The Washington Post

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

Dec 19, 2011

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

If Rex makes it to next year, then Kyle is going to have to design an offense that doesn't require him to throw the ball. Rex is running out of words to explain away multiple turnovers, week in and week out.

The Skins offense has worked better as Kyle has called more runs. Lots of factors go into that, including who's hurt, the score of the game __like being way behind.

But, as I've written here a few times, I just think the Skins have passed far too much all year for the kind of high-risk/low-reward QB that they have. Also, young O-linemen have a MUCH easier time run blocking than pass blocking. "Injuries" (or suspensions) is actually a reason to run the ball more, not less.

When the Skins run well, they're more than competitive. Yes, that applies to almost all teams. But look at the rushing yardage break down by chunks of the season __the 3-1 start, then the 0-6 slump and now the 2-2 record the last month:

*74-172-65-196 (avg 127) to start the year.

*44-92-26-52-61-60 (55.5 avg) in the slump

*110-100-170-123 (back to 126 avg).

Yes, when you're ahead or the game is close, you can run more. But I'd still say this is eloquent.

So, to return to your original point, the less Rex HAS to pass, the better he passes.

Of course, as I wrote today, you just want somebody better as your QB for the future. 29 turnovers in 14 starts is off the charts. It defies any explanation except Turnover Machine. Especially when he's done it all his life. The Skins know this. Of course they won't, and shouldn't say it, but it's not like they think a better O-line and a better WR would cut Rex down to 1 turnover a game. Anbd that should be your goal.

The Giants simply didn't show up yesterday. The Skins did some nice things but that wasn't much of a challenge. BTW, Snyder should send a check to that guy who dropped those passes.

You could certianly be right. And the Giants said similar things. But teams that get upset always do. It's better than saying, "We're not really very good and even though the Redskins are a little worse than us once things started to go wrong we knew that they might beat us."

I suspect the Giants are a 7-9 team and the Skins a 6-10 team that might have been a bit better if they hadn't been hit by injuuries at thin spots. I didn't consider this much of an upset and said so to folks before the game. Looked like a 3-pt game to me. But it turned out to be a "You know it's you're day when" kind of game. 

I'm really liking the toss plays to the running backs. Seems like Shanny's running game is maturing. Also, Helu is the real deal.

Shanny changes the "look" of how the running plays start as the season goes along. Yesterday they even ran some counters __where you almost always make a simple handoff__ with tosses where the RB took one step, caught the toss then cut back. It's "inefficient" looking, but if a team is keying off your previous looks and you change it that more than compensates.

Last week, Belichick praised the Skins and the Shanny offense after the game. I never saw the quotes anywhere except a quote sheet long after the game. Yes, Bill and Shanny are friends. But Belichick was describing how the Shanny offense keeps adjusting and changing its looks and tendencies as the season goes along and that, so far, there have been Offense 1, 2 and now 3 by the time they played the Pats. Not a different offense, of course. But different ways to get to the same plays and a few new plays that trap when you look only for the plays they ran in the first, say, 10 games.Anybody who doesn't think Shanahan can coach poffense is just wrong.

Coughlin was back at it after this game saying, "No" it wasn't a trap game and that the Skins were playing a lot of good teams tough.

I say yes. Everyone know what he can do when he's healthy. The Skins certainly need a ball-hawking turnover machine on defense. Maybe not with a bunch of guaranteed money but he needs to stay.

Tough call. The defense plays just about as well without him. How much impact does he have if you can't sense immediately that he's gone? Shanny loves him, says he was defensive MVP of '10 until he got hurt.

Landry, T. Williams, Fred Davis __all big question marks and all part of your half-dozen best young players. I'd try tot keep Landry. But he has to understand that the questions about him are justified.

Appreciated your column on the draft picks. It's certainly easier to be good with your draft when you have more picks than the other guys. The Skins showed it with the last draft, moving down and gaining picks. Shanny and Allen have earned two more years in my view, agree?

Yup. But they traded Hightower for a '12 draft pick. So they haven't entirely broken the pattern.

Irony: traded Brandon Lloyd for a 3rd and 4th pick. Good idea. But not until he'd left D.C. 

Seems like it. His decision-making looks better. The picks yesterday were both like first-down punts. Should they keep him around while grooming the first-round QB?

Keep him. Good guy. Lot of heart. Just limited ability. Throws a pretty ball but doesn't have a strong enpough arm for the deep ball __both INTs were underthrows. When people say he is a "pure passer" they mean he throws a pretty ball that's easy to catch and can have streak when he's so accurate that there are a lot of Yards After Catch. But he does not have a BIG arm, like Jason Campbell, McNabb or, in the past, Rypien, Schroeder, Williams or even Theisman. Amusing when you see people say he has a strong arm. They haven't watched much NFL. Also, small hands hurt him. When a pass slips it can really look ugly. Leads to fumbles when hit. And there's no way he's 6-foot-2. Standing next to him yesterday __no wonder he gets passes batted back. Not his fault. A real good backup, especially because he can get hot and is cocky. But get somebody better ASAP. 

It seems obvious that being committed to the running game and playing good defense is the formula for success in the NFL. The Ravens did it in '08 and were 4 minutes from a trip to the Super Bowl. The Jets did in '09 and played in the AFC championship. The 49ers (Harbaugh did it at Stanford and the program had success it had never seen before) and Denver are doing it this year. The Ravens and Jets weren't content and thought about how much better they could be if they had better receivers and both teams have lost their identity the last couple of years. I know the NFL is a passing league but why aren't teams content to pound the ball (the Riggo drill) ? Is it all ego? I'm pretty sure every offensive coordinator wants to be known as a "genius" and that won't happen by running it 35+ times a game.

These days the rules are slanted to help the passing game and protect the passer. You can build a fine offense either way. But, all things being equal, this is an era of the pass. Here are the top 10 teams in passing yardage and in rush yardage. Both succeeed, in general. But, without dicing it too finely, I'd say the passing offenses are more effective these days.

Top passing yardage: Saints, Pats, Giants, Packers, Lions, S.D., Dallas, Atlanta, Carolina. Of course, that IDs a lot of the great QBs. That kinda helps!

Top 10 rushing teams: Denver, Houston, Philly, Minn, Carolina, Oak, Saints, Bears, Dallas.


I wasn't able to watch the Redskins game yesterday. Didn't tape it. Even after learning they won I feel I didn't miss a thing. Because I knew that with one pick or one TD or one first down this 5-9 team would be dancing and celebrating like they'd won the Super Bowl. OK I'm old but remember when Riggins scored the biggest TD in Redskins' history and just tossed the ball to the ref and kept running to the sideline? That would have been the time to dance. But the game wasn't over. So he didn't. Sigh. Get off my yard. But whatever happened to acting like you've been there?

Gotta let the chatters have theirs rants! And 'get off my yard' is a great catch phrase.

I think it all depends on knowing WHEN to celebrate. The Fun Bun ch did it in a good way. I like it when it's at the right time or in a team context. Hey, lets not turn it into the No Fun League.

Talk about fun: listening to Giants boo in the second quarter, get desperate by halftime and give up, pretty much, by early in the 4Q. 

What are you thoughts on the next three qbs after Luck? Barkley, RG III, Jones...Personally I really like watching RG III but obviously college is different than the NFL. Who fits best in the Redskins system?

1) RGIII, 2) Barkley. Jones, just plain "no." Not unless he falls at lot. He had almost as many INTs as TDs this year.

RGIII has a rep as smart, great speed. But if Skins get a choice __which seems very doubtful if they end 6-10__ you can bet the Shannys will go with accuracy. They love their system and want the QB who can "execute" the highest percentage of the time __not the one that can turn a broken play into a spectacular gain. They'll take the broken play (Elway). But that's not what they'd prefer to draft. JMHO.

If the Skins end up with ~10th overall pick (at 6-10), like last year, it's much harder to trade up for a QB than for a player at any other position. If they desperately wanted a particular O-lineman, WR, etc., they could move up for "fair value" according to the Draft Value Chart. But not for a potential Franchise QB. Everybody thinks "oh, they'll just trade up." You need a partner. The further you fall, the less your No. 1 is worth and more likely there will be teams between No. 2 and No. ~10 who just won't trade because THEY want that QB.

Okay, lets get to some other sports a little.

Boz, I enjoyed your column last week where you praise the Redskins for (finally) building through the draft. That said, I disagree with your assessment that the Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey deal was awful. The second round pick the Skins gave up was used by Denver to draft Tatum Bell, who had a mediocre career. And while Champ is an excellent cornerback, Portis was also excellent for the Skins. He nearly broke Riggo's franchise yardage record. You can split hairs over who got the better end of the deal, but I do not think that the trade was awful.

You're right, it ertainly wasn't awful. But the value of the No. 2 pick isn't determined by whether Denver used it wisely. That pick has intrinsic value when analyzing the trade. 

As for Bailey-Portios, some think Champ may be one of the 1-2-3 best CBs in history. At under the draft section there is a great tool "Career Value." Of course it's a guesstimate. But they have a decent system for putting a total career number on it.

Portis, who gained 9,923 yards and scoring 75 TDs has a "CV" of 70, which is very high. He played in 113 games.

But Bailey has a CV of 104 which is astronomical and he's played in 192 games and is STILL giving the Broncos big value now.

The Broncos got much the better of the trade, imo.

Great article this morning, Tom. Sooo here's my question. Assuming we go on a bit of a roll and win the last two games, should the Redskins trade up to get one of the three top quarterbacks you mentioned in your article, or do they target other playmakers and go for a later round , less known QB (if there are any--are there?), and remain prudent with there picks like they did in the last draft? Happy and safe Holiday to you and your family and all of Redskins Nation.

Thanks very much. Same back at you and all the chatters here.

All pros, especially in the NFL where high intensity 1) helps keep you from injury and 2) helps keep your job in a sport where every play is graded by coaches, try to give their best effort even when losing might __to a fan__ seem like the better long term choice. Not going to happen.

Looks like 6-10 and that seems like a problem to me. Lot of teams bunched at 4-10, 5-9. If you get to 6-10 or "worse" 7-9 __and who says the Eagles "show up" if their last game is meaningless and they're depressed at being knocked out__ it's going to cost a lot, in all likelihood, to get Luck, RGII or Barkley. Certainly hope they find a way to do it. That'd be fun to watch, even if it takes 2-3 years.

If Rams give up on Sam Bradford and go for a QB at No. 2-3 overall pick, fyi, Shanny loves him.

Is he now considered an elite quarterback? Usually you wait unitl the second year to make sure he's not a rookie-year fluke, but many in the media seem to have already procalimed he'll be one of the greats when he retires.

Yesterday was another piece of the answer. My guess is that he's a very good NFL QB, but will never be a Brady, Aaron R, Drew B Brees or Peyton. And that's what his numbers, and comments I've heard on the game seem to indicate. But I haven't had time to "watch the tape" yet. Only had time after I got back last nite for the Skins. 

With 194 yards passing (11-for-22, 80.0 QB rating) and 96 yards rushing (12 carries), he certainly showed how he attacks you both ways. But that's only "good" or "very good." Hopwever, his leadership, late-game ability and his running inside the red Zone __two more rushing TDs on Sunday__ add to his value.

I'd be amazed if he is "one of the greats." I'd say most of the media, especially ex-players, have been waiting for him to fail so their predictions look good. I wrote about him because I think he has real skills that match the style of play in this era and they explain his success __plus the4 X factors of great clutch performances and some luck in the 7-1 run. 

Might make for an interesting press conference when he's asked what he thinks of the team nickname.

I'd pay __even FedEx prices__ to attend that.

Dmitri Young was very visible at the winter meetings after losing 70 pounds (presumably his diabetes is under control). Davey and Rizzo have said they need to rebuild their bench. Have you heard anything about the possibility of Da Meathook returning to the Nats to be a role player and mentor?

Interesting. You can invite him to camp and see what he's got. If he's willing to be a switch-hitting PH and maybe DH in interleague games, it could help. But that's his only role, even in theory. He may feel he can still DH in the A.L. I'd say he's a doubtful match for the Nats. But I really enjoyed him.

Mr. Boswell - I know you are not the source of my frustration with the problem I am having, but perhaps you can pass this along to your people. I often find that because of work, I need to listen to games on the radio. Sometimes I remember to look up the stations when reading the morning paper - often times I forget. On the sports page website, it is nearly impossible to track down the tv/radio broadcast schedule that you print in the paper. I have spent the past 20 minutes trying to find it this evening because I would like to listen to the Sunday Night Football Game and there is a discrepancy between what Westwood One and 980am are saying about where on the dial it is available. I would like to see other options depending on which one is correct, but there is no link to this information on the front page of the sports webpage? Especially, as someone who is a PAC-10 fan where the games are out in the radio ether, but not necessarily in the most obvious station (980), my inability to find this information on your website, which I know is there somewhere, because I have managed to find it once or twice before, is aggravating. Could you please have a clear link to this information on the front of the sports webpage every day, ESPECIALLY with college hoops coming up. Thank you, sir! 

We have an answer from the sports editors:

The link to the daily local sports TV and radio listings are located in the right rail of every online page in PostSports, labeled "TV and Radio listings". The direct url is: 

Do you see the Nats getting into the bidding for him?

No. Pointless. At the end of his career, can't cover ground in CF anymore. Wouldn't want him in CF at any price. He just clogs things up. And he'd want a multi-year. Bah, humbug.

The Nats off-season has been frustrating to the Nats and to their fans so far. They really wanted Buehrle. But not at $56m/4yr, even if he'd have come. They were NEVER as high on anybody else. They don't think as much of Oswalt as I do. We'll see who's right. (Yeah, probably the pros, not me.) They were never interested in Pujols, Fielder, CJ Wilson, Darvish or Cespedes at the price that were being paid this winter.

If they want another starter who gives you 200 IP every year and has started in the World Series for the '08 Rays and the '11 Cards, they could go after, and probably get, hard-throwing Edwin Jackson. But he's only a two-pitch pitcher __though his fastball averaged 94.3 last year which is very high for a starter). they'd probably rather see what Peacock has in a RHP. Also, both Wang and Jackson look like 200-IP 4.00 ERA guys, but really top of the rotation. And they want LHers to match with the Phils and Braves. So, if they couldn't get Buehrle __I plan to spell ity differently EVERY TIME__ they may just as soon see what Lannan, plus Detwiler and Milone can give them. 

Here's a different way to interpret the Nats willingness to hold what they have, build a bench __hey, lets get started on that, fellas__ and see if a trade for CF develops. 

Who have the Nats added?

The question might be rephrased: Added since when?

Who do the Nats have now, when ST starts, that they didn't have at the All-Star break?

*Stephen Strasburg (full recovery, 25 starts, not 5 in '12).

*Jordan Z (for 32-33 starts, not 25).

*Adam LaRoche, for 145 games, not 30-40 bad ones. Career OPS .815.

*Chien-Ming Wang (for 25-30 starts, not 10).

*Bryce Harper (for 80 games, not 0, maybe if called up in June).

*Brad Peacock, for whole season, not September.

*Tommy Milone, for full season, not September.

*Steve Lombardozzi, for full season, not just September.

*Ross Detwiler, for full season, not just half a season.

*Ryan Mathues for full season, not 60 games. 

This may be rationalizing inactivity. But it's still interesting.

Hi Tom, Thanks for these chats. Well, let us see how the offseason has gone for the Nats:

- Mark Burlhe: nope

- Roy Oswalt: don't want him

- Yu Darvish, didn't bother even trying to get him

I think it is now safe to say that the Lerners are cheap. They'll spend a little extra money on draft picks and Yunesky Maya. Other than Jayson Werth, they have spent no significant money on anyone. It's time to face facts that Washington will always be run like a small market team (even though they most definitely are not). Is there any hope that I'm wrong in my assessment?

- Discouraged Nats fan in Pittsburgh

I'm quite sure you're wrong on this. Once you go $126M for one player, and you have SS and Harper coming, plus lots of others, you have committed yourself long-term. That doesn't mean they are committed specifically to spending for '12.

Use this construct to understand it. If Werth and LaRoche had had big seasons, as Nats hoped/expected in '11, then they'd have presumably looked at '12 as a run-for-a-wildcard year. So, they'd have had more motive to get that third top starter behind SS and Z'mann. They'd have considered themselves a fine linbeup with werth, LaR, Z'man, Morse, Harper coming, Espy, Ramos. But now Werth and LaR are semi-question marks. So that pushes the urgency back a year until you find out more about all the young player swho did well in '11.

The Nats did NOT think thjat, as a group, Peacock, Milone, Matheus, Lombardozzi, Marrero, etc., would develop this fast. That makes '13 and '14 look better as a time to spend for your first big push, rather than '12-'13.

They still need to get cracking. And I still think Oswalt is worth a 3-year deal. But the bad years from Werth and LaR, coupled with the good years from so many kids, may have changed their internal time table.

I know Davey Johnson, though he doesn't phrase it this way, thinks thjat Job 1 right now is to find out exactly which of the young players are part of a postp-season quality team and which aren't. Then, as he says, "Put on the icng AFTER the cake is baked."

If you want "blame" Davey a little. He really likes what he's holding __if you upgrade the bench. And he wants to know that the Big Buy actually fits the Nats needs when  they have a chance to win __whether he's the manager then or not. He really is a long-view guy.


What's wrong with players celebrating? I thought fans liked it when high paid professionals "care" and "show some emotion."

I "feel very strongly both ways." Usually, I like it. But idiotic celeb rating when you're way behind or it is just "about you" drives me crazy.

And does it really matter, except to the Giants and Cowboys? Meanwhile, the other NFL team that plays in Maryland, the Ravens, will be in the playoffs, but don't look like they'll go all the way.

The NFL just keeps stunning you with the results of individual games. Over a whole season, teams end up pretty much where they belong. But everything about the NFL contributes to the Any Given Sunday syndrome __the importance of turnovers; the impact of afew big players, like Nicks dropped 46-yd TD on Sunday; the degree to which coaches can, or can't, guess what the other team is planning and spend all week game-planning (correctly) to beat it.  

As I wrote, I don't think there is more than one or two games difference between the Giants and Skmins right now. Giants are worse than the concensus thinks, Redksins (especially '11 draft picks) are coming along more decently than folks 1,000 miles from DC probably appreciate.

Thanks for the chat! So when do we become concerned that the Lerners have once again tightened the purse strings? For two straight years Rizzo has stated the need for a top of the rotation starter only to strike out. The Nats are "out" on everyone this year and is sure seems like Rizzo doesn't have the authority to do what he wants. Thoughts

Rizzo has the authority. But he wants to keep it! He really has a good sense of Ted, imo. Rizzo wants value and, as he said to me recently, "Once I get a number in my head on what I think a player is worth, I don't change much." That's who he IS __a talent evaluator. That's what he brings. If he thinks __and he does think these things __Buerhle isn't worthy four years; Oswalt isn't worth three years; Cepedes isn't worth $40-50M; Darvish isn't worth God-knows-how-much; BJ Upton isn't worth a key Nats player just to control him for one year; Pujols and Fielders aren't worth THAT to the Nats because they're set up fine at 1st base.  

Is this stubborn? Yes. But if you are a team builder, you can't sway with the wind. You have to stick to your guns. If you are right enough, you get to be in a parade. If you are wrong enough, you get fired. He was right, when the world was mostly wrong, on Dunn. (he won't say it because he likes Dunn so much, but he saw a significant downward trajectory to his career, but nothing like what happened in '11. So far, he looks very wrong on Werth __a huge miss, if it works out that way.

Does he deserve an F for the off-season so far? Missed out on Buerle and no CF either.

If he'd said next-to-nothing, you might say, "Wait until the winter is over to judge." The Nats future will probably be impacted more by whether Rizzo and his staff were as right as they think they were to go way over slot on Rendon, Purke, Meyer and Goodwin than whether they get a No. 3 starter like Buerhle for three years and trade for somebody you've barely heard of like CF Bourjois (Angels). Not going to look up how to spell it! But THAT is wrong!

Why do I still wonder, against all logic and every view that various Nats have given, that they';ll be tempted to jump into Fielder. Naaah. That's the stubborn part. He's just not going to do it because he thought about it all season. He's not going to let the market tell him what he thinks. Mr. Market is there to be taken advanatage of. But it's fatal is you listen to Mr. Market.

Of course, that only works out in the long run if your independently-arrived-at opinions have a lot of value!

Boz - Is this it, in terms of top-shelf Nats additions? Is this the "pirate crew" that Davey Johnson (Jones??) sails with into the 2012 season (per your earlier metaphor)? Feels like we're still short a mate or two. Hell, if not improvement-motivated, let's at least be impression-motivated. Open the wallet this off-season to give a lasting impression that the Nats are a serious "destination" team. Justifies the Werth deal, yes? Draft signings? Why stop now? 2011-2012 personnel predictions?

To me, the hidden factor with the Nats is how much their offense can improve in one year if Z''man (.825), LaRoche (.815), Morse (.855) and Werth (.830) simply produce their CAREER OPS in '12 and Espy (.737), Ramos (.767) and Desmond (.680) simply improve a hair on theirs. And what if Harper (,897 in the minors), comes up and produces at a .775 rate. The MLB average is in the low .700s. That ought to be a very good offense.

IF there is a bench behind it, not a bunch of clowns who combine to hit .202 in 1700 at bats.

(All those numbers are 'off the top' and are off a hair. But I checked them last week. They're close.)

Heath Shuler, Patrick Ramsey & Jason Campbell. Drafting a QB is far from a sure thing. A first-round bust can take a team years to recover from. It can cost coaches and GMs their jobs.

Can't live with 'em. Can't live without 'em.

Your article hinted at this with regard to the Giants point differential, but how nice was it to see the G-Men not make every possible play for once? My memory, dubious in some ways though it may be, of Giants/'Skins games of the past decade is littered with the G-Men making every possible move-the-chains catch and getting every last break and bounce. The shoe had to drop and finally did.

The Meadowlans has not been kind.

We were looking up Norv's 50-21 win there in '99!

Yes, that was the 10-6 team that Snyder inherited, then thought he was smart enough to vastly improve with $$$. Dan inherited a second-round of the playoffs team and destroyed it. Everything since is an attempt to get back to the level of the team he bought __w two 1,100-yard receivers, a 1,400 RB, Brad Johnson (24-13 TD-INT ratio) at QB. Gibbs is the only coach to get above 8-8 for the Skins since then.

Do you think Endy Chavez could be a decent short-term filler for the Nats in centerfield, or maybe resigning Rick Ankiel, who played pretty well turing the final two months of last season?

Endy, no way. Rick, yes, absolutely. But more for his glove, though his career .735 OPS is perfectly good for a bench player. 

Who's going to spend the most time in center for the Nats this year? 1. Werth, 2.Cespedes, 3. Ankiel (if he returns), 4. Bernadina (ugh) or 5. someone else?

Werth or Someone Else.

Boz, If the Nats are able to sign or trade for a CFer and they bring up Bryce Harper during the season, does Adam LaRoche become the od man out this season? Thanks.

LaRoche will be the positive surprise of the season and the Nats will be glad they have a team option for '13.

Disappointments? The Nats were 7th in MLB in ERA at 3.58. WHAT!??? I still don't really believe it. But they would have been 5th is they were .03 lower. Could they really have been that good with only five starts from SS? I suspect that's where the backsliding will show up in '12.

I know we are all eager for the Nats to take the next step, but I wonder if it is better to wait and spend the big money next season when you have Strasburg and Zimermann fully available, and guys like Greinke and Bourn to fill those pitcher and lead-off spots. The players potentially available in FA, and possibly trade next off-season are way better than anything out there at this point. I wouldn't want them to overpay for lesser players when Strasburg's innings limit will likely keep them out of the playoffs anyway. My plan at this point would be to upgrade the bench and see what Strasburg, Zimmermann, Harper, Wang, Detwiler, Milone and Peacock can do.

Thanks very close to what Davey thinks. And Rizzo listens to Davey quite a bit. Blame Davey, too!

But they HAVE to build the bench. I still think they will make one significant move.

Nobody thought MATT LATOS (think Don Drysdale stuff) would be traded for four players by the Padres. It was "prospects for ace." The Nats have the prospects. What not-rich team ace might they target? Not saying they will. But they have the stockpile to try.


Ho Ho Ho Boz, What are the odds that the Nats do right by the fans and sign Zimm to a Tulo type deal before Spring Training? After watching the Pujols intro in LA, if we have to endure a similar scene w/ Ryan I plan on marching to Nats Park and burn my jersey at the main gate.

I think they just have to do it, though there are risks in all long deals. Ryan Z shouldn't get as much as Tulo because he's not a SS, he's had injuries, his throwing might still make him a 1st baseman someday.

But he should get a ton, it MUST get done before the '12 All-Star game, imo, and before Opening Day (like his last extension) would be better. 

Is the reluctance to sign Fielder just about money? He is clearly an upgrade over LaRoche at the plate and would instantly upgrade the offense.

LaRoche, plus the price difference, will make you change your mind, I think. MANY of the hitters with careers comparbale to LaR had very fine years at 32-33. And Paul O'Neill hadn't even hit his peak. And he can really pick it. I may eat these words. But with Morse comfortable to 1st, too, there's no way __in theory__ you should be spending $200M on a 1st baseman.

Remember the knock on Mike Rizzo was that he would have trouble with some of the non-baseball aspects of a GM job (i.e. media)? We're a few years in and while the Nats are greatly improved, I'm skeptical of Rizzo. He seems like he's playing out of position -- strong on scouting, not so much on other stuff. Does it even matter given the ownership? We know they held Kasten back a lot.

They held Kasten back from Day One. He should have fought harder and more in public, imo. But that's not his style. He got out the day the Lerners had changed enough, the team had iumproved enough, that he could leave with his 'legacy' somewhat intact. He wants to buy the Dodgers and has his group/bankers lined up. But who doesn't want to own the Dodgers?

Kasten can help keep things smooth. There'd have been no Riggleman explosion if he'd been around. But then maybe they finish 80-81 for Jim and he's brought back and there's no stumble-into-Davey, which is a big upgrade. Rizzo needs/deserves to be his own man. Year 1 w/out Kasten had it's bumps, but I think his feet are under him with most of the other aspects of the job besides evaluation. But he's not a "smoothie." Is that what you want him to be? I kinda like him the way he is, edges and all. Werth is still the cloud over his head. That's just how it is. You live with your mega-decisions.

Morning Boz! A few questions. When you wrote "Time Begins on Opening Day" did you ever think the OFFSEASON would have as much interest as it does? Any word on the Ryan Zimmerman Extension! Please don't tell me they will wait until the end of next year! WHAT the Heck is going on with the CAPS?! Do you think any of the guys they parted with last year could also be a factor?

Baseball is the best 365-day sport, easily.

No, they better not wait until the end of '12.

The Caps have real Team Identity and style-fit problems. But the biggest problem is Ovechkin. He looks like 60-to-70 percent of his MVP self, most of the time. He may have degraded 10% w all the hits he took for six years. He may have partied away some of his ability in his early seasons. He was living two-years-for-one. That will never come back. It's virtually impossible that he will ever be the Old Eight. But he fit his style to Hunter's? Can he crank up his desire every night __because his effort, for a vastly-paid superstar__ just isn't high enough a lot of gthe time. Can he overcome the psychological weight of knowing that he absolut best years are probably behind him. He can still be great. But probably noit the greatest. Can he adjust, cope, be the best he can be? He certainly isn't now. He's trying more with Hunter. But game after game I find myself saying, "Where the hell is Ovechkin?" And all too often, he's right there on the ice. But not attracting your eye with his energy, creativity and brilliance like he once did. Yes, the league has leaved his pet moves, too. He needs to add some new wrinkles.


Hey Boz thanks for chatting. Looks like Young is returning this year... I've been concerned for a long time that the Wizards have struggled with having too many "knuckleheads" on the roster and not enough of a mature veteran presence. I worry particularly about guys like Blatche and Nick Young who seem so easily distracted. How much of a problem is attitude on this team and what can be done?

The Wiz are awful.

I will try to get interested in how they get to "less awful."

Wall has a long way to go as a pt guard who plays under semi-control, keeps his turnovers down much better and shoots the open shot adequately. Lot of talent, good guy. His talent and personality aren't overrated but I'm concerned that, at this point, the overall level of his game is. Look at any "advanced stats" on the NBA. He was brutal as a rookie. That type of analysis can't be entirely wrong. If Blatche and Young...talented, on some night, but...

Sorry, I gave the Bullets-Wiz a 30-year dispensation after their title. That's over. One of their biggest problems may be Ted's rose-colored glasses. That's the only color he owns. This team will get better faster the more you look at it with a critic, unsparing eye.

So if Leonsis is walking lock step with Grunfeld as he purports, then I guess both of these dudes are about to jump into a volcano to end their misery. The almost 40-point loss/debacle to the Sixers where there was no semblance of progress, teamwork, or chemistry clearly shows that this franchise is still moving in the wrong direction. In the end, Leonsis is signing the checks, so if he still wants to throw his money into a black hole with a team like this, then more power to him.

My gut reaction against such preaseason despair is usually: Now hold on a mnute.

With the Wiz, you can read between the lines that Ted knows they have miles to go. I'm not sure he appreciates just how MANY miles. Good luck. This is a basketball loving town and deserves far better than it has gotten from the abysmal Wiz for nearly a third of a century.

But the NBA is a horribly tough league inwhich to try to get better if you are a long-term Have Not. The NBA deck is stacked against such teams. And, with the Clippers now out of Hell, few teams fit the definition of Have Not more than the Wiz.

What will it take for BB to realize that his defense is beyond terrible?

Oh, I think he knows it! The Broncos gained 252 yards on the ground the week after the Skins passed against them like they'd forgotten to put all their DBs on the field.

I know this chat is about Redskins/Washington sports but I think yesterday's upset merits some discussion. It wasn't the fact that the Packers' winning streak ended - it was HOW it ended. We know the Packers' D is not the best but the offense played poorly too and Rodgers has not been up to par the last few weeks. Are they feeling the pressure (team of going undefeated) and Rodgers of having the best year so far of any quarterback and all the media hype? Was it McCarthy's fault for not resting players and making sure the most effective and reliable players stay healthy for the postseason? Or is this team overrated?


I am starting to have doubts about whether they'll be able to go all the way and win the Super Bowl this year not because they lack talent or ability but right now they just seem unnerved - hope this does not stretch into the postseason. Or was this loss a good thing in the long term? Thoughts?

All year I've thought the Packers were an excellent team, but not a juggernaut. So an early loss might have actually helped them. Staying undefeated is an extra weight.

They are the Super Bowl favorite. But not by much. I'd take "the field."

Boz, Thoughts on the Mat Latos trade? Seems the cost of quality SP is especially high this year---whether you're Roy Oswalt or the ChiSox looking to trade Danks, the Nats are going to have to spend or give up real value to add that piece to their rotation. Any new developments??

Jim Bowden, who really writes well for ESPN on baseball, did a nice piece on the Latos trade. He writes well, thinks well and has the contacts. And he just naturally loves to raise a little hell. He likes Latos but thinks the Pads got their 1st baseman and catcher for many years as well as a good starter and a chance that Volquez will bounce back.

He never interested me much. I thought he was an overrated blowhard who took trendy positions on social issues after it was already fairly safe to take them. Then congratulated himself ad nauseum for being a courageous groundbreaker. Bill Veeck once said, of somebody else, not Cosell, "He was a man who convinced others to accept his own opinion of himself." That was Howard. 

Other than that, I loved the guy.

I think the day was just weird. The Colts and Skins won and the Packers and Ravens lost. I would have thought the games were played on a Friday the 13th.

Nice. Thanks.

I can't think of any other sport with the same 'Any Given Sunday' excitement.

The MLB playoffs.

Would you be interetsed in Adam Jones if you were the Nats and who would you be willing to give up?

I pity the good young Oriole players. Now that is a doomed franchise. They can improve. But they can't go anywhere. And there's hardly a worst organizational culture in sports. I keep hearing hair-curling stories.

The O's need pitching-pitching-pitching. That's one reason that, if the Nats had landed a starter __or if they got Oswalt__ they would have more to put in a trade for a player like Jones or some other CFer.

The O's wouldn't deal him to Washington. Too much chance for Peter to look bad for too long.


It's Opening Day 2012 in DC. Sellout crowd, beautiful weather. Perfect day for baseball. Who's playing CF for the Nats, & who's hitting leadoff. For that matter, since I've asked you to consult your crystal ball, what's the pitching rotation?

Okay, that's a fun final note. Lets go crazy.

Desmond SS

Harper RF

Zimmerman 3rd

Morse LF

LaRoche 1st

Werth CF

Espinosa 2nd

Ramos C

Strasburg RHP


Zimmermann, Wang, Lannan, Milone.


Barry Svrluga saw Strasburg and Z'mann in a hotel lobby in NYC on Saturday. He did a doubletake. They were in town for Lannan's wedding. The first robins of spring?

Thanks again for all the fine questions and ideas that I'll keep looking through to try to steal from you folks.

Have GREAT holidays!


Desmond-Werth-Zimmerman-Morse-LaRoche-Espinosa-Harper-Ramos Flores-Bernadina-DeRosa-Dobbs-Theriot/Keppinger Strasburg-Zimmermann-Lannan-Wang-Detwiler Gorzelanny-Maya/Stammen-Mattheus-Burnett-HRod-Clippard-Storen Maybe a placeholder for Harper instead, but that isn't that bad. You also have guys like Peacock, Milone, Tyler Moore, Norris, and Ryan Perry on the verge. Lots of other guys like Rendon, Solis, Purke, Meyer, and Cole ready by mid-end 2013.

Well said. See, you all don't need me. Cheers.

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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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