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Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nats, baseball hot stove, Tiger Woods and more

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Thomas Boswell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 10, 2009; 11:00 AM

Washington Post sports columnist Thomas Boswell was online Thursday, Dec. 10 to take your questions about the Redskins, the Nats, the NFL, the Caps and the latest sports news and his recent columns.

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The transcript follows.

Discussion Archives

Boswell Column Archives

____________________

El Segundo, Calif.: Tom,

I appreciate you pointing out that the Skins haven't quit on Zorn. It seems the more they get hurt and put in the "lunch pail" guys, the better the performance on the field, at least offensively. Is there any chance the owner makes this observation as well, especially when March rolls around?

Secondly, forced answer question, if you were forced to keep only one between Zorn and Campbell next year, who would it be? Thanks.

Tom Boswell: No. The owner has never carried a lunch pail. Dobt he'll ever go that direction.

Campbell, without question. Joe Flacco threw three interceptions on Monday night when the Ravens had a chance against the Packers. But Baltimore wouldn't think of giving up on him. They are comparable QBs. Big, good enough to win with if they are supported by a strong team and both are still improving -- Flacco because its only his second year, Campbell because, at 27, he's still learning his 117th system. And, well, because he's just improving.

Zorn feel a lot more like a head coach now that he did 28 games ago. Ironically, he gives off much more sense of authority now -- when he's been stripped of so much authority -- than he did before. But I'd be surprised if he is ever a head coach in the NFL again after this year. If the Redskins won three of their last four games...with Portis, Cooley and everybody else out...would that get him another job somewhere? Hmmmm. Still doubt it. (1-3, but "with heart," is a lot more likely.)

_______________________

Nats Fan in NJ: Boz - I can't help it, I'm drinking the kool aid and I like the Pudge signing. He's a good bridge to Flores, a good mentor to Flores and the pitchers, esp. the Latino players, he's also a borderline assistant coach when his experience and game knowledge are factored in. I don't care how much they are paying him, the Nats have to pay a premium to get quality players to come to a franchise that lost 100+ games. Also like the Bruney signing. Team Rizzo appears to be off to a solid start.

Tom Boswell: I agree.

You may want to see my column on the Nats, Pudge and Bruney. It's just been put up on the Post web site and will be in the fish wrapper on Friday.

_______________________

Jon Garland: Hi Tom,

Will the Nationals sign me?

Tom Boswell: Oh, they really, really want to sign you, Jon.

Garland is the definition of what the Nats need. Still young at 29. Absolutely consistent year-to-year with no arm problems in 8 full years in various rotations. Career record is 107-87 with a 4.40 ERA and an average of 205 IPs. He won 18 games twice, started in the Series for the White Sox. He's been a 12-game-winner type the last few years, so he won't command as much money as Rndy Wolf who just got $29-million for three years with the Brewers. Also, coming the N.L., his ERA will go down 25 to 50 pts. He's not dominant or flashy. But just what the doctor ordered. Go three years to get him, I'd say.

Of note, Jarrod Washburn was 11th in the A.L. in ERA last year. John Lackey was 12th. They both pitched 176 innings. But Washburn is 35, so the interest in him is much lower and so is the price. Another "perfect fit."

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: I would like to hear your thoughts on billionaire owners and their legacies. Abe Pollin transformed his image through his philanthropy and the lives that he touched. During the weeks after Sean Taylor's death, Daniel Snyder changed his image for a very short period. And almost on the other end of the spectrum from Pollin, there are the Lerners. On one hand, you have a city celebrating the life of a Pollin, who revitalized the city by building the Verizon Center with his own money, and then you have the Lerners who seemingly walked into a city-built building and don't seem to feel that any acknowledgement of that is necessary. Does their legacy or public opinion of them concern them at all?

Tom Boswell: I don't think it concerned them much two years ago. Now, afer 205 loses in back-to-back disaster seasons in that new park, I think the reality of being public figures in their home town -- even if they rarely speak in public -- has hit home. And pretty hard. It should. "The family" extends out considerably beyond Ted. None of them have liked the last two years.

_______________________

Anonymous: Do you feel the Nats will be pursuing Orlando Hudson?

Tom Boswell: Not much. Ronnie Belliard beat him out late in the season with the Dodgers. Hudson's OPS was .774. I think you'd get more offense and defense out of Desmond at shortstop and Guzman at second (where he'll improve defensively because every SS who ever flipped over to 2nd got better instantly -- easier position) than you would with Guzman still at SS and Hudson, a fine glove man, at 2nd.

_______________________

Alexandria, Va.: Boz:

You've written repeatedly that teams should grab sure future Hall of Famers whenever they have the chance. Now the Nats have Pudge, and I admit to looking forward to watching him play, so my bias is clear. I like the deal. Do you still feel that way, too?

Tom Boswell: I've always said that signing a player who will be on the HOF ballot someday is the Best Bet in free agency. they're special. They're motivated self-starters. They have charisma and an X factor, unless they are Known Jerks.

Only buy run-of-the-mill players if the FA market is semi-cheap or the player fits a need. That fits the Nats situation this winter with FA pitchers who solid and proven but far from HOF ballot. Believe me, if the Nats get Garland, Washburn, Pineira, Jason Marquis and/or junkballing Doug Davis, fans will be pleased. All are roughly as good as John Lannan. If the Nats have three Lannan equivalent starters next year, they'll improve a lot. But they have to get one of them, no matter the price. They know it.

_______________________

Novice Redskins fan: So in you opinion, how many of the Redskins top 5 draft picks this offseason should/will be offensive lineman - who are the top prospects?

Tom Boswell: Prediction: If Snyder is still the No. 1 decision maker, and especially if Cerrato is still around, the Redskins will waste their No. 1 overall draft pick on Clausen or McCoy and Campbell won't be back. nd neither Clausen or McCoy will EVER be as solid as Campbell. And for the first couple of years, they won't be remotely ready. Look how Mark Sanchez has struggled and he has much better tools, in my opinion, than either.

Why will this happen? Because it's the worst possible outcome and that's been the Skins history under Snyder.

If a new Chief Decision Maker arrives, then maybe sanity prevails. But Snyder is so commtted to being down on Campbell -- after the Cutler (20 INTs) courtship last winter -- that I doubt he'd hire anybody as coach or GM unless he said, "You're right. Campbell isn't good enough. Look how seldom he pulls out games in the 4Q (which is true)."

I'd say that two of the top five picks go to the offensive line. You can get a ton of quality in the second round and still get starters at 3, 4 and sometimes 5. If you want to waste time having football fun, go to pro-football-reference.com, a wonderful site and look at their draft section. You can make up your own parameters to find things like Ol picks in various rounds.

_______________________

Herndon, Va.: Mr. B:

I think it's reasonable to assume that the Skins will "hit the wall" at some point, and have another lousy game (Kansas City comes to mind). Is this Sunday it? In most games the Skins have played slightly below the level of the opposition - and the Raiders have to be energized after last week's last second win - as opposed to an overtime debacle for you know who.

Tom Boswell: Man, the Skins keep getting hit over the head by these awful loses, then get more bad news every week with somewbody -- now Portis -- going on IR for the year. As you say, when do they throw in a clunker? The Raiders have three nice upsets to their credit despite lousy overall record and stats. Coast-to-coast.

I may have too much respect for some of the key Redskins leaders who are left -- Fletcher, Griffin, Campbell (who now really is seen as a leader within the team). But I think they'll continue to show up and play not just professionally but with the kind of reckless abandon that they've shown the last four weeks. They are very proud of the way they are playing -- though not the results.

Last week here I said I thought the Skins would play the Saints tough into the 4th quarter. But I didn't think they'd have a "won game." Note: The Skins gained exactly 455 yards on offense against the Saints in both '08 and '09 at FedEx and almost scored the same number of points -- 29 and 30.

This week, I think the Skins beat Oakland. But it's never easy. And in the NFL, it's always turnovers. It's pretty amazing the Skins almost broke the Saints streak despite four turnovers.

_______________________

Sec 114, Row E: The Nats were too cheap to get in on Randy Wolf last winter, but had they made a 2 year, $12M offer, they'd be sitting pretty.

Wolf signed a 1 year deal for $5M last year....

Tom Boswell: The think the Wolf deal had incentives that pushed it up quite a bit from $5M. If you care, you can check at Cot's Baseball Contracts.

Still, I remember the day a distraught Nats FO official told me, "We can get Wolf TODAY for three years for $27M." That's a lot. When the FA market tanked in the next six weeks, $27M looked dumb and the Nats semi-smart for not takling it. But, just a year later, it doesn't look stupid at all. Wolf just got $29M for 3.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: You've covered and watched Greg Zaun in recent years. You've covered Pudge? Why was Pudge at this age and in this season worth more than double the commitment in terms of dollars and years than Zaun? Not Pudge at his peak years, but Pudge now.

Tom Boswell: Please, don't put Zaun, whose dirty play at the plate knocked Nick Johnson out for a long time a couple of years ago, and Pudge in the same category.

Here are some of the catchers who had worse or equivalent offensive years to I-Rod last season. And none of them (except Yadier) approach his defense: Geovanny Soto, Cubs .218, 11 HR, 47 RBI. Russell Martin (!!), LAD .250, 7 HR, 53 rbi in 505 ABs). Jason Kendall, Mil, 2-43-.241. Carlos Ruiz, Phil 9-43, .245. Yadier Molina, Cards, 7-57, .259 and .612 OPS to I-Rods (poor) .661. There are several more. And that ignores the bad hitting catchers with starting jobs like Ryan Hanigan, Gerald Laird, Rob Johnson, Dioner Navarro.

Pudge could have gotten the starting job in San Francisco (Bengie Molina a FA), among perhaps a half-dozen places. He prefered the role he has in D.C.

_______________________

Bethesda, Md.: Boz - could you explain this Rule 5 situation where the Yankees will tell the Nats what player to pick for them in the draft (or something like that) for acquiring Bruney?

Tom Boswell: You've got it. The Nats traded a player they didn't even have yet -- their Rule Five slot -- for Bruney.

Why would the Yanks do it? They must think they've spoitted somebody who's a "steal." The Nats weren't especially excited with their ideas for the pick. On the down sie, Bruney has had arm problems over the years. But he's only 27 and he's a moose with a nice mean mound presence. But his wildness means he's probably not a closer, but just part of a generally better pen someday with Drew Storen at the back end.

_______________________

Germantown, Md.: How do you answer the critics who say Pudge has never shown the ability to develop young pitchers, he doesn't participate in meetings, that he calls too many fastballs with runners on base and that he's 38 and can't hit a lick anymore?

Tom Boswell: Nice to hear from Jim Bowden. Most of those things aren't true and, because they are the standard rumors, I've asked over the years. He handled a young Marlins staff -- with Willis 21 and Beckett 23 -- well enough to win the World Series. I've asked Jack McKeon about it. He loved his "handling" of that staff. Pudge has mssed some meetings. The "calls too many fastballs" is nonsense. That's the kind of you-can't-prove-it and you-can't-disprove-it but it makes me sound smart gossip that you'd hear from a Bowden.

As for can't hit a lick, he had nice solid .714 OPS in both '07 and '08. Last year he ticked down. So what? Maybe he ticks back up into the .700's and everybody says, "What a steal." The great players are only comparable to a handful of others who are like them. Look up Bob Boone and Carlton Fisk who both played deep into their 40's. (Pudge just turned 38.) Boone won four of his seven Gold Gloves and had a .295 season. Fisk had many fine hitting years -- "bounce back," people said then.

What Pudge hit last year is the low end of the probabilty curve. The four previous seasons, when he wasn't young, he hit over .280 combined. He can bomb out. But $3M-a-year is a small gamble. That's less than the average MLB salary.

_______________________

Chicago: It's realistic to think the Nats will improve but still not compete in 2010. Under this assumption, do you advocate they deal Dunn for prospects, keep him (+ arb and/or draft picks) or sign him long term as the first baseman?

Is Dunn a good long term Nat?

Tom Boswell: Yes.

And the sooner they extend Dunn -- before he can prove that he is a less-bad 1st baseman than he was a LFer -- the cheaper they get him. If they DON'T extend him, it will be over Rizzo's prone body blocking the door. He loves the guy. And Mike is as Old School and defense conscious as they come.

_______________________

Baltimore: O's Question: Millwood for Ray. What are your thoughts? Personally, I feel like they picked up someone that is an upgrade for their rotation by giving up, essentially, nothing. Ray was never going to be anything more than a mediocre reliever for them and may have even ended up being tendered by the club. My only reservation, is if, because of this trade, the O's stand pat and do not try to add anyone else to the rotation.

Tom Boswell: Great move. And absolutely necessary to stabalize a young rotation with three potentially fine young starters.

The concern of some O's insiders is that the team won't be active enough to upgrade their OFFENSE. In a monster division of killer offenses, they have comic weaknesses at some of the easiest positions to add hitting. The O's pitching weakness was as obvious as it was with the Nats. Just look at the league ERAs. But the O's hitting problems are as easy to see -- especially their lack of POWER. They have some nice all-around hitters, but they need one big bopper in the middle of the lineup to help them.

But Millwood is perfect.

And from the Texas POV, once all the money shakes out, they basically swaped Millwood for Rich Harden and Ray for about the same payroll. They'll take a chance onm Harden's better ability but worse injury history.

_______________________

Weems, Va.: If the Washington professional football team is handicapped by a misguided general manager and owner, and the professional baseball team has just installed a serious front office with real depth(after being so badly undermanned there for years), will we see the Nationals become the winners in the relative standings and fan support position compared to the Redskins? I think the Nationals can be just as successful as the Phillies in the NL East eventually.

Tom Boswell: In two years we'll know. The Caps have already entrenched themselves as a Smart Club and exciting to watch. (Can you believe that last night was the first game of the whole season when the Caps didn't have a lead at some point!)

The Skins have huge needs, all mounting up on them. Lets see: They need a new GM, a new coach, a new running back, two new O linemen and, after/if Campbell leaves, a new QB. Gee, that's not too much for a 4-12/5-11 team to require to get back to being a winner. Uhhhhh.

If the Nats don't see a window over the next 2-3 years to get a nice slice of the fan-support pie, then they are lousy business people. And whatever else you can call them, has anybody ever said they were bad at business? Maybe Pudge is one of those little signs that they get it.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: I was looking through the Post today and did not see any articles on a local Pop Warner Youth Football Team winning the semifinals yesterday to advance to the Division I National Championship game this Saturday. Given the performance of the Redskins, isn't this something that should be covered?

Tom Boswell: Well, it just got covered here!

_______________________

Brian Schneider: Say hello to another catcher who has had worse years than Pudge for the last five years, and played fewer games to boot, while being five years younger than Pudge. Yet for some strange reason many Nats fans out there would have preferred signing me to signing Pudge.

Tom Boswell: Point taken. But Brian was a prince, and a heckuva catcher, when he was here.

_______________________

Salt Lake City, Utah: For a team that has for years played 10+ close games a season, the Redskins have long paid remarkably little attention to the kicker position. This is nuts. Having a kicker who's 100 percent under 40 yards and at least as reliable in the clutch as in non-pressure situations would have had the Redskins in the playoffs a couple of extra times under Norv, probably had them beating Seattle in the 2008 postseason, and have them 4-7 now. Why the inattention?

(BTW, I'm English and I feel the same way about the lack of emphasis put on penalty kicks by the England team: England have crashed out of major tournaments five times in the last 20 years because they have failed in the tiebreak, which is PKs.)

Tom Boswell: Football coaches don't think kickers are real football players, so they don't take them seriously. And, as was the case this week, they are the perfect scapegoat.

Suisham didn't just miss big kicks in the Dallas and N.O. games. His blew a 30-yarder in the 4Q in Seattle to give the Skins a 4-point lead in the playoffs in Gibbs last game; that might have derailed quite a January run. Gibbs certainly thought his team was playing well enough to "go deep" and that miss was a kick in the gut.

However, SS is also the most accurate kicker in Redskins history! Yes, everybody is more accurate these days. But Mr. 18-for-21 will be harder to replace than might be expected. Something else the Redskins now DON'T have.

_______________________

Fairfax, Va.: Back around the time you developed the Total Average statistic for baseball and wrote you first baseball books, Bill James was becoming famous for his Baseball Abstract books. Did you and Bill ever talk back then about baseball stats or baseball in general?

Tom Boswell: We've talked a few times over the years and sat next to eachother a couple of years ago at a White House dinner. Lot of fun. Total Average first came out in the Post in '78, then in Inside Sports in '80. I'd say it was the first such stat, except that Earl Weaver blew that up the day it was published by saying that Branch Rickey had come up with exactly the same stat -- but better -- in the '40's! So I've never cared who was "first" with the New Stats because we were all 30 years too late! It was, lierally, a "rainy day" story to fill out the front page. James was unknown back then, but not for long! He's done great work that I've always enjoyed. And, since I have fanatic Red Sox fan inlaws, it's cool that he was part of putting together the Reverse the Curse team.

_______________________

Denver, Colo.: I'd be more disappointed in Tiger if he cheated at golf. By a mile. Am I that out of touch?

Tom Boswell: I wish to congratulate this self-selected group of chatters on its sanity and maturity -- only two Tiger questions in the whole batch today and I had to scroll down and down just to dig one out!

And it's a good question, too!

Yes, I'd be 100 miles more disappointed in Woods if he cheated at golf. But then I always thought of him as the greatest golfer I've ever seen, not as "hero." He's never shown a social conscience. He's more a video game guy and sports junky than a reader or thinker (outside golf, where he's a brilliant analyst of everything). As I've said to him, and he's agreed, if you want to understand him, you have to think of him a lot more as the son of a special forces father than a Stanford grad. Of course, all that has to go back into the hat as we find out what's real, what's not and what's relevant to our view of him. Which, naturally, is different for everybody.

However, after being around pro athletes all my life, I never think there are any saints. Just normal people with above normal wealth and temptation. That's no excuse. The "redrawing" of the Woods portrait continues, even since I wrote about it last week. And, even if a fraction of what is out there is true, the picture sure isn't getting any prettier.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: Tom,

Who might be on the Nats list of draftees if they do not use the number one pick on the hot shot 16 year catcher, Bryce Harper, "The LeBron James of baseball?"

Tom Boswell: My impression, from Nats scouts, is that Harper is one of several players to be considered but that he is nothing like the "clear No. 1 overall" that Strasburg was.

I keep looking for a column inwhich to mention what the new legion of Nats scouts thought of Strasburg after they all went out to see him pitch in the AFL. Assuming his subluxated knee cap comes back 100 percent, they're comments should warm up your hot stove nights.

Ex-White Sox GM Ron Scheuler said that in 40 years he had only seen "a couple of arms" like Strasburg. He mentioned Todd Van Poppel, on the cover of SI in high school (like Harper) who flamed out. "He's head and shoulders above the other arms...Things comes out of his arm that you just don'tr see."

All ageed that the day they saw him, he threw five pitches 101, six at 100 and that his "comfort zone" was 99. Kasten said he'd never heard of a 99 comfort zone before and everybody laughed. Jay Robertson said that, when other scouts ask him about Strasburg, he just says, "He's two levels better than anybody you're ever seen."

Bob Boone, who usually doesn't exaggerate (too much), said that "his breaking ball is as good as any. His changeup -- the one Spin Williams has been working on him with -- has improved enormously. It has late deth and it's breaking bats at 90-91. Well, the ones who can get the bat on it."

Is this accurate? That's not my problem. This is what they think right now. So, it's "on therecord." Years from now, will it read like prophecy or just make us sad. Gotta wait.

_______________________

Arlington, Va.: A 3.67 ERA (8th in the AL) starter for Chris Ray and a player to be named later? How does McPhail sucker people like this?

Tom Boswell: He's smart. I'd rather have Millwood than Harden. But when has Texas (Nolan Ryan or not) made good decisions on pitchers? The Rangers got up to mddle-of-the-pack last year. We'll see how the Express and his theories fare.

_______________________

Germantown, Md.: If the Nats are going to play in front of empty seats wouldn't you rather they were young, cheap and improving instead of old, expensive, and on the decline?

Tom Boswell: Sorry, Germantown, appreciate the imput, but I think this is a false choice.

A $40M payroll isn't cheap, it's impoverished. Signing one of two FA staters for two years each isn't going to stunt anybody's development. It's just going to take pressure off kid pitchers, get less young arms blown out and allow the Nats to Do It The Right Way.

And the Nats will STILL be near the bottom in payroll next year even if they get everybody they want.

_______________________

Crofton, Md.: Good Afternoon Tom!

How afraid are you that this recent run of "competitiveness" by the Redskins will make Danny think they are on target and stay the course with Vinny? The thought of makes me bang my head on a wall!

Tom Boswell: There are dents in my wall, too.

_______________________

Falls Church, Va.: Tom:

You and I both like Davey Johnson and you finally convinced me that he was retired for good as a manager, but when the Nats brought him into their organization last month, two things came into my mind: the 1993 Cincinnati Reds and Pat Riley.

The Reds hired Johnson as a consultant in 1993, but by midseason, they decided Tony Perez was not cutting it as a manager and replaced him with Johnson, who led the 1995 Reds to the NLCS. Pat Riley, as we all know, made himself the coach of the Heat when he thought the team was a title contender, and did ultimately lead them to a championship that year. Is there ANY chance at all that Nats management will wait until they think the time is right, and then insert Davey Johnson into the manager's seat to try to guide the team to a title?

Tom Boswell: If you want to look over somebody's shoulder and replace him, you usually become the bench coach. That job was offered to Johnson and he turned it down in a blink. He almost died of stomach problems a few years ago. I really believe him when he tells me he will never manage (in MLB) again. Baseball took a lot of hunks out of his hide over a lot of years. I'm just hapy to think aout seing him in Viera. He's one of the smartest, funniest, most sarcastic guys ever. It is really going to be tough for the Nats to stay really bad with the front office people they have hired, the tiny payroll they start from and a core than includes Zimmerman, Dunn, Morgan, Lannan, Strasburg, Zimmermann, Storen, Willngham, Flores and a No. 1overall to come.

As they say in the stock market, "The bottom is in."

_______________________

Campbell v. Zorn: Intrigued by your answer to the first question, and need to ask a follow up: Do you think Campbell is suited to the West Coast offense? (There are many who don't.) So is your answer predicated on the idea that the head coach will change after this season and likely bring in a new offense and one that is perhaps better suited to Campbell's style?

Tom Boswell: I think I was the first to point out, in a 9/08 column on the subject, that Campbell appeared to be the definition of a QB who was anti-West Coast. When the Skins started 6-2, I had second thought. Not now. I was right. He's in the top 15 in passer rating in a system that's the reverse of what should suit him.

_______________________

Alexandria, Va.: Is it very unusual for owners to go on scouting trips, like Snyder did with Vinny to see McCoy play? Also, don't these scouting trips make it pretty clear that Vinny is here to stay?

Tom Boswell: I have "scouted" them both several times on TV. Saved the airfare. Neither will ever been an outstanding NFL QB. Just my WAG. But I'm stuck with my opinion. Clausen had excellent receiver at ND and throws a pretty ball, but to my eye lacks arm strength and couldn't win/lead at the college level. Colt McCoy is Heath Schuler.

That should guarantee that the Skins draft one of 'em. If so, I hope I'm wrong.

_______________________

Fairfax, Va.: Tom, I've asked this question of numerous experts and haven't gotten a satisfactory answer. Please give it your best shot.

Concerning the Nats' possible move of Cristian Guzman to second base, please help me understand the logic in the context of the following facts: Guzman's range is declining, especially to his left. At short stop, he's covered by a Gold Glove third baseman with amazing range to his right, allowing Guzzie to cheat, if necessary, to his left to compensate for his weakness. If he moves to second base, he's "covered" to his weaker, left side by cement shoes Adam Dunn; in other words, his declining range becomes more exposed and a greater liability at second base than at short stop. If the goal is to shore up middle infield defense, why shift Guzzie to second base?

Defense at 2B is no less important than at SS; especially if the pitching staff includes numerous lefties inclined to induce grounders from right-handed batters to the right. Many of the greatest keystone combinations of all time featured second basemen with greater range factors than their short stop teammates. Check these data points for career TC/G:

Nellie Fox = 5.52 vs. Luis Aparicio: 5.01;

Joe Morgan = 5.13 vs. Concepcion = 4.86;

Jackie Robinson = 5.34 vs. Peewee Reese = 5.12;

Lou Whittaker = 5.03 vs. Alan Trammel = 4.59).

What exactly are the facts and logic that make the case that Guzzie will be less of a defensive liability at second base than short stop? I just don't get it. Thanks for considering -- really appreciate your insights.

Tom Boswell: This is something you "know" but can't prove, from actually playing the game. I played st and a little third base in high school, but I could have faked it at second base. At short stop, I would have been a joke. Every play is easer at 2nd. You can dive for almost ANY ball and still have time to throw out the runner. Guzman has a gun arm and he's still fast. Watch him run out a triple. You don't dive going to your left at SS very often because there's no point -- you can't get the runner. At 2nd, guys like Utley, who couldn't survive a week at SS, dive for tough balls and make "great" plays. Guzman will make so many "great" diving stops and throws going to his left that you won't believe it. But it's simple. It's a much easier position. His range will immeditaley go from average and declining to above average and "why didn't we do this two years ago?"

Sorry to actually have a firm opinion. Plenty of 'em are wrong. If this one is, I'll be surprised. Good Lord, Rich Dauer played 2nd for a century and couldn't move off a dime -- but "diving" let him be adequate (and very sure handed). Wait until you see Guzzy throws from behind 2nd -- a shorter throw than from deep short. I just hope he buys into the switch. He played 3d in an All-Star game and looked confident and made a nice play. This guy thinks he is a great defensive infielder. He isn't. But he could be a heckuva 2nd baseman. Charges the ball great.

We'll see. At any rate this is m last best attempt at an answer.

Cheers and see you all next week.

_______________________

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