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Boz on the Nats

Chico's at the Winter Caravan get-together today; he'll have a post later.

Meanwhile, I wanted to alert you all to this Boz column, which will appear in the Saturday paper.

By Tracee Hamilton  |  January 23, 2009; 1:04 PM ET
 
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Next: The Season Ticket Holder Luncheon (And A Dukes Update)

Comments

Boz really went off on the Lerners in this column. And I wonder if he's been talking to Kasten, Bowden -- or both -- to be the channel for them to get their frustration more widely known.

Posted by: greggwiggins | January 23, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

OK, I've been quietly lurking all winter. I re-subscribed on my partial season ticket plan, already paid in full. I absolutely agree with Boz. I'm disgusted with the inadequate performance of the team ownership over the winter. "We tried for Tex" just doesn't cut it. If this team continues to stink as much as it did last year, or even close, this is my last subscription. It isn't like I cannot get tickets to one or two games if I want to enjoy the wonderful ballpark I, as a DC citizen, gave the ingrates! DO SOMETHING ALREADY!

Posted by: NatsFly | January 23, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Obv, the progress of the organization is disappointing to us all. I see Boz as the voice of the majority of fans, and I'm glad he is carrying on like this column after column. Hard-headed people need to have reality beaten into their brains through repetition.

Posted by: jctichen | January 23, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm a lifetime baseball fan/player and had a 41-game plan last year, and frankly, the play of the Nats last year started to make me hate the game. So, yes, I did not re-subscribe this year.

Posted by: jctichen | January 23, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Twice now in the past 24 hours Boswell has written this about Adam Dunn: "He and Ryan Zimmerman are already good friends." Really? How'd that happen? Everyone knows that Dunn and Austin Kearns are friends from having played together in the Reds organization for several years. But how did Dunn and Zimmerman become such good friends? When would their paths even have crossed? Dunn is five years older than Zimmerman. Dunn is from Texas and was drafted out of HS by the Reds. Zimmerman is from Tidewater and was playing at UVa while Dunn was working his way up through the Reds' minor league system. It's entirely possible that their paths never even crossed until the first time the Nationals played the Reds in 2006. Yet they're good friends, Boz? How'd that happen?

As usual, I think this is a case of Boswell and a clue not being good friends. And isn't this the same Boswell that in his last Nationals column was saying that their public announcement of disinterest in Dunn et al was just a negotiating ploy, and they would be able to wait it out until the market came to them? Well, what's happened since then, Boz? The market's still coming to the Nationals. These players haven't been signed by anyone yet. There aren't even any rumors that they're gonna sign elsewhere. So why are you throwing yourself off a ledge now? I hope you're wearing a neck brace to protect yourself as your head yo-yos so severely back and forth!

Posted by: nunof1 | January 23, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Great article by Boz. I think he summed it up for the majority of us pretty well.

Mr. Lerner you are losing STH's by the boatload and appear to be going the cheap route with this team.

What say you, Mr. Lerner?

Posted by: Section505203 | January 23, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Two of the free agent names he mentioned (Juan Cruz and Orlando Hudson) are stuck in draft pick compensation purgatory. Both were Type A free agents offered arbitration by their 2008 team (in both cases the Diamondbacks). If any team aside from Arizona were to sign them, they would have to surrender a draft pick. In the case of the Nats, it would be their second round pick (approximately #50 overall). If the Nats were to sign both guys, they would surrender two picks (~#50 and ~#80 overall).

As is the case with many teams, they see more value in keeping that pick and finding a comparable option without the draft pick compensation issues.

Posted by: Brian_ | January 23, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Keith Law ranked the Nationals farm system second to last. BA ranked them in the bottom third. There's no help on the way. We need to sign some free agents.

Boz's column was on point.

What kind of question is "when do we have to start winning?" The Lerners are clueless.

Here's a question for the Lerner's, when do you plan on selling the team?

Posted by: BillyBeane | January 23, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Nunof1,

Do you have any proof that they are not good friends? Maybe they became good friends through Kearns. Point is, you don't know.

Your assuming and you know what happens when you assume.

Your loyal to the Nats, I get it. I think most people here are or they wouldn't be on the blog of a 102 loss team day after day, in the middle of the winter.

But, with all due respect, I think you need to put the Kool-Aid down and take a step back and see that this team is in real trouble of being bad for a while.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 23, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

If we signed free agents, Cruz and Hudson would be my choice over the rest, even if we give up a couple of lower draft picks.
Oliver Perez might be another.
Jeeves

Posted by: jcampbell1 | January 23, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Tracee thank you thank you thank you and may I say Boz rules. I sound like my sixteen year old. ( maybe not my son would have writen rulez)

Oh OK I'm coming down from the cool fresh watering stream of words Tom threw down.

Thanks again Tracee and on a personal note I'm deeply sadden that we won't hear your wonder voice on Mr. Tony's radio show. I'm hoping he leaves MNF and stick it out long time with his radio show, chick chair intake....

Posted by: Berndaddy | January 23, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I have to applaud any columnist who demands a better product on the field than what we as fans have had to deal with for the past 3 years.

Good for Boz

Posted by: johndec | January 23, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

wow. pretty hard-hitting. And yea, pretty much sums it up for me too. Thanks Boz.

Posted by: NatsNut | January 23, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Could not agree more with Boswell's article. I too dumped season tickets after the debacle of last season, the offseason, relocation and constantcost increases with matching team w-l record decreases.

There is NO excuse for the Washington franchise to not be spending money the same way as comparable teams in major markets with new-to-newer stadiums. Atlanta, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Houston, Texas are all teams in the $80-$100M payroll range in very large cities with new stadiums. Washington absolutely should be there.

Right now i've got their committed 2009 payroll at somewhere in the $53M range.
- 33.5M: committed to their 8 or so longer term FAs
- 10M: anticipated payments for their 4 arbitration cases
- 10M: the amount to secure the other 22 guys on the 40man roster earning at or close to the MLB minimum.

Spend $30M to just get us to the bottom end of baseball's middle class. You don't have to be spending $100M or try to compete with baseball's elite payroll teams in NY, Chicago and LA. But $30M will add Dunn, Garland and probably Hudson. That's immediately the 3 best players on your team, a #1 starter and your #1 and #4 hitters.


Posted by: tboss | January 23, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Boz,
Welcome back to actual commentary buddy! This pretty accurately hits every point I can think of off the top of my head (failure of the plan, failure of the ML team, Kasten maybe leaving, good free agent class, terrible tenure thus far).

The only question I have is...will they listen?

Posted by: NattyDelite | January 23, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

The market may be coming back to the Nationals, but are the Lerners willing to open the door and go in? It is totally frustrating for the stweardship of a 102-loss team to be sitting on their wallets all winter and expect virtually the same cast of characters to perform much better this coming season. This team has inherent weaknesses everywhare - starting pitching, bullpen, infield, outfield, offense and defense. The Lerners seem content to fiddle while the Constituency burns. Stan the Plan Man may be looking to make a gracful exit before long and we still have JimBow as the person who seems keen on having a lineup with no real leadoff hitter but with seven guys who can all hit 30 homeruns and strikeout 150 times each. No one in the front office seems to have any long term vision as to how to make things better. JimBow thinks he's a carpenter obsessed with collecting tools guys who aren't well rounded baseball players. Right now, which Nats starter would fans feel confident going up against Johan Santana, Cole Hamels or Derek Lowe on a consistent basis? Can Anderson Hernandez, he of the lifetime .283 major league OBP actually hit enough to leadoff? Five of the rostered outfielders - Dukes, Milledge, Kearns, Willingham and Pena - are basically the same guy offensively. The manager is more concerned that his starting pitchers leave games with "a good feeling" about their efforts rather than pitching deeper to keep the bullpen from being fried by Memorial Day. If this team as it's currently constructed as the Isle of Misfit Toys wins 70 games next year, Acta should get a lifetime contract and I might (but probably not) stop hating on Bottom-Feeding Bowden as GM. I have seen more bad Washington baseball in my lifetime than I care to remember - a 17-game losing streak in 1959, a 14-game losing streak to end 1970, two separate 13-game losing streaks by the expansion Senators. The common denominator of those teams was that the owners were financially strapped and hard pressed to identify and pay for talented players. The Lerners are flush with cash and there's no poor mouth excuse for not spending money except just not wanting to spend any money. They are business people and have always been cognizant of he bottom line. If attendance at Nats Park drops to 1.5 million this coming season maybe that will get their attention.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 23, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"Nunof1,

Do you have any proof that they are not good friends? Maybe they became good friends through Kearns. Point is, you don't know.

Your assuming and you know what happens when you assume.

Your loyal to the Nats, I get it. I think most people here are or they wouldn't be on the blog of a 102 loss team day after day, in the middle of the winter.

But, with all due respect, I think you need to put the Kool-Aid down and take a step back and see that this team is in real trouble of being bad for a while.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 23, 2009 1:47 PM "

No, I have no proof that Zimm and Kearns aren't good friends. Just skepticism, as I laid out the case for. If Boz was to say that the sun will rise in the west tomorrow, of course I have no proof that it won't. But I do have a case for skepticism. Boz does not always speak the truth, as you KoolAid drinkers ought to know by now.

And as for drinking KoolAid on the Nats, I'm not. I'm willing to wait and see what the Lerners do or don't do w.r.t. signing Dunn or anyone else before I start crucifying them. After all, no one else has signed these guys yet either. Why would anyone in their right mind overpay for an unripe tomato that no one else is even offering to buy? Wait it out until the tomato gets ripe or someone else makes a bid for it and you can outbid them. They're building a baseball team, not stocking a bomb shelter.

Posted by: nunof1 | January 23, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

By now somebody has to have told the Lerners that their apparent lack of interest in building a winning team is going to hurt them down the road.

Not just in terms of signing FAs, but also in the draft. If I were Strasburg, I'd make an absurd signing bonus demand to try and discourage this cesspool of a front office from signing me.

I love the Nats and I am a fan, for sure, but the Lerners are doing an absolutely p155 poor job of putting an acceptable product on the field.

Ugh!

Posted by: DesertNat | January 23, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

"If this team as it's currently constructed as the Isle of Misfit Toys wins 70 games next year, Acta should get a lifetime contract and I might (but probably not) stop hating on Bottom-Feeding Bowden as GM."

A similar team constructed of a similar set of misfit toys won 73 games here in 2007. Shouldn't Acta now be working on the lifetime contract you'd have given him after that, and BF Bowden not being hated any more now by you?

Posted by: nunof1 | January 23, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

You all have to yell a little louder... Jimbo and the Lerners have their heads in the sand... (what????)

Posted by: 1of9000 | January 23, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

@nunof1

No. The 2008 team won 12 less games than the 2006 team and had more experienced players on that squad. Go back and check the 2006 roster - Armas Jr., Astacio, Hernandez, Anderson, Clayton, Johnson, Vidro, Byrd, Church, Guillen, Soriano and Ward. This team has a farther distance to come than did the 2006 squad.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 23, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I asked Boz about Zimmerman and Dunn and he made a point to ask Bowden that question and it is true they are friends, and that they became friends through Kearns.

Posted by: traceeh | January 23, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

And Berndaddy: Thanks! I miss doing the show; so much fun!

Posted by: traceeh | January 23, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Not that I'm convinced Boz particularly cares, but if I'm the agent for Dunn or Hudson or Wolf, the asking price just doubled when JimBow calls.

Posted by: ArlingtonNatsFan | January 23, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

In my haste to submit my previous post, I may not have made it clear that the 2008 team has a farther distance to come than did the 2006 squad because the 2006 squad had more experienced players on that team.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 23, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

leetee, I said 2007, not 2006. Acta managed an Isle of Misfit Toys team to a 73-89 record in 2007. Did you sleep through that entire season?

Posted by: nunof1 | January 23, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

"Not that I'm convinced Boz particularly cares, but if I'm the agent for Dunn or Hudson or Wolf, the asking price just doubled when JimBow calls."

That strategy only works if someone else besides JimBow is calling, though. Think anyone is?

Posted by: nunof1 | January 23, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

@nunof1

I stand corrected. I will grant your point. The 2007 team looks as threadbare as does the 2009 squad. But in 2007, Acta improved the team by +2 games to reach 73 wins. The 2008 team would have to go +14 to reach 73 wins. Don't even see the 2009 squad going +11 to reach 70 wins. But, if they do I'll be back here to admit my mistake.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 23, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

If the situation is unchanged by this time next week, and with the NFL draft approaching, I have a great idea for the next Boz column:

How the Redskins have an owner who wants nothing more than to spend money but no GM to spend it, and the Nats have an owner who won't even pay for the uniforms but a GM who has gotten the absolute most out of nothing.

Seriously, I'm getting more and more respect for Bowden - it's like asking a chef to prepare a 5-course dinner with only $50 of groceries, a whisk, and a single skillet.

Posted by: Corey42 | January 23, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

>Did you sleep through that entire season?

No, but I'm thinking about a new hobby for '09.

Posted by: Brue | January 23, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

The wife and I just got back from the lunch today. I enjoyed it, it was worth the $35. Good food, Frank Howard was there. He told a funny story about how he made 8 outs in 7 consecutive at-bats at Fenway. Stan said they are having "discussions" with him about joining the club, but he wasn't specific. Jimbo said that Stan has his recommendation in a sealed envelope of what to do to acquire a "healthy" first baseman. They are optimistic about signing 2 quality players in this years draft, Boras clients or not. They watched Strasburg pitch recently and his first three picthes were 97, 98, and 100. We got to sit next to Terrel Young. He will be wearing 51. He's a nice young man, confident about his opportunity this year. Oh, and Manny isn't a fan of small ball.

Posted by: psubman | January 23, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

>Seriously, I'm getting more and more respect for Bowden - it's like asking a chef to prepare a 5-course dinner with only $50 of groceries, a whisk, and a single skillet.

The reason they have Bowden is because they know he won't complain about anything. Any self-respecting GM would be crawling up Lerner's backside right about now. When you're as superficial as Bowden, people take the piss out of you because they know they don't have the depth to challenge you.

Posted by: Brue | January 23, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

>Oh, and Manny isn't a fan of small ball.

That is one dumb cluck.

Posted by: Brue | January 23, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Just got off the phone w/my ticket rep and dropped 5K for five seats (Center Field seats (row C)) just below the Resturant and Red Loft. Not sure if I'm crazy or just to damn loyal to a fault. BTW my ticket guy says Boz/WAPO have their agenda, while the LernerStats have their own plan that will just take time. However he did thank me for remaining in the fold!

Now I have to go home tonight and tell my wife I just spent the Granite Counter tops money on a 102 loser. Pray for me!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | January 23, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

@TippyCanoe

Ask Father Flynniegan for a dispensation and to light a candle.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 23, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

TippyCanoe:

What do you need granite countertops for? You won't be home for dinner for 81 nights this summer.

Posted by: wigi | January 23, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

"Why would anyone in their right mind overpay for an unripe tomato that no one else is even offering to buy?"
__________________________________________________________

If you were starving, like this fan base is, you might considering overpaying for that unripe tomato.

Papa Lerner is losing his fan base, rapidly. Hopefully, as a smart business man he see's this and acts soon, however, I'm not holding my breath.

I enjoy going to the games with my kids and my dad, that is the only reason I re-up'd on my 20 gamer. If it wasn't for that, I probably wouldn't have. I mean, who in their tight mind would pay ML prices for a AAA team?

Posted by: Section505203 | January 23, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

@Brue

Did anyone ask Manny whether the reason is a lack of fundamentally sound players who can actually execute bunt and hit-and-run plays?

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 23, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

"@nunof1

I stand corrected. I will grant your point. The 2007 team looks as threadbare as does the 2009 squad. But in 2007, Acta improved the team by +2 games to reach 73 wins."

Well, yes and no. There was wholesale change between the 2006 and 2007 teams. You yourself listed all those players who were there in 2006 but not 2007. So it really doesn't mean much to say that a team made up of a whole new bunch of guys improved by "only" two games. Better to look at what was predicted for that 2007 team (130 losses, "historically bad" and all that) and compare that with how they finished. That's what I'm suggesting when I point out that it's entirely possible the same kind of thing could happen in 2009. Not that I'm predicting it will, but it could.

Posted by: nunof1 | January 23, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

"BTW my ticket guy says Boz/WAPO have their agenda, while the LernerStats have their own plan that will just take time."
______________________________________________________

When he said that did it sound like he was reading it off the script?

Posted by: Section505203 | January 23, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Please, would so many people stop saying this is the same team as last year. It's not, not by a long shot.
Assuming (rash assumption in Johnson's case),Dukes, Zimmerman, and possibly Johnson are healthy, the team is markedy different already. Add to that an improved Milledge and Flores, just through experience alone. Kearns, might be back if he's healthy and if not Willingham is better than who we had last year.
Pitching is more difficult to call but Lannan and Ballister have one more years experience. Zimmermann is possibly ready. (I'm very optimistic here). Olsen and Cabrera can be wild as the wind, but have much more potential than who we had last year. The bullpen is a concern, but let's face it, bullpens are fickle at the best of times.
Don't get me wrong, I would like to see a couple of 'good' free agents join the team, if just for the sake of morale.
But the 2009 version of the Nats is not in any way, shape, or form the same squad as last year-assuming we don't have an injury repeat.
Jeeves

Posted by: jcampbell1 | January 23, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Manny did say you manage the game based on the skills of players you have. And that on-base % is the key to scoring. Getting guys on and then driving them in. But he mentioned that the Mets led the league(?) in stolen bases, but it hasn't exactly helped them make the playoffs.

Posted by: psubman | January 23, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

>Did anyone ask Manny whether the reason is a lack of fundamentally sound players who can actually execute bunt and hit-and-run plays?

Bunting is easier than hitting away. I thought everybody knew that. When you're in a slump, you go all the way back to bunting, just to see the ball make contact, and you work your way into a swing from there. If a player can't bunt, it's because nobody made him work on it.

Posted by: Brue | January 23, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Last year the Nats scored 641 runs and allowed 825. Their "pythagoran theorem" record was 62-99, a +3 from reality.

Gone from 2008 are Boone, Lopez, LoDuca, Langerhans (maybe), Bonifacio, Estrada, Da Meat Loaf (maybe), Mackowiak, Orr (maybe), OPerez, Redding, Ayala, Cordero, Colome (hopefully), King, Manning, Schroeder, Speigner, O'Connor and Rauch. The team's top winner (Redding) and third top winner (OPerez) are gone. It's really not the same team.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 23, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

>>We should be adding youth by dumping experience, even if it means eating salary. Bob, look at that line up. Five of those guys will not be around for the rebuilding process. Johnson is a nice luxury item, but not a starter anymore. That is a fact the Nat's acknowledged, then went back on because they couldn't get a deal done. Willigham and Kearns are just uninteresting veterans filling space and blocking youth and Guzman is a SS with poor range, can't walk and can't steal.

>>The fact that no one else is doing anything is not the answer. This team has some potential, yes. But a lot of that talent is either not dependable or is unproven young talent. The Nats need to sign some proven veteran players to mix in. They don't need to be the Yankees but, they need to add something to the roster.

*****

Soundbloke, and 505/203, my argument is that our best option might be to hope that some or all of our ill-fitting pieces get healthy and produce – this would give us a bridge to the youth we all hope is coming and would also provide assets to trade for better fitting pieces. As Brian noted, signing free agents (who also are unlikely to be around for the rebuild) costs us the very draft picks that are supposed to fuel the rebuild. I certainly am not advocating doing nothing, but I am suggesting that it might make sense to see what we have during Spring Training, or even through the first half of the season, and then make adjustments through trades. Sure, deal as many assets as we can for players that fit better, are younger, or both. Keep our draft picks until we’re 2-3 free agents away from fielding a contender. And at that point, use the money that’s come off the books to sign a few big ticket FAs. At that point, the draft picks are worth less both because they’re lower (since the team is better) and because we’re focused on contending now instead of in 3-5 years.

(Mmmmm ... Pixie Stix.)

Posted by: BobLHead | January 23, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Great column from Boswell.

(Some fool actually rags on Boz above acusing him of making up the fact that Zimmerman and Dunn are friends? Ridiculous! Unfounded.)

Thanks to Boz and the Post for calling Ted out. The Lerners may be following a plan, but I'm guessing the plan was not to lose 102 games and then sit around to see if it happens again.

Don't just do something. Stand there!

Posted by: natbisquit | January 23, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

@BobL

I'd settle for respectability. Contention is a dream at this point.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 23, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Lerner treats us fans as if we were the tenants in one of his malls, when in reality, we are like the patrons. If there are nothing but lousy stores, we simply won't shop.

Posted by: jctichen | January 23, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

"Better to look at what was predicted for that 2007 team (130 losses, "historically bad" and all that) and compare that with how they finished."

What was predicted last year?


"Pitching is more difficult to call but Lannan and Ballister have one more years experience."

Did any of you see Ballester pitch last year? Excuse me if I don't jump for joy.

Posted by: jctichen | January 23, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I said some time ago, this ownership is nothing more than Bob Short Vol II

Posted by: jjburns1 | January 23, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Bob,

Ah, misunderstanding. I was not criticizing you for drawing up that line-up. It is probably the best line-up we could put out next year.

I always argue the unpopular point that we need to give Hernandez a lot of time next year which mean we should only have one of Hudson or Guzman. I believe that you play youth where possible and sign free agents where necessary. Hudson is not necessary because I truly believe Hernandez is a viable prospect. However, Hudson and Hernandez makes me a little weak at the knees. Hernandez/Guzman does not nor does Hudson/Guzman Those two combinations are not young or good.

The point I was making, was that we have too many guys like that. They don't fit 'veteran brought it to improve the team', and they are too old to believe they will develop into regular contributors.

I would rather see Maxwell in the outfield than Willigham because I can sit there and root for him to succeed. Guys like Kearns and Willigham we will still have a team that loses, and they aren't getting better than they are now so there is really very little to root for.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 23, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I would love to see the Nats be more competitive this year, a better $55/seat investment. It would be good to see quality baseball, but as a believer in the PLAN, my concern is that fielding a team that is all newbies, maybees and hopes for the future retards the development of the legitimate prospects. Zimmerman would benefit from hitting in a better line-up. The young pitchers need to pitch in an environment where giving up two runs early doesn't necessarily spell defeat. They'd all benefit from playing more competitive games.

Maybe the Lerners could understand that investing in a FA package like Boswell describes is really about investing in the core assets, the young prospects.

Posted by: advocate2 | January 23, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I've done this before, but I feel the need to do it again.

There are many people still saying this a 70 win team as currently constituted.

The team was terrible last year because of injuries. A healthy team would have been very competitive.

Let's look at the current starting lineup with stats based on what they did last year but based on a full 162 game season (their real numbers multiplied to get to a full season):

1B:Johnson- .220-20-80 (.415 OBP)
2B:Belliard- .287-22-87 (.376 OBP)
SS:Guzman- .316-9-55
3B:Zimmerman- .283-21-76
LF:Willingham- .254-24-76 (.376 OBP)
CF:Milledge- .268-17-72, 35 steals
RF:Dukes- .264-26-88, 26 steals
C: Flores- .256-11-65

That starting eight, had they stayed healthy, would have/could have hit 153 homers.

They actually his just 90.

Regardless of the situation with the pitching-which is improved with the addition of Scott Olsen-is not a 70 win team. It's much better than that.

If they stay healthy (and based on what has happened the last three years, injuries have to stop sometime), there isn't a single glaring hole in that lineup. No, this isn't a championship lineup, but neither is it a horrid team destined for last place.

To Thomas Boswell who didn't buy season tickets this year: One would think that a native of the city, someone who remembers the Senators being torn from our town twice, wouldn't be a fair-weather fan.

We haven't been waiting for four years for the team to turn the corner. We've only had a real owner for less than two years.

And Ross Detwiler didn't slide backwards, Tom. Any REAL fan knows that the Nationals have been tinkering with his mechanics which caused him problems at Potomac this year. He'll be fine.

And Chris Marrero didn't slide backwards, Tom. He was injured for half the year. Had he played the entire season, he would have hit .250-22-92. Backslide?

Sheesh.


Posted by: rushfari | January 23, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Dunn fills so many holes it makes no sense not to sign him. He provides protection at first in case Johnson and maybe even Willingham get hurt. He provides the production the Nats need so badly. I have never seen a team end the year with such sad stats, Milledge led the team with 61 rbi's and 14 homers. He also gives a reason and ability to finally bench Kearns if we play an outfield with Dunn in left Milledge in center and Dukes in right. He also gives the power lefty bat that was the "top priority" of the off-season. And if I understand all these convoluted rules he will not cost a draft pick. It also shows the team is willing to spend some money and maybe will give the team some legitimacy to sign a real top tier free agent in the future, it may help sign our First round picks as well. He would provide protection for our young hitters, and how much money is coming off the books next year at the positions he plays corner OF and 1st over 15 million that would easily pay his contract. I'm sure I missed a few pluses about signing him, I guess you can throw in durability (The Nats biggest deficiency) and consistency. He has cons batting average, strikeouts, below average glove but for how much disarray this team is in signing Dunn makes too much sense not to do even if we need to over pay a bit to get him.

Posted by: Flatneae | January 23, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Rushfari

Thanks. I've been a bit gloomy lately and that helped. Helped not cured though.

Despite the good points, we should remember that injuries are not just about chance. It's hard to look at an infield with Guzman, Belliard and Young and think that out fitness training is truly world class. Livian Hernandez? We've employed a our fair share of porkers in our time.

Not many teams would be foolish enough to give a long term deal to a man with Dimitri's svelte profile. Johnson, Hill, Patterson were/have been given more than enough chances. WMP, Kearns and Zimm played through injuries when they should not have been allowed to which can only damage the body.

We have been unlucky, but we have also made bad luck for ourselves.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 23, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Hmmmm, I think I need to try some of Rushfari's pixie stix, they must be even better than mine!

Soundbloke, I hope you're right about Hernandez. To be fair, he was regarded as a prospect as recently as the beginning of 2007, when he hit .301/.339/.397 for AAA Norfolk. Unfortunately, he regressed to a horrific .203/.262/.307 line in 2008. With that said, I'm willing to give him a shot, especially since he's a plus-defender.

I would also love to see J-Max step up and take the CF job. Milledge-Maxwell-Dukes. But Maxwell needs to get his average up; even in the Puerto Rican league he batted .220/.400/.455. Hitting .220/.400 is hard to do, but he actually had more walks than hits (and more strikeouts than walks).

Posted by: BobLHead | January 23, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Oh, here you all are. That's what I get for not refreshing!

I also appreciated the Boswell piece. BTW, to those who would excoriate him for dropping his plan, I believe he noted in a previous chat that he had downgraded by going in on a friend's plan, not abandoned the team altogether.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I'll also add my appreciation for the shot-in-the-arm posting from Rushfari (and why am I craving Pixie Stix now?).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

True Bob.

You know, it's just fun to pull for these guys. There was a brief couple of weeks last year when we had Dukes, Milledge, Bonfacio, Gonzalez and Hernandez all playing, and playing well. I can honestly say that it was the happiest I've been since '94. We Won't be historically bad this year but we aren't going to the play-offs either. So lets give these guys a run.

Few people see to understand that 'Jay Bruce' level of prospects are really rare. Really rare. Most of baseball is populated by guys who 'were worth a look'. Now most don't pan out, and this give fodder to the likes of Jaybee to tell us that they saw failure coming all along (sorry guy, had to take the shot), but some make it. And that to me is worth it. We have a few guys who are worth a shot. Maxwell, Hernandez, Gonzalez, Bernardina, Martis...

What the hell, they won't win but at least they'll look like they're trying and be fun to watch. If we have to have Adam Dunn playing next to them then fine. I'd rather him that Willingham or Kearns.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 23, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

This is the kind of comment I get tired of seeing-'Did any of you see Ballister pitch last year. Excuse me if I don't jump for joy.' I made many comments about why the Nationals are not the same team as last year. jc picks up on one and makes everything negative. Must be a former Expo fan, eh, nun?
Jeeves

Posted by: jcampbell1 | January 23, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

I applaud Boz's column. It is time that someone speak to the Lerners. He very accurately portrayed the state of the franchise.

I am all for giving the kids a chance. I would love to see Maxwell playing center field. Unfortunately I do not think he will be given a chance. They will say he needs some AAA experience. I really think he will be packaged in a trade to the Yankees for Swisher. I understand the Yankees covet Maxwell. The Yankees usually know more about our own players than we do.

Play the kid , Manny.

Posted by: mjames0 | January 23, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

I understand Boswell's frustration but have a very different perspective.

First, I'm grateful we have a team at all. Sure, going to Nationals Park would be more fun if they were pennant contenders, but having a team is still infinitely better than nothing. At the risk of sounding like a member of the Nats PR department, Nationals Park provides a great way to spend an afternoon at a reasonable price (at least if you buy cheap seats and bring your own food).

Looking at the big picture, you've got to ask: "compared to what?" If you step back and compare the current situation to the decades before 2005, you'll see that the glass is much more than half full.

I don't say this to defend the Lerners or Bowden -- I have real concerns about the way they've run the team. But my main concern is the opposite of Boswell's -- I think they need to be more, not less, focused on the long term. If it were up to me, I'd trade most, if not all, of the team's veterans and do everything possible to maximize our chances of success in the future. To me, the difference between losing 102, 90 or 80 games this year or next is far less important than whether we're moving toward contention in the long term. I'd much rather lose a lot now than mortgage the future for the sake of short term mediocrity.

I realize that my focus on the long term puts me in the minority here (at least among those moved to write posts, probably not a representative sample of the fan base). I also appreciate that if most fans really are this impatient, the team may feel compelled to compromise its future, to some extent, in order to avoid a total collapse of fan support. But I hope we're not at that point, and I'm not convinced we are.

Remember the original Mets, who were absolutely awful for their first seven years but whose fans were sufficiently appreciative of just having a team that they stuck with them enthusiastically, and were unexpectedly rewarded with the Miracle of '69. I'm not predicting that will happen here. But if New Yorkers (New Yorkers!) could stick with those Mets, can't we in DC stick with the Nationals, appreciate what we have, and give their leadership the substantial time needed to turn them into a winning team?

Posted by: Dynatic | January 24, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Dynatic, for expressing what I have been feeling. Yes, last year was a bad one. Though, I guess I'm lucky, of the games I went to the Nats won 8 out of 13...so for me they did fine. I am not crazy, but with all the injuries its hard to believe they could have done any better. I am hoping we are better in 2009, better again in 2010 and so on. I keep the Mets experience in mind all the time, not to mention Tampa Bay.

One thing no one mentions regarding the Lerners is the costs of running not only the Nationals but the farm system. Anyone know the figures? Also wondered about the statement made that they are rolling in money? Even in this economy? Show me the figures. I am a 20 game season ticket holder and I did renew...and got better seats...so thank you to all those who dropped out. I did take advantage of my STH status and wrote the team some observations and recommendations and a major one was lowering the cost of tickets and food. I always have a great time when I go and am looking forward to going to my first game and getting a Willie Harris shirt.

Last year on the Metro going to a game I heard some folks talking and the Nats fan said "lousy baseball is better than no baseball at all"... well said. Lousy baseball can grow and change...NO baseball can't. I just hope someone who understands that gets Boswell's seats.

Posted by: lostein | January 25, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

While the Post has streamlined its paper recently, its Sports section continues to waste space by allowing Thomas Boswell to write about baseball. In this most recent column, the only thing mentioned of any worth is the information regarding the drop in rating of the Nationals' Farm System. While this could've been the topic of an article that would have actually been worthwhile; rather, it is related as a regurgitated fact to support another broken-record exposition. Finally, Mr. Boswell's insistence on discussing his personal business relationship with the franchise being written about is extremely poor journalistic form.

Posted by: mgilham | January 26, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

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