Wednesday, Aug. 15, 1 p.m. ET

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Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 15, 2007; 1:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Barry Svrluga was online Wednesday, Aug. 15, 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: Hey folks. Thanks for joining. Lots of things to discuss today, not the least of which is Shawn Hill's return to the mound last night. In one way, it's a shame that flair from Aaron Rowand fell between Nook Logan and Ryan Church, because it should have been caught by someone -- anyone -- and Hill would have had a no-hitter through six. But given that he was on a pitch count and was coming out then no matter what, maybe it's best we aren't left with those "what-if" questions.

Deadline for signing draft picks is 11:59 p.m., and the Nats still have that one hard-to-sign guy left. We'll see.

Let's chat.

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Ellicott City, Md.: What's your take on Ryan Church's season? I have heard a lot of people commenting that he hasn't proven that he's a full-time major league starter. While this may be true, his stats are better than Austin Kearns's across the board.

Why is Kearns viewed as a cornerstone of the future, while it looks like we're trying upgrade over Church this offseason?

Barry Svrluga: This is an interesting point. Here are the numbers:

Church: .265/.343/.431, 35 doubles, 9 homers, 47 RBI

Kearns: .249/.329/.379, 24 doubles, 10 homers, 48 RBI

Clearly, you're right statistically, and I think everyone -- from Manny Acta to Jim Bowden to Kearns himself -- would agree that Kearns's production has been a huge disappointment.

Some of this, though, is based on what the club views as long-term potential. From a scouting standpoint, they believe Kearns has a chance to produce big-time. The problem, as some people have acknowledged internally, is that potential and production are two different things. Kearns, it's clear, still has much to prove if he's going to be an anchor for this club in the future.

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Washington, D.C.: Will Manny go to a six man rotation when Bergmann returns or will someone need to be bumped (and who is most likely to draw the short straw)?

Barry Svrluga: I asked Acta this last week on the road trip, and he said he didn't think so at that point (which explains, in part, why I didn't write about it). But Boswell talked to him yesterday, and he said he was considering it -- doesn't mean it'll happen, but he's considering it.

But if Acta stays at a five-man rotation, I don't believe you can say right now who would be bumped. There are too many starts to be made between now and Bergmann's potential return. The club is intrigued by Hanrahan and Lannan, but watch the innings pitched count on Lannan. He would be a candidate to be shut down early. The most innings he has ever pitched is 146, back in 2005. He's now at 146-2/3 at all four levels he has pitched at, and the Nationals don't want more than a 15 percent increase from year to year. So the problem could take care of itself that way.

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Alexandria, Va.: I'm very excited about the quality arms we have in the lower end of the farm system. How long should we expect it to take for Glenn Gibson, Jordan Zimmerman and our other top Vermont prospects to be ready for the majors?

Barry Svrluga: This is something that has the Nationals very, very excited. I was joking with someone yesterday that if you have a 1.50 ERA on the Vermont staff, you're getting shellacked. And it's not just Gibson (high school draftee from 2006) and Zimmermann (drafted this year from Wisconsin-Stevens Point), but Colton Willems (first-round pick in 2006) and Adrian Alaniz (out of the University of Texas). That staff is putting up ridiculous numbers.

Jim Bowden is clear on one thing, and he reiterated it yesterday when they signed LHP Josh Smoker: "We don't move players. Players move players." These guys could start out next year at high-Class A Potomac, and who knows -- maybe there's a John Lannan among them, someone who'll rocket through the system and make it to the majors sooner than anyone thought.

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Bloggi, NG: Barry, love your writing. You do such a great job covering our boys. Do you have any favorite baseball blogs?

I love firejoemorgan.com. I've spit my coffee out laughing more than once reading their commentary.

washingtonpost.com: You mean besides Nationals Journal, right?

Barry Svrluga: You know, I don't read many of the national baseball blogs. As I've said before, I really like "Capitol Punishment" about the Nationals, and was a huge fan of "Ball Wonk," which seems to post very infrequently these days. "Federal Baseball" is another good Nationals-related blog.

You may remember that I wrote in the offseason about the fact that there are so many Nationals blogs. I'm still astonished by it. There are lots of established, winning teams that don't have near as much creative commentary slung their way. I love it.

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Penn Quarter: Barry,

Is there any talk that the Nationals will raise a banner commemorating the 1924 World Series championship when the new park opens next year? I think that would be wonderful. Of course, technically, that championship was won by the franchise that is now the Twins, but they don't seem to commemorate it at all (and rightfully so).

Barry Svrluga: I hadn't asked that question specifically, but I do know there will be references to the Senators. There are plans, not yet finalized (I don't believe), for a Walter Johnson statue and a Frank Howard statue to go along with a Josh Gibson statue. There are definitely going to be Senators displays of some sort. I'll check on the '24 banner.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey Barry! Nats.com is reporting that McGeary is attending Stanford next year. Is this true or is that article premature?

Barry Svrluga: That is premature. It could happen, but as I wrote on Nationals Journal this morning, this baby ain't over yet.

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D.C.: Two questions about last night's game, which I attended. What was the story about Nook Logan's lollygagging on the the Phillies' first hit of the game? And do you think Shawn Hill would have been allowed to stay in the game if he was still pitching a no-hitter?

Barry Svrluga: 1. I don't think that was as much Logan lolly-gagging as it was a gross miscommunication -- or no communication -- between Logan and Ryan Church. Either player could have caught that ball. Both of the corner outfielders, Church and Kearns, seem to have problems communicating with Logan, and lots of balls have dropped like that -- or there have been near-collisions. I'll look into this more once we get past draft deadline day.

2. No way Hill would have been allowed to stay in. The guy showed why he's so valuable, and they're not going to risk creating a problem with a commodity they believe can help well into the future.

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Section 315: Loved your analysis of the politics of the McGeary negotiations. To me it is a no brainer (easy for me to say) for the Lerners to offer the $1-2 M bonus. They took a risk by drafting him when others wouldn't so they should be able to do whatever possible for that risk to pay off. It really is not that much money and I doubt there would be any long term damage done to Selig-Lerner relationship. It's just business.

Barry Svrluga: A brief refresher: Jack McGeary is the left-hander from the Boston area (Newton, Mass.) whom the Nationals took in the sixth round. Considered a first-round talent by some, he fell that far because he has a strong commitment to attend Stanford.

The Nationals, though, have worked hard at this one, even convincing McGeary and his family to visit D.C. and get a tour, etc., a couple weeks ago. That's farther than a lot of people thought it would get. But as I've written -- both in the $.35 edition and on the Journal -- this is a complicated process. The new-kids-on-the-block Lerners might be reluctant to ruffle MLB feathers, even a little. As I wrote, this does not appear to be a money issue. It's a politics/long-term standing issue. Note that the Padres, who have former MLB employee Sandy Alderson as prez, don't pay "over slot" for their draft picks that much. They want to stay in line. The Tigers, obviously, have gone with a damn-the-torpedoes approach and are giving high school right-hander Rick Porcello $7 million even though he fell to 27th in the draft.

Where will the Lerners fall? They've already done well in signing 19 of their first 20 picks, and McGeary was always seen as a bonus. But if they do sign him -- and there's still that chance -- it will show how truly committed they are to the mantra they put out from Day One, which is building through scouting and the draft.

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Re: Frank Howard statue: I was at the game last night with my dad, though we arrived separately. As we were leaving he noticed a guy in front of us wearing a blue jersey T-shirt with Howard 6. He starting telling me how great it was to see someone who actually remembers the days of Frank Howard and how great he was. Sadly, I had to inform him the man was a Phillies fan, who more than likely would not have known who Frank Howard was.

Barry Svrluga: If you were starting a team, who would you take: Frank Howard in his prime, or Ryan Howard right now?

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Anchorage, Alaska: Hey Barry...

While watching Zimm's error yesterday, and the resulting collapse... I was reading Zimmerman's mind, and I thought I heard him say that would never happen again. Was he embarrassed about it (beyond the normal) to the point that he thinks he needs to concentrate more on those situations?

Barry Svrluga: Not really. He shrugged it off, and even said that when you have 300-or-so chances, you're bound to make those kinds of mistakes.

Problem is that for a kid with that much ability, he's making too many of those mistakes. He has 18 errors on the year, tied with Miguel Cabrera for most among third basemen in the majors. That's unacceptable. Manny Acta said after the game he believes Zimmerman has a bit of a footwork problem on plays on which he has plenty of time, and he's going to work with him.

The bottom line: Zimmerman should be better than that, and he knows it.

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Washington, D.C.: Barry,

Why so bitter? Shouldn't the "Game to Watch" as printed in the .35er always be the Nats' game, and not some game from out-of-town?

Barry Svrluga: I am a big advocate of that, yes. Today in that spot, though, is the Nationals Farm Update, so at least we're getting somewhere.

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DC Sports Fan: You made the below comment last week on marketing. As a Nats (Zimm jersey), Skins (Cooley jersey), Caps (Ovey jersey) fan, how would Senor Svrluga market differently to baseball fans?

Barry: There are also lots of questions about the club's marketing operation and what direction it'll head as the team goes into the new ballpark. There are lots of people in the marketing department who have experience in the NBA and NHL, but not baseball, and I know there are some people -- both internally and externally -- who wonder if they understand the differences (some subtle, some not-so) between baseball fans and fans of other sports.

Barry Svrluga: I would have a prominent team store downtown, like the Orioles used to have (still have?) at Farragut Square, rather than the in-the-downstairs-of-the-Lerner-owned-Washington-Square store at Connecticut and L. I would be pumping up the last days of RFK, playing to the reminiscing that so many baseball fans are suckers for. (Yes, they now have a countdown, but not sure how many people know about it.) I would make sure I understood that baseball isn't like the NBA or the NHL, that there are subtle differences, and that one approach doesn't work for all sports.

The marketing arm of the team is clearly learning the town and the sport. Next year, they have that beautiful new park to market, so things should be better, don't you think?

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Arlington, Va.: No question, just a comment. Last night I took my 2-year old son Nat (yes he is named after the team) to his first game and it was a very special moment for old dad! We both had a great time as he high-fived everyone around us when the Nats scored. Sometimes we get so caught up in who's playing, how much they are making, cold hot dogs, etc., that we forget that we go to RFK to have fun.

Barry Svrluga: I like this perspective a lot.

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Haverford, Pa.: How seriously are the Nats' brass considering trotting Dmitri Young on an everyday basis in LF next season? Are they for real? And, on a related note, how do you see the outfield shaking out long term? Do you see Kearns, Church and/or Logan being a part of things beyond next year, or even this year?

Barry Svrluga: No. This has been widely overstated. As one person who would know told me, "He's not going to play left field every day."

Kearns, I believe, is part of the future. If Church is part of the future, I believe it is as a platoon/fourth outfielder. Logan, though he has played well lately, I don't see as a long-term solution. I think the Nationals will be aggressive in their pursuit of an offensive center fielder for next season, be it by trade or free agency.

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Stafford, Va.: What are the chances that the Nats get a AAA squad near D.C. instead of Columbus?

Barry Svrluga: It's a possibility. The Nationals have a two-year agreement with Columbus, and I had someone tell me that they felt the Nats would end up in Norfolk when that agreement's over. That's where the Orioles are now. Richmond would make the most sense, but the Braves own that franchise, if I recall correctly.

Columbus is getting a new stadium, and it's an easy flight to D.C., so it has worked fine for the Nationals so far. Much better than New Orleans, which played in the far-flung Pacific Coast League.

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20005: Barry,

I'm not quite sure why you are "bitter", as you say, about readers' criticisms of The Post's coverage of the Nats. By and large, people are not concerned about the amount of coverage of the Nats vs. the O's. Instead, what bothers most people is the total lack of depth to The Post's coverage of the home baseball team!

You are a great writer Barry, but you only go so far. I'm sure you take a look at the NY Times, Chicago Trib, Boston Globe, etc., so you know how a newspaper should cover a team. The Post, by contrast, has one writer, and a columnist who writes about baseball (maybe the Nats) perhaps twice a month in-season, and those columns are largely non-substantive. The paper's other "renowned" columnists have been so disrespectful to the Nationals that it is disgraceful. The Post should be more committed to covering the Nationals, and I wish you wouldn't be bitter about the fact that this is important to the paper's readers.

Barry Svrluga: No, not bitter. Glad that people are concerned. The angst over the Orioles coverage wears on me occasionally.

We're developing as a baseball paper, no doubt. Thirty-three years without a team in town will do that to you. But I think if you look at all that Boswell and Sheinin (anchored by his Sunday MLB page, which is always entertaining) provide, that's a good, rounded start. I grew up in New England, delivered the Boston Globe, etc. I know how some papers cover the sport. I believe that if and when the Nationals are a real contender -- and if and when they grip the city -- we'll have all the coverage you can handle.

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Remembering RFK : Barry: A little tidbit for the Nats to consider. When the Orioles left Memorial Stadium, that was thought to be the end of its use for baseball and football. So for the last game, to throw out "the first ball" they brought out Brooks Robinson...and Johnny Unitas. I still get chills thinking about it. Not sure what the equivalent would be for RFK (Frank Howard and Sonny Jurgensen?) but to recognize both teams would be great.

Barry Svrluga: That is a very, very interesting idea, and I would think one that the Nationals can pull off. The 'Skins are home on Sept. 23, the last game at RFK. Sonny could certainly be at RFK for an early start, then head to Landover for a 4 p.m. football game.

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Richmond, Va.: Shouldn't D.C. and the Nationals be due for an All-Star game sometime soon? It seems that is the least that MLB could do for the city and the team.

Barry Svrluga: Yes. The Lerners have written a letter to Selig asking for consideration. Lots of new parks are getting All-Star Games. I don't think MLB will act on this until they see the new Nationals park up and running, though.

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Alexandria, Va.: I'm encouraged by the Josh Smoker signing -- can we make anything of this with respect to the commitment to win from the Lerners -- or is this really not that big a deal?

Also -- have you heard anything about a possible water taxi to and from the new stadium?

Barry Svrluga: The Smoker signing -- 31st overall pick signed to a $1 million bonus -- is a big deal for the Nationals, yes. But they had to get it done. They need talent in their farm system, and as one person pointed out to me yesterday, had the Nationals not signed Smoker, they would have received pick 31B in next year's draft as compensation. But, the person said, there's no guarantee they find someone they like as much as Smoker in that spot next year. Left-handed pitchers don't grow on trees. Maybe they'd find a decent right-hander there, but they didn't think they'd get the same quality.

As Bowden said recently: "It's one thing to draft the players, but it doesn't mean much unless you sign them." They've done that with 19 of their first 20 picks, and only McGeary remains.

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Washington, D.C.: Why should the Lerners feel hesitant to possibly upset MLB for going "over slot" on McGeary when MLB methodically deconstructed this franchise in the 5-7 years before the Lerners acquired it at, to illustrate my point, a price way over slot? Time for MLB to look the other way on this and police another squad.

Barry Svrluga: This is a good point and one I've heard argued in the last 48 hours. You could say, quite reasonably, that the Nationals wouldn't be so desperate to sign one more guy if they didn't need to rebuild a moribund farm system so badly.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Was at the game last night. Hill was amazing. I think we have our ace. It's too bad the crowd didn't get a chance to give him the ovation he deserved when he was through (few realized that he was done after 6). Speaking of the crowd, it was good to hear the Nats faithful shout and boo down the Phillies fans at every attempt to start a chant. Goes to show this ain't Fenway South, a.k.a. Camden Yards.

Barry Svrluga: Yeah, lots of Phillies fans in attendance last night, and I would imagine throughout the series. Would expect some Mets fans this weekend, too. Truth be told, many Nationals I've talked to don't mind if opposing fans show up. "At least there's some atmosphere," one said yesterday. They'd love it to be 40,000 screaming for them all the time, but it's not bad when the Nationals fans have to rise up to shout down the opposing fans. Gives a little sizzle.

There could be some interesting games down the stretch involving teams in pennant races. Nats might be a frustrating spoiler.

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creative commentary slung their way: If there's one thing this town is good at it's slinging words.

Barry Svrluga: Indeed.

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20120: Barry,

The Nationals are very proud of the improvements on the farm. Are national writers/scouts starting to take notice?

Barry Svrluga: A couple of scouts I've talked to are, but they're also cautious. I haven't talked to scouts from other teams who have seen the Vermont team, which is where all the pitchers who the Nationals are so excited about currently play.

Slowly, some national writers (as opposed to Nationals writers) are beginning to take notice. But there was a curious item in the Arizona Republic over the weekend, quoting a scout on the Nationals saying, "How can a team be this bad?" and calling Washington one of the year's biggest disappointments.

Now, I'm not here to boost the team, nor am I here to overstate how far they've come. But ... DISAPPOINTMENT? Uh, this team was supposed to lose 110-120 games, right? I had them at 62-100 before the season. And how can a team be this bad? I don't know, let's ask Tampa, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Houston, San Francisco, Texas and Kansas City. They all have worse records now.

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Washington, D.C.: What is the word on John Patterson's throwing program? If he can't get rehab starts in before the minor league close shop would they use him out of the bullpen until his arm strength is up?

Barry Svrluga: I don't think they would use him out of the bullpen. Patterson considers himself a starting pitcher, and I think that's the only circumstance in which they call him up.

Patterson has not yet pitched in a game in Viera, where he is going through his throwing program. With the minor league season ending in three weeks, he would have to start appearing in rehab games pretty soon in order to make it back.

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Arlington, Va.: It has been a couple of weeks since the trade deadline; so have you started to hear about potential trades of Nats players who could pass through waivers?

Barry Svrluga: You know, I haven't. There has been some buzz about Wily Mo Pena to the Nationals, but I believe that's based largely on the notion that Jim Bowden loves the guy's potential from the past. The Nationals aren't in danger of giving up anything significant for Pena.

I've long believed that Ray King would be someone who could be dealt after the non-waiver trade deadline. He has really been more effective against left-handed hitters lately (save for a walk over the weekend in Arizona).

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Minors: What do our minor leaguers do in the off season? Unlike the big league contracts, I imagine that many of those guys don't make enough with, say, the Lake Monsters, to cover them for the other 9 months of the year.

Barry Svrluga: They work out and prepare for the upcoming season. Keep in mind that guys who are on the short-season Class A Vermont roster were working out in Viera, Fla., since spring training began, playing scrimmages, etc. Some of them were just drafted this year. They don't have nine months off. And some of them got signing bonuses that mean they don't have to work in the offseason. The days when guys would dig ditches in the offseason are long gone.

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More about Marketing: I'm puzzled by the bobblehead marketing for the Nats. Bobbles are always popular and bring out a crowd. So why schedule a giveaway during a Mets game, when seats are likely to be filled anyway, and lots of little Lincolns will either find their way back to Queens or into the trash?

Barry Svrluga: An interesting question. I have noticed, for instance, that the Nationals have played on many a bobblehead night in away parks, particularly during the week. It makes sense: Nationals aren't a big road draw, so suck people in on what might be an off night with, say, a Bronson Arroyo bobblehead.

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Section 320: As much as I believe Manny Acta is a terrific young manager, I quibble with his insistence to replace Dmitri Young and Ryan Church after the 7th inning in a one- or two-run ballgame. Often this maneuver has occurred, Washington loses the lead -- then Fick and Langerhans step to the plate, with the game on the line.

At times, is not Manny overmanaging?

Barry Svrluga: He has been very clear on this point. When his team takes a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh -- as happened last night -- he's not even thinking about the possibility of losing the game. His idea is to be positive and believe his bullpen is going to get it done. Even when things collapsed last night, Fick got a single in Young's spot (though I understand the odds of that happening aren't high).

One more point, as it relates to Church: People have pointed out to me that when Church is removed, it's not like he's taking Babe Ruth out of the lineup.

It's an interesting debate, but I don't see Acta changing on that one.

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Silver Spring, Md.: At last night's game it seemed like a genuine rivalry may be developing between the Nats and the Phillies. At least between the fans. It was almost like an Eagles-Redskins game without the pepper spray. I think that's a good thing for the franchise. People care about the team.

A fan in the stands got hit with a piece of a bat last night. Any word on how he is doing?

Barry Svrluga: I do not have word on the person hit by the bat. That thing really splintered.

I do think, as I said, that the atmosphere could be pretty cool for the whole homestand. And yes, if a rivalry is going to develop for the Nationals, I'd put my money on the Phillies. Familiarity, proximity, etc. If both teams are in the race one August or September, that could be really, really fun.

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The real season: Barry: While I've enjoyed the fact that the Nats didn't totally stink this year and overachieved, I never got all that carried away because so much of it was accomplished by journeymen who really don't matter for the future. I actually the real season began about a week or so ago, when Lannan arrived, followed by Hanrahan (sort of) and now with Hill coming back. We'll actually see a rotation including guys who will probably be here in 2-3 years, not just next year. Does the front office (or you) share that view, that a real test is coming? Thanks.

Barry Svrluga: Absolutely. I think the thing people are most excited about internally over the next seven weeks is that they'll get a look at guys who have a chance to be part of the future, as you said. Acta has clearly spoken on Hill ("he doesn't need to show me anything else," he said). But Lannan and Hanrahan are intriguing, and I know some of the guys like playing behind Hanrahan because he throws so hard. We might find out more about Bergmann, too.

You can now look at the team and believe that they won't need five new starting pitchers next year, but maybe two, and that resources could be put into pursuing a front-line center fielder and/or a 40-homer guy.

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Washington, D.C.: When is Barry Svrluga bobblehead night at the ballpark?

Barry Svrluga: Stan? Can we talk about this?

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Baltimore: So Hill looked really good last night. Does he have what it takes to be a solid No. 2 starter on a decent team?

Barry Svrluga: I believe he does. And if he's your No. 3, look out. What impressed me last night was that he got some of his strikeouts on off-speed pitches, which he didn't feel were very sharp but were good enough. Remember, when Hill took a shutout into the ninth inning in Philly earlier this year, the Phillies -- unsolicited -- compared his sinker to that of Brandon Webb. That's a nice place to start, and it's a pitch that doesn't tend to fade in and out like a breaking ball might. He has it almost every single time he walks to the mound.

Just needs to stay healthy. As Acta said last night, imagine having him 35 times a year.

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Downtown D.C.: Bitter Barry,

Why can't The Post refer to the home team as the "Nationals" in the standings, rather than Washington? Other papers do that for their home team.

Barry Svrluga: Not sure.

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Arlington, Va.: Do you know whether the new stadium is projected as a pitchers park or a hitters park? This would be an obvious consideration if you are building a team and I wonder if the Nats are doing something in this area.

Barry Svrluga: They're definitely analyzing it, and it'll definitely be more friendly to hitters than RFK. Some people from the baseball operations side believe it will slightly favor pitchers, but only slightly. The consensus, though: Until they get in it and see how the wind patterns blow at different times of year, they won't know for sure.

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Bowie, Md.: Great work as always ... related to the banner issue, does the D.C. Ring of Fame from RFK now transfer over to the new stadium? I don't think it is at FedEx (which I've been to once and will never go again even though it's 20 minutes from home).

Barry Svrluga: This I do not know, but is worth checking into. Thanks for the reminder.

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Washington, D.C.: It's been about four months since Ken Rosenthal's insightful (and critical) look into the operations of the organization with the Lerners in command. You remember the piece, I'm sure: scouts not being paid/reimbursed, excessive expense report scrutiny, employee turnover, etc.

Have things gotten better over the course of the season? Are the Lerners learning more and more how to operate in this arena?

Barry Svrluga: The Lerners are, admittedly, going through an adjustment, but there are some things about which they won't flinch. Ted Lerner sees every expense report, and as Mark Lerner told me for a story I wrote on the same subject, the team's ownership will scrutinize all purchases right down to whether a package needs to be sent FedEx, or whether it can go through the regular mail.

I have heard much less about the scouts being reimbursed issue, and the scouts that I've talked to -- those who were hired from other teams to work here -- are by and large very happy and excited about the direction of the operation. Some were pretty skeptical about how it would work, but when they got into that draft room in June -- and all those egos and opinions were stuffed into one place -- some were surprised by how well it went, which got them more excited for the future.

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Washington, D.C.: Bill Ladson's article didn't make sense to me. If McGreary is considered a first round talent who slipped because of signability concerns, then why would the Nats balk at paying him first round money? Either he's asking for more than first round money, or he's not a first round talent. Can you clear this up?

Barry Svrluga: My understanding: The issue isn't so much the money but MLB's frowning upon clubs paying first-round money to kids selected in, say, the sixth round. Do the Lerners want to (potentially) ruffle feathers by signing this kid? That's what I've been told it comes down to.

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Washington, D.C.: Given the fact that we're talking about bumping one of the current starters to the bullpen or the minors, plus all of the pitching talent in the minors, do you think that the Nats will bother signing a free agent pitcher? Or will they just focus on upgrading the outfield?

Barry Svrluga: I'll look into this more, but it is my belief that a center fielder/40-homer guy (whether that's one player or two) is now the priority. Will they go after an established starting pitcher via trade or free agency? I believe they will. But I think you're right that they're more encouraged by the pitching that's on the way (and, in some cases, here already).

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Barry Svrluga: Folks, tons of questions left, no time remaining to get to them. I've got to get out to RFK. Check Nationals Journal for updates on the McGeary situation (which I expect to last all day), not to mention mundane things like lineups, etc.

Enjoy the rest of the homestand. I'll talk to you next week from Houston, where we'll be in the midst of the last 10-game road trip of the year. Thanks for stopping by.

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