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And Now, On To The Finish Line

The baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint -- we have all heard this countless times -- but somehow, the depletive force of such steady competition hasn't stopped the Nationals from approaching the 100-loss finish line with the speed of Usain Bolt... or at least the next-best-thing, Emilio Bonifacio.

When they began play on Friday, the Nats and Padres both had 58-95 records. Three games later, the Nats have 98 losses, and the Padres have 61 wins. (Oh, and the Nats have one fewer competitor in the Strasburg Sweepstakes -- the race for the 2009 No. 1 pick; more on that in a moment.)

Measure it any way you like, this series was a debacle. Washington was out-scored 23-9. The Nationals scored just once in seven innings against Sunday's starter, Cha Seung Baek -- who had a plus-5.00 ERA... or he did, at least, before he faced Washington. Yesterday, nothing went right. Elijah Dukes caught a flyball in the eighth to record the second out of the inning, but forgot how many outs there were, and never bothered looking home -- where a San Diego runner tagged up from third. The Nats were even ripped off once on an umpire's call at first base, which pulled Manny Acta from the dugout for an argument. (End result: He didn't change the ump's mind, and he didn't get tossed.)

The moment of mild contention came in the eighth, when Ryan Zimmerman fielded an Edgar Gonzalez grounder at third but threw just a foot or two wide of first base, pulling Aaron Boone off the bag. Boone caught the ball, and twisted to apply a swipe tag as Gonzalez came down the base line. TV replays showed Boone tagging Gonzalez just before the runner's leg touched the base. First base ump Paul Emmel saw otherwise, and called Gonzalez safe.

"Just a bad call," Acta said. "He blew it."

Almost any other weekend, such prolonged ineptitude would have all-but-guaranteed the Nationals a good shot at the Wooden Spoon. Just one problem: Though the Nats have lost 10 of their last 12, the other team contending for baseball's worst record, the Seattle Mariners, have lost 11 in a row. Yesterday, they led 3-0 against Oakland entering the bottom of the seventh and ended up falling. 5-3.

The bottom-of-the-league standings, worst team first

Seattle - 57-98 ( -- )
Washington - 58-98 (0.5 GB)
San Diego - 61-95 (3.5 GB)

I figure I'll have several more opportunities this year to write about the nuances of bad Washington baseball, so you'll notice that for yesterday's gamer, I kept away from too much pounding. Instead, I focused on Odalis Perez, and namely, on a specific question: What is it like, emotionally, when the individual performs his job and the team does not. Especially when said individual's connection to the team is, at best, impermanent. Anyway, here is what came of the idea. Hopefully Odalis was able to watch his strikeouts on SportsCenter.

By Chico Harlan  |  September 22, 2008; 7:03 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Some Thoughts From Barry Larkin
Next: Davis, Zimmermann: Minor League Players of Year


Scooter, good point on the anthem singer. She messed up the lyrics on the National Anthem AND God Bless America.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 22, 2008 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the backup, O Nutty One. If I have to endure that, at least I want others to suffer as well.

Oh Mr. Blogger Guy ... wasn't Kory Casto at first base? I never heard Boone announced, and the box score doesn't list him coming in at all.

Posted by: Scooter | September 22, 2008 7:46 AM | Report abuse

We missed the anthem, having run a bit late, but I concur with my esteemed colleagues on the GBA rendition.

I was wondering about Boone, too??

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 22, 2008 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Actually, 1a, you were lucky. The anthem was much, much worse. To give the kid a little credit, I think she realized she'd screwed up -- again -- and elected to forgo caterwauling the final line. Didn't it end rather abruptly?

And hey, it was good to meet you. It's funny, I almost never wear that shirt with my name gaudily splayed across the back, but I figured I should do it once this season. I'm glad you rolled the dice and said hi.

Posted by: Scooter | September 22, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Wow - in that case, I'm glad that we missed the anthem. Did seem like she dragged out GBA early on.

I'm glad that I rolled the dice, too. It was nice to meet you and your dad. I looked into ordering a custom tee at one point, but discovered that one can use only numbers, not letters, in the lower field (which would allow for natsfan 1 but not 1a).

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 22, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

It was Casto.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | September 22, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Oh, that would be a great t-shirt! Hey, do they still have those little stands in malls where they'll print stuff on a shirt for you? Maybe the answer is to get the Nats shirt you'd want to use, and then have someone else do the printing for you. I know, it's an extra step, but ... excellence has its price.

Posted by: Scooter | September 22, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I thought about going that route, Scooter, though I'd prefer to have an official tee. You're too funny re. excellence. :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 22, 2008 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Since the post is partially about the first draft pick, curiousity has gotten the best of me. Does anyone know how the No.1 pick is decided if there is a tie for the worst record?

Sad that this is my only input after going to the game yesterday. It was perfect weather? That's something!

Posted by: NatsWin! | September 22, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Not to discount Perez, but I'm curious as to whether St. Claire might deserve some credit for his comeback as well?

It was a beautiful day for a ballgame, NatsWin, though I don't think that I could have stomached another loss like that (sorry SlowPitch).

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 22, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

@NatsWin! - The tiebreaker is the previous seasons win/loss record. The Nats hold the tiebreaker with both the Mariners and Padres. If they finish with the same record as either team, they get the higher pick.

Posted by: Brian | September 22, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

From Washington’s perspective, the Nats & SD each have six games left while Seattke has seven to play...

Any combination of Padres wins and Nationals losses totaling three -OR- any combination of Mariners wins and Nationals losses totaling seven clinch the 2nd overall pick in the draft for the Nats

If both of the above happen, the Nats clinch the #1 overall pick

The Nationals can pick no worse than #3

Posted by: Brian | September 22, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Just when it's least expected, Chico goes and drops an Aussie-ism into his post.

The wooden spoon is a reference to an imaginary trophy earned by the team that finishes last in Aussie Rules football.

Missing the SMH, are we, me lad? I can wear my Fremantle Dockers singlet to a game later this week if it would help.

Posted by: Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi! Oi! Oi! | September 22, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad you guys caught that too. I could have sworn it was Kory who made that play.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 22, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Ah, no wonder I didn't get the wooden spoon reference.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 22, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Anyone catch the last game at Yankees stadium last night? Angel Hernandez was the home plate ump. He called Jeter out looking on a third strike with the bases loaded... clearly looked like a ball to me at least, and Jeter. I hope he left the stadium last night with some security. I dont know if umpire season reviews are published, but I would love to see his.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | September 22, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I liked Nieves' triple, too. He runs well for a catcher. Course, it would have been even more fun had it not been for the DP that preceded it, as I remarked to my hubby at the time... (no text omitted; ellipses represent only dying hopes...)

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 22, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

players don't try to lose. that is a stupid comment from the previous post. it's possible an organization might try by putting players in odd situations, but a player does not try to play poorly. every players actions are judged and recorded on film forever now. you think zimmerman goes up looking for a strikeout? does not matter the situation, he wants to succeed.

Posted by: longterm | September 22, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

also, a big thanks to jason bergmann for holding my screaming daughter for photos at the park on saturday. that was hilarious.

Posted by: longterm | September 22, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Love the angle on the gamer, Chico.

I found myself in one of those rare and frightening moments yesterday afternoon where I agreed with Don Sutton. Perez should have gotten the ball in the seventh.

He was dealing. 11 strikeouts ties a career high for a guy who, Sutton pointed out, probably won't have many more opportunities to eclipse his own mark.

Perez thought his ninth strikeout should have come earlier. With two strikes, he painted the black on Adrian Gonzalez, but it was ruled a ball. To pitches later, and a very surprised Nats fan in the right field bleachers was holding a souvenir courtesy of Gonzalez, and Perez fumed.

He struck out the next three batters - all looking, I believe - and seemed to get madder with each punchout. When he trotted off the field, he jawed something, obviously displeased with the missed third call.

I think he could've had thirteen or fourteen strikeouts yesterday.

Posted by: John in Mpls | September 22, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

*two pitches later

Posted by: John in Mpls | September 22, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I really do not see why we continue to hope for the #1 pick. I really think Boras will advise his client to sit out by asking for an absurd amount. The Nats would be wise to select the second best player.

This organization is so bad. I can't recall one that was worse. I think Kasten has to clean house.

Also enough with the cliche answers, guys. If I read another inane quote from Manny I think it will scream.

One way to send a message to management would be for the various newspapers (Times, Post, etc.)to eliminate their coverage of the team for the remainder of the season. Manny and his merry band of losers would have the clubhouse to themselves with no one to ask them questions. That would be first in sports. The message to management is that this team is so bad that it does not deserve to be covered.

Posted by: mjames | September 22, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

That Nats going out of this season with a wimper has plenty of pluses.

Firstly, doesn't give the cheap management team an excuse to stand pat, which would have happened if the Nats had finish on the uptick. The Nats were bad from start to finish. This is a rotten ball club, injuries or no injuries. Secondly, it increases the chances of getting rid of the incompetent Bowden sooner. Maybe the Lerners will hire a competent and experienced GM with a proven track record. I am not talking about Mike Rizzo. His strength is scouting talent and he has no GM experience. Thirdly, it enhances the chances of picking Strasburg in next years draft. Although, if the penny pinching Lerners couldn't cut a deal with the Hendricks brothers and Aaron Crow, they are going to have much tougher time with Scott Boras and Strasburg. The asking price for Strasburg will be three times what it was this year for Crow.

Posted by: Mike Hunt | September 22, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

but strasburg will be worth 3 times what crow wanted (for really only having one good year in college it was absurd). i'm expecting 12 million to strasburg. if you want the best you have expect to pay the most. it's called the major leagues, not mickey mouse club.

either way. we need to work with boras eventually. hopefully make good impression on him with teixiera talks. that will carryover. make some news with largest bonus ever. and we'll be on our way. anyhow, seattle sucks big time. sweeping them earlier this year was bad bad bad.

Posted by: longterm | September 22, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Going back to the beginning of this post, I arrived and was in the back when the SSB was being "sung." My reaction was that it was a shame that the parents put this 10 year old in a position where he/she would have to sing publicly, when it was obvious that he/she was incapable.

When she was introduced for GBA as a XXX(sorry don't remember recording co. name)recording star, I was blown away, turned to those around me (also STHs) and asked if I had simply heard wrong. Then we all stood there, in pain and agony while this young lady butchered what I am told is an easy song.

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 22, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

LDO, I also picked up on the fact that Angel Hernandez was the home plate umpire at the Yankees-Orioles game last night - although Derek Jeter hitting a grand slam as the last home run ever at Yankees Stadium would have been over the top, even for Yankees Stadium!

Posted by: Traveler | September 22, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

As to the "error" at first. It wasn't that difficult a call. Manny was asking that the first base umpire ask for help (permitted). I looked at the plate blue. He was indicating that a request for help would be acceptable. Generally it means that, in a close game in a pennant race he is simply looking to diffuse a volatile situation. In a game at the end of the season with nothing on the line (no, the Strasburg race is not counted), it generally means that the first base umpire blew it and that there was a reason for reversal.

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 22, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

In other draft news, the Pirates have reached an agreement with Alvarez (Boras). Recall that Alvarez reportedly agreed to a deal involving a $6 million signing bonus. Boras (acting through the players union) disputed the deal on the grounds that it was reached after the deadline. The Pirates contended that Boras was simply trying to get more money for his client. Various commentators speculated that Boras was miffed that Buster Posey received a larger bonus ($6.2m) than Alvarez, and that Boras was taking this action in an effort to get Alvarez the biggest bonus in the 2008 draft. The new deal between Alvarez and the Pirates? $6.4 million. Cha-ching! This is what we have to look forward to if we win the sweepstakes.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 22, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Seattle has 7 games remaining, all at home, 4 against the Angels and 3 against the A's.

Nats have 6 games remaining, 3 at home against the Marlins and 3 in Philly against the ... Phillies.

(Fill in the ellipse with an adjective of your choice.)

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 22, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

"Various commentators speculated that Boras was miffed that Buster Posey received a larger bonus ($6.2m) than Alvarez, and that Boras was taking this action in an effort to get Alvarez the biggest bonus in the 2008 draft. The new deal between Alvarez and the Pirates? $6.4 million. Cha-ching! This is what we have to look forward to if we win the sweepstakes."

Well, in that case, there should be no problems whatsoever. Just wait until the #2 pick signs (or whichever other pick has the highest bonus if not #2), add $200K, and done deal. And, to steal a Ted Lerner quote from Tom Boswell, there's this to consider:

"Next year, when the Nats may have the top pick overall, as well as pick No. 9a to replace Crow, Lerner vows, 'We will do everything humanly possible to get our top pick signed.' "

So it's as simple as that.

Posted by: no ellipses in THAT quote, either | September 22, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

does that include not signing pick 9a?

Posted by: longterm | September 22, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Strasburg plus the 9A is easily going to break $10 million all by itself

Posted by: Brian | September 22, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't be surprised if Boras demanded $10m for Strasburg alone. The past two years, in particular, have demonstrated that the system is broken, and uber-agents like Boras are poised to take full advantage.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 22, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"does that include not signing pick 9a?"

Apparently Boswell did not ask Ted Lerner that question.

Posted by: that's a cause for concern...about boswell | September 22, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Catcher50, would you mind elaborating on how the plate ump indicates that "a request for help would be acceptable"? I think you've mentioned that you umpire. Is there some signal that y'all give each other? Also, is there a time when a request for help would not be acceptable?

Just curious. If you have anything else to share, I'd be delighted to hear it. I love this stuff.

Posted by: Scooter | September 22, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Aside from the obvious snarky retort, that's not the newsies' job.

One way to send a message to management would be for the various newspapers (Times, Post, etc.)to eliminate their coverage of the team for the remainder of the season. Manny and his merry band of losers would have the clubhouse to themselves with no one to ask them questions. That would be first in sports. The message to management is that this team is so bad that it does not deserve to be covered.

Posted by: mjames | September 22, 2008 10:28 AM

Posted by: CE | September 22, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

The signal varies and is generally worked out between the two umpires involved (almost always 1b & HP. Often just a hand flick and a look (remember these people have been doing this, at one level or another for more than a decade). Also some umpires won't accept it (my call and you butt out!), but this is beginning to change, as younger, more corporate umpires are filtered into the system. There is, generally, more of an attitude of let's get it right, not "I've made my call and I'm sticking to it!". Instant replay has certainly added to this.

BTW, there are other signals between umpires, specifying rotation, I.F. rule in effect, etc. Blues communicate with each other all game.

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 22, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Just noting that the host of the football team's chat today is Cindy Borin'.
That's all.

Posted by: Section 3, my couch | September 22, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Good to know, C50. Thanks. One more, if you don't mind: I presume that the crew chief can butt in and inform the first-base umpire (in this case) that yes, he will in fact accept help on this call? I also presume that nobody is terribly interested in showing up his peers, of course ...

Thanks for the insight.

(And no, I'm not saying that this was a vital call where I thought the chief should butt in. For all I know, the first-base umpire was the crew chief. Just wondering how they work it out in general. I don't know enough about how they do their work, and it fascinates me.)

Posted by: Scooter | September 22, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

MHUNT and MJAMES agree with your posts, however the coverage already has been cut thanks to the demise of 3WT and WTOP refusal to cut into their simulcast on 107.7. BTW the official explanation from WTOP management is, they can't carry the Nats (or any sports for that matter) on 107.7 because they will lose the ratings for WTOP in total (apparently each freq covers a different area of the region & counts for ratings). I suspect it wasn't a hard decision for them to move the Nats, but never the less its still another diservice to the fan-base.

As far as the organization is concerned I would have to agree that it really is in shambles but I don't expect much change over the winter. The Lerners are more then misguided by PTBowdoin but it doesn't seem to motivate them. Maybe a severe drop in STH for 09 will do the trick.

Now on to attendence, outside of the usual WAPO "stick it in your eye" stuff, the Nats are on the verge ending at the bottom of the pack for new stadium attendence in the post "Camden Yards" era. Lets be honest drawing 2.4+ in what amounts to a 4A or AAA product is pretty good but there is no way they can go forward with a dismal product, very limited print media coverage, limited radio coverage and no regional appeal and expect to draw more then 2.5+ next year. Ain't gonna happen!

Posted by: Tippy Canoe | September 22, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

While I agree that the entire draft system is boring, it's still certainly better than the mess that the other major leagues have done. NBA? NHL? NFL is slightly better. But that's it.

There's no way that Strassburg is worth a $10 million. I don't care if he's the second coming of Babe Ruth. Paying that much for someone that won't even reach the majors for a year or two is just nuts. Of course, with the arbitration and the protected years (to prevent KC becoming the minors farm of the MLB.) Strassburg feels that he needs to protect himself. This entire system is unfortunate.

Oh, @section3 -- Cindy Boren's been hosting the 'Skin's chat for the entire season... (4 weeks now, she started 1 week before the opener)

Posted by: SF Fan | September 22, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Catcher50, what do the umpires chat with the players about? Good hit? How's your kid?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 22, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I can't understand why people are saying the system is broken because draft picks are getting $6m bonuses. Do you realize how underpaid these guys are, when you measure the *value* of their talent in the marketplace? Why are we rooting for Stan and the Lerners to pocket more of the money? Why are we upset to see talented athletes hire effective agents to advance their interests? Look, Zimmerman's making $500k. He's not in the poor house, but that's a joke considering what he's worth to the team. Yes, yes, I know, if he plays well he'll mostly make up for it in FA in a few years, but why is it fair for players to get the short end of the stick for 3-6 years and only then, assuming they stay healthy, get their fair share?

Anyway, most people (me included) root for the players and see the very existence of the owners as a necessary evil. I don't see why in this specific context of young players drafted into the league that so many people are begrudging the players' desire to not get completely hosed.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | September 22, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Interesting to get Catcher50's insights on how umps work. Coincidentally, one of the books in my current rotation is Zack Hample's Watching Baseball Smarter. I've been reading the chapter on umps and there is a section within it that describes the gestures associated with specific decisions (gestures by the umps, that is ...).

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 22, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Count me as another who believes that the draft system seems to be broken. I root for the players but don't feel that it needs to be at the expense of another group (whether it be the owners or the fans who are asked to pay higher and higher ticket prices). Nor would I choose to characterize the owners or any other group as a whole as evil. But that's just me.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 22, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

>This organization is so bad. I can't recall one that was worse. I think Kasten has to clean house.

Also enough with the cliche answers, guys. If I read another inane quote from Manny I think it will scream.<

Manny's useless. There's no way a team can be that bad unless a manager allows it. I don't get what everyone sees in him. He's not very bright, and he certainly needs to grow a sack. Everybody talks about 'if he had the players' - well, we've got as much firepower as San Diego, and they made us look bush league. I'd fire him the day after the season ends. I'd fire Bowden on the same day. The whole thing's ridiculous. I said the mini winning streak was a mirage, and it is. This team gets beat a different way every night, so it's not like they can go out and get something to fix a certain need. They need to change the culture and hold these clowns accountable.

Posted by: Brue | September 22, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Not to step on Catcher50's toes, but I've been to a couple umpire camps, and was real close to going to pro-school one year. The travel necessary for rookie/short season ball was...demanding, to say the least.
These days there is more of a "let's get the call right" feeling within the crews (like CA50 said.) The crew chief is not under any obligation to interject his opinion on any call. The only way the crew chief would be in the equation is if he was an umpire who also had a look at the play. The zim/boone play last night only had two umpires involved, home plate and first base. The home plate umpire on that call is actually looking for a pulled foot, or a sweep tag that the first base umpire gets blocked out on by the runner/1st baseman.
A glance from the 1st base ump to the plate ump is enough for the plate ump to "volunteer" he has info. The signs on these are not universal, but most crews that have only started in the last few years use a "fist on top of fist" motion to say, "You got the call right in my eyes, I can't add anything else." If the plate ump feels he has something that can help (we/they never say reverse) he'll normally make a subtle crossing of him arms (low on the torso, almost like a soccer player defensing on a free kick).
I was at yesterdays game, with seats given to me by someone, in section 131. The first base ump didn't seem to have any interest in getting help from the plate.

Posted by: Section 138 | September 22, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

138 was absolutely correct. The Umpire in Chief (as opposed to the crew chief, two entirely different jobs) should not interject unless asked. OTOH, in situations like that, the umpire involved should be more open to asking. The other hand says that each time an umpire asks a colleague for help, he makes it easier for a manager to jump out of the dugout and push him to ask. That is one of the reasons for the subtle hand signals.

BTW, these signals change over time. I remember, some years ago, I was working a H.S. game (2 man crew) and, my partner, who was from a different background and quite older than me, gave me a signal that I didn't understand, at all. After next inning, I asked him. He indicated that that was the signal that he had learned for Infield Fly. I later checked with some of my older colleagues and found out that the signal he used was taught more than 20 years earlier, but had not been taught since.

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 22, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the ump insights, guys. Interesting that the signals have changed. I was recently reading an intriguing piece (in a SABR journal) about the deaf and origins of hand signals in baseball.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 22, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

bowden vs. boras negotiating to sign strasburg? no boxing commission would ever sanction such a mismatch.

Posted by: natsscribe | September 22, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, the Mariners are tanking -- ruining the integrity of the game. All I can say is "Let's Go Nats -- Lose 'em All!"

Frankly, Strasburg probably belongs in San Diego. Wouldn't surprise me to see him go there when he's free agent eligible, since he chose a hometown college. But, if the Mariners are going to aim so low, I'm rooting for the Nats to aim lower. Getting 5 or 6 years with Strasburg in the majors will be worth the $10 million it will take to get him. Who knows -- he might even like it here.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 22, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

"bowden vs. boras negotiating to sign strasburg? no boxing commission would ever sanction such a mismatch."

Bowden has signed Boras clients before. Felipe Lopez, for one.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Anon 2:56 pm

there's a big difference between the likes of FLop and the potential no. 1 overall draft pick. don't think boras won't be looking for a bonus of $6.5 million, or more, if he can get free agency for alvarez.

Posted by: natsscribe | September 22, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Thanks again to both umpires for their insights. (Unexpected education: I used a Google to find out that the umpire in chief is the home-plate umpire. So we're clear, I never meant to imply that the guy who happens to be calling balls and strikes can interject -- I meant the crew chief. As you say, C50, two different jobs.)

On the other thing we're talking about: I usually don't weigh in on the business-of-baseball discussions, because I don't follow it much. But it's my belief, in line with Steven's above, that the reason signing bonuses are "out of control" is that the major-league players have collectively elected to screw the bushers in their labor agreements. These kids have two chances for a payday: a signing bonus, and free agency several years hence. (Arbitration and team raises are also possible, but much much less than the free-agency payoff, near as I can tell.)

Posted by: Scooter | September 22, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

"Anon 2:56 pm

there's a big difference between the likes of FLop and the potential no. 1 overall draft pick. don't think boras won't be looking for a bonus of $6.5 million, or more, if he can get free agency for alvarez."

huh? who's alvarez?

Posted by: i thought strasburg was the no. 1 pick | September 22, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

pittsburgh post-gazette and baseball america reporting that pedro alvarez has agreed to parameters of a bonus of $6.355 million with the pirates. assume this will be bonus floor boras will be seeking for strasburg.

Posted by: natsscribe | September 22, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

The play in question at first base was Kory Casto, not Aaron Boone. Boone didn't play yesterday.

Posted by: NatsNut | September 22, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Be sure to check out Marc Fisher's column elsewhere in the paper. I usually disagree with everything he writes and today is no exception.

If his own paper had not relegated the Nats to page eight everyday while giving the Redskins three articles daily in June the interest level in the team might have grown. Now you have to hunt for the game story. His own paper also had decided not to cover minor league baseball although there is a team within a half hour's drive of their office. A team that won the Carolina League championship. And yet they send out ten reporters every Friday night to cover high school football games, some attended by no more than a few hundred fans, and a soccer team where only a few thousand people attending speak English. Last Friday they sent a reporter to Hedgesville, WV to cover a game and yet they can't find time to send a reporter to Woodbridge to cover a Class A professional baseball team.

And Fisher whines that there is no interest in the team? Maybe he should get off his fat ass and cover a few games if he is so knowlegable about baseball.

Posted by: JT | September 22, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Boy, I wish the Nats would play Seattle to finish out the season!

Posted by: charlie | September 22, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

It's always easier to hate, because you don't risk anything when you do.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 22, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

And before we get our shorts all in a twist about whether we will draft and spend OPM for Steven Strasburg, let's not forget that he is from Southern California. It's interesting to note that there have been a couple of studies recently, discussed on/in (never sure which is correct) SABR groups that say that players from So. Cal./Texas/Fla. (pitchers particularly, if I remember correctly) tend to have much less upside room than those from other parts of the country. Basically, they say that what you see is what you get.

So, the question that you need to ask yourself, or Bowden needs to ask is: Can Strasburg get out Major League hitters, now? Not after 2 years in the minors. Now! If the answer is no, then the answer is probably that he's not worth what Boras will be asking for.

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 22, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

While there have been studies that have suggested that the upside of warm weather pitches is much lower then those elsewhere, these are not hard and fast. Also, much of the "upside" that is typically referred to is in their projectability and injury risk. Obviously the injury risk is a concern although Strausburg has shown to be durable throughout his college career. As for projectability, there is little need. He already has two to three pitches that are said to be major league "plus" pitches. His fastball is clocked in the mid to upper 90s. He has been compared favorably to Mark Prior coming out of college and while that may scare many of us with the injury concern, we have to remember Prior's dominance and the fact that Dusty Baker is not our manager.

I don't know about you but I'd draft and pay a kings ransom for Mark Prior circa 2001.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | September 22, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

VT...Not disagreeing. The question is: Is Strasburg capable of being a 1 or 2, now? No improvement!

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 22, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I would expect Boras to seek a much higher deal then $6.4 million. Strausburg's stock continues to stay high well into next June then I'm sure he'll be looking for a record signing bonus. I would expect a final bonus in the $10-12 million range. Not to mention the $5 mil we'll probably have to pay the 9a pick. If we do a good job drafting and pick up the right players this will still be far cheaper then paying for a player of comparable skill and promise via the free agent market.

Also, are we even sure that Boras will be representing Strausburg or is that just the assumption that somebody has made and others have followed? I don't think its an unlikely outcome, i just havent heard anything official.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | September 22, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I think assuming no improvement is also a little hasty. From the scouting reports that I have read I would assume (and i'm not a major league scout) that he would be ready to pitch in a major league rotation by the end of next season. While his physical skills may not improve I think he has the tools and the command to be a front line starter, RIGHT NOW, and simply needs the experience and confidence that can only be gained as a pro.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | September 22, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Even if he didn't physically progress 1 bit between now and next September he would still likely be the best pitcher in our rotatio, easily on par with Lannan and Balester.

Also, the projectabilituy of warm weather draft talent has to do with the number of innings pitched or total ABs the hitter has had vs other cold weather prospects. Strasburg is likely far ahead of where a similairly talented and experienced (in years) prospect would be, but there is no prospect anywhere close to him so the subject is mute.

Posted by: estuartj | September 22, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

VT...If he is that ready, then he is a bargain at 10-12. He has probably gotten through the stage that seems to want TJ surgery.

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 22, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

That's why everyone in Seattle is rooting for their team to lose day in and day out.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | September 22, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Yup, I repre$ent $tephen $tra$burg

Posted by: $cott Bora$ | September 22, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I think all this Stasburg to SD talk is mis placed. How much money will he give up to stay in SoCal? 5 mil? 10 mil? I don't think you'll here any "don't pick me, if I don't get drafted by SD I'm going back to school.

Strasburg will go first in the draft, will sign fairly early for a record amount (I guess 10-12 mil) with a major league contract that will make hime a FA as soon as possible.

That is where Crow's agents lost their marbles, Bowden gave them the deal Boras would love (always give yourself the option to get the latest free market dollars!), now Crow is still 6+ years from being a FA.

Crows agents are stupid amatures, Boras may be the uber prick, but he knows how to get the most money and the best deal, not just ask for it and have a good press release ready when you screw your client.

Posted by: estuartj | September 22, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

As far as the draft goes, realizing Strasburg is the consensus #1 now, if we did end up with a lower pick, and if we had either #2 or #3, I hope the position players (Grant Green (SS), Dustin Ackley (1B/OF), or Donovan Tate(CF)) are worth the high pick. Brian has a list of the top HS and College prospects clipped from Baseball America on NFA. It seems we might be able to use a position prospect at any of those spots. The first two are college players, so figure 2 - 3 years to the majors. It seems there are an awful lot of arms ranked high, so a pitcher should be available at #9A. Those draft positions are protected in case we actually did sign a Type A free agent. Hendo makes a case for just how we can afford to make large $$ signings on his blog at

On coverage, Adam Kilgore was with the Post, right? He is Gordon Edes replacement for the Boston Globe. He's the #3 beat writer.

Posted by: PTBNL | September 22, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

What would happen if there was a large turnover in the front office during the offseason to include Kasten, Bowden and lots of higher ups in various departments? Would that increase or decrease fan interest in the team? I'm getting the feeling that between disgruntled employees and disgruntled owners there will be an overhaul.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | September 22, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

LDO, are you getting a sense of disgruntled employees on the baseball side or the business side? What I've heard is that people in the organization want to work for Stan on the baseball side and don't want to work on the business side, where tightwaddedness is the standard attitude.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 22, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Both but more on the business side.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | September 22, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Assuming that "tightwadness" is an issue, how's that gonna change? That type of behavior comes from the top, the owners in this case. Given that you can not force the Lerners to sell (much as you would like to think otherwise, America is still a free market economy, in the main) what is it that's going to change?

Or do you sit around and hope that the new GM can convince the Lerners to open up more than they have?

Posted by: SF Fan | September 22, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Bowden has signed Boras clients before. Felipe Lopez, for one.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2008 2:56 PM

Buck sez JimBo posted this himself.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | September 22, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

The easiest way to change is winning. But the Nats clearly are not on the cusp of contending.

You can budget and be competitive. Maybe not over a protracted period., but teams can pick their spots. Even though Pohlad and Loria are viewed with disdain, they have competitive teams. And yes, a GM can change an owners perspective. Moore has Glass in KC signing a big ticket free agent every year and signing guys overslot in the draft.

For me, I wonder if front office overhaul will be enough to generate increased, albeit limited, support this offseason.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | September 22, 2008 6:31 PM | Report abuse

I have been playing with this over the past few days, just for laughs. I wasn't going to put it out until the end of season wrap up, but Fisher's blog and some of the vituperation that it generated, mostly on the part of people who don't know their Louisville Slugger bat from an Akedema glove, prompted me to ship it in now to NJ, with the hope that Chico would find some way to have Fisher look at it:

10 things the Nats need to do in the off season:

1. Sign Zimmerman to a long term contract. He has shown that he is everything advertized. Don’t even let it go to arbitration. Make it something in the $17 – 20M area for 5 – 7 years.
2. Create a “Punch List” to complete the stadium to the contractual standards. Forward it to the DC Government (with proof of acceptance). Update and forward weekly in October. If not completed by November 1, forward to the Washington Post. If they won’t publish, take out an ad. Begin to repeat on a daily basis. The Nats have to turn the PR tide and show that the problem is the DC Government not doing their job, and not “cheapness” on the part of the ownership.
3. Sign a Medium – High end F/A first baseman or trade for one. If Teixeira is available, they can overpay for him, but not New York Yankee numbers. If they go for him, it should be for 7 years.
4. Sign a Medium – High end starter. Do not trade position players for pitchers. That is a losing proposition. This is semi-optional.
5. Send Bonifacio to Mexico for the winter. They throw almost nothing but breaking balls, down there. It is the perfect place to learn to hit a curve. If he still can’t…he’s a AAAA player and can’t be counted on for a contender.
6. Make sure that the food vendor personnel are better trained and understand that there are times when the pressure is on and that there is a need to throw it into high gear. I know that there is a contractor involved, but pressure can be put on the contractor. This is a public relations must. When ticket purchasers “lose” 2 or more innings just trying to get a hot dog or a burger, it makes the experience unpleasant. This is made worse by the appearance that they just don’t care.
7. Corral Nakamura; Boz; Chico (or whoever will be the Nats beat reporter next year for the Post); Pearlstein (who may actually understand the basics to explain to the rest, although he seems to be busy with more significant economic issues right now); and someone from the “other paper”, assuming that someone there can actually understand, and go through the business aspects of running a MLB franchise. There seems to be a total lack of knowledge on the part of the writers as to the basics of running this business.
8. Provide a web cam, similar to the one that the builder had up during construction, at the park. They can turn it off during games, but many of us would love to be able to check on what is going on, during the day while, before games or even when the Nats are on road trips, or not in season. It is a way to keep us connected.
9. Find a way to do a complete health evaluation for all of the players that the Nats see on the 25 man roster, next year. Yeah, there may be issues with MLBPA, but there should be a way around that. I’m not talking about a pro-forma physical exam. I’m thinking in terms of a complete body scan, with emphasis on those body parts that get the most strain in a ball game (shoulders, Knees, etc.). The follow up is a specific, individualized workout regimen that would strengthen those specific body parts.
10. Make visible decisions early and roll out in November. I’m talking about announcers, changes in Unis, Promotional dates, etc. The F/A needs to make the fans feel that this is not an ad hoc, catch it on the fly operation.

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 22, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Solid list Catcher50. I don't know about 20MM per for Zimmerman. I think a deal of at least 5 years is a must but he's never going to hit .330 or 40 homers so he should never be paid 20MM. I'd say something more like 75-100 MM over 6-7 years.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | September 22, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

@CA50: You stole most of my thunder! Posted this to NFA earlier (since annotated) -
Has anyone considered a signing of Lowe (or his ML equivalent) as a stop-gap #1 until the drafted pitchers are ready to step into the role? I wholehartedly agree with building the foundation through the draft, but the team needs some gaps (#1SP, Power-hitting corner OF/IF) filled immediately at the top level.
For 2009, sign a short-term (2-3 yr) SP as a viable #1, get Zim under contract (5-yr, $42M), then look for another stop-gap power bat for the corners (OF, maybe Burrell @ 3+yr, $39M?), then hold on until the current crop (Marrero, L.Davis, Whitesell, Norris, Hood, et al) matures. If the organization doesn’t or can’t do that, the damage at the most visible (Major-League) level could be hard to reverse.

Posted by: BIM | September 22, 2008 8:10 PM | Report abuse

In addition, get STABLE radio / television contracts - (i.e. always MASN2 for Nationals broadcasts (on cable), WJFK(?) for radio - 1500AM just doesn't get it in the western 'burbs, and will hurt the team more as time goes on. Also, buy more air-time for the Team (a daily 1-hour, or even a weekly 3-hour slot on a major carrier would be an improvement). I know "the Danny" has sucked up all the current sports airwaves, but if the Lerners' really want their product to sell to the people, they need to spread the word as wide as possible.

Posted by: BIM | September 22, 2008 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Can we send Willy Mo with Bonifacio to learn how to hit curves?

Posted by: fred va | September 22, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

I will remind BIM that this is the 21st century and the words "stable" and "radio" probably shouldn't be in the same sentence. I wouldn't even bet on Sat Radio. The XM/Sirius merger is bleeding $$$ and getting the infusion of green, that they need, might not be realistic.

If you go for, say 17.5M for Zim, that is 105 in a 6 year contract. It would be graduated up. Don't forget, this would be a serious PR move: We've tied up the "Face of the Franchise" for the foreseeable future and spent the money!

BTW, and more or less off topic. Did anyone see the interview with Ford & Berra last night. I noticed that Berra was wearing his pants just below his armpits. The last time that I saw Chuck Hinton, he was wearing the same style. Is this something that just happens to ex-ballplayers, or can I look forward to that particular style?

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 22, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Catcher50, I didn't see the interview, but your description sounds like something that happens to older guys generally rather than ex-ballplayers specifically (let's call it pants creep rather than plan creep). :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 22, 2008 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Coverage is indeed lacking. First our very own WaPo. Now, ESPN Baseball Tonight completely ignoring the most important race in baseball, the Strasburg Sweepstakes.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 22, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Whitesell is currently maturing on the majoring league roster. For the Diamondbacks. First MLB homer yesterday.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | September 23, 2008 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Tanks R Us...

Posted by: Seattle Mariners | September 23, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Great list from Catcher 50. Hope it's noticed by someone who counts. Couple of comments:

Biggest complaint I heard at games was high food prices. More inexpensive choices and/or increased vendor presence outside the stadium would help.

Bonifacio was drafted by Ariz in 2001 and played in their minor league system for 6 years. That is too long for him to have the basic hitting deficiencies he has demonstrated (can't hit LHP and curves). Maybe Mexican winterball will help but no way is he ready to start at 2b in the biggies. Doing something sensible at 2b would show that the Nats want to win more games while "the plan" is taking shape.

Posted by: frustrated in 310 | September 23, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Some very sobering columns in the Times today on the state of the franchise. I actually feel sorry for the baseball side and that includes Kasten, Bowden,and Manny. Having said that I still think Bowden needs to go. He has made too many blunders. He symbolizes how this franchise is perceived in baseball. I suspect we could start seeing some of the scouts leave.

I wonder why the Lerners bought this franchise. What was their purpose? If their intention was to create the same value as the Yankees, then old man Lerner should realize that that it took George years of spending big to create value.

Lastly there is no way Strasburg will sign with us.

Posted by: mjames | September 23, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Now that we've known for a month that the Bowden-Hendricks/Crow negotiations went beyond midnight, I thought maybe you could ask Jimbo to revise the timeline he gave you previously. How much extra time were they granted to negotiate? Who did he speak with from the other side? etc...

Posted by: 756* | September 23, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse


There are 6 games left in the season. would you prefer...

(1) to see the Nats win 5 of them and not finish with 100 losses
(2) to see the Nats lose most of them and get the number 1 pick
(3) to just go along for the ride

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 23, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

506 - I'm indifferent at this point. I'm sure we'll get a good player either with #1 or #2. However, I don't want anyone getting false hope from a closing rush and cherry-picked time frames, so 2-4 might not be so bad.

C50 - nice list. The going rate for Tulo and Cano to buy out 3 years of arbiration and one year of free agency was $30 million, with team options to follow. I do not think Zimmerman should get that much better of a contract. Your offer I think is above Wright money, although it is 3 years later. Let's say 5 years, $52 million, with 2 team options at $15 million and a $3 million buyout. Deal?

Posted by: PTBNL | September 23, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

"Biggest complaint I heard at games was high food prices. More inexpensive choices and/or increased vendor presence outside the stadium would help."

Food prices at Nationals Park to me seemed to be not much higher than at RFK. I typically found myself spending the better part of a $20 bill to feed myself and slake my thirst at the 20+ games I attended at RFK in 2007, and that held true at the close to thirty games I went to at Nationals Park this year. If I spent more at Nationals Park than I did at RFK, it was probably due to my being tempted by the broader variety of food choices available there than by any great increase in the per-item price. Ballpark food isn't cheap anywhere, just like movie food. No one is forcing you to buy it at the ballpark, though, since there's always the option to bring in food from outside. And for comparison, I did go to one game this year at OPACY, and found food prices to be a little lower there than at Nationals Park. But then again, if you go to a restaurant in Baltimore the prices are lower there than they are in DC too, aren't they?

As for the vendors outside the ballpark, I would agree that there need to be more of them. But that's something that's under the control of the city, not the Nationals. If the city allowed more outside vendors, the team would allow food from them to be brought into the ballpark, as they did at RFK where there were more outside vendors. So I can't say I really fault the team for that.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 23, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

506, I'd still like to see (1) but don't find it a very likely scenario at this point (I'm also not sure how likely signing #1 would be, even if we did get the pick).

On food, I'm with Anon in that the food prices don't seem that much higher than at RFK. I've also bought food more often than brought it at RFK (more tempting options). I don't really miss the outside vendors.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 23, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

506 (BM),
Nats win 5 of 6.
Seattle and SD win 6 of 6.

More important my 4 slow pitch softball teams to go undefeated the rest of the way. We don't get draft choices. Our knees just get worse year after year. At first that was a small price to pay. Now it's higher but still worth it.
Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | September 23, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

To clarify, I'd like to see poll option (1).

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 23, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Heck, I'll root for your teams to go undefeated: go SlowPitch!!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 23, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

This just in (I was wondering whether that might happen as the Phillies are still in the mix):

WASHINGTON -- Saturday's game between the Nationals and Phillies in Philadelphia was scheduled to be at 7:05 p.m. ET, but will be televised nationally on FOX at 3:55 p.m. instead.

The Phillies are battling the Mets for the National League East title, while the Nationals are looking to be spoilers in the Saturday afternoon game. Philadelphia is 9-6 against Washington this season.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 23, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

The Times stories today say substantially the same thing as the latest Boz column. So it turns out that the Lerners, if not cheap, are at least miserly. Hopefully that means they will spend their money wisely, rather than not spend it at all. And all of this confirms what we already knew: They have a tin ear when it comes to PR and marketing. Not good given our attendance and media woes.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 23, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

PTBNL...You're at 85 for, essentially 7 years, I'm a little higher. I'll split the difference. Let's remember that some of this is to change the perception of the team.

I haven't seen food price comparison with other markets but, some anecdotal:

1. SF...Beer is 8.00 / bottle
2. RFK had the lowest food prices in the Majors, so somewhat higher is not unexpected. Again, many of the complaints are from people who have no understanding of the market or similar situations.

This is what I was writing about in #7. Boz keeps complaining, loudly, about the way overpriced seats (@300/) behind home plate. He needs to be reminded that at the new Yankee Stadium those seats are currently set @2,500/. Now, given the current financial situation, I wouldn't be surprised to see them drop to $1,500/, but that will be short term.

Posted by: Catcher50 | September 23, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Meant to say "than" at RFK (i.e., I've bought food more often at Nationals Park than I did at RFK).


I've also bought food more often than brought it at RFK (more tempting options). I don't really miss the outside vendors.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 23, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

"I wouldn't be surprised to see them drop to $1,500/, but that will be short term."

With the poor credit given to the Yankees farm system and futures, this would be a pretty bad investment and rich folks in New York are smarter than that....

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 23, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

My ten worries about the ownership are:

1. Failure to pay rent on the stadium to DC. This is basically token rent for an essentially free stadium. Really awful to withhold that, a breaking of trust with DC.

2. Failure to sign the top draft pick in 2008, the college pitcher of the year, for $4 million. Why is that considered huge money? The O's signed their pick the year before for $6 million. What happened to the Plan?

3. References to small budgets in signing draft picks; for example, if we sign A for a little over slot, then we can't sign B and C. Just cheap and short-sighted for these high value, low-cost kids.

4. What's up with putting an ugly parking garage in left field, destroying aesthetics?

5. Trades for Milledge and Bonifacio have been salary dumps. I don't have any problems with those trades. But often times you can make great trades for young players if you take on an "uneconomical" contract, essentially paying too much for a young player but giving up less value in the trade because you are relieving the other team of an undesirable contract. There are team-building opportunities in this trade approach with small and mid-market teams. It just takes a little gambling money. These kinds of trades are glaring absences in the Nats' trading strategy.

6. Lack of any big international signings after the Smiley Gonzales signing of a couple years ago.

7. A small free agent budget is fine at this point in team-building, but having Lo Duca as your MOST EXPENSIVE off-season acquisition for 2008, at $5 million, is absurd.

8. The most epensive ontract in any category is Guzman's $16 million. For that to be the BIGGEST financial commitment since the Lerners took over is not big league.

9. Not locking up core players like Zimmerman long term is a huge issue. Zim may decide to go elsewhere as soon as he can if he sees that his franchise is not committed to paying the costs of running a big league, competititive club.

10. Just junking the Plan is worrisome, if that is what is happening. I expect Kasten to leave in frustration.

Posted by: EdDC | September 23, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Lerner ARE Cheap = Mariners Beat Writer Geoff Baker? | September 23, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

"WJFK(?) for radio - 1500AM just doesn't get it in the western 'burbs, and will hurt the team more as time goes on"

Are you aware that WAGE 1200 AM in Leesburg carries most Nats games? They have a signal that penetrates western Montgomery County. They have carried the games for the last three years and hope that they continue to do so.

Posted by: JT | September 23, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse


1. Agreed
2. I feel like the Nats almost immediately regreted the pick when Crow showed that he wouldn't sign immediately.
3. Concerning, though I think a lot of it is posturing. Meaning, the Nats don't have an unlimited budget, so draftees shouldn't think that they can take us for a ride.
4. Both decks are terrible obviously. There is all of this talk about the Lerners fronting their own cash for stadium upgrades, but I'd like to see if others areas of the stadium were skimped in order to beef up the scoreboard.
5. I don't think these moves were salary dumps. The Nats were never happy with Church, and Schneider was due to be replaced in 09 by Flores anyway. Milledge was a top prospect who had worn out his welcome in NYC. The Bonifacio trade is still up in the air, though general consensus is that Jimbo could have gotten a more sure comodity for Rauch.
6. And look what was involved in the Smiley signing...yikes...
7. Players like Lo Duca are absurd. Obviously, he was a stopgap until 09 with Flores, but did they have to sign the guy the day before he shows up in the Mitchell report? Seems like they could have got him for less AFTER the report came out.
8. I still can't shake the '05 Guzman out of my head. But they took the most appealling trade bait we had and locked him up. Hopefully he'll keep performing and be a type A when he signs elsewhere.
9. It seems like Zimm's stock is pretty low after this year, so it might be a good time to lock him up. But it's a two-way street. If Zimm thinks he's going to get Wright money, he's surely mistaken. But he's further along than when Tulo signed, so the numbers must be higher than that contract.
10. Who is junking the Plan? Does anyone actually think the Lerners are going to front the money for a big FA?

Posted by: 756* | September 23, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

As Chief Planista, I think I should point out that a big, expensive free agent who is only entering his prime at a position for which there is little or no depth in the farm system is right in line with the plan.

A big, expensive free agent who is in the middle of or ending his prime years is not in the plan.

(If you deduce, Teixiera as the first and Delgado as the second, you're right!!!!)

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 23, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

756, agree with comments about trades for Milledge not being salary dumps. Rauch's salary was reasonable to say the least. Even so, we should have gotten more for him than a minor league prospect. Bonifacio is at best a slap hitter with zero power, and it seems he can't hit lefties and curveballs. Even an aging Belliard had better defensive stats at 2b for virtually same number of games. Bad trade that shows why Bowden should be out.

Posted by: Frustrated in 310 | September 23, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Wow, how the pendulum has swung on Bonifacio. It's still too early to say.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 23, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

re: parking decks at Nats Park. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't these garages designed/built by the city, before the Lerners bought the team? I seem to recall that the Lerners wanted underground parking garages built before the stadium was completed, but that the city said that would take too much time to be completed and that the Lerners would have to settle for the above ground garages.

Posted by: e | September 23, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

e: yes

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 23, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

This article would seem to indicate that the city wanted the underground garages and the Lerners did not.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 23, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

(cue LAC)

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 23, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

506, since you have welcomed quibbling in the past, here goes: I'm not sure Teixeira, at 29, is "just entering his prime." Methinks he actually falls into your second category as a player in the middle of his prime, or possibly just a wee pit past it. I'm not arguing against signing Tex, but if you have summarized The Plan tenets properly, and I think you may have, then it's possible that we would look to go younger.

NJ denizens, what do we think of Ryan Howard or Prince Fielder? Who else fits in that category? What would it take to get them? Would we be willing to give that up?

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 23, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse


.......... (don't be afraid, that's me doing a happy dance)

If you discount blood relatives and other significant others your inclusion in the fan base for all four teams has swollen it to....... 1 or should I say 1a.

Thanks for the support!

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | September 23, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Wee pit = the impression that a hard grounder leaves in the dirt as it narrowly eludes an infielder's glove.

(Can I get away with that?)

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 23, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Sorry - I have to carry this one over from the previous thread:

"...a puff interview by Debbie "Can I look in the camera more often?" Taylor with Zim."

Debbie Taylor drives me nuts. Sometimes I make my kids crack up by pretending to "direct" her during interviews:

"Okay, nod your head... good... now turn toward the camera... now turn back... nod your head... now look at the camera and nod... good..."

Posted by: Taylor made | September 23, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

thanks, 1a.

My reading comprehension has always been poor, but it doesn't seem to me that the Lerners wanted only above-gorund parking. They just said that since it looked like the underground parking wouldn't be completed in time for Opening Day, then the above-ground would have to do (since the fans have been promised some parking prior to the park opening). I didn't read that they nixed underground altogether. One could infer that the city dragged it's feet in securing the underground lots and getting them ready in time. Or not. But it does seem to me that those garages were planned on being there regardless of whether there was going to be underground lots or not.

Posted by: e | September 23, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"NJ denizens, what do we think of Ryan Howard or Prince Fielder? "

Ryan Howard: Strikes out almost as much as Emilio Bonifacio, but hits more home runs.

Prince Fielder: And you think Dmitri Young is fat?

Posted by: since you asked... | September 23, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Bob, I confess that for me to still be right I'm going to have to play games with definitions. But since we all know being right is far more important than contributing to the collective pursuit of truth, I'll go ahead and do so!

Teixiera is entering his free agent prime, which is, by definition, after his career prime has started. Unless something goes wrong, most players will not be a free agent until after their sixth year, per major league rules. So your very youngest free agents are going to be about 27, most more likely 29 or 30.

This puts Teixiera at the beginning of his prime as a free agent!

And I've got a bridge I can sell you, too.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 23, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

"But it does seem to me that those garages were planned on being there regardless of whether there was going to be underground lots or not."

No, the underground lots would have been on the same land where the garages now stand, and on top of them would have been buildings (retail/office/etc) that would have obstructed the view from inside the stadium every bit as much as those garages do now. Had the city gotten the approval to build the underground garages, the buildings on top probably wouldn't have been done for this season, but they were always in the plan and would have appeared sooner or later. That acreage was never in anyone's plan to be wide open parklike space on top of underground garages.

Posted by: but the buildings there wouldn't be ugly, like the garages are. that's the only difference. | September 23, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Hah! You're pretty slippery, 506. Ever think of becoming an agent?

Posted by: Bob L. Head | September 23, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm up.

Posted by: Nouvelle Poste | September 23, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome, e. My perception that the Lerners did not want underground garages stemmed from my interpretation of the passage below, but it may be that the Lerners wanted underground garages earlier and changed their minds when time was running out (I didn't come up with an earlier article, but more Googling might turn one up). (and from what I've seen from you on this blog, I would think that your comprehension is just fine ;-))

"In a closed-door meeting at the John A. Wilson Building that lasted more than two hours, representatives for the Theodore N. Lerner family, which owns the team, laid out their position that building underground parking is too expensive and time-consuming. City planners, who want to use some of the garage space for retail shops, presented several alternatives featuring at least some underground parking, but the Lerner representatives did not budge."

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 23, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Couple points:

Yes, there would have been SOMETHING there where the parking garages are. But keep in mind that it's a big difference looking out at the Warehouse at OPACY vs. the ugly parking garage in our stadium. Almost anything would look better than that, even a tasteful condo or hotel. That why you have planning--so you can design something that looks good.

Trading Rauch, Church and Schnieder were not salary dumps by MLB standards. But they did save dollars that are important to the Lerners, I'll bet. And I support those trades. My point is this: why don't the Nats ADD salary when they make trades?

Posted by: EdDC | September 23, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

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