Ask Boswell about the Redskins, the Capitals and all Washington sports

Jan 03, 2012

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell answered your questions about the Redskins' game, the Capitals, the Nationals, the rest of D.C. sports and more.

Past Ask Boswell chats

RGIII will be gone before the Skins pick at 6 And no other QB in this draft is worth that kind of pick. So what do you think the Skins can or should do?

You're correct I think. All the mock drafts since Sunday have shown the Skinsx as having no chance at all to get RGIII at No. 6. They "all" think that Luck and RGIII go 1 and 4 to Indy and Cleveland. (Colt McCoy out as Browns starter after two years.)After Luck's game last night __poise, should have won, 41-38, except for the three missed field goals by the freshman (sad), 27-for-31 for 347 yards, 2 TDs and 1 Int__ he just looks like total Can't Miss in NFL. And RGIII is even more exciting (by a lot) than Luck. 

The question: Should the Skins pay the price in picks to trade up to get either of them?

I don't think so. As I wrote three weeks ago, the Skins are FINALLY building through the draft. The cost in picks would be astronomical. BTW, getting Matt Flynn from Green Bay would probably be just as bad. Green Bay, if I read the current rules correctly, would have a chance to match any offer to Flynn OR get TWO first-round draft picks as compensation from the team that signs him. Double "ouch."

So, assuming Luck and RGIII go at 1 & 4, that mans the Rams and Vikes at 2& 3 will try to get teams like Washington, Miami and Cleveland to trade up to get RGIII. 
Should the Skins pay such a price? Of the examples in the column, the closest is probably Leaf. To move up just one spot from third to
second to get Ryan Leaf, San Diego gave up that third overall pick in the 1998 draft plus another first-rounder, a second-round pick and three-time Pro Bowler Eric Metcalf.  
IOW, the Skins'd give up something on the order of: 1st rd and 2d rd picks in '12, 1st rd pick in '13 and a current starting player.

If you traded up to second-overall you'd be certain to get Luck or RGIII __the same situation Chargers had: knew they'd get Peyton Manning or Leaf.

After everybody watched Justin Blackmon's game for Okla St last night (3 TDs, 186 yards receiving), you might be happy to see the Skins get him min the 1st round. All the mock drafts I've seen have the Skinns picking him if they don't go up for a QB. Blackmon "plays big." Great hands. Breaks tackles. But he's "only" 6-1, 215, not 6-5 235. And his times in the 40 are not blazing. Still, looks like quite a player at a Position of Need.

Hey Bos, I don't think the Nationals should sign him for top dollar. I don't even think they should sign him for the right price and years. BUT, I think the Nats would be foolish not to CONSIDER signing him for the right price and years.

There is certainly a price at which you have to take a Fielder signing seriously. But it is NOWHERE close to >$200M and it's not for nine or 10 years.

One big point gets missed. The Nats may be deciding BETWEEN Fielder and Ryan Zimmerman. One OR the other. Because if you have Fielder, Z'man and Werth on the roster, then they'll be making >$60M for just those three players by the '14 season. So be careful what you wish for.


Remember, Nats payroll last year was $68M, only up $5M from ’05 when MLB had the team. The average Lerner Payroll has been $58M. And, right now, they are only obligated to $42.5M for ’12. That will grow, probably by $25M as players like Morse and Lannan are resigned or go to arbitration. But it looks to me like the Nats payroll may be very close to ’11 if they don’t sign any more free agents of consequence. That’s fairly amazing.


The Lerners leery are of spending before the revenue is actually in hand. They seldom speculate on what is "probably" going to happen __with more $ from MASN and more attendance. They have to see it first. I nag them. But they have 3-billion reasons to think it's smart business. Are they right?   
Werth is due $20M in '14 and $21M in '15-'17. Fielder is going to get >$20M-a-year __it's just a matter of how much over $20M and for how many years. If you want to guesstimate RZim, look at Tulowitzki's deal out through age 35 with five years at $20M/yr and figure Z'man will get maybe 85% of that. 
What are the implications for fans that want the Nats to have the best chance to maximize this five-year "window __'12 through '16__ when Strasburg is under team control? Even if Nats draw >30K/game will the Lerners go beyond a $90-to-$100M payroll? Or $110M in a max go-for-it-year. Few teams do unless they have a big and ardent fan base.  
When Strasburg and Z'mann become arbitration eligible "everybody" is going to want the Nats to try to do what they did with Z'man __that is, make sure they get eight years, not just six, out of him before he can be a free agent.


Except for Boras clients (like SS), who usually go FA after six years, most players want that big insurance policy vs. injury just as RZim (and Markakis) did w his $45M/5yr deal before Opening Day of '09. That may be the situation with Jordan Z'mann, under team control through '15, before the '13 or '14 season. What about Gio Gonzalez? Just let him walk after '15 when he's only 30? 
A lot of you will want to see Mike Morse (a FA after '13) stay in town if he keeps hitting. And, in 2-3 years, you may want Ramos, Espinosa, Storen kept happy and here. What if Rendon, Purke, make it? I realize you "can't keep 'em all." But if you have huge Werth-Z'man-Fielder obligations through '17 and big Prince and Zim deals out to '18-'19 it is going to impact a LOT of decisions for a long time. That $21-to-25M/yr for Prince can go to a lot of players in a lot of ways for a lot of years. Or it can all go to Prince. (Or much of it to RZim.) 
IMO, they won't sign Fielder unless it's so cheap they just can't help themselves. It causes too many problems in too many different ways for too long. At, say $126M for 6 yrs, you might HAVE to do it. But the price won't get that low, imo. What about $150M for seven years? I’d say the top figure that still stays in a sane world is what they offered Teixeira: $180M for eight years. Teixeira was a year older but a gold glove 1st baseman, a switch hitter and was into fitness.   
What’s the worst case in the current off-season drama? They don't sign Fielder and then they don't get Ryan Z'man extended by Opening Day. 
When does the “clock” start on worrying about Z’man extension?

What are your thoughts on the trade? It seems like it was a pretty high cost to give up both Cole and Peacock.

First, I thought you might like to see some video of Gonzalez in his last start in Oakland __11 Ks. Now THAT is a southpaw curveball. He throws 92-94.


At least for now, there is a more important issue than whether the trade works.The Nats made the right decision on WHO should make the trade __the front office baseball people or those above them.


For 48 hours before the trade, the industry was buzzing that Nats FO couldn't get a 4-for-1 deal approved. Some fans may not understand what a big and symbolic problem that is for an organization.


It's bad enough to make people you should trust "prove their case" on every free agent dollar. But when you won't even let 'em trade THEIR OWN GUYS that they scouted in West Bleepin' Nowhere, signed, nurtured, think of as their semi-kids and know better than anybody, the word goes throughout baseball fast and the lifers just go nuts.


It's tough for owmners in suits, throughout baseball, to put such trust in huge decisions blue-collar guys with "questionabale" taste in clothes who, maybe, topped at A ball and took 20 years drudging their way up to a front office. Ironically, Ted Lerener is one of the guys who should "get it." He was an up-from-public-high-school GW-law-school-at-night guy. That's exactly how he learned the construction/RE biz __bottom up, calloused hands. Those same kind of people __like him__ are very often the ones who know baseball the best. They make mistakes; but, in the Nats case, they people's ideas are his best shot for success.


Anyway, this time, justice served, imo. Will the trade work out? My guess is that it will __for both teams. But who knows? It's baseball. "Karma" says it should.

Bos, who cares about the Skins anymore, season over, move on. How many days til pitchers and catchers? Only 46! So, are the Nats in on Fielder or not? Did Boras and Fielder meet with Rizzo and the Lerners in DC? What about a long term, Matt Moore type deal for Zimmermann (Jordan)? Who penciled in at CF?

First, in honor of that 46 days comment, I wanted to pass on some good news that I got as an Xmas gift from Jacqueline Dupree, one of the tech big brains at the Post, who also covers the Nationals Park area fabulously in her blog. The hideous Florida Rock and Gravel Factory that's only 50 yards behind the home plate entrance has FINALLY been demolished!

It's be a long before they build much there. So, maybe, in '12. there could just be grass out there....please, please. So the view out the back of the Park across the river would actually be attractive.

For more info on what may happen in that area, years hence, here's a link to he blog post on FR&G.

I think the Redskins should do whatever it takes to draft RG3. What say you?

He's an amazing talent. I love watching him. In Baylor's 67-56 bowl win __I think that was the score because I stayed up until the last play!__ every play was built off the threat of RGIII. It wasn't just all the plays he made, throwing for 295 and the great TD run. It was the fear of him that opened up huge holes for __what was it!__ like 500 rushing yards!

So, if any two QBs would tempt you to trade a ton of picks to get them, RGIII and Luck would be the two of the very few in the last 10 years that would make me consider going crazy to get them. So, we will hear months of good debate on this. I think they're both franchise QBs. BUT the NFL world thought that about all of these picks since '94 who were taken in the top THREE but didn't rule the world: Heath Shuler (3), Ryan Leaf (2), Akili Smith (3), Tim Couch (1), David Carr (1), Carson Palmer (1), Vince Young (3), JaMarcus Russell (1), Sam Bradford (1).

Some were successful, but not as much as was anticipated. Shanahan loved Bradford the year he came out. He gets hurt. He wasn't very good this year. Could you get Bradford straight up for the Skins 1st round pick? Then the Rams, with the second overall pick, would KNOW that they would get either Luck or RGIII. They'd still need a OT, but could get him with the Skins sixth-overall pick.

Any thoughts on Bradford from you folks? Rather just have Blackmon?

Do you think the Redskins can find a high 1st round draft pick that won't get suspended for drugs within a year or two? Do these guys do any due diligence?

neither the evaluations nor the DD was very good when Cerrato was part of it. Remember how he loved Jimmy Clausen in the '10 draft __better than anybody. So far, Clausen has 3 TDs and 9 Ints in the NFL.  I remember the chatters here (and me), saying, "If VC wants Clausen, then that's the one guy you don't pick."

Any chance Dan Snyder will bring in fired Indianapolis Colts Executive Bill Polian to lead the clubhouse?

Polian had a long great career and loved to talk the game, including with plenty of Post reporters over the years. He was a go-to guy to grasp the sport better. But I assume he's not part of the Skins future. (But our NFL beats guys would sometimes tell me about his very "insightful" observations over the years about how the Skins were run!)

I find it somewhat amazing and terribly sad (because I have friends that root for both teams) that this region has seen the demise of 2 storied franchises at the hands of 2 greedy, ego-maniacal, interfering owners (Angelos and Snyder). You say the Orioles are a "doomed franchise", but given the similarities with the Redskins, are the Skins also doomed ? Happy New Year

The Orioles situation is far worse. The never-ending stories out of the Warehouse, including a bunch more in the last few weeks, make Redskins Park look like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.

I don't think it is impossible to go to a Super Bowl with Dan Snyder as owner. I assume he'll always be an anchor. But lots of owners have egos, insecurities, too many opinions on a sport that they bought their way into and who aren't great judges of people, either. If they learn (through pain), they can improve. Like George Steinbrenner. But I suspect it's too late for Angelos. There was a rumor that, a few months ago, he started talking to people in baseball about buying the Dodgers and that he got a universal horse laugh. That seems too far fetched to believe __almost. The point is that the mere mention of such a possibility __even as rumor__ had people smacking their heads and saying, "Yeah, that'll if." 

Hi Boz... why would the Nats give up such substantial pieces of their farm system for a good pitcher, and not follow it up with a top or middle of the order bat? Sure, next year's CF free agents are stronger than this year's, but it's also true that next year's pitching class is stronger too. Why not hold our prospects (Cole most notably) and go get a bat and arm next off season... just in time for the 2013 push? Why only go half way in for 2012?

Yes, it does seem logical that, after you don't succeed at Plan A __sign Buehrle, trade prospects for a CF__ then you switch the priorities to Plan B __trade prospects for Gio, sign Fielder. 

But Plan B costs about a zillion bucks more and has much more long-tail risk.

But you can't build up so much expectation among your own players (and fans) and then do nothing all winter. Or you certainly don't want to.

I have looked at dozens of comparable players to Fielder, breaking them down by stats-at-the-same-age and players-with-more-than-300-career-homers-from-age-28-to-retirement. The first breakdown gives you some scary names who'd be disasters, or at best disappointments, if you gave them $200-million, even at Fielders age: Greg Luzinski, Juan Gonzalez, Jose Canseco, Darryl Strawberry, Kent Hrbek, Boog Powell, Orlando Cepeda. Some "big bodies" in there. Almost all had a few very good seasons. They had value. But NOTHING like $200-million ought to fetch these days.

However, when I looked at all the 300-homer hitters __and Fielder already has 230 homers__ I waas sujrprised to find that about 2/3 of them would have smart signings at $180-million/8 yrs or at least still excellent enough that nobody would say "bust."

That 300+ list stopped me in  my tracks. Even my old hero Roy Sievers, as well as Frank Howard (big body), produced much more after they were Fielders age than they did before. I have to admit that I think Fielder wiull hit another 200 homers.  But if it takes him 10 years, it's still not worth it. He probably needs to hit an average of 30-a-year (minimum) during the contract to justify it.

Gotta admit that he might do it.

Are the Nats really crazy (my opinion) enough to bring him up before May and risk losing him a year early to free agency? Granted a center field of Roger Bernadina and Mike Cameron or a similar right-handed batter is less than compelling, but what's six weeks or so in the grand scheme of things? Basing so much of their strategy on Werth being the centerfielder for the season or more (not that he isn't capable, a gamer, and all that) also seems high risk. What are the smart moves here?

Bring him up in June, like Strasburg, and get the extra year. "Come on, man."

But Davey loves the young hosses.

 Of course, as you'd guess, I've been looking at the career progressions of Griffey, A-Rod, Mantle, Mays and others at 19-20-21.

Griffey was Roy-3 at 19 (.264 16 homers), then hit .300 at 20 and was a superstar at 21 w 100 RBI, hit .327, Gold Glove.

A-Rod got a cup of coffee at 18 (11-for-54), hit .232 in 142 abs at 19, then __hold onto your hats__ had one of the three best years of his whole career at 20. Won batting title (.358) with 36 homers, 146 runs, 123 RBI and played a good shortstop. MVP-2. So, 20 isn't too young.

Mantle was up at 19 in mid-season, hit .267 with 13 homers. That set him up to be a star at 20 when he was MVP-3, hit .311 with .924 OPS.

That's one way to look at it.

However, I also looked at every hitter who has been taken with the first overall pick since Harold Baines in '77 to see what their WAR value __wins above replacement__ was by the time they would have been eligible for free agency. IOW, what are the Nats LIKELY to get out of Harper rather than what fans may HOPE he becomes, like a 500-homer hitter.

It's still very encouraging. There have been 18 such players. Almost all, except Al Chambers, Shawn Abner, had good to great careers. The average WAR, through their first six full years, was 17.6.

So, how good is that? Well, though his sixth full season ('11), Ryan Zimmerman had a career WAR (Baseball-Reference version) of 19.6.

Others near the 17.6 norm were Pat Burrell and Phil Nevin. But nobody who has seen Harper thinks his talent level is like those guys. They still think he's at the upper end olf the 1/1s: Justin Upton, Joe Mauer, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, A-Rod, Chipper Jones, Griffey, Strawberry, Baines.

So, if he's any of those guys, wouldn't you like to delay him by 1/3 of a year so you could get him for an extra full year in his prime?   

How much of the current Redskins' troubles is Shanahan's fault? At what point does it become "all his fault?" Year 3? Year 5? I know he indirectly blames everything on Vinnie's mistakes, but at some point, he was paid to win a few games, no?

By the end of next season, I think he's had a fair chance. They have to show progress and not screw up a fourth QB decision.

That's not a high hurdle. They had injuires and the two dope suspensions this year. They should get a bounce from normal health. Though, I have to say, the Skins didn't have a LOT of injuries __every team gets hurt. But a lot came together on offense. The decline of Landry __now that's worrisome__ also hurt.

Also, that -15 on turnovers means you can have a big rebound in team recordx __say to 8-8__ just by getting to "0" on turnover deferential.

I figured you folks would LOVE to know the career turnover/takeaway margins of all Skins coaches. So, here they are:

George Allen (seven seasons) +44.

Pardee (Three years, 24-24 record) +28!

Gibbs I (12 years) +80. Including an insane +43 in his third year when they were 14-2. BTW, Gibbs I only made the playoffs once when he had a negative turnover margin __a -3 when they went 11-4 in a strike-shortened season.

Petitbon: (one year) 0.

Turner: (seven years) +6.

Schottenheimer (one yr) +6.

Spurrier (two yrs) +16. Okay, THAT is amazing. Everybody gets a kick out of Steve, but how can you coach so badly that you have 12-20 record when you are +16 on turnovers?

Gibbs II (four years): -10. Hence, sub-.500 in Gibbs II.)

Zorn (two years): 0.

Shanahan (two yrs): -18.

You're welcome, no extra charge.

For those of us who read your stuff regularly and respect what you have to say, you owe us an explanation. What happened between your chat on December 19 and your column published less than 48 hours later that caused you to so radically change your view from "Rizzo has the authority to make to make deals" to "the cheapo Lerners just don't get it." And please don't insult the intelligence of your readers by trying to say the two positions were totally consistent.

As I wrote in my column after the Gio trade, a lot happened on Tuesday and Wednesday. Or I found out a lot of what had been happening in a fairly short time frame. You always keep reporting. The industry was buzzing. And it wasn't a happy buzz. Baseball lifers talk to baseball lifers. And the words gets around about who's happy and who's very unhappy that they are being blocked from acting. I called somebody in another city on another subject, the conversation turned to the Nats and that led to other calls.

You change your mind when the facts change or your knowledge of them changes. The Nats now have a happy face for the New Year. As they should. 

Bos -- as good baseball fans, friends and I have debated back and forth about the Gio Gonzalez trade. While we won't know for 2-3-4 years who got the better end of the prospects, much of our debate has centered around whether Gonzalez was simply the beneficiary of pitching in the Oakland Coliseum given the data on his home/road splits. Personally, I argued Nats Park is about as dead even a pitcher/hitter park as they come, so I do not expect much of a dropoff. So, of course I did some research. To start, according to the ESPN park factors, Nats Park ranks 18th at 0.955 (with lower than 1.000 favoring pitchers) and the Coliseum ranks 20th at 0.947. So, this is hardly a move from a pitcher's park to some big-time hitter's park. Nats Park dimensions are (left/left-center/center/right-center/right) 337/377/402/370/335 and the Coliseum is 330/367/400/367/330. So, if anything, Nats Park is a shade bigger. Next, I keep hearing that that the Coliseum has so much foul ground that pitchers are significantly aided by foul outs that are souveniers in other parks. So, using, I compared the career foul out statistics for Gonzalez, John Lannan (as a lefty control reference) and Jordan Zimmermann (as a higher-K power pitcher control reference). The results: Gonzalez - 56 Foul Outs / 2333 Plate Appearances (2.4%) Lannan - 44 FO / 3258 PA (1.3%) Zimmermann - 23 FO / 1187 PA (1.9%) Correcting using those percentages, Gonzales could expect to have between 30 (1.3%) and 44 (1.9%) Foul Outs, as opposed to 56. Even assuming that every single batter that would have fouled out in the Coliseum turns into a hit (absurd, of course, but this is just an exercise) the difference in hits-per-PA is minimal: In Coliseum: 491 Hits / 2333 PA (21.0%) Lannan Adjustment: 517 H / 2333 PA (22.2%) Zimmermann Adjustment: 503 H / 2333 PA (21.6%) With a hit on average being worth about half a run, we are talking about 6-13 runs over the course of his career, or an extra run every 7th or 15th start, depending on whether he settles in as "Lannan" or "Zimmermann." Not nothing, but not terribly significant, particularly because not every foul out will actually turn into a hit. All this to say that I think Gio will find Nats Park a welcoming home, both in terms of a park to pitch in and the fans who are excited to have him on the team!

Great work!!!

Many thanks.

For sports fans, it's a different world and a better one in the last decade as enormous reference data bases have become available. Granted, it's us semi-nuts who use them. But everybody gets to join the fun when The Facts come out.

I agree. Fould ground in Oakland is the only issue. But moving to the N.L. with no DH is worth about .30 ERA points. So I think Gio's low-3's ERA of the last two years should translate.

I love our chatters.

The Phillies have an aging core and little financial flexibility. The Marlins have made improvements, but Jose Reyes is injury-prone and may not perform as well as he did in 2011 and Mark Buehrle is on the wrong side of 30. The Mets are a mess for the foreseeable future. The Braves overachieved last year and haven't made any additions. Doesn't it make sense for the Nats to sign Prince Fielder? His bat would make the lineup about average with Zimmerman, Morse, Werth (fingers crossed!), Espinosa, and Ramos. And then the team has a solid front of the rotation with Strasburg, Gonzalez, and Zimmermann. The team is a contender every year from 2012 until 2015. What am I missing?

All good points.

And the Marlins are being over-rated. They were 72-90 last year. They have MILES to go. And Buehrle merely replaces Javier Vasquez who had a fine season (13-11, 3.69 in 32 starts), then retired. That's about what Buehrle will give them __if they are lucky.

Moving Hanley Ramirez from SS to 3rd decreases his value. Lots of fine hitters at 3rd. Few, or none, like Hanley at SS. And will Ramirez (.243/.712 & 10 homers in 92 games) bounce all the way back from an awful '11?

Nats will be tempted to hink, "Why not '12?"

I still think '13 is when it comes together. None of the young Nats have ever faced big expectations. You seldom ignore that weight the first time it hits you. But the talent __and a big future__ is certainly becoming obvious for this team. The Five Year Window __when Strasburg, and almost everybody else who's most important, is under team control for at least four years__ starts in 46 days.

Yes, assuming they extend Z'man.

Tom, I am less interested in the 2012 Nats than in the 2013 lineup. I recognize that players develop at different rates, but if the 2011 recruiting class, made up 4 21-year-olds, proceeds at the same rate as other recent top picks, they will be ready to make the lineup then. If my crystal ball is clear, the following lineup is dynamic, young, and one that young fans remember the rest of their lives: (2013 ages in parentheses): Rendon 2B (23), Werth RF (34), Zimmerman 3B (29), Harper LF (21), Morse 1B (31), Espinosa SS (26), Ramos C (26), Goodwin CF (23), Strasburg (25), Gonzalez (28) Zimmermann (27), Myer (23), Purke (23), Clippard (28), Storen (26).

You're right. This is a period that has turely fascinating potential.

But "potential" is a hell of a double-edged word.

I ofetn guesstimate a team's wins in its next season by simply looking at what reversion to the mean or a sensible projection of performance would mean when measured by an improvement, or decrease, in WAR.

I did it for the Nats. That's with 25 starts from Strasburg. Z'man back to an average season from a bad one. LaRoche and Werth at normal levels. Morse coming back to earth. Espinosa and Ramos don't get better, but sophomore jinx either. Etc. Then I assumed the Nats "true" record __on run differential__ was actually 78-83 last year, not a slightly lucky 80-81.

So, how many do you think my system said they would win in '12?

I couldn't believe it: 93 wins. I tore up the paper. And you'll never see it in the paper. I'm not crazy enough to put my name on that kind of number as a "normal" outcome, rather than a max-max best case. Hey, this is just a winter chat. So, enjoy it.

But it might partially explain why Davey is so optimistic.

I'd be interested in your opinion and the readers' opinions. I feel that it's a tie between two Nationals--slugger Michael Morse (.300 ba, 31 hr) and relief pitcher Tyler Clippard (all-star game winner, hold leader, relief pitcher strikeout leader). I don't think anyone else has come close (well, maybe Drew Storen. . .)

It sure wasn't a Redskin.

It sure wasn't a Wizard. (I just compared John Wall's "effectively shooting percentage" (from the field) to every other plahyer in the NBA. Wall is, hands down, the worst shooter from the floor in the entire NBA when you combine his "effective" percenbtage on both two-point and three-point shots. And by a significant margin over the next-worst shooter.

I guess you have to let the Caps out after Ovie's poor season in '10-'11. Still, 85 points is a helluva player and +/- of 24. Backstrom 65 points.

I'd go with Clippard over Morse because he had such impact on so many game-turning moments. In some years, the set-up man can have more impact than the closer. And that was Clip last year.

Nice question. Thanks.    

Okay, this may be out there, but can you right a column about how crappy all the other teams are in DC and how the Nats are primed to make a move the hearts minds/$$$. You wrote that column about the Lerner's not doing anything and the next day they got Gio (wink, wink) The marketing department stinks. They should be out there now with a Winter Fan Fest (not the day before the season starts). Commercials - seriously - When are they going to buy some ad time on some other network besides MASN. Something! Anything! This town is ripe for a good team (it's not like the Caps/Deadskins/Wiz are doing anything but stinking up the joint).

Now be nice to the Caps. They are playing somewhat better. Ovie has reintroduced himself to that red light.

But the Nats should be trying to take over the town __well, to the degree you can when you haven't DONE anything much yet. Seriously, if you can't sell Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman as starters, Storen, Clippard and a guy who throws 101 in the bullpen and a lineup with RZ'man, Morse, Espinosa, Ramos, a better Werth (?) and, for cryin' out loud Harper, maybe, too, then what can you sell?

Maybe it'll styart soon. 

Does  anyone on talk radio spend more than five seconds on anything but the Redskins? I seldom listen so I actually don't know.

Of course, maybe that's good. The medium can focus on contaminating just one D.C. franchise. (The others manage it on their own.)

Tom, DeMarcus Cousins wants to be traded out of Sacramento and I think it'd be worth the risk to bring him to Washington and reunite him with John Wall. I think it would be good for both players. Do you think there is any chance of the Kings biting on a Cousins for Andray Blatche deal? Blatche's contract isn't too crazy and he puts up good stats on paper. We need to get as much young talent as possible.

Sorry, good question, but...

The second-worst shooter from the field in the entire NBA __using "effective shooting percentage"__ is DeMarcus Cousins. Do not touch him with a 100-foot pole.

If he played enough minutes, Jordan Crawford would be in the discussion for biggest-brick-layer. 

Is it Werth this year and then Upton/Bourn next year?

Werth only goes to CF when/if Harper comes up. And then only in '12-'13.

That's it for this week. Thanks again. Great topics to start a new year.  Cheers!

With Texas and Anaheim getting Billion dollar TV deals, I hear the Nats have executed a clause with MASN to allow them to renegotiate their rate. Any chance that the renegotiation goes so poorly it ends up in arbitration with the Nats seeking and winning release from that contract?

As I understood it from Bud Selig the last time I talked to him about this five years ago is that he is the deciding vote in arbitration. That may have changed. My memory from five years ago needs refreshing. 

However, you are dead right. The Texas and Houston TV deals will be used  to set the new rate for the next 5 yrs. I've heard that release from the contract is one possible, though remote, outcome.

Granted that we all know Rex is at best a backup, but that said, on the last play, how can anyone shake a sacker, move a few yards over, then STOP and set up to throw and not know said sacker would be coming again? Not even a case of sensing the sacker pressure, he KNOWS he's still there because he barely got away from the sacker in the first place. Couldn't believe that one. What a descriptive end to a season.

Hey, the guy could always fall down an open manhole.

Boras recently described Fielder as Frank Howard on the field and Henry Kissinger in the clubhouse, both men with significant ties to Washington DC. Is this Boras being calculated and purposely using those two men to associate Field with the Nats?

Scott's always working __it's his job. And the Nats are part of "making a market" for his client. Boras is the source of 97.6% of all rumors that help the leverage of his players. That's just how it works.

So, if I'm counting correctly, the Colts have had the 1st overall pick in the NFL draft in my lifetime (Elway (who forced a trade), Entmann, Manning and now Luck) which is astounding to me. In the same timeframe, the Skins have drafted #2 once as their top pick. How are the Colts--who left one of the great sports towns in America--going to get 25 straight years of franchise quarterbacking while my Skins are quarterbacked by mediocre talents for the past 20 years? Ugh, makes me sick

Life isn't fair. Sports is only slightly better.

I live 2 hours west of STL so we're in that market. According to a STL columnist, Bernie Miklasz, Bradford wasn't the issue, the coaching staff was. I quote "Here's all we needed to know: the HC was given a franchise piece in QB Sam Bradford, and didn't even hire a quarterbacks coach to help Bradford in 2011." It would appear that if the new GM/HC have any sense, nobody will be trading Bradford to Our Hapless Football Team for the 6th pick.

Bernie's good. And plugged into St. Louis. When the manager calls YOU during the Series...

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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."
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