket holder and have to say I enjoy my game day experiences much more at Nats Park than FedEx. As I see it, even with RG III the Nats are closing the gap on which team in DC is the most popular. Your thoughts? Would that change if the Nats did win the World Series?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I'm sure we'll talk about this plenty in future. The FedEx experience is famously bad and Nats Park (and surrounding neighbor/attractions) should keep improving for the next 3-to-5 years.

If the Nats go to a World Series, then you get your first infallible read. But that 60-minute standing cheer at Game Four was something I never saw before in DC __not even at RFK for the Redskins. But football crowds cheer in different ryhthms. Not comparables.

Oh, the Nats are about to play the Tigers. Time to look up and watch. Scherzer vs Zimmermann.

Sounds like a good Game Three matchup for the '13 World Series to me.

Looooong way to go!

See you all next week. Stay warm. Only two weeks, exactly to the minute (1 p.m. start) until Opening Day.

– March 18, 2013 1:00 PM
Q.

Nats Outfield

How well does the new outfield unit seem to be working together? Do you think Harper will stay in left? Seems like his gun would be more valuable in throws from RF to 3rd.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

LF is tougher for a young raw outfielder than CF. So, Harper will have more uigly plays there than he did in CF. But the combination of his speed next to Span, plus his arm, should produce a better overall defensive OF.

The toughest place to play OF is right here in Fla in spring training with constant shifting winds and no second deck. If you can play here, you can play anywhere. Harper got completely lost on a "routine" but very wind-blown fly on Saturday night that he couldn't even reach with a dive. Getting morttified here in ST is a right of passage and "good for him."

– March 18, 2013 1:04 PM
Q.

Alumni Week

Have you been tracking Lannan with the Phillies? How is he doing? Is he likely to make their starting lineup?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

ERA 3.21 last I checked. Doing fine __just like John Lannan. 

– March 18, 2013 1:06 PM
Q.

Netherlands

What, you think they play in clogs, after a hard day's work in the tulip fields? The Antilles, Curacao, Aruba- former Dutch island possessions that still are affiliated with the Old Country. They are fun to watch and well-stocked with talent.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Yes, sir!

And a great WBC semi-final game to watch tonight against the Dominican Republic if you get MLB.TV.

– March 18, 2013 1:07 PM
Q.

Redskins miscalculation

Skins didn't count on craven nature of NFLPA leadership, who sided with NFL against Skins in order to obfuscate what a bad deal the players ended up with at the end of the lockout. It's like the MLBPA siding with MLB and against the Yankees in a dispute over player salaries. That would be unimaginable.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Good points.

– March 18, 2013 2:14 PM
Q.

 

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