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The clock is ticking

So some Nats stuff in the $.35er this morning, starting with Steve Yanda's profile of Ross Detwiler. Good info in there for those of you interested in what's on the way. I also had a conversation yesterday with Shawn Hill, who is understandably anxious to pitch tonight. And for those of you keeping score, Nationals would need to go 8-36 the rest of the way to match my preseason prediction of 62-100. (I love when players and coaches and executives use the phrase "so-called experts" when ridiculing preseason predictions gone bad. I fit right in.)

But check out the notes section after the Hill stuff in my story, and you'll find the topic for this Journal entry. Tomorrow at 11:59 p.m. is the deadline to sign draft picks. If they're not signed, they go back into next year's draft. The Nationals, of course, have two remaining key picks - high school pitchers Josh Smoker, taken with the first pick of the supplemental round (No. 31), and Jack McGeary, taken in the sixth round.

Yesterday, the Nationals held their regularly scheduled ownership meeting downtown at the Washington Square offices of the Lerner family, the corner of Connecticut and L NW. It is my belief that the baseball operations people pushed for more money to sign Smoker and McGeary, and there is some thinking that - in order for the Lerners to live up to their pledge of building through scouting and player development - they have to come through and sign these kids (particularly Smoker), whatever it takes.

To review: Smoker is the lefty from Georgia who was coveted by the Braves and, in fact, nearly taken by Atlanta in the first round. The Nationals had him high on their board, and they felt fortunate to get him at the 31st pick. Had they not taken him, the Braves would have scooped him up gladly. From the day he was drafted, Smoker said he wanted to sign despite the fact that he's committed to Clemson. He reiterated that while visiting with Nationals officials at Turner Field in Atlanta perhaps a month later. Last month, he switched advisors (can't say "agents" till after they sign) in an effort to get a deal done.

McGeary's case is different. Teams stayed far, far away from him in the first round - even though some believe he had first-round talent - because he was so firmly committed to Stanford. The Nationals took a flier on him in the sixth knowing there was a very good chance they wouldn't sign him. Now, though, it could happen, though it'll likely take first-round money. McGeary visited Washington and went to two games at RFK Stadium earlier this month, a sign that he's at least open to considering signing. And talks are still ongoing.

There are other factors at work here, too. MLB's owners are gathering in Toronto for their meetings today through Thursday, and it's fascinating that those meetings straddle the deadline to sign draft picks (a deadline, by the way, that is new this year). The consensus in the industry is that lots of these picks - and there were 12 unsigned first-rounders as of yesterday - were going to be signed at the 11th hour, and very few of them would be signed for "slot" value (meaning paid what MLB recommends for a certain pick). Someone told me yesterday that the Tigers' offer to first-round pick Rick Porcello - a high school pitcher from New Jersey who fell in the first round because teams worried about being able to sign him - "begins with a seven." That would mean Porcello would get a $7 million bonus. Wow. Think that's "above slot"?

So the interesting part is that, if and when that happens, Tigers' owner Mike Ilitch will have to look his other owners in the eye and say, "Hey, we're just trying to compete." Chances are, though, that other owners will be doing the same thing, and those who only pay "slot" for their players will be in the minority. David Price, the No. 1 pick overall in the draft by Tampa Bay, has less leverage than Porcello (who's in high school and could just honor his commitment to the University of North Carolina instead), but still, if you're the Rays, you need to sign him if you want to turn around your franchise.

One other wrinkle, and it's one the Nationals are using in the case of Smoker: For picks in rounds 1, 2 and the supplemental round between them (a round in which you get picks if you've lost significant free agents from the year before, and the Smoker pick is part of the compensation package for losing Alfonso Soriano), clubs will now get picks in next year's draft if they don't sign their player. So the Nationals are definitely saying to Smoker - and, in fact, GM Jim Bowden has said publicly - that they will gladly take pick "31B" next year if they don't sign Smoker.

"We walked away from Sean Black last year, and we didn't get anything," Bowden said a couple weeks ago, referring to the high school pitcher from New Jersey they took in the second round and failed to sign. Black ended up at Seton Hall. "We can walk away this year and take 31B."

Maybe so, and given the Nationals' strong feelings about the depth of their draft - they're happy with No. 6 overall Detwiler, supplemental pick Michael Burgess (who's homering at a high rate in the Gulf Coast League), Jake Smolinski and others - maybe they'll do that.

But if - as is expected - there are a flurry of signings in the next 36 hours for well above slot, and the Nationals don't at least sign Smoker (McGeary's a bit different, because there are some people who believe he really just wants to go to college and be drafted in three years again), then this might be a referendum on the Lerners' ownership. They have spent $10 million on two years for Dmitri Young. Would it be worth it to spend a few hundred thousand dollars "over slot" (or, in McGeary's case, probably $1-2 million over slot) to sign two promising young high school pitchers who would immediately become two of your top five pitching prospects?

It'll be interesting. I'll let you know what I know as soon as it happens.

Oh, and in case you missed it: Jason Bergmann with a statistically shaky outing for Columbus last night. He went four innings and gave up three runs, walking three, allowing five hits and striking out three. He threw 73 pitches. I'm all but certain he'll make another start down there.

Talk to you from the ballpark.

(By the way, have we ever had a 200-response topic before (other than when I was on vacation)? What is this, Redskins Insider? You guys are on fire.)

By Barry Svrluga  |  August 14, 2007; 10:06 AM ET
 
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Comments

...and they'll have to go 27-17 to reach 81-81 for the season. :)

Posted by: i hate walks | August 14, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

uh, wouldn't that be 8-36?

Posted by: mathmajor | August 14, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Not a math major. Yes, 8-36 is correct, and it's fixed now.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | August 14, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

That'd be ROSS, not Ryan, right?

Posted by: Rage | August 14, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Redskins? Used to be a decent football team in town by that name. Insensitive name, fall sport, haven't been nearly as fun to follow as the Nats are in years. People still comment about them? This team's run to 75 wins, playing havoc with the NL East pennant race will be far more exciting than the annual fade of Danny's Boys.

Posted by: Section 314 | August 14, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

So, Barry, give it to us straight: are you leaving us next season? Is Yanda being groomed for the beat? It breaks our heart to see you go. Especially with all the coverage you've been giving us with the podcast, journal, gamers and notes. Big shoes to fill.

Posted by: Mick | August 14, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Jeez, Barry... don't you have a proofreader? ;)

-----------------------
That'd be ROSS, not Ryan, right?

Posted by: Rage | August 14, 2007 10:56 AM

Posted by: Matt | August 14, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I'll really be disappointed if they don't sign Smoker, especially after spending 10 mil on a backup 1B. McGeary was always a longshot, so no heartburn there, but paying a bit over slot for Smoker will be worth it.

Posted by: G-town | August 14, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

How much have the Nats already spent on signing this year's draft picks? How much did they spend last year?

A couple hundred grand here and there probably sounds trivial when compared to spending $6+M for the next two years on Meat and Belli, BUT how much are they spending on this draft all together.

A million here and a million there and pretty soon you talking about some real money.

Also, as ROI, you cna spend millions of dollars on a whole host of players and not have 1 of them make it to the show...at least with Meat and Belli you know your going to get SOME return.

Posted by: estuartj | August 14, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

As of today, the Nationals have spent slightly more than $4.8 million on eleven players selected in the first 10 rounds

Posted by: Brian | August 14, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

(raises hand) I used to be a proofreader. Proofreaders are underrated, and computers can't replace them IMO (at least not yet). But I digress. Maybe we should cut our fearless leader a bit of slack. It's just a touch of jet lag, no doubt. But you *did* pick up the sourdough, right Barry?

Feh to the Redskins Insider (ducks). 200 here we come...

---

Rage tsked: Jeez, Barry... don't you have a proofreader? ;)

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 14, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

FYI (non-Nats news)..

Phil Rizutto has died.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/14/AR2007081400524.html?hpid=moreheadlines

Posted by: one of Barry's Babes | August 14, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"A" proofreader? He's got thousands of us, yah?

Posted by: joebleux | August 14, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Forget all this talk of Smoker, McGeary, and the rest. Mick had it right. The biggest question now is if the Post manages to re-sign their hot up-and-coming Svrluga kid. He's been a solid set-up man for years, but some reports indicate that either the Post or another team seeking to acquire the versatile player may be looking to move him to the closer role. The entire sports world is watching with bated breath to discover the fate of this talented young player who may the key to turning his team around.

Posted by: Atlanta | August 14, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Sorry..that would be "Rizzuto"

(speaking of needing proofreaders...)

Posted by: one of Barry's Babes | August 14, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Sa-weet, Atlanta!

---

Forget all this talk of Smoker, McGeary, and the rest. Mick had it right. The biggest question now is if the Post manages to re-sign their hot up-and-coming Svrluga kid. He's been a solid set-up man for years, but some reports indicate that either the Post or another team seeking to acquire the versatile player may be looking to move him to the closer role. The entire sports world is watching with bated breath to discover the fate of this talented young player who may the key to turning his team around.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 14, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone actually ever seen this "Svrluga" of which we speak? Rumor has it that it is simply a Boswell alias...

Posted by: conspiracy theory | August 14, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Interesting point, conspiracy theory. Perhaps the blogmaster should be known henceforth as Svrluga Bar Sinister??

---

Has anyone actually ever seen this "Svrluga" of which we speak? Rumor has it that it is simply a Boswell alias..

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 14, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Well that would certainly explain why the Boz has written about baseball 2 or 3 times this season...

Posted by: Matt | August 14, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

So Hill's back--Who's leaving? Or did I miss it?

Posted by: Section 418 | August 14, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Sect. 418, Traber was sent down (he had options left) and Bacsik went to the 'pen.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 14, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Yeah that one has been going around for some time now.

Anyways, "Barry" not all of the picks will be re-entering the draft next year. HS picks this year can't re-enter until 2010 (after their third year of college).

Posted by: Andrew Stebbins | August 14, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Make that Svrluga Barry Sinister (now I need a proofreader...it's contagious...eeeek!!)

---

Interesting point, conspiracy theory. Perhaps the blogmaster should be known henceforth as Svrluga Bar Sinister??

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 14, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

... why would MLB institute a signing 'slot' if teams are all ignoring it anyway?

... as for Smoker/McGeary, I say ensure you sign one - Smoker, and let McGeary go to school if his heart is set on it. Who knows: he may feel kindly towards an organization which respected him this year and wants to draft/sign him in three years' time.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 14, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

My brother goes to church with Smoker's baseball coach (Calhoun, GA). I asked him to pass the pressure on, but not sure if he did. I'm calling him again...

Posted by: NatsNut | August 14, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Holy Cow!
5 time allstar, MVP 1950
7 World Series Rings!

But, most of us will remember him for all those years announcing Yankee games.

Phil Rizzuto
Be thou at peace!

Posted by: Tom | August 14, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

We need to sign Smoker for the pun potential alone...

Posted by: monikermania | August 14, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

The Nats have scheduled their starters through Saturday with no surprises. I wonder if they were waiting for Bergmann's rehab start in AAA before they decided who would pitch when - and thus who would get bumped.
Starters this week;
Tues - Hill vs Lohse (RHP, 7-12, 4.66ERA)
Wed - Redding vs Kendrick (RHP, 5-2, 3.75)
Thur - Hanrahan vs Hamels (LHP, 12-5, 3.64)
Fri - Chico vs Glavine (LHP, 10-6, 4.25)
Sat - Lannan vs Perez (LHP, 10-8, 3.46)

I like having this top of the rotation against philly. I think a series win is a high probability.

Posted by: estuartj | August 14, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I really hope his change up is his best pitch. I'm a bigger fan of irony than I am of puns.

-----

We need to sign Smoker for the pun potential alone...

Posted by: John in Mpls | August 14, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

In watching the game the other day Sutton seemed to be VERY high on Hanrahan. Do you think he has any input with some of the moves that are made?

Posted by: natrat | August 14, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

They need to sign one of these guys, but I wouldn't sign both. That would be too much money wrapped up in HS pitching prospects. I agree with ESJ. While $6 million for Dmitri and Ronnie seems a lot when considering these signing bonuses, these two guys are PROVEN major league players. The MLB draft is the hardest to predict of any major sport. 1st round flame outs are frequent.

Posted by: #4 | August 14, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The Lerners need to show the fans that they are not going to be running this team on the cheap. It is obvious that "we" are committed to this team and the Lerners need to show that they are committed to us. Get it done Jimbo!

Posted by: Section 420, mjwies11 | August 14, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

It is my considered opinion that this 'Svrluga' person is just Jim Bowden. Seriously, has anyone seen them together at the same time other than Barry's say so? I mean, really, what are they trying to pull over here?

Posted by: SF Fan | August 14, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

How would I ever get anything right without you people? Can you work nights and weekends?

(Changed "Ryan" to "Ross," which would be technically more correct for the name of the Nats' first-round pick.)

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | August 14, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but we'd bill at the overtime rate...

---

How would I ever get anything right without you people? Can you work nights and weekends?

Posted by: proofreader1a | August 14, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't the pressure to not exceed slot value seem a lot like collusion? Haven't the owners been down this path (and lost) before?

Posted by: Ashburn | August 14, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Not I, Barry. Just keep me above the poverty line, and I'm all yours.
----------------------------
Yes, but we'd bill at the overtime rate...

Posted by: proofreader1a | August 14, 2007 12:45 PM

Posted by: Matt | August 14, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Pretty loud silence about you gunning for another job there, Barry. Don't believe the hype Arangure's sending you - he may be getting a big check now, but he still can't write.

Posted by: section 406 | August 14, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

"Can you work nights and weekends?"

... not on your life. There was a time, a couple of centuries ago, when I'd have taken you up on the offer ... but at this stage of life, my personal time is more valuable than any amount of remuneration.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 14, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Barry, I know you have to work during the games, but while the Nats are playing the only thing I work on is my Yuengling and keeping score.

My line for tonight: C'mon Hill, kill the Phils!

A question for the group:

If you were trying to decide between the signing with a major league ballclub and going to college at Stanford, what would you do? Ok, what would you have done when you were that age? I've been thinking about this at red lights for a while now and I don't know, I really don't.

Posted by: i hate walks | August 14, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I would have to choose between my mascot being a tree or an annoying bird? Tough call...

"If you were trying to decide between the signing with a major league ballclub and going to college at Stanford, what would you do?"

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, where has Boswell run off to? Nothing against Wilbon, but I was happy to see Bonds hit 756 just because I thought Boz would HAVE to write a column on it (so much for that...).

Question number two: How worried should we be that Hill is coming up at least one rehab start too early? How ugly could this game get if he's really not up to snuff on his off-speed pitches?

Posted by: just another nats fan | August 14, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Not having seen Hill's performance last week at AAA it's tough to judge how his stuff was, BUT he was getting a ton of ground balls. That would lead you to believe his sinker was working. He didn't give up anything deep which would lead you to believe he was hanging stuff up in the zone.

Also, Bowden's comments that he wanted Hill to work on his secondary pitches would lead you to believe he was working the sinker. I don't know what Hill's secondary pithes are, but if he has the sinker working at all he should, worst case, be able to muddle through 5-6 innings without getting blasted.

Posted by: estuartj | August 14, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

In all seriousness, one of my friends is a beat reporter for another NL team's #1 paper, and he has said repeatedly (I'm copying this from an email he sent me):

"Barry Svrluga is a great, great writer. The people in DC are lucky to have one of the top 3 beat guys in the business."

Concur.

Posted by: Rage | August 14, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

College v. Signing:

If you sign an MLB contract for the kind of money he is going to get, you can: 1) go to Stanford (or anyplace) later if you want to get an education; you'd be able to afford it, or 2) not go to college after all because if you invest that signing bonus well you probably won't need to work much, even if you never make the majors.

However, if you really want to go to college then I would guess: 1) you want to be a typical college kid, which may mean you are not mature enough to be a pro, or 2) you want to work on your game at the college level, which may mean you are not ready to be a pro.

I don't know how much cachet winning big in college has for baseball players. For example, we all know guys like Carmelo Anthony who went to college to win a championship, did it, and now are pros. But I can't name for sure any major leaguers who won the CWS, although some undoubtedly did.

Posted by: B-dogg | August 14, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Stanford?

I'd pick the Nats.

Posted by: Harvard alum | August 14, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Touch snotty there, Harvard alum.

Posted by: B-dogg | August 14, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

"Touch snotty there, Harvard alum."


It's what we're trained for....that, and razzing that bunch from the Bronx.

Posted by: Harvard alum | August 14, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I will waste a couple paragraphs on this topic...

Stanford is a pretty cool place... I used to live in Palo Alto... If you want to be a physicist, doctor, lawyer, radio astronomer, or Secretary of State (see Condoleeza Rice), there are few places better to go to school than Stanford - Please note that I said, 'few better' - not, 'none better'.

If your career path is 'professional baseball player', Stanford is pretty good, but just biting the bullet and signing the darn contract is better.

The reason the offseason is so long is cause that is when you go to school if you're playing pro ball in the summer.

McGeary - just sign the contract.

Posted by: Wigi | August 14, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

You mean Columbia?

"It's what we're trained for....that, and razzing that bunch from the Bronx."

Posted by: estuartj | August 14, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I can't be sure, but I'd have meant the Yankees if I were him...

------------
You mean Columbia?

"It's what we're trained for....that, and razzing that bunch from the Bronx."

Posted by: at MIT | August 14, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Excellent question ihw. I know if it were me THEN, I would definitely take the mlb contract. It would be hard to fight the feeling that this was my only chance; hard to fight off that amount of money and instant gratification.
NOW? Definitely go to college. I think players who went straight from high school to mlb have a very narrow field of experiences and knowledge.
B-dogg: If there's even a remote interest in college, whether for maturity, parties, or (gasp!) the education itself, better go now BEFORE getting all that money he wouldn't need to work for again. Realistically, it would be hard to go back and get a true college experience after being with mlb for even the shortest period of time.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 14, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Well at least you admit it, so you can't be so bad! And Bronx razzing is a plus too.

Despite several degrees I personally am like Peter Gibbons of Office Space - given a million dollars, or large a signing bonus, I'd do nothing all day. (Well, not nothing, but all the reading I want to do but don't have time for, plus gardening, volunteer work...but I digress.)

A friend of a friend was a ML pitching prospect who blew out his arm in the minors, and how just hangs out and lives off his well invested signing bonus.

Posted by: B-dogg | August 14, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

"Anyways, "Barry" not all of the picks will be re-entering the draft next year. HS picks this year can't re-enter until 2010 (after their third year of college)."

Unless they enroll in junior college (which at least two of the unsigned HS guys already have) and in that case they would be eligible in 2008.

Posted by: Brian | August 14, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Bitten by proofreading bug!

NatsNut I agree, the college experience is priceless at the right time in your life. But my point was that the education itself would always lay ready, it is the experience that will change.

I think a big factor in taking the payday would be blowing out your arm in college and not getting the big payday later. Its a small chance but still bigger for pitchers than position players. A $2M bonus is set for life money if you manage it right.

Posted by: B-dogg | August 14, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

just another nats fan asks: "Seriously, where has Boswell run off to?"

He seems to have been assigned to or has volunteered to be the Redskins Gameday Columnist this year, as he was last season. Traditionally the Post has a beat reporter writing about each Redskins game along with not one but two columnists offering a different slant on how and why the Skins lost the game or, on rare occasions, got lucky and won it. (Following the recent debacle, all of these various writers on the Redskins will be required to synchronize their Clinton Portis quotes, but 'twas not always so.) Whatever, though, there will as always be two columnists opining about each and every Skins game this year. For many years, the two columnists were Kornheiser and Wilbon. But then Kornheiser left, and it became Wilbon and Wise. Last year Wilbon abdicated his Redskins gameday duties and the task fell to Wise and Boswell. Looks like that's the lineup for this year as well.

So I wouldn't be surprised if we've seen the last baseball column from Boswell for quite some time. Maybe if some truly huge baseball event occurs, say perhaps like the last game at RFK on 9/23. Nope, there's a Redskins game that day. So while I bet Boswell the fan will show up at RFK that day, Boswell the writer will be no doubt be cutting out of there early to get over to FedEx Field to start gathering material for his column about the Redskins that will run in Monday morning's Post. Maybe if we Nats fans are lucky we'll get a double-team effort from Barry and Sheinin on the RFK sendoff. But it very well might just be Barry...

Posted by: Section 419 | August 14, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

When you consider this year's Nats payroll, and the fact that Kasten, Bowden, and ownership have repeatedly told fans that the focus and the dollars are being put into the farm system, signing BOTH of these kids (Smoker and McGeary) would be a great way for the Lerner's to put their money where their mouth is... to possibly let both of these kids get away would be inexcusable, and I for one would begin to question how committed the Lerner's really are...

Posted by: section 405 | August 14, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

We already do, Barry. Check out some of the time stamps on our comments.

BTW, DON'T YOU DARE GO ANYWHERE!!!!!
_____
How would I ever get anything right without you people? Can you work nights and weekends?

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | August 14, 2007 12:26 PM

Posted by: NatsNut | August 14, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I can't be sure, but I'd have meant the Yankees if I were him...

------------
You mean Columbia?

"It's what we're trained for....that, and razzing that bunch from the Bronx."


Posted by: at MIT | August 14, 2007 01:35 PM

=====================

OF COURSE, the damnyankees. MIT understands completely ! (and by the way, I'm a "her" )

--one of Barry's Babes, using her snottiest alias

Posted by: Harvard alum | August 14, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't want to hear any bull about how $1 or $2 million is too much for either Smoker or McGeary. The Tigers just signed their top draft choice for a $7.2 million signing bonus. THAT is putting your money where your mouth is. The Lerners are billionaires, are they not? (If not, they're close) Sign them both.

Posted by: Matt | August 14, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

My bad! Glad I got the important part right, though :)

Posted by: at MIT | August 14, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Is it pathetic that I remember Phil Rizzuto more for another reason?

"Hi, it's Phil Rizzuto for the Money Store..."

Posted by: DE | August 14, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Loved your irony comment about Smoker, John in Mpls. That would be so great.
________

I really hope his change up is his best pitch. I'm a bigger fan of irony than I am of puns.

Posted by: John in Mpls | August 14, 2007 12:12 PM

Posted by: NatsNut | August 14, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Continuing on that last post, ask yourselves how the Tigers went from the league's worst team to the World Series. The answer is Verlander, Bonderman, and Robertsen. 3 young pitchers. I don't know if they drafted all 3 of them or traded for one or more, but the Tigers have now spent $12.8 million over the last 2 years on 2 1st round pitchers.

Posted by: Matt | August 14, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

as an fyi, columbia could never have been the right answer... it's not in the Bronx. i think we can all agree to boo the damn bombers all you want, no matter how snotty you are or aren't. oh the ties that bind us...

-------------------
I can't be sure, but I'd have meant the Yankees if I were him...

------------
You mean Columbia?

"It's what we're trained for....that, and razzing that bunch from the Bronx."


Posted by: at MIT | August 14, 2007 01:35 PM

=====================

OF COURSE, the damnyankees. MIT understands completely ! (and by the way, I'm a "her" )

--one of Barry's Babes, using her snottiest alias

Posted by: faNATic | August 14, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Good point, Matt. I can think of more than one World Series won almost solely on the shoulders of a couple good pitchers. (Schilling and Johnson, anybody?)

Posted by: just another nats fan | August 14, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Bonderman was traded from the A's... Anyone who has ever read Moneyball would know what Billy Beane thinks of him. I know Verlander was drafted by the Tigers. Robertson was drafted by the Marlins out of college and put in about 4 years in their system. I think he was a rule 5 guy or minor league free agent sign.

Posted by: natrat | August 14, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

"I can think of more than one World Series won almost solely on the shoulders of a couple good pitchers"

He is one potential flaw in THE PLAN. Do you want to win 14 pennants and 1 WS or come in second to the Mets 7 of the next 10 years, but take those three all the way?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

i hate walks ,

... school or pro ball? For me it's a no-brainer: I'd choose school. But part of my reasoning comes from my ignorance about the kind of things that pro teams make available to the prospect.

... for instance, I'd choose school because education is all and forever. But maybe there are plenty of ways the individual doesn't have to give up education when sighing with the team.

... can anyone shed informative light on this part of sports contracts for me?

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 14, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, Barry, I already barely work during the day because of the Journal!

-----

"Can you work nights and weekends?"

Posted by: John in Mpls | August 14, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Most contract for guys in the top 20 rounds have it written in that the team (or MLBPA I can't remember) will pay a certain amount for the player to go back to school after baseball... As you can guess this is RARELY used.

Posted by: natrat | August 14, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"Do you want to win 14 pennants and 1 WS or come in second to the Mets 7 of the next 10 years, but take those three all the way?"

Right now? I'd take either one. Five years from now? I'll probably prefer whichever one I don't get. It's human nature to want what you don't have, and (regrettably) I'm only human.

Posted by: just another nats fan | August 14, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Give Barry a break on the "Ryan/Ross" thing. In fact, I propose that we refer to all of the Nats as "Ryan" by default.

Posted by: Tom Servo | August 14, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Lots of pro athletes finish their education. I hate the argument that "sports are temporary, and education is forever". Maybe in Division III, but that's not who we're talking about.

You here this alot when kids come out of school early to the NFL, but if you were a Sophmore at MIT and microsoft offered you a $2M contract, would anyone say you shouldn't take the job - what in God's name are you getting an education for?

This is even more true of kids out of HS, if you want or need an education you can always go back and get it, but there are precious few chances in anyones life to get the money you'll need to support yourself the rest of your life.

As Samuel Clemens once said "Never let school get in the way of your education"

Posted by: estuartj | August 14, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I miss Yuengling. The closest thing we have here is Leinenkugel's. Both are lagers with odd names from the neighboring state (Leinie's is from Wisconsin), but Yuengling is better.

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Barry, I know you have to work during the games, but while the Nats are playing the only thing I work on is my Yuengling and keeping score.

Posted by: John in Mpls | August 14, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

"... just hangs out and lives off his well invested signing bonus"

... sorry B-dogg, but that doesn't sound like much a life to me. Buy hey. that's coming from an old guy - 61 - who knows a thing or two about 'just kicking around'. It ain't all that pretty.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 14, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Education for its own sake is laudable and even a sort of Platonic ideal in our society. But most people get college degrees so they can get jobs and feed themselves and possibly their families. But, big signing bonus = fed for life = no need for an education b/c no need to work. But if later you wanted to get edumacated for your own edification, your fat signing bonus could write the tuition checks. Only downside is as a "non-traditional" student you'd look pretty creepy hitting on the ladies at keggers.

Posted by: B-dogg | August 14, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Great points estuartj, plus if it is truely the EDUCATION you value and not the 'college experience' then would it be better to go to school right out of college or after a few years of seeing how the real world operates, balancing finances, and investing a large contract? I left college early to play ball and went back to finish later. I would say my GPA that last year was a full point higher than it was the previous three.

Posted by: natrat | August 14, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Seriously? Maybe I'm just young and dumb, but work does nothing (other than the parycheck) but get in the way of my life. To be able to do the things that I love and not have to worry about money? I'm jealous.
---------------------------------

... sorry B-dogg, but that doesn't sound like much a life to me. Buy hey. that's coming from an old guy - 61 - who knows a thing or two about 'just kicking around'. It ain't all that pretty.

Posted by: natscan reduxit

Posted by: Matt | August 14, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

"Jeez, Barry, I already barely work during the day because of the Journal!"

...Amen to that. (Case in point right now...)

------------------
"Give Barry a break on the 'Ryan/Ross' thing. In fact, I propose that we refer to all of the Nats as 'Ryan' by default."

...Even better, don't enunciate. You can cover all of the Ryans and a Brian or two at the same time.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

To correct myself, the actual and correct quote is;

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education"

Posted by: estuartj | August 14, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I'd hate to sit around all day. I vote for college, but I'm not sure I'd be able to turn down a few million instead if real life posed the opportunity.

Posted by: just another nats fan | August 14, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

My crummy college education sure didn't do much in the way of getting me a great job. But hey, that's my fault for getting an English degree.

By the way, the "non-traditional" route actually has its perks, such as being able to legally buy the beer for that kegger.

Posted by: John in Mpls | August 14, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Natscan reduxit: at the threat of dominating this thread with my replies, I'll say I agree with you on principle. I don't think the guy sits around eating Cheetos all day, but rather he doesn't have to do anything he doesn't want to just to earn a buck. It's actually been several years since I heard what he's up to; now that he's 30ish instead of 25ish I'm sure he's finding some way to fill his days.

Personally, if I didn't have to work to pay my mortgage, student loan debt, etc. I'd be happy to work for nothing full-time for the non-profit I volunteer with. There's other ways to find happiness and fulfillment than punching a clock, as I am sure you know from your years of experience. :)

Posted by: B-dogg | August 14, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

estuartj asks the most important question of the day, maybe even of life:

"what in God's name are you getting an education for?"

... I don't want to put words on ESJ's screen, but I suspect his/her answer is "money".

... pretty sad commentary on life in today's world, if that's it. I certainly do all I can to disabuse people of such a narrow and limiting notion.

... but I'm only one old codger. Is there anyone else out there who agrees with me that education is its own reward? ... Anyone??

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 14, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"Is there anyone else out there who agrees with me that education is its own reward?"

Yes.

Posted by: just another nats fan | August 14, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

My experience has led me to believe that people who pay their own way through school come to this conclusion more often than others.

I'd go back for my Master's tomorrow if I could afford it. And, since they're not reopening the English factory any time soon, it obviously wouldn't be for the money.

(You always ask the bigger questions, don't you, Natscan?)

-----

... but I'm only one old codger. Is there anyone else out there who agrees with me that education is its own reward? ... Anyone??

Posted by: John in Mpls | August 14, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I dunno... at the risk of completely straying from baseball as a topic...

I sort of did the same thing as a HS baseball player going pro. I took a job coming out of the military (which I went into straight out of HS) making a lot more money that I deserve/d (being uneducated, IMO). I still have the job now, not because I love it, but because there are a lot of other things I love more (like going to Nats games, for example) that the job pays for. In my opinion, to be a HS baseball player and have the opportunity to do what you love, and get $2 million+ to do it... what could be better? Even if things don't work out, like B-dogg's friend, you still can CHOOSE what you want to do with your life.

Posted by: Matt | August 14, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Education IS its own reward, but at the same time the roof of my house keeps the rain off my head better than my diploma does.

Personally I could spend everyday for a very long time just doing all the reading I wish I had time for, but don't because of a day job and commute time.

I'm not working to have an expensive car and a big TV, I'm working to pay off my student loans. Also I'm working to pay my living expenses, but those I could afford on a non-profit salary but for my student loan debt. So I'm working at a job that pays well and is meaningful, but that I am not totally passionate about. The stuff I care most about I do nights and weekends - spend time with my wife, go to ballgames, take photographs, work in my garden, read books, volunteer.

I think the point is that nowadays a college degree is what a high school diploma was to my parent's generation - a necessary passport to getting a decent job. So I'm not surprised that many people view college as a step into the working world, rather than an ivory tower of knowledge for its own sake.

Posted by: B-dogg | August 14, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

"Is there anyone else out there who agrees with me that education is its own reward?"

Me too. 25 years out of grad school [ so much for being a "Babe"...the truth comes out !] and still haven't stopped taking courses..none of which have any bearing on my job/career, just on my interests (languages, etc.)

Posted by: one of Barry's Babes | August 14, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

B-dogg ... downside? What downside? ;)

Posted by: i hate walks | August 14, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Should Bill Gates have stayed in school?

Don't personally agree that education is its own reward; feel strongly that learning is its own reward.

Does anybody really think McGeary is as good a prospect as Porcello? If not, should he get what Porcello got? How much would you give McGeary? $1,450,000 like Colton Willems last year? $2,000,000? Whatever it takes?

Posted by: Section 419 | August 14, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Keggers notwithstanding, there is another factor -- by the time you're 32, you'll be saying "I just can't throw that curveball like I used to." But you're more likely to be 70 when you say "I just can't read a book like I used to." (if ever) In other words, the window of physical ability is MUCH MUCH shorter. Take the money, try baseball on someone else's nickel, and if it doesn't work, there are worse things than starting Stanford at 25. They won't let you play baseball, but you'll have more time for studying and hitting on the grad students at keggers. (You might have a taste for better beer by then, but that's what the signing bonus is for.)

Posted by: section 406 | August 14, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Sect. 419 - well done to bring us back to baseball.

If the Nats are as high on Mr. Stanford as they claim to be, putting their money where their mouth is to nail down a top prospect for the organization would be a welcome sign of being serious about the future. On the other hand, if the pick was a flier on someone they knew would be hard to sign and weren't totally sold on then they should let him go.

I am for the organization sending messages to the fans. The message I've been getting all year at the ballpark is: "Look at all the girders and such on the scoreboard graphics - wait until next year when we are in the new ballpark! Pay no mind to this year's team...."

Posted by: B-dogg | August 14, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I dunno, I'm neither a scout nor a GM, so I don't know what they're worth, or what Porcillo is really worth (shocker, I know). My point was that I think both of them would sign (from what we've heard) for $2 mil or so at the max. The Tigers spent $7.3 mil on ONE 1st-round pitcher. Would it be the crime of all crimes if we spent the same on THREE?

----------------------------
Does anybody really think McGeary is as good a prospect as Porcello? If not, should he get what Porcello got? How much would you give McGeary? $1,450,000 like Colton Willems last year? $2,000,000? Whatever it takes?

Posted by: Section 419

Posted by: Matt | August 14, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I'd pay McGeary whatever it takes, but I'm pretty cheap, so I'd cringe about it. I got the impression that The Plan was to get lots of young talent. And the point of getting actual owners was finally having someone to throw around money for the benefit of the team. Why spend $611 mil on a team to watch it lose, when you could throw out another 5 every year and build a champ?

Posted by: just another nats fan | August 14, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Isn't there a game tonight? The last time we faced Lohse we hung 7 runs on him in 4.2 innings, including 2 HRs (Church and Schneider). I say we play a little guess the line-up before Barry posts it from the stadium.

1. Lopez
2. Logan
3. Zimmerman
4. Young
5. Church
6. Belliard
7. Schneider
8. Kearns
9. Hill


Posted by: estuartj | August 14, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The consensus seems to be that McGeary would have been a first rounder were it not for question of his signability. If the Nats scouting personnel agrees, why not offer him first-round money?

It'd go a long way to show confidence in the scouting department, prove to fans that management is serious about improving the farm system, and potential free agents that we're willing to pay what a player is worth. Even if he doesn't sign, it looks good.

Of course, it's easy for me to write checks with someone else's money, especially considering the fact that I have $82 in my checking account (but I'd be willing to give $20 of it to sign the kid).

Posted by: John in Mpls | August 14, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Works for me, Tom Servo.

---

Give Barry a break on the "Ryan/Ross" thing. In fact, I propose that we refer to all of the Nats as "Ryan" by default.

Posted by: ryansfan1a | August 14, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Hope that's where our hitters of the future come from...

Posted by: school of hard knocks | August 14, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

The thing is, a professional baseball contract is not 'just another job', and one cannot make the same assumptions about skipping college for pro baseball that you might for skipping college and playing football, or even basketball... College football and basketball are essentially the minor leagues for those sports, and so going to college is consistent with pursuing a career in those sports. In baseball, at best, college baseball is parallel to the minor league system, and as far as the teams are concerned, it is secondary, because in the current minor league system, the major league teams have control of the players in their system.

Any kid that is basically a first-round talent AND got into Stanford has the expectation of being top one percent of whatever it is he chooses do to... so I am sure he has his sights on professional baseball (and probably the US Senate, afterwards). Sign the contract... go to Stanford in the offseason. Buy a house in Palo Alto with the bonus money.

Posted by: Wigi | August 14, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Ah, 100 posts before the lineups come in. We really are on fire.

Official site points out that the Nats are just 4-14 on Tuesday games this season.

I like the lineup, estuartj, but do we have word that the Meat is no longer tender?

Posted by: John in Mpls | August 14, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm only speculating here, but I would bet all 82 of John's dollars that he didn't just get into Stanford based on his SATs.

Posted by: just another nats fan | August 14, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

You know, now that you mention it, let him go to school. This town needs another aspiring politician like LA needs another aspiring actress. :)

------------------------------
I am sure he has his sights on professional baseball (and probably the US Senate, afterwards).

Posted by: Wigi

Posted by: Matt | August 14, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I do. So does natsfan1c (he's currently studying philosophy just for fun)

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Natscan asks plaintively: Is there anyone else out there who agrees with me that education is its own reward? ... Anyone??

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 14, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

looking forward to being at the game tonight (and hopefully watching us smack Lohse around again, this time for a different team)... guess the lineup entry:

1. Logan (given that his OBP is going up but he still can't do anything more than slap singles, we should use Lopez's power (potential) in the 2-hole)
2. Lopez
3. Zimmerman
4. Young (hopefully)
5. Church
6. Kearns
7. Belliard
8. Schneider
9. Hill

Posted by: faNATic | August 14, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

From the personnel section of today's Post:

"Manager Manny Acta said he expects 1B Dmitri Young (hamstring tightness) to be back in the lineup Tuesday. Young didn't start the past four games."

---
I like the lineup, estuartj, but do we have word that the Meat is no longer tender?

Posted by: just another nats fan | August 14, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

"Education IS its own reward, but at the same time the roof of my house keeps the rain off my head better than my diploma does."

... a sensible response, B-dogg, and I can't argue with that. There is nothing that gratifies me more than good common sense.

... as a bit of background (having nothing whatever to do with anything of importance), I have stressed education in previous posts, but have only HS equivalency myself. So I believe it is clearly possible to be quite intelligent (me) and still make the wrong decisions (me again).

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 14, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Ah, now who's writing checks with someone else's money?

-----

I'm only speculating here, but I would bet all 82 of John's dollars that he didn't just get into Stanford based on his SATs.

Posted by: John in Mpls | August 14, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

WTOP radio sez that the Nats have a press conference scheduled for 4:30. Maybe we'll hear something re. McGeary and Smoker then (and maybe our line-up will be delayed a bit due to that). Speaking of which, tender Meat = good one!

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 14, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

ESJ:

... boy you really stuck it to Austin didn't you? maybe he'll read your line-up, get totally ticked off, and come to the park to play.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 14, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Stanford is a bit unusual in that they don't have a different admission standard for athletes. If you got in, you have the SAT juice to get it done there.

Matt: the problem is, he's already an aspiring politician... May as well know where he spends his spring breaks (Viera).

The other side of the coin, which has only lightly been touched upon is that bonus money is a one-time cost, and if there ever was a place where the Nats shouldn't scrimp is in restocking the minor league system. If McGeary is a top-60 pick, get him... overspend a little now... it is cheap compared to what he gets you when he's 22, either in wins or in trade.

Posted by: Wigi | August 14, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

"Would it be worth it to spend a few hundred thousand dollars 'over slot' (or, in McGeary's case, probably $1-2 million over slot) to sign two promising young high school pitchers who would immediately become two of your top five pitching prospects?"

Pros:

1. You get them into the fold early on, when their ceiling is highest.
2. You avoid exposing your club to charges of collusion from the players' union.
3. You avoid exposing your club to charges of cheapness from the fans.
4. If not now, when?

Cons:

1. High school arms are riskier than college arms. (Just know that. Don't let it drive you nuts, but don't fail to be mindful of it.)
2. They don't get to go straight to college. (Maybe. Or maybe they can work it some way during the offseason, as other posters have noted.)
3. This is serious coin you're thinking of parting with here. Can it be spent no better elsewhere? (Maybe, but how much better?)
4. Is there a big hurry to act? (Kind of. This franchise is still pretty ragged, and won't improve by waiting around to hit the lottery.)

Considering the "pros," plus the somewhat mitigated "cons," I say go for it, Nats.

Posted by: Hendo | August 14, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Wigi, as a former SFO Bay Area resident, I daresay that he'd need one heck of a signing bonus to do that...

---

Buy a house in Palo Alto with the bonus money.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 14, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

"he's currently studying philosophy just for fun"

... I've been invited to do the same thing here, by an Anglican priest friend who's now teaching philosophy. But damn it; his classes are all in the day time.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 14, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Excellent, thank you.

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"Manager Manny Acta said he expects 1B Dmitri Young (hamstring tightness) to be back in the lineup Tuesday. Young didn't start the past four games."

Posted by: John in Mpls | August 14, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Hendo, as to Con 4 - ironically, Smoker and McGeary ARE what the lottery gave us (via the scouting and drafting work of the front office) this time around.

Waiting around to keep "hitting the lottery" - both literally and metaphorically - each year only to fail to sign the prospects we draft will lead to those charges of cheapness that we are all hoping the Lerners would dearly like to avoid.

Posted by: faNATic | August 14, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Regarding McGeary, I'm sure we have offered him first round money. I'm sure there has been some discussion between McGreary's people and ours on exactly what number that really means. All that might in fact be academic however, since it seems more and more likely that there essentially is no number that would bring him in...no realistic number anyway.

Posted by: estuartj | August 14, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Natsfan1a: tell me about it... I have a house in Mountain View. You can still get a house in Palo Alto under $1.2 million...

Posted by: Wigi | August 14, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Oh, that's too bad, natscan!

---

... I've been invited to do the same thing here, by an Anglican priest friend who's now teaching philosophy. But damn it; his classes are all in the day time.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 14, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Ah, if only my parents had kept the Santa Clara house where I grew up...

---

Wigi notes: tell me about it... I have a house in Mountain View. You can still get a house in Palo Alto under $1.2 million...

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 14, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

New post from Barry folks...

Posted by: NatsNut | August 14, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

True, faNATic, but if they don't sign Smoker, they get the same pick - sort of - next year. This is a bit of a gamble, though, since there's no telling if the player available there next year will be the same caliber as Smoker (or whether he will have as cool of a name).

They didn't have the same concession last year, and they still passed on Sean Black.

As for McGeary, estuartj sums up the negotiations rather aptly: "All that might in fact be academic." Exactly.

-----

Waiting around to keep "hitting the lottery" - both literally and metaphorically - each year only to fail to sign the prospects we draft will lead to those charges of cheapness that we are all hoping the Lerners would dearly like to avoid.

Posted by: John in Mpls | August 14, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

natsfan1a: My boyfriend grew up in Santa Clara, and his parents still live there... same house for 30-something years. Can you imagine what that must be worth??

Posted by: JennX | August 14, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

JennX, I can only imagine...

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My boyfriend grew up in Santa Clara, and his parents still live there... same house for 30-something years. Can you imagine what that must be worth??

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 14, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the Lerners are cheap. That old Rosenthal article was Balto v. DC. I am saying that the Nats are going to sign both remaining draft picks.

Posted by: 6th and D | August 14, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

"New post from Barry folks...

Posted by: NatsNut | August 14, 2007 03:27 PM "


Huh? Who's Barry ?

Posted by: ntr Tom Boswell | August 14, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I get absolutely no respect...

Posted by: Barry's thought bubble | August 14, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

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