Wednesday, June 13, 1 p.m. ET

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Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 13, 2007; 1:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Barry Svrluga was online Wednesday, June 13, at 1 p.m. ET to take your questions and comments about the 2007 Nationals.

The transcript follows.

Svrluga covers the Nationals beat for The Post and writes the Nationals Journal blog for washingtonpost.com. He's also the author of "National Pastime: Sports, Politics, and the Return of Baseball to Washington, D.C."

Full Coverage: Washington Nationals

Discussion Archive

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Barry Svrluga: Greetings, folks. How many of you headed up the BW Parkway to Oriole Park at Camden Yards last night? Or will tonight or tomorrow? I have to say that's a fine, fine place to watch a ballgame. It's 15 years old now, if you can believe that. Someone said last night that 16 new parks have been built since then. Go figure.

Plenty to discuss. Let's get to it.

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Chocolate City: Vegas just put the over/under on the number of games Nick Johnson will miss this year at 161. Are you taking the under?

Barry Svrluga: Yes, I'll take the under. It is a painfully slow process, no doubt. Johnson is working every day, I can tell you that. But he just is not able to make those sudden burst movements he'd need to make when he's playing first base. It's not just pain. As he said, "I don't care about that." It's just strength.

Hitting, he could be ready soon. It's defense that is the concern now. And yes, this guy is a very slow healer.

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Washington, D.C.: In walking by the Nats bullpen last night at Camden Yards I noticed that our boys were loose and really enjoying themselves. In short, they were not acting at all like they were members of a last place team. Is this spirit, which is great to see, mainly Manny Acta's doing? I don't recall last year's team, which had a slightly better record at this point of the season, being so positive.

Barry Svrluga: I would give Acta some credit for that. He definitely is a positive guy. Even when the team started 1-8 (and if you recall, it was an ugly 1-8), he remained upbeat in the afternoons (and was, of course, somewhat downtrodden after games.) His motto during those times: Preach and teach. It helped being a minor league manager all those years.

That said, I'd point out that this clubhouse -- regardless of who's the manager -- seems to get along well. We've pointed out the notable absences this year that could have created factions in the past. I think that's pretty much gone now.

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Fairfax, Va.: I sure do love to see a team from Washington beat a team from Baltimore!

Do you think John Patterson will ever be able to pitch a complete season? It seems that pitchers today suffer more arm injuries than ever. Even with the reduced innings that are currently the norm.

Remember back in the "good old days" when starting pitchers would routinely complete 20-25 games a year? Heck, Wilbur Wood of the ChiSox started both ends of a double header one day in 1973!

Barry Svrluga: There was just a USA Today story about four-man rotations yesterday, and Bob Boone -- who tried it with Kansas City when he was manager in 1995 -- was quoted extensively. The bottom line: A lot of old-timers think it's the better way to go, that it promotes arm strength, but it would require such a complete culture change that it'll never happen.

Patterson: His goals this year were 30 starts, 200 innings. He can't get that now. The problem with him attaining those goals is that he's really, really in-tune with his body, and once he has a setback, he's very methodical about the way he builds back up. I think it comes from having a history of injuries.

I'll say this much: I'd love to see the numbers he'd put up if he were healthy and made 35 starts.

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Washington, D.C.: Can we please not refer to Elijah Dukes as having "character" issues. The guy threatened to murder his wife. This goes well beyond character.

On another topic, is it just me, or are a lot of the Nats a little chubby. Church, Johnson, Guzman, and of course Di-meathook are just a few who could use a larger uni-size.

Barry Svrluga: I think "character" is a decent way to refer to Dukes's troubles. "Legal" and "personal" are other ways, but it would appear -- and I do not know this guy -- that his alleged actions go right to the core of his character, that someone with better character wouldn't do such things.

Chubbiness: I'm not going to lie. Baseball players aren't track-and-field athletes. There are some guts in this game. As John Kruk said, "I'm not an athlete. I'm a baseball player."

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Bethesda, Md.: In light of the news about the Louisville C-J reporter who got kicked out of an NCAA baseball game last weekend for blogging during the game, a question: what do team and MLB officials think about the blogging/chatting you (and other beat reporters) do during the game? Obviously you haven't been kicked out the press box -- yet.

Barry Svrluga: This is an on-going issue and ...

(pause)

... thanks for letting me climb up on my soapbox --

I think it's ridiculous that the NCAA kicked that guy out. Here's part of the issue: The college baseball tournament isn't the Super Bowl, it isn't the Final Four, it isn't the World Series, it isn't the Daytona 500. Wouldn't you, if you were the NCAA, want to generate as much publicity, however you could, for your event? If there are Louisville fans racing to see what their team is doing through the Courier-Journal, doesn't that ultimately filter back to the NCAA?

This has been an issue elsewhere. Some NFL teams have fought it. Obviously, they want to drive traffic to their own in-game coverage. The Nationals have never said a word to me about it, which I think is smart on their part. The discussions we have here or on the Journal at least get their team in the conversation a bit.

(Give me a moment to get off this thing.)

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Silver Spring, Md.: In retrospect, is there any regret in the Nats organization from players, coaches or the front office for letting Soriano go for essentially a measly low first-round pick?

Barry Svrluga: Two picks. They also got the Cubs' second-round choice. And the supplemental pick they believe could be a steal, a high school lefty named Smoker. Would love it if that guy throws 98 in the big leagues some day. Headline-writer's dream.

The Nats' stance on this: Would they have liked it if teams would have been willing to pay more for Soriano at the trading deadline. The Twins, for instance, wouldn't give up pitching prospect Matt Garza (who would definitely be in the Washington rotation now). They might have parted with pitching prospect Kevin Slowey, who beat the Braves last night, but the Nats wouldn't bite.

As we approach the trading deadline, it's worth noting that any conversation that begins with something like, "The Nationals want to trade Chad Cordero" is a stopping point. You have to -- HAVE TO -- know what you would be getting in return. Would the Nationals trade, say, Cordero for, say, Justin Verlander. Absolutely. Would they trade him for, say, Chad Durbin. No they would not.

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DC: You and I went a round on the trading of Chad Cordero a couple weeks ago. While watching the Nationals last night, I swear there was talk of some trade involving Cordero and San Diego.....did I mis-hear something?

I still say he needs to stay....he fits our two criteria: pitcher, young. And oh yeah, he's solid.

Barry Svrluga: While we're on the topic ...

I did not hear this, and I don't think it makes much sense. The Padres have perhaps the best bullpen in baseball with ace setup men Cla Meredith and Scott Linebrink, and I think they have a closer already. Can't remember his name. Hmmm.

Oh, yeah. Hoffman. That's it. Saved a few, I think.

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Non Sequitur: Why do baseball players spit so much?

Barry Svrluga: My mom once noted while watching one of our Little League games that, "None of these kids can field or hit, but they can all spit."

Ingrained in the culture, I guess.

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Fairfax, Va.: I went up there last night.....left the house at 3:30 -- it took three HOURS! Traffic was miserable on the beltway inner loop and then up the parkway. SO glad to have a team in town.

Having said all that....it is a nice park, and had a good time.

Barry Svrluga: One view. But man, that's a long, long haul from Fairfax.

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D.C.: Barry,

I just read "National Pastime," and I have to say I wish you would write a book every year. The memories from that season, and the added insight were just so much fun to read. In particular, I had really soured on Jose Vidro after all his complaining about the fences. But reading his perspective of that season on his arrival, injury, and "return" really made me look at him differently.

That said, I still feel the same way about RFK...it is what is it. Be a professional.

Barry Svrluga: You are kind, D.C. I'm glad someone's still pulling that baby off the shelf.

I'll get around to writing another book, no doubt. Whether it'll be about the Nationals has more to do with them than with me.

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Bethesda, Md.: Baseball (not Nationals) question:

World Series Game 7 - who do you give the ball to?

Clemens

Schilling

Palmer

Koufax

Pedro

Barry Svrluga: Koufax. Of course, he's the only one of those that I never saw pitch, but ...

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Big C from DC: Thanks for doing the chat Barry - I never miss one!

Regarding your Guzman v. Young straw poll from the other day's Nationals Journal, I'd think Dmitri is the better candidate for the Nats All-Star selection. His career numbers are better than Guzman's (.291 versus .263, for example), and Guzman's return to form has been eclipsed by Young's rejuvenation/rising from the ashes after last year's nightmare with the Tigers. Your thoughts?

Barry Svrluga: Yesterday on the Journal I asked who might be the All-Star rep from the Nationals. Guzman and Young, deservedly, got the most support, though there were some folks who thought Zimmerman would come on strong.

I don't think career numbers should have anything to do with it. I do think, though, that you could hold the five weeks Guzman missed with his hamstring injury against him. Young's numbers since May 17: .488 average, .523 on-base percentage, .671 slugging percentage. Sick.

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Manny Ramirez, I mean Ryan Church: Do you notice or is there any discussion amongst management about the (non)hustle of Ryan Church? He made two bad plays in Minny over the weekend and another lazy play yesterday I believe. You can blame that bad roof at the Thunder Dome but he appears to dog a lot of plays. He just plays with a level of arrogance that, to me, he hasn't come close to earning. And I have been a guy who wanted to see what he could do when playing everyday. Thanks

Barry Svrluga: Church has an interesting reputation. He is one of those guys that appears to glide around, and just the way he runs rubs some people the wrong way. As one National joked when I was around Church recently, "Hey, say Hi to Jim Edmonds Jr." Edmonds moves the same way.

Acta definitely noticed the bad play last night, which was scored an error. But I don't think he thinks it's dogging. I'll pursue that more in coming days. Church, for his part, has said repeatedly that once he was benched in April for not running out a grounder, he consciously makes it a point to go hard every play.

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Section ??, New Stadium: Barry,

Have you toured the new stadium? For those of use with less than $300 to spend on a seat, where are the "good" affordable options?

Barry Svrluga: I've been down there quite a bit, but haven't been inside recently. There's a price guide at www.nationals.com, but it really depends on what you see as "affordable." There are upper deck seats down the lines that are $5 and $10 and $20, so you can get in the park. But it's completely impossible to predict exactly what the site lines will be unless you trust the virtual tour there.

I have to say the virtual tour makes me more excited about the new park, and driving around down there -- which I try to do every two weeks -- makes it seem even more real.

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Stevensville, Md.: After he gets well this winter, wouldn't it be best for the Nats to trade Nick Johnson for some pitching prospects? Johnson makes Fred Lynn look like Cal Ripken.

Barry Svrluga: Would be buyer beware in that case, wouldn't it? It's not like other teams haven't noticed Nick's history of injuries.

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Sec. 526 Row 3 Seat 1: Shouldn't the Nats-Orioles games be known as the "Parkway Series" or the "Parkway Classic," rather than the inane "Battle of the Beltways?" The B/W Parkway connects the rivals while the beltways separately encircle them.

Barry Svrluga: That's kind of what I think. I mean, 295 runs right behind RFK and right into Camden Yards, right? That's what I took up and back last night. Kind of a pleasant trip, actually.

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Section 320: Even if Young, Belliard and Guzman are hot--what could Washington reasonable expect to receive in return in any trade? A young player from Single A or Double AA ball? I would imagine not a top prospect.

And, do you believe The Nationals have some pitching depth that other teams might now be interesting in--Colome, Bowie, Rivera--not just Cordero or Rauch?

Barry Svrluga: Right on both counts, I think. Remember what the Nationals got for players like Marlon Anderson and Mike Stanton -- low-level pitching prospects. The way Young is playing right now, he could bring more than that, and Belliard has the benefit of having been traded to a contender and then having that contender win the World Series (when he went from Cleveland to St. Louis last year). I couldn't help but think over the weekend that Young would fit perfectly into the Twins lineup. And I know the guy had issues in the past, but as he said, "It's a lot easier to play when you don't have things going on inside your head." He has done well by the Nationals to this point.

And yes, Colome, Rivera, Bowie -- any of them might be of interest to someone else. Particularly Colome, I think (though he didn't appear mentally prepared for that outing last night, particularly with the walk to bring the tying run to the plate).

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Washington, D.C.: Do we overestimate the market for what the Nats have to offier in trade? more seriously, does Bowden? For example, other than the Twins and maybe the NYY and Oakland due to injuries, who needs a first baseman/DH like Young? Would Oakland or Minnesota give more than a 4th/5th starter? If Bowden held out for WM Pena plus two of the Red Sox top prospects (Ellsbury, Bowden, Bucholz, Bard) in exchange for Cordero, then he was making a Soriano-level mistake, I/M/O.

Barry Svrluga: As noted above, it's up to the execs to figure out the right cost. I don't think they'd need to get top-flight talent for Young/Belliard/etc. I do think they'd need to get it for Cordero.

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Cap Hill: Are you ready to eat a little crow that the Nats won't be historically bad and all of the radio comments that made fun of the team and told its fan base not to bother with this team? I read you daily and bought the book but always felt it was poor journalism to make predictions and make fun of the team in an open forum. I am sure I can find plenty of examples in this chat's archives. Report. Leave opinions to columnists.

Barry Svrluga: There is some projecting that goes on by beat writers, and I think that's part of the job. But believe me, I've thought of my appearance on "Washington Post Live" when Stan Kasten was on right before the season started. He asked me if I thought they'd be the 30th-best team in baseball. I said, "Is there a 31st." (Of course, he goaded me into it, because he knew if he's in the room I'd respond with some level of sarcasm, but I expect that clip to play on continuous loop at my press box seat when they clinch the not-30th spot in September.)

I would say, though, that you go with what you're given in spring training, and at that point, you had no idea what you'd get from Jason Bergmann and Matt Chico, and if there were injuries to those guys, there's no way you could expect the Micah Bowie/Mike Bacsik contributions that have popped up.

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World Series Game 7?: My choice: Don Larson. Only man to pitch a perfect game in the World Series (1956, Yanks vs. Brooklyn.)

Barry Svrluga: That works.

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Zach, Va.: Does Guzman have trade value now? And what is Dmitri Young's trade value? Trading Young seems like a fine idea as he could be a serviceable DH/1B for a team in the hunt, and there's no place for him in Nats lineup once N. Johnson returns... What kind of prospects can Bowden get for these guys?

Barry Svrluga: Guzman: People would have to consider his contract, which has $4.2 million remaining on it next year. And he would have to go to a contender that absolutely needs a shortstop, someone whose shortstop goes down. But it's a lot more conceivable now than it was a month ago.

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Where are the bats?: Greetings Barry. What tangible changes has Lenny Harris implemented with Nationals hitters? Do they trust him yet? Has he addressed any mechanical flaws?

The bottom line: Lopez is hitting .216 in the past 30 days. Kearns looks lost at the plate. Zimmerman is only hitting .247.

.247!

What gives?

Barry Svrluga: I have had a hard time getting a feel for Harris, mostly because every time I try to wait him out to talk to him, he's playing cards with the guys. He's clearly got a really good rapport with the players, and he knows hitting. But it's hard to tell what kind of impact he's had on them.

Zimmerman: I pointed out in the game story this morning that while Zimmerman's average is a full 40 points lower than what he finished with last year, his power numbers are virtually identical. He hit his 10th homer last night, and his 10th a year ago didn't come till June 18. He has 37 RBI. Last year on June 12, he had 38. Maybe it's possible he'll drive in 100 after all.

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Washington, D.C.: How's effort of bringing in Asian players going lately? Yankee's Wang and Dodger's Kuo and Saito looked brilliant last night. Are they serious about that Japanese veteran whose name escapes me once again?

Barry Svrluga: Kosuke Fukudome is the Japanese center fielder that will take a lot of money to get over here. But I believe the Nationals' intentions to get into the Asian market are real and sincere. Stan Kasten believes his franchise is in a perfect spot to recruit foreign players because of the international nature of this city, the presence of the embassies here, etc. We'll see if that works out.

In short, I'd be shocked if the Nationals didn't have a prominent Asian player by 2009.

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Washington, D.C.: Which lefty fits the Nats long-term Plan -- Bowie or Bacsik? Or neither one?

Barry Svrluga: I'd say neither. Mike Bacsik hasn't pitched in the majors since 2004, and in his last two starts, he's showing some of the reasons why. Bowie has done really well in reviving his career, but he'll be 33 in November. No one could have expected him to do so well as a starter (3-0, with Nats' wins in all five of his starts). But no one should expect he'll be a mainstay two years from now.

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RE: Draft picks: Any word on the Nats signing these guys yet??

And what has been word around the O's about the signability of Wieters? Did Flanagan make that pick because if it doesn't get done it is just another indictment of the meddling style of Peter Angelos?

Barry Svrluga: Nats should announce more signings this afternoon, including that of second-round pick Jordan Zimmermann, a right-hander from Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Ross Detwiler, the lefty taken with the top pick, will likely take some more time.

Wieters: Was talking to someone yesterday who thought Wieters would make a fine every-day catcher and would probably hit sixth in the majors. I think it was a better-take-the-best-player-available choice by the O's, and the fact that he's a Boras client is, indeed, softened by the fact that if they don't sign him, they get choice 5A next year. (New draft rules. Move on if you're not interested.)

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Playing DH: I was wondering if any of the Nationals' players have said anything about their thoughts on playing DH in the past week. I seem to recall other NL players in the past talking about how much they hate it because they don't feel a real part of the game when they don't take the field, and I was wondering in particular about someone like Zimmerman (because he hasn't played in the American League and thus hasn't experienced bastardized rules during his major league career).

Barry Svrluga: Zimmerman seemed okay with it, though he didn't get a hit. It was a way of Acta getting him kind of a half day off (on the turf, to boot) on Sunday, then couple it with a full day Monday, but still keeping alive his goal to play 162 games.

Dmitri Young is obviously fine with it, as he'd done it before. We'll see how Austin Kearns responds to it. Acta said he was going to try it with Kearns at some point, too.

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BW Parkway: Couldn't make it to the City that Reads last night--were there many Nats fans in attendance? I did see the guy who caught Zimm's bomb was sporting a Curly W. Also, does the team get a hotel in Angelos's filthy city or do they drive back home?

Barry Svrluga: There were a few Nats fans on hand last night, just as there were some O's fans at RFK last month. No, the team travels by bus back and forth. It's like a road series but you sleep in your own bed. Also breaks up this nine-game "trip" with three in Minnesota, three at home but at Baltimore, then three in Toronto.

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Guzman's $4.2 Million: Considering the rather large payouts to mediocre talent this past off season--it sure seems to me that Cristian Guzman's contract, if Washington does find a trading partner, is not prohibitive in the least. In fact, fairly cheap for a starting shortstop on a contender in today's game.

Barry Svrluga: That's a very good observation. The market has indeed changed since Guzman signed his deal in November 2004, as players such as Rafael Furcal can tell you. But I think Guzman would have to fill such a specific need -- starting shortstop -- that it'd almost take an injury to get him traded.

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D.C.: Hey, what time is the bus leaving? Yesterday you guys forgot me.

Screech

Barry Svrluga: Right. We "forgot" you. Sorry about that.

Bus should leave at 6:30 p.m. Make sure you're on it.

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Ouagadogou, Burkina Faso: Barry,

What are your two favorite baseball moments ever? One has to be Nationals moment and then I'll give you the field for the other moment. Thank you.

Barry Svrluga: Well, I'll tip my hand here (but I believe I've tipped it before), as a kid who grew up on the South Shore of Massachusetts, and had a neighbor who worked in the Red Sox front office, and used to take the red line from Braintree and switch at Park Street to the green line to Kenmore, I'd have to go with Edgar Renteria's bouncer back to Keith Foulke, Oct. 2004. (Sniff.)

Favorite Nationals' moment: I'd go with the entire game in June 2005 in Anaheim that had the Brendan Donnelly ejection, the Frank Robinson-Mike Scioscia in-your-face diatribe, Jose Guillen's laser of a home run, and then the next night Guillen calling Scioscia a "piece of garbage" and Robinson saying, "I am the intimidator."

Drama. Controversy. Strong personalities. A first-place team. What didn't that have?

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Minneapolis: Barry,

It seems very likely that Young will be traded, and I've heard it said that Bowden hopes Fick's versatility generates some kind of market at the deadline. What do you think the plan will be to fill in at first in the event that one or both are traded before Nick Johnson is 100%? I know Broadway is struggling after the injury and has had some problems with power, but might we see him in a platoon situation when the rosters expand?

Barry Svrluga: Broadway is, unfortunately, hitting .183 for Class AAA Columbus, and he did miss a bunch of time due to injury. Fick, hitting .190-something, is untradable right now, so he'd be an option if there was a gap between a Young trade and Johnson's reappearance.

It's really too bad about Broadway. The job was his for the taking in spring training, and he didn't take it. Now, he's struggling. This is his last year with this franchise, because if they try to option him down or off the 40-man next year, he'll have to pass through waivers. Maybe a change of scenery will do him good. (Or, as you suggest, maybe he'll get a late call-up and really hit.)

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Don Larsen's Worse Than a Coin Flip: It was suggested:

"World Series Game 7?: My choice: Don Larson. Only man to pitch a perfect game in the World Series (1956, Yanks vs. Brooklyn.)"

While Larsen had his one perfect day, over his 14-year career he only had a .471 winning percentage.

Give me Koufax, please.

Barry Svrluga: I would agree with that. And thanks for correcting spelling of Larsen.

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Washington, DC: Have you thought of setting up a section of the Nats Journal called, "Suppose you were Bowden," where all your readers could send in rational trade ideas with explanations of why the trade works both ways? You must get sick of the extremes (Fick for Andruw Jones / Cordero and Rauch for the really tall dutch guy the Twins have at Beliot).

Barry Svrluga: I had not thought of that. But once you made me think of it, I thought of Nationals Journal completely exploding into smithereens.

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RE: Nats Progress: Great chats! If the team is doing better than you predicted, what's your amended projection for wins & losses?

Barry Svrluga: I'm not one who is going to rejigger things every time they win three out of four. My prediction before the season was 62-100. Right now, they're on pace for 68-94. We'll see what happens.

A nice goal might be reaching the 71-91 of last year. Without Soriano/Hernandez/others, that wouldn't be bad. They are 27-37 right now. Last year after 64 games: 30-34 (but about to lose five straight).

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Willie Gandebol: C'mon, who would you rather have, a guy named Slowey, or a guy named Smoker?

Barry Svrluga: That's a heck of a point.

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Arlington, Va.: Hello Barry,

I realize that Chris Marrero (sp?) is tearing it up but what are the odds of him developing as a corner outfielder? I've heard from a few sources including you that he's a little slow footed and isn't much of an athlete? Seems like a risky No. 1 pick when it's possible that he can only field one position which happens to be the same position as the cornerstone of the franchise.

Barry Svrluga: I don't think Marrero would be a good long-term solution at third. It's really amazing the number of difficult plays Zimmerman turns into outs there.

I think he'll ultimately play left field, and the goal will be to get him to the point where he doesn't hurt you too much. If he hits 40 homers and commits 10 errors as a left fielder (a high number), that'd be a decent trade off. The goal is to make sure he's not a butcher like Cincinnati's Adam Dunn. (Hmmmm, who took Dunn in the draft? Can't remember.)

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Insulted in Baltimore:"The Orioles' offense, which excels at being stagnant..."

Barry, how can you be so cold?

Barry Svrluga: Frigid wind happened to blow through the press box at that moment last night. But can you really argue it?

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Nairobi, Kenya: Dmitri Young is now a commodity.

Would trading him mess up this season for the team? His offensive production has been huge of course. But isn't his leadership over the critical for morale?

Barry Svrluga: It'd be tough to part with him now, sure. But again, this season isn't really about this season. If you have this guy you've basically resurrected and you let him play out the string with you, helping you to say 70 wins rather than 66, what good has it done you in the long-term?

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Nationals Ball Park: Check out this link. Someone posted some renderings of the new ball park that I hadn't seen.

Question, what's the deal with the big baseball on top of the restaurant in center field? They couldn't come up with something better? Its sort of tacky.

Barry Svrluga: Haven't clicked on the link. The baseball, as I understand it, could become something else or take on a new shape or some such thing. There are going to be tweaks all the time on this design.

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Falls Church, Va: Adam Dunn to the Nats? Why do we need another former Red who can't hit in the clutch? Isn't Kearns enough? What's wrong with Austin anyway?

Barry Svrluga: Kearns is struggling to find a consistent hot streak, no doubt. He's at .248 and isn't driving in runs at the rate you'd want. Dunn makes sense to the Nats because Bowden loves him, but then you basically have that old Reds outfield without Griffey in the middle.

We'll see. I still like how Kearns plays, but at some point he's going to have to really start producing. Keep in mind, though, that he's 27, and some hitters mature between then and 31 or so. He could find it and still become a 100-RBI guy.

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20008:"And thanks for correcting spelling of Larsen."

I suppose if my last name were "Svrluga" I would be partial to good spelling as well. What is the worst buthering of your name ever?

Barry Svrluga: How long do you have?

My dad once scored a touchdown in high school and the paper reported it as "Bill Sovlegs." Which was nice.

Manny Acta told me yesterday that he'd never have any chance of pronouncing my name right. But really, it's easy. Say all the letters in a row. No mystery. (It was worse before my great-grandfather took out the "J." Seriously.)

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20120: Any word on how negotiations are going with our top draft picks? How about that Jac Mcgreary sixth-round pick? Do we have any indication that he will sign? I understand he is looking for first-round money.

Barry Svrluga: I have heard -- though Jim Bowden thinks it'd be stupid -- that the Aug. 15 signing deadline will delay lots of first-round signings till then, that players will wait each other out and see how the new draft rules affect bonuses, etc.

That said, Bowden was adamant yesterday that negotiations with Ross Detwiler, the first-round pick, were under way. We'll see. As for McGeary -- the first-round talent slated to play for Stanford who the Nationals took in the sixth round -- it'll be interesting. Bowden wouldn't say what sort of strategy the team will use, but it's clear they'd have to offer much much much more than a sixth-round pick is worth. This is a test of the Kasten/Lerner commitment to the draft. Should they over-pay? Of course not. But if they really want to fill the system with young talent, this was a perfect risk to take -- a chance to steal someone no one else thought would be signable.

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The Mrs. Nationals: Hi Barry, I have a random question. You are around the team so often you must have some interaction with the players' wives or girlfriends, no?? In spring training at least, right? What are they like?? Are they SUPER hot? Nice? Mean? Any different than the rest of us. I hear Patterson is engaged to a former Miss D.C., so she at least must be hot right?

Tell us young'ens what some of those off-the-field perks may be that you see as someone close to the team!!

Barry Svrluga: Hmmm, that is random. As a general rule, baseball players do quite well with the attractive ladies, and the Nationals are no exception. I have only met a few of them. Yes, Patterson is engaged to a former Miss D.C.

I'm going to leave this discussion right here, thank you very much. But I appreciate you asking.

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Barry Svrluga: All right, folks, sorry I didn't get to them all. Thanks for chiming in. I'm off tonight and tomorrow, back with the team on the road in Toronto on Friday. Keep up with Nats news on "Nationals Journal" in the meantime, and I'll check in with you next week when we chat from RFK before the series finale against the Tigers.

Have a great week, and enjoy the games.

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