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Kasten Chat At 11 AM

For a game against the Orioles, the Nats are down in Fort Lauderdale today. Or at least a few of them are. The team took its Nats Lite lineup down I-95 today, leaving them with Kory Casto and Wily Mo Pena batting three-four.

The full lineup is below, but I also wanted to call attention to a chat coming up at 11 a.m. today with Nats president Stan Kasten. Here's the link.

I'm at HSCS right now, where most of the regulars are working out. Adam Dunn is back from the WBC, and right now, he's working on some outfield drills with a pack that includes Austin Kearns, Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes. Amy Shipley and Sheinin are down in Ft. Laud with the rest of the team.

Bernadina - 7
Cintron - 4
Casto - 5
Pena - DH
Patterson - 8
Eldred - 3
Maxwell - 9
Desmond - 6
Nieves - 2

Martis - P

By Chico Harlan  |  March 24, 2009; 9:57 AM ET
 
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Next: Why Today's Game Still Matters

Comments

... well okay. I read the Boz on Strasburg, and was less than impressed. He called up more digits than a calculator, but only said one thing: don't do it because there's a chance you'll look bad.

... the fact is, the Nationals are a team not old enough nor established enough to pass. They are, however, a team young enough and brash enough to stand up to Scottie-Boy and back him down to a resonable limit.

... Stanley: don't do it ... listen to Boz that is. Go ahead and make the Nats into the team of the future, not by signing the best pitcher of 2009, but by sticking with, not passing on the best opportunity of your early years.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 24, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I like the fact that from across the board the Nationals are making noises that they have other options. Spewing a party line that Strasburg is a good signing, only at the right price, up and down from President to beat writers is just good tactics.

Posted by: soundbloke | March 24, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Chico, seeing as how you totally shot yourself in the foot the other day with your Washingtonian comments and you'll be lucky if anyone from the FO will even talk to you any more, I hope you're planning to take this opportunity to ask Stan the tough questions during this chat by pretending you're JayBeee or some other goober from the fanbase. Maybe you'll get an answer to your life's burning questions that way. But here's a hint. Avoid the food questions - they'll blow your cover!

Posted by: spamcastin | March 24, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

The wit has been flowing like molasses on the NJ the last few days.

Posted by: Section505203 | March 24, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Since we're debating the merits of Strasburg at #1, herewith, BA's ranking of the top ten:

1. Stephen Strasburg, rhp, San Diego State
The difference between him and the rest of this draft class is so huge, it's hard to imagine anyone closing it.

2. Grant Green, ss, Southern California
Five-tool shortstop drew comparisons to Evan Longoria, Troy Tulowitzki in the Cape Cod League last summer.

3. Alex White, rhp, North Carolina
Pick your poison: He can make you look silly with his fastball, slider or splitter.

4. Dustin Ackley, 1b, North Carolina
College baseball's best pure hitter has surprising speed, could boost his stock further with a move to center.

5. Donavan Tate, of, Cartersville (Ga.) HS
The son of former NFL running back Lars Tate is easily the best high school position player available.

6. Aaron Crow, rhp, Fort Worth Cats (Independent)
May go higher in the draft after failing to sign with the Nationals as the No. 9 overall pick in 2008.

7. Tyler Matzek, lhp, Capistrano Valley HS, Mission Viejo, Calif.
Scouts slightly prefer him to Matt Purke because he's more physical and does things a little more easily.

8. Matt Purke, lhp, Klein (Texas) HS
Has a little more power to his arsenal than Matzek, plus a track record of starring with Team USA and at showcases.

9. Kyle Gibson, rhp, Missouri
Already has been very successful with a solid fastball and a nifty slider, and he has lots of projection remaining.

10. Kendal Volz, rhp, Baylor
Didn't surrender an earned run in 14 innings as Team USA's closer last summer.

The top 33 are listed here (subscription required):

http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/draft/early-draft-preview/2009/267547.html

Posted by: BobLHead | March 24, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

"Well, since you bring up pitch count, what about it? What does that say about Strasburg's supposed superior command? We know he throws a lot of strikes, because he gets a lot of Ks. But what's his strike-to-ball ratio?"

I have no idea what his ratio is but can only extrapolate it's pretty good since his K/BB ration is 19/2.

Walking 2 batters per 9 innings on any level shows good command, regardless of the other stats.

All these comparisons are interesting. Prior in his senior year at USC had a 13/1 K/BB ratio and a 0.86 WHIP. In his second pro season, his first full time at the big league level, he was 18-6, ERA: 2.43, K/BB: 10/2, WHIP: 1.10. Would four more seasons of that be worth a $20 million bonus or even 6 years at $50 million? I think so.

Of course, I am making the leap that Strasburg can stay healthy where Prior couldn't. Scouts rate him high on durability though.

#4

Posted by: db423 | March 24, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

"I have no idea what his ratio is but can only extrapolate it's pretty good since his K/BB ration is 19/2."

Well, yes, but that brings up another thought. A swinging strike is counted as a strike, even if the pitch is outside the strike zone. I'm still thinking that even the most disciplined of college hitters when faced with 102 mph heat are more likely to just swing away whether the pitch is a strike or not instead of just letting it whiz by. Admittedly, they can't get their bats around on his heat, so the result is lots of strikeouts. But also, few walks. So I'm not really convinced that his high K/BB ratio is all you need to ascertain extraordinary command on his part.

Posted by: spamcastin | March 24, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

boz was just saying be careful not to be caught up in a game outside the game (boras vs etc etc etc). strasburg is the superior talent. draft him knowing that history is not on our side. okay, but nobody drafts all-stars. teams draft prospects.

we just need to temper the enthusiasm. every time we scream he's the best sign him, sign him whatever the cost! we are working against our team. all this talk is how boras got gammons working in his favor ($50mil is absurd) in the first place. and everyone but us wants this to blow up in our face. all we can do is make this worse by yelling at our team. chill out and let it play out.

dusty baker ruined prior. just like he ruined wood, and schmidt, and harang, and countless others.

Posted by: longterm | March 24, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

BobL,

Thanks for the research. I like the fact that the Nats may end up with 2 of these guys or whomever is top 10 in June.

My opinion is, if Stratsburg is still intact come June you take him, it's really a no brainer. He is a stud #1 starter by at least 2011, if not sooner. They can take a big bat with their other top 10 pick.

Posted by: Section505203 | March 24, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

>The wit has been flowing like molasses on the NJ the last few days.

Molasses - a fine substitute for sugar. Recommended for those who have issues with cane sugar. Grandma used to put it on hominy grits for us. I'll bet that cheeks has never had hominy grits. He probably thinks they're a substitute for construction glue. Au contrare monfrare - that's wholesome living, southern style!

Posted by: Brue | March 24, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

re: Strasburg, ESPN Insider's Keith Law thinks he is ready for the majors right now and that 5 years at $25M is a fair price. Need to be an Insider, but you can sign up for a free trial. The link has video of a game against BYU too. Check out the radar gun...

http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=4009477&name=mlb_draft

Posted by: GoodThingHeSigned | March 24, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

>Of course, I am making the leap that Strasburg can stay healthy where Prior couldn't. Scouts rate him high on durability though.

They said that he's filled out since last year, and matured mentally too. He won't be done developing for awhile.

Posted by: Brue | March 24, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

So the "no-Strasburg" draft is ss Grant Green followed by a pitcher at #10. It would be a small market team move, but sometimes it works, as it did for the Twins and Mauer. The Texans passed on Reggie Bush and drafted Mario Williams, and they turned out to be right about that. Here's a list of first-round picks dating back to 1965:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_MLB_first_overall_draft_choices

Posted by: BobLHead | March 24, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

>The wit has been flowing like molasses on the NJ the last few days.

As Homer Simpson once said, it's funny because it's true.

Hey, I wonder if maybe Chico saw that episode where Homer was a restaurant critic, like maybe right before his appt with the career counselor at Syracuse. Ya think?

Posted by: spamcastin | March 24, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

... good piece on Lastings and base-running Chico. Well-written with just the right amount of extras to make it tasty, like enough condiments on a Coney Island.

... which segues me right into this: Last year, when Barry Svdrmcnluptrga had nothing to say, he usually told us where he was going for lunch or what he would have once he got there.

... on the other hand, you have never once (that I’ve noticed) ever mentioned food in any story about the team or players, yet you get slapped in the face with an underdone steak at every turn.

...it’s enough to make a guy hungry for the bard. “If baseball be the food of love, play on!”

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 24, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Au contrare monfrare = au contraire, mon frere

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 24, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Hey, is Stafford NY anywhere near Syracuse? Ya think maybe this softball question on Kasten's chat came from one of Chico's Journalism profs?

Stafford, N.Y.: What are the best parts about being Nationals team president? The worst?

Posted by: spamcastin | March 24, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Here's the problem w/ Boswell's article: clearly great pitchers are drafted in the first round. So his general thesis is: Strasburg can be great if he's drafted third, but if he's drafted first, he'll suck. And that just doesn't make sense; he's the same prospect either way. Looking at won-loss records is slightly questionable as well, since first overall picks necessarily go to the worst teams in baseball.

Further, if everyone says Strasburg is the best, and we skip him, he goes number two overall. Under Boswell's theory, he can now be great again; if he is, the Nationals lose all credibility w/ baseball and with their fans. If they take him and miss, they still have their credibility, as well as the #10 pick w/ which to take a hitter.

Posted by: jaycane40oz | March 24, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

For those with any questions related to Strasburg, you're doing yourself a disservice by not visiting Brian over at Nats Farm Authority. He's tracking the top 15 -or so- prospects with game to game updates. It even includes Strasburg's pitch count (when available). So far, only two games have a total pitches/strikes ratio released. They are:
vs Nevada 16K & 115/77
vs San Diego 18K & 116/79
My monkey math puts that at 78 strikes to 37 balls for each game.
http://natsfarm.com

Posted by: Section138 | March 24, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I'm so glad natscanreduxit beat me to that.

I don't think even Boz was arguing that we don't draft him. Just that we make sure we do as much to check that we can sign him once we've drafted him.

Posted by: soundbloke | March 24, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Bob the Texans comment was interesting but the difference is that Williams was then a better talent just not hyped as high as say Bush or Vince Young. Now thats somewhat the case here Pitchers are hyped higher than position players but Strasburg is a better talent than Green, Ackley or anyone else. The true question is money, and what the player is worth. In the NFL the top pick is getting big time money no matter what, sure Bush and Young got a bit more but not 4 to 5 times as much. If Green was drafted you could sign him for probably somewhere between $7-8 million, Strasburg is looking for $50 million. Now i'm not saying don't draft him but unfortuantly we will have to pay a big price to take him over another player.

Posted by: Steveo11 | March 24, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

> My monkey math puts that at 78 strikes to 37 balls for each game.

Is that considered to be an exceptional or extraordinary level of command? Roughly two strikes per ball - and as I mentioned earlier, some of those strikes are probably balls that were swung at and missed.

Posted by: spamcastin | March 24, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Setting aside the fact that Keith Law is my least favorite "expert" (He's just a "talk show blogger"); his 5 year $25M estimate of worth would probably not get him signed if you believe Boras.

I'm all in on the - not a pitcher with the first pick - philosophy. Even if Strassburg is the second coming of Walter Johnson, his Value Over Replacement Player, is somewhere between 5-8 wins. If you draft a 5-tool position player you make a much larger impact.

Posted by: natbisquit | March 24, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

We can catch today's game on the radio, correct?

Posted by: FloresFan | March 24, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

"Is that considered to be an exceptional or extraordinary level of command?"

Yes. A better than 2/1 ratio would be considered very good command. We should both go on YouTube though and see how many pitches that are being swung at are really out of the strike zone. I bet that it's fewer than you think, and major league hitters chase pitches too - although not as many.

#4

Posted by: db423 | March 24, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

#4 beat me to it, but 2:1 is very good.

Posted by: Section138 | March 24, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"We should both go on YouTube though and see how many pitches that are being swung at are really out of the strike zone."

My employer blocks YouTube on my desktop machine, and it's way slow on my iPhone. Can you do that and get back to us?

Posted by: spamcastin | March 24, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

i can already see us not signing him until spring training next year. this will get ugly.

Posted by: longterm | March 24, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

August 15 is the deadline to sign draft picks so the agony won't be that long.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 24, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I thought the Aug 15 deadline only applied to HS draftees or those with remaining college eligibility.

Posted by: spamcastin | March 24, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

>Keith Law is my least favorite "expert" (He's just a "talk show blogger");

He used to be assistant GM for the Blue Jays. He probably got fired for being a prick, but you get the idea.

Natbisquit - your name is making me hungry. I prefer homemade biscuits to the stuff that comes in a box. They're flakier, nicer texture, and they take on butter well. One must always know the difference lest one gets ripped off. Education in food! What did people do for all these thousands of years without it?

Posted by: Brue | March 24, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

ACK!

2. Grant Green, ss, Southern California
Five-tool shortstop drew comparisons to Evan Longoria, Troy Tulowitzki in the Cape Cod League last summer.


4. Dustin Ackley, 1b, North Carolina
College baseball's best pure hitter has surprising speed, could boost his stock further with a move to center.

TWO of the top-five rated draftees are going to be position players for gaping holes in this organization.

I think I'd be inclined to pick Ackley, since with Zimm we have a plus shortstop. But we've go nothing in terms of power or first base.

I don't know, Strasburg is sounding less and less appealing.

Posted by: Section506 | March 24, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

> on the other hand, you have never once (that I’ve noticed) ever mentioned food in any story about the team or players, yet you get slapped in the face with an underdone steak at every turn.

Au contrare monfrare. As I recall, one of Chico's early acts after taking the beat was to solicit NJ readers on where he should take some out-of-town guests to dinner. Perhaps that has contributed to the shame he feels here. If he was a food writer, he wouldn't have had to ask.

Posted by: spamcastin | March 24, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

either way, everyone in BobL's top 10 list are either pitchers, shortstops or 1Bs. Just what the doctor ordered.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 24, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

One thing's for sure we NEVER like to talk about good food and food eateries around these parts.

Posted by: Section506 | March 24, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

What does it say about Nieves' chances of making the team that he's batting 8th in that line-up? I know he's there for his glove, but still... behind Desmond?

#4

Posted by: db423 | March 24, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse


Carrying forward the latest media alert that was posted by OldDude:

The weekly Spring Media alert:
Tue - 24th - 1:05pm - Radio: WTAM
Wed - 25th - 7:05pm - TV: MLB.TV
Thu - 26th - Off Day
Fri - 27th - 7:10pm - TV: MLB.TV
Sat - 28th - 1:05pm - Radio: KTRH (urgh.)
Sun - 29th - 1:05pm - Radio: WAXY


Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 24, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Wednesday's game is also slated for MASN broadcast.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 24, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

That does look an awful lot like the Syracuse starting lineup. I'm pulling for Nieves though.

Posted by: BobLHead | March 24, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

"Roughly two strikes per ball - and as I mentioned earlier, some of those strikes are probably balls that were swung at and missed."

ah, but you miss some of the intricacies of pitching by looking at it that simplistically. sometimes a quality, and well-placed pitch with command *IS* outside the strike zone. command is about throwing it exactly where you want to, not necessarily just about throwing a pitch in the strike zone. it's about throwing to a specific location, which could be in many places inside the strike zone or it could be in a specific spot outside the strike zone and meant to tempt a hitter to swing at what turns out to be a ball.

i.e., evaluating command is a much more complicated process than whether someone swings at a ball outside of the strike zone (or even if a ball is inside the strike zone).

Posted by: sec231 | March 24, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Game today is on the Radio if you can get Baltimore FM - WJZ 105.7. Or you can stream it via GameDay Audio. I did notice the other weekend that WFAN did not black out it's stream of the game (that was good as it was higher quality than GDA) - but that is unusual as even spring training games are almost always blacked out on the host stations web stream.

Posted by: OldDude | March 24, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

"It's", "its", it's all the same, right?

(sigh)

Posted by: OldDude | March 24, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

BTW, that lineup does not appear to honor the tradition of ensuring at least 4 "regular" players accompany the team on spring road trips. There is not a single starter in that mix. I know its a long road trip, but I'm under the impression that the players are still getting paid.

Posted by: natbisquit | March 24, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

OldDude, can we catch today's game on AM?

Posted by: FloresFan | March 24, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Off topic but after reading about Cedono with his impact on base stealing, Grissom's presence, and Eckstein along with the St., it's nice to hear that the coaching staff is a positive. So far, not one complaint about the batting coach.

That's a nice development from last year.

Posted by: derwink | March 24, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

OldDude, can we catch today's game on AM?

Posted by: FloresFan | March 24, 2009 12:11 PM

Don't know... I'd hit up the Orioles web site and see if they have a list of affiliates that you might get the game on... I'll be listening on the Stream as I'm too deep in the depths of my building for *any* radio to penetrate.

Posted by: OldDude | March 24, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, the biggest thing to me was Stan's last "joke". Is Rizzo about to get the title?

Posted by: swang30 | March 24, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Exactly. It's not like we burned three threads last year talking about knishes...

-----

One thing's for sure we NEVER like to talk about good food and food eateries around these parts.

Posted by: JohninMpls | March 24, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

mmm...knishes...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 24, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the StanChat was about as enlightening as a blackened tuna steak. With mango salsa. (This is fun.)

I was thinking about whether the rest of the "no-Strasburg" argument involved using the $50m to sign a free agent or two. Then I took a look at the list of 2010 free agents (guys available after this season), which can be found here:

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2008/12/2010-mlb-free-a.html

In short, bleck. Nothing doing. But we could use it to lock up Zimmerman.

I've been saying they have to draft Strasburg, but if Boras really demands $50 million, I would certainly prefer passing on him, drafting Green and signing Zim over drafting Strasburg and then refusing to pay him.

Posted by: BobLHead | March 24, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Khalil Greene
Rick Ankiel

#4

Posted by: db423 | March 24, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

> Wow, the StanChat was about as enlightening as a blackened tuna steak. With mango salsa. (This is fun.)

Stop it. Chico Harlan is the only qualified food writer here. All food evaluations on NJ must come from him. Any comments from the peanut gallery that mention any food item by name must be in the form of a question. Oops. My peanut gallery mention just violated the rule. Slap me with a wet noodle, Chico. Oops I just did it again.

But talk baseball here all you want, without shame. Chico has enough of that for all of us.

Posted by: spamcastin | March 24, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

wow, some obsessions are just pitifully sad.

Posted by: sec231 | March 24, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of chats, does Chico do those any more? I don't recall one yet this Spring, and none show up on the WP chat page I looked at. Barry did have a chat during his 1 week on the beat, which also covered his Dominican stories. Maybe Chico is holding out for a tag-team chat with Tom Sietsema?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | March 24, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

There's an interesting college match up this Friday night. The #4 prospect Alex White from UNC is locking horns with freshman Danny Hultzen from UVa. Hultzen is 5-0 and is considered a sure 1st round pick in 2011. He's a local kid from Bethesda (St. Albans).

#4

Posted by: db423 | March 24, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

#4, I'm certainly with you as to shoring up those positions. And Ankiel could well fit the bill in CF if Lostings can't find the ball out there (particularly with Rasmus in line in StL). I'm less sure about Greene and his sometimes sub-300 OBP. Besides, I'm drafting the other Green under this scenario, and thinking he's going to be an entree instead of a side salad (ss) like Khalil.

Posted by: BobLHead | March 24, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

In preparation for his upcoming gig as a restaurant critic, Chico has taken after Tom Sietsema and begun wearing disguises to work every day. In fact, that photo in the Washingtonian article wasn't really Chico. It was a picture they tore out of the Lands End catalog from 15 years ago, a time when straight men actually would wear plaid ties like that without shame.

Posted by: spamcastin | March 24, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Washington Post moderators, please delete the post by spamcastin at 12:56 PM, it violates your website's policies on appropriate comments regarding sexual orientation.

Posted by: Section506 | March 24, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

i think the free agents coming up are better pitchers than hitters. nick the stick looks like the best 1b available. trade him and sign him back! classic orioles/harold baines move...

we have so many holes, whoever our first pick turns out to be will be exactly what we need. i'll be happy with green playing shortstop or strasburg pitching.

Posted by: longterm | March 24, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I think the Nats need to take Strassburg regardless of his signing demands. Worst case is Boras takes him to Japan and we get the #2 pick in '10, that's not chicken feed (or a 20 game winner either).

We still get to pick at #10 and can likely do better than Crow given the large number of pitchers available in this draft. Plus we would have shown every player and agent that we are not going to be screwed with by draftees, plus going toe-to-toe with the devil and not backing down would be worth a lot in the eyes of other GMs and owners that might pay dividends in trades/deals down the road. If JimBow's reputation hurt us this would certainly help. The PR hits with fans and commentators would be vicious, but thinking long term it might be worth it.

Most importantly you can't sign Strassburg if you don't pick him so you'll have to take that risk if you want they payoff of having the best pitching prospect of our generation.

Posted by: estuartj | March 24, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, to be clear, I'm regarding the food references as appropriate good natured (prime) ribbing.

So Chico wants to be a journalist, but right now he's stuck being a sportswriter. Big deal. Now, should he have copped to that in print? Obviously not, hence the well-deserved ribbing (with garlic rub). Do we need to kill him endlessly in here over his gaffe, even after he's apologized? I would hope not. He's our beat writer for now, and he brings what he brings, most of it good. Make the best of it. It's more fun than griping.

Posted by: BobLHead | March 24, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

new post

Posted by: estuartj | March 24, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

>Washington Post moderators, please delete the post by spamcastin at 12:56 PM, it violates your website's policies on appropriate comments regarding sexual orientation.

I beg to differ. He was referring to Chico's lack of taste. How can you be a food critic and not have taste?

Posted by: Brue | March 24, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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