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This is it! (With new news on the bottom)

(Make no mistake where you are. (And believe me, I can't. I'm in Viera. Even better.))

Last day here. It is difficult to describe the degree of joy I feel at that statement. This is not said in a whining, not-happy-to-be-here way. (OK, that's completely false, but whatever.)

Pitchers and catchers reported here Feb. 15. Position players five days later. Manager Manny Acta, on the conclusion of it all: "I'm very happy with what we accomplished here. I think we got our message across."

We'll deal with this more over the next couple days, but the rotation derby is now over, and they seem fairly happy with it. Patterson, Hill, Chico, Williams and Simontacchi (but Bergmann to start the season). That is not, on paper, impressive. But because this is spring, and because we here at the Journal have a generally positive disposition, remember those ERAs they have to replace, those of Armas, Hernandez, Ortiz and Astacio -- all well north of 5.00.

I'll be honest: I'm not going to go back to the Guess The Rotation pool and find if anyone nailed it. I trust you guys. Mostly. Anyone go 5 for 5?

Shameless self-promotion: Special baseball section is available in the $.35 edition of the paper. It is, as it turns out, also available online in cool pdf format. Capsules on all the starters and position players, etc. Looks nice (and I can say that, because I had nothing to do with how it looks).

Full disclosure: In each of the past two seasons, I printed lineups in the special section that had changed by the time the section came out. In 2005, I had Endy Chavez as the starting CF. Between the time the section closed and when it came out, Chavez was kicked to the minors and Ryan Church won the job. Upsetting. Very upsetting.

Last year, I had Church as the starter in center. Oops. A day after I submitted the stuff, but before the section was published, Brandon Watson was named the starter, and Church went to Class AAA.

So that brings us to this year: Will Kory Casto actually be the starting left fielder? Don't know. Depends on something completely out of my control -- Nook Logan's groin. (Asked yesterday what he did in the way of rehabilitation, Logan said, "A lot of groin activities." I didn't pursue it further. My apologies.)

So there's a chance -- perhaps even a good one -- that our page will end up being wrong, because I have Casto in left and Church in center, and it could end up being Logan in center and Church in left. But it is not wrong today. It is still possible. And thus, I am thankful. (Some standards, huh?)

What else: Oh, a small point. That MASN graphics guy who quesitoned whether the network labelled their interview with the third baseman of this team as "Brian Zimmerman" was, as you folks have helped point out, wrong. They did. Again, they're just getting going, etc., blah blah blah, it's spring training. And I think the product is going to be good. Heard good things about Carpenter and Sutton's developing chemistry, and the pre- and postgame shows are going to make this feel much more like a real team.

But I watched the thing last night in the clubhouse for like five minutes, and ... well, let's just say that the team's playing a bit better than the broadcast product for now. Postgame interview with team's closer labelled as "Chad Codero." (Guy's name is Cordero, but whatever.) Ray Knight, who knows the game, referred to Nationals reliever "Raul Rivera." Goes by Saul, normally.

Perhaps I'm being picky, and there are people who would think that because "Washington Post Live" is on Comcast SportsNet that I will have it out to get MASN (which is not true, because I really don't care, and I haven't even been able to watch "Washington Post Live"), but that stuff should be cleaned up when the season starts. Am I right? Perhaps I'm not. I'd be interested in your thoughts on the whole package last night.

Today: Orioles in town. Split-squad for both teams. (Why they're having a split squad this late in spring, I have no idea.) Team (and me) departs for Columbus in the morning. Kinda feels like the last day of college down here, with all the boxes and stuff.

Packing is good. In Viera, even better.

LATE-MORNING BREAKING NEWS:
So in the forcing-the-team's hand department: Reliever Jesus Colome had an out in his contract that he could exercise today. This guy has pitched well here, seems to have dialed it back from trying to throw a million miles an hour like he did when he was with Tampa. Used his changeup and two versions of a slider last night. So ...

... I believe he's made the team. Club is preparing to announce that they're purchasing his contract. They do, of course, need depth, and if a guy pitches well enough this spring, and a guy like Saul Rivera has options remaining -- which he does -- you can plug in Colome for Rivera (though I don't know that half of it yet) and keep another pitcher under your control.

Other roster moves to come. Five of them in all.

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 28, 2007; 10:11 AM ET
 
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Next: Patterson looks ready

Comments

Ok w/ prelims on MASN.

Compared to the O's team last year of Manfra, Hunter and Palmer, the Nats' broadcast crew is waaaaay better, even with the mistakes. The three O's (now somewhat reengineered) were likely the worst in baseball. At least I hope so. Buck Martinez was the only one who made professional grade. IMHO.

So it doesn't take much to be better than them. On the radio, I hope Sloze (?) can be reined in when there's a home run. His screaming is bush.

Welcome home.

Posted by: JohnR | March 28, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Charlie Slowes home run calls are great, as well as his tag lines of "Bang! Zoom! go the fireworks!" and "A curly W is in the books!"

As for MASN, I don't know if I will warm to Johnny Holliday (sp?), or whatever his name is. I know I will NOT warm to MASN Orioles commercials on the WTWP radio broadcasts. I would not have enjoyed Yankee advertisements during Mets radio games of my youth, and the same applies here.

Posted by: Kevin C | March 28, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

That was the first pregame/postgame show, so it's a little unfair, but certainly reasonable, to make quick judgments. Holliday is a solid pro; I think Knight has been out of the TV end for a couple years so it's not surprising he stumbled a bit here and there. I think that will go away as they get used to each other. (They should also fix the chairs so that Johnny doesn't look shorter.) Carpenter and Sutton already are meshing well. I'm not crazy about field reporters in general, and this one is just OK -- some fluff interviews during the games, but that happens in spring training; we'll see how they use her as the season goes on. The graphics are better looking than last year, so it would be nice if they were accurate as well. Overall, right now about a B-, with room for expected improvement.

Posted by: Cosmo | March 28, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

BTW- Did anyone else notice that in the new stadium rendition Ray Knight stood in front of appeared to have 4 massive parking structures that dwarfed the stadium?

I thought the set for the pre-game show looked pretty cheesy, but I was happy just to have a pre-game show.

Posted by: Kevin C | March 28, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for including me in the paper, but couldn't you have picked a picture of me instead of Bernie Castro?

Posted by: Kory Casto | March 28, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Umm Barry, in your $0.35 version today, that's not me pictured. That's Bernie Castro.

Posted by: Kory Casto | March 28, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

So, what is the story with Viera, exactly? Is it just the town (or lack thereof) or are the facilities also lousy? Are there any spring training places that are any good?

Posted by: Brewer | March 28, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I watched some of the pre-game and the game itself last night. It was acceptable but needs a lot of polish (haveing said that, nothing resembled a big market broadcast). Then, much to my regret, I watched post game extra. Very painful and although I can chuckle at certain presenters who appear to be at the middle school level, I just can't accept technical inferiority. The sound on comcast channel 41, Montgomery county was simply atrocious. Hope Stan reads the journal as I certainly wouldn't want my product packaged in this manner.

Posted by: Chris | March 28, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Guessing that four of them are DL moves. Johnson and O'Connor on the 60-day right? Escobar and Ayala on the 15-day?

Posted by: Brian | March 28, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I thought the tv broadcasters were over-the-top homers to the point that they had no credibility. For example, when Dmitri Young was waived home and thrown out by a mile, Sutton gushed about how the third base coach did a great job showing even in spring training that the team would be aggressive this year. It was only a spring training game, but the play was undeniably bone-headed and the announcers scored no points as professionals by spit-shining it for their bosses.

Posted by: Calvin | March 28, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Calvin -- that's also kind of hysterical because the team's manager has made a point of saying that this year's team is not going to waste outs just for the sake of "aggressiveness".

And it was Dmitri Young fercryingoutloud.

Posted by: Sam | March 28, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Really glad to see a pre-post game show. Ray Knight had a deer-in-the-headlights look all night and Johnny Holiday seemed a little tight at first. Been listening to him for decades and know he will do better. Dmitri Young runs like last years back-up catcher (cannot remember his name but he was fun to have on the team). Like the announcing team. Got real tired of hearing "he has a short compact swing" about every batter last year. Barry's columns are sounding alot better now - less negative and more informative. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Dancer | March 28, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Re: homerism. When Zimmerman flies out to the warning track, it's because the wind knocked it down. When Franco homers to the same place, it's because the wind carried it. Darn Mets-loving wind!

Posted by: Ryan | March 28, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I realize we had Bernie Castro's picture instead of Casto's. Kills me (and the folks who worked so hard on the section). A bad error, and we must do better.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | March 28, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

The presentation on MASN makes Comcast SportsNet look like ESPN. I felt like I was watching one of those O's classics on MASN.

Posted by: servicedept | March 28, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Barry, since I can't rant directly to Boz I guess your little space in paradise is the object of my XXXXX.

Thom Bozwell 28 March cloumn exploits the reduction in payroll amongst the many issues that are the Nats in 2007. Okay if we are looking the value stream where might it had been found for 63M in 2005 and 2006?

Lets see, the sheding of 30M was at the expense of what;

1. One starting pitcher who basically was in the running to be the next "AirBus".
2. Two retread starting pitchers, one who forgets to hydrate himself when its 90 degrees and the humidity is hovering around 100%, the other one was basically a .500 record reclamation project who served up his share of gopher shots.
3. A second basemen who had the range of Ollie Kolzig, two feet to the right and left and a belly flop.
4. A disgruntled right fielder who had zero plate discipline and was more famous for getting hit then actually hitting.
5. A walk year converted outfielder who had zero intentions of staying, but hood winked everyone into thinking he would.

I have heard and read this over and over on XM 175 MLB Homeplate, ESPN TV and Radio, Sporting News Radio, WAPO-ComCast, WAPO, WASHTimes, etc. That this team has no starting pitching and they are the worst ever, well chew on this;

2005
Livan Hernandez (career year until the knee went sour)
Estaban Loiza (pitched to his potential, but wasn't 21-7)
John Patterson (hurt for part of the year)
Tony Armas (hurt for part of the year)
Carassco (emergency pull from the pen)
Fifth Starter (to many names to mention)

2006
Livan Hernandez (didn't pass on the buffet)
John Patterson (out prior to all-star game)
Tony Armas (more bad then good)
Ramon Ortiz (one brillent game, then a string of stinkers)
Pedro Astacio (ditto for Pedro)
Replacement Starters (Hill (hurt), O'Conner (overmatched), Bergmann (someday but not today).

So what exactly did the Nats lose by sheeding 30M in payroll and exactly what starting pitching did they have in 05 and 06 that would/could make 07 any different. Please don't say 40hrs and 40 steals, that still translated to a 71-91 record.

--------------------
Stan Kasten: When I'm looking for a bargain I'll buy chicken, when I'm hungry I'll order a steak. When you come to me and tell me your the steak I'll tell you, no your chicken.

Posted by: 41 Games | March 28, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

The post-game show was okay, although I loved it when they tried to cut to a post-game interview with Manny Acta and went to a completely different ballgame that was still under way for about 30 seconds or so before finally getting back to the reporter and Acta.

That aside, just being able to watch a Nats game that HAS a pre- and post-game show on TV (at home, to boot) was pretty cool.

I'm sure they'll work out the kinks as the season progresses.

Posted by: Juan-John | March 28, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Looked back at the Pitching Pool and didn't see anyone get all 5 correct (there were a lot of people that got 4 out of 5, though).

If Logan starts the season on the DL and Casto gets the nod, would Manny Acta consider batting him 2nd instead of 7th-8th? Casto has shown patience at the plate plus he would probably see more fastballs as pitchers wouldn't want to risk walking the person before Zim. Plus, moving Guzman to the 7/8 spot would eliminate having nothing but left-handed bats at the bottom of the lineup and would allow more moves later in the game for pinch-hitters/runners/etc.

Posted by: e | March 28, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Nationals today selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Jesus Colome from Columbus of the Triple-A International League. The club also placed first baseman Nick Johnson (continues rehab from fractured right femur), right-handed pitcher Luis Ayala (continues rehab from March 30, 2006 right-elbow UCL reconstructive surgery), left-handed pitcher Mike O'Connor (continues November 2007 left elbow surgery) and outfielder Alex Escobar (continues rehab from September 7, 2006 surgery to repair right-shoulder separation) on the 15-Day Disabled List. Nationals Vice President and General Manager Jim Bowden made the announcements.

Posted by: Nats Press Release | March 28, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Appreciate your restraint -- this may be something best left to the imagination.

---

(Asked yesterday what he did in the way of rehabilitation, Logan said, "A lot of groin activities." I didn't pursue it further. My apologies.)

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 28, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I had the same thought while listening to the broadcast last night. And I like the way that Slowes calls a game.

---

I know I will NOT warm to MASN Orioles commercials on the WTWP radio broadcasts. I would not have enjoyed Yankee advertisements during Mets radio games of my youth, and the same applies here.

Posted by: natsfan1a | March 28, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey, MASN has to get the kinks out. No biggie. Just remember that we should be extremely happy to have the NATS on television! I could care less if Fred Flinstone and Barney Rubble were in the booth (although that could be rather funny), I am just happy to finally be able to watch the game on tv!!!

Posted by: Booya! | March 28, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Split squad today: as I recall, one of these games was moved back from tomorrow, after they announced the Columbus and Norfolk games, which were scheduled after the Grapefruit League schedule was released. I think the Nats and O's each made commitments to their new AAA cities that needed to be honored this year, so they had to figure out a way to do it.

Posted by: Cosmo | March 28, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Both guys named Jesus have made the roster.

Posted by: We have a prayer | March 28, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

How about Statler & Waldorf calling the games? That might be fun..

Posted by: bert & ernie | March 28, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Those would be a good pair. I like the choice of your byline as well. Bert and Ernie could be a helluva team. Also, the two guys from the Muppet Show that sat in the gallery and commented, harshly, on the activities. What were their names again?

Posted by: Booya | March 28, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Wish I could comment on the Pre-Post game shows, but living in SC & watching on the inet with the mlb.com package doesn't avail me to do that. Wonder why they don't include this in the programming package. They do allow the post game radio show to be heard, so why not the tv stuff. Keep up the good work Barry for us out of towners, and the bloggers are great to read with there hometown insight & updates on issues at the stadium & what not.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | March 28, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Tony Batista is playing 3rd base in one of the split-squad games. I guess that means he will be playing in AAA Columbus? I hadn't heard anything about him since they signed him for spring traiing.

Posted by: Kevin C | March 28, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

MASN - Please buy 8 Hi Def cameras. Give 4 to the O's and 4 to the Nats. The picture is terrible on my big screen. Ray Knight needs work. Johnny Holliday will be fine. I think the girl on the field "Debbie Taylor?" is cute, but doesn't ask stupid questions, so she's going to work out fine. RFK needs Coke products and a deli. That is all.

Posted by: Big Head Lincoln | March 28, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

What is Hanrahan doing against Florida? Where was this for the past 3 weeks?

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | March 28, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Pre-game was better than no pre-game. Same with post game. I am sure its good to be headed back north. Keep on blogging

Hey Nat's insiders, win free tickets for Tuesday (plus commemorative pin!) Best "I Love Stan Kasten and His Plan" contest. Winner take all. Check Ballpark Guys site.

Posted by: Maximus | March 28, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I think that in 2005 Endy Chavez lost out on the starting CF job to Wilkerson, not Church.

Posted by: Chris | March 28, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't even close. 2 out of 5!!!

Posted by: Guess the Rotation | March 28, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Miss Chatter was your first entry on GTR and though the order's off, she got it dead on.

Posted by: Guess the Rotation | March 28, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Camera 1 no Camera 2, look over here, now fade and cut, no wait we're still on ... don't stop smiling, ok say something, wait put the microphone on. Action, Camera, Lights! Damn. Camera, Lights .... Damn. Lights, Camera, (what comes after camera?). Right Action. I said Action. Hey Knight get your elbows off the podium. Back to you Bob. No you Ray. Damn. Um, can we get a director in here?

Posted by: D. Frenzy | March 28, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I won the starting job in 2005, but in the final week, I tweaked my groin like Nook Logan did. I wanted to play, but the team held me out, starting Brad Wilkerson in center.

Posted by: Fake Ryan Church | March 28, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Hanrahan shows what he can do in a starting role after pitching out of the pen all Spring. Too bad that he finally got a fair shot after being demoted. If you look more in depth at his outings he hasn't been that bad. Gives up a couple runs after a 40 minute inning last appearance, bad D in another outing. I am sure it won't be long untill we see him back up.

Posted by: Natrat | March 28, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Nah, I'd love to take credit and look like a genius, but I didn't nail it. Williams will be in instead of the injured Simontacchi, so that throws me out. And once Simontacchi joins, Bergmann's probably out and I still lose since Williams wasn't anywhere in my guess :-)

Posted by: misschatter | March 28, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Me too. Grateful, I mean, for the (sporadic and uneven) telecasts and broadcasts. Still, fan gratitude can get you only so far if you're in the business of selling tickets.

My impression is that Kasten is either (1) too busy with other things to pay attention to marketing (30,000 seats sold for opening day should get somone sent back to Columbus); or (2) he stinks as a businessman.

It is depressing to tune into the New York AM radio coverage of the Mets and Yankees and listen to professional broadcasts and then switch back to the locals. Well, I guess the locals are better than anything emanating from Woodbridge, right?

Posted by: JohnR | March 28, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Re: The Special Baseball Section

Liz Lomax has made my day! I'm still laughing from that cover drawing.

Posted by: BrianP | March 28, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Former Expo fan who likes the journal even though noone listens. That's understandable with such experts out there.
No, I don't mean the fans. Until someone tells me otherwise I know the Nationals could have had Aybar (shortstop Anaheim) for Soriano. Hey, we got two draft picks in the thirties. Yeah! And Bowden how did you get Kearns and Lopez. That's out of character. Somebody out there must be as stupid as Minaya. Just call me a skeptic. Sorry for the sarcasm, but I explained that in my first sentence, you know, former Expo fan.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 3, 2007 5:28 PM | Report abuse

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