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Mandel, Baby Nats want that title

The Arizona Fall League is not quite six weeks spent in the desert playing before a smattering of diehard fans and a slightly larger smattering of scouts. So do the players really care about the AFL championship? Nats reliever Jeff Mandel says yes.

Mandel and his Phoenix Desert Dogs teammates, champions of the East division, will play the Peoria Javelinas at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday. The game will be televised on the MLB Network and also available on mlb.com. The Desert Dogs and Javelinas had identical 18-12 records going into Wednesday's games.

"When you're in the hunt it makes it a lot more fun," Mandel said. "Six weeks is not a full season but it's always a lot more fun. Everybody's in a better mood. It's only an extra day, we're not spending too much extra time here. We might as well win the whole thing."

Mandel is one of seven Nats prospects in Arizona this fall. A 19th-round pick out of Baylor in 2007, Mandel started 25 games last season at Potomac and Class AA Harrisburg, where he finished the season.

The Nats decided to try him as a middle reliever, and his results in Arizona have been outstanding. Through Tuesday's games, Mandel, a 6-3, 190-pound right-hander, was seventh in the AFL in ERA (1.88), allowing 14 hits and three earned runs in 14 1/3 innings pitched. He's struck out 10 and walked none for a 0.98 WHIP. He also has two holds.

Mandel, who starts a lot of sentences with the phrase "It's really fun...", is enjoying the conversion and the results.

"It's really fun for me to just have a different approach," he said. "When you start you're doing the same routine all the time, your running, your bullpen in between. It's nice to have a routine but at the same time you get into the game a lot slower. If you have a bad outing, you want to get back out there.

"With relieving, every day you could be throwing. You always have a goal in sight. It makes it fun to get the hang of the bullpen, that's a really different thing. I've really been able to get along better, know some teammates. You don't throw as much, throw a couple innings at a time, a certain number of pitches, and go as hard as you can.

"It's a totally different game. Every run as a reliever is so much more important. It just raises the intensity level."

Mandel didn't need to add pitches to his arsenal in Arizona, but he did have a to-do list, like the other Baby Nats.

"I've thrown so much during the year so I had a pretty good idea of what kind of pitcher I am," said Mandel, who threw 151 2/3 innings last season. "What I wanted to do was find the two pitches I could really sharpen. I'm a sinkerball pitcher, so I've been working on sinkerball location. That's going really well. The changeup has always been kind of my fourth pitch, so I've been pushing that, working it into counts.

"You don't have as many innings [in the AFL] but you get a lot of work between outings. Out here you get a little breathing room to work on things."

Like the other Nats prospects in Phoenix, he's working with Potomac pitching coach Paul Menhart. They've known each other since Mandel first came into the organization.

"When I was drafted, I went to low A [Hagerstown]; we really got close then," said the 24-year-old. "It was a complete overhaul, changing a lot of things. It was a rough year for me my first year. He was always positive, but always pushing me. I've had him at some point each year so for me he's kind of been my coach. I joke that he's my life coach. He's a positive influence but he'll call me out when I'm not working hard enough. I'm comfortable with him, he's comfortable with me. Guys just eat him up.

"He's the type of guy I wish would continue to move up at the rate we move up. I want him to be at Double A this year, Triple A next year. He really jumpstarted my career. The Nats know he's a hot commodity, such a resource in the low levels. He's always going to be successful."

Mandel spends his time in the bullpen with fellow Nats Josh Wilkie and Drew Storen.

"It's really fun," he said. "Me and Wilkie have been together all three years of my pro career. We know each other pretty well. We're college guys, we have our degrees, we have a lot in common. We're kind of more veteran type of guys.

"You have [Stephen] Strasburg and Storen and they are the new guys. We try to edge them along into things that helped us. These guys are higher above where me and Wilkie were at that age. It's fun to see how they do it. Just watching Strasburg pitch is a real exciting thing. Storen is just great; I got to know him a lot better. The guy is really good; it'll be fun to see how good can he get, can he keep getting better. Both of them have crazy futures ahead of them."

Mandel and his fellow Baby Nats are excited to get a chance to play on TV Saturday; although Storen pitched in the Rising Stars game, none of the others have had a chance to be on TV this fall.

"It's fun to talk to family and friends and they think I'm playing in a summer league or something," he said. "I'm like, 'Hey, it's going to be on TV.' My parents are home in Texas, so they'll be able to watch it and get an idea of what it's all about."

That's it from Mandel. Please check online and/or the dead tree edition Thursday for my piece on Wilkie. And there might be something coming Saturday as well.

By Tracee Hamilton  |  November 18, 2009; 11:51 AM ET
 
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Comments

Thanks Tracee, "SS and Storen have crazy futures ahead of them", wow I hope its at Nats Park starting sometime next year!

Why do I get the felling that Mandel is being groomed for trade-bait? I guess lots and lots of arms in the system mean endless possibilities for lots of 5 tool trades. Jim. oh Jim is that you?

Posted by: TippyCanoe | November 18, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Very interesting post, Tracee--thanks very much. I always wondered if pitchers think being a reliever is second-best--good to get this angle on it, where Mandel clearly prefers it.

Posted by: Section109 | November 18, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Tracee, A real treat and we appreciate the effort.

It would be really fun to see Mandel get a chance in the majors sometime soon...

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 18, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

It's really fun reading those comments from Mandel.

Posted by: BobLHead | November 18, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Ack! The biscuit beat me to the punch.

I think the terp was on the right track in the last thread. All of these front office hires (17!) have me thinking that the Lerners were, indeed, ahem, shall we say, running a tight ship. But Old Jimbo might have been an enabler in this regard, and perhaps that's why he stuck around as long as he did. It's not hard to imagine him assuring the Lerners that he could do it all himself, didn't need any help, and that some combination of his high-upside tools draft picks plus veterans from off the scrap heap would eventually lead to a title -- no overpriced free agents necessary. I have to think that Rizzo made his hiring as GM conditional on being able to fully staff his own front office. It may even be the case that this is what kept him "interim" for so long -- perhaps they were shopping around for someone that was both competent and comfortable, ahem, running a tight ship, and maybe they heard from enough respected sources that this was no way to run the railroad. So in the end, they came back to Rizzo, and he's made the front office his first priority -- get the management team in place first, then focus on the team on the field. Call it The Plan 3.0. I guess I can get behind that, but I do think Jaybee has a point when he asks what in the world StanK was doing during the Jimbo era. In retrospect, the Bowden years are looking increasingly disastrous, and he has to take some responsibility for that.

Posted by: BobLHead | November 18, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I received a personal email from Phil Wood this morning and thought you guys would like to hear this:
"When I was terminated by 980 mid-July 2008, they told me they couldn't see "going forward" with a show that was only about one sport. Snyder's people had never really listened to what I was doing, since in my mind, yes, it was basically a baseball show, but it was more of a pop culture gabfest. I really thought it was pretty unique in the marketplace. Anyway, in retrospect, I think it was pretty obvious that I wouldn't have enjoyed working for that company."

Posted by: natsfan007 | November 18, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the "Baby Nats" and Arizona Fall League update, Tracee. I was there a couple of weeks ago for my first visit so I guess I'm one of that "smattering of diehard fans" but I've got to tell you that the AFL was one of the most enjoyable baseball experiences I think I've ever had and I'm already planning to go back next year, stay longer, and catch more games. (I'm not just saying that because I caught a foul ball, either.) Highly recommended for the baseball fan's bucket list, or evan as a regular autumnal getaway.

Posted by: greggwiggins | November 18, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

It;s really fun to have Strasburg, him being the future Ace of the club, but it'd be a lot more fun to have an Ace for 2010 also.

Posted by: dfh21 | November 18, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't the word on the street that JimBo had Mark Lerner in his corner with Kasten more marginalized? I've always trusted in Kasten's track record over anything the Lerner's are offering in management. I think the more interesting question is what's the dynamic between Kasten and Lerner with Rizzo? Is Kasten driving any of Rizzo's efforts?

Posted by: natslifer | November 18, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

And while I'm at it, might as well admit I'd be pretty happy if Tracee ended up on the beat instead of Chico. He seems like a good guy but I'd prefer more content and funny writing over well written, situational prose. Tracee - I'm sure you're too senior for the Beat but it'd be great to have you.

Posted by: natslifer | November 18, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Anyone see the preliminary Nat prospect grades on minorleagueball.com? A sampling:

Strasburg - A
Storen - B+
Norris - B+
Burgess - B-
Desmond, A. Thompson, E. Perez - C+
Espinosa, Marrero, Kobernus, Hood and numerous others - as yet ungraded

BA had Espinosa, Marrero and Kobernus all ranked above Burgess, so there's a good chance there are some more good grades in there.

As a comparison, Sickles gave the Braves prospects 1 A, 1 B+, 3 B, 4 B-, 8 C+. Royals had no A, 2 B+, 4 B (including A. Crow); Twins had no A, 1 B+, 1 B. In other words, he's a tough grader.

Posted by: jcj5y | November 18, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"All of these front office hires (17!) have me thinking that the Lerners were, indeed, ahem, shall we say, running a tight ship."

Likely this is not the case. While it may seem that all of a sudden Rizzo is hiring lots of new FO guys, keep in mind that most if not all of them are replacements for guys that have left. Bowden, Rijo and the Latin American contingent left or were fired last spring, not to be replaced until now. Rizzo's asst GM job was vacant all season. Then once he got the permanent GM gig, he started weeding out the Bowden cronies and letting them go. Plus others like Dana Brown left on their own. So it's true that for much of the 2009 season the FO was shorthanded, but not because the Lerners were operating it on the cheap. It was surely much more due to the diffculty of hiring FO people from other teams during the season.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | November 18, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Eclipse, Zuckerman and Rizzo says most of the front office folks are new (not replacements):

With all these recent hirings, Rizzo has added quite a bit of experience and manpower to his front office. By Rizzo's count, the Nats have actually added 17 new front office positions in the last six weeks. Now, some of those are part-time international scouts, but it does show you the emphasis that has been placed on beefing up the front office. "This has been a big month, an important month for the Washington Nationals' future," Rizzo said. Across the board, the newcomers cited one primary reason for leaving their previous organizations to join this one. "Mike Rizzo," Harris said. "I think I can speak for all the new guys in here. It's a great opportunity to grow with a guy we all have a great deal of respect for. It's got a chance to be something special going forward."

Posted by: BobLHead | November 18, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Per Steinberg's Twitter, Chico is no longer the Nats beat writer. I imagine that both Chico and the Nats' fanbase will be pleased by this development.

Posted by: jrm212k | November 18, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

BobLHead, I see the word "new" there in your quote, not "new (not replacement)". I think you're extrapolating. Sure, the number of FO people has increased, but not by the massive numbers you're arguing. Make up a list of guys who have left since the day Bowden resigned and another list of the guys who've been hired since then. I bet the difference is nowhere near 17.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | November 18, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"Per Steinberg's Twitter, Chico is no longer the Nats beat writer. I imagine that both Chico and the Nats' fanbase will be pleased by this development."

If he's not coming back because a bear ate him on the Appalachian Trail, then I'm not pleased. Otherwise, I am.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | November 18, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Breaking news indeed. Evidently the source is an (internal?) Post e-mail that indicates he's looking for a new challenge (surprise, surprise). Can we have Barry back please? (In addition to, not in place of, Dave and Tracee and all of the other contributors here who actually like baseball.)

Posted by: BobLHead | November 18, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Eclipse, it doesn't say 17 new people, it says 17 new positions. I'll grant you that a few people have left, but it seems that many more have arrived (including some we obviously don't know about).

Posted by: BobLHead | November 18, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

"If he's not coming back because a bear ate him on the Appalachian Trail ..."

Nah, he's just in Argentina visiting his mistress.

Posted by: BobLHead | November 18, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, Tracee is a boon to Nats Fans. She has earned the columnist position, but if she could be All Nats, coverage would never be lacking again.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 18, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Actually, if Chico is in Argentina visiting his mistress then its a win-win for Chico ... unless his wife finds out.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 18, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I think Chico paid for the trip to Argentina with the $90,000 he hid in the freezer.

Posted by: Section505203 | November 18, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Long time coming. I wonder how Chico would rate the Post's Nats coverage over the past 1.5 years. He is a very good writer, but he never had his heart in the job. He didn't know baseball, and he didn't care about the Nats.

The excellent thing about Tracee's addition as a columnist is that she really does care about the Nats, and she is willing to do the type of legwork as a columnist--witness things like interviewing Mandel--that Boswell no longer does. Tracee even makes Boswell palatable when it comes to the Nats, because when you have 2 columnists covering the Nats, it is OK for Boz to be Boz.

Hopefully, The Post will get a new Nats beat writer who knows baseball and who really cares about the beat--and who has energy like Barry did. And hopefully that person will last more than a couple seasons. Frequent turnover in this position has deprived The Post and its readers of much of the inside access and sources that a paper of The Post's caliber really should have. Unfortunately, from that standpoint going into the Hot Stove League, we are back at square one.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | November 18, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

The mistress got tired of always having to stay at the Mayflower.

What do you say, Barry? Miss being the big fish in a small pond? Plus, every good book needs a sequel. (AND we never got our shirts from a couple years back!)

Posted by: ogdennash | November 18, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I received a personal email from Phil Wood this morning and thought you guys would like to hear this:
"When I was terminated by 980 mid-July 2008, they told me they couldn't see "going forward" with a show that was only about one sport. Snyder's people had never really listened to what I was doing, since in my mind, yes, it was basically a baseball show, but it was more of a pop culture gabfest. I really thought it was pretty unique in the marketplace. Anyway, in retrospect, I think it was pretty obvious that I wouldn't have enjoyed working for that company."


Posted by: natsfan007 | November 18, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

That's interesting. I don't think Phil would like 980 either. He's too good for tha station.

So the afternoon guys, what do they cover but NFL and a little bit of golf? Sheehan covers the Redskins almost exclusively, even at the height of baseball season. And Tony Kornheiser just talks about his TV viewing of American Idol and any latest fad that happens to have come along. And some old guy music trivia. Mailing it in for years.

Wish MASN weren't mainly the Baltimore station and 980 the Redskins station. Can't stand JFK or whatever that latest station is. My rant!

Posted by: poncedeleroy | November 18, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Hope that somebody from the Post can create a blog post to either confirm or deny the Twitter item. I'm old school enough to require something more substantial than a Tweet or a leaked email as a news source. I also hope that Phil Wood's permission was obtained before the contents of a personal email were posted here.

On a somewhat related note, and speaking of Twitter (which I still don't do), this is my new fave t-shirt:

http://despair.com/somevedi.html

:-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 18, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

1a, below is the link to the Fishbowl DC post about it, with the entire memo. Also, the tweet is from a Post Sports staffer, so I'm not sure what more confirmation would be required for confirmation's sake. As for a blog post, I agree that it would be nice if they would let us know what is going on with the beat during this transitional time for the Post, while the Nats should hopefully be seeing a lot of hot-stove activity.

Here's the link: http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlDC/the_revolving_door/wapo_seeks_new_nats_writer__143590.asp?c=rss

Some interesting quotes from the memo:

"A background in sports is not essential..."

They do talk up us NJ denizens a bit: "The beat writer is also responsible for regular posts to the Nationals Journal blog, which has a large and passionate following of baseball fans." (Take that, Steinz!)

And apparently the next beat writer won't be getting the same generous vacation time that Chico somehow was able to wrangle: "It is also a very demanding job. It involves covering upwards of 140-150 games per year, in addition to spring training and the off-season."

Welcome to another offseason without a beat writer.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | November 18, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I believe lots of us called the Chico news a while back....it just goes to show you can fool some of the people all the time....you know who you are.

Posted by: JayBeee | November 18, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

"I received a personal email from Phil Wood this morning and thought you guys would like to hear this:"

Serious breach of netiquette there, you know, posting someone's private e-mail to you without his permission.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | November 18, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Oh I forgot this quote, it's awesome:

"This is one of the most high profile and rewarding beats in Sports because our coverage of the city's MLB franchise is at the center of our department's mission."

It is remarkable that Barry was the only Postie ever to acknowledge that the paper's Nats coverage was sub-par and needed to improve. If Matt Vita really thinks they do a good job, as he suggested in his on-line chat recently, that is very unfortunate. Hopefully the new beat writer will be someone from another paper, who actually knows what good baseball coverage is, and aspires to provide it.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | November 18, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

"After two very long seasons doing an outstanding job covering the Washington Nationals, Chico Harlan is eager for a new challenge at the Post, and a well-deserved one. We do not fault Chico for having failed to bring winning baseball to the District. In fact, he now joins a long list of baseball writers who have come up short in that regard. What this means is that we are looking for a new reporter to cover the Nats. This is one of the most high profile and rewarding beats in Sports because our coverage of the city's MLB franchise is at the center of our department's mission."

And people accuse Stan Kasten of being a used car salesman...

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | November 18, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

"Hopefully the new beat writer will be someone from another paper, who actually knows what good baseball coverage is, and aspires to provide it."

I'd think any of those guys at the Washington Times would be jumping all over this, given the Moonie paper's current issues (purge of top editors, financial cutbacks, opinion columnist filing suit after being fired for refusing to participate in Moonie events, yada yada yada). But please God, let it not be Loverro.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | November 18, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

"We do not fault Chico for having failed to bring winning baseball to the District. In fact, he now joins a long list of baseball writers who have come up short in that regard."

I . . . don't really get this quote. I keep reading it, and it doesn't make any sense to me. I have no idea what they're trying to say; I can't decide if it's just the phrasing that's off, or if this is some dig at Chicho that only he's supposed to get. Either way: odd.

A little input from the Post higher-ups would be nice. I can't believe that they would be so sloppy as to allow Steinbog to break this news with no plan for addressing the "large and passionate following of baseball fans."

Anyone know if Cheeks is staying with the Post at all, or is he on to bigger and better things?

Posted by: ogdennash | November 18, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the further info, CiL. I should have known you'd come through on the content front and have it, uh, covered. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 18, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Might be a dig at the ballclub.

---

"We do not fault Chico for having failed to bring winning baseball to the District. In fact, he now joins a long list of baseball writers who have come up short in that regard."

I . . . don't really get this quote. I keep reading it, and it doesn't make any sense to me. I have no idea what they're trying to say; I can't decide if it's just the phrasing that's off, or if this is some dig at Chicho that only he's supposed to get. Either way: odd.

A little input from the Post higher-ups would be nice. I can't believe that they would be so sloppy as to allow Steinbog to break this news with no plan for addressing the "large and passionate following of baseball fans."

Anyone know if Cheeks is staying with the Post at all, or is he on to bigger and better things?

Posted by: ogdennash | November 18, 2009 4:55 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 18, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Tracee ... your insights are as always ... well insightful?

I suspect we will be seeing all four and then some with the big club sooner rather than later.

Posted by: periculum | November 18, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

If he's on to bigger and better things, he better get used to working more.

Posted by: samantha7 | November 18, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

If he is on to bigger and better things, I wish him well.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 18, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Place Bob Carpenter Calls Home-

1. Is there a preferred abbreviation for us to respond to your posts?

2. Fear not, pal- Loverro coming to the Post is as likely as Mallard Fillmore coming to its Comics pages. And that's a good thing.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | November 18, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

+1/2St, you can call me anything you want. Except for ABM. Because if you did that, I'd have to start calling you JayBeee. And I'm sure you don't want that.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | November 18, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Homie?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QhuBIkPXn0

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | November 18, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Homey don't play that.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 18, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Marrero must be feeling better. He had 2 hits and 2 RBI in today's 7-6 win over the Javelinas (which also put the D-Dogs at the top of the league as far as their W-L record). Espinosa had 3 hits and 1 walk. Storen notched his fourth save: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, and 2 K (his ERA stands at 0.66).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 18, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

The D-Dogs have a game tomorrow afternoon and then an off day before the championship game.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 18, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20091117&content_id=7679900&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb&partnerId=rss_mlb
Apparently we're interested. Maybe if the Yankees get Halladay in that trade...?

Posted by: jaumiusk | November 18, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

I know it's been used before (i.e Baby Rays), but I LOVE the name Baby Nats. It's so freakin' cute. And hopeful.

Posted by: NatsNut | November 18, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Love the URL of this page, by the way:

/mandel_baby_nats_want_that_tit.html

And what the heck, I want them to get that tit.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | November 18, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad Chico Harlan is no longer the Nats beat writer. I have been thinking about this for a long time. He's a very good writer, but it always seemed to me like he was looking for something interesting or curious or obscure to say about baseball...when people just wanted the dang news from somebody who knew what he was talking about and gave some indication that he cared about what he was doing. Good luck, Chico. You'll do better in a different position. Now, Post...Please give us somebody who cares!

Posted by: Baldino | November 18, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Some random thoughts on WaPo writers...

The blogmom (traceeh) has earned her columnist gig - Let her keep that, as long as she chips in on NJ as often as suits her fancy; Same goes for Boswell & Sheinen.

IMO, the blogfather (Svrulga) got burned out on baseball coverage for the WaPo; Between his gamers, numerous NJ posts, on-line battles with the Baltimore beat writer at the time (Jorge A.), and the book, he gave us everything he had. With the WaPo's density of coverage for the f-ball team, he now files 2-3 articles a week, with no web responsibilities - It's like a extended vacation. Why would he want to come back?

If Chico Harlan has in fact been re-assigned, I'll say this: CHarlan's gamers were by-and-large well-written, with sometimes elegant prose that was pleasing to read & captured the essence of the game just played - In short, he's a good feature writer. Where he fallen short is in the actual day-to-day reporting, IMO; That "beat reporter" grind of talking to different players, staff & Management members daily, ferreting out the inside snippets of information that become scoops or stories, sometimes weeks later.

Just my two-cents worth.

Posted by: BinM | November 18, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Great article on Wilkie, Tracee. I think he's my favorite right now and I REALLY hope he stays with the Nats. I can identify with his great first impression of, and subsequent love for, DC.

I hope Rizzo does not underestimate the value of having a player who lives IN the city, gets the city, and loves the city. I wish more players were like that.

Posted by: NatsNut | November 18, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

I propose that CiL apply for the beat writer job. C'mon Cov, do right by us all and put your money where your mouth is (and I say this as one who largely agrees with you, although I am a bit less quick to assign blame). I'd do it myself except, well, I'm probably not qualified.

Posted by: BobLHead | November 18, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

a note on dcrtv.com:

Harlan Gives Up Nats Job At WaPo - 11/18 - Chico Harlan is leaving his spot as a Nationals reporter at the Washington Post. And the Post is looking for someone to replace him. Harlan will be moving on to another, as yet unnamed, writing gig at the Post.....

Posted by: TimDz | November 18, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

I propose that CiL apply for the beat writer job. C'mon Cov, do right by us all and put your money where your mouth is (and I say this as one who largely agrees with you, although I am a bit less quick to assign blame). I'd do it myself except, well, I'm probably not qualified.

Posted by: BobLHead | November 18, 2009 9:15 PM
________________________________________________

That didn't stop Jimbo, did it?

Posted by: TimDz | November 18, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

I never had the impression that Svrluga and Jorge Arangure actually hated each other like Kornheiser and Wise clearly do. With Svrluga and Jorge it was just an act they were putting on in their chats every week.

Posted by: nunof1 | November 18, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Yikes, I just realized that none of us (or at least not enough of us) have thanked Chico for his work. So,

Thanks Mr. Harlan for a strong effort, some great gamers, particularly strong opening paragraphs, multiple blog entries per day of in season coverage, and honest hard work over the past two years. You were a stand up guy who took on the tough job of explaining your statements in the Washingtonian (?) magazine.

While many of us including me have made sarcastic remarks about your lack of passion for baseball, I have absolutely no complaints about your writing. You sir, are going to continue to have a successful career because you can make a train wreck seem like an elegant and epic event when others are only able to report that the train jumped the tracks.

Good luck, and again thank you!

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 18, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

I second (or third?) the assessments of the Chico Years by Baldino and BinM. Now let's get a real beat reporter, someone to keep JayBeee company on those spring training practice fields, under the broiling Florida sun.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | November 18, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

I think the hard part about being a baseball beat writer is that even if you do love the game, being so incredibly close to it for so much of your days probably takes away some of the the writer's curiosity as well as the game's magic.

The good ones (cough...Svrluga...cough), through all the awful hours, deadlines, hideous travel, bad food and demanding blog commenters, can still recognize the magic and will be curious on our behalf.

The other three obviously have it too, though Tracee's got the curiosity part down, Boswell has baseball magic by the boatload, and Sheinin gets us the coolest facts and lists.

If the rumor about Chico is true, the next person should be able to do all 3. And well.

(did someone mention demanding commenters?)

Posted by: NatsNut | November 18, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Oh. Right, natbiscuit. Excellent point. Sheesh. If all this is true, Chico does deserve a big thank you. Though I wasn't always satisfied with the content, there's no arguing the dude can write.

Thanks for your time and attention, Chico. Best of luck to you.

Posted by: NatsNut | November 18, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Just wanted to add my thanks to Chico for his hard work, as well as my praise for his wonderful writing. It is a crazy job for one person, and I doubt his many critics could come close to achieving what they seem to expect.

I'll be watching for whatever Chico writes next, and wish him only the best in his next assignment.

Posted by: dcbatgirl | November 18, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

can i be the first to not thank the guy? meager blog posting, shallow gamers and a general disrespect for the profession...well done?

Posted by: formerlylove1 | November 19, 2009 3:32 AM | Report abuse

Say this for the kid, he did a great job showing his metrosexuality in dressing up for his Washingtonian photo shoot. I'm sure that won him lots of points in his clubhouse interviews.

Posted by: section309 | November 19, 2009 7:23 AM | Report abuse

I enjoyed Harlan's style. I found his ability to expand upon the core moment of the game was a great compliment to all of the information that could be gleamed from the box score. My ideal coverage would be a Chico doing his vignettes and another writer working in tandem to do a play by play rehash for those not willing to dig into the box score.

My one critique of Harlan was the frequent absence of him from his job. The baseball season after all is not a twelve month grind but more like an eight month odyssey.
My respect for him diminished in parallel with his increasingly sparse reporting schedule.

I hope the powers at the Post keep that in mind when making there next hire. A baseball reporter's desires and needs have to be somewhat related to the game they cover. A passion for writing and a passion for the subject would be the first qualification.

Posted by: driley | November 19, 2009 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Here is the Wilkie story from today's paper:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/18/AR2009111803481.html

Not sure what happened to the audio link, but this will let you play Wilkie's composition:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2009/11/18/VI2009111802000.html

Posted by: traceeh | November 19, 2009 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Nice job on the Wilkie article. Features like this make you want to root for the player. If he can pitch 1-2 innings at a time with an overall ERA of 3.50 or less he would have been a) the 3rd best ont he team last year; b) a stabilizing force in the bullpen; and c) the National's rookie of the year.

Now whether he can do that or not is still a question, but if you have a few relievers like Clippard, Burnett, and maybe Wilkie or Mandel all capable of going 1-2 innings every third day then the concept of starters never making it past the 6th or 7th inning starts to be a little more sustainable.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 19, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

While I did, and do, wish Chico well, I'll also add my own thanks. On the positive side, one thing not yet mentioned, but which I appreciated, was his having read up on the history of baseball in DC (reading the Svrluga and Povich books, for example, and dredging up the old stories from the Post archives. Gotta love those ads, not to mention the purple prose.). No offense to our heritage Expos fans, but I appreciated that. I didn't live here in the earlier eras of Washington baseball, and I love hearing/reading about them.

I also appreciated his (at least, outward) tolerance of all our kvetching about coverage. It's a much different customer feedback dynamic for reporters in the Internet age, methinks, than in the purely paper-and-ink days. The pitchfork and torches crowd is up close and personal now.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 19, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

A feature from Tracee, a column by Boz, and a news nugget from Boom Boom - and it's November 19th!

Count me among those who will miss Chico Harlan. Baseball deserves (if not requires) good writing, and Chico could write the heck out of a game.

I didn't mind the days off (after Svrluga burned out, how can you argue with taking care of the writer on such a tough beat?), and I didn't necessarily see the same drop off in NJ post-per-day rate. He was responsive, honest, and willing to engage the NJ faithful.

He may not have asked the questions you wanted or done the in-depth research you required, but I think it's a good idea to really ask yourself if your problem is with his reporting or with the Post. With travel, NJ, and gamer assignments, there's not much room for digging deep into every subject probed by NJ denizens. Perhaps your real desire is for a second Nats reporter.

Best of luck to Chico in his future endeavors.

Posted by: JohninMpls | November 19, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Also, from a previously-posted link:

"While [Livan Hernandez] did a good job for the Nationals, it's less than 50-50 that he will return to the club."

It should be noted that it's Ladson reporting.

I guess I'm going against most of the NJ base here again when I say I'm pleased to hear it. Livo has been released from his last two teams. I had the misfortune of watching him flame out here in Minnesota. He provided quality starts at the end of the season, and he definitely brings the nostalgia factor, but he's not what I'm looking for in the Nats rotation in 2010.

Posted by: JohninMpls | November 19, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Along with adding my thanks I'd describe Chico Harlan as one of the best pure writers at The Washington Post, and a very diligent and hard-working reporter; there's no disrespect meant to him when I opine that the baseball beat was a bit of a bad fit for him. As an analogy I'll ask you to imagine Adam Dunn playing shortstop.

(OK, sorry, natsfan1a1, but you should stop shuddering and the image should go away after you wash your mind out with soap.)

Posted by: greggwiggins | November 19, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Chico,

Thanks for covering this trainwreck the last 2 years, you did a helluva job considering the circumstances.

You took a lot of crap from people on this blog after the Washingtonian interview and you handled it with class.

You've done the 'Burgh proud. Good Luck to you at your next assignment....Oh, and "Here We Go Steelers!"

Posted by: Section505203 | November 19, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

No need for brain-washing, gregg, as that one seems to have gone right over my head. ;-)

---

(OK, sorry, natsfan1a1, but you should stop shuddering and the image should go away after you wash your mind out with soap.)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 19, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

1a1, if the image of Adam Dunn playing shortstop didn't make you shudder, you're a stronger person than I am.

Posted by: greggwiggins | November 19, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm with 505203, Chico. I thought you've done great. Between the seamheads on this board who want you to write 48 posts a day in November and the overall downsizing of newspaper departments these days, I'm sure you're accustomed to doing more with less. My advice: get a book deal, start a business, become an entrepreneur, but get out of this working-for-somebody-else gig. You're way too talented for this. As for the Post's wording of that want-ad, it was odd. It was like somehow they were blaming Chico for the team being horsesh--. WTF? Like his job would have been any harder/easier or he would have been compensated any more/less if the team had won 90 games. Just another example of how news executives really have no clue how the business operates. A beat writer's job is essentially the same whether he's covering the Yankees or these guys: cover the events, break some news, build relationships, get people comfortable with you and work 24/7 so some pimply faced kid at the opposing paper/network/TV/radio/internet outlet doesn't eat your lunch.
And do it all for about $50,000, no overtime.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | November 19, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

For all the WAPO Chico lovers and gushers; Mark Zuckerman did a great expose on SS AFL season in todays other DC paper, in fact the front page (above the fold) has a big color picture of the future Nats phenom. Enjoy!

WAPO gives you full frontage of LeBron "I can play football too" James! hmmmmmm...!

"our coverage of the city's MLB franchise is at the center of our department's mission"

Posted by: TippyCanoe | November 19, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

ohhh, I thought perhaps there was some word play that I'd missed there. Yeah, that would be scary.

---

1a1, if the image of Adam Dunn playing shortstop didn't make you shudder, you're a stronger person than I am.

Posted by: greggwiggins | November 19, 2009 9:25 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 19, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

New post, BTW.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 19, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

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