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The Season Ticket Holder Luncheon (And A Dukes Update)

Well, I just got back from this afternoon's Hot Stove Luncheon, and there's lots to rehash. By no means do I want to burden you guys with too much text -- maybe you heard somewhere that MTV long ago ruined everybody's attention span -- but hey, I suppose we can still be C-SPANish every now and then. Also, I'd love to hear from those who attended. What did you think? What did you talk about with whatever player sat at your table? Did the dessert taste as good as it looked? (Didn't try, but it appeared like a pyramid of rich, chilled fudge.) Oh, and have you ever encountered somebody with better storytelling skills than Frank Howard?

Now, bullet by bullet we go...

* Elijah Dukes. (This has nothing to do with the luncheon. Just a quick update.) As you know, Dukes owed some $40,000 in child support and alimony to his estanged wife. The court-ordered deadline for paying was today, 5 p.m.; otherwise, he faced jail time. Well, Dukes' attorney made the payment today at 4:57 p.m., NiShea Dukes' attorney, Carlos Ramirez said. So, the Nats' outfielder is in the clear, avoiding a deeper mess.

* Now, a description of the event. The luncheon took place in a mega-conference room on the third floor of Nationals Park, just beyond all the suites. Seated at the head table were Jim Bowden, Stan Kasten, Mike Rizzo, Manny Acta and moderator David Gregory. Gregory is also a season ticket holder, and seemed to speak on behalf of the pervading concerns when he opened by saying, "I'm here as a fan. But as a fan we have questions." (Dramatic pause.) "And we deserve answers!"

* A good portion of fans' questions dealt with the work yet to be done. As in, Will Ryan Zimmerman sign a long-term contract? Will Adam Dunn sign a contract of any sort? And, Can you honestly enter 2009 with such minimal roster change and expect better results?

* Bowden, the GM, said that negotiations with Zimmerman on a long-term contract are ongoing. He's hopeful that something can get done. In an interview after the luncheon, he said cited several other contracts in baseball (signed by Baltimore's Nick Markakis, Tampa's Evan Longoria, and Boston's Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia) that provide a framework, starting points for a Zimmerman deal.

Said Bowden: "We've been in negotiations with Ryan Zimmerman's agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, on a regular basis over the last three years. We continue to do that. There are times we make some good progress, and then there will be a signing or two that sets us all back. But we're making progress, and negotiations have been good. Our relationship with Ryan is phenomenal. Great relationship with his agent. It's a business. A lot of money is involved. But we continue to work towards it, and I feel optimistic that at some point it will get done."

* Rizzo, asked about minor leaguers that could impact things this year, mentioned pitcher Jordan Zimmermann as somebody who could be "major league-ready as soon as this spring training." He also hinted that Ross Detwiler, the '07 first-round pick, could get a look later in the season. (Again, more signs that the last rotation spot is Zimmermann's to lose entering the year.)

* Kasten, on the economy and how it's affecting his team: "Well, not withstanding pronouncements from agents representing free agents, it is definitely having an impact on our business as it is impacting every single person in this room. We see some impact on tickets, but some of that is kind of an inevitable byproduct of the second year in the new stadium and all of that. We are seeing it in sponsorships; there are whole categories of sponsors that aren't playing right now -- the auto category, the bank category. So this has changed some of the ways we go about it."

(Later, when I asked Kasten specifically about season ticket sales, he said that he wasn't yet ready to comment. He would provide a full report on where things stand with the season ticket base, he said, in March.)

* The team wants President Obama to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day. It also wants him to get rid of that darned White Sox hat.

"Well, we've invited him [for the first pitch] as you know," Kasten said. "Our president, no matter who he is, is always invited here to throw out the first pitch of the season. We know he's a sports fan. He walks all around town with that White Sox hat. And as I tell people, I used to be a Braves fan. You can get over that stuff. So, he's moved to town, his kids have moved to down, just like once upon a time you had a different allegiance which you're now changing. So we're all going to change his allegiance. But we're certainly hopeful of having him, not just this year but every year."

* Kasten on stadium changes for 2009: "I am very proud of the stadium, I do think it's a place where people can come and have a good night or an afternoon of entertainment. We do have plans, physical plans, that there will be changes made for this offseason. Mostly in the entry area, the plaza area. We are going to completely change the Red Porch restaurant. We are going to expand the front of it into the bowl, and make those glass doors open into the bowl with more table seating. Also on the plaza side we're going to blow out those walls and make that open to the plaza with firepits and outdoor seating. We're going to change the menu. We're going to make that -- that was the last thing that was done before Opening Day. We literally had that turned over to us the day before our first game, so we had to go through our first season with that not being what we wanted it to be."

Among other stadium improvements Kasten mentioned: The Nats will have a stage in center field with more programmed activities before games. And MASN will conduct its pre-game show there before every game.

* Oh, and here's a big one. I've heard it from a reliable source that Clint will be back for '09 but will tone down his antics this year. He'll be more "civilized" -- that's how the source explained it, as we met in a parking garage and discussed the matter in hushed tones. I've also heard that Clint, as a guy, isn't such a bad fellow. He's just been acting out a character, per orders. So, now we get something a little more tolerable. It's kind of like Michael Scott in "The Office," where in Season 2 the writers finally shaded out his unbearable obnoxiousness and started letting him show an endearing side. Goodness, let's hope. Maybe we can get Clint a Dwight Schrute sidekick while we're at it.

* Bowden admitted that the Nationals would absolutely need to overpay for potential free agents.

* Bowden said the team had no problem with its players appearing in the World Baseball Classic. (If you'll remember, Luis Ayala blew out his arm while pitching in the WBC last time.) Now, the commissioner's office has instituted better regulation about pitch counts, etc., and Washington feels that its international players will be properly cared for while representing their countries.

* One more thing: Starting at 8 p.m. today, the team is having a "celebrity cook-off" at the ESPN Zone downtown. We'll see whether Willie Harris's versatility extends to the kitchen, I suppose. You'll hear about the results in gripping detail on NJ; I promise this much, because I will be on the judging panel.

By Chico Harlan  |  January 23, 2009; 4:55 PM ET
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Next: Bowden Says That McGeary Will Play Full Season


Willie Harris can toss a salad from the warning track all the way to home plate.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 23, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

No, we don't need Clint to turn into Michael Scott. Now, if he had someone to play tricks on him like Jim does with Dwight, THAT would be entertaining.

Posted by: nunof1 | January 23, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

So, the Washington Post will allow its reporters to judge player cooking contests, but won't let them vote for MVP or Hall of Fame. There's definitely something wrong with that policy if you ask me.

Posted by: nunof1 | January 23, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Chico, for the Dukes update and the buffet recap. Great post - and the wordier, the better, I say. Would also be interested to hear the experiences of others at the event.

Re. ballpark changes, hope that they will have more tables throughout the park, not only in the Red Porch area.

Re. Clint, a Dwight Schrute sidekick would be funny!

And Willie Harris could throw a pork chop past a wolf.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Chico, for the Dukes update and the buffet recap. Great post - and the wordier, the better, I say. Would also be interested to hear the experiences of others at the event.

Re. ballpark changes, hope that they will have more tables throughout the park, not only in the Red Porch area.

Re. Clint, a Dwight Schrute sidekick would be funny!

And Willie Harris can sling hash past a hungry wolf.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

oops, double posted

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

I sat with T Young. It was very cool. Strangely, he seemed to have had no contact with Randy SC or Acta or anyone since being drafted. He talked about how Reds had a log for all their off season baseball activities that had to be signed and turned in. Nothing with the Nats.......He showed me how he holds his pitches and that he would be wearing number 51....We joked that that stood for RULE 5 Draft.....FIRST CHOICE!.......Food was good, gifts were bad.....I went to my new seat in the RF Baseline.....I loved it.

Acta seems to be much more aggressive this season in defending his managerial style, almost to the point of disrespecting the fans questions.....Strange, what fans were asking was that because we had nobody to hit 3 run HRs…why not be more aggressive, he held out the Mets as an example of how running did not help them (note to Acta they did not lose 102 games either)....ACTA must be feed up with losing. I hope he transfers this to his players. Wanted to ask Acta what happened to his October/November opinion that the Nats had to get a LH power he said he had what he needed if they stay healthy....not sure how that squares...All in All much better than working and worth the $35 + Service charges…...I would go again next year.

Posted by: Season_Ticket_Holder_Class_05 | January 23, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

The event was well done. David Gregory added tone (and probably garnered "Meet the Press" a few more viewers) and was good about making sure that lots of questioners got to be heard. (Charlie Slowes was fine as emcee, but during the question period he could only make his way around the crowded room so fast.)

I have been trying to lay off the desserts of late, but saw no good reason to skip this one -- a kind of chocolate mousse cake confection -- and it did not disappoint.

May I give Clint a hot foot while he's on stage? Please. Just once. I promise.

Posted by: Hendo1 | January 23, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the update Chico.

It seems like these guys are as proficient as Congress at blathering on without ever actually saying anything.

By the way, word on the street is that Willie Harris can hit home runs with a frozen chili dog.

Posted by: NattyDelite | January 23, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I was sitting next Terrell Young. This was his first trip to DC, Willie Harris took him down to see the locker room today. He had no idea the Nats were going to draft him and was surprised. He is excited to be here and confident he is staying. He's from Mississippi, and thinks it's cold here. He says he throws with his high school catcher in the offseason, who also plays somewhere (college in MS we think). He has not met with St. Clair yet. He will be wearing number 51, and he does not have a curveball, but does have a slider. He thinks he will live in the District somewhere (assuming he makes the 25 man, although we didn't press him on that small detail). He didn't seem to be big on salads, nor the blackberry that accompanied the dessert. My wife thought he was delightful, and I'm sure she was jealous of the diamond he was wearing in his ear.

The dessert was excellent. It was a milk chocolate "casing" over a chocolate cake/mousse concoction. The chicken was good too.

I thought the event was fun and worth the price of admission, and yes, please Stan, give Frank a job! He was very funny.

I think the team is in good hands and making progress, they are just wary of making a "bad deal" that would then affect every other deal that they make going forward.

Posted by: psubman | January 23, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Turn in his Sox hat? Haha. Obama is a Pale Hose fan through and through. Why should he root for one of the worst franchises in baseball, when he already roots for a team with a strong tradition and influence on baseball history?

The Nats should worry about permanent DC residents giving a damn about the team first.

Posted by: aaronsinger | January 23, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse


You mean the front office is haunted by the ghost of FLop?

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 23, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

i was there. the key things were:

1) Manny Acta gets it. he said getting on base and not giving outs away (bunting, moving guys over, etc) was how to win. he said he didn't understand why people think "small ball" is how to win.

2) Kasten said they are "talking" with Frank Howard to try to get him with the team in some capacity.

what i wanted to know, and Charlie Slowes didn't pick me, was how do the Nats feel about Keith Law and Baseball America dropping the minor league ratings from ninth last year to next to the bottom this year?

guess i can try to ask on Sunday at NatsFest!

Posted by: bottomfeeders10 | January 23, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse


I think Jimbo made the comment in regards to the arbitration cases, because the arbitration number never goes down. That was why they chose to not sign Redding, they felt the money was better spent on younger arms. They realize that they might have to overpay for a free agent they want, which might cause other teams to wonder what they were thinking, (like Detroit did a few years ago), but it could pay off in the end. I think they are approaching every negotiation on a case by case basis. They don't think they need to spend like the Yankees or the Red Sox to be competitive, but do need to draft well and sign those players to long term deals.

Posted by: psubman | January 23, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I was there and the lunch was good. Bowden said they saw Steven Strasburg earlier this week. His first pitch was 96, his second 97, his third 100. He then added 'oh, and he has a great breaking ball'.

He said they have great relations with Boras noting he had signed every Boras client he had ever drafted, including Espinosa last year. He added Rizzo had signed all of his Boras clients, too.

I left with the clear impression that Strasburg is their guy. He also said that the draft is deeper this year than last and he is confident to get an equally skilled player as Crow at #10 this year.

Posted by: Section314 | January 23, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse


Thank you, thank you, thank you for that info. Awesome to hear.

Posted by: Section138 | January 23, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Is there really any reason to believe Detwiler could pitch in the majors this year? No. He's more likely to never make it to the majors than to make it there this year.

Posted by: Nacer09 | January 23, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Re Terrell Young and living in DC: He was a Rule 5 pickup, so if he doesn't make the 25-man roster, back he goes to Cincinnati.

Posted by: Hendo1 | January 23, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Chico -

Great post, thanks. I tried to order tickets and was shut out so it's great to hear the outcome. I have one question about the lunch and then a request for stories in the next couple of months heading into the season.

About the lunch, why wasn't Mark Lerner there? Even if you don't admit that Stan doesn't have as much decision authority as we (at least I) want, shouldn't one of the principle owners show up for the marquis season ticket holder event of the off-season?

For the next couple of months, it struck me reading Boz's article that I'd really like to get an understanding of the bigger picture here. I understand Boz's anger from a short-term perspective - we lost 102 games last year and it was painful watching a lot of them. I was there and shared in the pain. But what's really relevant to me is analyzing everything in terms of "how is what we do going to get us closer to winning a championship?". If signing Adam Dunn keeps one of our key guys from playing, then I don't want him. If we're really worried about giving up draft picks, then I don't want him. If it doesn't matter because someone needs to develop further in the minors and Willy Mo Pop-up really doesn't need to be here, then I'm fine with the argument of buying a placeholder that helps us win 75 or 80 instead of 58. We just keep hearing the "this team is crappy and the Lerner's are cheap" argument and I don't think it's enough.

I am also, however, starting to worry about the Lerner's business approach and would appreciate getting more background here. I'm more concerned that these guys are sitting there with their spreadsheets going "we've lost 5 sponsors for this coming year so we NEED our payroll at $40M or $50M next year or there's no way we're going to make any money."

How about asking them (or Kasten even as a proxy) a couple of questions like: "You said you weren't going to take any profits from the team for 5 years. Did you make any money last year and can you tell us what you're investing in this year?" and "Columnists like Boz constantly talk about where the Nationals payroll should be given the size of the market. Do you have an opinion about where it should be or is the team payroll something that should go up or down with the marketplace?" and lastly "What is your overall view of investment in the players? There's lots of investments (e.g., the HD scoreboard) that are made to increase the fan experience but essentially they are investments to return a profit (in that case through increased sponsorship). Do you feel like money should be spent on personnel ahead of the guaranteed profitability/return through increased fan attendance and sponsorship."

I know the Lerners are a tough nut to crack but on some level all of this discussion just seems like noise unless we get anything from them. And I really feel like we deserve to hear something from them about what they're thinking.

Posted by: natslifer | January 23, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Mark Lerner was there....sitting next to Frank Howard. He really seems to be out of it when it comes to decisions....he plays in the outfield during BP but that is about it....Uncle Ted is keeping all the power as best as I can tell. When Stan and Jimbo talked about going to ownership with their best recommendations.....they did not even look towards Mark L and he did not seem to be interested in these they did not apply to him.

Posted by: Season_Ticket_Holder_Class_05 | January 23, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse


I realize what TY (he said that's what "they" called him) is up against, but I'm not certain he does. He seemed very confident he was here to stay.

Posted by: psubman | January 23, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

OK, so food was decent, dessert was good, Frank Howard can spin a yarn, feel good, blah, blah, blah... Did anybody say anything of substance regarding the team on the field for 2009?

Sorry for coming off so negative (and out of character by doing so), but the Lerners need to have a watchable and entertaining product on the field THIS YEAR, not another rollout of the dreck we ended up with in 2008.

Crack open the checkbook & sign some real players, please!

Posted by: BinM | January 23, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse


Good points - What it all boils down to is "Where does the money go?" I wouldn't ask the Lerners to give the WaPo (or anyone else but the IRS) full disclosure on the subject, but it might give the average fan more insight if the owners stepped up & did a presentation at some point (w/ geeky graphs & pie-charts, if necessary) to show us where the promise of "No profits for five-years" is being expended.

Posted by: BinM | January 23, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to take a stab at it and say the
"no profit for five years" stuff is complete crap at this point. I know they have spent some money on the stadium and scouting but, come on, their payroll is bare bones minimum.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 23, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Signing Dunn and Hudson will improve the team and will in no way impede the "plan," which seems a bit off-kilter anyway given the apparently moribund state of the farm system. It is possible both to upgrade the major league product while continuing to emphasize development, and as long as signing Dunn doesn't throw the team's salary structure way out of whack they ought to do it.

Posted by: GoNats2 | January 23, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

anybody got advice about going to the event in Woodbridge tomorrow or Sunday at the Park? Specifically, how early do I need to get there ...

I really wanted to go today, but working for a living got in the way.

Posted by: natbisquit | January 23, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse


Don't know about downtown, but you could probably pull into Pfitzner Stadium at 9:45am & find good parking. I'm planning on being there to see what it's all about ('94 WC "soccer" BB cap, iyc), trying to catch a positive vibe for 2009.

I hope for the best, but anticipate the worst.

Posted by: BinM | January 23, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Chico any official word on this story at NFA? Makes the Geary signing look better. Reckon he might drop out of Stanford then entirely?

Posted by: softballgirl | January 23, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse


That is true of every single pitcher in the minor leagues. Statistically speaking. They are all more likely to fail that succeed.

Detweiler is just as likely as any other 'B' prospect to make it.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 23, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Parking shouldn't be an issue, but there have been pretty good lines at Northern Virginia caravan events in years past, so we were thinking about shooting for arrival at 9:30 or so. I'll be sporting a red Carolina League Championship tee with assorted layers of navy Washington Nats gear over it, depending on the weather, as well as my classic RFK Curly W fireworks pin for added flair (but I don't like talking about my flair).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse


I've got to echo BinM @ 7:30 here. What was actually said about the stuff that really matters as far as building the team is know, the stuff that Gregory was likely suggesting "we deserve answers" on???

You write in your post:

"A good portion of fans' questions dealt with the work yet to be done. As in, Will Ryan Zimmerman sign a long-term contract? Will Adam Dunn sign a contract of any sort? And, Can you honestly enter 2009 with such minimal roster change and expect better results?"

But then, aside from Zim's contract, you didn't give us any of the responses from management about these key "work yet to be done" questions. How about giving us the responses? Now, I'm sure that there was a lot of spinning and the usual sidestep-type BS, but you should be telling us what was said on these points Hearing about the Red Porch renovations and Clint's future is just super, but I'd rather read about their answers to questions about what they are doing with the team itself. This luncheon was pitched as the "Hot Stove" lunch after all.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 23, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Thanks folks.

Posted by: natbisquit | January 23, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

"But then, aside from Zim's contract, you didn't give us any of the responses from management about these key "work yet to be done" questions. How about giving us the responses?"

I'm sure that if you can just be patient for a day or so you'll be able to read a complete transcript of every word uttered at the luncheon today over on the Nats320 blog. He'll probably be up half the night tonight typing it in and uploading the photographs.

Posted by: nunof1 | January 23, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the koolaid was spiked.

Posted by: cokedispatch | January 24, 2009 1:15 AM | Report abuse

Or maybe Chico is saving it for the print edition.

Also, Willie Harris can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget he's a man.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 24, 2009 6:54 AM | Report abuse

@nunof1: Eerily prophetic. I hope he sends the Lerners a bill.

Posted by: Hendo1 | January 24, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

If this is true, it's HUGE! (lifted from Ladson)
WASHINGTON -- Left-hander Jack McGeary, the Nationals' sixth-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, has decided to forego his junior year at Stanford University and become a full-time baseball player. The news was first reported by Baseball Prospectus.

Posted by: rcgib | January 24, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

I went to the celebrity cookoff at ESPN Zone yesterday. It was the most unguarded and interactive that I've ever seen the players. It was really fun.

Unfortunately my up-close impression of Willie Harris wasn't that great. But that could be just because I made a fool of myself and he probably thought I was psycho, judging by the way he was backing away from me. LOL!

Lannan, my favorite pitcher, was completely charming and engaging and more than willing to just shoot the breeze for a minute.

And the new guy, Terrell Young, is absolutely on the radar now for me and my friend Amy. He was engaging and unguarded and playful. I really appreciated his chatting with us. And it was absolutely adorable how serious he looked while he was cooking. I hope he pitches as well as he interacts with both fans and the other players. We were completely charmed.

Posted by: NatsNut | January 24, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

I was there and appreciated the event, it was quite well done. The most positive impression was made by Manny Acta -- he was clearly annoyed by the question about small ball, and seemed to directly, if discreetly, say that if he had better players who got on base more he'd be more inclined to be a more aggressive manager. I must say the question about Zimmerman bunting was pretty amusing to me -- I watch every game and at no time in the past four years have I thought the team's fortunes were damaged because Ryan Zimmerman wasn't bunting more. I was glad to see Manny showing some emotion and not being "Mr. Even Keel". Maybe if he does that during the games the culture that its okay to lose will change.

As far as the lack of substance from the others, it wasn't for lack of trying from the crowd. Chico's dead tree edition characterization was quite accurate -- at no point was it hostile, but it was clear that the vast majority of season ticket holders were not satisified with major league product, the current roster and the prospect of 'hope' alone. Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman's contract were asked about repeatedly in as many different ways as possible by people (myself included) hoping for a glimmer of info. It wasn't coming, but that isn't necessarily a negative thing -- I don't think any management group is going to let anything 'slip' in a forum like that unless they planned to make an announcement.

I asked the question about overpaying, and while JimBo answered me nicely, he really didn't fully answer my question. I asked if they take into account that they are going to have to overpay when they make offers -- and he responded by saying they are aware they have to overpay. Being aware of it doesn't mean they're willing to do it -- still not sure given what's going on with Dunn that they are willing to. And they aren't going to get Dunn -- or anybody -- simply matching offers from much better teams.

I thought it interesting that Willie Harris seemed a little annoyed in the dead tree edition that so many people were asking about Dunn and Hudson. Does he really think the roster as its currently composed is going to satisfy people?

Posted by: raymitten | January 24, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I'm writing in using my husband's user ID...


I totally agree with you! We sat with Terrell yesterday at lunch and he was just great. So relaxed and personable. It's easy for these guys to get a big head, even the new guys who have yet to prove themselves, but I believe that Terrell is one of those guys who will always be, at heart, just a kid from Mississippi.

I so want him to stay. I promised him that he would hear my yells of support from the stands.

I'm not big into autographs, but I asked for one from him so I can tell my daughter, when she gets older, about the great lunch she missed.


Posted by: psubman | January 24, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Kasten's comments about the Red Porch: Can we really assume that dramatic changes will happen at the Red Porch? It's late January and it did not look like there is a bit of construction going on. Not that building improvements are really the team's highest priority.

Posted by: psubman | January 24, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

According to Nats320 a few weeks ago (and really, why do people keep asking questions here that the Post will never answer instead of looking at Nats320?) once NatsFest is over tomorrow they will begin construction on the CF plaza for the statue pedestals. Probably the Red Porch construction will begin soon as well, and there's really no reason to think they can't get it done by Opening Day. Recall how much work on the stadium as a whole they got done between last year at this time and OD. Also, in this economy they should have no trouble rounding up construction workers.

Posted by: nunof1 | January 24, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Catching up here. My job makes it impossible to keep up during the week.

I thought Boz's column was his usual overstated dreck that misses the point. His chief complaint is that the Lerner's are not opening their wallets to sign free agents. I frankly do not see any likely scenario where signing any of these so called high profile free agents makes sense. It is clear that none of them would come here unless paid well over the market rate. The Nats are approaching a point where throwing the salary structure out of whack would do serious long term damage to the organization. If you overpay for Dunn, that would make signing Zimmerman, Dukes or any of the other young 'uns that much more difficult. In addition there is no proof that the Nats haven't made good offers. Perhaps these guys just don't want to come here and play for a short term loser.

The place where the bulk of the criticism should be directed is at Jim Bo and Rizzo. Someone needs to ask Jim Bo publicly who the first of his hitter draftees will be to make an impact at the major league level. I heard him asked that question last summer, and the best answer he could come up with was, " Well, Ryan Zimmerman's already doing it, and I love this kid Destin Hood." The point is that he and the supposed genius Rizzo have not drafted well. Somebody said that Marreo hasn't backslided because he would have hit .250 with 22 HRs in A ball last year if healthy? Come on, those are not stud stats in the low minors.

The judgment that needs to occur at the end of 2009 is not whether the big league team adds a few overpriced veterans and goes from a 59 win team to a 72 win team. I want to see significant progress from the guys that Jim Bo and Rizzo have drafted, and I want to see them sign all their high draft picks. If that doesn't happen, a change needs to be made. That's what Boz should have focused on, not the Lerner's cheapness. To me that was just a demagogic way of attracting readers.


Posted by: db423 | January 24, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

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