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Beat writer update; good morning from Viera

Good morning from Viera, where this year the "You-Pick-2" describes not just the Panera Bread menu, but also Washington's search for a fourth and fifth starter. Seriously, I'm pumped to be here and focused on the Nats 117 percent. (My half-day Japanese language lessons take a break while I'm down here.) My replacement takes over next week, but till then, hopefully I can go out with a bang. And also, today at least, with a Wang.

So let's start with some Wash Post news. It's official now: The next Nats beat writer is Adam Kilgore, a former Post intern who more recently covered the Red Sox and Patriots at the Boston Globe. I'm biased, because I know and adore Kilgore, but I'm certain -- dead certain -- that he'll do a terrific job. He is custom-made to handle the rigors of the beat; he's a workhorse; he's a gifted writer; he's a perpetually upbeat, joyful person. He has experience covering big-time baseball in one of the most insatiable markets. Also, he is a Pulitzer Prize winner. (He contributed to the Post's '07 coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre.)

Kilgore will introduce himself in this forum soon enough. He's moving to D.C. this weekend and he begins at The Post on Monday. He'll spend the first day or two running through the human resources gerbil wheels -- I believe The Post calls this "processing" -- but Wednesday afternoon, a fully processed Kilgore will board a plane for Orlando and dive on in. Plan is, Kilgore and I will overlap for a few days, but as he settles in, you'll see his byline exclusively. Boz will be down here next week as well, I believe.

Now, for matters of the present:

Here is today's fishwrap story on John Lannan, a pitcher who's an outlier on untold levels. I love writing about Lannan, half because he's well-spoken, and half because he seems to leave in his wake a trail of head-scratching (and amusing) statistics. A few I managed to include in the story. But here's a longer list of numerical curious.

* Lannan is one of 32 pitchers in MLB across the last two years with 350+ IP and an ERA under 4.00.

* He is one of 43 active MLBers with 70+ starts and a lifetime ERA under 4.00.

* The others on that list? Jon Lester, Tim Lincecum, Pedro Martinez, Josh Johnson, Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, Adam Wainwright, Tim Hudson, Jered Weaver, Cliff Lee, Rich Harden, Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia, Chris Carpenter, Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett, Carlos Zambrano, Justin Verlander, John Lackey, Jair Jurrjens, Felix Hernandez, Cole Hamels, Brandon Webb, Jake Peavy, Mark Buehrle, John Smoltz, Jason Schmidt, Chris Young, Dan Haren, Barry Zito, Kerry Wood, Erik Bedard, Scott Kazmir, Derek Lowe, A.J. Burnett, Ubaldo Jiminez, Tom Gordon, Ben Sheets, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Matt Garza.

* Of the aforementioned 43, Lannan has the lowest career winning percentage (.400). Greinke, Cain and Garza are the only other three with winning percentages under .500.

* In 2009, among pitchers who threw more than 200 innings (there were 36 of them), Lannan had the lowest strikeout total. He also had the highest ground-ball double play success rate.

* Here's the medal podium for innings pitched, 2008-09. Team totals for Washington.

1. John Lannan, 388-1/3.
2. Jason Bergmann, 187-2/3.
3. Tim Redding, 182.

By Chico Harlan  |  February 19, 2010; 7:27 AM ET
 
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Next: Nats win arbitration case against Burnett

Comments

Gotta love that his first major league start back in 2007 ended with him being ejected from the game after accidentally plunking Chase Utley and Ryan Howard consecutively.

Posted by: cassander | February 19, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

We've loved him since we saw him strike out Barry Bonds in SF Aug 6 2007, when BB was sitting on the record. Came back from something like 0-2, if I remember right.

Posted by: Number31 | February 19, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Amazing to be in the same company with Greinke, Cain and Garza.

If you give up 3 runs and your team only gets you 2 runs, you either end up with a dreaded "L" or the no decision. Also, factor in the poor fielding in Lannan starts where there were ofter unearned runs.

Lannan was the hard luck guy in 2008 for sure. The same thing happened to Jordan Zimmermann 4 times last year as he faced his share of aces. Do you remember the Randy Johnson game!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | February 19, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Great piece on Lannan. My favorite aspect is that despite Lannan's lack of obvious "tools", Dana Brown saw a kid who got hitters out. This is a great example of why I think the Nats are on track. Who cares how hard you throw, can you get hitters out? Lannan does. And THIS front office saw that and grabbed him.

Posted by: Avar | February 19, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Welcome Adam. Don't fail to max out on the 401k; never bet on the vision plan, and never worry about the long term disability when your in the newspaper business (there likely won't be a long term). If given the chance to interview with a local magazine, just say no. Also, once you complete processing, we'll be needing a more in depth look at 1) Jesus Flores, IROD, and the Nats Catching situation; 2) a deeper understanding of how Riggleman will use Spring Training to prepare the defense; and what role Davey Johnson and some of the other front offcie hires will take during spring training. (We'll get you a more comprehensive list shortly).

Posted by: natbiscuits | February 19, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

His first start was hilarious. He broke Utley's hand on that one. Knew he would be a good one right then.

In all reality you give this guy proper defense and bullpen that can close it out and he can be a staff ace. He's not gonna be the most impressive one but the stats that matter will be there. Definitely a solid number two.

Posted by: Stu27 | February 19, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the beat writer "news" (wink wink) and update.

Loved the Lannan piece. Would be great to see him get some run support and decent fielding behind him. Here's hoping...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 19, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I really wish we would trade for a really good shortstop. If Wang is able to come back, we will have a stable full of ground-ball pitchers who need defense up the middle.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | February 19, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

You hired Kilgore? Sweet! Great news *** oh, yeah. We knew.
Still, a great hire. You Syracuse guys.
Thanks for the great reads, Chico. Enjoy Tokyo. Bring me back some chopsticks. Seriously. Our 07 intern from Syracuse brought me some.

Posted by: NFBLooser | February 19, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Hey. I knew he was special from the start. I LOVE this guy. And I LOVE these stats. They crack me up.

Posted by: NatsNut | February 19, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the beat writer "news" (wink wink) and update.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 19, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse


@natsfan1a1 - you are a bore. We get your point. Do you have anything else to say other than repeating the same tired digs and winking? How about talking some baseball, that's why the comment section is here.

Posted by: jksesq1 | February 19, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Ladson tweets that the Nats win the arb case against Burnett. This may be the only time the Nats start off the season 2-0!

Posted by: erocks33 | February 19, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Chico, you did just fine as the Nats Beat Writer and I'm sure you'll do just fine in Japan. Make sure to hook up with the expat community over there -- they'll help you handle the inevitable culture shock.

Posted by: Juan-John1 | February 19, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-thanks for the Boz updates...I see Chico has chimed in as well. Looking forward to Kilgore-maybe he can convince the Bosses that baseball CAN sell papers with his writing...
Also, a link on Gascanrahan-
I don't wish any player ill....but I'm glad he ain't our concern any more!
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/spring2010/news/story?id=4925526
And speaking of bullpens-what oaf actually thought our crop last year was even remotely qualified...Stan?
Ah, but enough of last year! On to 87!!!!
I'm so dang giddy I might push it to 89....
GO NATS!!!!

Posted by: zendo | February 19, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Wendelstedt!

-----

Gotta love that his first major league start back in 2007 ended with him being ejected from the game after accidentally plunking Chase Utley and Ryan Howard consecutively.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 19, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Chico himself initiated the "wink" joke, in a previous post.

---

@natsfan1a1 - you are a bore. We get your point. Do you have anything else to say other than repeating the same tired digs and winking? How about talking some baseball, that's why the comment section is here.

Posted by: jksesq1 | February 19, 2010 10:40 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 19, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

grrr...

---

Wendelstedt!

-----

Gotta love that his first major league start back in 2007 ended with him being ejected from the game after accidentally plunking Chase Utley and Ryan Howard consecutively.

Posted by: JohninMpls | February 19, 2010 10:56 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 19, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-and NatsFan...I read you here-with interest- all the time, so say whatever. And jksesq1-I look forward to reading you as well (can't recall seeing your "by-line" before but hey-I'm old!)....so what's your take on our overall status? How many wins? Welcome All!!!
IT'S BASEBALL TIME!!!!
GO NATS!!!!!

Posted by: zendo | February 19, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Lannan isn't an ace but he's a solid 2. You have to think should Marquis, Wang and Olsen be able to be solid 3-5s - and they can certainly do that - and SS arrives to be our #1, throw in Zimm and it starts to get you just a little excited.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | February 19, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Zendo. Likewise.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 19, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

It's the 2011 rotation that I'm looking forward to.
IF we have a healthy CMW
IF we have a healthy Jordan Zimmerman
IF we have a dominant Stephen Strasburg
Add that to Lannan and Marquis and the possibility that Olsen, Detwiler, Stammen or another AAAA pitcher comes through, then we're playing important ballgames in September for sure.

As for this year, this is all about crossing your fingers and hoping that we get a couple very positive things out of 8 recovering & developing SP's. But it also has the potential to be almost as ugly as last year.

Posted by: Sunderland | February 19, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Hanrahan's elbow problems seem only to underline a disturbing trend with Nats pitchers, and former Nats pitchers.

You have to be a really tough guy to be in this rotation. In other words it looks like Lannan, JD Martin, and Marquis ... after that its pick from the lefties I guess.

A trade for a top rung pitcher, mebbe a guy from the list above would be wishful thinking?

Finally, I truly wonder if the Lerner's are aware of what happened with Mark Z. He asked for one amount to do Nats spring training coverage from Nats fans from the murky depths of this Sargasso, and shut down his contribution gadget at $10.000. I would hope that speaks to the market, which represents the largest percentage of the value of the Nationals franchise. Perhaps IT REALLY could rival or even surpass NY and Boston for rabidness. Imagine the profit from branding, could those be NY like? Lerners, wake up!

Posted by: periculum | February 19, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Given the plethora of injuries ... and the Nats luck when it comes to that ... starting with the Chief ...

I have to sigh and and say I cannot put any pitcher coming back from a serious arm injury in the rotation ... set up maybe?

2011 projection:

1. Strasburg
2. Detwiler
3. Lannan
4. Marquis/Mock/Balester/Martin
Holder/Karns/Meyers
5. With this year's 1st rounder waiting in the wings.

Posted by: periculum | February 19, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I guess I am the only reader who doesn't know what Chico will be doing in Japan. But in any case, good luck Chico.
When pondering John Lannan, the name Jamie Moyer comes to mind. He has 2 World Series rings. The Nats are getting better little by little. Especially now that they got rid of the circus act in Jim Bowden and Mike Rizzo took over. That was a good start.

Posted by: chopin224 | February 19, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

fyi, chopin:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/nationalsjournal/2009/12/the_latest_with_the_nats_beat.html

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 19, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Gotta love that his first major league start back in 2007 ended with him being ejected from the game after accidentally plunking Chase Utley and Ryan Howard consecutively.

Posted by: cassander | February 19, 2010 8:57 AM

Broke Utley's hand - it was love at first sight for me with John Lannan.

Posted by: Kev29 | February 19, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

@1a: We know you're not boring. Ignore him.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | February 19, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Chico, I enjoyed your posts. Frankly, they were so well done, I'd have never guessed you weren't that into baseball. I guess that's what they mean by professional. Anyway, the piece about your granddad was the most memorable thing I read last year, up there with Ylan Mui's piece about her family and Katrina. (Sadly, it is easy to recall the _good_ writing I read in WaPo these days.) Best of luck to you, and you will be back (I can easily see WaPo closing forign bureaus before too long.)

Posted by: gbooksdc | February 19, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, sec3. We also know that you aren't. ;-)

Agree that Chico's piece about his granddad was both touching and memorable.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 19, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Now I'm even more impressed with John Lannan: He survived "Gas Can'' Gibson. Gawd, I have horrible memories of him pitching for the Mets.

Posted by: nats24 | February 19, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

"Boz will be down here next week as well, I believe."

Why? The Orioles are now on the west coast of Florida.

Posted by: jeadpt | February 19, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Good luck, Chico, you did a great job. I appreciated the fact that your stories were not a carbon-copy of the previous day's - especially during such a dismal season.

@1a - that may be the first time since the inception of this blog that someone has said something negative about your posts. Geez.

Finally, I too have loved Lannan since Utley's hand. Started out with a bang. I hope he continues to be a solid guy for us going forward.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | February 19, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Holy Crap - You've got to be kidding with this comparison to Lannan. - He is one of 43 active MLBers with 70+ starts and a lifetime ERA under 4.00.

* The others on that list? Jon Lester, Tim Lincecum, Pedro Martinez, Josh Johnson, Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, Adam Wainwright, Tim Hudson, Jered Weaver, Cliff Lee, Rich Harden, Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia, Chris Carpenter, Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett, Carlos Zambrano, Justin Verlander, John Lackey, Jair Jurrjens, Felix Hernandez, Cole Hamels, Brandon Webb, Jake Peavy, Mark Buehrle, John Smoltz, Jason Schmidt, Chris Young, Dan Haren, Barry Zito, Kerry Wood, Erik Bedard, Scott Kazmir, Derek Lowe, A.J. Burnett, Ubaldo Jiminez, Tom Gordon, Ben Sheets, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Matt Garza.


Most of these guys have eons more starts than he does. Pretty dumb analogy by a really bad sportwriter.

Kinda like you Gnats fans who thought it was great that he hit the best 2nd baseman in baseball and a classy player, Chase Utley's (on purpose btw) hand and broke it and thought it was great - that's why Nats fans are some of the least knowledgeable in the league. Yeah you're a bimbo PattyinSJ

Posted by: billm32 | February 19, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Hey, PattyinSJ. It's always nice to "see" you on here (and it goes without saying that you aren't a bimbo).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 20, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

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