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Mid-Morning Reading

So I was sitting on the train this morning, perusing "The Bill James Handbook" -- when will someone to come out with "Bill James for Dummies"? can't be too soon -- and thinking deep thoughts. I was looking at something he calls "Career Targets." involving needed hits, years remaining, established hit level, and projected remaining hits (if you're calculating projected hits; if you're calculating homers instead, you substitute homers for hits, or at least I think you do).

Anyway, enough math. Here are some percentages for Adam Dunn that caught my eye:

Chances of hitting 500 homers: 76%
Chances of hitting 600 homers: 37%
Chances of hitting 700 homers: 16%
Chances of hitting 762 homers: 8%
Chances of hitting 800 homers: 4%

I particularly like the player projections. Here's what they've got for the Nats' rotation:

John Lannan: 9-11, 4.08
Scott Olsen, 10-12, 4.58
Daniel Cabrera, 7-9, 4.85

Of course, no numbers for Martis and Zimmermann. They've got Hanrahan 3-5, 25 saves.

As for Dunn? 42 homers, 103 RBI, .246 average, .527 slugging and .913 OPS.

Enough stats for now. Well, except for this news: AP has decided NOT to implement changes this season in its box scores, so we'll have walks AND strikeouts and not OPS. I'll remember the feedback for next year, when I'm sure they WILL change the box scores.

If you're heading to the park tomorrow night, there will be extra trains running for the big sports tripleheader in town (which wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't smack in the middle of cherry blossoms and tourist time). If you're not, remember the game is on MASN.

Just saw the NL East preview on the "Baseball Insider" on ESPN. They picked Elijah Dukes as their "fantasy sleeper." They have the Nats finishing last, 73-89.

I know, I know, too much Royals. The KC Star has a photo gallery on the new concession offerings at Kauffman and I wanted to take a gander before I head over to Nats Park. You don't have to look at all 24 photos (and you shouldn't if you're at all hungry) but THIS is cool -- a peanut bar. This is something I need in the basement sports lair (BSL). Oh, wait, I have a glass-topped coffee table (current exhibit -- 2008 NCAA championship memorabilia, including Chalmers autograph and the rolled up piece of paper Self held during the game -- I KID YOU NOT). I could line the bottom of the table with peanuts and then gently rest upon them some of my favorite items -- Sparky bat, Trammell batting glove, Rube Marquard cigarette card, etc. Oh my oh my.

Wow. Sorry. Tangent.

Don't forget to weigh in with your season predictions on the Baseball Insider, please.

Laugh of the day: the grassroots' movement to get David Wright to grow a mustache.

P.S. Love you too, JohninMpls!

By Tracee Hamilton  |  April 3, 2009; 10:13 AM ET
 
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Next: What's New at Nats Park

Comments

EGADS! It's like a whole new Nationals Journal!

I am amazingly fond of your addition to the blog every day, Tracee. It adds so much.

Can we get Dave and Boz to post stuff from time to time, too?

Posted by: Section506 | April 3, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

[insert tired food-related snark here]

[insert complaint about Lastings Milledge here]

[insert whining about Post's Nats coverage here]

Posted by: Brian_ | April 3, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Priceless, Brian.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 3, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

How hard would it be to get a picture of Chico instead of the Nats logo? I know Barry was too shy to have his mug grace the papers, but all of the other team blogs have blogger photos.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 3, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Aw shucks, now I feel REALLY awkward...

-----

P.S. Love you too, JohninMpls!

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 3, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"How hard would it be to get a picture of Chico instead of the Nats logo?"

They're waiting until they find just the right toque for him to wear.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 3, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Working on the Chico photo. I failed in three years to get Barry's photo up there but by God I'm not giving up. (And they changed up the template while I was sitting in a meeting. Sweet!)

Posted by: traceeh | April 3, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Make sure he's wearing that sweet tie in the photo.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | April 3, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

John Lannan: 9-11, 4.08
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I ain't buying it. 14-8 as he will get run support!!!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 3, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Just saw the NL East preview on the "Baseball Insider" on ESPN. They picked Elijah Dukes as their "fantasy sleeper."
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Tracee - Does the "Baseball Insider" know that Manny Acta may name Elijah Dukes the backup to stud sensation Austin Kearns?

That is the last decision to be made on the starters.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 3, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Tracee...our treasured gift giver of bb knowledge and, and, and,....just a whole lot of goody goodies to feast our eyes on and our seamhead minds to enfulf. Like a good sip of hot coffee...we (I) need it daily.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 3, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Peanut bar? Salmonella city, tracee. Surprised Chico didn't warn you about that. A responsible food critic would have.

Oh, avoid the pistachio ice cream too.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 3, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Where do the divining rods go, Tracee?

Posted by: ilikeike | April 3, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Good thing we're probably going to bench ESPN's sleeper stud because of spring stats.

P.S. - Anyone interested can catch Shawn Hill's 5 to 6-inning start on satellite Sunday.

Posted by: kfisher32 | April 3, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Surprised Chico didn't warn you about that. A responsible food critic would have.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 3, 2009 11:14 AM

Aaaaand there's teh food related snark. I swear, I could make a game out of some of postings on here.

"Food-writing snark, Milledge hating, fire Acta, Lerners are cheap, Kearns sucks....BINGO!"

Posted by: AtomicOvermind | April 3, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the K.C. notes, Tracee! It reminded me of my first ballpark experience when I got to see the Royals around 1983. Got crazy sunburned, but got to see George Brett, Amos Otis, Willie Wilson, et al. And U.L. Washington, who inspired my whole little league team to play the field with toothpicks in our mouths. Can't wait to see a game at Kaufmann this summer!

Posted by: jcville | April 3, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Well, if the Post didn't want food-writing snark in here, maybe they should have thought twice before they hired a self-loathing closet food writer to cover the beat. Y'think?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 3, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Don't you have to have the starting role before you can get benched?

As I recall, Dukes was never the starter, but always replaced someone who was injured, right? Did he ever win the job outright?

Posted by: Section506 | April 3, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

"Aaaaand there's teh food related snark. I swear, I could make a game out of some of postings on here.

"Food-writing snark, Milledge hating, fire Acta, Lerners are cheap, Kearns sucks....BINGO!""

Bad comparison. Bingo has like 75 numbers. Here, we've got the same 3 notes over and over and over. It's the passacaglia from hell.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | April 3, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

The food jokes are not snark. Snark is far more subtle. Snark can be played off as if it wasn't there. Snark is wry, knowing, almost world-weary.

The food jokes are inept bumbling of a juvenile wit who is killing time until the next fart joke.

Posted by: Section506 | April 3, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

"inept bumbling of a juvenile wit who is killing time until the next fart joke."

Leave Jim Bowden out of this.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | April 3, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

You know nunof1, as long as Harlan does a good job covering the Nationals (and I think he's doing a pretty well), I really don't give two sh*ts how he feels about the job. My mechanic may want to be a ballet dancer, or my dentist may want to be a fireman, but as long as they fix my car and keep my teeth healthy, I just don't care. I'll judge Chico by the words I read on the page or on the screen.

Seriously man, you're like a broken record about it, EVERY DAY. If Harlan's Washingtonian story really gets that much up your nose, STOP READING AND COMMENTING.

Posted by: AtomicOvermind | April 3, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

"As I recall, Dukes was never the starter, but always replaced someone who was injured, right? Did he ever win the job outright?"

Dukes was the starting left fielder on Opening Day 2008. He pulled a hammy in that game and had to come out. By the time he came back, I think Kearns was hurt so Dukes became the starting right fielder. Then Milledge got hurt in a game against the Orioles in late June and Dukes became the starting centerfielder until he got hurt again himself a couple of weeks later. By the time Dukes got back, Milledge was healthy again and Kearns was either hurt or sucking and Dukes went back to being the starter in right, where I believe he finished the season.

There really isn't any firm concept of "winning a job" in baseball. It's a fluid thing. Nothing like, say, winning the job as Redskins QB, which is always carved in stone.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 3, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I agree, Tracee's posts add a lot to the NJ, especially when she adds commentary in addition to the reading links.

A Bill James for Dummies would be good. Or a Bill James Lite, maybe.

Thanks for the heads up on the trains. It hadn't occurred to me that could be an issue on Saturday.

Speaking of ESPN previews, I picked up the SI and ESPN MLB preview print issues at the grocery store this a.m. Sweet.

I didn't look at all of the food pictures yet. Too hungry. But I was interested to see that the peanuts were under glass. I thought that perhaps a peanut bar was an eatery specializing in the legumes.

The BSL talk reminds me that I need to find a space to properly display all of my Nats (and P-Nats) memorabilia. They have outgrown their little corner of the dining room over the years.

Also, I am compelled to note that a Nick Johnson hairdo poll is *way* better than a grassroots David Wright 'stache movement, particularly when the result is lightning bolts shaved into the player's hair. Just sayin.

Last, thanks for the heads up on the template change. Upon reading the comments just now, I thought that my eyes had taken a sudden and dramatic turn for the worse. Now I know it's just smaller type in that section of the site.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 3, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I'll add my voice of appreciation for Tracee's morning postings. Always good reading. Please keep it going!

Posted by: AtomicOvermind | April 3, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

"Seriously man, you're like a broken record about it, EVERY DAY. If Harlan's Washingtonian story really gets that much up your nose, STOP READING AND COMMENTING.

Posted by: AtomicOvermind | April 3, 2009 11:47 AM"

Speaking of broken records, what have YOU posted lately other than critiques of my comments? Can't say I recall anything. Whereas Harlan food comments are only a small part of my ouevre here.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 3, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Nothing like, say, winning the job as Redskins QB, which is always carved in stone.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 3, 2009 11:58 AM |

Unless you are Jason Campbell, in the off-season. ;)

Posted by: AtomicOvermind | April 3, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

It's the passacaglia from hell.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | April 3, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Respectfully bows
Height of verisimilitude
One word imagery

Posted by: HaikuMan | April 3, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

"Dukes was the starting left fielder on Opening Day 2008."

I don't think this is true. Wasn't he only starting because Wily Mo was hurt?

Posted by: Section506 | April 3, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of mustaches, Nick needs to go with the mustache-only look he had at some point last year. Sort of the Keith Hernandez look. It works.

My greatest fear (along with Kearns starting) is that they will trade Nick without getting a 1B in return. You HAVE to be concerned about defense at 1B, as it can save many errors and runs, yet this team, by its willingness to play people like Dmitri (horrible), Belliard (not great), and now apparently Dunn at times (eek), does not seem all that concerned about it. Zimmerman is a great fielder, but his throws can be a little ... lets just say not so tame at times. I am curious why they haven't pursued Willingham as a backup at 1B more this spring. He would have to be better than Dunn or Dmitri, one would guess.

Posted by: kfisher32 | April 3, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow - JinM getting the blog mention. You're like a celebrity now! He-he.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | April 3, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of broken records, what have YOU posted lately other than critiques of my comments? Can't say I recall anything. Whereas Harlan food comments are only a small part of my ouevre here.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 3, 2009 12:02 PM |

And I have a great deal of respect for your other posts. Your insights are interesting to read, you know a lot about the game, you don't have a lot of hare-brained opinions...which makes it all the more frustrating when you repeatedly hammer this no-longer funny joke over and over again.

You want to take issue with one of Harlan's baseball stories, hey, that's great. But you have much more interesting things to say than simply going "Chico likes food writing. That's dumb, ha, ha..." over and over and over again in every thread on here.

Stop beating the dead and not-at-all funny horse. Let's talk about baseball.

Posted by: AtomicOvermind | April 3, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Dukes:

If Austin Kearns gets the starting job - and given his spring and his contract situation, I can't figure out how not to go with him - can we option Dukes to Syracuse so he can start every day? I want him to get the at bats more than be around the majors, to straighten himself out and to give him time to practice.

The result of this? If Kearns does as well as we hope then he becomes trade worthy and we can call up an improved Dukes. If Kearns does poorly, then we have an improved Dukes to call up. Either way, Dukes gives us a better right fielder of the future.

Posted by: Section506 | April 3, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm as sick of nunof's Chico tirades as anyone. However, in the interest of accuracy - let the record show that he posted a well-reasoned, baseball only post at 11:58am on this third day of April.

Maybe there is hope.

Love Tracee's posts, huge addition to the NJ.

One way or another (trade, injury, poor performance) Dukes will get in the lineup. Whether he stays there is a legit question but he will get there, mark my words. When he is there, I think he will put up good numbers. Putting him on your fanstasy roster is risky though because who knows when he'll get on the field and how long he'll stay there.

Posted by: Avar | April 3, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"Y'think?"

... ah, No, actually.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | April 3, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

>If Austin Kearns gets the starting job - and given his spring and his contract situation, I can't figure out how not to go with him


I can. Statistically significant, recent, repeated regular season failures.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 3, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

[insert tired food-related snark here]
Hey Chico, hear Kasten wants you to write a column on the new food vendor, Levy Resturants. Ballgames and food reviews thats the style!

[insert complaint about Lastings Milledge here]
Lastings Milledge is one "Bend-a-Knee" away from being a legitimate lead-off hitter.

[insert whining about Post's Nats coverage here]
Now that the QB-Campbell vs who ever the current Redskins flavor of the month issue has been settled hereo hoping the Nats can get at least a half page of coverage on OD.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | April 3, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

""Dukes was the starting left fielder on Opening Day 2008."

I don't think this is true. Wasn't he only starting because Wily Mo was hurt?

Posted by: Section506 | April 3, 2009 12:15 PM"

Doesn't matter. He started that game, so he was the starting left fielder that day. That's kind of my point about the whole concept of "starter" being irrelevant in baseball. Manny Acta has been quoted in several different roundabout ways saying that all those outfield guys will get their share of playing time, with Dunn and perhaps Milledge getting a bigger piece of the pie than the others. But none of them will starve. It's only the press that makes an issue of the whole "who's the starter?" thing. Except for pitchers, it's really a non-issue. Obviously all of them want to be playing all the time, but that ain't gonna happen. It's the manager's job to sort that out in whatever way he feels gives them the best chance to win the game that day.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 3, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

"I'm as sick of nunof's Chico tirades as anyone. However, in the interest of accuracy - let the record show that he posted a well-reasoned, baseball only post at 11:58am on this third day of April.

Maybe there is hope."

You know, I bet if you counted up all my Chico food writer comments here it would be less than the number of complaints about my Chico food writer comments. Not that I'm ever looking for a response when I comment here, but if I was I think I know what kind of comments I'm going to make. So if you don't like the Chico food writer comments, you could always complain about something else, y'know.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 3, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

nunof1 = spamcastin?

Posted by: Section505203 | April 3, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Tracee,
Thanks for sharing. It would be a shame if you stopped.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | April 3, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

> nunof1 = spamcastin?

Posted by: Section505203 | April 3, 2009 1:08 PM

Oh, so food comments are verboten here, but math is okay?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 3, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

@nunof - I see where you are going with your "who starts is irrelevant" line of thinking, but you oversimplify a bit. Unless you have a traditional platoon situation of a right-handed hitter and left-handed hitter splitting time, there will be one player at a position who gets the majority of the at bats (call him a "starter" or call him what you want). You want THAT PERSON to be the best person, as they will get the MOST at bats. Pretty straigtforward. Sure, they might get spelled from time to time and can always get hurt, but the plan is for that person to get more at bats than the rest. In a case where it is just too close to call who the better player is, the manager must make that decision. I'm not sure that then flipflopping back and forth on that decision throughout the season is good, because hitting requires repitition - that is why they say it is so hard to come off the bench when you haven't been playing.

Personally, I don't think RF is such a situation where it is too close to call. To me Kearns is a backup at best. However you feel, though, being at the top of the depth chart at a position does matter.

Posted by: kfisher32 | April 3, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Now THAT was funny. New post coming on my Nats Park adventures shortly. I hope.

Posted by: traceeh | April 3, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

505203, it's like you read my mind.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 3, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

And looking forward to it, Tracee.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 3, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"Personally, I don't think RF is such a situation where it is too close to call. To me Kearns is a backup at best. "

Then how come Dukes is the one who's playing like a backup now, not Kearns? You can say all you want that spring training stats don't count for anything, but when you have a situation like this where two guys who have both been regulars in the past are competing for the same job, the spring training stats would have to be a big part of any decision being made. Kearns is clearly winning that battle.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 3, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

And both would fall far short of the number of times Chico himself has even brought up the subject of food.

-----

You know, I bet if you counted up all my Chico food writer comments here it would be less than the number of complaints about my Chico food writer comments.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 3, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

To clear up the muddled outfield argument, let's just put it this way:

The Nats have five outfielders who started for their respective teams on Opening Day 2008.

And to get nerdy about it, here's how they did:

1. Dukes (vs. ATL): 0 for 2

2. Dunn: (vs. CHC): 0 for 3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO

3. Kearns (vs ATL): 1 for 3, 1 RBI

4. Milledge: (vs. ATL) 0 for 4, 1 SO

5. Willingham (vs. NYM): 1 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 SO

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 3, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Well, for what it's worth, I'm jonesing for a "Tomahawk" a 24-oz. bone-in buffalo rib eye. Can you imagine eating one of those at a ballgame?! I wonder many $8 beers would it take to wash that down....?

Posted by: theo3 | April 3, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

theo3, you might be able to get that kind of thing in the President's Club. Or so I hear anyway.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 3, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Agree with nunof1 on Kearns v. Dukes. Coming into ST, Manny couldn't simply award RF to Dukes (as he could award 3B to Zim). Dukes had shown great potential in about 1/2 season of play, but Kearns, although sucking mightily in 2008, had built up something of a track record (admittedly tainted by playing in the Great American Bandbox). I suspect Manny, like most knowledgeable observers, expected Dukes to win the competition going away. But it didn't happen that way. Not only has Kearns had a surprisingly strong ST, Duks seems to be struggling mightily just to make contact now.

So for Manny it's an easy decision. But, as I think nunof1 has said, it's not etched in stone. Let's see how Dukesie responds to this minor adversity: if he keeps working hard, makes the necessary adjustments at bat, and takes advantage of his opportunities when he gets them, he'll get regular PT somewhere for the Nats.

Posted by: CapPeterson | April 3, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Starting OF should be:
Dunn - Willingham - Kearns

Dukes and Harris in reserve.
Get rid of Millege.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 3, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Starting OF should be

Dunn - Dukes - Willingham

Milledge and Harris in reserve
Get rid of Kearns.

Posted by: RickFelt | April 3, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse


Starting OF should be

Dunn - Dukes - Kearns - Willingham

Harris in reserve

Let's play softball!

No really, you balance the play for a while among the four. If Kearns shows some stats, you trade him. If after some length of time he's still hitting .220, you probably release him so you can give some growing time to the best of the outfielders in AAA.

Posted by: jonb5 | April 3, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

theo, when I saw tomahawk, I thought of Braves fans. I was relieved to learn that it was a steak.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 3, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Ohbytheway, new post.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 3, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Dukes can make things happen. Some say he is a potential 5 tool player which I would agree with.

Dukes needs to start and deserves to start. You have Kearns with 1 year left on his contract so he is a short timer, and this is in most estimations a 73+ win season so the Nats won't make the playoffs which is all the more reason to play Dukes and give him reps with Kearns as his backup.

Looking ahead....when Kearns files for Free Agency you can't even take the chance of offering Free Agent arbitration due to the chance he accepts so the Nats won't receive any compensation "if" he signs with another team.

So because of this, I don't see a reason to "showcase" Kearns as you need to play him as you need him which in most baseball circles is called a BACKUP.

Yes, he is hitting better but the bigger question is who gives you a better chance to win Kearns or Dukes?

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 3, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

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