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A Departure, A Return

Well, I'm back. In the four or five days away, I lost a little of the Florida tan and gained a new appreciation for Jonny Flynn. Except during overtimes 1-6, it was a mostly relaxing breather. Two trips to the DMV were offset by one trip here. Also, I spent a few of my off days consulting with Rick Eckstein, where he picked apart the flaws that explain why I'm still operating in the journalistic world of non-guaranteed minor league contracts. There's reason to believe I'll be better now. Plus, in all seriousness, reading Barry from afar helped to provide some ideas; don't be surprised if you detect a little Svrlugian influence here.

DMTP -- I like that.

As I step back into the seat here, you can read the last of Barry's work: Here, he studies Ryan Zimmerman's defense, which has won plenty of admirers but has not yet resulted in a Gold Glove. His notebook takes a look at Shairon Martis, whose decision to skip the WBC might have cost him some glory, but might just help him win a rotation spot.

Speaking of Svrluga traditions: On Tuesday, when the Nats are off, I'll give my own Official Beat Writer roster prediction. That will include, obviously, the five for the rotation. I want to see Balester and Hill once more before I make a call.

Now, we serenade Barry as he departs...

[With music].

By Chico Harlan  |  March 15, 2009; 6:53 AM ET
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Next: Lineup Vs. Tigers


Welcome back Chico. Nice start, feeding the small but demanding beast that is Planet NJ so early in the day. Barry's deeper baseball knowledge does make a difference - getting a grip on the big stories in a couple of days, and knowing what questions to ask of whom. Of course he wrote a book on the Nats and has a lot of history. But you've got the snark, you've got the Blarney, and the only way to get experience is to go for it. I'd sign you to a new 10-day contract anytime. Look forward to reading you.

Posted by: utec | March 15, 2009 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Chico. Great music choice!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 15, 2009 7:35 AM | Report abuse

laughing out loud on the farewell music!!!

Posted by: NatsNut | March 15, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Hi Chico....well you have the down side of Barry already....."need to see more of Hill before you make a decision" your going to have a pool on how many starts Hill will prediction is 0....see you at the game.....had a nice walk on the beach and watched the sun rise.....very nice day today!

Posted by: JayBeee | March 15, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Oh and Chico,

What I want (know this is not news to most) is an a reporter that looks past the spin to report the real story....When Jimbo and Acta say Harris is great for the team but the evidence is so contrary...don't just report that Harris is going a great job and has the full support of Lastings Milledge......When Acta says he is happy with every one of his players effort and that clubhouse chemestry is overrated, don't just report that injuries are the problem....dig into the issue and ask around and report what you see not what you hear from Acta.....those of us who watched 160 games in 2008 and a ton of those in person say huge problems in 2008 and injures were not at the top of the list.

Posted by: JayBeee | March 15, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

I totally agree with JayBee. Chico, this team is a train wreck, not the 1927 Yankees you're covering. From the tightwad owners to the dysfunctional FO to Manny's lack of imagination and experience to the utterly barren cupboard of talent, this team is begging for an answer to this sole question: "Why in a market the size and richness of Washington is this team the laughingstock of baseball?" The WaPost has never been known for its hard-hitting sports section, when compared to its rivals in Philadelphia, Boston and New York. Please, a little less cuteness and a little-more eyes-wide-open approach is demanded here.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | March 15, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Not me. I want the insignificant minutia, like the guy with the Strasburg t-shirt.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 15, 2009 8:07 AM | Report abuse

"That will include, obviously, the five for the rotation. I want to see Balester and Hill once more before I make a call."

... hey! C'mon Cheeks. What gives? Mr. Svruluga didn't give us an extra chance.

... whatever, you've already seen one hundred percent more of the contenders than I have, so whatever your list turns out to be, I'll be interested to read it. I hope you'll give some insightful reasons for whomever you choose.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 15, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Rasika is the goods Chico. How is the Indian food in Viera?

Posted by: mjwies11 | March 15, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

... I agree with JB that an investigative approach is the answer (se my tag line), and in most things, I agree with jdschulz50 as well. But I won't say the Nats are a train wreck. Yes, the wreck has already happened - agreed - but the team now is in the aftermath of that wreck. There is a concerted effort at the clean-up of the mess and the righting of the train.

... what the investigative approach here would be is to determine whether this aftermath activity is (to perpetuate the pun) 'on the right track', and more importantly, whether management is telling us the whole story about it. This is highly important and useful in those cases where we fans see one thing, and the FO is saying the opposite.

"News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is
advertising." - Lord Northcliffe, British Newspaper Baron

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 15, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Welcome back, Chico. There is still room for minutiae, as well as digging.

Grant Paulson (of Minors and Majors on XM) wrote the following in the Free Lance Star:

A player needs to spend 172 days in the big leagues to be granted a year of service time toward the three years he needs to be eligible for arbitration. There are only 183 business days in the major league baseball season.

So if Wieters and Zimmerman spend as little as two weeks in the minors, the clubs they play for can control them under their first contract for an extra year, thus delaying an inevitable payday.

My thoughts:

I suppose one could call him the 5th starter, and say that the schedule does not require a 5th starter for several weeks. After a few starts in AAA, he comes back to DC, and loses a year toward escaping arbitration. It might be petty, but if Zimmermann is anywhere near as good as he seems he might be, keeping him under control an extra year is worth 2 weeks without him.

This is not rocket science, but I admit I was already convinced that Zimmermann would be on the team on Opening Day.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 15, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

I like having some minutia thrown in there, too.

Um, does this music mean that Barry sleeps with the fishes?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 15, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Hey guys,

... a question. In the Times (aka the Phases of the Moon) this a.m., Ben Goessling claims that WiMoPe came up with his own nickname - "The Weapon of Mass Production".

... forgive me if I'm wrong, but wasn't that moniker an NJ original last year? Anyone here recall?

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 15, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Also, re. comments from dmac and PHS in the prior thread, it was an ugly WBC game last night, and even more embarrassing to have the mercy rule invoked in the 7th.

I'd add that the performances in the booth weren't stellar either. Hope that they won't have the same trio of commentators tonight but, if they do, how about, oh, I don't know, actually watching and commenting on the game from time to time, guys? That'd be great. Thanks.

Actually, I won't get to see the Netherlands-USA match-up in real time because we have tix to a concert tonight. I've grown to like the young Netherlands team but I've gotta say "Go, USA!" for tonite. Oh, and "Go, NATS!" for this afternoon.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 15, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

hmmm, not sure where it originated, natscan, but I found a 2007 NJ reference:

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 15, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

jdschulz50 - "Why in a market the size and richness of Washington is this team the laughingstock of baseball?"


I give credit as they got Adam Dunn and made a decent effort for Teixeira. They are not a laughingstock in baseball besides some twisted minds on here. You can always talk yourself into negativity. Do you consider the Chicago Cubs and their history a laughingstock?

This is a Redskins town and a winners town. When the Nats become a winner then the big crowds will come and the Nats can operate like a large market team.

Luckily this is such a transient town that it seems on any given night that the locals come out to support their own hometown team be it Philly, NY Mets, etc. I see that realization when the Marlins come as those are usually the smallest crowds as the Marlins have a very small following. In my mind there are probably 10,000 true fans for the Nats and slowly but surely they will build on the fanbase when winning is a regular thing here.

I lived through the days of the Capitals when the Flyers came to town and there were seemingly more orange/black uni's of the Flyers than Caps fans.

Win and they will come.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 15, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

You got it GGG.

Blogfather II has a new post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 15, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Well said have driven the nail home. DC is a winners town, and this could (should) be the year that trends upward. No doubt a transient town, there are eneough locals hidden in the woodworks willing to come to the party should they have a reason. Your reference GGG of the Caps a perfect example. Thoughts of fancy times ahead warm my heart. Even though no longer a resident of the area, I hope to have my first visit to Nats Park this season. I will however, be in Viera for games this week v the Marlins and them dreaded O's. GO NATS GO

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 15, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

+1/2 St. I echo your sentiment (and by the way, its cool that your nickname has an abbreviation...)

I believe I heard Charlie and Dave state that the Nats won't need a 5th starter til April, sending J Sizzle down to Syracuse (or wouldn't that be "up" to Syracuse??) for a few starts would be wise. While there, maybe he can get Chico an autograph from Jonny Flynn.

Posted by: jfromPG | March 15, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I never cease to be amazed how many people know how to do Chico's job. Getting "the truth'' is not all that simple.

Posted by: nats24 | March 15, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

GGG/Nats24/Coke - Agree with you guys. It is so much easier seeing the glass 1/2 empty or even 3/4 empty based on your perception looking at it.

Let's give the 2009 team a chance before bashing it or bashing Chico.

You can't make many statistical analysis until the team starts playing real games. I liked Barry's game of guess the rotation because guessing is all we really can do at this point.

Welcome back Chico!

Posted by: dmacman88 | March 15, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

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