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The Washington Nationals

Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 26, 2007 1:45 PM

Washington Post staff writer Barry Svrluga was online Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 1:45 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 from Shea Stadium. A couple things to point out. First, I don't know what you can see of it on TV, but the new Mets ballpark is going up really swiftly beyond the left and center field walls here. They want to have the facade on by winter so they can work inside till spring.

Second: How about those Nationals? My goodness, four wins in five games against the Mets -- making people in these parts rather nervous. And I'll ask something I asked over at the Journal: Does matching last year's total of 71 wins mean anything to you? (It certainly seems to mean something in the clubhouse.)

Finally, thanks for all those who stopped by the Nationals Journal tailgate party on Sunday at RFK. Wish I could have stayed for a beer or three. Alas, I'll have to wait for a day off next time.

All right, let's chat.

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Looking for a Goal?: How about exceeding the World Champion Cardinal's win total this year? They are at 73.

Barry Svrluga: Ooh, there's a good goal. Man, I couldn't believe it when the Cardinals got back into the (joke of an NL Central) race. When the Nationals crushed them at RFK, they looked horrible. Just horrible.

Can this team go 3-1 in its last four -- even with the Phillies and Mets doing their best to hang on? I'm really looking forward to the last few games. They're going to be fun.

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Washington, D.C.: Three guesses which Washington National not named Dmitri Young has an OPS over .800 for the year.

Barry Svrluga: This is a good one. I've got:

Wily Mo Pena: .882

Joel Hanrahan: .857 (yeah, I know that hardly counts)

Cristian Guzman: .846

Justin Maxwell: .836

Ryan Church: .807 (I figure this is the guy you're getting at)

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Leesburg, Va.: Since the Nationals don't plan on signing any big time free agents, do they consider trading for Johnny Damon until Justin Maxwell is ready for full time duty?

Barry Svrluga: Dave Sheinin wrote a note about this on his MLB Sunday page a few weeks ago, saying it wasn't the craziest idea. One thing the Nationals will likely try to do -- since Stan Kasten has said it's unlikely the team will pursue big-ticket free agents -- would be to trade for guys on teams that might be willing to pick up parts of their contracts.

Does that mean Damon? Not sure. He's now a below-average center fielder, particularly because of his horrible arm. But he would be a great OBP guy at the top of the order.

Should be a good, interesting offseason.

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On the job in Woodbridge: Barry,

Does Lenny Harris get the "interim" removed from his title before next season? I know the guy he replaced left for "personal reasons," but one would have to think that it will become permanent before too long

Barry Svrluga: I keep meaning to get stuff about this in the paper, but the Shawn Hill surgery has prevented me so the past two days. I spoke to Harris about this a couple days ago. He says he wants to and expects to be back, but Jim Bowden has not assured any of the coaches of anything.

My read: Bench coach Pat Corrales and pitching coach Randy St. Claire will be back. Kinda no-brainers. Three others -- bullpen coach Rick Aponte, first base coach Jerry Morrales and third base coach Tim Tolman -- are all Acta guys, and there's no guarantee. Harris was a Bowden selection to replace Mitchell Page, and I think that gives him a better chance.

Read more about this in the $.35 edition soon.

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snArkansas: Any chance we'll get a visit from snarky Barry this afternoon? We love him.

Barry Svrluga: Who's he? Never heard of him.

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Washington, D.C.: Barry,

With the new stadium opening next year let me offer that some consideration be given to having Tony Williams throw out the first pitch since he did so much to bring back baseball to the area. I have already personally thanked him for bringing baseball back and Tony stated that if asked he would throw out the first pitch. Forget about Bush.

Barry Svrluga: An interesting thought. My guess is there might be about seven "first pitches" next spring.

I would hope that the Prez -- whatever you think of him -- would be there. It'd be great to keep that tradition alive.

I also think the Nats should do a 10-foot-tall presidential candidates race all summer next year. The Kucinich one would be hysterical.

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Bethesda, Md.: Do you think Kasten dislikes you more than Snyder dislikes La Canfora?!

Barry Svrluga: Photo finish?

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Nook Logan Circle: Hey Barry,

Who's got the best chance of making the squad next year: Detwiler, Smoker or McGeary? Who's got the most long-term upside?

Barry Svrluga: Easy, now, Nook Logan Circle. Take a deep breath. Several deep breaths.

Smoker and McGeary are 18-year-olds just out of high school. Neither was anywhere near the best high school pitcher in the draft (Rick Porcello of New Jersey, who went to Detroit). If they make the majors, it'll be well down the line.

Detwiler will be in big league camp, and it's possible he arrives sometime late next year, depending on his development. Talked to Randy St. Claire about him yesterday, and though he hasn't thrown in many games (1), his bullpen sessions have been excellent. St. Claire said he has a very good arm, and he's been surprised at the sink in his two-seam fastball. The four-seamer is good, the curveball is good, but he tends to overthrow his changeup a bit. He's still getting a feel for it.

Still, that's four pitches. His progress will be interesting to watch next year -- likely starting at Class AA Harrisburg.

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Forestville, Md. : Good Afternoon Barry,

Have we reached the point where poor Chad is sent somewhere (anywhere) for a bag of balls? Last night was bad, and I thought the loss in Colorado was a road-trip killer.

Barry Svrluga: That was rough. It came in Cordero's career-high 75th appearance. He now also has a career-high 3.41 ERA.

I give Acta credit on this one. It was clear Cordero had nothing -- bouncing balls in the dirt, etc. -- but I think there are a lot of managers who would have stuck with their closer just because of the title. Removing Cordero and bringing in Rauch won the game.

Cordero's future: I suspect we'll hear more about him being on the market this winter. That doesn't mean he'll be dealt. But they'll talk about it.

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West Alexandria, I guess: In the best case scenario, I'm assuming Chico, Bergmann and either Hill or Patterson are 3/5s of the rotation next year. Is that in line with what the braintrust thinks the rotation will be in '08?

Barry Svrluga: I think that's a pretty good educated guess. I think they're counting on Hill more than Patterson, even with the latest injury problems. Bowden said the day they decided to do surgery on Hill that he will "absolutely" be ready for next season. Shawn was more cautious when I talked to him, so we'll see.

Chico: The league's ERA is 4.43. Chico's ERA is 4.75. That's not horrendous. Starters in the National League have a 4.64 ERA. The kid's hung in there fine, even with all his inconsistencies.

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Teddyville, USA: Barry,

All credit to the Nats for a great season especially given the expectations, but RFK was never more electric than the during the final Presidents Race. From the Nats bullpen tackling George, Tom and Abe to the mixture of glee and disappointment as Teddy appeared at the wrong stadium, the crowd was laughing, cheering, shouting. Whoever came up with this gimmick and has orchestrated it up to this point should get a bonus this year.

Barry Svrluga: I was saying this the other day at RFK: For all the shots I've taken at the Nats marketing department (hello, Clint), whoever came up with the Presidents Race deserves tons of credit, and whoever came up with the shtick about Teddy losing is brilliant. What stadium has ever had 40,000 people chanting the name of a mascot? Incredible.

Now, we'll know Washington has come a long way as a baseball town when there are regular chants for players -- as the late-inning "Wi-ly Mo! Wi-ly Mo!"

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burke, va: All other things being equal, do you think the new park will help or hurt the Nat's home record next year? Keeping in mind that the Nats were nearly .500 at RFK this year (40-41).

Barry Svrluga: That's an interesting one, and it depends entirely on the shape of the roster, which we don't know yet. If you add an Adam Dunn, then maybe some of the expected inflated numbers for the pitchers will be offset.

The reality: We really don't know exactly how the park will play, and we won't until the team gets in it.

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Section 108: Barry, I like to thank you for all the coverage you've done on the Nationals this year. I've read every article and post in the Nats journal and think the job you've done this season was just terrific. I hope you'll drop us a Nats piece every once in a while during the offseason to keep us diehards going.....

Barry Svrluga: Section 108, you are kind. There are some other questions, comments about the Post's coverage, and I'll get to them. I think I'm also going to open myself up to a Nationals Journal post on the subject, so check back there.

Offseason: Yes, we'll absolutely try to keep you informed in the offseason. I'll be at the winter meetings, checking in on injured players, dealing with trade and free agent rumors as best I can.

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Trade Bait: Surprisingly enough, the Nats may have some players they can deal to help themselves without tapping into the farm system. Am I nuts (okay, I am, but let's move along) but couldn't they get a starting pitcher for some combination of Rausch, Ayala, Cordero, Church, Guzman, D. Young and N. Johnson? Don't you think either Young or Johnson goes at some point in mid-May of next year, assuming Nick comes back?

Barry Svrluga: The Young/Johnson question is among the most intriguing for spring training next year, I think. That's $10.5 million of first baseman right there, and neither can play another position. What happens?

And yes: If the Nationals are able to pull off a significant trade this winter, I'd expect it to involve some of their very good relievers going elsewhere.

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Batter's Eye Seats: Barry, does it bother you as much as it bothers Sheinin and the rest of us that Stan never gives any details about anything?

Barry Svrluga: This is, obviously, a touchy subject for me right now. But as I've said before, Stan Kasten wants to dictate when and how he delivers news. "When there's news," he has often told me, "we'll let you know." That differs from the job of people like me and Sheinin.

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Formerly of Sect. 419: Hi Barry:

Bet you're grateful you don't cover Oklahoma State football,huh?

Assuming the braintrust isn't willing to invest $30 mil a year in A-Rod or $20 mil a year in Andruw "can you use 'contract year' in a sentence" Jones -- smart in both cases, IMO -- what type of creative moves are out there?

Would they part with a package of newly-minted prospects for Johann Santana? Trade a bag of balls to take JD Drew (and about one-third of his contract) from the Red Sox?

Just trying to figure how they improve the major-league product without spending big bucks or deviating from "the plan."

Thanks for the coverage, the Journal and these chats...

Barry Svrluga: This is a central question heading into the offseason: How do you improve the major league product and, presumably, increase payroll without signing significant free agents and without having a top-heavy minor league system from which to deal?

Creative? I would expect that. That's probably Jim Bowden's middle name. And I think you're right that someone like Santana would be a good target -- if they could be allowed to get a 72-hour window to negotiate an extension.

But think of it this way, too: How is that different than signing a free agent? Getting an extension done is tantamount to going out and signing him on your own -- but you have to give up players, too.

(For Santana, by the way, it'd be worth it. Can you imagine how he would reshape a franchise? My goodness.)

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Bowie, Md: In case no one noticed, the final score of the Nats' last game at RFK, 5-3, is the same as the final score of the Nats' first game at RFK. Both wins of course.

Rod Serling, call your agent.

Barry Svrluga: Doo-doo-doo-doo doo-doo-doo-doo.

(Man, really hard to replicate TV theme songs in a chat.)

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Svrluga Nation, the world: I watched that Washington Post Live interview with Stan Kasten. I am a big fan of bashing the media whenever and wherever possible on any topic, big or small,real or perceived, whether deserved or not. It's all good. Moreover, I am an even bigger fan of sarcasm, as an experienced practitioner myself. However, Kasten was wrong to go after The Post like that. He seemed like a guy who lives in a Bush-like shell and can't take the heat of a the big time. I'm sure the ATL media is good but the Braves were never top billing (that honor belongs to SEC football) and I bet he never had to face the scrutiny in Atlanta like he does here. I know he was trying to make a point but he needs thicker skin.

Barry Svrluga: That was a pretty combustible day for us all, and he certainly had issues with the Post at that time. Whether he still does, I don't know, as I haven't talked to him.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Barry,

Sheinin in his chat yesterday said "the Nats, at the major league level, appear to be farther away from contending than I believed they were at the start of the season, not closer. . . .And let me explain what I mean by "farther away from contending." When the season started, I thought the Nationals had a pretty decent core of 27-and-under players that could form the core of a contending team two or three years down the line. In that category, I included (off the top of me head here) Zimmerman (obviously), Cordero, Patterson, Schneider, Kearns, F. Lopez, N. Johnson, Rauch and Church. But my own opinion is that the list not only hasn't grown over the last six months, it has actually gone down, as certain players have been exposed, so to speak. I like the fact that Shawn Hill and Jason Bergmann proved themselves to be very solid candidates for the rotation-of-the-future, but I'd need to see both of them stay healthy for a full season before I add them to my list."

Do you agree? Are the Nats farther from being a contender at the end of the season than the beginning?

Barry Svrluga: Sheinin and I have talked about this, and it's a really interesting discussion. (Of course, when he and I discuss anything, it's simply fascinating, as you can imagine.)

The counterpoint to his argument is that a slew of guys on this team -- Kearns, Lopez, Schneider, Cordero -- have "underachieved" this year. In fact, Manny Acta said as much the other day. If you get Kearns to be an 85-RBI guy, Lopez to get on base 35 percent of the time, Schneider to hit .260 instead of .230, and Cordero to cut down on his blown saves, then the major league roster improves automatically.

So it comes down to whether you believe these guys are having off years or whether you believe this is who they are.

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Prince William Co., Va.: As many Nationals fans pray that "Sweet Caroline" will be left behind at RFK (damn Boston-related song, typical of the lack of imagination and originality of the Nats' in-game entertainment staff), any word on when a new radio deal (likely with Bonneville) will be announced, or who might replace Bob Carpenter in the TV booth? (I'd love to see former Phillies announcer Scott Graham hired, but I fear Stan Kasten will bring in one of his Atlanta cronies. I don't know whether the Nats are Reds East or Braves North.)

Barry Svrluga: I grew up going to games at Fenway Park, and while I'm OK with the "Sweet Caroline" thing there (even though it certainly wasn't part of my youth), it seems ridiculous at RFK. Equally ridiculous is having an usher prance around on top of the home dugout, pointing at the crowd and the players as the song plays. What is that about?

Carpenter: The latest rumor out there, care of the Examiner's Jim Williams, is that TBS's Chip Carey would be in line for the Nats' job. I'll check on it, but the Kasten-Atlanta connection is strong.

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Jimmy's Old Town Tavern, Herndon, Va.: With the Nationals search for a new TV announcer, does MASN have any say in this matter? With a local following, could Frank Herzog be under consideration? Do you have any suggestions who would be a good fit for this position? In only 3 seasons, does continuity seem to be lacking?

Barry Svrluga: Here are the Nationals' TV pairings:

2005: Mel Proctor and Ron Darling

2006: Bob Carpenter and Tom Paciorek

2007: Bob Carpenter and Don Sutton

2008: Don Sutton and ????

So beginning next year, there will have been six different men in the four seasons of the franchise's existence. So no, there's no continuity.

MASN works with the Nats in picking the announcer, but the decision ultimately rests with the club.

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Washington, D.C.: Just my 2 cents, but I absolutely do not think The Post has been too harsh on the Nationals. In fact, they've been extremely positive about the many surprising developments they've had over the course of what was predicted to be a 120 (or worse) loss season. What is he thinking? I was really sorry to read this.

Barry Svrluga: I got sarcastic about all this in my chat last week. He got upset. Really upset. It's a week later. Let's move on.

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Section 419: I heard some Ry-an Zim-mer-man chants as well at RFK on Sunday, but granted they weren't as loud as the Wi-ly Mo chants - and definitely nowhere close to the Ted-dy Ted-dy roar. Might have been because Ryan Zimmerman is a bit of a mouthful to chant. (Although not as tough as Svrluga, to be sure...)

Barry Svrluga: You could do "Zim-mer-man! Zim-mer-man!" to the same cadence as "Wi-ly Mo! Wi-ly Mo!" (Come to think of it, "Svr-lu-ga!" fits the same beat.)

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Rockville, Md.: Any word on the Adam Dunn front? What would it cost to get him and where would he play?

With the Nats' glaring need for a big-time bat, his history with Bodes, and his friendship with Kearns, it seems like a natural fit.

Barry Svrluga: If the Reds pick up his option, he'll make $13 million next season. They could pick it up with the intention of trading for him.

I'll make the same point as I did above, though: The Nationals wouldn't trade for him, I don't think, without trying to sign him to an extension first. Otherwise, you potentially end up with a Soriano-type situation.

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Downtown: (I also happened to be on "Washington Post Live" with Stan Kasten a few days before the season started, and when he asked me if I thought they'd be the 30th-best team in baseball, I said something like, "Is there a 31st?" Think I've heard about that since then?)

This is the kind of sarcastic cracks that helped scare fans away. Do you believe me now? You were complicit in the attendance drop. Many others too and by the way I am a fan of the journal and most of your work. I just hope there is a lesson learned. And I had 70 wins as the over under for the year and won the bet.

Barry Svrluga: Anyone who had 70 as the over and took the over, congrats. As I've said, I had 62-100, and have been on the road to wrong for the better part of two months. The record since May 11 -- 62-62. Wouldn't it be cool for them to play the last four-and-a-half months over .500? That's possible.

Complicit in attendance drop: Not sure about that. Clearly, one of the things about TV (and even this chat) that's different from writing for the $.35 edition is that if you say something -- even sarcastically -- you can't hit "delete." That "31st" comment? Yeah, I've heard about that a time or two.

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One of the few people who will actually miss RFK: I got to drive past the new SE ballpark recently--the night before the final RFK game, in fact!--and it excites me greatly to know that that's where we'll be seeing our games from next year. That complex is just HUGE!

Even so, I'm also honestly sad to leave RFK, because I'll always associate RFK with the return of baseball to DC. Getting the opportunity to see the last two home openers there was more thrilling and more satisfying than words could express, and I'll honestly miss RFK.

Barry Svrluga: I drive by the new park about every two weeks. Every time I go -- including the few times I've been inside -- I am pretty impressed. It's going to take a few years for the neighborhood to settle in. But it really could be a special place to watch a game.

As for RFK: I would think anyone who's a lifelong Washingtonian would have feelings for the place. It makes sense.

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Dupont Circle: Barry, spill the beans. When is the home opener next year? And against whom?

Barry Svrluga: They're still trying to work on that Sunday night opener on March 30, a way to kick off the new ballpark. I don't have the opponent on the tentative schedule, but will get it. Thanks for reminding me.

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Fickmania: I just want to give a shout-out to Robert Fick, who really delivered when given a string of starts at the end of the year.

It seemed from the outside to be a tough, disjointed year for Fick (family issues, lack of consistent at bats) but (again from the outside) it seemed that his positive attitude and personality provided some real leadership during the peaks and valleys of a long year.

I don't know if he'll be back, but we appreciate what he brought to the Nats the past two years.

Barry Svrluga: A good time to give a shout out to Fick, who is hitting .366 in September, lifting his average to .241, and possibly saving his career. I'd expect he gets an invitation to someone's camp next spring, even if it's not Washington's.

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Re: Downtown:"Complicit in the attendance drop"? Please. It was pretty obvious halfway through the year that this team wasn't going to be historically bad, yet attendance still dropped. The problem going into this year is that the team made no visible signs to improve on the field that would encourage people to buy tickets. The question is, what will they do during this offseason to improve the on-field product or will they just sell a new stadium?

Barry Svrluga: The stadium will obviously be a central part of the team's sales campaign, as it should be. But Kasten is on the record that he wants to improve the on-field product as well. But -- and I apologize for flogging Secretariat here -- this is why I consider 2009 the pivotal year for the franchise. The newness of the ballpark will be gone, the season ticket base will have to be robust, and the focus will be where it should be -- on the field, where the product best be improving.

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The Meaning of 71 Wins:71 wins means a lot to Manny and the players. It doesn't mean that much to me as season ticket holding fan. We still had a losing season. Interesting is the fact that they won this many with their core players underachieving, a revolving door for a starting rotation, a cavernous stadium, no big HR guy, and a shaky closer. When I look at it from that perspective, I must take my hat off and give the credit to Manny Acta for keeping this team fighting right up to the end. His leadership and management of this team deserves both a bonus from the Nats and serious consideration for MOY. A masterful job by the rookie manager. Just think what he will do with a really good team.

Barry Svrluga: I think, as mentioned in Sheinin's piece on the Diamondbacks this morning, Bob Melvin is the most likely winner of the NL Manager of the Year award. But over the past couple weeks -- as I've traveled around and talked to a lot of national writers -- Acta will receive lots of third-place votes. (Not likely to get a ton of first- or second-place votes, considering the team will finish anywhere from 12 to 20 games under .500.) When I point out to out-of-town writers that the team is basically .500 for three-quarters of a season, they're stunned.

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Washington: Believe me Barry, we love your stuff etc. etc. but there's no way what you write determines whether we go to the games or not.

Barry Svrluga: Which, I think, makes complete sense.

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Svrluga "complicit in attendance drop"?: Gimme a break. And the media's coverage of the Redskins has led to FedEx being less than half-full for the past year...

Barry Svrluga: Thanks for the support.

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Silver Spring, Md.: The ovation that Frank Howard received was outstanding. It was impossible to hear the introduction from where I sat. I thought the reception was much louder than even his introduction in the first opener in 2005. I think it's because the younger fans who hadn't heard of him in 2005 have since seen the white seats and learned about the man and what he did. It wasn't just us old guys who stood and cheered this time.

Barry Svrluga: Yeah, I'd agree with that. I also think that taking the field with Zimmerman -- stars of past and present -- was a nice touch, even if Howard wasn't a third baseman.

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You can't: chant "Svr." It just can't be done.

Barry Svrluga: It can be in Sarajevo.

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Perplexed: I don't understand something (not unusual). You and The Post, understandably, won't let Kasten dictate the news. You don't just react, you go get it aggressively. Yet, when asked repeatedly about the level of Post coverage of the team, Posties say - we cover the team according to the market interest. Sheinin said yesterday this isn't a baseball town yet. So, I suppose, it won't get baseball town coverage until it is. The Post is reacting, according to its statements, not aggressively acting. Helping to make DC a great baseball town by providing broader news and opinion about the team certainly won't hurt The Post. Why doesn't it then step up its coverage in its own best interest. As a great philosopher once said: Build it and they will come.

Barry Svrluga: It's an interesting discussion, one which I'll touch on if/when I do a Journal post on the subject. What we've found is that the Nationals stories online -- and even the clicks on Nationals Journal -- simply don't stack up to that of the other teams in town. That, of course, could be a reflection of the quality of my coverage. If people think the coverage is poor or not worth reading, then they'll make the decision not to click on it. But it could also be a reflection of the overall interest of the team in town. Something I'm going to look into more in coming weeks is the team's TV ratings. They are 30th and last in all of baseball. That's not good.

As I've said before, other than Boswell, we don't have a columnist who feels comfortable writing about baseball. Mike Wise takes a stab every once in a while, but he's not out at the park learning the players and the personalities because he's got so much else on his plate.

I really do believe, however, that if and when the Nats get good, we'll step up our level of coverage. But the chicken-and-egg discussion is worth having.

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pollyanna: This is probably an insanely optimistic statement...but I would be completely excited to watch this team next year with the kid pitchers a year older, some sort of deal to bring in a professional starter to flesh out the mix, and a legit center fielder with a modicum of power (Torii Hunter?).

The addition of Wily Mo, prospect of a healthy Guzman (not to mention Johnson) and a more stable (and experienced) rotation makes me think this team could be in the mix next year.

In other words...the Nats are much closer to the .500 team we saw most of the year than the 9-25 trainwreck in April.

Or am I just off base?

Barry Svrluga: I don't think you're off base at all. Three-quarters of a season, as I've said, is a pretty good sample size. And if you consider that it's been with lots of guys under-performing, well, then, I suppose you can expect better.

Torii Hunter? Didn't Stan say that big-ticket free agents are unlikely? Yes, he did.

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Section 506 (Before moving): When do you leave for China? Any handicapping on who's going to make your start for you?

Barry Svrluga: I leave next July 31. Non-stop Dulles-Beijing. (Amazing you can do that.)

As for the replacement starter, the pitching coach and manager are meeting about that, and we'll get you an announcement as soon as we can.

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Solla Sollew, Va.: Operation Buck Sez 70 Wins: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Barry Svrluga: Where should I send the buck?

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Louisville, Ky.: I'm hesitant to take a player away from what he's done well, but has there been any talk of moving Austin Kearns to centerfield? He certainly shows enough range in right to make me think he could battle center to a draw.

Barry Svrluga: I think Kearns is one of the better right fielders in the league. (Francouer and his stronger arm also comes to mind.) He can play center a day here or a day there, but I don't think he'd be a good fit every day. Lack of foot speed -- he's not slow, but he's certainly not fast -- would be a problem.

I really think CF is the biggest need for this team in the future.

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CeeJay, Va.: I know you'll be jet-setting to Beijing and all, but what's an interesting offseason Nats' storyline of which the average (or even avid) fan might be unaware?

Barry Svrluga: I'd watch the continued development of the Nationals' presence internationally. I do think their understanding of the talent in the Far East is growing, and that they have an interest in signing one or more players from there at some point soon. They fielded a Dominican Summer League team that won the championship this season -- beating the Yankees' entry -- and while that's a small step involving 17- and 18-year-olds, it's something that was unimaginable even two years ago. I'm going to try to do some stories along these lines in the offseason.

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Herndon, VA: Barry,

You've been to Sarajevo?

Barry Svrluga: Have not.

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Section 121, Row 10: Barry - you rule.

In terms of the Post, the only issue I have with the coverage is that you don't get enough respect from the Sports editor and the Nats don't get enough love in terms of their visibility. Examples include no real link to the Nats Journal that should be on the front page of washingtonpost.com.(at least during the season); the day after a thrilling Nats victory, the Post ran an article on the front of the Sports page on Rugby (and that was intended for whom?); also, Boswell is one of the pre-eminent Baseball baseball writers, but he rarely writes about the Nats. Why?

I hope that you have lots of print room in the off season and still do an occasional chat. Would you consider that?

Thanks!

Barry Svrluga: Thanks for the perspective, Section 121. I have heard similar things from others. I don't think it's a matter of "respect" from editors and others, but rather a matter of keeping the front of the section interesting and relevant, etc. When college and pro football season starts, it's simply harder to get the Nats on the front of the section. If/when they're in a pennant race, they'll be making the decision for the editors, and something else will have to get bumped.

I would argue the point that Boz rarely writes about the Nats. He's out there at least twice a home stand.

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Section 206: I give The Powers That Be a D- for the RFK closing ceremony.

B-O-R-I-N-G.

First of all, seeing these poor old guys try to jog onto the field in the sun was just sad. The jersey thing took WAAAAYYYY too long. We just ended up leaving.

At least the Nats won.

Barry Svrluga: Another perspective. I thought the jersey exchange started too slowly -- maybe an awkward minute or two -- but then was just fine. Screech's entry was kind of a dud (but then, he's no Teddy). But the other stuff -- and, in fact, the entire day -- I thought was pretty cool.

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Dr. Phil: Have you and Stan kissed and made up yet?

Barry Svrluga: Not sure. One of us will call your office for an appointment soon.

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If not Cardiac Cordero - who?: Any ideas on a replacement closer if Chad is dealt? On their current ML roster I think only Ayala would be a likely candidate. Any one from the minors? FA/trade markets?

Barry Svrluga: I actually don't think there are others on the major league roster who would fit the role very well. Ayala, as you said, might be the best choice, but he's still working his way back from that ligament replacement surgery in his elbow in spring 2006. I'm excited to see if he's fully recovered next year.

Cordero is really an interesting case study. Is this year a blip? Or is he already on the down-turn at age 25?

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Bowie, MD:2008: Don Sutton and ... Riggo!!

A no-brainer.

Barry Svrluga: Out of the box, Bowie. Out of the box.

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Barry Svrluga: Folks, I've got to go. Thanks so much for chiming in today and over the course of the season. Please keep in mind that the Journal will live on into the offseason, and that I'm sure to be doing some chats from the road during the playoffs. I'm happy to answer Nationals questions there -- and we'll see what we can do about having some Nats chats in the offseason.

Have a great rest of the day, and enjoy the final four games of the season.

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