Ask Boswell

Jun 06, 2011

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell answered your questions about baseball, local D.C. sports and more.

Past Ask Boswell chats

Good morning, lots to chat about. First, I wanted to say that you should read our story on Jay Franklin (page D3 by Josh Barr). It's unusual to read a newspaper sports profile that does not fall into the trap of "uplift" when telling an incredibly sad story. This one doesn't. It is powerful, but with no attempt to sugar coat. Franklin was baseball's No. 2-overall draft pick in '71, struck out 29 in one high school game and, at least by his draft rank, was the best high school player ever developed in this area.

Reading about his injuries, short career, family tragedies, suicide attempt, decades of mental disorders I got a sick feeling. In '71, I sat with his grandmother (if I remember correctly) behind the screen at one of his high school games to write a little feature for the Post on the phenom. I still remember the night because, since I was a "copy boy" and not even a reporter yet, I'd never been that close to a pitcher with stuff that amazing. He threw 95 but I remember his curveball. I's lost track of him, like every body else and was very sorry to hear about all that he's been through. Good luck.  

That was an absurd Marquis ejection yesterday afternoon. Am I right? Why would Marquis purposefully plunk Upton when he's pitching a gem and the game is 1-0??? Seriously, what is going on with these umps???

It was certainly a bad day at the office for HP ump Rob Drake. He shouldn't have issued the original warning, imo. Though that wasn't a terrible decision. I saw the whole series and assumed there was something brewing. Werth was definitely hit6 on purpose in the ribs once, maybe twice, in situations with 1st base open. I assume Maya knew he was about to come out of the game, was behind the count to Upton, the D'backs best player, and just drilled him to send a message. I could be wrong, but Maya may have had the No. 1 tough-guy rep in Cuba. Or one of them. Nothing else is working for him. Also, Upton got hit FOUR times in the series. So, I'd guess 6-7-8 of the HBP were accidents. But I bet 2-3-4 of 'em weren't. Still, not the right situation for the warning.

That decision knocked two pitchers out of the game eventually. First, Marquis who couldn't possibly have wanted to hit Upton with a 1-0 lead, only 73 pitches and a man on first with one out in the sixth. Come on, he thought he might pitch a shutout. He had his best sinker and a low pitch count. Because Marquis left at least four outs too soon, Clippard had to work parts of three innings. You don't want to use him more than that because you lose him for several days and he is the most versatile (and perhaps most valuable) pitcher in the bullpen. That made Storen work in two innings, not one. He blow up was an infield chop and the first loss of control anybody has seen him have __back-to-back walks! "Come on, throw a strike," he was yelling at himself on the mound. You may have to wait years to see that again.

However, the D'backs suffered, too. After Vasquez threw behind Espinosa, Danny made sure to get mad enough __and he may really have been mad, because it looked like it__ to make sure Vasquez got thrown out. Just as Upton hammed it up to make sure Marquis got thrown out, Espinosa "shortened" the Ariz bullpen with the quick exit for Vasquez. That meant the D'backs had to use Paterson, a specialist against LH hitters, I believe, for the entire 11th inning, even when he got clobbered. So, Morse's grand slam off a lefty to ice the game had its roots way back in the 6th inning.

Fun game, fun series. 

Boz, I realize that he's one of those up-again, down-again type of baseball talents, and I know the sample size thus far is still pretty small, but how did Mike Morse go this long into his career without anyone realizing he could play such solid defense at 1B? He may not be Adam LaRoche, but he puts Dunn's defense to shame (admittedly, that's a pretty low bar).

Because most people are idiots and make assumptions on insufficient actual observation. I would gve as a prime example: Me. I wrote last month that Morse wasn't any better than Stairs at 1st. Well, Stairs isn't bad, actually. But I had no idea Morse was this good. I ASSUMED he was as limited at 1st as he was in LF and RF. He isn't. He played over 500 games in the minors at SS. His infield talents translate to 1st, but not the OF where his lack of speed hurts badly.

Morse hasn't made an error in MLB since '05. That is not a type. Only ~130 full games, but still... He seems to have lots of range and could play the position a long time. Sorery, Michael, I was wrong.

Tom, Where do you think the Federer vs Nadal rivalry ranks in tennis history? Does the fact that the two genuinely seem to like each other take away from it at all? Thanks as always for your work.

When they meet at the French, on Nadal's best surface, it reminds me of the friendly but fabulous rivalry between Evert (best on clay) and Navratilova. However, Evert couldn't match Martina on other surfaces to the degree that Nadal does with his 17-8 career record against Federer.


So, Tom, why don't they pitch Tyler Clippard more? So he threw one bad pitch that went for a home run. After getting the next guy out, Storen loaded up the bases. Clip retired everyone but the guy with the homer. Other than holds, he has no stats--no wins, no losses (good!), no saves even. Last year he had 10 wins! And he's also one of the lowest paid players on the team. My God, what are they thinking?

Clippard is too valuable __because he can be used in the 6th, 7th or 8th inning, not just the 9th like a standard clolser__ to "burn up" in one game with 40 or 50 pitches. They got him out after 30 pitches. So, they can use him again on Tuesday nite.

Sometimes the pitcher like Clippard who "sets up" is jsut as valuable as the closer if he can be used for 4-5-6 outs and is effective against both LH and RH hitters. Clippard is. I'll have to look up the stats, but Clippard has to be right at the top of baseball in getting swings and misses. He probably got more in those 7 outs on Sunday than most Nats starters do in their whole start.

Just checked: 11 swings and misses! Strasburg didn't get that many in some of his starts last year!

Hi Tom, Who do you think the Nationals will pick in the draft tonight? Do you think that is the right choice?

I always prefer picking hitters with a top-10 overall choice rather than any kind of pitcher. The odds on any pitcher panning out are awful. But hitters "project" much better.

Since '79, there have been 32 picks at No. 6 overall __the Nats pick tonite. Half (16) have been used for pitchers and half (16) for hitters. The hitters include Barry Bonds, Jeter, Sheffield and All-Stars Terry Kennedy (four times) and Andy Van Slyke (3) as well as Kevin McReynolds who drove in 95 runs three times. That's six stars out of 16 and other useful players. Out of all those pitchers, the only ones worth mentioning are Greinke and Ricky Romero, a nice young LHer. The others are almost all complete washouts.

However, it's going to be tough for the Nats to pass up a top college pitcher if one falls to them tonite from the trio of Gerrit Cole (RHP, UCLA), Danny Hultzen (LHP, UVa and St. Albans), Trevor Bauer (RHP, UCLA). All "project" __that dastardly inaccurate word when it comes to ANY draft pick__ as power arms with a quick path to the majors, which would mean a spot in the rotation in '13 or '14. I'd take any of the three if available. But they won't be.

So, go with the concensus and take Bubba Starling, the fast CF from a Kansas High school that everybody has as a top-six player. 6-5, 195. Could play QB for Nebraska next year but his agent Scott Boras has him headed to baseball. He'll be costly.

When I talk to Boras, I always say, "You can't project anybody. It's a joke. Nobody knows." He says, "There is one exception __my clients. We are just much, much better at evaluating talent than others. Then he rattles off his track record. It took me a couple of years to bvelieve it. But he and his staff do seem to have an "eye" and a far, far better than normal record of identifying future stars.

So, that is a big plus in my book for picking Starling. Given a choice of all the Nats scouts or Boras and his people, I'd probably prefer Boras to pick an elite player. Further down the draft, no.

And who said Danny Espinosa would be special and better than his draft spot __that's right, his agent Boras.

So, go with Starling. But he probably won't be a National for four years, at least. That's just how long it takes. There is only one (or a very few) like Harper.

Hi Tom, Adam Kilgore wrote yesterday that the Nationals might get the chance to draft Bubba Starling this evening. He no doubt is a great athlete and been reported as a 5 tool center fielder but there is also talk about him going to play football for Nebraska. Given the Lerner's complete disaster with Aaron Crow a few years ago (yes, we still remember), should they consider another player?

Good question. Can Rizzo get a tough negotiation done with Boras without kasten in the wings coaching? And will the Lerners pay up for a player who, while excellent, hasn't been on the cover of SI as "The Chosen One" or The Greatest Pitching Prospect Ever. Rizzo needs to figure out 1)what Boras would accept and 2) if the Lerners will back him, especially after Werth has had a poor start on his $126-million deal.

I suspect the Nats are on their knees hoping for one of the top pitchjers to drop so they don't have to make that decision. But Rizzo, Riggleman (Scott's old minor league roomie) and Ted Lerner work with Boras as well as anybody. And you know the conspiracy theory __Boras is part of the front office of team's he'd love to see win because it makes all his clients on that team more valuable. The old "Tigers to the Series" analogy.

Bos, With the tournament in full swing and the draft tonight, its a great time to be a college baseball fan. Have you had a chance to watch Danny Hultzen (St. Alban's grad) and the Virginia Cavaliers this year? Your thoughts and insights would be much appreciated! Thanks.

Of course I'd love to see anybody from the old IAC conference as a Nat. Usually, more GM's come out of my league __Cashman, etc.

No, haven't seen Hultzen. I suspect the Orioles will get him. BTW, the O's third-overall pick, Manny Machado, is destroying the Sally League as much as Harper: .333/.450/.611. And Machado is a 6-3, 185-pound shortstop. ETA: '13, just like Harper.

I spent some of the weekend looking at the top 10 prospects of every MLB team. It's only 300 players and it's so much easier to get info on the net these days tyhat it's a joke. I was surprised how few teams have more than 1-2-3 prospects with amazing numbers. I thought the Nats and O's had rather little depth of prospects. Seriously, after Harper the Nats only have players who look like they m ight be pretty good, maybe, someday __Lombardozi, Norris. Solis and Cole have barely started. Though I watched Cole get six K's quickly for Hagerstown on my min-MiLB.TV yesterday. Players like Eury Perez, Marrero (forget him, Morse is better for the next 2-3 years), Dustin Hood, even Peacock if you look at his size and his whole minor-league development, only look like "possible" players. Then you look at everybody else. It's rare to find a KC with Eric Hosmer (now ripping up the AL) and Mike Moustakas, 22, 10 HRs at AAA, who look like can't-miss big-time players.

FWIW, with Dominic Brown now in RF for them, the Phils minors look pretty barren of top prospects.

Of course, NO TEAM will ever admit this. They talk up their prospects because, if nothing else, they are INVENTORY that you use as part of a trade. 

The way Tyler Moore is hitting, is there any chance he gets a September callup over Chris Marrero? He's absolutely tearing the cover off the ball in Double A.

I've been looking at him. Another example of a player who is doing well at AA, but that is a long way from MLB and he's just an average good prospect on a stat basis. That's why you hope your scouts have an "eye" for the players who can makew the jump and still be almost as p;roductive as in the nhigh minors.

For example, Riz and Co did a good job of seeing, and saying, Espinosa is special and Ramos is the future catcher without a doubt. They probably wasted $6M on Maya. They thought, told me before they signed him, that they thought he hit 93-94 with his fastball, which set up his crafty off-speed stuff. Soooooorry. They held their breath that he'd be the same pitcher once they got him that he was in '09 in Cuba. Looks like he isn't.

I'll try to give a Morse answer because I think he's got a 2-3 year window here as a very good player at a very sensible price. Okay, here it is. In the last two seasons, plus spring training '11 __I know using ST is cheating, so sue me)__ Morse has 35 HR, 99 RBI, .298 in 537 ABs.

Give Riggleman credit on this. He's been a big internal backer of Morse while the front office and scouts have been tepidly cheerful, but not waving their arms like Rig.

After the D-Backs plunked the Nats' prize rookie Espinosa yesterday, why didn't we see the Nats bench empty? Was that a missed opportunity to make a statement to the league, as in "nobody gets away with that against us"? Does this team have character (another word for "backbone")?

They hit Upton, who has to be "busted inside," with 4 pitches in one series! I bet nobody has ever done that. How tough do you want 'em to be. I bet Chase Utley noticed.

Hi Bos, Can you tell me what happened to FP Santanagelo. He is no longer on MASN for the Nat's games. Whats's up?

I think they said he went to his daughter's graduation. I assume he'll be in S.F. with them. But I don't keep up with that kind of stuff.

All TV announcers fall into two categories for me: sound "on," sound "off." That's my total evaluation of their worth. The O's with Thorn and Anybody (Palmer or Flanny) are definitely "on." Really enjoy him/them. Over the years, the Nats go through "on" and "off" periods for me.  The Nats radio team, of course, is worth searching to find so you can have them "on." 

Hi Tom, I enjoy these Q&A's. Any word on a corporate sponsorship for Nats Park? And was that dispute between the Learner's and DC regarding Nats Park not being completely finished (or whatever the wording was) resolved?

The Lerners, I suspect, are waiting for better economic times to get as much as they can for "naming rights." Bet you can't get much now. A better team on the field would help, too.

They can keep it Nationals Park as long as they want. Like foever. But that won't happen. Even after they "name" it, I'll still only use Nationals Park or use nothing at all.

Sometimes they are fun to watch (Innings 1-8 and 11 yesterday) and sometimes it's like being in the dentist chair (Innings 9-10). We are only 7 games under .500.. I think I am going to need some antacid tablets to get throught this season. Love the article on Espinosa! I think he and Desi will be a really excellent DP combo for the next 10 years. AND yes.. Desi is looking a LOT better in the field this year. Hopefully his bat will come around. Any guesses on who we get in the Draft?

Big picture, I'd say that the Nats are getting a lot of positive answers to big long-term questions __regardless of their record. And run-differential says they should be on track for 78-84, even though they haven't had Z'man. 

Hope I'm not speaking too soon, but I think Desmond has turned the corner and will be the SS for years. There are a half-dozen flaws that drove me crazy and I don't see any of them now. Maybe Leyland was right (and I was wrong) when we talked in ST and he spoke highly of Desmond's future. If I had to guess, I'd say Desmond's career will be roughly like Orlando Cabrera (.273/.319/.393/.712) who's close to 2,000 hits and played on lots of contenders (9 post-season series). You never know about health/longevity, but you could see Desmond mirror Cabrera __his closest stat comparable by age__ over the next bunch of years. Starting at 26 (Desmolnd is 25), Cabrera average 160 hits and 70 RBI for the next NINE years.

Also, Espinosa and Ramos could hardly look more "on track." But if Desmond and Espinosa are the DP combo for years with Ramos catching __and, man, can he catch__ that is 3/4 of your "up-the-middle" core of the team.

After his 3-run homer on Sunday, Ramos gave it the "slow trot" to anger the D'backs duigout. Coach Matt Williams was screaming at him to move. Hey, Wilson took a foul ball off his shin. He was just going slowly because he was in pain!

Boz, Was in Chicago last week on biz. Caught some radio sports talk and the conversation focused on the Nats pitching. One guy said that the Nats staff could carry a mediocre team to contention "overnight". Have the Nats wasted some pretty good pitching, or what?

The Nats starting pitching is strictly mediocr5e __major league average by every measure. "We" only think it is amazingly good because the team has run such crappy staffs out there since the start of '06. Last time I looked, no Nats was in the Top 40 in ERA in MLB.

But they are pitching the way they have pitched in the past __Lannan, Livan and Marquis have track records. Also, "defenisve efficiency" stats now have the Nats range on defense ranked in the top quarter in baseball. So, the theory that much better defense would help a pitch-to-contact staff seems to be correct.

Be glad to see Gorzelanny back. He's a perfectly decent fifth starter. He can't keep giving up this many gopher balls.

Watching the NBA finals and the Nats game on Sunday, I saw a lot of athletes with tattoos all over their bodies. Granted, this isn't a new trend, but what is the reason behind the tattoo culture prevalent in sports day?

We're going to Hagerstown next week when Delmarva faces Hagerstown to get an early look at Manny Machado and Bryce Harper on the same field. You going?

Nice idea. They have this thing called the U.S. Open next week.

Just once, I'd like to see Livo win one of these spectacular games he pitches! But he sure does make going to the ballpark fun and I'll be doing my best to be at Nats Park for his starts. Even if I have to brave the hordes of Phillies fans. Minus that HR yesterday, Clippard put on one heck of a show. Managed to get me to stop what I was doing and just watch in awe as he mowed down batter after batter. I only wish I had seen it in person!

Nice points.

The last two years there is another pitcher who has almost identical stats to Livan.

Livan: 46 starts, 295.1 IP, 3.69 ERA, 30 quality starts.

Pitcher X: 44 starts, 267.1 IP, .3.80 ERA, 25 quality starts.

Livan's W-L record in those two years is 13-19 because he has had awful run support.

Pitcher X has a 22-9 record and is considered a star. He players for a better hitting team.

Pitcher X is Yovani Gallardo, the ace of the Brewers who fanned 200 last year and that you could get away from them for a king's ransom.

Boz, can you explain the LA Times story about the nine teams, including the Nationals, that currently in violation of MLB's debt service rules? I can understand some teams (such as the Mets and Dodgers) having financial trouble based on cash-poor ownership, but I keep hearing that the Lerners are the richest owners in baseball. If so, how is it that the team isn't meeting its debt service obligations?

As Rob Manfred with MLB explains it, "With one or two exceptions, we see how teams are going to be compliant again in the short term, so we're not worried about them...We're not concerned about the overall econoimic condition of the industry."

In the Lerner's case, they are enormously rich and they assume that with a better team over the next several years __and, yes, they actually think that's what going to happen__ they assume their revenues with increase, perhaps dramatically. A debt-to-revenue ratio __like 10-to-1__ doesn't necessary coincide with making or losing money. It's just one metric.

OK, so Riggleman doesn't think he's a "smallball" manager. I'm watching Saturday's game, top of the 3rd, Nats trail 1-0 against a pitcher who won't be at the All-Star game. Man on second, nobody out, and Desmond bunts him over to third! Isn't this the worst kind of smallball? If it was Desmond's idea, someone should talk to him; even if he's slumping, it's just inexcusable (unless he was bunting for a hit, but it didn't look like it).

Desmond often does this on his own.

It doesn't help Rig's case when he makes a TV commercial that ends with: "Some people call it 'small ball.' I call it 'smart ball.'"

In-game stuff is Rig's least vulnerable area. Don't focus on it to get a fair evaluation of him.

Hey Boz- Posting early because I've asked a version of this question a couple times now but haven't broken through yet. What's your early evaluation of the Werth deal. I didn't watch him a ton in Philly so I was open-minded coming in. Offensively he seems to miss a lot of mistake pitches that most player making star money crush (usually into the stands). Defense is supposed to be his strong suit but I see a major hole in his game going back on balls. Do you think the deal is looking unwise at this point or can you make a case for him?

You can't judge him until he has Z'man protecting him. Because he isn't wonderful enough to protect himself. (Bonds was.)

Even cutting him that slack, Werth has had a poor RBI year. In 240 plate appearances, he has 22 RBI. The MLB average for 240 PAs is 25 RBI. Not good for $126M.

The other measure is to look at the runners he's actually had on base when he batted __so far, 129 (58 on first bas-33-28). The MLB average for 240 PA's is to have 145 men on base __145 (72-48-25).

The worst # is that he's only driven in 10.9% of the men he's had on base. MLB norm is -16-17%. Dunn was around there. Right now, Morse is 16.5% and Espinosa is 20.2 of MOB dxriven in.

On defense, Werth is wall shy. Not horribly, but noticeably. Look, when you are tied to him for 7 yrs, that's probably good. But he starts short-legging it when he knows the wall is an issue. His arm is OK, but not as strong as I thought. He's a good to very good OF. Made a nice leaping play in foul territory yesterday __probably about the best he can make. He's good coming in for sliding catches. He says he's good going into the ally and enjoys long runs. I haven't seen much of that yet, but assume he's right.

If he's just the plaery were see now, then he's more like $12M x 4 yrs + $48M. But he's not the player we see now.  He'll hit better. Considering his plus defense and base running, I'd guess he was worth $14-15M x 5 yrs = $70M-to-$75M. They overpaid deliberately to break the  FA logjam. That's okay.

It's their money, so who cares? (Okay, it hamstrings the budget by a few million for a few years and maybe by $18M/yr in '16 and '17). 

He's a very good player. He has a good attitude, in general. The more the team wins, the more valuable he'll seem. He's a "contender" type player, not a tail-ender type.

Good morning Mr. Boswell, Jason Reid wrote a tempered, but obviously critical piece on Nats GM Mike Rizzo. How do you grade Rizzo's accomplishments to date as the GM? Early returns from most of us Nats fans would have to give him a C- at this point. The Nats don't seem to be making significant progress that warrants a better grade. Going for defense has left the team offensively pathetic. And every team has injuries so that's not a valid excuse. Reid was right about Werth - grossly overpaid for what he is - a good player but no superstar.

Jason made some good points. However, I'd have to say your points don't jibe with mine nearly as much as JR's did. C-????

Of the current Nats who look like they could be part of a >.500 team's future in '12-'13, these are the ones that Rizzo acquired, drafted, etc: Ramos, LaRoche, Werth, Morse, Harper, Strasburg, Gorzelanny, Livan (?), Maya (?), Storen, Clippard, H Rodriguez, Burnett.

Here is the list of stars Rizzo has squandered, traded away, etc:  Zero.

Here are the best Nats players at the end of '08 that subsequently "got away": Rauch (3.80 RA) , Hanrahan (2.75 ERA in 131 games in Pitt after 5.70 ERA as Nat, Bonifacio (.260 utility man).

I'd say that was a good record, maybe very good, with a lot of upside potentiual over the next two years.

Who would you rather end up a National: Trevor Bauer or Bubba Starling?

Bauer, but it'll probably be Starling that is still available.

Hi Tom, I'm Babe Ruth. I have no real reason for writing you today, other than to ask if there's any way to put a stop to the first-person chat questions posed by the guy(s) assuming the identity of baseball players. It was funny the first couple hundred times, but now it's getting tiresome. Thanks, Tom, I'm going to hit one out of the park for you in the 1930s..

Always nice to hear from the  Babe.

Tom, I read that the Nats are very interested in acquiring BJ Upton from Tampa Bay at some point when he becomes available. I know we are trying to find a solution in CF, but isn't he just another low BA, bad attitude, player? We need someone with a good OBP at the top of our order to play CF. Please tell me he's not the answer!!

He and Zimmerman grew up as friends. Rizzo was in Arizona when they drafted him. So, his "rep" in baseball in genral may not be the same as his red with two very important people in Washoington who probably think they really "know" him. 

He's 26. The numbers say he's Roger Bernadina for the last three years, with better defense. I've certainly seen him appear to jake it. I'd be very careful about giving a lot for him. After 723 games with a .755 OPS, doesn't that pretty much have to be him? You have to value the steals (40/yr) and the range. What do you do with a .320 on-base guy? And he hits now in a fast-infield offensive park. No, only take him at a big discount to his physical talents.

Hi Tom, Really enjoyed your columns last week on the Nats and Danny Espinosa in particular. Watching Morse play the last two seasons, he seems to thrive by playing everyday. Any reason why the Nats should even be considering putting a less than 100% Laroche back in the lineup if he comes off the DL? It appears to be a lost season for him and think it would be in the Nats long-term interest to see what type of numbers Morse can put up with 550+ plate appearances. I see him as a guy who could hit 25-30 HR's and knock in 90+ runs hitting 5th in the lineup.

Morse should absolutely play everyday __at 1st or LF__ the rest of this year. Absolutely. No discussion. Ignore the slumps. He's a 6th-7th hitter, ideally. They slump. 

You gotta find out. 

"Morse hasn't made an error in MLB since '05. That is not a type." Tom, that's an all-timer right there. Real question though, can you take a fair shot at evaluating some of the O's young starters at this point in the season? The Sox and Yanks don't look like they're going to be easily overtaken anytime soon (especially Boston, NYY are getting old fast) but what does this point in the year tell us about Arrieta, Britton, Tillman...

Thanks! Not just anybody can have a typo on the word "typo."

All my editors over the years would have had me at 1/1 in their mock drafts for "Most Likely To Spell His Own Name Wrong."

Britton seems to have calmed down. None of his pitches are quite as crisp as they were earlier. He's gone from great command to just good control But he's a wonderful rookie. He and Matusz can be together for a long time. Tillman and Arrieta baffle me a bit. Tillman doesn't seem to get what he should out of his stuff. Jake A throws across his body __seen more often in LHers. And his control can disappear. Give 'em time. Jordan Zimmermann seems to have started turning a corner from very promising to actually quite good. All these young pitchers need time. JZ just learned, for the first time, in his last start that, ahead in the count, he could throw a hard breaking ball that lands on the plate and get hitters to swing at it! real MLB hitters chasing a ball in the dirt! Then he did it back-to-back pitches and it worked both times. You could see the light go on __I just discovered a new pitch!

Who do you think will be or should be our representative to the MLB all-star game?

Clippard or Storen, in that order. Then, just in theory, Espinosa (high WAR), Livan (never happen, but deserving), Morse and Marquis, in  that order. Subject to change! That was some quick pickin'.

One more and gotta get outta here.


Boz, for one who has never attended a pro-golf tournament in person, what's the most amazing thing about watching pro golfers up close?

1) Watch their short-game practice __sand, chipping. That shows what is possible. Anybody can become much better than they would imagine by practicing. (Of course, I've never done it. That would require WORK.)

2) Go to a hole that requires a long drive __like No. 6 or No. 11 or No. 18__ and stand directly behind the tee. You are perhaps a dozen feet from the players as they hit. Get a sense of what a 330-350-yard drive actually looks like. It's hard to believe. Sure, some is the equipment. But Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson ,Gary Woodland (who just qualified with a good round at the Memorial) are fine all-around athletes and something to see.

If you want early favorites for the Open look at the Top 10 of the leaderboard at Jack's event for currently-hoit names: Steve Stricker (maybe not enough of an 'Open player' or long enough), Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald.

Tom, Is is time to begin to re-evaluate the Milledge/Hanrahan/Burnett/Morgan trade? What was considered to be the showpiece of Rizzo's management is looking worse the farther in the rearview mirror it gets. Getting rid of Milledge is the silver lining in the deal, however Burnett is regressing terribly this year and Hanrahan is proving to be a more than capable closer. No need to mention Njyer's exploits, although he's having a good year in Milwaukee.

Section 136,

You're kidding, right? Hanrahan has a 2.75 ERA in 131 games in Pitt. Burnett has a 2.95 ERA in 133 games in Wash. There's nothing at all wrong with Burnett. He threw excellently yesterday. He had a couple of bad games. It happens. He's LEFTHANDED.

If this is Rizzo's big mistake, then he'd be the greatest GM in history. They got 1/2 of a great year out of Morgan and Milledge is now hitting .239 at Charlotte. 

How are the acquisitions of Nix (.303, 9 HRs), Hairston and Cora (saving the team at 3rd with Z'man out) working out? I could go on. I won't. If Werth plays like Dwight Evans for five years, then Rizzo gets good grades so far. If he flops, that changes everything.  


Tom, How is Congressional CC being set up for the Open? Given the wet spring and hot June, the unmowed rough can be like a jungle. Are they mowing it now? How wide are the fairways? Finally, are they finishing on the par-3 like last time? I hope it will not be hot and humid for the spectators (and reporters). The golfers can sweat -- it's the US Open so they do anyway .

Sorry, far too many to answer today.

The Open's rough will have more "cuts" than in the past. So, somewhat more "fair." But McDowell saw it last month and said it would be brutal. 2nd longest ever. They have turned the old No. 18 in the new No. 10. No resemblance. They are entirely different holes now.

The result: The great old loooong downhill 17th hole, guarded by water, can now reclaim its place as one of the three best closing 18th holes on the U.S. Open rota.

We'll tee it uip next Monday __pre-Open. Thanks again.

It's draft day you have to at least answer one draft question. Have you heard any rumors about who the Nats will take with their 6th and 23rd pick today?

Okay, one gift. In honor of the ejections and HBPs yesterday, here is the classic (blue) U-Tube of Weaver and Haller when Haller was miked up (for an ambush) but  Earl didn't know it.

The 23rd and 34th overall picks have produced a FEW interesting players over the years. Especially No. 23: Jacoby Ellsbury, Francoeur, Jason Kendell (C, 2000 hits), Aaron Sele (148 wins), Mo Vaughn. No 34 has been worthless throughout draft history __Arthur Rhodes anbd Mark Gubicza.

Odds are neither 23 or 34 will produce a valuable big leagers. That's just reality. But it helps to have more picks __these came from the loss of Dunn as a FA__ for exactly that reason. More lottery tickets. But, even at 23 and 34, that's what they are.




Please note that the YouTube link shared above contains some foul language - just a warning for those of you at work!

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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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