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2008 Post Baseball Preview

Before we get started, a reminder that I have the final chat of the spring today at 1 p.m. Please join me from Disney. We have much to discuss.

Moving on.

Even if you're used to reading the online version of the Post here, I'd recommend going out and purchasing the $.50 edition today. It's one of my favorite days of the year, Special Baseball Section Day, and I always think it looks better in newsprint than on-line.

That said, for those of you in, say, Minneapolis or Anchorage, I'll try to provide the best links to the section here.

Here's the overall section.

Sheinin wrote the cover story, which links the development of ballparks with the development of ballclubs. A Nats theme, no doubt.

Boz has one last wistful look at RFK, though it's tied to this team.

Graphics ace Bonnie Berkowitz came up with some gems. There's a look at the history of teams going into new parks and what it meant on the field.

There's also a really good breakdown of the stats of Nationals at home and on the road, giving a good look at the RFK effect, which will evaporate, presumably, over the next several months.

My contributions have to do with the Nationals themselves. Here's the position-by-position breakdown. This would be a look at the pitching staff.

On those two pages (which are laid out nicely in the links on PDFs), you might notice that I picked Ryan Zimmerman and Shawn Hill as "impact players." That might seem strange in Hill's case, considering he starts the year on the DL. But I really think there's no more important person in the Nationals' rotation. If he's healthy -- obviously a gigantic "if" -- I think his numbers will be there. If he's not, then one of the kids -- most likely John Lannan -- will be thrust into the rotation.

And in case you haven't seen it, here's a PDF of tickets and seating and Nationals Park.

There's also the regular ol' sports section stuff, with a look at your Opening Night starter, Odalis Perez. And if you were wondering what the bullpen's ERA is over the course of the spring, it's in the notebook. (Hint: It's between 1.37 and 1.39, which, technically speaking, is not terrible.)

Hope you enjoy all that. Again, I'd rather see the printed product, but with all those PDFs, you'll get a decent idea of a lot of it -- even if you can't buy it.

I'll talk to you from Disney, where Matt Chico is on the mound at 1:05 p.m.

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 26, 2008; 6:05 AM ET
 
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Next: Roster to be set today

Comments

I agree, Barry- the Baseball Preview is my favorite special section of the year. I devoured it on the train. You know, figuratively.

Posted by: Positively Half St | March 26, 2008 6:37 AM | Report abuse

From earlier -
Well #4 & I agree on most things, but this SABR discussion (which probably doesn't belong on this forum anyway) will be something that we disagree on. My final...Mr. Cub played in the friendly confines and Stephens played during WWII and pre-integration so his early numbers are iffy.

And now for the pertinent conversation. I watched Doug Hill last night. We all wanted that opening game on Sunday night, in front of the largest audience. Be careful what you wish for...you might get it. Oh, well! I'll get a chance to wear my Nats' gear. All of it! At the same time!

Posted by: Catcher50 | March 26, 2008 6:42 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the head's up, Barry. I picked up some dead trees in exchange for some dead presidents.

I'm psyched about Nick Johnson's lightning bolts. Awesome.

I'm not psyched that nobody on planet NJ has reported getting an email that said they HAVE won the right to buy OD ticx. I got the one that said I haven't won, just like the others have reported.

I'm really, really anxious to know if they will be selling ticx on Sunday at the park.

Posted by: i hate walks | March 26, 2008 7:48 AM | Report abuse

As I find them, I will share predictions from other papers around the country.

NY Daily News:

ATL 96-66
NYM 87-75
PHI 84-78
WAS 75-87
FLA 68-94

And as a bonus: BAL 59-103

Posted by: Positively Half St | March 26, 2008 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Here was the link for that one:

http://multimedia.nydailynews.com/pdf/2008/03/26/nleast.pdf

Posted by: Positively Half St | March 26, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

I've been a Boz fan for years and thought that he is one of the classic baseball writers, but is it just me or do nearly all of his articles this spring seem very pesimistic and negative for someone whose been waiting for baseball to return to DC for 30+ years like the rest of us? Don't know if he's having to hide his excitement for the opening of new park. Or maybe the upgrade in talent, though no superstars, but an upgrade non-the-less.

Posted by: FFNatsfan11 | March 26, 2008 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Barry, when is the "Nats-centric" baseball preview section that you mentioned being published? Surely you couldn't have been talking about the section that came out today, right?

Posted by: Coverage is Lacking | March 26, 2008 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Nothing lacking here. A beautiful and informative use of newsprint. Proof that you can have good writing, good coverage, and insightful opinions under a single banner. I'm guessing that all told there were hundreds of hours of labor cost devoted toward putting that package together. Served up in multiple media and a chat today. You'd have to be greedy curmudgeon not to appreciate the effort being applied. Perhaps a gentle acknowledgement of that from the peanut gallery? Anyone?

Posted by: NatBisquit | March 26, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Sorry C50. I can't resist.

You're right that we agree on most things. I also perhaps have an unhealthy need to prove, despite my great affinity for the WAY he played the game, that Cal is one of the more overrated performers of all time. Despite or maybe because of living in DC since my family moved here in 1968, I've had a life long dislike for the O's. It probably was formulated during the last Senators' years when the O's would come to town and beat them. It was confirmed when my rooting interest was transferred to the Tigers as a result of my family's Michigan roots. You may remember last year that during a lull in Nats talk, I asserted that Cal would not and should not be a Hall of Famer if his career had not included the streak.

Ernie Banks definitely benefited from hitting in Wrigley. His HR rate is about 30% higher there than on the road. Nonetheless, even adjusting for that he is still at least as good a power hitting SS as Cal Ripken. Vern Stephens' best HR years as a SS were 1948, 1949, and 1950. His HR averages improve if you don't include the war years.

OK. Enough of that. I promise my next posts, like today's Post baseball preview, will be Nats-centric.

Posted by: #4 | March 26, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Did I miss out on something this off-season? The Atlanta Braves with 96 wins? More than Philly and the Mets? Is that justifiable?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | March 26, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

What is this weird obsession with superstars? Troy Tulowitsgtyiaski (I'm not even going to pretend I can) was unheard of until last year. When was Matt Holiday famous? David Ortiz was washed up at one point. Who wants Greg Maddux pitching now? Barry Bonds is available (until a conviction is announced, at least). Really, I don't see why acquiring a known superstar really makes a difference, when we could have tomorrow's superstar right now.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | March 26, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

The lottery did me sweet! 235, 2 tix! Go Nats!

Posted by: Bethesda | March 26, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of tomorrow's superstars, did anyone look at Rob Neyer's predictions of the top 50 stars for hte next 5 years? #6 - Ryan Zimmerman. But he's only the second best 3d baseman from the Tidewater area (Wright #1) and only the 3d best from the NL East last year (Cabrera #3). Oh, and only the second best product of the Expos / Nats system (Sizemore #4). Hanlyey #2, Johan #5.
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/preview08/columns/story?columnist=neyer_rob&id=3310373

Posted by: PTBNL | March 26, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure i disagree with that prediction. I personally think the braves could easily finish better then the mets, and I could even see the mets battling us for 4th if everything goes as wrong as possible. All i hear about this year is the mets vaunted pitching staff, which, minus johan, isthe same staff (minus glavine) that stunk all of last year. While Johan is a big pickup, show of hands for people who believe Pedro makes more starts then shawn hill. I think maine can be much improved, but El Duque is about 150 years old and oliver perez is a slightly more sporadic daniel cabrerra.

On top of that, the mets lineup is NOT GOOD this year. Even if delgado bounces back (not likely considering age and steroid testing) then it leaves them a solid 1-5 in the lineup. This year they have 4 easy outs and an average age of about 40 outside of reyes and wright.

Atlanta has a solid pitching staff which should be the best in the NL east and could be one of the best in the NL if health isnt an issue (not likely). They have a productive lineup that should be better then last year with the loss of Andruw's anemic bat and a full year of Tex. My completely baseless predictions have something along the lines of:

Phils 93-69 (pitching not as bad as everyone says)
Braves 88-74
Mets 86-76 (maybe they'll collapse again too)
Nats 75-87 (i'll allow for some improvement although realistically the pitching regresses to the bottom)
Fish 72-90 (I actually dont think theyre going to be wholly awful this year, always have some good young kids)

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | March 26, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

catcher50, you're talking about temperatures, right? i hope... weather.com says 53/40 hi/lo for the day and 10% chance of precip. april games are always a good candidate for that nats jacket, this one won't be any different. the only thing i feared at all was rain.

Posted by: 231 | March 26, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Somebody may need to reel me back in on this one, but is it completely out of this universe (including Jupiter, the town and the planet) that we take care of everything in one blockbuster. I mean with the emergence of Hanrahan (I'm banging, not just knocking, on some wood) to be productive - package of Chief, D. Young (as a DH), and FLop to somebody for a legit top-level prospect or frontline starter?

I understand those are 3 expensive players but hey, why not? The Yanks can afford it and they'll take all the hitters they can get, and they're looking for bullpen help: send us one of those stud arms ya got.

Posted by: Corey | March 26, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

A big hearty cheer for the layout folks at the Post. My personal favorite: Milledge and Kearns high-fiving over the paragraph divider on the line-up analysis.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | March 26, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

yes, i think it's completely out of the universe. none of those three would be good for a rebuilding team. and no contender is going to trade away a top starter.

Posted by: 231 | March 26, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

"Barry, when is the "Nats-centric" baseball preview section that you mentioned being published? Surely you couldn't have been talking about the section that came out today, right?"

Stop trolling for once.

Posted by: Everyone Else | March 26, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Just wanted to anonymously compliment #4 and Catcher50 for one of the most entertaining discussion to observe. The history of power hitting shortstops. An observation relevant to Zimmerman: Most big power SS gorw their way out of the position. I'd add Rico Petrocelli and project Hanley Ramirez.

Posted by: regular poster | March 26, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I am not trolling
I post here regularly
And I do haiku

Posted by: Coverage is Lacking | March 26, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I agree with everything you say 231, but you missed one part of what I said.

A contending team could trade away a top prospect. Granted, they'd have to be a financially stable team due to the salary they'd pick-up vs the little salary they'd dump.

Hey Opening Day isn't quite yet here, it's still spring - get in those last few days of optimistic hoping and unrealistic ideas.

Posted by: Corey | March 26, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Awesome baseball spread today. I devoured it too.

The Express's version isn't half bad either. Today's was the best food summary I've seen yet. I didn't know that 5-Guys made the cut! Yahoo! The food options are really going to be fantastic.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 26, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Got my lottery tix--2 in 236

Posted by: chime121 | March 26, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Bethesda- Congats on the tickets.

As for the Baseball Preview, I thought it was more Nats-centric than ever before. The front page showed only Nats. The lead story and Column were only about the Nats. The Orioles did get player profiles, but beyond that, it was the team-by-team capsules across baseball that you want to get in any baseball preview.

Great job!

Posted by: Positively Half St | March 26, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

i'm starting to think our next major acquisition is going to be from the draft. we don't have nearly as many picks as last year so it will be interesting to see how it plays out. i'm thinking we draft another pitcher with the #9 pick. we should still get a high potential stud there.

i'm also starting to think we'll resign guzman to a belliard/meathook type deal if he's decent through the all-star break. seems like we intend to find our future shorstop on the international front from a group of 16 year olds. that's fine but even i would like to know when we are going to connect the dots.

go nats!

Posted by: longterm | March 26, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

i still don't see those three bringing a top pitching prospect, either. flopez has little to no trade value right now, dmitri may have some if he proves he's healthy, but not probably a B level at best (btw, the yankees already have too many DHs). chad is the only one of the three with any real value, but a team like the yankees would view him as a 7th inning guy (with chamberlain and mo), so he wouldn't have much value to them. a lot of teams that were potentially interested in him last year and in the offseason wanted him as a setup guy, not a closer, so his value would be minimized in a deal like that.

Posted by: 231 | March 26, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Of course I'm talking about temp / rain. Does Doug Hill discuss anything else? That is why I have always wanted MLB to figure a way to go back to a 154 game schedule, with some scheduled Double Headers, so about 68 home dates. Yeah, like that is going to happen!

BTW, on predictions. I have for the past few years operated on the theory that either the Mets or Phillies (or both) would find a way to tank.

Posted by: Catcher50 | March 26, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

You know what, CiL?

Post of the day.

-----

I am not trolling
I post here regularly
And I do haiku

Posted by: John in Mpls | March 26, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Well played, 231. Well played.

Oh well, just throwing crap against the wall - it all appears to be covered in teflon though.

Posted by: Corey | March 26, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Sorry for late post to previous challenge.

Haircuts do matter
As Nationals Players Know
NJ sets standard

Posted by: Section 311 | March 26, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

TOTALLY agree, John in Mpls, post of the day to Coverage before 10:00. Well played.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | March 26, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Looks like that poser at the other fish wrap has lost interest in his blog. And even when he does blog he steals Barry's stuff (e.g., town not planet). For consistency, quality, timeliness, etc... NJ rules!

Can we get a recount on the vote to include Dave Sheinin as a regualr contributor? A few dissenters cast him out, but I still think we have room for a few MLB items here from time to time.

Posted by: NatBisquit | March 26, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

belliard batting 8th?

Posted by: davidson | March 26, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

umm... so doug predicted rain? and yes, i know who he is, but he could predict clear skies, too, right? i'm sure he predicts something other than rain sometimes. :P

anyway, that was my point. i'm fine if it's cool out there, i expect that. but i haven't seen anything predicting rain on sunday (altho i didn't watch doug hill).

Posted by: 231 | March 26, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

CiL, as you know I take issue with your positions from time to time, but that was a great comeback.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | March 26, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Sixteen great pages
Two of them on the O's, so
C-i-L is sad

Posted by: Capitol Hill | March 26, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

belliard batting 8th?

Good choice to hit in front of a weak hitting pitcher, he doesn't need to be protected as much as most batters to be effective.

Posted by: kgwcoach | March 26, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

The baseball preview section was very well done. A little too much O's coverage for me but, hopefully as the years pass, they will eventually be squeezed out almost entirely.

I've got to say, this whole OD ticket situation has been and continues to be a complete fiasco. It started with them treating 20 gamers poorly, then they release a few thousand tickets and it's a scalpers paradise and hundreds of tickets immediately ended up on Stub Hub. Now, they have a ticket lottery but, there is no real information about approximately how many are being released. And to top it all off, they still have not given any a clear answer as to when the $5 grand seats will be made available.

I have my OD tickets but, I feel for those who are still trying to get them and can't afford to be fleeced by Stub Hub.

Stan, please stop running your yapper about going Metro and concentrate a little more on "regular folks" getting tickets.

Posted by: Section 505/203 | March 26, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I've got to say, this whole OD ticket situation has been and continues to be a complete fiasco. It started with them treating 20 gamers poorly, then they release a few thousand tickets and it's a scalpers paradise and hundreds of tickets immediately ended up on Stub Hub. Now, they have a ticket lottery but, there is no real information about approximately how many are being released. And to top it all off, they still have not given any a clear answer as to when the $5 grand seats will be made available.

I have my OD tickets but, I feel for those who are still trying to get them and can't afford to be fleeced by Stub Hub.

Stan, please stop running your yapper about going Metro and concentrate a little more on "regular folks" getting tickets.

Posted by: Section 505/203 | March 26, 2008 10:39 AM
------------------------------------
Thanks for the comment 502/503. I am one of the 20-gamers that got fleeced. When my wife and I found out we didn't win the lottery, she almost broke down, which made my daughter start to cry. I can't afford StubHub. At least we have the exhibition game, but looking at the forecast, there's a chance of rain on Saturday. If so, man am I going to be more p-o'd than I am right now.

Posted by: e | March 26, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

they treated the 20gamers poorly for OD tickets? 20 gamers got first shot at additional tickets, before 41/82 gamers.

how would the team have handled "scalpers" differently? they're going to be a big part of any big event like this. it's impossible to avoid.

i'm not one to defend the FO on a lot of things, particularly tickets over the first couple of seasons, but i don't see how 20 gamers and scalpers are the issue. remember, a whole lot of those stub hub tickets were probably from STHs.

Posted by: 231 | March 26, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Sports Illustrated:

1.New York Mets 91 71
2 Philadelphia Phillies 86 76
3 Atlanta Braves 85 77
4 Washington Nationals 73 89
5 Florida Marlins 72 90

Orioles- 64 - 98

Posted by: Positively Half St | March 26, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Here's the Nats press release regarding Opening Day, which has information on the $5 tickets (courtesy of 320):

WASHINGTON NATIONALS HOST INAUGURAL GAME AT NATIONALS PARK ON SUNDAY, MARCH 30 AT 8:15 PM
The Washington Nationals will host the Atlanta Braves at 8:15 pm in the Inaugural Game at Nationals Park, their new home on South Capitol Street, SE in the Capitol Riverfront District. The Nationals open the 2008 Major League Baseball season with this true "home opener", which will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

Nationals Park gates will open four and a half hours prior to the first pitch at 3:30pm. All guests will receive a red Curly "W" lanyard and a "Welcome Home" rally towel as they enter the ballpark. Fans are encouraged to enter early and enjoy the various amenities and entertainment options available at Major League Baseball's most spectacular new venue, including the Red Porch Restaurant and Strike Zone kids area, located in the Center Field Plaza. As spectators exit the Navy Yard Metro Station onto Half Street, they will be greeted by the music of the Sheiks of Dixie, a local Dixieland jazz band. The Ringers, a Washington, DC barbershop quartet, will entertain guests as they make their way to the Center Field Gate. Face painters, balloon artists and stilt walkers will welcome fans at the entrance to the Center Field Plaza. Additional Opening Night entertainment may be found inside the ballpark, including the Mambo Combo, a regional zydeco band, Washington, DC guitarist Brian Gross staged in the Lexus Presidents Club, and face painters, caricaturists and balloon artists throughout the Main Concourse. Fans will have the opportunity to view the both the Braves and the Nationals batting practice as Atlanta takes the field at approximately 4:30 pm followed by Washington at 5:45 pm. The Nats Express, the free shuttle for fans who choose to park for free at RFK Stadium, will depart from RFK beginning at 3:00 pm and run continuously until one and a half hours after the final out.

Pre-game ceremonies, led by Nationals Television Broadcaster and Hall-of-Fame Pitcher Don Sutton, will begin at approximately 7:45 pm with the Nationals "Welcome Home" video, shown on the 102' X 47' HDTV scoreboard. Following the video, two giant American Flags will be unfurled in the outfield by the DC National Guard. The American Flag unfurling will be followed by with a flyover by four F-16s from the 121st Fighter Squadron of the DC Air National Guard. The Washington Nationals 2008 roster will then be introduced, followed by the presentation of the colors by the Joint Services Color Guard. The National Anthem will be performed by Denyce Graves, recognized worldwide as one of today's most exciting vocal stars. Denyce is a native Washingtonian and Duke Ellington School for Performing Arts graduate. The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown out by the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush, for the first time since 2005, when baseball returned to the District and he held the honor at RFK Stadium. The President will be escorted to the pitchers mound by Nationals Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. Lerner, Nationals Manager Manny Acta and Nationals Third Baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Following the ceremonial first pitch, Washington, DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty will start the game and a new Nationals tradition with "Washington....Let's Play Ball". American Idol finalist Elliot Yamin, a Richmond, Virginia native, will perform "God Bless America" prior to the Seventh Inning Stretch.

Grandstand tickets for Opening Night, in Sections 401 and 402, may be purchased for $5 at the Nationals Park Main Box Office, located on Half and N Streets, beginning at 3:30 pm on March 30. Fans may not camp out on Nationals Park grounds or line up for tickets prior to 3:00 pm. Fans may purchase only one ticket per person and must immediately enter the ballpark through the Center Field gates, located next to the Main Box Office. Please note, fans may not re-enter the ballpark once they exit through the gates at any time. The Grandstand seats are available for purchase only on day of game when gates open at Nationals Park, normally two and a half hours prior to first pitch.

"The Washington Nationals are excited to offer these affordable seats for the Inaugural Game at Nationals Park," said Nationals Team President Stan Kasten. "Fans who purchase these tickets will be asked to enter the ballpark immediately to ensure these tickets remain in the hands of the loyal fans who have anxiously awaited the opening of the ballpark."

Posted by: Bob L. Head | March 26, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Man, Barry, you've been holding out on us.

"'He's one of the favorite teammates I've ever had,' right fielder Austin Kearns said [of Belliard]."

For a guy who plays the game the right way - and appreciates other guys who do the same - this is a big quote. I think I had underplayed the notion that Belliard on the bench would hurt the clubhouse. I stand corrected.

I find it very cool that, even though Barry talks to us every day, he's still able to sneak something fresh into the preview. An official saying Hanrahan is a closer? I know we talked about it briefly here, but to hear someone in the know say it lends it a bit more credence, and it certainly calls into question the future of Cordero or Rauch.

Great preview. I'll get someone back East to pick up a copy for me to see it in its true splendor.

Posted by: John in Mpls | March 26, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Yay barbershop quartet.

Boo rally towels. Seriously, it's not Pittsburgh.

Posted by: John in Mpls | March 26, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse


Well said, Bobblehead.

---
CiL, as you know I take issue with your positions from time to time, but that was a great comeback.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | March 26, 2008 10:23 AM

Posted by: i hate walks | March 26, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

"20 gamers got first shot at additional tickets, before 41/82 gamers."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

20 gamers didn't get "additional" tickets. OD is not on the 20 game plan. 41/81 gamers have OD and then got a shot at additional OD tickets as well, which is a perk they deserve.

In 2005-2007, 20 gamers got the chance to buy the amount on their plan. So really, the 20 gamers that suffered are ones that have 3 or more, like frequent NJ poster "e".

And only a knucklehead would believe that no STH put their tickets up on Stub Hub. I am fully aware that a good number did. However, only a knucklehead would believe that a good amount of those tickets on Stub Hub are not from true scalpers.

Posted by: Section 505/203 | March 26, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

"i'm starting to think our next major acquisition is going to be from the draft. we don't have nearly as many picks as last year so it will be interesting to see how it plays out. i'm thinking we draft another pitcher with the #9 pick. we should still get a high potential stud there."

Posted by: longterm | March 26, 2008 10:01 AM

__________________________________________

Longterm's comment got me thinking, "What do you get for the 9th pick in the baseball draft?" I chose to look at the 15 years between 1990 -2004, so that the results wouldn't be skewed by recent draftees who haven't had a chance to pan out. Here are the results:

Flame Outs: Guys who never made the big leagues along with the highest level they achieved: 33%

2004 Christopher Nelson SS Rockies High A
2001 Colt Griffin P Royals AA
2000 Mark Phillips P Padres High A
1993 Matt Brunson SS Tigers High A
1990 Ron Walden P Dodgers High A

Marginal Big Leaguers: 26%

2003 John Danks P Rangers
1998 Sean Burroughs 3B Padres
1994 CJ Nitkowski P Reds
1991 Mark Smith OF Orioles


Solid Big Leaguers: 26%

1997 Michael Cuddyer INF Twins
1996 Mark Kotsay OF Marlins
1995 Geoff Jenkins OF Brewers
1992 Preston Wilson OF Mets

Very Good Big Leaguers:13%

2002 Jeff Francis P Rockies
1999 Barry Zito P A's

So, from this data it appears that the Nats have about a 2 in 5 chance of drafting someone who will help the big league club in a significant way. They have about a 1 in 10 chance of getting someone who is a "stud". Even that's a stretch since I wouldn't necessarily consider Francis or Zito studs. They have been front of the rotation pitchers though for successful teams.

Posted by: #4 | March 26, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I agree John in Mpls. As a Steeler fan there is only on true original towel and that is the "Terrible Towel"

They need to come up with something better.

Perhaps a sock to stuff in Clint's mouth or Stan the Plan so, we don't have to hear him say "Go Metro" again.

Posted by: Section 505/203 | March 26, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

sorry, poor choice of words, 505/203. "additional" wasn't meant as "in addition to your current OD tix," i know 20gamers didn't get those. but as in "the non-STH tickets."

and i'm sure there were plenty bought by scalpers as well. that's what happens at events like this. that's their *job* to figure out how to get as many tickets as possible. there's very little the team could do to prevent it.

Posted by: 231 | March 26, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I have posed this question on every board I can find and I have not received an answer that was definitive. Why is Acta taking 4 pitchers north until April 13th and have two of them pitch on 3 days rest while risking injury due to the weather or not being in mid-season conditioning? You have a capable starter in Lannan. It is not the case where we have a competitive contest for a starting position in the field.

Posted by: aspenbubba | March 26, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I have posed this question on every board I can find and I have not received an answer that was definitive. Why is Acta taking 4 pitchers north until April 13th and have two of them pitch on 3 days rest while risking injury due to the weather or not being in mid-season conditioning? You have a capable starter in Lannan. It is not the case where we have a competitive contest for a starting position in the field.

Posted by: aspenbubba | March 26, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Why 4 Pitchers?

I have posed this question on every board I can find and I have not received an answer that was definitive. Why is Acta taking 4 pitchers north until April 13th and have two of them pitch on 3 days rest while risking injury due to the weather or not being in mid-season conditioning? You have a capable starter in Lannan. It is not the case where we have a competitive contest for a starting position in the field.

Posted by: aspenbubba | March 26, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Why 4 Pitchers?

I have posed this question on every board I can find and I have not received an answer that was definitive. Why is Acta taking 4 pitchers north until April 13th and have two of them pitch on 3 days rest while risking injury due to the weather or not being in mid-season conditioning? You have a capable starter in Lannan. It is not the case where we have a competitive contest for a starting position in the field.

Posted by: aspenbubba | March 26, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Barry-

Yeah the Post the day after Selection Sunday and the Baseball Preview are my two favorite editions. Didn't you say a while back that you guys will be producing a Nationals Park preview pullout section?

Posted by: FeaturePresentationOnline.com | March 26, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Much as I hate it, I do have to concede that CiL's comeback couldn't have been more perfect. Well done.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 26, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

it went thru, aspenbubba. sometimes you have to refresh after you post to see your comment.

Posted by: 231 | March 26, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Rain? Bring it on. I would LOVE it if it rained. I've never had the pleasure, but I've always been so jealous of those few people who stick around a rainy game into the wee hours after all the posers leave. In fact, it's one of my goals this year. ;)

Posted by: NatsNut | March 26, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Once again, the Nationals have outdone themselves on the customer service front. After earning at least some good will by announcing some weeks ago the availability of at least some handicapped parking at the stadium for non-season ticket holders, this morning (when such parking was supposed to become available), there was no process in place.

I called the number designated in National Journal (the general Nats number) and the operator had no idea what I was talking about and asked for my name and number so that someone could get back to me. Knowing that would be useless, I called again in about five minutes and was told something would be up on the Nationals website by 9:00 a.m. After refreshing my screen about 100 times, at 9:15, I called again, only to be told they were experiencing "technical difficulties" and something would be up on the site by noon.

I have managed much smaller business enterprises and it doesn't take much of a manager to meet this kind of deadline. Why wasn't the public told that an e-commerce approach would be the only way to get these limited parking opportunities, along with a specific link and time when it would be active? If this was the chosen course, why wasn't script written and tested well in advance of the day and time it was supposed to go "live?" This is no way to run a railroad. I don't care that they're wrapping up Spring Training and opening up a new ballpark. This is attention to detail. The website is regularly updated despite other demands. Why not in this regard?

Posted by: Disabled fan | March 26, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Once again, the Nationals have outdone themselves on the customer service front. After earning at least some good will by announcing some weeks ago the availability of at least some handicapped parking at the stadium for non-season ticket holders, this morning (when such parking was supposed to become available), there was no process in place.

I called the number designated in National Journal (the general Nats number) and the operator had no idea what I was talking about and asked for my name and number so that someone could get back to me. Knowing that would be useless, I called again in about five minutes and was told something would be up on the Nationals website by 9:00 a.m. After refreshing my screen about 100 times, at 9:15, I called again, only to be told they were experiencing "technical difficulties" and something would be up on the site by noon.

I have managed much smaller business enterprises and it doesn't take much of a manager to meet this kind of deadline. Why wasn't the public told that an e-commerce approach would be the only way to get these limited parking opportunities, along with a specific link and time when it would be active? If this was the chosen course, why wasn't script written and tested well in advance of the day and time it was supposed to go "live?" This is no way to run a railroad. I don't care that they're wrapping up Spring Training and opening up a new ballpark. This is attention to detail. The website is regularly updated despite other demands. Why not in this regard?

Posted by: Disabled fan | March 26, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Someone answer aspenbubba, before he fills the entire blog with one question. Maybe even scroll back to the recent post about opening day lineups.

Jim Callis was on XM a couple days ago and thinks the Nats will be looking at C with the 9th pick in the draft...Posey at FSU or Skipworth from HS in FLA.

2008 draft is deep in corner infield bats & college arms. Not as deep as last year with HS arms. Not deep at all in middle infielders says Callis.

There are a couple top 5 guys advised by Boras...Pedro Alvarez, Gerrit Cole & Eric Hosmer (both top 5 HS)...wonder if they will slip to 9? Wonder if the Nats would take a Boras guy?

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | March 26, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Disabled fan,

The attention to detail you speak of is severely lacking in the FO.

Stan is too busy riding metro trains with the press in the middle of the afternoon and yapping about going metro to deal with such things as parking for handicapped customers and oh, I don't know...making sure is employee's are properly informed and trained.

Posted by: Section 505/203 | March 26, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

You may remember last year that during a lull in Nats talk, I asserted that Cal would not and should not be a Hall of Famer if his career had not included the streak.

Posted by: #4 | March 26, 2008 08:49 AM

*******************************************

Geez, talk about the definition of a 'hater.'

Nevermind that Ripken he holds at least one all-time record (for either season, career, or most seasons leading the league) in assists, putouts, fielding percentage, double plays turned, fewest errors, winning the Gold Glove twice, and, in 1990, setting the MLB record for best fielding percentage in a season at his position.

He also has the most home runs by shortstop and 13th for career doubles, was a 19 time All-Star, 2 time All-Star MVP, AL Rookie of the Year, 2 time AL MVP, 2 time Gold Glove winner, 9 time Silver Slugger winner, named to MLB's All Century Team, all-time leader in MLB All-Star fan balloting (36,123,483), most MLB All-Star Game appearances at shortstop, most consecutive MLB All-Star Game starts.

Or nevermind the fact that he was regularly in the top of offensive categories such as at bats, plate appearances, runs scored, hits, total bases, doubles, times on base.

The Nationals wish they could field a team with players who had the character (both on and off the field) of Cal Ripken Jr.

Not a HOF w/o "The Streak?" Please, just stop hatin'

Posted by: O's Exec | March 26, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Regarding scalpers:

I think the disconnect that a lot of people seem to be having is what a scalper really is. For example, there are no doubt a lot of stubhub tickets for opening day that are being sold by scalpers. But, how do you think they got those tickets to start with? A huge percentage of scalpers ARE STH.

Case in point: A ticket broker like coasttocoast.com or something similar purchases season tickets for a ton of professional teams. THOSE are the tickets many of them are selling. Sure, a few brokers buy tickets off of regular STH, and then sell them at a higher price. But, the overwhelming number of them purchased a season ticket plan and posts every game for sale.

So, how do you solve the problem? There is no way to discriminate against certain season ticket holders because the Nats believe they are a broker rather than a "true fan." What to do?

Posted by: Scalpers | March 26, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

? O's Exec feeding the troll, #4?

What a weird morning.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | March 26, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"I have posed this question on every board I can find and I have not received an answer that was definitive. Why is Acta taking 4 pitchers north until April 13th and have two of them pitch on 3 days rest while risking injury due to the weather or not being in mid-season conditioning? You have a capable starter in Lannan. It is not the case where we have a competitive contest for a starting position in the field."

I don't know how definitive I am (but I'm sure I'm at least as definitive as anyone else here), and I posted the answer to your question under another NJ thread yesterday. At the risk of boring everyone, here's what I said then:

Going with only four starters until Hill comes off the DL frees up a roster spot that they can use for an extra position player or an extra reliever, instead of it being occupied by a pitcher who'd only appear in two games during that time. Since someone is going to have to be sent down to make room for Hill on 4/13 (or Lannan, if Hill's not ready by then), in essence they are gaining a couple of weeks of spring training time to take a look at those players on the bubble before having to decide which one doesn't make the team. The tradeoff is possible extra wear and tear on the two pitchers who will pitch on short rest, and I guess they figure the extra time to look at marginal players (and whatever extra offense/relief they will offer during that time) is worth the risk.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | March 26, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

First, I understand where #4 is coming from as to Ripken's abilities. The key is that he knew his limitations and prepared and played so that he almost never had to make the sportscenter highlight shots. BTW, Bill James, in "What Ever Happened to the Hall of Fame" had Ripken in the Hall well before he finished the streak or before he was past Lou Gehrig.

On the subject of the #9 pick, the post on what happened to recent picks in that spot is interesting. It argues (I suspect) for the moneyball theory that says you go for college kids of lesser talent who are more likely to make the bigs. Much more of a conservative approach. I'm not sure that I entirely agree, but #4s post certainly makes the point.

Posted by: Catcher50 | March 26, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Excellent preview section, including the graphics, commentary, features, and analyses. Will spoil the mood slightly, however, with one small gripe. Couldn't The Post have put the Nationals' spread first, as opposed to the one for the Orioles?

Also, I've wondered like aspenbubba why the team is going north with just 4 starting pitchers. They acknowledge anything with Shawn Hill is a big If and have said so a couple times.

Posted by: samantha7 | March 26, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to Section 419+1 for the explanation on starting with 4 pitchers.

Posted by: samantha7 | March 26, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

here is baseball america's (Jim Callis article) take from February on upcoming draft. there has already been injuries to some of these guys so who knows how it figures now. anyway, the real hard part for nats fans is the middle infield depth appears very shallow. bad timing for us possibly but we will have great choices still.

signability concerns are a major reason its hard to compare to previous picks in drafts. a good sign is nats are not cheap in the draft. teams like the giants and astros and even the orioles have a terrible reputation investing in the minors.

starts here:

These rankings are based solely on talent, with no attempt to gauge signability or match players with specific teams.

1. Pedro Alvarez, 3b, Vanderbilt
Could make Vandy the first school to produce consecutive No. 1 overall picks, following David Price.

2. Brian Matusz, lhp, San Diego
Potential for three plus pitches makes big lefty the top pitching prospect in the draft.

3. Aaron Crow, rhp, Missouri
Consistently showed well above-average fastball, plus slider last summer in the Cape Cod League.

4. Tim Beckham, ss, Griffin (Ga.) HS
Most polished athlete in draft has more five-tool potential than any of the college prospects.

5. Justin Smoak, 1b, South Carolina
He's a switch-hitting slugger from Stratford High (Goose Creek, S.C.)--just like last year's No. 5 pick, Matt Wieters.

6. Tim Melville, rhp, Holt HS, Wentzville, Mo.
Classic high school pitching prospect with plus fastball, solid secondary pitches, clean mechanics.

7. Yonder Alonso, 1b, Miami
Advanced hitter who displays refined approach, produces for both average and power.

8. Eric Hosmer, 1b, American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla.
He's the high school version of Alonso and the loft in his swing gives him more power potential.

9. Christian Friedrich, lhp, Eastern Kentucky
Fastball jumped from low 80s to low 90s as a freshman, and his curveball is the best in the college ranks.

10. Brett Hunter, rhp, Pepperdine
Led Team USA with 0.66 ERA last summer, then hit 100 mph in fall practice.

11. Gerrit Cole, rhp, Lutheran HS, Orange, Calif.
"He may show the best fastball this spring, college or high school," says one front-office executive.

12. Kyle Skipworth, c, Patriot HS, Riverside, Calif.
Four-tool catcher is an accomplished defender with a promising bat.

13. Aaron Hicks, of/rhp, Wilson HS, Long Beach
Owns a plus fastball and curveball, but he may have more value as a speedy center fielder.

14. Harold Martinez, 3b, Braddock HS, Miami
Currently a shortstop, he has Gold Glove potential as a third baseman and can do everything but run.

15. Buster Posey, c, Florida State
Made a smooth transition from shortstop to catcher as a sophomore, makes consistent contact as a hitter.

16. Ryan Perry, rhp, Arizona
Put two mediocre seasons behind him by blowing away Cape hitters with 94-98 mph heat.

17. Shooter Hunt, rhp, Tulane
Can move up this list if he learns to trust his plus fastball-slider combo and throw more strikes.

18. Jacob Thompson, rhp, Virginia
Has very good command of solid stuff, similar to 2007 Athletics first-rounder Justin Simmons.

19. Dennis Raben, of, Miami
His big-time power makes him stand out easily among lackluster college outfield crop.

20. Alex Meyer, rhp, Greensburg (Ind.) HS
Already touches 96 mph and has a lot of projection remaining in his 6-foot-7, 200-pound frame.

21. Luke Burnett, rhp, Louisiana Tech
Topped out at 98 mph as part of a dominant Cape pitching staff that included Crow, Friedrich and Hunt.

22. Tanner Scheppers, rhp, Fresno State
After he sat out last summer, scouts are anxious to see if his power fastball-slider combo is for real.

23. Cody Satterwhite, rhp, Mississippi
Hitters don't like to dig in against Satterwhite, who can reach the upper 90s from a deceptive delivery.

24. Gordon Beckham, ss, Georgia
Unrelated to Tim, he has solid all-around tools and led the Cape with nine homers last summer.

25. Jemile Weeks, 2b, Miami
Rickie's little brother is the best college athlete, a speedster with leadoff skills and quality defense.

26. Sonny Gray, rhp, Smyrna (Tenn.) HS
Stands just 6 feet tall but his power curve is the best among prepsters, and his fastball reaches 93 mph.

27. Kyle Lobstein, lhp, Coconino HS, Flagstaff, Ariz.
Three-pitch lefthander shows advanced feel and command, projects to add velo to high-80s fastball.

28. Brandon Crawford, ss, UCLA
Shows across-the-board tools but scouts want to see him make more consistent contact.

29. Isaac Galloway, of, Los Osos HS, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Impressive specimen stands out with arm and speed, though he's still raw at the plate.

30. Brett DeVall, lhp, Niceville (Fla.) HS
Has the best fastball among prep lefties, and his slider and command are promising as well.

Posted by: longterm | March 26, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

nouvelle post.

Posted by: 231 | March 26, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

LDO, how about ss Tim Beckham? Might be gone by 9 but if not, he's our man. Failing that, take a pitcher.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | March 26, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Cracks me up we're already talking about the draft.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 26, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

From what I have read, Beckham seems to generate more praise than Rickie Weeks when he was drafted.

It would be a coup if he were still there at 9.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | March 26, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse


the baseball section was so wonderfully throwback.

I mean, they printed all the schedules.

When I was a kid, I would have saved that all season.

Now, I can just look it up online.

Posted by: odessasteps magazine | March 26, 2008 8:43 PM | Report abuse

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