Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Apr 22, 2019

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

Past Ask Boswell chats

This week's chat has FOCUS!

But feel free to lead the discussion far afield with other questions.

The Caps have a BIG Game Six tonight in Carolina. The general feeling after the Caps 6-0 win in Game Five is that the series has swung to the defending Stanley Cup champs. I'm more fretful than that.

With 7 minutes left in the second period, it was 1-0 and the Caps had just killed three penalties. Their PK was excellent. But that game could have been 2-1 or 1-0 Canes past the halfway point.

Did we see the Caps gain physical/psychological dominance? Or are the Canes going to come back and defend their home ice?

Will the Nats, under Dave Martinez, EVER escape .500. In two years, they are now 92-90. They show sparks at times, then have lethargic games like the Max loss on Saturday. Too soon to worry. But not too soon to grind your teeth a bit.

The NFL Draft starts on Thursday. Should the Skins, at No. 15, go with "best player available." perhaps pass rusher Brian Burns or guard Cody Ford?

Or should they, as Mel and McShay suggest, "wake up" and trade for Josh Rosen from the Cardinals, after Arizona takes Kyle Murray No. 1 overall?

Should they go for a development QB like (Bullis School) Dwayne Haskins, a big-arm passer, but not a runner (5.04 40-yd at combine)? Or Drew Lock or Daniel Jones.

Let's get going --on these or any other topics. (Yankee misery is always fun!)

He will likely opt out of his minor league contract with the Yankees soon and could be signed by the nats to a minor league deal as a bullpen arm. Once he gets his stuff going again, bring him up in long relief or as a situational lefty? I don't think it would hurt. Why not?

Gio is just about the last pitcher on earth that I think is suited to working out of the bullpen. I've seen this idea mentioned by quite a few people. On a scale of 1-to-100 --sorry-- I'd grade it a "0."

He needs time to warm up. Career starting pitcher to reliever is a huge transition and many don't make it. Gio has always had issues with wildness and nerves --both might show up in ugly ways out of the pen.

However, Gio has been an ELITE starter since '10. In '17, he was still a Cy Young candidate. SOMEBODY (not the Nats) should want him as their 4th or 5th starter RIGHT NOW. Gio recently switched agents from Scott Boras --usually, but not always a euphemism for "fired"-- after Gonzalez was completely left out in the cold during free agency.

At this point, I'd see Gio as a more durable left-handed version of Jeremy Hellickson or Anibal Sanchez. Fastball in the bottom 20-to-30 in MLB at 90.0 or just below. But with good off-speed stuff. The Nats don't need Gio because they have those other two already --and both are doing well-- and I don't see why Gio should sign with anybody to go back to the minors (as he did with the Yanks).

Gio is a "Yes" for somebody as a 5th starter. He might be a steal. But he's not a fit for the Nats.

Here's the problem with my "theory." What if Joe Ross works out well in the bullpen, then the Nats have a couple of injuries --not bad injuries, just normal trips to the IL-- for starters in their rotation. Except for Fedde, the Nats don't have anybody who looks ready. THEN you might wish "WHERE IS GIO? We coulda had him cheap!"

I think Gonzalez deserves better than to be stashed in the minors waiting for injuries in the rotation with a team for which he was a big star for 6 years ('12-'17). It's not a "fit." It's weird. Is Gio so desperate now --to keep playing, not for money (he has plenty of that)-- that he'd take such an offer?

I just hope his new agents do a good job of getting him in somebody else's rotation. He has a rubber arm and would probably go 8-9 with a 4.00 in 25 starts.

How dumb can they be? They are BILLIONAIRES and took a $50m "loan" to compensate for the MASN mess. Now the Orioles won arbitration to a neutral 3rd party. Could they have made more boneheaded decisions in this MASN dispute?

The Nats have handled MASN badly.

However, greater shame belongs to commissioner Rob Manfred who should be using the VAST (and vague) powers of his office to settle this "in the best interests of baseball."

What can the commissioner do? For generations, the general opinion has been: Pretty much anything. Just be careful not to use overuse this power __which is only available because (long ago) MLB was granted an anti-trust exemption which no other sport has__ so that Congress won't get ticked off and take it away.

Bud Selig didn't want to touch the MASN issue (imo) because he was one of the people that was central to working out the current deal. That made it a potential quagmire for him. I assumed Manfred would get around to "doing the right thing" and getting it solved. Sure doesn't look like that. I hope I don't have to resurrect my phrase for Bud --"the invertebrate commissioner."

I suspect, but do not know, that Manfred fears Peter Angelos' mean-spirited anger if he invokes the "best interests" power; could Peter even find a way to get the anti-trust issues involved with this before Congress? MLB LOVES its "best interests" powers --which are excepted from anti-trust law. From Bowie Kuhn's day onward I've had one commissioner after another tell me never to underestimate what a great "hole card" this is for baseball. But they don't want to use it often --if they can avoid it-- because Congress may get involved. Several times I've said to commissioners something like, "Come on, you guys aren't really worried about Congress, are you? They're not going to do anything." I always get this funny look like "you REALLY don't get it. Even if it's a 10% chance, why RISK it? This thing gives us lots of leverage in lots of situations."

Nonetheless, imo, it's clear that the Orioles are withholding money from a rival team through legal stalling. The question is HOW MUCH do the Orioles owe the Nats in a reset of RSN rates, NOT "do they owe the Nats money." There is no question that they DO owe the Nats money --a lot. They're just delaying --as in "justice delayed is justice denied."

I've largely left this subject to others because, since my life expectancy is perhaps 20 years (with luck), I like to be around to see The Finish of subjects in which I invest a lot of time. Looks like the over-under on this one is more than 20 years.  As I've said before, this is the MLB equivalent of the case of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce in Bleak House by Dickens in which the legal fight goes on for generations until all the original participants are dead and all the wealth that is in dispute has been paid to the lawyers on both sides. As this latest twist shows (to me anyway), the longer the MASN fight goers on, the more quirks and rulings become attached to it, the more likely that the Orioles can drag it out to the crack of doom. That's why Manfred is probably going to have to face up to it --someday. Until then, every other "hope" will be explored --and, as we know, hope is not a strategy.

Where do you stand on Davey? Bringing in Doolittle with 2 outs and a 5 run lead has lost me forever

Believe it or not, this was pretty standard. Doolittle was "up" in the 8th, anticipating working the 9th, when the Nats lead was 3-0 --a save situation. He was up and throwing hard (it looked like) when the Nats were batting in the 9th. When they scored two more, Barraclough got up to get hot and then came in to start the 9th. This is all "by the book."

Barraclough got two outs, then walked two men. The normal idea is that once you've gotten your closer up and fully warmed up then, what the heck, you might as well bring him in if the situation even semi-warrants it. So, he brought in Doolittle.

But, like you, it gave me a headache. Go out to the mound and __maybe__ chew on Barraclough's ear for a few seconds, then give him another hitter to get out of it. Even if you are only saying some cliche like, "Babe Ruth's dead. Throw strikes," you are showing confidence.

But, bottom line, this was not a sequence of decisions that requires a lot of explanation or justification.

However, I'll admit that Martinez makes me scratch my head with his in-game pitching decisions ALMOST as much as anybody I've observed every day/every decision. (He's not No. 1 or No. 2) To his credit, he always gives an explanation. They are seldom illogical. But the "feel" of the moment is often not my "feel." Where did I get this "feel" --certainly not from playing! But I've been listening to the postmortems of managers, including many in the HOF, all my life. My assumption is: They know more than I do. Then I sort of lump all those thousands of explanations into a sense of how good managers, or typical managers, think and decide.   

These days, off the top of my head, I'd say that there are four main factors in switching pitchers (or not switching) --and something as vague as "feel" would rank last.

1) analytics, including (obviously) past history in match-ups.

2) work loads of everybody impacted by the decision.

3) psychology. If the manager/team believe in such things as "confidence" or building stability by keeping pitchers in their "role" as much as possible and

4) last-and-least but not inconsequential, the manager's "feel" for situations, his sense of how Factors A, B, C, D and maybe others, too, play into the moment.

Of course, "feel" gets straight into the fan's PASSION for second-guessing the manager anything that doesn't work. And instantly forgetting any dubious aspect of a decision which DID work. Plenty of sportswriters, especially when a team isn't living up to expectations, or doing well in close games, are just as guilty of this sloppiness --picking on everything that doesn't work. I probably fall into this at times.

Still, hard to quantify as it is, I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN.

Don't forget --the better "trhey" pitch, the smarter the manager instantly becomes. If Joe Ross becomes Craig Stammen, if Trevor Rosenthal becomes 90% of Trevor Rosenthal from '13-through'15, and one other reliever does well, the Nats manager will suddenly grow dozens of IQ points before our very eyes.

In other words, "it's early." Relax. Not for too long. But a lot longer than April. 

So, if they get past the Canes tonight - how do they look going forward? They have had some injuries and not sure if the call ups can sustain them to the finals, but still, it does seem that the supposed best teams (like the Caps in years past) have unceremoniously lost in round 1. On the other hand if they don't win tonight - I could see them being out of gas for the second round games against well rested opponents. Thoughts?

All good points.

I don't think there is any meaningful difference between any two of the teams that are currently left in the NHL playoffs.

IOW, the Caps better take the Cane VERY seriously.

There is a huge difference in playoff hockey between what I'll call "occasional maximum effort" and "opportunistic legal violence" --which is an intensity level that will usually suffice in the regular season-- and "sustained maximum effort" and "pursuit of legal violence" --which is more what it takes to win in the playoffs.

It's going to take No. 2 for the Caps to close out the Canes, whether in G6 or G7. The Caps played to that high standard --I watched the tape again-- and they STILL had their hands completely full with the Canes about 2/3 of the way into the second period. The Caps were up 1-0, but "the play" was even. Then the Caps had three excellent PKs in the 2d period. That deflated the Canes. Ovi set up Connelly for the goal that made it 2-0 on the play where Doug Hamilton avoid contact in the corner with Ovechkin (man, did her get roasted on national TV for that). After that, the Caps played fast and loose, hity everything in sight and dominated. BUT when the Canes were IN the game for >34 minutes, they were really in it. 

At home in Cariolin tonight, I think they'll be tough. I suspect others, who may know the NHL better than I do, think the Caps have turned the corner and will physically impose their will on the Canes tonight. I hope they are right. But losing Oshie and Kempny is significant. And it's tough to close out teams who have been competitive against you in their own buildings in a 6th game.

I suspect that only one very important thing has happened so far in the NHL playoffs --the Lightning LOST!

That IS important --though not as huge as I thought before I looked into it further. TB appeared to be an all-time great team, or close to it with 128 points!

Over the years, I've come to believe --like plenty of NHL fans figured out long before me-- that almost anybody can beat anybody in the playoffs. Injuries. Hot goalie. Match-ups of styles. Much more self-imposed pressure on one favored team. 

Everybody knows about the "President's Trophy" jinx by now. I decided to make the standard higher than just winning the PC. What is the post-season record i n  the last 20 years of REALLY great regular-season teams with a points-percentage over .700? This year, TB was .790!

There have been 16 teams with >.700 pts-% in this century. Four of them won the SCup (25%). One lost the SC Finals.

The other 11 didn't reach the finals, including THREE Caps teams with Pts% of .738, .732 and .720 (in '16-'17).

So, even pushing the Pts% up to ..700 does not mean that you will sweep through the playoffs on the kind of talent you showed in regular season.

So the NHL in springtime is just as exciting, unpredictable, fluky, often unfair, momentum-driven and just plain crazy as it has always seemed.

Meaning: Can't WAIT for tonight.

Two important factors. 1) The Caps are no longer cursed --and they WERE cursed if that term has any meaning in sports whatsoever (and it does). 2) Ovechkin really is a better, and more versatile, player now than he has ever been as well as a helluva leader. I always WANTED to type those words but wasn't sure it would ever be justified. The last two seasons it certainly has been. 

If Caps play Trotz and Isles, Trotz always said that he HATED long layoffs between games when he was Caps coach! It's like the Caps had to have a refresher course in playing together after 4 or 5 days off, like All-Star break. While rest is good, Trotz thought that too much rust was even worse.

If Caps play Isles, I guess Trotz will change his tune on that pretty fast! That would be a great series.

 

Sabathia is creeping up on 3,000 K's and 250 wins. HOF?

Close call. You can look here for how he ranks in "HOF Statistic." It's close by WAR and other measures.

He won one CYA and pitched on one WS winner. He was 10-7 in post-season but with an ERA a bit over 4.00.

These days, I suspect that 250 wins gets you into the HOF almost as automatically as 300 used to. But then what do we do with the >250 win pitchers like Kaat from long ago?

Good question. Thanks. I need to think more.

 

Hi Boz. Has Davey shown any improvement in his second year? For me, I don’t think so. And how is Sendley still our 3rd base coach?

I think he's improved. The emphasis on fundamentals should have started last year. But at least it's being preached now. But it takes a lot more than one spring training and 20 games to change a team's DNA on attention (I mean manic attention) to details.

Has he improved enough?

Lets see how the health and performance of his pitching rotation and bullpen work out. The Nats say that they buuild their team around starting pitching. Well, lets see if it stays fairly healthy and prospers. There's plenty of talent. It SHOULD. If Rosenthal comes around, then Doolittle and Rosenthal plus "others" should be enough for a GOOD manager to piece together an adequate bullpen.

But is the current Nats pen ever going to be more than adequate --while always worried about being one injury from general hysteria?

So far, nothing about this team is impressing me as much as I thought it might, especially if the rotation was 100% healthy and Robles was productive.

Good to see Dozier show signs of life with two homers recently. He and Zimmerman are both streaky.

Remember, this is largely a team of strangers with SO many new faces since last year. That's awkward. Trying to form a team identity, but also get off to a fast W-L start is a hard combo. They aren't doing too badly at that. They've showed some fight. Just be glad that (knock on wood) Rendon doesn't seem badly injured and Turner is probably no more than 3 or 4 weeks away from coming back. Look at the Yankees on IL --2/3 of their home runs from last year are injured!

Isn’t it ironic that just as Tiger Woods makes his incredible comeback to “the top of the leaderboard” Washington has lost his annual event here. Can you imagine the crowds at Congressional/Avenal this year for him? Bad timing for us. I know the PGA has just finished a major schedule revamping for 2019. But any real chance we got a tour stop back here in the near future?

I've thought of that MANY times since Tiger contended in two majors last year, then won the Tour Championship.

But after he won the Masters last week, it just really felt like a terrible break for D.C. golf fans and those who've worked to keep a Tour stop here for so long. Not just "bad timing" but DC, but unbelievably bad timing. 

At some point, I'll look into future possibilities.

BTW, I stumbled across a column I wrote in December of 2017 on Tiger when I was searching for something else.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/this-tiger-woods-comeback-attempt-might-have-actual-staying-power/2017/12/06/66cefaca-da8c-11e7-b1a8-62589434a581_story.html?utm_term=.f37e7e9530c4

It starts:

"Tiger Woods is making a comeback!

No, don't run away. Please, don't say you've been hearing this for many years, and it always turns out to be a total false alarm or an utter disaster...

"This is different. I semi-sort-of promise. What Woods did in the Bahamas playing in his own 18-star Hero World Challenge invitational for four days last weekend was remarkable."

I'm not going to say I "called it" before anybody else.

I think some golf beat writers and TV media who were at that (pretty obscure) event in the Bahamas probably spotted it, too. But, if memory serves, that was the FIRST event at which it was possible to see a real comeback arriving. So, I'm pretty proud of that one and you might enjoy re-reading it. 

 

 

Not that you, or anyone else for that matter, really wants the job, but if you were the Redskins' GM on draft day, how would you handle the first round pick, and the looming question of who is going to be chucking pig skins come opening day? Seems like trading for Rosen wouldn't be a bad idea if it only cost them a third, or maybe second, rounder. Its certainly cheaper than if they were drafting him this year.

Mel Kiper and McShay ("I keep waiting for Washington to wake up") are both in favor of the Skins trading their FIRST ROUND pick to get Rosen who went 10th-overall last year. They think it's obvious that, after Arizona takes Kyle Murray at 1/ that they'll trade Rosen, who has a classic 'big arm' and loves to throw deep. (I think those two guys --and a coin to flip-- will produce identical results. But at least the coin doesn't pretend to have universal knowledge about something --the NFL draft-- that nobody has ever proved that they truly understood.)

Rosen had a poor rookie year on a bad NFL team --55.2% completions, 1-14 TD-to-INT ratio and a stinky 66.7 QB rating in an era when "verybody" is over (or near) 90.0 and plenty are at or above 100.0. Rosen's strength is the deep ball --he threw a higher percentage of deep balls than anybody in the NFL last year according to PPF. Unfortunately, the Cards' "deep threats" were as patehtic as the Skins deep threats. In other words, they didn't have one. If you trade for Rosen, where do you get the deep receivers to help him.

Lots of rookies have done very well immediately in recent years which makes Rosn look weak by comparison. Dak Prescott (104.9 QB rating as rookie), Baker Mayfield (93.7), Deshaun Watson (103.0, then 103. 1 last year in first full healthy season). Matt Ryan was 87.7 as a rookie, Russell Wilson 100.0. But a lot of those guys had good teams and running games to help them. An except: Back in '12, Andrew Luck had a bad team around him but had a QB rating of 76.5, then 87.0 and 96.5.

Still, Rosen could show huge improvement in his second (or third) year like Jared Goff, Matthew Stafford or Carson Wentgz (79.3 to 101.9).

Overall, I'd look at Rosn's work in '18 and thionk of it as a net negative. Bad team. But he certainly didn't overcome it. Wh n you've already traded for Case Keenum is another QB --who might become as solid as Keenum-- where you need to spend a high pick in a trade? I doubt it. 

BTW, Gruden has said that the team has (so many) needs that they need an immediate impact players with a 15th-overall pick (not a project QB). But, heh, who listens to Jay?

I've been interested in Dwayne Haskins --(locally) Bullis School, then was going to go to Maryland before Edsall lft and he switched to Ohio State. His mentor when young was ex-Skin Shawn Springs. Got a great arm. Threw for almost 5,000 yards and 50 TDs (8 INT) last year in his only full year in college ball. 3rd for Heisman Trophy.

He can't run --5.04 in the combine. At least that led to some deserved embarrassment for Stephen A. Smith. 

This is a thing of beauty --not because Smith was wrong (again) but because...oh, just read it.

https://sports.yahoo.com/stephen-a-smith-calls-himself-ignorant-fool-for-describing-dwayne-haskins-as-a-running-qb-184755082.html

It is really hard to know a LOT about more than a few sports --like two or three, maybe four. But sports media is full of people now who try to act like they know everything about everything. They aren't satisfied to be what they are --opinionated generalists who might be entertaining, funny or see a clear central issue that doesn't require expertise. They have to pretend to know everything about everything. Boy, we're lucky that people of that type never get into positions of real authority in the world.

The depth of analysis that's now available on every sport is just insane. I enjoy it --in the sports that I care about most.

Here's an example of how "deep" sports fans can now go to get information --or at least opinion-- on a player like Haskins who may still be available with the 15th pick.

https://www.nfl.com/prospects/dwayne-haskins?id=32194841-5328-5847-4bf1-f4c48a3a3bc6

Because I am NOT an NFL Draft expert (but then neither is Bruce Allen), I've kept my 2 cents for last.

I think Case Keenum will be a solid QB and the Skins shouldn't waste a top pick for a QB this year. Names like pass rusher Brian Burns and guard Cody Ford could fix positions of need. 

I’ve been unimpressed. I thought DSP should have been there all along and frankly thought Game 4 was bad in terms of his lines. I hope everyone noticed what Trotz The Merciless did to Pittsburgh...quick reminder: The Islanders lost THEIR FRANCHISE PLAYER AFTER TROTZ TOOK OVER!!!

A lot of what we all think about Reirden in the future will probably be based on this Caps-Isles series (assuming it happens) because Reirden knows Trotz' theories on coaching, which should be an edge, but Trotz knows the Caps players inside and out. You seldom see such a fascinating coaching match up. And between teams that finished with 104 and 03 points. And an Islanders team that SWEPT the Pens!

Trotz, of course, doesn't have nearly the same number of name stars. His stature --always high personally-- just keeps going up as a coach. He has a chance to LIVE OUT the great football quote: "He can take his'n and beat your'n. Or take your'n and beat his'n."  

When the Caps have needed to snap to attention and produce this season --to win the Metropolitan and to win "pivotal" Game Five on Saturday__ they've done it. That goes in Reirden's "plus" column. I don't see much of consequence in the negative column yet.

Yesterday’s home run fest aside, are the Nats a viable playoff team with these two as starters? Once Turner and Rendon are healthy, can they really afford to keep Adams and Kendrick on the bench and Kieboom in the minors, sacrificing that much offensive production? Nats can’t cut Zim, but they can platoon him. Dozier? Well, that’s another story.

For now, I think the Nats are fine with Zim and Adams at 1st base. The only question is how often you start Adams against selected RHers when Zim isn't hot. I doubt it ever becomes a straight platoon --with much more Adams-- because Zim is streaky and at some point you'll want him in the lineup.

Last year, Adams had 18 homers, 48 RBI in 249 ABs with the Nats and Zim had 13 homers and 51 RBI in 288 at bats. So, together, even with Adams being traded away with a chunk of the season left, they had 31 homers, 99 RBI and hit .261 in only 537 at bats.

This year, in only 20 games, they have combined for 21 RBI, five doubles and 5 homer in 89 at bats. (That's 40 homers, 40 doubles and 168 RBI in 160 games.) I sense a PATTERN HERE.

No, they aren't going to drive in 168 runs. But this is what was once called --in ancient times-- a PLATOON. Both have weaknesses. Adams can't hit lefties very well and has limited range at 1st. Zim is showing age/injury, has trouble staying healthy and needs rest. His arm is erratic and scary. And when he's "cold" it's ugly.

They NEED each other. They know it. They like each other. No team is great at every position. But Zim-Adams looks like 30+ homers and close to 100 RBI this year because Adams has tons of power and Zim has always had a knack for finding RBI --he has 11 on 12 hits this year. Zim has talked years about how you have to learn how to get RBI --then he gets purposefully vague. There's a semi-science to it. I think he sets up pitchers --or the other team's catcher-- by guess-hitting one way with nobody on base, which leads to some hideous swings, but guessing-hitting in the best possible way, and going to the opposite field more, with men on base.

In the last six years, he's averaged 102 RBI and 28 homers per 162 games. Zim's next RBI will be his 1,000th. What interesting about that is he's done it in 6,287 at bats --not 7,287 or 8,287. That's a very high ratio, maintained over an entire career. And that ratio has remained pretty constant, execpt that in '17-'19 it has been astronomically high (one RBI per 5.12 at bats, which would be one of the highest in history --in other ords it must be fluky.

Nonetheless, when Zim gets that 1,000th RBI he'll do it with an RBI every ~6.29 at  bats.

That's a betteer career ratio than current or future Hall of Famers like Stan Musial (6.52), Carl Yastrezemski (6.50), Roberto Clemente (7.24), Cal Ripken (6.81), George Brett (6.48) and plenty of others.

RBI is a tricky, sometimes misleading stat. But RBI, for all their limitations as a stat, are nice. RBI are good. Especially when a 1.000-RBI hitter constantly gets talked about like he should be chucked aside.

Now, on to....

Dozier and Kendrick are also an excellent potential platoon, even though both hit RHed. If Dozier hits as well as I (still) think he will, then you'll want his glove at 2d as much as possible and prefer to see Kendrick all over the place as needed.

I just want to see Dozier hot one more time. Yolu'll see much different "questions" on this chat! Three years ago, Dozier was hitting .199 with a ,599 OPS on May 1. He was STILL hitting .199 with a .606 OPS and only 4 homers on May 24th!

After that, in 115 games, he hit 38 homers, drove in 85 runs, had an OPS of .977.

This guy, SAME GUY, in just that one span of 115 games, hit five homers in five games, then a few weeks later hit five homers in five games again, THEN hit seven homers in 11 games and, finally, had a streak of 9 homers in eight games! Everybody in the AL knew, "Don't pitch to Dozier!" He killed everybody anyway. 

Don't you want to give that player a CHANCE to show up? He's 31. Not 41. He's not hurt. (He was hurt last year.) Because of Kendrick, he'll get more rest this year, which is good because he's one of those old-school types who is never hurt --just like the Knight in Monte Python ("Just a scratch.")  

You don't sign a player, plan around him, then ask him to be somebody else after 20 games. Both Dozier and Kendrick are plus-plus clubhouse guys. When they are hot, like Kendrick is now, hitting .407, enjoy it. When they aren't, relax. It all evens out WITH VETS WHEN THEY ARE HEALTHY.

 As for Kieboom, I can't wait to see him, too. But his defense is just good enough that if you give him enough time to get more polish in AAA it could probably be good defense, at either 2d or SS. But I've also seen him make defensive misplays --three in one game in spring training-- that make you say, "This guy is going to be either a good player or an outright star. But be fair to him. He's athletic, has a strong arm and can make very good defensive plays, BUT he still need more experience so he won't be error prone. Give him that time. Then bring him up and leave him alone for 10 years."

The Nats have problems. First and second base aren't the ones that stick out to me right now. Maybe they will in June. But not now and not for quite a while.  

Come on Boz...I haven't seen anything about the draft yet and heaven knows we all need the fix before the draft. So I have a couple questions for you. Who would you take for the 'skins at #15? Who do you think is going to be the biggest bust and the biggest steal of draft?

I've been waiting for you!!!!

The biggest fraud in pro sports is pretending that anybody really understands anything about the NFL draft --or can accurately predict anything-- especially once you get past the VERY TOP picks.

The Skins this year at No. 15 overall are a perfect example. You'll hear that they SHOULD be able to get a really good player with this pick, an "impact player," and a multi-time pro-bowler. That is nonsense. They'll be fortunate if they get a quality starter who makes one pro-bowl in his life. If they get somebody who makes First Team All-NFL even ONCE, it will be a damn miracle.

Here are the last 20 players picked No. 15 overall, followed by the number of times they were First Team All-Pro and then the number of times they made the much lower ranking Pro Bowl (which has about 110 players every year).

Working backwards from the '18 draft:

Kolton Miller 0-0

Malik Hooker 0-0

Corey Coleman 0-0

Melvin Gordon 0-2

Ryan Shazier 0-2

Kenny Vacarro 0-0

Bruce Irvin 0-0

Mike Pouncey 0-4

Jason Pierre-Paul 1-2

Brian Cushing 0-1

Branden Albert 0-2

Lawrence Timmons 0-1

Tye Hill 0-0

Derrick Johnson (LB) 1-4 

Michael Clayton 0-0

Jerome McDougle 0-0

GET READY. HERE IS OUR BIG WINNER. He was First-Team All-Pro TWICE --which is as many as all 19 of the other players combined. And her his...

ALBERT HAYNESWORTH 2-2

Rod Gardner 0-2

Deltha O'Neal 0-2

Anthony McFarland 0-0.

Grand total for 20 years of No. 15-overall NFL draft picks. FOUR 1st-team All-Pro selections and 22 total selections to the (watered down) Pro Bowl teams or barely one-pro-bowl-pick per CAREER.

So, by ALL MEANS, spend hundreds of hours analyzing this stuff and believing that the experts are really insightful gurus.

Biggest fraud in pro sports. Stay tuned, starting Thursday! After the first 5 picks, or maybe if you're feeling generous the Top 10 picks, feel free to switch channels. This is how Tom Brady goes 199th. 

Great players WILL be picked. And we'll know who some of them are IN A YEAR OR TWO.

Sorry, this is my pet peeve of all pet peeves.  

 

I have heard a lot about how Dozier and Zimmerman are streaky hitters. For me, I would rather have someone that consistently hits .275 than someone who hits .225 for three quarters of the season and then .350 one quarter. I know everyone goes through peaks and valleys in a season, but Zim seems like an outlier of streakiness. I generally hold the opinion that streaky hitters are less valuable in the long run because there is a 75% chance they won't be on a streak when it matters. Am I wrong?

The saying in MLB is that there is no such thing as a .270 hitter. There are .370 hitters and .170 hitters --and they are the same person who averages out to a .270 hitter.

All that is meant by "streaky" is that the extremes are even more pronounced for some players. Or some players tend to hit their HOME RUNS in bunches.

I've often felt that the only at bat in baseball that gives you meaningful information is a home run. That's an exaggeration. The famous opposite-field double up the gap is often a "tell" that a player's timing and mechanics are pretty good.  But so many players have said that you don't hit a home run by accident --not even one. You must be doing a number of things right. It doesn't mean you'll stay hot. That hom run might even tempt you into over-swinging. But, generally, when a player hits a homer he THINKS that he's close to getting hot or has already started. Zim's two homers --in the bad light on Sunday-- were not pretty swings. I don't know what to make of them. Usually, a two-homer Zimmerman game means "watch out." This time, maybe he just "ran into them." We'll see. 

That's it for today. Thanks for all the good questions. Sorry that some of my little research projects that took a while --but it's the byproduct of your good questions. I think: "I don't know. But I bet I could dig up something that neither the chatter nor I know.  We might learn something!" 

See you all next Monday at 11 a.m. Thanks again.

The league seems to have adjusted and Soto seems lost and a little (understandably) frustrated. He looks like a 20 year old. Your thoughts? Also I'd love to see coverage of the Nat's farm teams, perhaps a weekly update in print and online. And why in the heck so they have a triple A affiliate in Fresno??

Soto's struggling a little. "Hard up and in, soft low and away." And never throw him a fastball strike from the thigh to the bottom of the letters. That's not an exotic pitching strategy --it's actually an MLB joke because that's how they pitched to Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. It's generally "the last resort." You look for other "holes" in a batter's swing, or pitches he doesn't pick up (sliders) or sequences that confuse or patterns, like going up the ladder or maybe the guy just can't hit a curveball. But the league has gotten past that with Soto already and, it looks like, they've gone to hard-up-and-in and soft-low-away. Not every at bat. Not every pitcher. We'll see how he copes. I'll ask around and see if it's anything more than that.

They've got him so confused he's only got a .375 on-base percentage, an ,806 OPS and a pace for 24 homers and 112 RBI.  

But you're right --they've got him thinking and confused sometimes. At 20, it's possible he may have time to learn!

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."
Recent Chats
  • Next: