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What's Next

Welcome to the beginning of the offseason. In a way, you could actually argue that the offseason started yesterday, right around the time the Nats issued a press release announcing the dismissals of their coaches (minus Randy St. Claire). The announcement was made public in the eighth inning, and so there we media types were, hustling over to Jim Bowden's private box -- yes, while the game was still playing out in the background -- to ask about the changes that signal the start of 2009.

"We're going to start 2009 [Monday] morning," Bowden said.

So, let me begin our own offseason -- the Nats Journal offseason -- by asking a question: What do you hope for from this blog between now and the first whiff of fresh-cut grass in Viera, Fla.? What did Barry do last year? What can we build on?

For sure, I will always appear in this territory for breaking news. I'll also post the occasional big picture item. Juicy rumors, gossip, and junior high hallway talk about free agency signings and trades are also part of the plan. A few caveats: For the next few weeks, I'll have my head buried in day-to-day postseason coverage. (I'll be starting out in Chicago on Wednesday.) Thus, a lot of my blogging energies will be channeled to the Post's upstart baseball blog. Also, I'm gonna take a vacation or two. (There are two certainties of this job: weight gain, and Marriott points.)

While you mull things over and offer some suggestions, here's the reading material for today. Here we've got a big picture story looking at the relationships that connect the Nats organization, and here we have the final-day story -- essentially, a narrative about a day of massive change.

By Chico Harlan  |  September 29, 2008; 7:24 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: More On The Coaching Changes
Next: An Interview With Manny Acta

Comments

"And seriously, I despise Clint as much as the next gal, but can we agree to retire moaning about Clint, Screech's filth, and the dancing usher (who I actually like quite a bit, especially after seeing his interview on the WETA special). Let's all MOVE ON."

Don't fire Clint, fire his coach.

Don't can the dancing usher, can the song he dances to. Seriously.

Don't give Screech a bath. By next year he'll be black, and can be traded to Baltimore as a backup Oriole Bird in exchange for a MASN viewer to be named later.

Posted by: there, i solved all your problems! | September 29, 2008 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Heed the battle cry

Posted by: Fire Clint!!! | September 29, 2008 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Chico,

Thank you for a brilliant rookie season. I for one hope to see postings several times per week over the next few months with early and often coverage throughout the winter meetings, spring training, and beyond. I want to see information on the players, Arizona League, business of baseball, stadium improvements, staff changes, player offseasons, baseball media coverage, player profiles, and anything else that crops up. I'll be chaecking in regularly and it always brightens my day when there is even a small new post up. Thanks for your efforts.

Posted by: NatBisquit | September 29, 2008 8:13 AM | Report abuse

When they fire Clint, I will believe change is coming.

Chico, it would be nice if you had at least one (if not two) post a week. Even if it is "No News, November 15, 2008". It will allow the chat to continue.

Posted by: ChrisC | September 29, 2008 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Chico, it would be nice if you had at least one (if not two) post a week. Even if it is "No News, November 15, 2008". It will allow the chat to continue.

Posted by: ChrisC | September 29, 2008 8:14 AM

I second the motion. Throughout the season, my post-lurking revealed nuggets of information from many, many posters, and this added to the value of the blog. This blog should be a centerpiece for off-season discussions and information sharing amongst all, so please keep it fresh.

Posted by: joemktg | September 29, 2008 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Harlan,

Good work so far. We're lucky to have you.

Over the offseason I hope this forum continues to be the up-to-the minute source for any crumb of Nationals news that comes along. There should be plenty, relatively speaking, with the coaching staff housecleaning you're already reporting on.

I would also like (starting around January) to hear from some of the key players for 'o9 and how they're spending their offseason. Are they drinking bud in a recliner or playing golf and fishing? Are they working out and watching film? Playing baseball somewhere?

I don't know how much we got into it last winter, but I know that several of the senior commentors (I'm looking at you, Hendo, Wigi) here have baseball related bookshelves that would provide some great insights and salve for that baseball jones. Maybe an NJ book of the month club?

I know you got ribbed for taking a lot of time off, rook, but I hope you use up the rest of your sick/personal/vacation days before Valentine's day so that when you show up in Viera we've got you for seven months. (I'm only mostly kidding)

More: let us know about the front-office housecleaning (hope hope!), the firing of Clint, the replacement staff for the sound/video operations at the park, etc. We need morsels, crumbs; we do not hibernate!

Posted by: i hate walks | September 29, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Take some time off, Chico - you deserve it after the grind of the season - this season, particularly. Between you and Mark Zuckerman, we have a discouraging picture of ownership. I saw Stan Kasten on Fan Appreciation Night and he looked exactly like Pat Gillick looked just before he left the Orioles because he was tired of being undermined by Angelos and his sons. The Nats were the only team to send no one to MLB's scout school and summer meetings, much to the surprise of those in the business. Expense reimbursements take months and are personally reviewed by Ted Lerner. Who of us who work on the road could finance our employers in this manner? Written memos justifying trades? If Andy MacPhail had to do that he would quit. Pat Gillick has the Phillies in the playoffs again, just as he did with the Mariners. Why should we who rooted for the O's in 1997 endure another 10 years of futility caused by arrogant ownership in D.C.?

Posted by: flynnie | September 29, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for asking, Chico. And thanks for sticking with us so far... I also vote for at least a few posts per week (Barry tended to do more than that, but he also bought us ice cream after every game, as we know). As others have noted, regular posts give us a much needed Nats fix and keep the comments flowing.

Since you asked, after a quick look at the NJ archives, past offseason topics included but were not limited to, in no particular order: player news (roster moves, contracts, trades, and [gulp] surgeries); staff changes; Arizona Fall League and winter ball news; draft analysis; 2009 schedule details; radio and tv broadcast news; and the GM and winter meetings. Relations with the DC government are another possibility (ahem), and I also like the suggestion on players' offseason activities and the one on book discussions. Perhaps a good start there might be books relating to the history of baseball in DC.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 29, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Chico,

You could keep us posted on the performances of several Nats properties that will be playing in the AFL, and the Latin Winter League.

Posted by: 6th and D | September 29, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

BTW,

Excellent article by Chico and Dave this morning. Much more balanced and thorough that the Times piece last week. (Although sure to frustrate many of the regulars here). I hear mixed messages on LoDucca, but it seems from what I have read that Estrada, Lopez, and perhaps Mackoviak were truly destructive. Perhaps LoDucca fits in that category too, but I am confused by the mixed messages - competitive, accountable, helpful to younger players including Flores vs. the more sinister overtones you hear. I'd like to know more about that soap opera someday.

Posted by: NatBisquit | September 29, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

What about another happy hour with you and NJ readers, and perhaps Barry, Dave and Boz? I missed the first one but would love to go to one when you guys are free.
As far as posts, just put up info when you have it. I don't expect daily updates anymore but would love to get your info when you have it.

Posted by: Ben | September 29, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Got new posted, which is a good thing.

Chico, Two or three posts a week would be fine to take us to 09.

Dale,
I think you're right.

estuartj,
I disagree with you. The draft failure was not just Crow. To fully exploit the draft we must draft and sign players in depth. My frustration this year went may beyond the Crow debacle. We missed out on several good oportunities apparently because of an unrealistically low budget. I'm afraid next year we might sign the top two and then a springling of organizational players. Up until now I haven't supported Learners Are Cheap but I'm beginnng to do so.
I hope I'm wrong.
Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | September 29, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

The Nats don't hit enough homeruns, so you rarely hear my song. Play it during the 7th inning stretch instead.

Posted by: Chuck Brown | September 29, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Nice work Chico and Dave! I imagine it's tough to write an article when "Ted Lerner and his son, Mark, declined to comment for this story, deferring questions to Kasten."

Posted by: 756* | September 29, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

"Written memos justifying trades?"

Sounds like something an owner would require if they don't know much about baseball. Or what's worse, they don't know much about baseball and are overly controlling.

Posted by: The devil is in the details | September 29, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I agree. But I should point out, it also sounds like something a huge percentage of posters in the Constituency would like to get from Jim Bowden, too.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 29, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

We want Strasburg.

Posted by: Greg (DC) | September 29, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

"What do you hope for from this blog between now and the first whiff of fresh-cut grass in Viera, Fla.?"

Since I won't be checking back, I don't care. While this season was tough to stomach, the complete negativity and (at times) viciousness by a majority of posters here have made it more difficult. Prior to this season, the disucssions on this blog were informative, intellectual and civil. Not anymore. So, I hope that all the Negative Nate's in here can find something somewhere that will somehow make them appreciate some of the finer things. Personal attacks on fellow posters and players/coaches just isn't my cup of tea. I've got way too many other things to do and enjoy. Why spend what little spare time I have belittling others? Good luck and I hope to see all of you at Nats Park when the Nats make the playoffs soon.

Peace.

-- e

Posted by: e | September 29, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

estuartj,
I disagree with you. The draft failure was not just Crow. To fully exploit the draft we must draft and sign players in depth. My frustration this year went may beyond the Crow debacle. We missed out on several good oportunities apparently because of an unrealistically low budget. I'm afraid next year we might sign the top two and then a springling of organizational players. Up until now I haven't supported Learners Are Cheap but I'm beginnng to do so.
I hope I'm wrong.
Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | September 29, 2008 9:39 AM

The 2008 draft failure was ENTIRELY Crow-related.

Over slot for Hood in the 2nd, Nieto in the 5th and Ramirez in the 15th. Didn't they sign everyone from 2 through like 20 after signing 1-20 last season. And correct me if I'm wrong but didn't they lead the league in signing bonus spending in '07?

Aside from Crow, you can't fault effort draft-wise. Jury is still out on the talent added.

Posted by: Gal Revels in Pee | September 29, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

"I agree. But I should point out, it also sounds like something a huge percentage of posters in the Constituency would like to get from Jim Bowden, too."

True, but in our case, I think we'd appreciate it after the fact. Under difficult time constraints (for instance, before the trade deadline), I wouldn't want a trade to be held up b/c the Lerners didn't get their memo.

Posted by: DiD | September 29, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

e, I'd miss your postings here but I understand where you are coming from. I would add that this season's decline in civility is not unique to this venue. My own perception is that it is a minority of posters who indulge in personal attacks, but there do seem to be more instances of such this year.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 29, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

"Didn't they sign everyone from 2 through like 20 after signing 1-20 last season. And correct me if I'm wrong but didn't they lead the league in signing bonus spending in '07?"

They did not sign their 1st, 14th and 20th round draft picks in 2008.

They spent the second most in draft bonuses in 2007.

Though your point about the jury still being out remains valid.

Posted by: Brian | September 29, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Chico-

Well done this year. Here are some suggestions for the offseason:

1. Create a way to sign up for the blog and receive an email when you have a new post.

2. In depth analysis of our farm system.

3. Player stories like the one Barry did on Nick Johnson. However, lots more of them!

4. Analysis of what other clubs do ffor fans in the offseason like "FanFest" versus the pittance that the Nats do for us.

5. Link up with Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America and see if they will do stuff focused on the Nats. It might sell them more subscritions!

6. Updates on developments around the stadium, like new bars/restaurants and the like.

7. LOTS OF RUMOR MILL STUFF. WE LOVE IT ALL! Especially anything you can get regarding the Nats through sources.

8. I'd love to see some stuff on the future of the Nats AAA affiliate. Will they work with someone to bring a new team to Richmond and get a stadium deal done? Seems like somthing that would expand the marketing base in a positive direction.

9. analysis of Stephen Strasburg - lets hope we sign him!

Thanks a bunch. We hope to hear from you soon and often!

Posted by: NatsWin! | September 29, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Gal,
Thanks for responding, I enjoy the discussion.
I respectfully disagree with the exception that I think you are correct that the 2007 Draft was done very well. It made me an advocate of the plan.

Remember that "slot" is not some universal law but merely an arbitrary amount determined by Bud for the advantage of the teams against the players in negotiations. Nevertheless, I applaud their efforts with #2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 15. They paid overslot, but more to the point, they paid what was necessary to sign their choices. In addition to #1, they failed to sign #14, 20, 26, 29, 31, 32, and 33. #32 Silverstein could be a #1 in three years. The total they spent on the 08 draft was in the bottom third of all MLB. This is not the way you catch up from years of heglect from MLB. We should be at the top of $ invested in the draft especially since we spend very little elsewhere in player acquisition.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | September 29, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

The blog used to be a lot more secluded than it is now. There were fewer posters, but they were an astute and dedicated lot. I learned a lot from them and it's always still nice to see someone like Wigi drop in when you haven't seen them for awhile (not to mention the hope that Hendo or Natscan or JennX will stop by).

Now we've got some sprawl and the quietness is gone. Just like my hometown of Manassas, I can't understand why some people move here and then complain about living here nonstop, but they're here. I imagine there's a lot of other new people here, too, one's that aren't necessarily posting ("lurker" is really an affectionate term, we promise). What that means for the future, I don't know.

What it means now is that some of us who have been around since the beginning (or very near to it) won't be happy living here any longer and that's real sad. I can't begrudge them looking for other places to post (please let us know where, so we can come visit!). We'll miss you, e, stop in to visit on days after wins when the more rabid among us have been fed.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 29, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I expect daily progress reports on Strasburg...

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 29, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I may have exagerated how low the Nats were in the $ paid for draft choices. I don't know if it was bottom third but based on the ever-informative Brian from NFA the Nats spent about $5M and Boston and KC (KC!) spent over $10M each on this year's draft. Spending half of what the leaders do is no way to catch up.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | September 29, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Chico,

Thanks for your work this season - I didn't (and don't) always agree with your editors' choices on coverage, but even when I disagreed with an angle you took on a story, I always felt like I understood why you had taken it and I feel like you've brought insight into my understanding of this lousy team. Besides that, you deserve a certain amount of appreciation for surviving the season.

As for the decline in civility that some of the other posters have alluded to, I've found (in the 3+ years of lurking and posting at NJ) that the off-season blog is a kinder, gentler place - most of the yelling and screaming happens when you're caught in the day-to-day madness of a 100+ loss season.

As for stuff I'd like to see:

- AFL coverage - and not just "Hey, the Nats have guys in the AFL!" Actual coverage - send somebody out there (maybe one of the playoff writers could swing by when they go to cover the Boston-Anaheim series or the LAD). How do our guys look, how do they look compared to some of the supposed studs in the league?

- Long-form interview with Stan. Like something Nats320 would do, only don't let up. If he doesn't want to go on the record about his relationship with Mark, fine (we'll get Needham to dust off the Stanspeak translator for that)

- Series of articles/posts in the runup to the winter meetings looking at what's available (FA and Trade rumors), what's needed, and what it might take to fill some of those holes.

In short, I think the kind of coverage the WaPo wants to do on baseball (more feature-ish) lends itself to off-season coverage. Even during the season, the more interesting and important stuff was happening off the field - I don't see a lot of change in that now.

Posted by: Highway 295 Revisited | September 29, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Chico--we need several things covered in the offseason to help us in 2009.

1. Why doesn't Washington have one all-around All Star? (Guzman had a great offensive year, has no range on defense. And Zimm, sadly, wouldn't be the All Star 3rd baseman if ONLY the NL East were considered. He wouldn't even be the All Star if only DC and Baltimore were considered). So why no All Stars here?

2. When will Manny stop being so conservative? When will he let guys hit the first pitch if it's there? When will he let guys hit on 3-0? Why wouldn't he let Zimm (11 bunt hits rookie year) lay down a suicide squeeze to tie the Phils in the top of the 9th Saturday? He is the most careful, cautious, fearful manager in the MLB, on a team with NOTHING TO LOSE!

3. If St. Claire is so outstanding (and I do like him) why do we walk leadoffs so often? Do we lead the NL in this category? Also my theory is we lead the MLB in walking opposing pitchers? Why?

4. Can you put in the paper a devastating summary of our offensive performance versus other teams this year? # HR, #3B, #runs, #GIDP, #successful sac bunts by pitchers, #SB, etc? Also--a cool stat I don't know if I've seen before--LOB as percentage of all runners on base--I bet any money we stranded a higher percentage of baserunners than any team in MLB. I think seeing all this on one sheet of paper will reinforce just how awful we really were in 2008.

5. Can you pick up on Zimm's comment the other day regarding the strength of opposing teams in the NL East, and how we can't stack up with them? I went to 30 games this year, and so many times, as I looked at the lineups I said to friends, "We are doomed...Cory Casto versus Ryan Howard; Zimm versus Wright; Uggla versus Bonifacio; Willie Harris at 3B versus Chipper Jones. DOOMED." Can you do a graphic or pictorial of how badly positioned we really are for 2009?

6. Is there any way for you to portray how incredibly bound the Nats are to utility players? I've never seen anything like it in watching 45 years of baseball...Casto, Orr, Harris, Wackowiack/Ugh, Gonzalez, Hernandez, Langerhans, Belliard...is there any team in the MLB that has a higher percentage of its 25 player limit as utility men? I mean, Jamey Carroll would be a franchise player on this team!

7. Money. Can you write about it? I was at the last game/rainout, and I swear the Lerners had to make at least $250,000 cash on that rainout. Straight profit, even with no game. They HAVE the money--can you show how much they're making? -- Really need graphics on this. We must shame the Lerners into spending money so we can win.

Posted by: WisdomVision | September 29, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

give us updates on our boys playing Winter Ball.

beyond that, I look forward to some inside scoopage during Free Agency and the Winter Meetings. You should be able to give us some insight and details into how trade and FA negotiations progress between the Nationals and outside parties.

Posted by: MrMadison | September 29, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Am I missing something? I do not see a link for a Washington Post baseball blog on the "Sports Columns & Blogs" page or on the "Sports" page. Where would I find a link to this blog?

Posted by: Bob in Young Harris | September 29, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/baseball-insider/

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 29, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

1. Create a way to sign up for the blog and receive an email when you have a new post.

----------------------

RSS Feeds ftw.

down at the bottom of the blog page is a button named "RSS Feed". If you have a RSS Aggregator(I use Google Reader),you can click on that to have the Blog updates sent directly to your Reader.

Posted by: MrMadison | September 29, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

SlowPitch: But if the team had come to agreement with Crow, the total would be closer to $9M.

Posted by: BIM | September 29, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

"Am I missing something? I do not see a link for a Washington Post baseball blog on the "Sports Columns & Blogs" page or on the "Sports" page. Where would I find a link to this blog?"

Look right under the link to the Potomac Nationals coverage.

Posted by: and if that fails, ask Boswell | September 29, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

"- AFL coverage - and not just "Hey, the Nats have guys in the AFL!" Actual coverage - send somebody out there (maybe one of the playoff writers could swing by when they go to cover the Boston-Anaheim series or the LAD). How do our guys look, how do they look compared to some of the supposed studs in the league?"

To piggy-back this suggestion. Stats would be nice and space efficient. AFL, winterball, etc.

Posted by: 756* | September 29, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

"SlowPitch: But if the team had come to agreement with Crow, the total would be closer to $9M."

But if Bowden's comments to Chico are to be believed, it was a matter of Jones/Ramirez OR Crow, not both. That would put the bonus total closer to $7.5M.

They spent $5M and they shouldn't get credit for "almost"s.

The issue is not that they didn't sign Crow, it was that there was a cap to the overall draft budget that was less than several other major league teams, when their repeated efforts have centered around rebuilding from the farm up.

Posted by: Brian | September 29, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

What is the link for the baseball blog? It's still not up on the main sports page. Is the Post trying to keep this a secret?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 29, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

e,

I am so sorry to see you leave the confines of this blog. Overall, I think that this site is inhabited with peaceful, knowledgeable folks who think and even edit before writing, unlike our cousins in the Redskin blogs. Those that have been thin skinned and quick to lash out here have not had the fuel to keep it up for long and the tone becomes restored. What I particularly like is that the opposing views are presented with wit and reason and the stilleto blades are kept small so that we do not have to bear witness to blunt bludgeoning and mayhem. Some of the posters are crusaders for their point of view and given the results of this season and their persistence have won over converts. So I am now more favorable in viewing Bowden on shaky ground, the Lerners as being too penny pinching and that the WaPost could indeed expand its coverage of the Nats.

On a second note I applaud the writings at National Farm Authority and Fire Jim Bowden for making me a more enlightened baseball fan. The minor league coverage that SHOULD be in WaPost is found at NFA and the pregame analysis found at FJB is abundant and clear. If the power brokers at the WaPost sports department are looking for a blueprint on how to expand coverage of the Nats then they do not have to look any further than these two sites. In general I have found a huge gap between the information rendered in Chico's game story and the printed box score, a gap that has caused me to happily find information on other sites.

Posted by: Dale | September 29, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Congrats on a your first season Chico. I've enjoyed your work, and look forward to meeting you at the soon to be announced happy hour. Lots of good suggestions here about what to cover over the off season. To summarize -- feed us as much as you possibly can on every conceivable Nats topic.

One thing I'd add is that I've enjoyed virtually every one of your reading recommendations -- both baseball and non-baseball related. Keep that coming. I need distractions at work.

Now for some important inside info that many on this blog might find interesting. During the STH picnic, I was finally beaten down into going in to the build-a-bear store at Nats Park. And who showed up, but the slimy bird himself, Screech. I asked his handler if he would be getting a bath in the offseason. And she said, "better than that, he'll be getting a whole new costume. Actually," she continued, "we wash him every week, but so many kids are touching him that it's impossible to keep him clean."

So there, all you Screech haters.

Posted by: Section 222 | September 29, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

BIM,
True, but JB said we were only able to sign Ramirez (#15) and one or two others BECAUSE we did not sign Crow. This leads me to believe that their budget was $5-6M. I think that is wrong! Since this is where the plan has our emphasis I think our budget should be closer to $15M. I know it's a risk, but so are MLB free agents (ZITO, Jones). Now, just because I say the budget should be $15M, doesn't mean we should spend all that when the player(s) wants more than we think is reasonable. For instance this year, I would hope we would have offered Coleman (#14) second round $ and Silverstein (#32) low first round $. That would have made a splash and increased the likelyhood that the draft would produce a frontline starter. This is the cheapest, but least sure way to acquire players. They invested in the scouts and they should have taken adantage of the scouts we have and signed the choices.

Let's play two

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | September 29, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I'd love daily (even when you don't update the blog itself) sidebar links to related Nats content. Like the beloved-but-defunt CP still does. Or what Steinberg does on the Bog.

Posted by: Softball Girl | September 29, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Gal, BIM,
Pay more attention to what Brian has to say than to what I post. I use his blog, NFA, as a source for much of what I post.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | September 29, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Nice job in your rookie season, Chico. Bravo Zulu.

Definitely lots of Arizona Fall League/Hawaii Winter Ball coverage of the Nats players would be great. Besides, I hear Hawaii's a nice place to visit on an expense account!

Posted by: Juan-John | September 29, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

The basis for the whole Ramirez or Crow thing is one quote from Bowden covering his ass after the deadline passed.

I do think there is a budget, but I don't think its a small or as firm as you describe.

I also don't believe thay had a deal in place for Ramirez but kept him holding in case Crow signed.

When it looked more likely that Crow wouldn't sign they probably got much more aggressive about signing Ramirez, but not for a second do I think it was a straight one vs the other the way you describe. I firmly believe if they had 20 more minutes to negotiate they would have gotten Crow AND Ramirez, the fault for not having that extra 20 minutes goes to Crow's bonehead agents.

At least with Boras we won't have to worry about that kind of amateur BS.

Posted by: estuartj | September 29, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Chico;

We need a "Hot Stove" Nats Blog between now and February. In reality we have not had that since the team came to DC. Would like to have you throw it out (some red meat as well as some chicken sh*t) and then let the guys/gals go at it.

Posted by: Tippy Canoe | September 29, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Brian, SlowPitch: I had forgotten about JimBow's comments when the dust started to settle regarding "the money coming clear" to sign Ramirez & who else, Hood?. My bad.

Posted by: BIM | September 29, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

>7. Money. Can you write about it? I was at the last game/rainout, and I swear the Lerners had to make at least $250,000 cash on that rainout. Straight profit, even with no game. They HAVE the money--can you show how much they're making? -- Really need graphics on this. We must shame the Lerners into spending money so we can win.<

Ted Lerner is worth 3.6 billion. You sound like the other tools that argue about this dime coming in, and that budget, when the guy could spend any amount he wants to without having it affect his bottom line one bit. 200 million on payroll is a write-off, pure and simple. But, this is what the rich people do, they turn it into a game, and the little people sit around and look at the situation from their own perspective, you know, balancing money to pay the rent, paying for your kids' education, getting a second car, etc. As long as people argue about what amounts to pennies to the Lerner family, they have you right where they want you. The guy is worth more than Steinbrenner.

Posted by: Brue | September 29, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

"I asked his handler if he would be getting a bath in the offseason. And she said, "better than that, he'll be getting a whole new costume."

You forgot to ask the follow-up question: How mamy memos were required for that?

Posted by: not that the Post would have asked it either, mind you | September 29, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Chico,

Many thanks for your coverage during the season. A grinding, often thankless task. And we appreciate your efforts.

For the off-season:

1) A two-month hiatus on anything Nats. All of us need to detox and not worry about Uncle Ted approving our expense reports. God forbid if we've got Angelos' hands-on ownership but without his wallet.

2) Coverage of the winter meetings and other significant developments (trades, etc.).

3) I like the idea from others of another happy-hour (since I missed the first one) with you and others from the Post. I'm curious to know Barry's perspective since he no longer has to mince words.

4) Georgetown basketball victories over Syracuse. Now, that would make for a great off-season!


Posted by: Ashburn | September 29, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Chico - congrats on a fine rookie season. Also - very smart of you take a few days here and there to stay fresh - I love baseball, but I cannot imagine having to do it pretty much 6 months straight. Kudos.

As for the offseason, just keep us up to date, so that there aren't 223 posts by the time we've got something new to discuss. There's the playoffs and World Series and then all of the Awards, hot stove league, Rule 5 Draft, MLB Winter meetings, Caribbean WS, etc.

Here's a topic, why don't the Nats have anyone on the Hawaiian Winter League?

I love rumors about who the Nats might sign or trade for, and which folks have been brought in to interview for one of the coaching vacancies.

As for the Nats Draft this past June, not signing Crow is a disappointment, but looking at the quotes and interviews, he sounds a little like a headcase and we may end up being happy about hos this turned out. Maybe. The Nats 25 of the top 30 picks, excluding, 1-14-20-26-29. If you look at other teams, this is pretty representative of how many players sign.

Posted by: Sec 114, Row E | September 29, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Chico,

In addition to the many excellent suggestions others have made already, I hope you will be following the injured players and the status of their rehab/recovery in the offseason. Barry had a great story about Nick Johnson this past Winter, and while it may not be possible for you to follow all of the Nats' walking wounded to that degree, a story or two about Nick, Dmitri, Hill, Kearns, Cordero et al. would be great. If (or perhaps I should say when) Dmitri comes in to Spring Training at 320 lbs., or Nick's wrist is not healed, that shouldn't be news to us fans. I would hope we will already know about it based on your reporting.

Also, a story on Dukes would be great, if the Nats would allow you to spend some time with him. I would love to hear about how he spends his time in the offseason as he tries to turn the page. His performance this year also merits a look back at what was a pretty remarkable season given his personal circumstances and the way things started out for him on the field this season.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 29, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure I'm the only person on the planet wondering this, but were batting practice coaches Jose Martinez and Pablo Reyes included in these firings?

Posted by: Sarah | September 29, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

estuartj,
You're right, my analysis is based on the JB quote. That and no evidence of any extraordinary actions reference #14 Coleman or #32 Silverstein.

I really hope you are correct about the draft budget being larger and more flexible than the evidence from this year would indicate. Let's hope we run te table next June.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | September 29, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

"Now we've got some sprawl and the quietness is gone."

506, it just means your real estate here is getting more valuable.

Posted by: i hate walks | September 29, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I add my thanks to Chico, a worthy successor to Barry, for all his hard work and wonderful writing. Just because it was done last off-season doesn't mean we don't need another thorough update on Nick Johnson and the others on the casualty list. I hope we don't think the Nats are really going to sign a major impact free agent. To me, the list looks thin, with the few desirable ones going to teams on the cusp. A major trade is the best hope, no matter what you think of Bowden. I'll try to spend the off-season thinking about how quickly the Tigers and Rays (and hey, the '91 Braves) turned things around.

Posted by: Nats24 | September 29, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

"2. When will Manny stop being so conservative? When will he let guys hit the first pitch if it's there? When will he let guys hit on 3-0? Why wouldn't he let Zimm (11 bunt hits rookie year) lay down a suicide squeeze to tie the Phils in the top of the 9th Saturday? He is the most careful, cautious, fearful manager in the MLB, on a team with NOTHING TO LOSE!"

Yeah, and while you're at it, do a withering exposé on why Manny makes them swing at balls in the dirt a foot outside, and why he's forcing them to hit ground balls at the shortstop instead of hitting home runs like all the other managers make their hitters do.
--shaking head--


"3. If St. Claire is so outstanding, why do we walk leadoffs so often?"

I coached good, but boy, did they play bad! --Casey Stengal

Posted by: CE | September 29, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Sell! Sell now!

****************
"Now we've got some sprawl and the quietness is gone."
506, it just means your real estate here is getting more valuable.
Posted by: i hate walks | September 29, 2008 1:04 PM

Posted by: Your broker | September 29, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

"True, but JB said we were only able to sign Ramirez (#15) and one or two others BECAUSE we did not sign Crow."
_______________________

I have often made the point (created in my mind without any proof whatsoever) that Bowden could have just been posturing with this quote. Due to the 07 draft, the Nats gained a reputation of signing above slot (and maybe even above value). As we painfully saw in 08, agents/players tried to take advantage of this. I believe that the Nats purposefully took this stance with Crow to reverse the perception that they will do anything and everything to sign their draftees. Bowden's comment again reinforces that shift, even if he didn't mean it or if it wasn't true.

Again, these are my pontifications and strickly IMO.

Posted by: 756* | September 29, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"506, it just means your real estate here is getting more valuable."

Henceforth, please call me Mr. Potter.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 29, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

756*--That might make sense with Ramirez, but not the top pick. They offered well over $3MM, which wouldn't have mitigated this perception, and may well have exacerbated it, if Crow had taken the deal.

********
I believe that the Nats purposefully took this stance with Crow to reverse the perception that they will do anything and everything to sign their draftees.

Posted by: 756* | September 29, 2008 1:18 PM

Posted by: CE | September 29, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

@ Brue, "You sound like the other tools" is a bit harsh, don't you think?

But to back you up a bit on this comment "The guy is worth more than Steinbrenner"...I forget which owner said it, but it was basically this...Essentially, there are more profitable businesses out there than baseball, so people shouldn't buy baseball teams seeking huge profits. Generally, people get into baseball for the love of the game.

Maybe this has changed with revenue sharing, ie now you don't have to spend money to make money.

Posted by: 756* | September 29, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

All Stephen Strasburg all the time!

Until he is debuting in the Nats bullpen the day after the draft.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 29, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

756,
Your pontifications are always respected and opinions valued.

This, however, does point out the difficulties of basing a discussion on the statemets of a man with the reputation as a Diogenes reject.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | September 29, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Chico, warm up the Hot Stove! Lots of rumors, plenty of coverage of the prospects in winter ball and then profiles of them as camp draws near, and finally some insight on the Nats' players and system from execs, scouts or other wise men from other teams. Always good to get a second opinion.

Posted by: baltova | September 29, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

"3. If St. Claire is so outstanding (and I do like him) why do we walk leadoffs so often? Do we lead the NL in this category? Also my theory is we lead the MLB in walking opposing pitchers? Why?"

Yeowch.

I don't think this is as directly related to St. Claire as you might imply, but I, too, would be interested to see these stats.

On the other hand, my neck muscles are loose and flexible now from all the times my head has hung forward this season after watching the Nats walk the pitcher/leadoff batter.

Posted by: i hate walks | September 29, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

"'We're going to start 2009 [Monday] morning,' Bowden said."

Well it's Monday afternoon, how about a status report from Jimbo?


Posted by: Anonymous | September 29, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

So that would make this Potterville, not Natsville? Who wants to be Clarence?

---

Henceforth, please call me Mr. Potter.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 29, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

"As long as people argue about what amounts to pennies to the Lerner family, they have you right where they want you. The guy is worth more than Steinbrenner."

And that, of course, ABSOLUTELY justifies gross overspending on free agents and draft picks, right?

I'd love to see a poll on the number of fans who whine about how the Yankees are "the Evil Empire" and how the Red Sox became "Evil Empire II" because they learned how to open THEIR wallets, yet gripe that the Nats don't follow suit, especially when their owner is "worth more than Steinbrenner."

I'd put Boz in charge of that poll, since he's the worst offender.

Posted by: MikeH0714 | September 29, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Chico,
I too say "thanks for asking."

First, it's important to note that, like Congress being the "people's house," this journal belongs to the "people," i.e. the fans of the Washington Nationals.

For die-hard Nats' fans, the black hole that is the off-season can become very depressing. News of any kind is greatly appreciated during the winter months. My blog's traffic usually doubles during the winter as I continue to post every day, as fans root out new, any news.

Would it be possible for - in your absence - some readers, or bloggers, or some combination, to post and continue the dicussion through the winter? We have the time to write stories and keep up with what's going on during the "hot stove" season.

There are too many people out there actively promoting the demise of baseball's third reincarnation in Washington, and those of us who want it to succeed need to keep those fires stoked.

What say you?

Posted by: The Beltway Boy | September 29, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

756*--That might make sense with Ramirez, but not the top pick. They offered well over $3MM, which wouldn't have mitigated this perception, and may well have exacerbated it, if Crow had taken the deal.
______________________________________

How far apart were they with Crow (I forget Bowden's final account of the story)? Was it 400K? Most of us on NJ were asking, they couldn't bridge a 400K gap???!!! But that showed that they weren't going to roll over and just give Crow whatever he wanted. They took a stand.

Posted by: 756* | September 29, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

e-

I am not a frequent poster, but a frequent reader. Please come back. Take some time off and reengage. I have always found your commentary insightful and balanced. When I only have time to skim, I look for who has posted and yours is one I never skip.

If not, best of luck and let us know where you are.

Posted by: NatsWin! | September 29, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Speaking only for myself, no offense to those of you fans who have your own blogs, but I know where to find them if I'm interested. I come here to read articles written by Post journalists (and the associated comments, of course).

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 29, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

That was in response to the suggestion by the Beltway Boy (I got caught in that time-space thingy again).

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 29, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

"First, it's important to note that, like Congress being the "people's house," this journal belongs to the "people," i.e. the fans of the Washington Nationals."

Only that riff-raff in the lower house call themselves the "people's house." Of course, you might know that since they also call themselves "Congress." Rabble!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 29, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to see a poll on the number of fans who whine about how the Yankees are "the Evil Empire" and how the Red Sox became "Evil Empire II" because they learned how to open THEIR wallets, yet gripe that the Nats don't follow suit, especially when their owner is "worth more than Steinbrenner."
____________________________________

Openning their wallets wouldn't turn them into the Yankees, it would turn them into a bottom third to bottom half spending team.

For those unaware of this fact, there is middle ground between a $50 million payroll and a $200 million payroll.

Posted by: 756* | September 29, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I thought the Red Sox were the Evil Empire 4

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 29, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

>And that, of course, ABSOLUTELY justifies gross overspending on free agents and draft picks, right?<

Here again, the little man is coming to the rescue of the multi-billionaire. Lerner claims that every penny he makes goes back into the team. Says nothing about spending some of his own money and recouping it later on. Claims he won't make any money, quote, 'FOR TEN YEARS' unquote. Grosses $195 million this year, pays out $50 million to the players, gets a stadium for $611 million, pays $450 million for a team that will only go up in value because they have increased revenue streams with the new venue. Can't sign a top draft pick because of $400,000 - claims that money was earmarked for a 15th rounder who got signed at 11:59 at the deadline. Keeps Bowden on probably because he's cheap and has no leverage - most of the league can't stand the guy and won't do business with him. Pays his manager 500k because he's young and has no leverage. Either has coaches on his staff that are ready for the glue factory (Corrales and Morales), or wet behind the ears (Lenny), with very little in between (Tolman and St. Claire). Welches on his rent payments because he feels slighted - I guess his feelings got hurt because he didn't get his way. The statement about not signing Crow is that they would rather throw a starting pitcher under the bus instead of improve the team.

People talk about the Rays - they habitually signed their top-tier picks, that's how they got better, and now that a lot of those guys are in their mid-late twenties, they're starting to win. This team has gotten worse talent wise every single year they've been in DC, and there's no excuse for that. f you think that they can get the 3-4 big sticks that they need from the minor league system, I'd would love for somebody to show me, and I'll shoot holes in every last one of them. Maybe Michael Burgess, that's it, and he's a couple of years away. Yet, Bowden claims that pitching is the key, and he can't even sign his top pitching pick yet. These people are lying to you when they say they want to improve the team. They just want to make money and retain their jobs. And guess who pays to support it? I haven't been this angry the past few years, I've tried to enjoy the team as best I can, but at some point you have to look at the facts. And these are the facts as I see them. There's just no way around this mess anymore and the team needs to know it.

Posted by: Brue | September 29, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Brue,
Don't forget the revenue sharing money that the Nats will get from the league.

Posted by: 756* | September 29, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Chico...great first year!

I'd like to see some discussion on the players...perceived strengths and weaknesses. Where they fit in on the team...long term/short term. Maybe a player of the week or a look at a position per week.

Posted by: Expos Fan | September 29, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see comprehensive coverage of the business of baseball. I realize it's difficult because the ownership is privately held and the numbers are nearly impossible to get. But they are critically important to the team's potential competitiveness, and to the economic success of the stadium for the District. Plus, the subject is just intrinsically interesting. For example:

1. What kind of cash flow did the team generate for 2008. What is projected for next year if season tickets drop, as I suspect they will, from 18,000 to below 16,000?

2. What marketing and PR efforts were undertaken for 2008? Planned for 2009? Why did the team close the downtown store? What is going on in the marketing department that led senior executives to quit?

3. What, exactly, is the dispute between the Lerners and the District over the stadium construction. We are months into this story and I haven't seen any in-depth coverage of what, exactly, is at issue in terms of work not being completed, nor have I seen any sophisticated reporting on the legal/contractual issues. This is a matter of importance not only to baseball fans but to all DC taxpayers.

4. What is the economic model of the successful major league franchise? How many season tickets need to be sold as a percentage of overall attendance? How has this changed in the last 20 years -- from the time when season tickets were a relative rarity and single-game tickets (many of them walk-up) predominated. How do the Nationals compare?

5. What is the current state of the MASN enterprise and what is its likely future? Not only from the standpoint of the Nationals but the Orioles as well. Is it succeeding? Failing? What are the alternatives? If Angelos is unhappy with its financial performance, is he amenable to a buyout deal from the Lerners that would extricate the Nationals from the deal, or is he willing to take his lumps on MASN to preserve the long-term value of the Orioles franchise? (I suspect we already know the answer to that last question but some good reporting on it, rather than speculation, would be welcome).

6. What hidden time bombs lurk in the DC stadium lease? We know it contains a "keeping up with the Joneses provision" that may require major capital expenditures in 10-15 years, even before the debt is retired. What else?

I suggest teaming up with the Metro and Business sections to produce this stuff. It's not something a sportswriter should handle alone -- as Boswell especially has proven every time he touches this stuff.

That ought to keep you busy for now!

Posted by: Meridian | September 29, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I thought Chico was training for a marathon. WHICH ONE IS IT???

Posted by: BF | September 29, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Are the Lerners going to apologize to their fans and the citizens of DC before Yom Kippur? They should. They have betrayed all of us.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 29, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Great job Chico, I enjoyed your work.

I think the most important thing is to make regular posts to keep the fire burning, and while it is not necessarily a blog thing continue to try to get info on the team management and ownership, interview with Kasten and the Lerners would be great! Or just blog tidbits on what you are hearing.

Posted by: Cabraman | September 29, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Why couldn't we have gotten this guy?!?! We could use this sort of genius!

NEW YORK -- Home runs in the major leagues dropped this year to their lowest level since 1993, and Angels center fielder Torii Hunter thinks he might know why.

"I think the steroid testing has something to do with it," he said.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/28/AR2008092802366.html?hpid=topnews

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 29, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

"a day of massive change."

If you think firing 5 of 6 coaches is massive change, what or how do you think things changed?
I would say nothing changed, just the chairs on the Titanic. The five coaches that were fired were not the root cause of the problems with the Nats. I am sorry Manny didn't stand by his coaches. This says a lot about the Nats' locker room.
So what did we learn?
1. Manny has sold his soul to be a MLB manager,
2.St Claire really does have pictures of someone.
Massive changes will occur when the root causes are addressed.

Posted by: Tom | September 29, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Let's talk about bad:

"Pittsburgh had no 10-game winners for the first time since 1890. The Pirates (67-95) also finished with a losing record for the 16th straight season, matching the mark set by the Philadelphia Phillies from 1933-48."

There's epic bad and just mediocre bad. The Nats are just mediocre bad. Face it, Haters, the Nats are even bad at being bad.

The sky is not falling.

Go big or not at all.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 29, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Let me add a little more cannon fodder for the masses - Here's my take on the current Orginazation status.

Washington Nationals - 2008
Team Management comments & grades
Ownership - the Lerner Group: Upon acquiring the Washington franchise in 2006, the Lerners' stated for the record that they would take no profits from the team for the 1st 10 years. For 2008, profits from all income sources are projected at around $90M. The question to be asked over the off-season is how they will spend that income? Retaining existing talent through contract renewal, resignings & the arbitration process will acount for part of it. Acquiring productive players via trade & Free Agency in the off-season is critical if this team hopes to retain & grow fan base and progress as a franchise. Additionally, fan outreach and marketing programs need to be strengthened, and the Radio/TV
outlet situations need serious work. Overall grade for 2008 = D.
Team President - Stan Kasten: Mr. Kasten, the long-time leader of the Atlanta Braves orginization, came to the DC team with the same base plan he used to build a team that won 14 consecutive NL East championships. That is: 1) build a scouting base to discover talent, 2) sign & develop players in the minor leagues system through consistent coaching values, 3) continue that development onto the ML roster, and 4) signing or trading
for high-value players & Free Agents only when prudent. In the two-plus years here, we have seen solid gains in the Minor-League system (signs that points 1 & 2 are working), yet the team seems to be regressing at the Major-League level. What should be required in the off-season is 1) gaining a strong re-commitment from ownership to pay the necessary price for continued growth of the franchise, and 2) enabling the GM team to enact that growth by acquiring available talent. Overall grade = C
Director of Scouting - Mike Rizzo: Signed from the Arizona Diamondbacks' orginization in 2007, Mr. Rizzo has driven the growth in the Nationals' overall scouting system, and has played a part in vetting Amateur draft lists & possible player acquisitions over the last two years. The most recent Amateur draft was a mixed bag, with fewer players signed than in 2007, and the glaring miss on the teams' #1 (A. Crow). While the inabliity to sign the #1 cannot be laid at his feet, the strategy of drafting HS players in the late rounds could be brought into question, since the "draft & watch" rule is no longer in effect. For 2009, a continuation of processes already in place should benefit the franchise. Overall grade = C+
General Manager - Jim Bowden: Formerly the GM with the Cincinnatti Reds, Mr. Bowden took over from Omar Minaya in 2005. In his tenure, the franchise has regressed
overall, from an inherited .500 (81-81) club in 2005, to .438 (71-91) in 2006, then a .451 (73-89) in 2007, followed by a .366 (59-102) record in 2008. His player acquisitions over the time-frame have run the gamut, ranging from excellent (Soriano, 2006), through good (D. Young, Redding & J. Flores in 2007), to fair (Kearns & Lopez in 2006, O. Perez in 2008) to poor (Wagner in 2006, LoDuca in 2008) and horrible (Estrada & Mackowiak in 2008). Overall grade = D-
Team Manager - Manny Acta: Taking over from a legend (Frank Robinson) and with a team in transistion to begin 2007, Mr. Acta has tried to build a Major-League product from the pieces he was given. Sadly, the on-field product has let him down over both years. He has mis-managed the bullpen during his tenure on occaision, but has attempted to keep the players under his control in a "game-ready" state. Overall grade = C-
Team Coaches - Pat Corrales, Randy St. Claire, Lenny Harris, Jerry Morales, Tim Tolman, Rick Aponte & Rick Epstein: They serve at the whim on the overall Management structure; If the team wins or an area of responsibility performs well, they keep their respective jobs. That being said, the 2008 season left little to hold onto for the current staff, and it was just announced that everyone (excepting St. Claire) has been let go; Don't know yet whether that includes the minor-league callup (Epstein). Overall grades (individual) =
St. Claire = C-, Harris = F, Morales = C-, Tolman = D-, Aponte = D, Epstein = Incomplete.

Posted by: BIM | September 29, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Interesting, BIM. But, if Minaya returned and took over for Bowden in 2010 and his teams went .501 (for first time since coming to DC), .506, .515 with WS, and .505 with NLCS would he get an A+?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 29, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

BIM,

I like your approach to grading the franchise. I realize that all grading is subjective and in terms of grading something where the actual value of the investment does not fully develop for a few more years it would be really hard to assign a fair grade at this stage. On this basis I would not grade Bowden as harshly, yet. The major thing that he has done is made the Nats a much younger and faster team, with players that have a higher potential than the ones that were on the team previously. I would reserve the D- grade for after the results of this winter's free agent signing period. If we have a squad whose average age will be in the mid 20's then the progress will be seen before our eyes, year to year. I would give JB a C.

The Lerners are on a descending projection. They are using up their honeymoon period in quick fashion, and in my opinion they seem to have locked the bridegroom completely out of the bedroom for now. D

Rizzo really can not be separated from Bowden since I believe that both weigh the value of each trade and acquisition. I will give him the same grade as Bowden until the two are separated in their decisions. The scales may not be fully balance for another two years. C

Team coaches: How the heck do you come up with these grades? We only see 5% of each coach's work. Incomplete except for Harris, who has to go.

Acta: No win situation for this manager. If he truly played Lo Duca, Mackowiac, Pena, Flip and Estrada on his own then C-.
If he was forced to show these players then B.

Kasten: Hard to figure as well since most of his work is done out of sight. I will give him a "B" for getting the stadium operating on time.

Posted by: Dale | September 29, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

This is my official recipe for success in '09, call it chicken soup for the NJ trolls.

1. Fire Jim Bowden, if you are a captain and you put your ship on a sand bar you get sacked, doesn't matter if it's "not your fault" you are in command and thus everything is your fault.

2. Draft and Sign Strasburg and your other 1st round pick, no excuse will cut it next year, but at least Boras knows how to close a deal and not just posture like Crow's agents.

3. Sign Adam Dunn, with Bowden gone you'd think this is ridiculous, but find me another lefty power bat who can play 1B and OF, if Nick and/or Dmitri are healthy an OF of Dunn/Milledge/Dukes looks pretty good and when either or both go down you can insert Kearns or Pena in the outfield.

4. Make a trade for a SP, a deal similair to the Millege trade from last off-season would be perfect, if we have enough pieces left, but with Florida selling again this year something should be doable.

Posted by: estuartj | September 29, 2008 6:24 PM | Report abuse

"Sign Adam Dunn, with Bowden gone you'd think this is ridiculous, but find me another lefty power bat who can play 1B and OF"

Teeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeixiera!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 29, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Can Texiera play LF and would he sign here to NOT play his primary position? The name Soriano just popped into my head...although IF we could get Texiera at any price then screw NJ or DY, but its not going to happen so forgetaboutit

Posted by: estuartj | September 29, 2008 6:42 PM | Report abuse

I suggest less on who might be at class A or AA or at any other level and more on the actual, current team, its players, potential players, and management. The Plan is secondary to the actual MLB club as it changes day to day, this blog should not be focussed too much on development of the farm system. This is the Nats Journal, that means DC not Potomac. Thanks Chico.

Posted by: dh | September 29, 2008 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see coverage of whether the ownership has any awareness at all about how destructive they are to good will and to the franchise in general. If so, what signs do you see of this awareness? And will it translate into improved ability to run a ballclub?

Will improved awareness translate into increased expenditures for draftees, international players, players to be obtained in trades who formerly would have been considered too expensive, for major league free agents, etc.? In other words, will the Lerners treat DC like the large, affluent market we are?

Will the Lerners pay the rent money theys owe DC?

Will the Lerners tear down the ugly parking garages in left field, and do they even know they are ugly?

And finally, why won't they sign Zimmerman long term?

Lots of work for you this winter!

Posted by: EdDC | September 29, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

3 things:

1) Chico. You rock. Yes. I would love for a bi-weekly update on anything. It could be on mold accumulation or lack thereof in the locker room.

2) e, please don't go! If necessary, deactivate yourself from the 40 man (poster team) and lurk a little bit, waiting for that call. I did it as the postings turned terrible. There's so much funny happenings in here if you just scroll past the various diatribes. Echoing 506, I would love to see some of the old gang back in here every now and then.

3) Echoing someone above (too lazy to scroll and look) are there any Nats coming to Hawaii? Living in HI, this would be my prime opportunity to catch something Nats related. Otherwise I'll just heckle players from the Philly and New York farm systems (506, I'll take any input you want shouted at the Philly players)

Posted by: NattyDelite! | September 29, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm not wading through 97 posts to see if this has been brought up but Acta made a very telling statement in Chico and Sheien's story. He said, talking about his relationship with Bowden, "he doesn't come to my house for holidays and I don't go to his". I work in a profession where cooperation and devotion to duty can and does save lives. We have to back each other up no matter what our feelings are for the other guy. But Acta's quote is heard often and it means that the other guy is an ahole.

Posted by: JT | September 29, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

"But Acta's quote is heard often and it means that the other guy is an ahole."

Hey, I've had many bosses in my 30+ year career and I've never gone to any of their houses for the holidays, nor have they come to mine. That doesn't mean any of us are a**holes. It just means that we're in a business relationship, not a personal relationship. That's the way it should be with a manager and a GM. Do you think Terry Francona goes to Theo Epstein's house for the holidays?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 29, 2008 9:12 PM | Report abuse

@506: If Minaya returned, he'd completely gut this franchise, just like he did the first time (under MLB instructions) and just like he's doing to the Mets. But I do agree with you in going after Teixiera big time - Dunn is a putz with the glove at 1B, and a possible cancer in the clubhouse. The only guy who might be happy to see him here is Kearns.

Posted by: BIM | September 29, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Did Cashman and Torre eat Thanksgiving dinner together, would it make it harder to fire the manager when the team needs a change?

Posted by: estuartj | September 29, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, but do you SAY that? I and some of my former bosses don't in fact exchange Christmas cards, but to say, "we don't exactly exchange Christmas cards" means something very specific.
I don't know what Manny meant, but the point is a good one.
***************
"But Acta's quote is heard often and it means that the other guy is an ahole."

Hey, I've had many bosses in my 30+ year career and I've never gone to any of their houses for the holidays, nor have they come to mine.

Posted by: CE | September 29, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

@estuartj: On your "chicken soup" points...
1) Fire Bowden - If a clear-cut upgrade (Theo, Cashman, or maybe Rizzo) is out there, o.k. Otherwise, meh. Regarding Theo & Cashman - They are both used to working with big budgets, and I don't think they would like the conditions here.
2) Sign the 1st rounders - Absolutely, and I'd also like to see a signing percentage of 70% or better for the 2009 draft overall.
3) My personal opinions on Dunn have already been voiced (many times) as a waste of time & money.
4) Acquire an SP via trade - I'd clarify that to acquiring an SP that grades out as either an ace or a clear-cut #1 by either trade or FA.

Posted by: BIM | September 29, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

BIM - What are you willing to give up for that #1 or "ace" pitcher? Would you gut the only now resurgent farm system?

Posted by: estuartj | September 29, 2008 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Live reports from the hawaiian winter league would be good. ( :

Posted by: Anonymous | September 29, 2008 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Little wonder that Zimmerman is in no hurry to sign long term with this team.

Posted by: Count Demoney | September 29, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Hello E. and everyone else. I post here occasionally. I have friends on this blog and I'm sure you do too. Keep in touch will ya?!

As for Negativity, I sense it everywhere it seems. Even some of the digs by reporters are getting old. Yes, I know this wasn't a good season and for many many reasons! However I don't think we should Kick the NATS when they are down and I've seen it done many times. Not so much Kasten and Lerners and such but the team itself and individual players.

Dimitri, I saw him at the picnic while he still has a paunch, he does look somewhat slimmer. You know weight gain can be caused by many things besides EATING. Gallbladder problems and some medications cause weight gain. As the saying goes, let one who is without sin cast the first stone.

As for criticizing the team in General, I wish people would stop it! We had sooo many injuries and many of them the same position at once! Johnson went down, and then Dimitri and then Boone. That's just 1st base. Catchers? Geez, can you say LoDuca and Estrada? 2nd Basemen? Lopez, Belliard, Orr. The entire infield has played musical chairs all season long! How can you get a cohesive defense when you don't know WHO'S ON FIRST, WHAT'S ON SECOND ;<). Not to mention lineups?! Pitchers went down and the ones on the farm came up and down like an escalator!

And lets not forget the P-NATS or Potomac Nationals and presently Carolina League Champs! Lets get some more coverage other than ads in the paper!!!! That goes for Hagerstown, Harrisburg, and now Syracused as well. Those kids are our future. Lets get to know them a little better! NATSFAN1A and I went to those Playoff games and had a lot of fun!

Lets Go NATS!

Posted by: CALSGR8 | September 29, 2008 11:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm with EdDC about the Lerners and PR and Goodwill... can they really be that clueless?

ANd then, you go and lose me by complainin' about the garages. WHo cares about the garages. If DC had it's way, they would have been 10 story condos. Whatever the case, eventually something was going to be there to block the Capitol. Water over the dam.

Posted by: Sec 114 Row E | September 29, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Echo everyone else on Chico's survival of his rookie year. Thanks for looking for the off day stories -- the one one the pitchers playing pepper was great. And let's hope that next year's Nats get beyond being "masters of binary baseball"

What to do during the Hot Stove season, or ongoing questions that may persist --

Developments with the ownership -- do they realize how much good will has been lost?

Developments with the management -- is Manny a lame duck? Are we stuck with Bowden?

Developments with players -- echo other requests for info on trades, signings, etc.

Maybe a feature on the farm system -- where the teams are, who the owners are, what the organization is like. (Nationals Farm Authority does a great job of keeping track of the players.)

Posted by: 422 | September 29, 2008 11:49 PM | Report abuse

NattyDelite!, my taunt for Phillies Phans of the week consists of simply shouting the words of Ryan Howard's "Ode to a Subway Philly Cheesesteak."

Yeah, feel it twist in your stomach like a two-day old pretzel with too much spicy mustard on it, you philthy phiends!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 29, 2008 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone else think like myself now that ownership is more of the problem and wont allow a good team to be built because of how they operate? Yes Bowden sucks but having sucky owners is even worse. Cashman and Theo would not work under rules where everything goes through ownership nor would anyone else with a right mind.

Posted by: DCBASEBALL | September 30, 2008 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Meridian
ALL of those stories should be covered. (You must be an assignment editor somewhere)

Please, Nats fans, Mark Texiera is not coming here, whatever money is thrown at him, and even if he did, we'd still finish 5th or 6th next year, unless a lot of other things, aside from trades and signings. fall DC's way

Posted by: Nats24 | September 30, 2008 2:41 AM | Report abuse

"Cashman and Theo would not work under rules where everything goes through ownership nor would anyone else with a right mind."

Who ARE these Steinbrenner people then who EVERYTHING goes through in New York? You know, the ones Cashman has been working for the entire time he has been there? I thought they were the owners!

Posted by: just be glad george costanza isn't working in the front office here | September 30, 2008 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Nice post from my buddy calsgr8. As for the P-Nats, I'd add: been there, done that, AND got the t-shirt. ;-) I received my league champion t-shirt this weekend (they are available via the P-Nats team store).

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 30, 2008 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Chico -

Also, please don't stop doing CHATS. Maybe every other week or at least once a month. Just make sure you set up a schedule and we will be there.

Posted by: NatsWin! | September 30, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Second NatsWin on the chats.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 30, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

"we'd still finish 5th or 6th next year, unless a lot of other things, aside from trades and signings. fall DC's way"

I wanted to sign Teixiera, who I think would consider signing for the right number of years and dollars, but not because I think he will hit five run home runs next year in order to bring a world series to Washington. No, I was thinking of doing something a little wacky and out there.

I was thinking we could sign him for MORE THAN ONE YEAR! It's crazy, I know, but hold on just a second, it gets crazier. We could sign him for more than one year AND THEN spend a lot of time and money finding YOUNG PLAYERS to put in our farm system who he could provide a good example for!!! And then - no wait, there's more! - and then in a few more years he would still be on a team with a lot of other good players, too!!!!!

We need a name for this idea. Hmmm. Should we call it a Road Map? What about a Schedule? Maybe an Agenda!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 30, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I won't count out the possibility of getting Teixeira until I hear the Lerners/Kasten/Bowden or Teixeira say it's not going to happen. You never know what his motivation is. He grew up in Severna Park which is only 35 miles from the Nationals Stadium. Of course Camden Yards is just 20 miles away. Still, One can dream.

Posted by: VTBill | September 30, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Johnson went down, and then Dimitri and then Boone. That's just 1st base. Catchers? Geez, can you say LoDuca and Estrada? 2nd Basemen? Lopez, Belliard, Orr.
__________________________________

Geez, even Miss Cleo could have told you that Johnson and Dimitri would be injured this year.

Catchers? What do you get when you take a broken down old guy off of HGH? A broken down old guy. What do you get when you make a 300lb guy crouch and stand up 200 times a game? A broken down fat guy.

2nd basemen? Why are you even discussing Pete Orr?

Posted by: 756* | September 30, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

>If Minaya returned, he'd completely gut this franchise, just like he did the first time (under MLB instructions) and just like he's doing to the Mets.<

Minaya just signed a four-year deal right before they folded. Another con artist sucking up to ownership.

Apparently Rizzo's dad was a front-office guy, so I would look at his talent with a jaundiced eye. He's the one who raved about Bonifacio.

Posted by: Brue | September 30, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

>"But Acta's quote is heard often and it means that the other guy is an ahole."<

The thing about these comments is that Acta has zero input on who makes the roster. He's admitted in the past that he has no input on the draft, says "I'm just the manager of a major league team". How can you not get the input of the guy who needs to put the pieces together? Like he can't bring some insight on what might work? If you hire a guy, you might as well get his opinion, because if filling out lineup card and making calls to the bullpen is all he's supposed to do, then it seems you're not maximizing his effectiveness. The whole thing stinks from an organizational perspective - even if you don't agree with your underlings, at least you can use some of their knowledge. I mean, if a manager doesn't have a vibe for what type of players might work on a roster he lives with every day, then who would?

Posted by: Brue | September 30, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I'm up!

Posted by: new post | September 30, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I hope Stan is working hard on the written memos requesting authority to negotiate with Texeira and anyone else he wants to sign so that Ted Lerner has plenty of time to consider the request, meet with his son and sons-in-law, and decide whether to acquiesce. I hereby dub the Nats owners Angelos II. In what other successful franchises do you see the owner thanking the fans after "an exciting but exhausting season"? Why is Mark Lerner exhausted? Are any of the owners with teams in the playoffs making public statements that they are exhausted? Is John Henry exhausted? How about the owners of the Rays? Angels? Brewers? Cubs? Dodgers? Phillies? The Nats are the team with the exhausted micro-managing billionaire owners and 100+ losses. @Brue - Great Post.

Posted by: flynnie | September 30, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

On the left field parking garages,

Yes, sect. 114 Row E, if the ugly parking garages were not there, I agree SOMETHING would be there to block a Capitol view. But whatever is placed there can be designed to look as pleasing as possible, in harmony with the ballpark design. No it won't be an historic warehouse like at OPACY, or a Bromo tower. But planners and architects could put something there better than the parking garages! That vista is just too prominent for garages.

Of course if the club puts forth decent budgets to get us a better product in the future, then the ugly garages will be easier to take. Too late now anyway, I guess.

Posted by: EdDC | September 30, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Chico,
There is a correlation between the length of time between posts on your blog and the number of readers who return to read it.

I was averaging 280 or so hits a day on my blog when I was posting once, sometimes twice a day. I took a two-week vacation and returned to find 100 hits a day. Readers grow weary of seeing the same post day after day and sooner or later - usually sooner - they look for their news elsewhere. A perfect example is BallPark Guys. There would typically be 20 new posts a day but today, after being dark for a week or two and then reopening at a different url, there are precious few posts, and even fewer replies.

It would take seconds each day to post something on the blog. "What should the Nats do about their situation at first?" would garner 30-50 replies by your readers. "will Justin Maxwell ever stay healthy and will the local product make an impact at the major league level?" might be another.

How difficult would that be? It would keep your blog fresh and your readers loyal through the off-season.

Think about it? okay?

Posted by: The Beltway Boy | October 5, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

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