Ask Boswell: Nats, Wizards and Orioles

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Thomas Boswell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 4, 2009; 11:00 AM

Washington Post sports columnist Thomas Boswell was online Thursday, June 4 at 11 a.m. ET, to take your questions about the struggling Nationals, the Wizards potential draft future and his latest columns.

The transcript follows.

Discussion Archives

Boswell Column Archives

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Sec 114, Row E: So, given that the Nats are an awful team, why would Strasburg want to sign here? It's a bad team with few fans and no tradition.

Why wouldn't he go the Crow route and try again next year?

Tom Boswell: Because he can ONLY sign with an awful team -- whatever year he chooses. That's what No. 1-overall means.

Does he want to pitcher in mile-high Denver, hurler hell, with the Rox who now have the second-worst record to the Nats? Does he want to play for Oakland which can't get its ancient stadikum problem fixed? They're at the bottom, too.

Or does he want to play in the Nation's Capital in a pretty new park with the No. 3-ranked offense in the N.L. to support him? And a case can be made, whether true or not, that the Nats can be fixed more quickly than most rock-bottom teams because they have some good young pitching and, potentially, a large market.

Look at the history of No. 1 overall picks. Many of them were hugely hyped. They almost all sign and almost always with bad teams. That's the baseball system.

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Jenkins Hill: What do you make of Bowden granting interviews to local D.C. news outlets? I haven't seen it yet but apparently WUSA had a sit down with him. Is he trying to clean his name up in D.C./MLB or is he just an egomanic who loves to see his face/name in the news? What a clown.

Tom Boswell: Bowden certainly has every right to try to "clean up his name." So far, all of the investigations in the Dominican have not produced any final legal determination or any MLB "finding." This is one reason it was wise for all concerned that Bowden "resign."

However, if he were still here, and the Nats were 16-34 -- with a shot at the second-worst ERA in the N.L. since '39 with a staff that Bowden assembled -- would he still have a job anyway. He may also want to defend his "construction" of the current roster, especially the bullpen. The first day Rizzo arrived, he called an emergency meeting and said the bullpen could be a disaster. They signed Beimel within 24 hours.

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Takoma Park, Md.: So, have the Lerners responded to your interview request?

I find their lack of public comments infuriating. This is not national security, it's baseball and if they want our support they need to have a dialogue with the fans.

Tom Boswell: Mark says they will address in public those issues, "In time."

That could be a long time.

So I will address the Nats problems, especially of "accountability" for the current state of the franchise, in a column in tomorrow's paper. It may be on line this afternoon.

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Judiciary Sq., Washington, D.C.: Boz:

In Mark Fisher's farewell column, he made a key distinction between columnists who rely on facts/reporting for their opinions and those who simply opine off the top of their heads. Many thanks for your constant reliance on facts and data -- e.g., statistical analysis of Dunn at this point in his career and the pros/cons of drafting a pitcher at the top of the draft.

On that topic, what are the statistical resemblances for 34-yr-old sluggers just falling off the map? Is Ortiz similar to others who hit a wall, or is this unprecedented?

Thanks

Tom Boswell: From Jimmy Foxx (downhill fast at 33, done at 34) to Jim Rice (fading at 34 and done at 36), there have been sluggers who hit a wall at or before 35. But there have been far more who kept their production up after 35, and even after 40, in the last generation. Maybe PEDs, in some cases, as we now know. But certainly better conditioning, nuitrition, medicine, etc.

However, when it's over, it happens fast. I've told this story before, but I was sitting in the press box in Memorial Stadium in '84 when Kedn Singleton, 37, was in a slump, but was still coming off a decent 84 RBI, 99 walk season the year before.

"Too bad," said Shirley.

"What do you mean?" I said.

"He's done," said Shirley. "He can't get around on the high fastball anymore. I saw it happen to..."

And I think he said Foxx.

Anyway, when they can "get in your kitchen," fastball up and in, it sets up every other strategy.

Ortiz, Fozz, Rice -- is this another Red Sox thing?

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Sterling, Va.: Tom,

If the Nat draft Stephen Strasburg, do you think Ted Lerner will actually loosen up his wallet enough to sign him/

Tom Boswell: Depends. He waited for bargains on Dunn and Beimel and got them. However, the Nats, by waiting, missed their shot at Wolf, Garl,and or Looper, all going solidly for current teams. Also, the Nats got Zimmerman, who's now on fire, at a discount to Markakis. This reinforces his successful business tendencies in real estate, but it is not necessarily a useful lesson for baseball where the rule of thumb is, "Don't buy a team unless you are committed -- to losing money." Until you sell the team and make it back, plus.

I've heard through the grapevine that the Nats No. 1 priority in the draft is to pick Strasburg and sign him. But that their No. 2 priority is to draft Strasbuirg, try to sign him, but if they can't live with the number, get the No. 2 overall pick next year. The lesson, to them at least, of the Crow fiasco was that it wasn't sooo bad. They think next year's draft is deeper.

Lets see, if they lose 110 games, can they get the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks next year? And won't Strasburg be right back in the draft then?

It's a tangled web ...

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Penn Quarter, Washington, D.C.: Tom,

If the development around Nationals Park picks up over the next few years, are we in line for an All Star game from MLB, or will the weather disqualify us anyway?

Tom Boswell: Ha!

Baseball always gives the All-Star game to towns that build new parks -- as soon as the park AND the development area around it is fairly mature so the place shows off to its best effect and also generates the max revenue for the city.

With Re: development in the tank nationwide, that probably sets back an All-Star game until their is some semblance of a "neighborhood" around the park. Tell me when that will be, please? But it will come.

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Manassas, Va.: Do you think Nick Johnson will be with the Nationals past the trade deadline? Assuming he stays healthy (always an iffy proposition), Johnson would seem to be the most valuable commodity that a contending club might be interested in acquiring as a late-season rental.

If Nick does go, how much could the Nats realistically get for him? And, if he goes, just how awesomely-bad would that then make the Nats?

Tom Boswell: I'd say Johnson will be gone by then, but it's more like a 70-30 proposition than 90-10. They probably won't get much for a two-month rental player. If they got a middle-inning reliever like the often-mentioned Manny Delcaermen from Boston, that would be as much as you could expect. So, if the offers stick, they may just keep him. Everybody likes him.

Because Kearns is untradeable, a post-Johnson lineup could still hit, but would be short of LH hitters. Willingham, who can't judge flyballs but is good on grounders, might move to 1st while Dunn, who can track fly balls but attacks every ground ball (and gets "eaten up" by some) may do the least damage and feel most at home in LF. So, Kearns, or Milledge if he's back and healthy, goes to the OF.

Also, the Nats now have a switch-hitting catcher in Bard who CAN hit. He cant' throw anybody out -- something 10 of 120 caught in '07 in S.D. But he'll be used vs RH pitchers. So, without NJ, you have Dunn, Guzman, Hernandez and Bard as LH hitters. Not good. Not awful imbalance.

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Bethesda, Md.: Any chance the Nats and SF are talking trade while the Giants are in town? The Giants are dead last in home runs and runs and have plenty of talented young pitchers - any chance a Matt Cain for Nick Johnson trade is in the works?

Tom Boswell: Bethesda,

Step away from the bad mushrooms!

Good luck with those hallucinations

Boz

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Boston: Do you have any issues with SI putting a 16 year old baseball player on the cover and doing a "prodigy profile"?

Tom Boswell: Oh, great. I haven't seen it yet.

We can't start messin' with 'em soon enough, can we?

BTW, we had a wonderful piece on May 26 by Liz Clarke on Andrea Jaeger, teenage phenom/burnout now 43, who has become a nun who has a ranch devoted to youngsters with cancer.

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Sec 114, Row E: Bos,

Here's a small table of the 15 most used Nats fielders. It shows their position, name, 2009 Fielding Pct, and their career Fielding Pct (excluding 2009 stats), and whether their 2009 numbers are Better or Worse than their previous career totals.

Pos.Name--------2009 FPct/Career FPct (Ex 09): Better/Worse

C..Bard--------.987/.993: Worse

C..Nieves------.972/.986: Worse

C..Flores------.993/.989: Better

1B.Johnson-----.989/.992: Worse

1B.Dunn--------.949/.984: Worse

2B.Belliard----.977/.981: Worse

2B.Hernandez---.968/1.000: Worse

SS.Guzman------.958/.971: Worse

SS.Gonzalez----.909/.989: Worse

3B.Zimmerman---.962/.962: Worse

RF.Dunn--------.933/.963: Worse

LF.Dunn--------.951/.969: Worse

CF.Dukes-------.984/1.000: Worse

RF.Kearns------1.000/.985: Better

LF.Willingham--.983/.984: Worse

Only Kearns (with no errors) and Flores (an improving young catcher) have exceded their previous years' Fielding Percentage. I know that fielding is more objective than subjective, but it's still a decent metric.

Infield practice during BP or 4 easy grounders, whatever. What's the possible explanations for everyone being worse defensively for this team?

Tom Boswell: Great work! I'm jealous.

Pretty amazing. My first guess, if it were a contending team in a pennant race, would be Total Team Tension under pressure. When good teams collapse in the stretch, it usually shows up in tense hitting and gruesome (uncharacteristic) fielding.

Bad teams, especially ones that were expected to be 10 games better, not 10 games worse (!) can feel pressure, too.

Fielding, to a degree, is usually traced back a bit to managerial influence.

However, we had a n ice Nationals Journal piece by Chico recently which details how much fielding practice the Nats ALWAYS take and have since Opening Day. And it's a lot. This "take more infield" flap is a relatively small increase in practice, as I understand it.

Thanks again. Look for reversion to the mean?

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Washington, D.C.: Aside from Dunn, is the live organist at Nationals Ballpark the best off season acquistion the Nats made?

Tom Boswell: Gotta love the "questions."

I'll always try to find a way to post questions here that are better than my answers!

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Re: Rubio and Griffin: Hey Boz,

If you're the Wizards, don't you have to do everything in your power to trade up and get Griffin or Rubio? As in, this year's 5, JaVale McGee, next year's #1 and an expiring contract or even throw in Jamison or Butler? You need two stars in the league to have a chance at the title. To me, this is the only way the Wizards have a shot at the Finals. Trading for a "helpful" veteran ain't gonna do it. Isn't the point to get a championship?

Thanks.

Tom Boswell: Everybody, including the Wiz, seem to love Rubio. If he falls to No. 3, you'd think they would try to trade up for him. But then what about Gilbert's fine showing in his two games as a "scoring-point-guard." More time at the p;oint for Rubio is less for Arenas.

Usually, the trade up, trade down speculation, while fun, doesn't actually happen. They'll probably take their best shot with No. 5. I remember a draft night long ago when the Wiz got Rasheed Wallace. Wasn't that with a No. 5? And GM Nash was very happy. (I'll be glad to 'stand corrected.')

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Silver Spring, Md.: "Baseball always gives the All-Star game to towns that build new parks --as soon as the park and the development area around it is fairly mature so the place shows off to its best effect and also generates the max revenue for the city. "

They haven't even put a single shovel in the ground for Ballpark Village. Or is St. Louis a special case?

Tom Boswell: The St. Louis park is very close to downtown. Easy walk to hotels, restaurants. No need for a Ballpark Village for an All-Star game. So, yes, St. Louis is a special case.

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Vienna, Va.: "Lets see, if they lose 110 games, can they get the No. 1 AND No. 2 overall picks next year?" Even better, let's have another awful year in '10, draft and NOT sign either the No. 1 or the No. 2 and then we can have the top three picks in the '11 draft?

I've read that spin elsewhere so I know the Nats are offering it, but they really can't be that stupid, can they? At some point, they have to spend more money to convince fans (and players) they want to build a winner. Or they turn into the Pirates.

Tom Boswell: No, they aren't that stupid. And I suspect they are "putting it out there."

Therew will be two mon ths of foolishness between the Nats and Boras --two of the most-weakened warriors you could imagine. We all know about the Nats PR black eyes. But Boras is the agent for both A-Rod and manny Ramirez. Nice year so far! Especially if you represent the No. 1 overall and can't get him signed with a team that desperately needs him.

If they don't get this done, a pox on both their houses. The Lerners may be the game's richest owners at the moment. And, from 30,000 feet, the only relative "bargains" in baseball talent are the high school and college kids in the draft. If you lock up a Prior, Wood or Strasburg and they even give you a few dominant, crowd pulling years, you can make back a big contract. And if that pitcher stays healthy and has Piror-Wood drawing power for five years, almost any contract you offer is a bargain.

But, the other side, is the awful record of previous high-pick pitchers. As for Boras, not many root for him. One reason players sign with him. If you want a friend, get a dog. If you want somebody to make enemies on your behalf, but get you the last dollar, hire Boras.

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St. Stephen's grad: Hey Tom. What do you think about the release of Jansen and the possible Heyer/Mike Williams crapshoot at right tackle? I'm pretty sure they're not going to make anyone forget the Hogs anytime soon ...

Tom Boswell: Jansen was always one of my favorite interviews. Honest, a leader, tough. Sorry he's gone.

However, Heyer/Williams does look like a crapshoot. So it tells you how far they thought Jansen had fallen.

You'll notice that Jansen said he didn't like "the timing" of his exit, but that (accidentally) it couldn't have worked out better for him since he got to go back to Michigan to play for Detroit. What a commentary on the Lions. One of the Skins main problems was their offensive line. But the Lions think the Skins weak link is their upgrade. Sometimes you have to imagine 0-16 before you appreciate 8-8. OK, don't appreciate it too much.

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Odenton, Md.: Good morning Mr. Boswell and thanks for the always-entertaining chats.

Regarding an earlier post by you, why would the Red Sox trade a young and very productive Delcarmen for two months of Nick Johnson? Doesn't seem to make much sense.

Tom Boswell: It's a Nats mushroom dream, not a probability.

More fascinating, but unlikely because he's done to much to help Zimmerman blossom, is Dunn to the red Sox where he could DH, play the short leftfield sometimes and, perhaps, with a contract extension, be a 3-4-5 year fix for Ortiz.

Don't think it will happen. Don't prefer it. When you get your No. 3-4 hitters anchored and they play nearly 160 games almost every season, that's a big cornerstone. The Nats would probably be better to try to extend Dunn, who loves the clubhouse leadership role. Yes, some sluggers fade at 34-35. Precious few fade at 30, 31, 32. Dunn is 29.

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St. Louis: Having lived in St. Louis during the Busch Stadium days, "special" isn't exactly the term I'd use. Also lived in Philly when the Vet was still there. Two of the worst stadiums I've ever been in. Milwaukee County Stadium, with it's wooden structures was so much more fun and managed to have a grass field in the frozen north. Who'd a thunk it? And since I'm on a slight snarky rant, is there any chance that Angelos will finally give in and let them tear out that rubberized warning track at the Camden Yards? It's a guaranteed ground rule double if a fly happens to hit it.

Tom Boswell: I hated old Busch. They tried to dress it up on the cheap and did a pretty good job for a few years. But those rabid Cards fans deserved more.

On Angelos: Peter is now one of the game's great owners! Seriously, he finally decided to do the right thing: Nothing. Pay the freight, pat everybody on the back and stay out of Andy's way. It's great to see. It's amazing the amount of pain that billionaires have to suffer in baseball before they realize, "Maybe I should just let The Baseball People do it and stop trying to duplicate my gernius performance in my primary business."

Congratulations, Peter. Seriously. That's an entertaining team and getting better. The minor league stats of their young starting pitchers, like Tillman, are staggering. And Wieters hasn't even started to hit. I don't think his career average will remain below .150. That double he hit in Camden Yards was on a 98 m p.h. fastball.

Speaking of raw stuff, when the Tigers were in Baltimore, in one game, Verlander and Rodney hit 101 m.p.h. on the gun, Zumaya hit 99 and middle reliever whose name I can't recall hit 98. In the A.L., you better pack some serious heat or they ship you to the minors -- or the N.L.

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Writing Your Column: Boz - when you say that you are working on a piece and it will be in the paper tomorrow or online today, is the column already submitted to your editors or do you take breaks to do other things like these chats?

Tom Boswell: Today, it's already done. Last week, my chat was just a little 3,000-word break from column writing. Good thing I enjoy this. Which I do.

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Arlington, Va.: If Kearns is untradeable, at least by himself, why not re-sign Nick Johnson at first base and go with Dunn, Dukes and Willingham in the OF. I would package Kearns with Milledge to cut our losses with them both and some other team will likely take a chance on them together - perhaps the Reds - and not be greedy since this is a fire sale.

Tom Boswell: Wow, an OF consisting of two men born to play LF, on their good days, and a natural RFer in CF who's been on the DL four times in the last year with leg injuries. No, I don't think that's the way to go, as long as MLB allows the other team to gets turns at bat, too.

The market for Kearns and Milledge is infinitessimal. After Milledge showed up late for his own broken-finger surgery, the Nats tried to encourage Lastings to internalize this truth about his current stature in the game.

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re: Angelos: Did you happen to catch Brady Anderson's opinion piece on Angelos in the Sun? It's worth reading.

washingtonpost.com: Viewpoint: Angelos doesn't deserve the bad rap (Baltimore Sun, June 2)

Tom Boswell: Can't wait.

Brady's a smart funny dude, one of my favorites.

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Arlington, Va.: The Red Sox have issues not just with Ortiz, but with Lowell's lack of range at third. Johnson would let the Sox move Youkilis to third and instal Lowell as the DH. That improves their offense and defense at the same time. With Dunn there's not much more improvement (over Johnson) to the offense and you hurt the defense (by forcing Lowell to stick at third).

Tom Boswell: Good points. Thanks. I'll have to call my friends at the Haverhill (Mass) Red Sox Debating Society and Sowing Circle for an update on the 7,000 most likely trade scenarios.

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Busch Stadium: I was in college in St. Louis. Nearly all of my friends were over 6 feet tall. I'm 5 and a half feet tall. We went to Busch for the first time and my knees were around the ears of the fan in front of me. I'd never felt tall until I sat in Busch Stadium.

Tom Boswell: Stop topping my material.

Okay, lokay, keep it up.

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Alexandria, Va.: If Rizzo knew the first day he took over that the bullpen was a disaster, why hadn't anyone spoken up before that? Hoping Bowden would fail and be fired?

Tom Boswell: You don't say, "My boss has built a bullpen that is a disaster."

You might say, "Jim, I snuck up behind Manny yesterday and whispered 'Bullpen' and he fainted."

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Washington, D.C.: Boz, so if the Nats started last night's game at say 11:30 (quite possibly the earliest they could have started it) with so many fans having already left, would the Metro have stayed open? I know this has happened in the past. And if it did, would the Nats help pay for it? From what I've heard the Nats don't help WMATA pay for the overtime costs. I think this would be the biggest slap in the face to their fans if they didn't, especially since it would be their call to delay the game so much. They would be telling their fans "Come here, spend money, stick around for a four-hour delay, but we don't care how you get home."

Tom Boswell: I haven't looked into the Metro angle.

But I have one thought on last night. There's an unwritten rule that if it's raining and you're chances of making the game up without too much trouble, then you should wait more than 90 minutes to "bang it" as a courtesy to fans. But in nightmare scenarios -- Unit's 300th, more rain today (chance going up from 10 percent at noon to 70 percent at 4 p.m., so nice timing on the 4:35 start, guys) as well as no more Giants/Nats mutual open dates all season, you sholuld wait much longer.

How long? The average MLB game that startd at 7:05 is over a bit before 10. I think, even in the worst cases, you should release the fans from bondage by 10 p.m. -- the same amount of time they'd committed to the game anyway.

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Western Alexandria, Va.: Why the Angelo$ lovefest today? He did tremendous damage to the Nationals and that is the lens that Washingtonians should view him through.

Tom Boswell: Look of value in that point.

However, that $24-million a year he's paying for the 12K Nats TV viewers is pretty helpful to the franchise.

On the Nats TV numbers, there's one other possibility. Since it seems counter-intuitive, bordering on impossibility, for a team with a season-ticket fan base of 12,000+ to have only 12,000 home watching their games, it's conceivable that the data is flawed. I assume viewership is low, a problem, etc., but hard to believe it's less than half of the next lowest team. Especially since this is a large metro area versus many smallish towns with bad teams that have much higher numbers. This data didn't come from NASA.

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What a joke...: ...firing Randy St. Claire because he relies on video and didn't turn around Daniel Cabrera.

The Lord Almighty couldn't turn around Daniel Cabrera!

The Saint kept his job when all the other coaches got canned because he squeezed every drop of effectiveness out of Trader Jim's lemons (see Carrasco, Hector; Bacsik, Mike; Redding, Tim). Now that the focus is on developing young starters he's getting surprisingly little credit for the success of John Lannan.

Well, I guess it's not surprising. They had to fire somebody to look like they're doing something, especially after the article on their dismal TV ratings. You can't fire the players (you've already blown up the bullpen twice). You can't fire all the coaches you just hired. That leaves Manny and St. Claire. Manny may yet go, but they're not ready to flush him in early June.

That leaves the Saint as the odd man out. But is escaping the 'Natinals' really all that bad?

Tom Boswell: Did you know that Randy pitched for the Braves in the '91 World Series?

Good luck, Saint.

On the other hand, Steve McCatty will be a fun character. He was part of the '80 Oakland A's staff of Billy Martin and coach Art Fowler that may have used more spitballs, greaseballs and scuffballs than any starting staff of that era. They might as well have changed the team logo to a skull and crossbones. I joked with McCatty about Flanagan and Palmer rattiung his boys out back then. He said, "Ask Flanny what he was throwing there at the end. And Palmer's just jealous."

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Pedro Martinez: I think Tommy Glavine and I could spice up the Nats' rotation. We both could impart years of wisdom on Zimmermann, Strasburg, Lannan, etc., and could probably throw more quality starts than Stammen and that gopherballer Martis. I think Ryan Howard's homer off of Martis is still going. Any chance the Nats sign Tommy and I? What if I drop my price?

Tom Boswell: All winter Kasten wanted to consider getting Glavine, for the reasons you mention, but he went back to Atlanta.

Now, the Nats like their 5-inant rotation, plus Olsen when he's healthy as well as getting a look, at some point, at Ballester who's had four good starts in a row. So, where does Glavine fit? But his ERA in four starts in the minors was 2.25. And he went six shutout innings his last time out. Glavine is 42. Moyer was still bamboozling 'em at 43-44-45. Though Glavine would be a one year, coach-in-residence idea.

Intersting.

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Deviltown, Va.: "Aside from Dunn, is the live organist at Nationals Ballpark the best off season acquistion the Nats made?"

No, the banishment of Sweet Caroline from Nationals Park is better. Addition by subtraction.

Tom Boswell: I hear there's a Kidnap Clint movement over at National's Journal. Man, there are some angry folks over there. Maybe strap Ted, Mark, Stan and a few others in chairs and read 'em the posts for 24 hours straight. I think Mao called it "Reeducation."

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Washington, D.C.: Yo Boz!

I know the Nats' lineup can really mash, but don't you think Elijah Dukes' return has taken it to a newer, more fierce level? They wore out Lincecum and that bullpen Tuesday. Could Elijah's DL stint have been the major problem during that awful late-May stretch?

Tom Boswell: Dukes power is electric. His double was 1-2 feet from a three-run homer. If he could stay healthy... But after four DL trips in a year, is that also part of his MO?

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Arlington, Va.: Tom,

Today's doubleheader only has a gap of 25 minutes between games. I don't see how they will be able to clear everyone out of the park in 25 minutes. Are we actually going to see a traditional doubleheader where fans can stick around for the second game?

Tom Boswell: It's a traditional doubleheader! As I understand it, tix from last night can be switched today for tix of a comparable price to the DH.

My family had tix for tonite anyway! So, after checking for monsoons, my son and I, at the least, may get the one chance we'll ever have to see a DH and a No. 300 shot, too.

Throw in a 2-3 hour rain delay, a 2 a.m. finish, and that's about as good as it gets.

See you folks next week.

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Concerned: I watched Strasburg pitch the other night. I'm not concerned about his velocity being between 93-97 but I am concerned about how absurdly straight his fastball was. I'm not sure I've ever seen a fastball with less break on it. Also, his command with his breaking ball was terrible. Either he missed the zone completely or threw meaty strikes that pro hitters would have crushed. Zimmermann looks like he has a lot better stuff and command than Strasburg. What gives? How do you compare him to Zimmermann right now? Doesn't this best prospect ever thing seem overblown?

Tom Boswell: I did an Impressions of Strasburg blog on Nationals Journal on Sunday. You can find my thoughts on his loss to UVA there. Short version: high end, he's Mark prior or Kerry Wood, but not better. Low end, he's got some Ben McDonald in him.

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Cumberland, Md.: Fascinating article in USA Today yesterday about Ben McDonald's experience with Scott Boras and the Orioles. Even though je got "more money than he ever dreamed of" (and a good thing, given the trajectory of his career), it was the most miserable summer of his life; his mother sat on the porch and wanted to cry throughout it; and 20 years later he he and some of his famiy members are still estranged from other family members, neighbors and friends. And much of his time with the Orioles was pretty miserable, as well.

While I think Boras has done much to ruin baseball, it's always been the American way of life to gouge people for everything they have. I hope the Nats are not crazy enough to throw $50 million at this largely unproven entity.

washingtonpost.com: 'There's nothing guaranteed in this game', only the money (USA Today, June 2)

Tom Boswell: Got to read it. Thanks.

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Friendship Heights, Washington, D.C.: Do you find it at all odd that the Nationals made no apparent attempt to promote the possibility that Randy Johnson could win his 300th game on this homestand?

Maybe I missed it but no sportscasters on TV or radio have mentioned this milestone. And I have seen no ads in the paper nor heard any on the radio or seen any on TV.

Given baseballs reverence for records and milestones, combined with all of the empty seats at Nats games, this seems like sort of a missed opportunity?

Or do the Nats not have any PR or promotions folks?

Tom Boswell: It seemed like a wonderfully kept secret. That's one reason I wrote a column about it. Seriously, this is a rarity. I've never seen a 300th win in my life.

Out of here. Got to go get rained on. Cheers.

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