Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Oct 15, 2018

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell answered your questions about the Redskins, Capitals, Nationals, Wizards, the NFL and more.

Past Ask Boswell chats

I thought that the Browns had made a colossal mistake in drafting the next Johnny Manziel, Baker Mayfield. Is he for real or will defenses just figure out how to defend him? So far this season, I have never been so pleasantly surprised by being completely wrong.

You're not wrong. So far Mayfield has the second WORSE QB rating in the NFL at a horrid 72.8 with only 4 TD passes and 5 interceptions. That's 31st of 32 QBs.  Only Josh Allen is worse +61.8.

There are 22 QBs with ratings over 90.0. It's so easy to be an NFL QB these days compared to the pre-CTE era. Mayfield has gotten them off their losing streak and given some hope. I was enthusiastic, too, until I saw the numbers. At some point, the numbers matter. Maybe he'll start showing improvement soon. He needs to.

So what can Gruden really do to make the Redskins better this season? The two offensive players they brought in via the draft to make them younger and faster are out injured (Quin and Guice). With Crowder and Thompson also hurt, what is there really that can be done on offense? The lack of separation that Doctson and Richardson get is non-existent.

Many are missing one of the main points about the Skins offense. Alex Smith avoids turnovers, INCLUDING LOST FUMBLES, as well as any QB in the NFL and far better than most, including Cousins.

The No. 1 factor in the NFL, far above anything else in statistical terms, is TURNOVERS. It's been that way since (at least) George Allen first made it a religion with the Rams and then Over The Hill Gang to get takeaways and avoid turnovers. That insight is not 50 years old. Now, everybody looks at interceptions, but they miss the fact that some QBs lose a lot of fumbles while others barely ever lose one.

For example, in the last four seasons, starting with '15, Kirk Cousins has had 55 turnovers in 54 games started. Of those, 16 are lost fumbles, including another strip-sack fumble for a TD return against Cousins on Sunday. That's Cousins 5th lost fumble this season. (With the Skins, he wasn't particularly bad. It was, relative to other QBs, a Cousins strength that he DIDN'T fumble a lot.)

Smith is remarkable. Since '15, in 51 games, he only has 28 turnovers, including just 6 lost fumbles. SIX in 51 games.

So, Cousins has almost TWICE as many TOTAL turnovers as ASmith since '15: 55 to 28.

Smith has limits. BUT his single greatest strength is what DOES NOT happen, losing the ball.

The Skin won for just one main reason on Sunday over Carolina, a 3-0 edge, which is a huge +3, in turnovers. The best thing Smith did was what he DIDN'T do. As always, he protected the ball both in the air and when it was still in his hand.

This "ball protection" is the main reason I now think the Skins are more likely to go 9-7 (or 8-8), rather than their 20-year norm on 7-9. They lack many things. But, since at least the early '70's when I first worked it out for every NFL game, the team with an edge in turnovers-takeaways, even by just +1, wins more than 80% of all NFL games. Nothing else co5relates nearly as well. There is no other stat where "winning" the battle, yardage, penalties, time of possession, nothing, correlates more than the low-60's in percent terms. Winning in turnovers is over 80%.

There's plenty Smith can't do. He's 18th in QB rating at a mundane 91.9 (mundane by '18 standards. Not mundane for '78, '88 or even '98). Eli Manning, who can't play dead, is 90.9. Cousins is 10th in QB rating at 102.7.

But, overall, I'd say that Smith is about what I expected, especially with the Skins injured skill-position players and total lack of a No. 1 wide receiver. OK, he might be a hair less than I expected, even more timid and a game manager. But that could change as he gets more familiar with Gruden's system.

I've seen 5 of Cousins 6 games and I'd say he's doing LESS with the Vikings than I expected. I'm pretty close to thinking that, while a very nice Top 12 QB, he's NOT quite as good as I thought he'd be once he got Thielen and Diggs to help him. He's really fumbled too much and in bad spots on the field with significant damages to the Vikes. He'll probably get back to his normal pretty-good fumbling rate.

BUT the difference in turnovers between Cousins and Smith is dramatic and evens up their ability. I'd still take Cousins head-to-head, not even factoring in age. But not by much.

Cousins wanted out of DC. for years. NOTHING was going to keep him in DC. IMO, the basic problem was his repulsion at the Skins culture and the internal back-stabbing, which would have turned on him at some point if he'd signed a long-term deal. He wanted to leave with his dignity, something few have done under Snyder. He engineered it and got out as clean as you can. The Skins did not so much mismanage negotiations as they created an atmosphere from which Cousins wanted to flee. In other words, it WAS their fault. Just not in the way it is usually presented, as front-office or ownership bungling. It was bigger than that. It was "let me out!" As I said, that's my opinion. But it's firmly held. 

What's impressive is how well they salvaged a bad situation by trading for Smith. Late in the Saints game, I thought it looked like he'd quit, gotten demoralized, awful body language. But he's a pro's pro and bounced right back on Sunday. 


Hey, Boz, If the Nats have so much deferred money on the Scherzer and Strasburg contracts, why are they concerned about paying the competitive balance tax? The tax is calculated on average annual value, yet in reality they are paying less than that in real dollars. Can't they just use the internal accounting difference to pay the tax whenever they exceed it? Surely the difference in actual payout versus calculated payout would cover the tax for a few seasons.

The tax gets worse every year that you violate it, going up eventually (I think) to 50 cents on the dollar for every dollar over the limit. THAT is a serious punishment.

What's important is that the average annual salary, like $30M for Max and $25M for Strasburg, is what counts against the luxury tax, not the much higher figures that show up under other calculations, like those as baseball-reference where, in '19, Max is listed at $42.1M and Strasburg at $38.3M.

I come up with about $125M in '19 contracts for the Nats, including arb-year raises for Rendon and others. The Lerners give Rizzo and all-in budget of $180M-a-year. (Where is the cost-of-living raise?) So, in THEORY, the Nats have enough room, imo, to sign Harper for ~$35M-a-year and still have room to go after one or two significant free agents. (Remember, they'd probably trade Eaton and his $8.4M deal in '19.)

But, obviously, they do not have bottomless money, or, since the Lerners do have billions, they don't have a bottomless BUDGET. If you DON'T sign Harper for $35M-a-year (for X years), then the Nats can address quite a few problems with some, but not a lot of financial concern.

That, imo, is why we have seen little or no interest from the Nats in Bryce. Certainly "0" has come out in public. Eventually, when all is known, I suspect that the way to bet, only a 60-/40 bet, is that we will find that the Nats have never (since they traded for Eaton) had ANY interest in signing Harper at ANY price for ANY length contract unless the free agent market completely collapses this winter (which is possible).     

I do not mean that they don't LIKE him personally or that they doubt he's an outstanding player. I just think they looked at the RANGE of possible contracts, all huge, and decided long ago that Harper wasn't going to happen, so focus on other ways to build a future. If Harp, like Strasburg, had come to them well before the day he'd be free, which would have constituted a documented baseball miracle, that's different. Then, for a hometown deal, they'd listen. That never happened. Instead, the last week of the season, Harper said that he LOVED D.C., so, please, Nats, join the auction for my services this winter. That's completely different.

Time will tell if this is a blunder and the Nats should have said, "Bryce is our identity, the core of our fan appeal and a future HOFer. We need to sign him no matter what, then worry about other things." Instead, they have acted, at least publicly (only the Nats and Harper/Boras know what has gone on in private), as if they want to take care of everything else (as well as they can) and THEN see is something is still possible (and practical) with Harper. 

IOW, I've felt for a couple of years that the chances of Harper returning were ~10%. I'd be glad to be wrong. He's fun to watch, fun to write about and a good young man. Now I'd say the odds are even less. More hot air has been wasted, including my own, on this subject than almost any in DC in a long time, except, of course, ANY Skins subject. Every time I discuss the possibility that Harper will come back I say to myself, "Every bone in your body knows, intuitively, from experience, that there is No Way he is coming back and the Nats "moved on" from him long ago."

However, the Lerners-Boras-Rizzo is as good at being secretive as any bunch that you will find. How secretive? Not only does the public not know what's going on, sometimes Rizzo doesn't know until after a deal has been done, like Rafael Soriano. So, on Harper, never say "absolutely never." Also, Boras will always sell the idea that his client is passionately wanted by his former team (of course). That misdirects some. If the Nats and Harper do a deal, it will be the most shocked I've been since....okay....the day they signed Strasburg.   

As I watch Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, David Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello in the ALCS, I can't help thinking that the Nats could have had them. OK, not all of them, but any one or even two. I understand the reluctance to trade Robles, Soto, C. Kieboom and/or others, but I'm pretty sure Mike Rizzo has been quoted as saying that starting pitching is the foundation of a contending team. Why wouldn't the Nats have gone harder after one or more of these guys?

The Nats went VERY hard after Sale, but the White Sox wanted Trea Turner as part of the deal after Turner's rookie half-season which was a stat dupe per-at-bat of (HOFer) Tim Raines. Maybe if the Nats had had Sale in '17, they'd have been in the World Series. Maybe not. 

The next 2-3 years will let us know what the Nats have in Soto, Robles, Carter Kieboom and SS Luis Garcia (.298 in 127g in '18 at Potomac and Hagerstown and won't be 19 until next MAY.) At least three of those four better pan out BIG because they have certainly kept them, especially Robles (and Soto), out of a lot of potential trades.

Perhaps the biggest shock of the last off-season, and one that has gotten more shocking all season, was the WORLD-CHAMP Astros ADDING Cole on Jan. 13th for Jason Martin, Michael Feliz, Colin Moran and Joe Musgrove!

How many teams, including the Nats, could have, and probably should have, topped that offer and gotten Cole who's under contract through the '20 season.

Why was he available? He'd gone 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA in Pittsburgh. It didn't look like a (bad-luck) fluke. His FIP was 4.08 and he gave up 31 homers. Over '16-and;-17 combined, he was only 19-22 with a 4.12. He'd missed time with injury.

Would the Cole Train of '15 return (19-8, 2.60)?

Yes: 15-5, 2.88 and 276 strikeouts in only 200 innings!) 

Cole is one of several pitchers that has shown increased, or restored velocity once they got to Houston. 

A lot of teams missed on going hard after Cole, and the Nats were one of them, in my book. It probably WOULD have changed '18. And might have upgraded '19 and '20.

But what if the price had included that 19-year-old kid deep in the minors who was ranked BELOW Robles, that Juan Soto who's under Nats control through 2024?

Be careful what you wish for, Part 1,000,000. Right now the Nats might look smart if they'd traded 6 3/4 years of Soto, at low cost, for three years of Cole at much higher (arbitration-year) prices. But how would that look in '21 when Cole might be gone and Soto might...well, who knows what Soto might do.   

The Brewers started Gio in game one of the NLCS against the Dodgers and won! After seeing Craig Counsell's unorthodox use of his starter and bullpen, I'm starting to see what the Nationals thought they were missing with Davey Johnson & Dusty Baker at the helm. Or were these outcomes just luck - good luck for Counsell, bad for the Nationals?

The Nats wanted, at some point, not just to have a manager who tolerated analytics, listened to the advanced metrics folks and usually, sometimes, incorporated them. They wanted a new-school manager who embraced them and clicked his heels over analytics. They thought that Martinez, after 10 years with Joe Maddon, was the guy.

I love watching the A's, Rays and Brewers doing totally unorthodox things.  But, remember, that is because they all LACK the kind of starting pitching that the Red Sox, Astros and (even) Dodgers have.

BTW, sure looks like Clayton Kershaw is about to move into the 5-year 3.75 ERA phase of his career. If you care, look up Pedro Martinez, Juan Marichal, and other Kershaw "comparables" to see how amazing pitchers, with low-2.00s over long periods, performed after they'd lost some of their stuff past age 30. It happens to them all. It'll happen to Scherzer, who is three years older than Kershaw and still fanning 300! The truly great pitchers still find a way to win after they are no longer "themselves."

From '04-'09, Pedro was 53-33, 3.87. From '70-'75, Marichal was 52-54, 3.74. From '82-'86 (at ages 37 to 41) Tom Seaver was 52-62, 3.86.

From age 33 through 42, Greg Maddux had a similar 3.69 ERA. But, Mad Dog was just insane, Maddux started 341 more games and went 153-110 with another 32.9 of WAR.

When Scherzer starts to lose his K stuff, will he be Pedro or Maddux? The assumption that the back-end years of Scherzer's contract will be an anchor is not necessarily true. In '19-'20-'21 he may not be worth $90M. But I think he'll still be worth a lot. And I think he'll have at least one more BIG year in '19. You doubt we can find anybody who, after a 300 K year, was ready to fall off a cliff. (I'll try to study up on what happens AFTER 300K years for a future chat.)

What would a Rendon contract look like, either now or next winter?

Look at JD Martinez's contract after last year when he was 30 and coming off 45-104-.303. And had a WAR of 15.4 in '14-'17. Then go a bit higher because Rendon's defense and baserunning add something, even though he isn't the power hitter that Martinez is (43-130 RBI this year).

Martinez, a Boras client, got a 5-yr, $110M deal BUT with "opt-outs" after '19, 20 and '21 (but not '22).

The structure of this contract makes me wonder what "imaginative" deal could or will be worked out with Harper, though at a higher-and-longer level.

Is the fact that the redskins are so bad in the second half a complete indictment of the coaching staff? How does this disappearance in the second half happen every week?

This year, it's a fluke, not a pattern. They had a big lead in Arizona and went conservative. When they get behind, like the Saints game, they are a poor pass-pass-pass team with Smith and can't be expected to do much. On Sunday, they had a 17-0 lead early. They only had the ball for three drives in the 2d half and two of them were long and time-consuming, ending in FGs.  

Generally speaking, I think Gruden is a pretty good game-planner and a pretty poor halftime-adjuster. Many of us were spoiled by Gibbs I. His halftime adjustments are one of the great NFL legends. When people call coaches and managers "geniuses," I generally roll my eyes. But Gibbs at halftime was remarkable. He was seeing a different game than everybody else. 

So, how bad will it feel next Monday when there's the inevitable regression and they lose to Dallas?

Dallas played an exceptional game vs the Jags, dominated them and looked like a much better team than we were expecting to see in FedEx next week. Just my guess, but I think that will be a real litmus test game for both teams, one 3-2 and the other 3-3. I'll guess that the winner will be runner-up to the Eagles in the NFC East and make the playoffs at 9-7. (I plan to change that prediction next Monday.) 

Boz one of the things that mystified about DMartinez’ end of the season remarks was his reference to the little things. Anyone who has seen the he Nats play since 2012 knows they struggle in big moments executing and defending “the little things. BTW I hate that phrase bc the little things are often the things a team or player can control which makes them BIG things. Also it implies you have to sophisticated to understand them. For instance who doesn’t understand an extra base is valuable?

Martinez is one of the least-impressive press conference manager, coach, any sport, that I can remember. You wait weeks, months for something, anything, that isn't a cliche or that is even remotely new or unique from him. His gift, if he has one, is that people really like him, consider him fair-minded. I assume that any manager I cover daily will teach me things, or teach me many things about baseball, handling a team, dealing with pressure, coping with a team crisis, etc.  

There have only been two or three that didn't and they were all very poor managers.  Martinez is in danger of being in that category. Because of that, I think next year is make-or-break for him. We have no idea what reasonable expectations will be for the Nats because we have no idea what their roster will be. I support the idea of bringing him back in '19. He has shown me ENOUGH to come back. But he didn't show me a LOT, except that he was a good guy with lots of experience and a handle on the basics. I'd expect more than that, some additional X Factor, for a team that thinks it's a contender.

Like many one-time diehard Redskins fans, I now watch bits and pieces, as opposed to religiously watching every single snap. So as a casual observer, it's hard to get a read on whether Jay Gruden is a good coach for a bad organization, or if his .451 win percentage is what he is. The Half Empty take: it's hard to think of games where you say, "THAT was a coaching win." Or "what a brilliant, unexpected game plan." Either his very competent offensive system works to a degree, or it doesn't. You never see them come out of halftime with a Gibbs-like adjustment to solve a defense (only three points scored in third quarters this year!). End of game / half time management is often questionable. They seem allergic to going up-tempo / no huddle, ever, whether to get an offense going or even when trailing. Can't recall any game-changing trick plays. He's 3-7 in season openers and coming out of the bye week (more time to coach 'em up). I have ZERO faith in the owner making a better hire, so wouldn't suggest firing him. But curious as to what your take is on Gruden, now four-plus seasons in?

Are you reading my mind?

Especially "I have ZERO faith in the owner making a better hire, so wouldn't suggest firing him."

After all the Skins "clusters" with coaching, incompetent at the NFL head coach level, like Spurrier and Zorn, or a mean Machiavelli-with-training-wheels like Shanahan (you didn't notice ANYBODY hiring him, did you?) it's almost a relief to have an average uninspired NFL coach with some strengths, some weaknesses and a sense of humor. He gives you a baseline. It's either discouraging or mercifully relaxing because you know they'll never do anything remarkable with him, but if they fire him, they'll do worse for two years due to the mandatory Skins roster demolition, then probably not get above .500 thereafter with the next glittery-object as head coach.

Paraphrase: When an executive with a good reputation takes over the operation of a business with a bad reputation, the reputation of the bad business is the one that remains intact.

If Jay gets to the conference finals, ever, with Snyder/Allen running things, he should go to Canton.  

If they stay healthy this year, this might actually be the season to get lucky, it's permitted in sports, because the NFC East, and the whole conference, is so mediocre. But, let's make sure to add that the Skins schedule, while very manageable, maybe not for them, but in general, is not awful. Seven of their 11 remaining games are against teams at 3-3. Only the two games with the Giants (1-5) "should" be wins.

Despite all these caveats, I find this Skins team interesting, a bit bizarre and worth watching.

Gruden taking the headphones off Norman at halftime in New Orleans, then benching one of the highest paid players in the league to start the next half, may be the most unique thing that happens all season. The Skins DID come out very fired up on Sunday.

The telecast reported that Norman acknowledged that it happened, that he often put on headphones at half an that he didn't want it to "become a thing."

To which announcer Charles Davis, noting that the Skins were getting blown out at the half said, "Maybe (Josh) needs to READ THE ROOM a little better."


Is Kuzy a top 5 player? After his brilliant quote about his disinterest in being labeled as such, it made me wonder whether more athletes should adopt his "I Just Want To Have Fun" attitude. Perhaps it takes the pressure off and allows for more creativity and offensive production.

I've been crazy about Kuznetsov since Day One and always wondered if he would blossom into an absolutely great player. I think that happened last year and especially in the post-season. He's a joy to watch and, as Oshie said, someone who makes you tune in. (Oshie said he actually didn't like watching hockey all that much, but watching Kuzy was special.) I also liked the quote about NOT wanting to do everything that's needed, especially all-day every-day focus, to be an MVP.

Trotz worked a lot with Kuznetsov and probably helped him, but they never seemed totally in sync to me. Barry was always talking about Kuzy mastering the game on the smaller NHL rink, with more contact, more checking, less room to create, more need to get in the crease for rebounds and junk goals, versus the artistic amateur game where Kuzy grew up.

I wonder if coach Todd Reirden is a better match for Kuznetsov. Something to watch for over the season.


Boz, what do you think about Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre for Jimmy Butler? They could get out from the Otto contract, get a year of Wall-Beal-Butler to see what happens, and have financial flexibility no matter what in 2019 for the first time ever.

IMO, they need to get more out of Porter, more shots with his high 3-pt %, not trade him.

A decade ago, Nationals fans would complain about you always answering Redskins questions in the NFL offseason but during the MLB season. Lately, all the questions have been about the Nationals in the MLB offseason and nothing about the Redskins in their season. Times change.

Despite CTE and all the other problems with the NFL, they still have an amazing product when it's at its best and I find myself very interested in the NFL this year. Can't explain it.

The 43-40 Pats win over the Kansas City Mahomes last night was great entertainment. Mahomes (finally) looked like a nervous young mortal in the first half, including two interceptions and a few overthrows. But he was wonderful afterward, especially on the ONE-play, 75-yard BOMB late in the game. And his ability to contort his body when he's on the run, and the velocity on his throws, is jaw-dropping. Oh, and Brady really is the GOAT. Maybe he'll get banged up as the season goes on and look old by January. But he sure didn't play old last night.

I loved the film clip of Brady working out with Tom House on his passing mechanics. I loved the discussion of gaining torque by throwing against a firm left arm/side while snapping the hips even more sharply than is usually taught. This was clearly new to Tom Brady! "Money!" he said after a couple of throws following the tips.

Interesting that baseball adopted a lot of golf theory starting in the '70's with Charlie Lau (hitting coach). Lau went all the way back to the instructional movies made in the 1920's and 1930's by Bobby Jones, who knew people in Hollywood and made amazing videos while wearing a black-and-white outfit that divided his body into four quadrants so you could see more clearly what he was talking about.

Lau conceded that it took MLB decades to catch up with what Jones/golf had learned about mechanics. He said that the baseball swing was "the golf swing in a different plane." There have been changes/advance since then. But if you listen to Kevin Long (Nats coach) talk hitting now, you can still hear echoes of Jones.

House was an MLB relief pitcher in the '70's and caught Hank Aaron's 715th home run ball in the Braves bullpen. He was exposed to Lau's ideas. House, who became a successful pitching coach, used to teach pitchers how to have a more efficient motion by throwing footballs! Now House, 71, is being called a "quarterback whisperer" because of his work with people like Brady; and he is using some of the same teaching points with Brady that you'd have heard Lau use when teaching hitting in the '70's based on Jones' golf theories in the '20's! 

So, I guess it took about 90 years for Jones' famous teaching video to reach Brady in the form of throwing a football while creating the most torque between a firm left side (left arm in football) and hips snapping against that left side.

I guess what surprises me most is that ANYBODY could teach Brady ANYTHING about throwing a football which clearly surprised and impressed him. And I wondered where House had ended up.

Isn't the most important "free agent" for the Nats getting back the 5 mph that mysteriously disappeared from Strasburg's fastball this year? Has any more information come out about what was going on with him at the end of the year? If Strasburg and Max pitch like aces again next year, I feel like everything will be fine regardless of what happens in the outfield or other spots.

Strasburg pushed himself to get back. I doubt there is anything wrong with his arm that an off-season of rest won't fix. The "lost velocity" is typical of pitchers who are shutdown for a long period in mid-season then have to work to get their full arm speed back as they return to the rotation. In a sense, they are not FULLY rehabbed, just rehabbed enough to get back on the job.

What interested me was that Strasburg, after starting only one game in a 10 week period, came back with a lesser fastball yet, after a rocky first start, was quite effective in his last SEVEN starts. But without throwing 96-97. Is that the future when he's 34-35-36? Is that something he can use when he's not feeling 100% but can miss fewer starts?

In those last 7 starts, Strasburg was 4-0 with a 2.66 ERA, a .661 OPS-versus and 11.1 strikeouts per 9 innings. He used his changeup and curveball more and used them throughout the count, not just as "finishing pitches" to get a K after he got 2 strikes.

If he returns with his normal fastball, which I expect, it's possible he's learned how to "pitch" more. And he was already a student of pitch sequencing. It's just that now he may have confidence that he can "pitch backwards" at times during a game or when he sees the same team twice in a short period of time.

IOW, I really enjoyed watching those starts and saw something positive in them. If his arm is not back to "normal" next March, that's a different story.  

While many criticize Mike Rizzo's construction of bullpens the last couple of years, it seems like the catcher position is his biggest failure. Over the past couple of seasons, he let Ramos and Sandy Leon go, stuck with Kieboom and Severino, and signed Weiters and Derek Norris. What direction do you think the Nationals should go? Should they trade or sign a veteran free agent? Try to bring back Matt Weiters at a bargain price and hope the last two years were aberrations? Or save that money and hope Kieboom, Severino or Reed develops?

"It's all relative."

There are very few good hitting catchers these days. Don't look around for Bench, Carter, Berra or even the next Posey.

The "mean" production from catchers this year was 17 homers, 70 RBI and a lousy .675 OPS with a .230 batting average. 

The Nats were awful: 12 homers, 55 RBI, .214 and .624. 

But they wouldn't have to get much better to be average.

So, view the Nats catching problems in the context of a sport that has a paucity of decent-hitting catchers.

Only one catcher had more than 25 homers last year (Sal Perez, 27) and NONE had more than 80 RBI. Only FOUR had an OPS over .800: Ramos (.845), Realmuto (.825), Grandal of the Dodgers (.815 who is a free agent) and Cervelli (.805).

As bad as Wieters seemed, he ended up with a .704 OPS which was higher than 9 catchers who got 200 at-bats and is within sight of "middle of the pack" for starting catchers at about .730.

I'm not touting Wieters, who looks like a fine backup to me, at this stage of his career, if he would take the appropriate deal for that role. I bet he still feels he's a starter and, since he's such a class act who's had such a fine career, I hope it works out that way. But having a "weakness" at catcher is a common problem, even for good teams like the Red Sox whose catching has been pathetic offensively.

These days, "even" a Reed or S Kieboom have hope if they can hit .230 with a .675 OPS, and they can CATCH. 

I don’t think anyone in the Skins organization thinks they are winning the Super Bowl with Alex Smith, correct? So what’s the next step? Draft a QB in the next 1-2 years and develop? The D is more talented and younger. The offense has some talented young folks like Guice and Thompson. Need a couple wideouts of course. What’s the PLAN? Or is there one??

The PLAN is generally: How can we keep from embarrassing ourselves THIS year.

That's how you go 26 YEARS with Zero 11-win teams and only THREE 10-win teams in those 26 years.

The Skins are so afraid of facing a "rebuild" that they never end up building anything at all. I thought Scot McLoughlan might change that. He wasn't around long, was he?

That's it for today. Let's get together next Monday at 11 when we'll have the Dallas-Skins game under our belts and a whole lot more of the ALCS and NLCS. I still like Houston and the Brewers. Ryu is the Dodgers best, Kershaw perhaps their weak link. Brewers really have to piece together that bullpen and not totally burn up Josh Hader. But I think that 407-foot home run by RELIEF PITCHER Brandon Woodruff in the third inning of Game One off Kershaw, WHAT!!???, was a moment we'll look back on as symbolic of this series; the  Brewers may get big unexpected contributions while the Dodgers are at the end of the King Kershaw Era and, despite all their talent, may not be certain of their current identity. 

We're about to find out! Cheers.

In This Chat
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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