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Bonus draft coverage

Draft notes as we wait for Northwest 557 to Minneapolis. In an ideal world, all this would have been posted earlier, but I had that silly game to cover, and it even involved a statement by the manager, the second time he's done that.

But enough about the meaningless, actual major leaguers. You want draft information? Let's go.

Round 1, pick 6: LHP Ross Detwiler

The Missouri State lefty was the Nationals' first pick at No. 6, and a cursory survey in the clubhouse afterward revealed that it was a popular choice. Not that the players know who this kid is, but they like the idea that the Nationals chose a college starting pitcher. (Read: Help. Help soon.)

Detwiler is 6-4 and 175 or 185 pounds, depending on who you believe. He said yesterday he's tried eating five or six meals a day to keep weight on, and it hasn't worked.

The Nationals' take on the slender build?

"I didn't want to add any weight to Ron Guidry or Satchell Paige," GM Jim Bowden said. "I really don't understand that. ... He's a sturdy guy. He takes the ball. We're not concerned with it more than any other pitcher."

And, just to throw another name at you, here's player development guru Bob Boone: "I had the opportunity to catch a pretty good left-hander who had a similar frame." That would be one Steve Carlton, who, if I recall correctly, was OK.

Just to recap: Detwiler was, in the first seven minutes after he was drafted, referred to in the same breath as Ron Guidry, Satchell Paige, and Steve Carlton. The next great skinny pitcher.

Delivery: He appears to have action across his body, which would normally be a red flag. But scouting director Dana Brown dismissed it. This guy studies pitchers for a living, something I do not, so I'll take him at his word. Brown said Detwiler gets through his delivery and is able to deliver the ball to the lower part of the strike zone down-and-in to right-handed hitters, down-and-away from left-handers (which is the opposite side of his pitching arm). They talked about it, and they're not concerned about it.

Signing him: The kid's committed to signing. He said so yesterday. I'll try to work on this angle more in coming days. I'd expect it to happen, though Bowden said yesterday, "This is never an easy process when you're stop six in the country." (He may have forgotten when he picked a kid named Ryan Zimmerman fourth in the country in 2005 and had him signed five minutes after the draft.)

Supplemental Round, pick 31 - LHP Josh Smoker

They were giddy to get this kid, who Baseball America had ranked 16th overall in its pre-draft issue (which admittedly comes out a bit early to keep up with late rises and falls. Here's a cut-and-paste from their draft preview on him. (He went to Calhoun High in Georgia.):

"It was apparent Smoker was bound for success when, as a freshman in 2004, he set a school strikeout record with 126 in 62 innings. He broke the record in 2005, when he amassed 137 in 75 innings, helping his team win Georgia's 2-A championship. He has been a mainstay on the wood bat and showcase tour for years, and has a portfolio as deep as any in the draft, including college players. [Barry's aside: Basically means that scouts have been exposed to him because he plays in a bunch of all-star tournaments, etc., and the Nationals said they'd been tracking the kid since last summer.] He'll warm up with six pitches and uses them all in games, though his 91-92 mph fastball, 74-76 mph curve and low- to mid-80s split-finger fastball are his bread and butter. He also flashes a changeup and slider. When he stays over the rubber and doesn't attempt to overthrow, he shows above-average command of all his stuff. He'll run his fastball in on right-handers, snap his curve for a swing-and-miss pitch and lean on his splitter for strikeouts, as it at times can be unhittable. He pitches with fervor and guile, endearing himself to teammates and scouts alike. Smoker isn't expected to get much bigger, but he's athletic and durable, profiling as a No. 2 or 3 starter. He could go as high as No. 14 to Atlanta."

Now, some of the Nationals' top officials aren't crazy about taking high school pitchers. As Bob Boone told me in spring training, "They break. They just do." Look at Colton Willems, the kid they took 20th overall last year. He's been nothing but hurt and hasn't even gotten out of Viera. But this kid appears to be worth the risk.

"We are extremely, extremely excited that Josh was able to get down to us in our spot," Bowden said. "Tremendous makeup. ... Dominant stuff. We never saw him lose a game. ... This was a special guy that we did not think would get down to 31."

Dana Brown: "Josh Smoker, he has really good stuff. He pitches 89-93, occasionally touches 94. ... He was one of the best pitchers this year at driving the ball to the bottom of the strike zone. He can really throw low strikes, which, as you all know, is very important if you're going to pitch at the big-league level. He's a quality third starter, with a chance to be a No. 2."

Chuck LaMar, special assistant to the GM and national cross-checker: "This kid is what the Washington Nationals are all about."

Jeff Zona, national cross-checker: "The Washington Nationals have done an outstanding job tracking this player. This started last year in the showcases in June. ... We were on this kid right at the start at the spring. As you can see, all the big what I call 'heavy-hitters' all saw him, and they all saw him early."

Bowden: "Pitching, pitching, pitching."

(Aside: I like how part of draft day is taking an 18-year-old kid and saying, "He's a No. 3 starter, maybe a No. 2." I mean, how the heck do you know? He could be a middle reliever. (Of course, these guys do this for a living, so maybe they really do know.))

I talked to a guy named Matt Remsberg who works for RISE Magazine, a high school sports publication, yesterday. He said Smoker definitely could have gone in the middle of the first round. He said there was a tad of a question as to whether his stats from high school were just rung up against inferior competition (he played in a small division), but he competed well in the all-star showcases.

He's committed to Clemson. Nationals will have to pay him.

Supplemental Round, pick 49 - OF Michael Burgess

Which GM would be likely to take a kid whose Baseball America scouting report reads like this?:

"With huge raw power, inconsistent performance and the legacy of Hillsborough High (the alma mater of Gary Sheffield, Dwight Gooden and Elijah Dukes, among other big leaguers) as a backdrop, Burgess ahs become one of this draft's most debated prospects. He was a third-team All-American after batting .512 with 12 home runs as a junior, and the power translated with a wood bat last summer. Although his bat speed, strength and leveraged swing remain, Burgess' approach and set-up at the plate have puzzled scouts this spring, and he hasn't made consistent hard contact. He seems to lack focus, perhaps due in part to constant solicitation from hopeful advisers and receiving hitting lessons from former Georgia Tech star Ty Griffin and big leaguer Derek Bell. Late in the season, his timing was better and he showed glimpses of the 40-homer-hitting right fielder he could become. He's an average defender with a plus arm and below-average speed. Burgess could slip into the supplemental round, but the team that weighs his history over his senior year could pop him in the first round."

Jim Bowden, step right up! (Baseball America had Burgess ranked 30th.)

Remsberg, the high school expert, said the guy tinkered with himself mechanically and maybe being a potential top-10 pick got into his head. His senior season was so bad that in the Nationals' press release about the choice, they had his sophomore and junior season stats, but didn't include the ones from his senior year. Ridiculous, really. So they had some explaining to do, and the explaining amounts to this: They put in their work, and they think they got a steal.

"We've done a lot of homework on Michael Burgess," VP of baseball operations Mike Rizzo said.

So what happened to him?

Brown: "He started messing with himself mechanically, and his swing got a little longer. ... That caused him to slide. ... We feel comfortable we can get him back to where he was."

Bob Boone worked with him during a pre-draft workout. "We saw that he had aptitude to make adjustments," Brown said.

Rizzo: "This guy has got as much up-side as anybody in the draft, and I say that very seriously. This guy was a top five, eight player coming into the year. ... He's going to work his butt off. ... He's got a little 'I-told-you-so' in him because he dropped, and we like that."

Round 2, pick 67 - RHP Jordan Zimmermann

Let's clear up one thing: There's no relation. (All the Nationals' releases on the guy had him as Zimmerman, not Zimmermann, which would ahve cleared up problems with relationships to current players.)

Again, we bow down to Baseball America, who had him 97th overall:

"Zimmermann jumped up prospect lists last summer when he led the Northwoods League in ERA (1.01) and strikeouts (92 in 80 innings) and ranked as the circuit's top prospect. Scouts haven't had an easy time following him this spring, however. Zimmermann broke his jaw in two places when he was struck by a batted ball while pitching live batting practice during an offseason workout. He missed three games and lost 10 pounds, and having wisdom teeth pulled during the season didn't help him regain his strength. Bad early-season weather also made it difficult to keep him on a regular schedule. Zimmermann's stuff was improving as the season went on, and he was consistently working in the low 90s and showing a quality slider as Wisconsin-Stevens Point entered the NCAA Division III playoffs. He also throws a changeup with promising action and uses a loopy curveball as a fourth pitch. Zimmermann regularly touched 93-95 in the Northwoods League, and scouts expect him to show that velocity more often as he adds more strength to his 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame. He could go as high as the second round, but the third round is more likely."

Notes from the Nationals on this kid (with bonus 'n' now added):

"Zimmermann, 21, was selected as a Second-Team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) for the second straight year. He went 10-0 with two saves and a 2.08 ERA in 13 games (nine starts) as a junior in 2007 for the Division III school. He posted 90 strikeouts and just 18 walks in 78.0 innings of work, and finished season by tossing 19.2 straight scoreless innings. He allowed just three hits with 26 strikeouts in those 19.2 innings. Zimmermann was also a First-Team All-Midwest Region selection, and was named the region's Pitcher of the Year by the ABCA. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder tossed a one-hit shutout against Emory (GA) in the opening round of the Division III. He went on to win World Series Most Outstanding Player honors."


Rizzo: "He's a polished, college right-handed pitches. He's got four pitches, three above-average. ... He's a big competitor from a cold-weather state. ... He's a tough kid."

Rizzo saw him on film in a big snow storm. Brown saw him pitch with his jaw wired together: "Just to tell you how tough he is, and he was still driving the ball down in the strike zone. If you can imagine pitching when your jaw's wired, he's that type of competitor."

Round 2, pick 70 - Infielder Jacob Smolinski:

Baseball America had him ranked 160th. Did the Nationals take a flyer on a kid from Boylan Catholic High in Rockford, Ill.? BA: "Plus arm-strength and power bat fit third base profile, if he can defend there."

He played shortstop in high school.

Rizzo: "I don't foresee him staying at shortstop. He doesn't have the foot speed, or the foot quickness to stay at shortstop. But this guy swings the bat. If we dream on him a little bit ... he swings the bat a lot like David Wright did in high school. Same type of short, compact stroke. He's got loft and backspin to the ball. We're going to have to find a position with him."

BA's full scouting report:

"A number of third basemen made strong impressions at the Area Code Games last summer. ... Smolinski has maintained his status as the best position-player prospect in Illinois. He stands out most for his feel for hitting and for the strength in his 6-foot, 195-pound build. He's also a good athlete - he doubles as Boylan Catholic's quarterback ... -- and has good arm strength. While scouts agree that he'll be a star at Clemson if he attends college, they aren't as sold on his pro future. Some believe he's maxed out physically already and will become a below-average runner as he fills out, limiting his defensive options. Currently a shortstop, Smolinski will have to move to third base or an outfield corner. Some clubs are intrigued with the idea of making him a catcher, where his arm and leadership skills would work to his advantage. His signability is uncertain, so he may not be drafted as high as his talent would warrant."

OK, I want to get you stuff on Steven Souza, the third round pick, but I'm going to miss my flight. I'll check in from Minneapolis. Hope this holds you most of the day.

(As of 12:49 p.m. EST, I'm on the ground. Going to lunch with my dad, who lives here, and will have some more draft analysis from the baseball paradise that is the Metrodome later on this afternoon.)

By Barry Svrluga  |  June 8, 2007; 8:09 AM ET
 
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Comments

"Supplemental Round, pick 31 - LHP Jeff Smoker"

Don't you mean Josh Smoker?

Jeff Smoker was a Michigan State quarterback who allegedly liked the "white nose candy." He also got sacked about three times in the first six plays of the 2000 Penn State vs. Michigan State game. It was pretty sweet.

Posted by: WFY | June 8, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Barry worried:

"(Aside: I like how part of draft day is taking an 18-year-old kid and saying, "He's a No. 3 starter, maybe a No. 2." I mean, how the heck do you know? He could be a middle reliever. (Of course, these guys do this for a living, so maybe they really do know.))"

... it seems to me Barry, that Bowden & Co. are making these comments along the lines of a 'perfect world' kind of scenario. As you say, no one knows the future.

... and I guess that's maybe what they're banking on when it comes to Burgess. No one knows the future, and this might be the kid who starts off as a problem, then matures and develops into a dependable guy. Still, I think I'd have avoided him, if I'd had a say.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 8, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Barry worried:

"(Aside: I like how part of draft day is taking an 18-year-old kid and saying, "He's a No. 3 starter, maybe a No. 2." I mean, how the heck do you know? He could be a middle reliever. (Of course, these guys do this for a living, so maybe they really do know.))"

... it seems to me Barry, that Bowden & Co. are making these comments along the lines of a 'perfect world' kind of scenario. As you say, no one knows the future.

... and I guess that's maybe what they're banking on when it comes to Burgess. No one knows the future, and this might be the kid who starts off as a problem, then matures and develops into a dependable guy. Still, I think I'd have avoided him, if I'd had a say.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 8, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Holy Smoker, Barry... this is great stuff. Thanks for passing it along.

I was about to add "how do you get anything done for the $.35 edition?" but it makes me think: As our digital community grows, the $.35 edition is going to continue to morph from the 20th century format a lot of us got comfortable with, especially after the demise of the News and the Star, perhaps to a supplemental purveyor of news and views rather than a self-standing primary source.

Meanwhile, will forums like this one become primary (or pre-primary, perhaps) sources? Media critics can spin on that subject for a while; Marshall McLuhan I ain't. (Good thing, too, for he is, among other things, quite dead.)

Back to pressing my not inconsiderable nose against the draft room window... I'm a little conflicted about Burgess. Nothing in Barry's report gives me substantive cause for panic -- to tar him indelibly with the Hillsborough brush would be hastily thoughtless -- but a bit more background would be interesting to have. Surely he's a good subject for a Sunday feature?

Posted by: Hendo | June 8, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

The draft is a great start for the plan. It is all about bodies folks and the NATs have potentially just acquired a lot them.

On a another matter, I just put my deposit in last night on the FUTURE! Hope my new seat is as good as the above has been for the last three seasons. LETS GO NATS.

Posted by: Sec 417 Row 8 Seat 9 | June 8, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

REMSBERG!!!

Posted by: DBK Alum | June 8, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

...sorry Barry, but our new boy Zimmermann has 2 n's.

Posted by: picking nits | June 8, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Why does Manny get a pass?

Don't get me wrong, I like Manny Acta, and I think he is a good manager and will get even better. But there are a couple really bad managerial decisions he has made this year and the media seems to just ignore them. The three most glaring I'll list below:

1) Manny states he doesnt argue calls because he never has seen one get overturned. Argueing calls is rarely about getting the call changed. It is about showing your team you will fight for them, and back them up. I find it a little disturbing that Manny doesn't know this.

2) Cordero gave up the winning HR last night pitching his third game in a row. Why pitch Chad three games in a row, especially when the third game is a day game after a night game?? I think history clearly shows pitching most guys three games like that is a bad idea. This isn't the first time Manny has pitched someone three straight games. yes, i realize our starting pitching is subpar right now and the bullpen is going to be overused, but Cordero didnt need to pitch in a tie game yesterday.

3) Manny has made a couple bad offensive decisions. The one that sticks out is May 18 when we lost 5-4 to Baltimore. Nook leads off the 9th with a walk and steals second. How could you not have Belliard bunt him to third with no outs? You are almost guaranteed to tie the game up by doing that.

So in conclusion, Barry, please call Manny out when he is making poor decisions. Like I said, he is a good manager. Every manager makes mistakes, but every manager should also be called out on it in the press conference and in the following days paper.

Thanks, and go Nats!!

Posted by: NatsFan28 | June 8, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Above I shouldnt have written "You are almost guaranteed to tie the game up.." I got a little over-excited ;). I just meant almost any ball Lopez can put in play there will score a speedy Logan from third and you increase your chances to tie the game.

Posted by: NatsFan28 | June 8, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Barry should call Manny out on three matters of opinion that you're wrong about?

(1) It is not a positive attribute in a manager to act like a buffoon (2) he used Chad pretty much the way every single manager uses his closer, which is, you pitch when you need him and rest him when you don't (3) it's perfectly reasonable not to sacrifice one of your best hitter (particularly on a very weak hitting team).

I think blog era has produced a notion of entitlement among readers where everyone feels slighted if their particular agenda isn't persued by the "media".

Posted by: joebleux | June 8, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

NatsFan28, re Manny:

Manny gets a pass because this is his honeymoon year and because his demeanor accords with the expectations that were bandied about before the season. He seems deliberately to be choosing not to become a media star and drama king like Lou Piniella. Perhaps next season we'll see some changes, but I wouldn't be surprised not to.

Re your point 1, I hope Manny was being rhetorical about never seeing a call overturned. We've all seen it happen, at least on SportsCenter. (And of course it happened at RFK under the previous incumbent.) Re points 2 and 3, I agree that these decisions were arguably poor and worthy of question. I don't want to see the Chief abused, especially when his team isn't putting up runs -- or even effort -- for him. And I do like Smallball when a single run is what you need. Perhaps Belliard is a poor bunter, which would be a shame.

At any rate, I wouldn't want Manny to get a pass forever. And if he does start to catch some heat, expect it to be without Mariotti-style vitriol; that's the way the Post has usually done things (off the op-ed page, anyway).

Posted by: Hendo | June 8, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

joebleux, here is why your points are invalid in my opinion:

1) Just cause Lou Pinella acts like a buffoon doesnt mean all managers that argue are.. (see the other 28 managers in the league) Can you name one good manager that doesn't argue bad calls occasionally? Is Bobby Cox a bafoon? Joe Torre? Stating that you categorically won't argue calls is being a buffoon. Arguing calls is all about having your players backs.

2) I agree that most managers would use their closer to shut down the other team with a lead three games in a row if the closer said he felt ok. In this case, our closer wasnt protecting a lead in ANY of the games and the third game was 14 hours after the second game. There is no reason Cordero had to come in yesterday, a more rested pitcher would have been fine. Cordero who has been pitching well, gave up a HR, so I think that kinda helps my point here.

3) You are playing at home down by 1, you need to do anything you can to tie the game up. I think most managers would prefer a man (with speed) on third with one out over a guy on second with no outs, especially in the NL. A good hitter only gets a hit less than 3 times out of 10. A good hitter who can handle the bat (like belliard) should get a guy in from third way more frequently than that.

I don't have an agenda. I purposly stated I liked Manny several times. I think he has made a ton of correct decisions and I think he is a good person. First year managers will only improve if they are challenged, not coddled. My opinion is that these were mistakes, and I am sure I am not the only person who thinks this way (see the comment after yours) You are entitled to your opinion, I am entitled to mine.

Thanks for your blog Barry, it is enjoyable to read.

Posted by: NatsFan28 | June 8, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

So, unless I'm mistaken, after all was said and done, we got Smoker and Burgess for Soriano?

I'm not going to editorialize. Just saying.

Posted by: John in Mpls | June 8, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

John in Mpls: No, we just got Smoker for Soriano. We got Burgess for Guillen.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 8, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

John in mlps;

I think is was actually Smoker and Jordan Zimmermann (2nd round pick from cubs)

Posted by: NatsFan28 | June 8, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Interesting. I thought we got two conditional picks for Soriano, but you must be right, because we did get a conditional pick for Guillen.

Regardless of whether or not Smoker turns out to be a 2nd or 3rd starter, we'll never know if he's an upgrade from what Bowden was offered for Soriano unless we know what he was actually offered.

Posted by: John in Mpls | June 8, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure we got a compensation pick for Soriano, plus the Cubs' spot in round 2, where we picked up Zimmermann. So I'd count Smoker and Zimmermann for Soriano.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 8, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh.
Duh.
NatsFan28 just said that.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 8, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Manny, Chad, Zimmerman, and Zimmermann and all the rest...

Can we get a comment or two for the true man of the hour? Matt Chico. Does everyone realize he's the acting ace of the staff? And pulling it off? I know we say he's never played any higher than AA ball, but take a second and think what he's done this year on that resume. He's shown an incredible maturity in pulling himself together and bearing a load that no one should have expected him to bear -- and now we expect it! Yes, Bergmann was a huge surprise, because he'd never shown the glimmer of genius before, but who in March would have predicted the dependable workhorse Matt Chico?

Posted by: Section 506 | June 8, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you on Chico. He seems like he is just a hard worker who doesnt have a lot of talent but maximizes effort every game. I have a lot of optimism for next year with pitchers like chico, hill, and bergmann on the roster. i am a big jesus colome fan too.

Posted by: NatsFan28 | June 8, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Who doesn't love Jesus? He blesses us with his presence every day and always gets us out of a jam.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 8, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Amen, 506. I'm so incredibly impressed with that kid. Our little AA guy is the last man standing! Go figure! I could go on and on, but frankly I'm starting to catch the superstition fever. Let's quietly whisper our devotion here, but don't let Barry catch on and do a big spread on the kid for goodness sake.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 8, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Ah, Mr. Svrluga lives in the Twin Cities, hence no request for restaurant recommendations. I was going to suggest Rudolph's in Uptown, voted best ribs in the city.

Posted by: John in Mpls | June 8, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Chico sure has stepped up. As an early doubter, I've been guiltily enjoying his superb recent performances. May he stay healthy, is all I pray for.

I've been wondering whether any of the draft studs was quick-promotion material, a la RZimm. But the example of Chico accentuates the wisdom of trying to invest a full development cycle in prospects. Obvious readiness manifests itself almost to the most casual observer; but in all other cases, the occasional need (or chronic need, in the Nats' case) to suddenly advance guys like Chico makes it that much more important not to torch the rest of the up-and-comers.

And, Section 506, we have indeed been blessed not to have to ask, in uneasy wonderment, What Will Jesus Do?

Posted by: Hendo | June 8, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I think Barry might have seen this coming. If you take a look at the Nationals insert at the beginning of the season, he marked Chico as an "impact player," one of four (Patterson, Zimmerman, and Schneider). Two out of four ain't bad, and who can blame him for missing Young and Guzman?

Posted by: John in Mpls | June 8, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I was really impressed with Chico yesterday...

Here's something to reflect on... in March, when everyone was ostensibly healthy, or close to it... we not only had no idea who our starters would be, but I think a lot of people had very little hope for whatever the possibilities were. Today, while the starters are injured, I think most people would agree that (if healthy) we have a credible Major League starting corps... Moreover... the Nats have developed starters out of relievers, which would make for great late July trade bait...

Posted by: Wigi | June 8, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Barry,

We'll be leaving Section 502 for the HHH Metrodome this weekend. (Speigner vs. Santana? Oh well, at least they're giving out bobbleheads Saturday.) As for after-game adult beverages We've heard that a spot named "Grumpy's" is both pleasantly divey and near the ballpark, if you're in need of a suggested place -- or have you already scoped all the location of all the Paneras in major league cities?

And as a graduate of the University of South Carolina I must take a moment to plead with the Nationals front office to sign Josh Smoker and save him from (ewwww) Clemson.

(Univ. of South Carolina vs. Univ. of North Carolina in a best-of-three series starting tonight, winner goes to the College World Series. Which is why I'll be adding a few "Let's Go Gamecocks!" to my usual "Let's Go Nats" this weekend.)

Posted by: Section 502 | June 8, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

There is a Panera downtown on Nicollet Mall and 8th Street, near the Barnes and Noble.

Mauer bobbleheads only to the first 10,000, so get there early.

I'll be at the Leaning Tower of Pizza after the game, but that's where I always go for a frosty Leinenkugel's.

Posted by: John in Mpls | June 8, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Yes, my dad has me covered on restaurants. Grumpy's might be a post-game destination tonight, though I do have an early tee time tomorrow. Sunday night: Dining at a place called 112 Eatery. Staying over for the off day on Monday and still trying to figure out a place. I've been to Cafe Lurcat on Loring Park a few times and really enjoyed it.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | June 8, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

RHP Tomo Ohka, who struggled for the Jays this season (2-5, 5.79 ERA, 1.61 WHIP), was DFA'd yesterday.

Could he eat enough innings to be worth picking up for the balance of the season?

Posted by: Hendo | June 8, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Loring Pasta Bar in Dinkytown is terrific.

I love Highland Grill for breakfast, although I'm not sure you want to venture over to the other city.

Posted by: Chris | June 8, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"The draft is a great start for the plan. It is all about bodies folks and the NATs have potentially just acquired a lot them."

Let's wait and see how great this draft on August 15 -- the signing deadline, when potential turns into reality.

Mr. Lerner, time to put your money where your mouth is!

Otherwise, you tightwad, you can go stick your money up your, um... you know...

Posted by: BrianH | June 8, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Putting the hits and walks together nicely tonight.

Posted by: Hendo | June 8, 2007 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Barry,

Any truth to the story I heard from an usher yesterday, that a fan gave one of Dmitri Young's sons the #42 game jersey Dmitri wore in tribute to Jackie Robinson?

Posted by: Go NATS | June 8, 2007 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Only 2 K's, but also only 1 BB in 7.2 innings. Way to go Tatch!

Posted by: Hendo | June 8, 2007 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Awesome spear of the line drive, Rob Fick! Oh you Nats!

Posted by: Hendo | June 8, 2007 10:43 PM | Report abuse

... very nice win, guys. GO NATS!

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 8, 2007 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Smoley Hokes!

Any particular reason why Guzzie shouldn't stay in the leadoff spot for the rest of the season?? :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | June 8, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Guz certainly belongs in the top of this order, Juan-John.

Posted by: Hendo | June 8, 2007 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Go, Guze! D'Meat Hook for D.H.! S-Tach deals!

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 8, 2007 11:23 PM | Report abuse

anyone see highlights/box score from the marlins vs. devil rays? our favorite backup SS josh wilson pitched an inning for the d-rays. his line 1IP 1H 0runs 1BB. who knew that he could pitch?!?

Posted by: natsinthevalley | June 9, 2007 12:40 AM | Report abuse

natsinthevalley: it only took me 30 seconds to type this, so ha...

if josh wilson could pitch we should have made him a starter...cant get any worse than logan spreckler (or maybe its levale speigner)

Posted by: love | June 9, 2007 12:43 AM | Report abuse

Barry, any chance we can get your dad as a guest blogger? Agent Steinz is all over the family member thing, and I think you should totally hop on this train. Come on down, Mr. Svrluga!

Posted by: Atlanta | June 9, 2007 1:50 AM | Report abuse

Barry, I just wanted to chime in by saying how much I appreciate your blog coverage of the Nats, including this detailed draft blogging. If anything I wish it was more frequent, but I understand how you've got, erm, a real job to do.

I make it a point to read the major-paper beat writers for every MLB team, and I want you to know that, as a reasonably discerning sports junkie, right now you rank up there with Dejan Kovacevic (Pitt. Post-Gaz) as the finest - and most underrated - young sportswriter out there. This incredibly detailed post, full of obvious interest and enthusiasm for the Nats (as well as your trademark dry wit), is but one more reason why. Please keep up the good work...I wish I could convey to you how comically sincere I am when I say this.

Regards,

Jeff Blehar

Posted by: Jeff B. | June 9, 2007 3:22 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mr. B. I hope that you cc'd the Post Sports Editor on that.

Posted by: Barry's mom | June 9, 2007 6:55 AM | Report abuse

And ask the editor, is this thing the "Nationals Insider" or "Nats Insider" mentioned in the paper edition (.50 out of metro area)? Yes, I bookmarked the Journal so I can get here easily, but it's a shame the NJ doesn't get listed on the home page while all the other blogs are.

Posted by: geezer | June 9, 2007 7:28 AM | Report abuse

I suppose the evaluation of high school players has been greatly improved by the wood-bat tours, AAU teams etc but I still have a hard time getting too excited about the prospects of 18-year-olds and that goes double for pitchers. Even against the best competition, those kids are facing one, maybe two, hitters who will ever make it to a high A league. One of the questions is, how will a pitcher react when a professional hitter puts a line drive in his face? How will he react on the day he has his best stuff and great command and three guys in a row pound line drives off the fence?
So much of successful pitching is tiny, tiny differences and even intangibles. I've spent most of my six decades in minor league towns and have seen tons of games from rookie leagues to AAA. On any given night, you are likely to see at least one pitcher who throws 90+ mph, has a drop off the table curveball and is hitting spots consistently but will never get a cup of coffee in the big leagues. DAy after day consistency and mind set are the keys and, as the cliche goes, only time will tell who's got that.
Still, it is fun to dream of what might be three, four or five years down the line. So, you pay your money and you take your chances.
As an aside, I chuckled a bit at Bob Boone talking about catching Steve Carlton. As I recall, Tim McCarver's career was extended because Lefty just about refused to pitch to Boone, or even speak to him.

Posted by: Salty Dog | June 9, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

As I was Napstering just now, another Nats Park desideratum occurred to me:

I'd a damned sight rather hear music between innings than have to squirm through some of these mindless promos. (I do like the three-card shuffle and the Presidents' Race, but some of the other stuff I could live without, at least night in and night out.) Music used to be the default between innings, and old-school pop classics like EWF get everyone into the right mood.

Here's a promotion for you, Stan: Get WASH-FM (or whichever station wants to cop the idea) to sponsor a few between-inning breaks each night. Lite rock, less schlock.

Posted by: Hendo | June 9, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Hendo,

... you old hispter, pray tell and explain:

"old-school pop classics like EWF" ???

... I used to be a pretty hip dude myself, but then the sixties came to an end. I got left behind, and turned into a flower-garden old curmudgeon.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 9, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Natscan. Earth, Wind & Fire.

My eclectically degraded tastes run from about the Monkees -- thanks largely to my brother who is 15 years my senior -- down through about Boz Scaggs, with maybe a little Cranberries and Spin Doctors mixed in.

I guess it's hopelessly unreasonable to expect Nats Park inning breaks to sound like my old high school dances... but a dude's gotta dream, right?

Posted by: Hendo | June 9, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Mixed reaction to Guzzie's return to the Dome. Some pre-teen girls sitting behind me held up a sign that read "Guzman: The Original Piranha." One of them also had a "Marry Me Bartlett" sign, which I thought was conflicting, but whatever.

When he was up, I couldn't tell if they were yelling "boo" or "Guz" (though by the time he got his fourth hit, I can imagine it was "boo").

But then a guy at SuperAmerica, where I was getting a soda after the game, saw me in my Nationals hat, came up to me and asked me how I liked Guzman, saying he was "pretty much run out of town here." Maybe a selective memory, but he didn't seem to care for Guz much.

Posted by: John in Mpls | June 9, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I like the president's race but could do without the rest of it. I'd like to hear *anything* over the PA system at RFK. Most of the time I can't hear the music or what is being said. I trust that the sound system at the new stadium will be much better.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 9, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

RE: John in Mpls...

The comment you made made me think about how "The Plan" has changed things... I think it is interesting to see the difference in philosophy regarding players and personnel between the Nationals under MLB ownership and under Lerners...

When Guzman was signed, and similarly, when the Nats traded for Soriano, there was a different philosophy in mind... I think that the Nats would not make similar deals today... though I could see them making a trade for a slugger with two years on his contract (like they did with Soriano) with the idea that his free agent year would come up in 2009.

Yesterday's game notwithstanding, I think there is a lot of good things happening with the Nats that don't have to do with wins and losses...

Posted by: Wigi | June 9, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Minor league news is no doubt boring to busy executives, among others, but here is a curious nugget...

Hagerstown Suns outfielder Justin Maxwell is leading the team (and is sixth in the South Atlantic League) in OPS. He is tied among Suns outfielders for fewest errors (one) on the season. He has just been named Topps South Atlantic League Player of the Month for May 2007. He leads the league with 14 home runs. He has got some nice ink this season in the Post and other journals of repute. He has demonstrated, in an admittedly small sample (viz., one) of Suns games attended by me, gentlemanly deportment and athletic excellence.

This past Wednesday, the South Atlantic League All-Star Game rosters were announced by league president John Henry Moss. The names of Maxwell's estimable, if slightly inferior, outfield mates -- Mike Daniel and Chris Marrero -- were included. The name of Maxwell was not.

What is up with this? Did Maxwell dip the manager's daughter's pigtails in the inkwell, or what?

Is this newsworthy? It certainly seems at least email-worthy, and an appropriate squawk has been dispatched from the hutch. Responses, if any, will be reported in this space.

Posted by: Hendo | June 9, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Just watched the promotional movie for the new park off www.nationals.com (first chance). I know it's old news at this point, but it is CLEAR that the new Nationals' park is not about watching baseball, but about a destination point for a night out.

I don't know whether to blame the Lerners or Anthony Williams, because I don't know where the plans were when Ted and Family bought the team, but we've been focused entirely wrong on the purpose of the park. The philosophy of the stadium doesn't CARE whether or not the team is popular. It's point is to create a place for people to go and spend money.

I think the assumption of Stan the Plan (thanks swanni) is that making a destination and fielding a beloved team are not mutually exclusive goals. He would probably argue that they reinforce each other and he might even believe it. I don't know that I do.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | June 9, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Here's wishing Speigner luck tonight. And runs from his teammates.

Posted by: Hendo | June 9, 2007 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Johnny Holliday an easy listen? (Then again, hasn't he always been?)

Holliday sets up Sutton real well. Not that Carpenter isn't respectable, but he is a little dry -- the same observation that's often made about Joe Buck, with some justice in each case.

Carpenter's color commentators have to labor a bit sometimes. It shows when they do, not appealingly.

Posted by: Hendo | June 9, 2007 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Well, well, well, look who decided to actually show up to pitch tonight. Quite an outing from young Jimmy Speigner. Two hits over six innings? I'll take that against Johan Santana.

Posted by: Atlanta | June 9, 2007 9:04 PM | Report abuse

is that the same levale speigner? we havent seen this from him since he went streaking in spring training. well done sir.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | June 9, 2007 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Awesome ninth-inning rally kill! Oh you Nats!

Posted by: Hendo | June 9, 2007 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Chiefie, Chiefie, Chiefie!

Are you TRYING to give us heart attacks?!?

That said, 99 saves in yer career ain't bad.

And Speigner, WOW.

Posted by: Juan-John | June 9, 2007 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Atta boy Levale!

Posted by: NatsNut | June 9, 2007 9:55 PM | Report abuse

That'll do, Nats. That'll do.

Posted by: Atlanta | June 9, 2007 9:57 PM | Report abuse

YAWN....just another Nats road win...ho hum...yawn....NEXT

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | June 9, 2007 11:35 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to have heard his Harold Hill rendition. He has a good voice for the role.

---

Isn't Johnny Holliday an easy listen? (Then again, hasn't he always been?)

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 9, 2007 11:41 PM | Report abuse

He showed up last time, too, but the defense didn't (at least in the first inning).

---

Well, well, well, look who decided to actually show up to pitch tonight.

Posted by: natsfan1a | June 9, 2007 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Some random June thoughts from afar...

So the "reverse lock" is a true lock for the Nats, right? Our ragtag collection of scrappy starters beats Smoltz, Peavy, Santana...Who coulda guessed it? Kudos to LS for keeping the Twins offense in check.

Just say no to drafting HS pitchers. Forget 'em. They are merely Tommy John patients waiting to happen. Save the money and pick them up later after another club pays their bonuses and multiple arm surgeries.

One man's early round draft strategy - go for a mix of big-dog stud HS hitters, polished D-I college pitchers, under-the-radar D-III hitters, and no one who even gets breathes the same air as Boras. I'll give JimBow and company a B+ at this early date. Sleeper picks: Burgess and VCU righty Luke Pisker.

Manny, Manny, Manny...Please stop taking out DYoung for defense or a pinch runner anytime you have a lead after 7 innings. This is just asking for trouble. I can easily envision Fick striking out time after time with the bases loaded, 2 outs in the 9th and the Nats losing because we didn't have our best bat at the plate.

Posted by: FS Nats Watcher | June 10, 2007 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Interesting thoughts from FS Nats Watcher. (FS? Fort Smith, Ark., perhaps?)

"Just say no to drafting HS pitchers. Forget 'em. They are merely Tommy John patients waiting to happen. . . ."

Well... Their arms certainly seem to contain heaps of potential for undetected abuse. So, for that matter, does any arm. After the glowing reviews of the benefits of Dr. Tom House's training program for such pitchers as Robb Nen and Mark Prior, and their subsequent sad histories, I agree we're entitled to be skeptical about pitchers in general.

(Talking of training programs: no, I guess the famous or infamous Dr. Mike Marshall doesn't owe anybody anything, but the academic and medical communities are not benefiting from Dr. Marshall's secretiveness with respect to research.)

In the case of Josh Smoker, the Nats' first HS pitching pick of this past week's draft, notice the carefully crafted language that Baseball America used in Barry's quote from them: "When he stays over the rubber and doesn't attempt to overthrow, he shows above-average command of all his stuff. . . . He pitches with fervor and guile . . ." The inference, I hope, is that he may not blow batters' doors off, but his rotator cuff may survive at least until he's old enough to vote.

To Barry's credit (not that it isn't what we've come to expect), he does report candidly on the conflicting philosophies of the Nats' draft gnomes with respect to high school arms, as well as their disappointing experience with Colton Willems.

Posted by: Hendo | June 10, 2007 7:35 AM | Report abuse

FS Nats Watcher opines: "Just say no to drafting HS pitchers. Forget 'em. They are merely Tommy John patients waiting to happen. . . ."

... well recent experience would seem to support such a notion. It appears that in the case of the Nationals, pitching, pitching, pitching has a good chance of meaning injuries, injuries, injuries.

... but of course there's no reason to think they can't be traded if any - even slight - indication comes along that T. John, T. Labrum or any other well-named malady looks to loom in their future. Just be sure to do it before word gets out.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | June 10, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

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