Q&A with Tracee Hamilton and Adam Kilgore

Jan 12, 2012

Tracee Hamilton discusses the week in sports; Adam Kilgore joins in to talk Nats.

John Lannan married his college sweetheart Dec. 17 in NYC. Craig Stammen & Tyler Clippard were groomsmen; RZimm, JZimm, Drew, Stras, Morse, Laynce & Brooke (former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader) Nix, were among the guests. Collin & Ashley Balester have a little girl--they're off to Detroit; Chad & Syndal Gaudin have a boy. Morse is engaged. Thanks to a commenter for some of this.

Kilgore helped Reliable Source hook up with Lannan's agent, so thanks go to him as well.

And speaking of my arch-enemy, here he sits at my desk, working on the dimmest laptop I've ever seen. He'd better get that replaced before spring training or he's going to go blind. Lots of questions, not all about Fielder, so let's get going!

What is the timeframe for the Nationals to complete negotiations with MASN over their new revenue amount, and how soon would it go to arbitration if no agreement is reached?

This is a good question, and I'm working on the timeframe. Those negotiations are hugely important for the Nats. Media rights is one of two primary forms of revenue for teams, along with ticket sales. They have to do everything they can to get it right. (Here's more background: ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/post/nats-hire-media-consultant-to-improve-masn-deal/2011/10/10/gIQAZg2LaL_blog.html )

Tracee -- That's what you called it in your Tuesday column, but the play was a quite ordinary 18 yard (or so) quick pass over the middle, and a remarkable 60+ yard run by the receiver. More to the point, it was a good run, but the TD was the result of a remarkable series of inept tackles and failed attempts to push Thomas out of bounds by the Steelers defense. It was an amazing play, but had little to do with the Denver offense, and much with the Pittsburgh defense.

I thought it was a really gutsy call on the first play of overtime and perfectly executed. I was more impressed with it than you were. I agree the Pittsburgh defense did not have its finest day.

Why would the Nats want to waste their money on a fat first baseman? Fat guys get fatter after they sign big contracts, not thinner. This signing would be like the Dmitri Young 10 million dollar extension where he didn't do anything after he got the money. Now just think what that albatross would be like for 10 years, not 2.

The first of many Prince questions, I'm sure. It takes some acrobatics to compare Fielder to DaMeat Hook. The Young contract was pretty bad, but that's got zilch to do with Fielder. The concerns about how Fielder will age are legitimate, but he's also incredibly young -- only 27 -- for a free agent who's accomplished what he has (230 homers in six-plus seasons, three top-4 MVP finishes, etc.) Even if you give him a nine-year deal, you're paying for what should be five huge years (27-32), two diminishing years (33-34) and two decline years (35-36). Paying for at least one or two decline years is basically the cost of doing business with free agents of this stature -- Albert Pujols is going to be 42 when his deal with the Angels expires. If you're asking me, I'd rather bet on Fielder at 34-36 than Pujols 40-42, even given their disparate body types.

The Nationals, or whatever team signs Prince, would have to be vigilant about his diet. That wouldn't be new to the franchise -- the Expos had to hire someone to trail Expo Bartolo Colon around to make sure he wasn't eating too much. 

Okay spill it! You have a hotline to Boras.. Right? When do you expect the PF Flyer situation to be resolved?

I wish! I will say, my sense is that we aren't all that close to a resolution. Anything can happen -- if an owner steps up and offers something close to the deal Pujols got, we can schedule the press conference. But barring that, Boras is content to wait and, he hopes, let an owner come to his price range. I don't think he's worried.

I'm a little disappointed in your column in Wednesday's paper, Tracee. I agree that a good team that's in contention lifts the town's spirit (and you didn't even mention the Nats in first place throughout June, 2005 as one of your examples).

Prince Fielder may or may not be a good acquisition for the Nats (I'm submitting a separate comment on that), but I think that an eighth of a century of Dan Snyder's offseason Bigfoot acquisitions has thoroughly immunized Washington against unjustified optimism because of a "big" offseason signing. Add to that the poor performance of Werth, last season's big signing.

I like the Mike Rizzo that trades Langerhans and gets Morse or gives up Capps and gets our everyday catcher for the next 6 or so years. For the big deals, the jury's still out. 

Section 405

I hate it that I disappoint you, 405, as you well know. We see eye to eye on many things. I like that Rizzo as well. Maybe I'm just remembering the glory days of another Fielder.

(Kilgore just let out a huge shout right behind me, scaring me out of what's left of my wits. So he is my arch-enemy once again.)

38 days... Can't Wait.. - Ashburn Fan

Boom. If the weather keeps up, they should just work out at the Nats Park, and if it rains just use the Redskins' practice bubb... oh.

So I suppose you will get plenty of questions about the Nats' alleged/hoped-for/feared pursuit of Prince Fielder, and I'm kind of interested in that too. But the really important question is about whether the Nats are pursuing what they really need, a center fielder, or are they waiting until the free agent class of 2012-13?

Far as I've been told, the Nationals have interest in Yoenis Cespedes, the Cuban defector who should officially become a free agent by the end of January or so. (The wait is  on paperwork from the U.S. government, so it's anyone's guess as to when, exactly, Cespedes can take bids for his services.) Cespedes is a freak athlete -- he looks and moves like a linebacker; one scout I talked to said he had a "Bo Jackson body." The concern is how he'll adjust to the majors, which is unknowable. But he's 26 and his raw skills suggest he's major league ready. The Nats will get serious competition from the Marlins, among others, for Cespedes.  If they don't get him, then next year's class is outstanding. (And, by then, the Nats would have a better evaluation on Eury Perez, Michael Taylor and Brian Goodwin, three young minor leaguers who could all be the CF or the future.)

O goddess of the Plains and knower of all things great and small-- Today's column is spot on. It seems the BCS poobahs were willing to ignore empty seats at bowl games, nowing that the TV money is what really mattered. With low ratings AND empty seats , the dynamic has changed. hence, sudden interest in a "plus one " playoff with earlier scheduling. Silly question --where is the NCAA in all of this ? They seem to have a good system and format for Divisions 1-A , II and III, but are invisible at the very top.

The NCAA has ceded all control of realignment and the postseason to the BCS. The only aspect of Div. I football they seem to care about is rules enforcement, and that is done at a glacial pace. But whatever the commissioners and the BCS decides the format will be, that's what the format will be.

Hi Tracee, So it looks like the Caps are getting more comfortable with Dale's system. Yes, they still need to learn to win on the road. But looks like they are coming together.

Some nights, yes. The injuries are somewhat troubling but they've got time.

The Lakers are only interested in winning championships, so it really doesn't matter if the Lakers get the 1st seed or the 8th seed in the playoffs (i.e. they eventually have to beat everyone else.) So why doesn't Kobe get his wrist fixed now so they can win games in June, not January. Someone needs to sit him down and explain what the "big picture" is.

But hasn't he scored 40 and 48 points in games this week? Has that convinced him that his wrist problem isn't that bad?

So is he are leadoff guy? Is Davey confident in him? And how long of a leash does he have at leadoff?

Davey is very confident in Ian Desmond at the leadoff. As is, that's how it'll be opening day. After Davey came on last year, Desmond took off and had an excellent last two months, swinging and hitting with way more authority. Desmond in his career has been a much better offensive player at the top of the lineup. Davey isn't the kind of manager who is prone to panic, so if Desmond is the leadoff at the start of the season, expect him to stay there for at least a month or two.

For Tracee: I don't tend to read or post comments to NJ or elsewhere on this site these days because I find the new interface to be cumbersome. I do, however, read blog pieces, columns, and such. I happened to look at the comments on a few of your recent columns and was rather surprised to see some unimaginative, puerile, and borderline misogynistic insults among them. (Yes, I know, it's the interwebz.) I can understand not agreeing with someone and wanting to voice an alternative opinion, but geez, why not rub a couple of brain cells together and offer a considered intellectual argument rather than flinging insults about like so much simian scat? (Did I really just type that?) Anyhoo, just my two cents. Keep up the good work. natsfan1a

There is a lot of anger out there and the internet provides the perfect release valve for it. You can remain anonymous and say whatever "thought" runs through your mind. And those people scare away the folks who would just like to have a civil discourse.

That Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney offered membership to LSU after watching the BCS Championship game?


Hi, <p> This one's more for Adam, but our resident goddess is welcome to chime in too. <p> If the Nats were to sign Fielder, is there a club out there that could use LaRoche ( or Morse) and maybe a little more, that has a good center fielder to give to the Nats? Or a possible three-way trade? <p> Section 405

I don't think LaRoche would get you a great long-term center fielder in return. This is pure speculation (and hypothetical speculation at that), but I wonder if the Cubs would be a nice match. They just traded for a young 1B, Anthony Rizzo, who will require time at Class AAA to start the year. Theo Epstein once traded for him with the Red Sox (and then traded him about a week later, which was weird). Marlon Byrd has one year left on his contract, and he would be a solid one-year fill-in. LaRoche for Byrd -- that would be a fun big leaguer-for-big leaguer trade. The Nats would probably need to eat a little salary in  that deal, but not much.

First, quasi condolences to Pittsburgh Wife. Moving past that, I more impressed by Tebow's touchdown (that he scored) and the interception in the 2nd period (can't remember the player). He just read that play perfectly! But for the beauty of this past Sunday (at times), I think the Broncos are getting squished this Sunday. The Steelers were dealing with injuries.

Quite possible. But you'll watch, right? That's the thing; he made people watch to the end. Couldn't say that about the previous game. Boy, that one was tough. (I meant Giants-Falcons.)

The Redskins, like many NFL teams, is "one piece away" from a Super Bowl run. That piece is "Offense".

So they're really close then. :)

First, I don't think that a tournament is always the best way to crown a champion. But the major football powers have put themselves in a position where it's their only path. First we'll have some sort of "Plus 1", then it will be expanded to eight teams. Once that happens all the bowls are toast - even the major ones. Because if you're not in the tourney, who cares? Does anybody remember when the NIT was a meaningful tourney? What happend once THE tourney was expanded? There's never any going back, but there was a lot to be said for the bowl system (the "old" bowl system).

Well, I think they'll use the BCS bowls as the tourney games and rotate the championship around. There's no way they're just going to ditch the Rose Bowl or put Kansas-Utah there. The BCS is committed to the bowl games; if it's a choice between a tournament or the traditional bowls, the traditional bowls will win. I think they'll find a way to marry the two.

Adam--Really appreciated the article on Lannan and look forward to watching him continue to grow. Any insight into whether management has made any moves toward a long term deal? Given the injury history of this staff, is it crazy to think that Lannan could have the best overall numbers of anyone this year?

As reliable as Lannan is, if he has better numbers than Gonzalez, Strasburg and Zimmermann, the Nats are deep trouble. As far as I know, there has been no discussion about a multi-year deal. Here's what I wrote about why it might make sense: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/post/the-case-for-a-modest-extension-for-john-lannan/2012/01/09/gIQAwLQylP_blog.html

If the Nats go all-in on Prince, what is the trade market like for a 1B like LaRoche? Could they hope to recoup some of the prospects lost in the Gio trade? Maybe send him to Milwaukee to fill the void left by Fielder or Tampa Bay in exchange for a couple young prospects?

See the above answer. Yes, the Rays make sense, too (although they did just sign Luke Scott, a lefty DH/1B type). Again, I  don't think you can expect a huge return for LaRoche in terms of prospects.

T-Bone, my Cavaliers are looking good this year, but haven't won at Dook since 1995. Any chance they pull off an upset tonight?

You don't want me to answer this. I wrote about the Caps' nice little four-game streak and look what happened. I wrote about the Hoyas and they can't win since. I tend to be the kiss of death. So maybe you DO want me to answer this. Dook will win. (That's me, trying to help you.)

Do you see any resolution to the Fielder situation prior to Jan 18 when Texas and Darvish must come to a deal? What happens to Darvish if he can't make a deal with Texas--must he return to Japan and what happens to the money Texas posted to negotiate with Darvish?

I'm not sure how much the Darvish deal affects Fielder in reality. The Rangers, one assumes, have budgeted Darvish's money into their plans and already know whether or not they want to/have the ability to sign both players. In regard to perception, yeah, it might help Fielder's camp if other owners believed the Rangers (and their enormous TV deal) are in the Fielder sweepstakes.

Please tell me we aren't going to over-pay for Fielder. And that he won't get a 'no-trade' clause.

The Nats don't really have a leg to stand on if Prince wants a no-trade, since they already gave Werth one. Teams that have a strict policy of no no-trades can get away with telling agents, "Sorry." The Nats can't do that. (That's one reason why the Nats NEVER gave out no-trades under Stan Kasten. Once you open the door, you can't close it.)

I have asked this before, but not of you Tracee, will the Nats bring home a Trophy before any of the other teams in this area? I believe they will, and I originally asked this of Boz at least a year ago, he was not fast to say yes or no (maybe he had politics on the mind?). I just do not see the Caps ever winning it all, they manage the 2 steps fwd 1 step back shuffle, the Skins just burn out about 5 weeks in - allowing me to play golf on Sunday - so thanks DAN!, and the Bullets/Wizards, one long word sums them up...... HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAAHAHAHHHHAHAHA, hope I spelled it correctly. Your thoughts?

I think we discussed this last fall, perhaps. It's so hard to predict because you don't know about injuries and managers and a whole host of intangibles. A year ago I think a lot of us would have said the Caps have the best chance. Heck, I think some would have said the Skins have a good chance. Now ... it's not outside the realm of possibility that it could be the Nats. But then there's the NFL draft and there's always the possiblity that the Nats squeak in to the playoffs and find the role of underdog more to their liking than favorite. So ... who knows. I could make arguments for and against three teams. I can't make an argument for the Wiz. I just can't.

Is there really an 'eight-year' market for Fielder if the Rangers sign Darvish? It seems to me that with all the big/crazy money teams out of the picture, the only way Fielder is getting eight years is if he is willing to settle for money closer to Werth/Crawford than Pujols. Doesn't that make the case for a five year deal with a third year opt out when teams like the Cubs, Dodgers and Mets may be ready to spend crazy money again?

He's one of the best sluggers in the game and he's only 27. I see why people are worried about his body type, but I would be stunned if Fielder's deal isn't for eight years. That's my own analysis, not anything I've heard from sources. I know he's a widebody, but what else do you want in a free agent?

About the Dodgers, Buster Olney made a fascinating case about why they can/should sign Prince. McCourt could help salvage his reputation in LA and enhance the value of a team he's in the process of selling. It's on ESPN Insider.

If the Rose Bowl is a national quarter final it's not really the Rose Bowl anymore is it?

They might not be able to call it the granddaddy of them all, I guess. It's anybody's guess what these guys will do but I'd be stunned if they didn't find a way to integrate the major bowls into their plans.

Does Kilgore ever respond to one of Tracee's jabs with a simple, eloquent "2003!"?

No. I enjoy this whole "living" thing.

Should've written about Missouri yesterday. That would've taken them out of the Big 12 race...

Yes, I need to use my powers for good, not evil.

I'm with Bos on this one. It just doesn't make good sense.

Another county heard from. Here's Boz's column: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/prince-fielders-price-is-not-right-for-nationals-right-now/2011/12/28/gIQA5wZCNP_story.html

Are you scheduled to be on anytime soon? I love your banter and your personality really comes across over the airwaves. How does your appearances work? Do you have a set schedule or just show up when he calls? Anyways, I would love to hear more of you.

I show up when they call, and they haven't called for a long time. It's hard to be on because that schedule conflicts greatly with mine -- his schedule is exactly my schedule. But I love doing it. Always lots of laughs.

Are Prince and Cecil Fielder related?

Cecil is Prince's father. I was in Detroit during Cecil's heyday. Prince played Little League in Grosse Pointe when I was helping coach a team. He was something to behold.

Do you have any thoughts about the bankruptcy of the folks who make Hostess Twinkies? Section 405

Stunning that any company that makes sweets can go bankrupt in this country. I won't miss Twinkies; never a go-to snack for me. But I hate to see any company go out of business in this economy.

Tracee, thanks for the chat. I know you do not like to make predictions, but I will ask you for one anyway. Do you believe that Missouri's own Otto Porter will lead Georgetown to the Big East title this year?

I can't say another word about Georgetown. I wrote a glowing column about them and they haven't won since. My jinx powers in action.

Jonathan Albaladejo to the Yankees in December 2007 for--wait for it--Tyler Clippard! (Yes, I'm a big fan). BTW this is Pittsburgh wife. I'm despondent over poor play by Pitt's football & basketball & hockey teams. Thank God for the Nationals!

Well, Pittsburgh's had some good years. This just may not be one of them.

Really? How long does that experiment last?

I thought Werth looked good in center last year. To me, he actually looked smoother tracking balls in center than in the tough right field at Nats Park, which was surprising. If their roster remains basically the same, Werth would start the year in right field (with Cameron/Bernadina in center, I guess) and then move to center if/when Harper comes up. If Harper starts the year in the majors, then Werth would start in center. I imagine we might be writing a little bit about that during spring training. Maybe. 

Also, the Nats are still keeping tabs on Rick Ankiel. He played well for them last year after he finally got healthy. Teammates love the guy. He'll probably make a decision on where the best opportunity is, but at this stage he recognizes he'll probably have to earn playing time as a platoon/fourth outfielder wherever he signs.  Let it be said again: What a friggin' arm.

I can understand the (mis)spelling from a UVa fan, but you, Tracee? I'm hurt.

Wasn't meant as a sign of disrespect; just trying to be consistent with the questioner. I have to like Duke at least a little because of Svrluga.

But I believe that they also make Devil Dogs. Those are pure gold for the name alone! (Gold, Tracee, gold! <- obligatory Seinfeld reference.)

Ha! Never had a Devil Dog. Guess I never will. Thanks for the Seinfeld reference; I never get tired of them.

Adam, what does your gut tell you about who will end up with Fielder? Do you think its a smart long term investment considering the laundry list of contracts that will have to be extended in the near future.

Here's the thing about tying up long-term money: Baseball doesn't have a salary cap, the Lerners are billionaires and Washington, with all the disposable money in the city and its suburbs, could be a HUGE market. I'm not advocating throwing money around like it's confetti on new year's. But they can afford it if they change their approach. (I wrote about that here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/post/for-the-nationals-prince-fielder-or-ryan-zimmerman-is-only-a-choice-if-they-make-it-one/2012/01/04/gIQAo0KlcP_blog.html (

Uber sports agent Leigh Steinberg has filed for bankruptcy? Yikes!

That was surprising. He used to be THE guy. Those guys seem to have a life cycle. I will be eager to read more about that.

If the Nats sign Fielder, do they have to surrender their #1 pick this year to the Brewers?

Yeah, they would. It's pick No. 16, the highest pick that is not protected. The Nats are good shape, though, after last year's haul. It'll be  tough for any team to match that foursome (Meyer, Purke, Rendon, Goodwin) with the new CBA rules that severely punish teams for spending overslot.

DC native, CU-Boulder Alum (when you were at KU), Missouri resident. Caps: They're streaky, have been for two seasons now. I'm surprised this isn't commented upon more often. Different coaches, same streaky tendencies. Big 8, er, 12, er whatever: Mizzou, beware of what you wish for. Sure, more money might flow in from bolting to the SEC but Mizzou's always been effectively a b-ball school. Perhaps this will help but in football? I expect the program to flounder and believe me, as one who's in Columbia most game days, people will stay away in droves from a mediocre program. Better to have been a medium-sized fish in a little pond, ie the Big 8, er, 12, than a small fish swimming with sharks. You column comment on Elway: brilliant. I grew up a Skins fan in DC but also oddly enough a Raiders fan (in the 60s, every afternoon game on channel 4 seemingly featured the Raiders). Living in CO and going to school there taught me to detest Elway and everything associated with the Donkies so watching him squirm all these years later is heart warming. And yeah, I enjoy watching Tebow compete, it makes for fun football.

I hardly know where to start so I'm going to agree with everything you said. :) I do think Missouri will have a rude awakening in the SEC but it made its choice. You've sure got a good hoops team this year, though.

So is Mitt Romney the Tim Tebow of politics - can't do this and can't do that, but somehow still keeps winning?

You know I'm not political, but I'll take your word for it.

Hi, Tracee. I'm confident that things will get better, but it's still a stressful grind going from interview to interview, filling out form after form, and wondering what must you do to impress someone. It's a good thing that my job hunting is not sports news; I'd have to listen to ESPN discussing the defects in my touch-typing and fans calling for me to be replaced by a rookie just out of college in the Post forums. But there is hope, and there is hope with the Nationals. We have three strong pitchers - dare I hope that there is a fourth on the way? Will Jayson Werth wake up and show us the performance that we expect? Can we figure out how to beat the Miami Marlins? Can we keep the Phillies fans from insulting us in our own ball park? Baseball is showing up game after game after game and watching and waiting. It's the perfect analogy for job hunting.

To heck with the Nats (no offense), I just hope you and everyone else looking finds a job.

Hi Tracy and Adam: What is plan for interleague play going forward? Will teams be playing significantly more interleague games in the future -- and will the DH rule still be in effect? I'm wondering if this factors into the Nats' thinking with regards to Prince Fielder -- meaning that they'd have X number of games each season in which he could DH rather than play first, particularly at the tail end of a longish-term deal. Thanks.

This is a really interesting question. With the Astros moving to the AL next year and giving 15 teams (an odd number) in each league, there will be constant interleague play. It seems reasonable to assume baseball will at least have to consider making the DH rule uniform -- use it both leagues or don't use it all. Given that the Players Association will not go for the abolition of the DH  (more jobs), it's worth wondering if the NL will have the DH -- and if the Nats could stash an agigng power hitter there down the road.

I should preface this with the fact that I don't want the Nats to sign Fielder. So, seeing that, I keep having a potential scenario going around my head about the whole Boras & the Nats. Maybe the Nats are interested in a different Boras client (not sure whom, but I wouldn't mind seeing Ankiel back in the Curly W). However, I firmly believe that Boras isn't willing to deal on his "smaller" clients until he gets the Fielder deal done. He also needs to get the price and interest in Fielder up. So he sets up a mutually-beneficial with Rizzo/Lerners. The Nats pretend to have meetings about Fielder to drive up interest and the price, and Boras goes back to them first to do the deal for the player that they really want.

I don't think they have that time to waste, nor do I think the Nats would go to those lengths to get a favorable deal on Rick Ankiel. Creative thinking, though. The Nats are legitimately interested in Fielder.

It seems almost un-patriotic that nearly all the bowl games are on cable TV nowadays. That deprives us frugal non-cable-subscribing types of getting to watch them (or choosing not to). Heck, back in my youth there wasn't any cable, and the only bowl games were significant ones!

I'm afraid that it's hard to be a sports fan in 2012 and not have cable. The trend is to put more of our major sports on cable, not less. I certainly remember the non-cable days. Growing up we had NBC and CBS; we weren't able to pick up ABC. Somehow, we survived.

Do either of you ever read articles on Grantland.com? They've had a couple blistering pieces on the Wiz lately and their pop culture stuff is pretty entertaining as well.

I assumed I was too old for grantland.com's target audience because I actually knew what grantland stood for, so I haven't. Now you're making me curious.


I really enjoy some of the pieces on Grantland.  (I love Charlie Pierce, a former colleague of mine at the Boston Globe and the only man I've met who is smart enough to have a coherent conversation with himself.) Some of the pieces make me cringe, mostly on account of self-indulgence. But there's huge talent working there. I check it every day and usually read at least one or two pieces.

Tracee - I've been meaning to ask you if you're familiar with SBNation. I just discovered it, so excuse me if I'm way, way, way behind the times (as I usually am), but I've been impressed with it. For those not familiar, it's a network of blogs that follow all college and pro teams - all sports. I've only checked out the college stuff, but I've not only been impressed with the intelligence of the writers, but also the civility and 'adultness' of the writers and commenters who seem to be Intelligent and respectful. While unapologetically partisan, the writing and comments acknowledge weaknesses with the home team and strengths of the opponents - even rivals. I haven't seen anything like it anywhere else on the interwebs. Thoughts? K-Stater

I have read SBNation and there are some good writers there. I like it. Why it is able to have civil discourse and we're not I don't know.

You guys gave Baylor a great game the other night, after whooping on Mizzou. Frank Martin was in rare form afterward. The interview asked one question and didn't dare ask a second. That Frank can freeze you with one look.

I'm starting to wonder if he may never be able to return to playing hockey. Do you think he'll go into coaching, announcing or (what?) when his playing days are done, rather than keeping trying to work out in vain?

He strikes me as a guy who'll have plenty of plans. I could see him doing something like Yzerman with the national team. I could see him as an announcer. I don't think he's one of those guys that will make comeback after comeback in vain. I hope not.

We didn't have a remote control thingy, either. We had to get up from the couch, walk over to the tv set, and turn a dial to change the channel.

I WAS the remote control. My dad had full operating power. :)

Lannan or Detwiler, and why?

My educated guess on how this plays out: Lannan starts th eyear as the fifth starter and Detwiler starts in the bullpen -- Davey is fond of having a quality "swingman" out there. (Also, Detwiler is out of options and can't start in Syracuse.) But every staff needs a sixth starter at some point, and the Nats, with Strasburg on an innings limit and Wang having made a dozen starts since coming back, seem especially in need of a fifth starter. Detwiler will naturally move into the rotation at some point, and it will sort itself out somehow. I do wonder if the Nats will space out Strasburg's innings -- it'll be about 160, like Zimmermann last year -- like they did not do for Zimmermann. Last year, the Nats knew the playoffs weren't happening and could just let Zimmermann go without worrying about what it would mean in October. This year, they've got a chance. Do they change their approach to the innings limit?

...is modern American art. It has become an American icon, both famous & infamous. But fear not, Hostess will emerge form bankruptcy intact & still making the deliciousness for which it is famous. Or so I'm told. So fear not, loyal chat readers!

I fear not, but this should placate those who do.

They want to extend Bud Selig 2 more years! Why And what is he going to do about the Mets?

Why? Money, of course. Selig works for and is hired by the owners, and the owners have gotten filthy rich with Selig in charge. They would like that to continue. I'm out of my depth on the Mets question.

Drake's makes Devil Dogs. Hostess made Ding Dongs, and changed their name to "King Dons" in the 1980s. As I'm no snack-cake eater I don't know if they changed the name back after a lawsuit from Don King.

Ah, as always, this chat group is full of preservatives, I mean, knowledge.

Thank you , Tracee, for sharing the link to your column on stalking. We Hax-philes discussed it at considerable length, and with great admiration for you and your courage.

Oh, thank YOU.

Arbitration - don't teams and players have to submit their arbitration figures on the 19th? How come we haven't heard anything about the Nats reupping with Morse, Lannan, etc....

There's still time. I would be surprised if the Nats don't have at least one multi-year solution. From most likely to least likely: Clippard, Zimmermann, Lannan, Morse. All seem possible.

Did you KNOW then that he'd make it to the majors?

He was bigger than the parents. I had some notion he'd have a shot.

Ms H/Mr K: If you want to read some great old-fashioned purple prose sportswriting, look up Mr. Rice on the internet. For starters, he's the one who named Notre Dame's "Four Horsemen" AHG

Oh, yes, I know very well who he was. I just am surprised most readers of espn.com have any idea.

I read that the Lerners and Boras met at the current GM meetings. I imagine that their negotiations went something like this: Boras: Prince will sign for 10 years and $250M. Lerners. We'll offers 6 years at $22M per - $132M total. Boras: OK, we can come down on the years, 9 years, $27M per - $243 total. Lerners: Fine, we'll meet you half way. 7 years, $22M per, $154 total. Boras: 9 for $243. Lerners: 7 for $154. Boras: 9 for $243. Lerners: 7 for $154. Boras: 9 for $243. Lerners: 7 for $154. Boras: 9 for $243. Lerners: 7 for $154. Boras: 9 for $243. Lerners: 7 for $154.

It's actually the owners meetings. I'm pretty confident 7 for 154 wouldn't get it done. Who knows?

Adam, thanks for all the great coverage since taking over the beat. I really enjoy your gamers. Tracee, thanks for being awesome. Your transition to a columnist has been fun to watch, even if it left Nats Journal more or less Traceeless. If Darvish doesn't sign with Texas under the posting process, he's returned to the Nippon Ham Fighters for the year, but can become a traditional MLB free agent next year, right? So Texas may be able to afford both Fielder and Darvish if they're willing to defer on the latter and compete with the rest of the league. Also, isn't it somewhat telling that the two different reports about Washington's interest in Fielder came out on the same day? I trust both you and Ladson have good sources, so it strikes me that Boras and the Nationals are working to get their stories out -- one to drive Fielder's price up by making the Nats seem like an aggressive party, and one to drive the price down by making it look like the Nats aren't going to pony up the cash. What's going on here?

I wanted to publish this to let you get your thoughts out. Obviously, I don't feel comfortable speculating about MLB.com's sources or speaking out mine.

Tracee - I am surprised to see that you are confused as to why other web sites manage to have intelligent discourse in the comments (unlike WaPo). Most web sites actually moderate their comment section, and ban commenters who act the fool. Why the WaPo refuses to do what most websites have done for a decade is beyond me, but it should hardly be surprising that the result is a Troll Dominant Environment. Think the WaPo will choose to fix the problem any time soon?

Various systems have been tried. One problem is sheer volume. And when staffing in all areas is cut severely, there aren't people sitting around monitoring this stuff. The problem is too big. So what do you do? The Post keeps trying different ideas but the same Trollness seeps in. I don't have the answer.

Adam (and Tracee), please refresh my memory. Without looking at stats to be sure, my memories of Michael Morse in RF were that he was not so great. My memory of Ryan Zimmerman's throws to 1B with a less agile first baseman were worse, too. And Michael seemed focused on improving his fielding then and not as loose at the plate. So doesn't returning him to the outfield threaten to reduce his production and waste his breakout year?

Try to take these points 1 by 1:

1. Morse was ok in left field to start last year. His speed wasn't going to remind anybody of Carl Crawford, but he caught the ball when he got to it, made accurate throws to the right base, etc. He was decent enough. When he went back out there at the end of the year, the rust showed. It looked like he had lost some range and he took some bad routes, which he had not done early in the year. I give him the benefit of the doubt and assume after a full spring training in the outfield, he'll be solid again.

2. Zimmerman completely overhauled his throwing motion last year after he returned from injury. It was horrific for a while there, which Zimmerman admitted was tough to go through. After a while, though, the change paid dividends. By the end of the year, he was pretty much throwing as well as he ever had, if not better. He really figured out how to make instinctive throws when he had to (running, sidearm stuff) while also  using proper form on routine balls. His throwing has been an issue before, but he corrected it. He only had two throwing errors in the last two months of the year, if memory serves.

3. Both Morse and Davey were confident there was any correlation between where he played and how he hit. True, he surged after he moved to first base last year. But that was probably coincidence as much as cause-and-effect. At the end of the year, when Morse moved back to left field, he still crushed.

To his credit, Dmitiri HAS lost a lot of weight. Any chance we'll see him again?

He looked fantastic at the winter meetings. Trying to make a comeback with Robert Fick as his agent. We need to get Svrluga on that story.

If Lannan has a better season than Stras, Zimm'nn and Nat-Gio, that'd be good news. I think if John outpitches our three studs, we're going to the playoffs!

OK, when you put it like that. Your glass is half full.

With regards to a previous question, Texas gets the $51.7M posting fee back if they don't sign Yu. As for the Rangers and Prince, it does affect negotiations. Even if the Rangers aren't interested, Boras is still holding them out there like they "could" be a landng spot for Prince. It'll be interesting what Boras does if the Rangers do sign Darvish. There just isn't anyone out there that is going to be willing to pay Boras' price for Prince.

Good thoughts.

He makes me nervous. Cuban ballplayers are always older than advertised, & never as good. Is Cespedes different? Have their been any recent Cuban ballplayers who've been as good as expected?

Before he got hurt in a freak injury, Kendy Morales was a damn good hitter.

I'm a fairly casual sports fan who watches football on Sundays when I'm doing anything else more compelling. I don't read the sports pages on a regular basis or bet on games. I'm also a fairly secular Jew. But I am absolutely enthralled with Tim Tebow! He seems like a genuinely sincere nice guy, and I love his underdog's ability to constantly make fools of football pundits. I'm not the least bit put off by his prayerful response to touchdowns, which I find much more palatable than stupid "dirty bird" dances in the end zones. He's made me into somebody who arranges my weekends around football games, which, frankly, is one more reason why he gets under the skin of so many football writers and commentators (and players, too). GO TEBOW!

I think he has this effect on many people, and then there are those who just hate him, because of the hype? Overt Christianity? I don't know. I think it's the times we live in, to a degree. This kind of hero worship thing has been going on for years in this country -- I just finished reading the biography of David Crockett and I'm reading now about McKinley but was distracted by a section on George Dewey and how he became one of these instant heroes -- but because of the way we live now, it's just magnified everything SO MUCH. .

I personally think that extending Zim before the season begins is more important than getting Fielder. Are there any indications that management believes this too? Section 405

It's not on their front burner now. Nothing new to report. The sides have had enough informal dialogue over the years that they know what the other side is thinking. Specifics, I don't have.

Thoughts on his HOF induction this summer?

He deserved it. Elite for a long time.

Waitaminnit, Leigh Steinberg runs Hostess Bakery?

That's IT!

If it can, the Nats need to get better batting coaches immediately. Your thoughts? Section 405

Contact can be improved. This is a huge deal for Espinosa. If  he cuts down on strikeouts, that's a huge step to making him one of the very best young second basemen in baseball.

Hi Adam, several months ago I read some national sportswriter say that Ankiel might be able to come back as a pitcher because of his power arm. (I really don't think this guy was joking, but he might have been.) Have you ever seen Ankiel in the bullpen for "old time's sake?" In a 17 inning marathon game, would he be the first position player to be put in as pitcher?

The ship has sailed on Ankiel being a full-time pitcher.

I couldn't help but ask a few players and coaches last year what they thought about him coming in as an emergency pitcher in a marathon game. Some of them thought he wouldn't because of the traumatic nature of his downfall as a pitcher. Some thought he'd be happy to do it and that enough time had passed. I should have asked him. One thing for sure: It would be AWESOME to watch. If a spaceship landed in center field in the next inning, I would not be as fascinated.

The wife (not a fan of baseball) is alowing me 3 ST games this March in between of attendance at DW and US. What are some good resturants in the Viera-Cocoa Beach area? And, it is free admission to see the Blog Father's booth at the Panera?

Bonefish Willy's is my favorite place to eat in the area. Awesome food, great casual atmosphere, cold beer. The grouper bruschetta, which is not on the menu but a constant special, sounds kind of gross. It's delicious, a must-try. I've seen Boz wolf it down in about six bites.

Here's a link: http://www.bonefishwillys.net/


Civil discourse is easy of you try. Ban spammers and troublemakers. And if you have a competant IT department, you can ban them by their IP address. So, that instead of registering with a new email, or site ID, they need to go to a new computer...

Think of the sheer number of stories on our website. It's not a matter of competency as much as numbers. And our IT department is trying to keep all of our systems running, our PCs running, our laptops running, training new hires, blah blah blah. You're picturing a huge IT department and I'm looking across the room at those folks and I'm telling you, it's not huge. Our publishing system alone is what I'd call a thin slice of heaven. We've never had fewer people working here at any time in my 18 years at the Post -- by a lot. And we're doing way more with less -- publishing a website, for starters -- all across the board, including in IT. So we have far more technology but we have a small IT department. These are just the realities.

I hear all this talk as if Prince Fielder is the Nationals' only option, but by extending the time horizon by one year, isn't 2013 one of the most overstocked free agent classes ever? Wouldn't the Nats rather have an outfielder like Josh Hamilton (I'd give him $200M+ without blinking), or Michael Bourne, Andre Ethier, or even Shane Victorino? They are a little older than Prince, but they play a position that the Nats need, and they don't weigh 275 lbs.

Hamilton will be 31 at the start of 2012, and the drug use in his past will have a dramatically negative impact on his aging process. Just a fact of the matter. I don't think it'll take $200 million to sign him, because teams won't be willing to for those years.

Adam, it's been opined that the Nats have to choose between Fielder and Zimmerman. As far as I'm concerned, it's a no-brainer. They have to go with the guy who's been with them from the beginning. Zim's been here for the hard times - don't dump him now that the good days appear to be coming. That and I have three authentic number 11 Nats jerseys... Thoughts?

If it actually was a choice, I tend to agree with you. Zimmerman basically IS the Nats, andhe's stuck with them through some awful times. But it doesn't have to be a choice. See the earlier link; the Nats have the resources to sign 'em all if theychoose to use them. Hold their feet to the fire on that. D.C. built that stadium.

Time, she's up. Thanks for all the great questions, I always enjoy coming on with Tracee. Especially because she lets me work in her office the rest of the day. Ever moved from a cubicle to an office at work? BLISS.

Thanks again. If you've got a question that wasn't touched on her, my email is kilgorea@washpost.com. Be well.

Evidently Drakes brand is under the Hostess umbrella. Who knew? In other news, Twinkies can be a legal defense as well (but I still don't care for them).

Now I do care, because of Drakes Cakes. Now THAT'S a  snack.

Okay, past time to sign off, if I can get Kilgore to stop blathering. Thanks, everyone, for joining in. Let's talk next week. I think either Tarik or Michael Lee will join us. Have a good weekend!

In This Chat
Tracee Hamilton
Tracee Hamilton has worked at the Post since 1993, toiling in office obscurity as an editor before someone said, "Hey, you've got a lot of opinions and can write a little. Why don't you become a columnist?"

Her interests range from genealogy to Nordic combined to Kansas basketball. If ever there were a Jayhawk who once flew off a ski jump, she'd know where he was buried.

Her list of pet peeves is considerably longer, but includes Missouri basketball and poor Metro etiquette. She welcomes dissenting opinions -- in the way Great Whites welcome open-water swimmers.

First Things First Archive
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Adam Kilgore
Adam Kilgore covers the Nationals for The Washington Post. He previously covered the Red Sox and Patriots for the Boston Globe and the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and the Orioles during a first stint with The Post. He was also part of The Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning team that covered the mass slayings at Virginia Tech in 2007.
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