Ask Boswell: Nats Spring Training, Stephen Strasburg, MLB, Olympics and more

Thomas Boswell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 25, 2010; 11:00 AM

Washington Post sports columnist Thomas Boswell was online Thursday, Feb. 25 to take your questions about the start of Spring Training for the Nationals, Stephen Strasburg's development, Mike Rizzo's additions, the rest of Major League Baseball and the Olympics.

The transcript follows.

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Reston, Va.: Bos!!! Oh how I missed these chats ... so, now that Detwiler is out for a while who's in your starting five rotation for the Nats? Is there a sleeper in the wood pile mister?

Just curious, Sheinin and Harlan, throughout the years, have told us about their musical preferences, what's in the Boswell MP3 player these days? Mind you I'm in my forties so nothing will be loss with me.

Tom Boswell: I missed them, too. But I think it's a bad idea to chat when you're on vacation. When you're trying to give your brain a writing break you just don't keep up with everything the way you do normally, even if you're a sports addict. So, you're likely to say something stupid if you chat. Also, I actually try to prepare for chats and have two or three ideas -- maybe a little stat study -- of a subject that I've stumbled across in the previous week. There are lots of "small columns" that never get written. Writers joke, "What is the sixth paragraph?" You have an opinion or something you think is interesting, but it isn't 1,000 words worth of interesting. So, chats really appeal to me. (I like them even more because because it's so nice to get to hear so many reader's voices and -- in their questions -- let them have a say too.


Tom Boswell: Let me follow up that first question with a guess at the Nats rotation. Marquis and Lannan at the only obvious choices. More than in any position in any sport, pitchers have to be judged with two entirely different measuring sticks -- ability and durability. You can see ability instantly. It takes years to establish an MLB pitcher's durablity. Once that reliability is torn down by injury, I think it's usually quite serious. Everybody focuses on the nice "comeback" stories. But the ugly norm is that once a talented pitcher like John Patterson, Chad Cordero or Shawn Hill starts showing up with big scars on their elbow or shoulder, I operate on the assumption that they will never be the same -- until proven otherwise. And the second scar is really a "tell" about durability.

Detwiler would have been in the rotation with even a decent spring training. I'm not going to believe in Olsen or Wang, much as I'd like to see them do well, until we actually see them succeed in game situations. I wouldn't guess them as part of a rotation. That's why I think signing Livan Hernandez yesterday was important. The Nats shrugged. To them, he's only a worst-case alternative. They want the young pitchers to step up. Mock, for example, has exceptional stuff but drives everybody crazy because he's seen as an underachiever. I think the Nats will give Mock a big chance here because his up side is significant. Also, Stammen had a fine year last year before his injury.

So, out of 20 permutations, I'll go with Marquis, Lannan, Stammen, Mock and Livan. And I'll change my mind within two weeks. Perhaps what's most important is that the nats can now tick off 10-11 starting pitchers would could be in their rotation -- including Strasburg. That's a big change.


Tampa, Fla.: Hey, Boz. As pleased as I was about the Nats offseason only one month ago, I now feel let down. Perhaps I just got spoiled by their early efforts (Pudge, Marquis, Bruney, Capps), but I feel like they desperately needed another starter, and it also seemed like they gave away Orlando Hudson. I understand that Hudson was seeking more money, but as you have noted repeatedly, the Nats must be willing to overpay if they want to entice good players to come to a 100-loss team. Regarding pitching, I understand that certain factors are beyond their control (for example, Garland wanted to play on the west coast), but even bringing Livo back as an "innings eater" would have been preferable to not signing a second starter at all. The Wang signing doesn't count. It will look ingenious if it works, but what are the odds of it working? At least John Patterson and Shawn Hill (and Jordan Zimmermann, unless our luck changes) were homegrown heartbreaks. Do we really need to sign broken arms from other teams?

Welcome back, Boz. We've missed you here.

Tom Boswell: I felt the same way -- a great first half of the offseason and a disappointing second half. Stan Kasten just hunted me down while I was chatting to complain about my being too harsh to ownership. I told him that I might have been one level too harsh this morning ... or maybe not. (If the worst thing I ever do is say that an ownership with a net worth of $3-billion should put another few million into the payroll into a team that lost 102 and 103, back-to-back, in a new publicly financed ballpark, then I can live with that.)

A bigger budget, ever $5-6-7 million bigger, changing the whole front office thinking -- the shape of the battle plan -- before the winter even begins. You can aim at different, and slightly better players, and you can also pay the last-place premium to get a Hudson.

After last year, the Nats wanted to sign Garland, Hudson, Chapman, upgrade their closer, resign Olsen, maybe resign Livan, get a vet catcher who could start and probably a couple of other lesser things.

They ended up with Marquis (their No. 2 preference, I suspect, and he would have been my No. 1 choice in that group). They had to settle for Kennedy, not Hudson. I think that's more a Rizzo talent decision. He offered $4M plus $1M in incentives. Hudson got $3.38M guaranteed, but his plate appearance incentives took him perhaps $250K above the Nats. They didn't LOVE Hudson, so they aren't unhappy with the Kennedy compromise. But Hudson WAS their clear first choice and they didn't get him.

Capps, with a 5.00+ ERA last year, is probably a good enough closer. But I doubt he was their first choice going into the winter.

The big disappointment isn't anybody's fault because the Nats did a great job of keeping a secret -- Chapman. "Someone" just told me, in grouchy voice that, "We offered him $25 million, not $23 million." Amazing how a little criticism brings out greater specificity in responses. Nobody in baseball thought anybody -- much less the Reds!!?? -- would offer Chapman $30 million. The Nats really thought they'd get him -- unlike Teixeira, whom they knew was a longshot. The industry seems to buy the notion that the Nats were a strong second in that chase. The Lerners certainly get credit for that.

Also, now that the off-season is over, I doubt I'll see much reason to return to budget issues for quite a while. But it needed to be wrapped since it's been a legit on-going debate for 18 months. The Nats have made a LOT of progress in this area. I think they need to take one more step. The Dunn extension will be an extremely good test. All the baseball people rave about him. Will they be supported?


San Jose, Costa Rica: Hi Boz,

There's been some chatter lately about the American League doing away with that abomination known as the Designated Hitter. How likely is that, and how soon would it happen? And what would be the ramifications for the players?

Hope you had a fun vacation (preferably warmer and with less snow than DC)!

Tom Boswell: If I hear any serious talk about killing the DH, I'll tell you ASAP. But I think it's here as long as Selig is commissioner. He kind of "likes it both ways." I hate to say it but, for years, I've enjoyed the variety of two leagues with two different variations of the sport. I thought that with time it would be clear which was better. I'm most amazed that the debate HASN'T resolved itself. If you'd told me when the DH came in that "in 2010, people still won't be clearcut on DH or no DH," I'd have said, "What????"

We did get someplace warm for the proverbial "six days and five nights" and we did luck out and miss the second snow storm. I guess it was the third biggest of the winter. But, basically, I looked at the same snow as everybody else for most of my escape. I loved it all.


Say Hey: Have you read the new Willie Mays bio? Do you agree with the characterization that he carried the stigma of someone who didn't perform in the clutch? Was he the A-Rod of his day, minus A-Rod's 2009 postseason redemption?

Tom Boswell: Surprised to hear Willie take that position. Granted, I only became aware of him about '57 and worshipped him enough -- like everybody else then -- that I couldn't imagine he wasn't considered "clutch." I'd have said that he was and that was how people saw him. However, if HE thought so, then he may have inadvertantly handed that impression onto his godson Barry Bonds. One more family burden (out of many) for Barry to carry in a career where he didn't break out with a great clutch post-season performance until very late.


Bethesda: Tom -- Speaking of the walking wounded, what's the chance Jordan Zimmermann gets into the starting rotation this season?

Tom Boswell: I hope they hold him back as much as humanly possible. I thought that both Patterson and Hill felt continual pressure to come back as soon as possible, or pitch with discomfort, because the Nats staffs were so thin and, frankly, pathetic, without them. Now, there is no excuse to rush anybody. Pitchers like Stammen, J.D. Martin, Martis, Mock, maybe Balester, Livan, etc., can eat up innings until Zimmermann is 100 percent and Strasburg has as much seasoning as his performance in the minors suggests that he needs.

In short, I don't want to see Strasburg before June and if he isn't called up until September, that's fine with me. And I don't care if Zimmermann is called up in September (though he probably will be) as long as he's fit for '11.

Of course everybody here talks about '11: Strasburg, Wang, Marquis, Lannan, Zimmermann, Detwiler ... (Olsen and on and on). Talk proves nothing but, after the horrid staffs of Bascik, Jerome Williams, Ramon Ortiz as ace, it shows how far the Nats have come in the last two years as a credible team.


Gaithersburg, Md: What is the situation with Shiron Martis? At the beginning of last year, he was the Nats best starter. Then a few rough outings and he was sent to the minors.

Now he doesn't even seem to be in the conversation for the No. 5 starter spot. Have the Nats lost faith in his potential, or is it just a case of Strasburg and other newcomers getting all the attention and Martis quietly going about his business and doing just fine?

Tom Boswell: The Nats have a mob of starters here. And Wang should be on the way in May or June with Strasburg, perhaps, not far behind. So a LOT of young guys know that they need to swell up and show to their best advanatge down here. Of course, that's how it is on NORMAL teams. The Nats now feel like that. Not a winning team yet, perhaps, but a normal team and one with more potential than many because Strasburg and Storen have looked so good and that No. 1 overall pick is still sitting there in June.

B ergmann said, "There are 32 pitchers in camp and 31 of them are in shape. Nobody comes to spring training to get in shape anymore. You arrive in shape and show what you've got."

As for Shairon, he's bainy, loves Maddux and, I suspect, will be helped by Marquis who is heady and, I hope, will help this staff develop more quality "cutters." J.D. Martin has a good one. That's why he was 5-4 with a 4.44 when his stuff didn't look very good.

Dunn was wonderful talking about the important of the cutter in the modern game. Adam says that, when he was younger (new Nat) Miguel Batista was "the nastiest guy I ever faced in my career." His cutter was the reason. "The cutter just eats people up, especially lefthanded hitters when it gets on your hands," said Dunn. "Look at the best pitchers now that throw a great cutter -- Chris Carpenter, Wainwright, Josh Johnson, Roy Halliday, on and on. Everybody -- sinker and cutter. That one little stupid pitch makes so much difference. If I could throw one, I'd be out on that hill -- well, maybe for one inning."

Dunn, by the way, is a Top 10 all-time fun interview. Smart, funny, honest -- just the way he seems.

So, in Marquis and Batista the Nats have two vets who may be able to I


Nats vs. Caps: Lets' compare here. Caps owner Ted Leonsis will be hosting a chat on the WaPo and no one seems able to get the Lerners to agree to an occasional interview to discuss their team. The Lerners should take some lessons from Ted. Seriously. I am not into 'Lerner bashing', but they bring a lot of this on themselves by just throwing Stan Kasten out there to be the franchise spokesperson.

Tom Boswell: Kasten has always been ferociously loyal -- to Ted Turner, now the Lerners. He's a good guard dog to put in front of the mansion. But it puts him in an odd position. Rizzo, of course, is so delighted to be a GM that he could care less what his payroll is. He's just glad he finally GOT one to use. However, this was unique winter for the Nats with $20 million in contracts coming off the books -- Kearns, Young, Nick Johnson, etc. It was a huge one-time-only shot to add talent during a weak economic period when MLB salaries were, in many cases, as sane as they ever get. The Nats probably get a "B" for how they hamndled it. If Wang makes a big comeback, that grade goes up. But they had an "A" in the works on 1/1/10. It didn't quite pan out. But the front office really tried and, I think, did a fine job with what they had.

The Lerners are very private (and also extremely nice people, imo.) They have made a lot of progress -- okay, just in my opinion -- since the moment of their first Teixeira bid. The pattern is a very positive one. But when I looked at the Wang-Kennedy-Livan conclussion to what had been Marquis-Pudge-Capps fireworks, I just felt that one last overview look at the winter was needed.

Overall, I think this is going to be a very entertaining season and, I hope that the budget talk -- which is essentially an annual off-season debate (in every town) -- can take a backseat now to baseball.


Tracys Landing, Md.: Do you get the feeling that the Nats are holding back on overpaying for free agents until the rotation sorts itself out? If your 2011 dream rotation of Strasburg, Wang, Marquis, Lannan and Zimmermann are all healthy and in-form in 2011, it doesn't appear it would take too much more to make them a contender.

Tom Boswell: People in baseball think the Nats have a chance -- by '11-'12 -- to be a serious enough team that they will have to decide whether to "go all in" and really try to get near the top of the heap. Of course, plenty of things have to go right. But at least now, it is conceivable.

That would be a nice "problem" to be able to discuss someday.


Western Alexandria: While it is self-evident that Mike Rizzo is a better general manager than Jim Bowden, I still have concerns about him. For example, I think he may be candid to his own and the team's detriment. His "one will fall to us" comment comes to mind. That doesn't sound good at all for the team or any pitchers thinking about signing here. I'm troubled by the mentality, it comes across as defeatist. Is the lack of Lerner spending part of that mentality?

Tom Boswell: I remember that. I think he is just very honest. That's fine. It doesn't seem to be a destructive kind of reckless honesty. He had a very clean strategy -- in retrospect. Nail down the three Absolutely Necessary signings -- a legit starter, a better closer and a vet catcher because the Nats are really concerned about Flores shoulder. Rizzo knew what his budget was, though he didn't reveal it, and he knew that the only way he'd get his whole wish list filled -- within budget -- was if people like Hudson "fell" to him in a soft market.

Some will say that the obvious "other pitcher" that the Nats didn't get was Doug Davis -- just put him down for 200 innings and a 4.30 ERA every year for the last six years. He's a perfect part of a "bridge" to Strasburg, etc. And he signed for $5M with a mutual option for '11. Not big money. He's the guy the Nats could, presumably, have gotten just by saying, "Two years, $11 million guaranteed." Done deal. Though Davis is 34, it would hardly be rash.

Dunn, however, has changed my mind about Davis being the obvious Nats mid-priced mistake (4.12 ERA in 203 innings last year was typical).

"I love Doug Davis is death. He's one of my buddies," said Dunn. "But the team feels that we already have better (pitchers) in house and I think we have better, too. Just to sign Davis so we could say that we did doesn't make sense to me. I'm not knocking Doug. He's a gamer, takes the ball, always puts up those solid numbers.

"But we've got better right here. They just have to mature and take the next step up."


Anonymous: Is there anything that Strasburg can do during Spring Training to make the major league roster for opening day?

Tom Boswell: He's been perfect so far. He's more relaxed than when I saw him as the All-Star game and after his signing last year. He has a very bright, intelligent face and that is crucual for a pitcher (or a quarterback). You look for the light in their eyes. They don't have to be book smart, but they have to have intelligence -- which, I assume, comes in dozens of forms. Strasburg has it. No doubts. This is a very bright clubhouse -- Zimmerman (U-Va.), Dunn (1300 college boards), Storen (Stanford), Morgan (razor sharp), Marquis (very intense, could be a staff leader), Justin Maxwell, Lannan, Stamnmen, Strasburg, Martis, Batista (the poet), etc.


Rockville, Md: Tom,

Great work by the way. We are blessed to have you as OUR hometown writer!

In a blog, Chico had the following opening day lineup: Morgan, CF

Guzman, SS

Zimmerman 3B

Dunn 1B

Willingham LF

Dukes RF

Kennedy 2B

Rodriguez C


Is it just Spring Training optimisim or is this really a good lineup? It looks pretty darn good to me right now! If the team stays realtively healthy, they should put up a decent amount of runs, which only leaves pitching and defense as the keys to the season. I know a big turnaround is unlikely, but given the lineup above, and again assuming no major injuries, can Nats fans dream of a .500 season this year or is this totally unreasonable?

Tom Boswell: No. .500 is not totally unreasonable. Marquis and Pudge refuse to buy the idea that .500 is a good goals. They say, "Aim for the playoffs and adjust." That's the right idea. It's not their job to be coldly realistist. It's their job to live in a '40's John R. Tunis world (like "The Kid From Tomkinsville) where the star rookie makes the team, all the chemistry meshes and the previously last-place Dodgers win the pennant.

I was joking with Dunn about that and he said, "Yeah, but that stuff actually HAPPENS in baseball. Like, every year, a couple of teams are just wildly better than people thought. Things really can 'come together.' That's why the game is so cool and spring training is so much fun. Guys who actually play the game know, 'It COULD be us.'"

Dunn said, "I'm taking "700 ground balls a day on the way to 1,000."

"Then 10,000," said Kasten.

Every stat study says Dunn will make 15-to-20 errors and have poor range (though he seems good on low throws and is a big target). However thnat turns out, you couldn't ask a guy who's averaged 40 homers fvfor the last six years to work any harder at a new position.

"He's always out there at first base. He was down here with the pitchers and catcher way, way before he had to be. Whatever happens, you just gotta love the guy," said Kasten.


Herndon, Va.: Mr. B:

Boy, talk about putting too much pressure on a rookie - Strasburg is already called "Jesus" and he's compared (by Pudge, no less) to Nolan Ryan? I just hope he gets through his first year with most of the season in the bigs, a few wins, and no injuries. Nats' Rodriguez terms Strasburg 'amazing' (Washington Post, Feb. 25)

Tom Boswell: Adam Kilgore, our new beat writer who covered the Red Sox and Pats for the Bolston Globe last season, had dinner with Chico and I last night at Bonefish Willy's. (Ron Villone sent over a round of drinks.) Adam made the good point that everybody talks about the high draft picks and phenoms who blew olut there arms, but, he said, a lot of them had 2-3-4 very flashy seasons before it happened -- like Mark Prior.

Everybody wants Strasburg to pitch for 15-20 years. No way to even guess if it will happen. But it is reasonable to think that the odds favor him staying on one piece for severtal years and it's going to be very hard for him not to be quite good or VERY good because his stuff, his brains and his stable demeanor really are textbook.

prior, drafted in '01, went 18-6 with a 2.43 in 211 innings in '03. Andy Benes, drafted No. 1 overall in '88, was 10-11 with a 3.60 in 192 innings in '90 and 15-11, 3.03 in 223 innings in '91 at age 23. Ben McDonald was 8-5, 2.43 in 118 IP the real after he was drafted and was a 13-13 workhorse with a 4.24 in 227 innkings by age 24.

Nobody knows where Strasburg's career will be in 2020. But he's probably going to be very good very soon and stay that way for several years, like Kerry Wood or, with luck Dwight Gooden. Then you kind out the long-term answers about whether he has a "great" career.

He seems to handle the pressure very well. And it may help that the Nats "press contingent" is so small that it feels like they're the late-'70s Orioles. (Or maybe the '50's Senators, for all I know.)


Annandale, Va.: Is Desmond ready to be the long-term shortstop? Does this make Guzman expendable? And after Morgan, Willingham and Dukes, who's our top outfield prospect?

Tom Boswell: Desmond will probably be the SS in '11. Riggleman is enormously high on him. Rizzo loves his range and athleticism. Will his strong arm be accurate enough? He had some wonderful moments in late '09, like the home run that almost hit the Red Porch restaurant -- a Dunn-length 450-foot homer. In the future, Espinoza is a real prospect. The nats now actually legit future everyday players. Okay, maybe not many, but Derek Norris has "'12 catcher" written on him.

Everybody would love to see Maxwell (U-Md.) continue to hit to all fields with power -- he hit two enormous, almost silly opposite-field homers in September. If he waits on the ball better, he should strike out less, have a better average and get his superior glove and speed into the OF. He hit a bal;l almost 1/2-way up the RF stands in Miami that I almost couldn't believe. That HAS to be a central part of his game because his minor league K totals have been astronomical and he hasn't hit the ball "where it is pitched" as much as he needs to. It looks like the ability to do it is in him and Eckstein is a fine hitting coach.


Arlington, Va.: Things are looking up for the Nats: signing Strasburg; making many needed moves over the offseason; hiring a manager who understands how to motivate a still young team; and having injured stars like Morgan returning are all great things. By objective measures, I should be ecstatic ...

... So why do I have this lingering feeling that that Nats, like the Redskins, will be offseason champions? Can you help assure me that, even if the Nats aren't contending for the pennant, they'll show signs of life like in the second half of last season?

Tom Boswell: The Nats '09 run-differential predicted that they should have been a 66-96 team, not 59-103. That's generous, but it's part of the picture. If Marquis pitches 207 innings, that's the equivalent of 23 full games. He'll give up perhaps 45 less runs in those games that the 5.50 to 6.50 ERA pitchers who got those starts last year (like Daniel Cabrera.) Those 45 runs -- just Marquis' contribution -- would be "worth" about five wins. (45/9 = 5, which is about how the ratio always works out.)

You can look at the other additions and see how many rusn you think they are worth over those they replace.

The sensible prediction is that they'll be 10-to-15 wins better. Partly because they weren't really 103-loses bad last year (statistically), partly because they got better as the year went a long with a rebuilt bullpen and Riggleman and partly because they had a good off-season.

If Strasburg has a Big Ben year like '89 as an O's rookie -- 8-5, 2.43, 118 IP -- that would be a boost, too. Don't ask for 2.43 -- 3.43 would be excellent and 4.43 wouldn't be bad. Something like that for No. 37 in '10 is not an unlikely development.


Re: Strasburg: Boz, I thought the Strasburg column was great. It's hard to explain how excited we fans get at the thought of having that kind of talent appear on this team.

I also thought the comparisons made in the column were very instructive. Here are the names used as comparisons to him: Nolan Ryan, Justin Verlander, Dwight Gooden and Mark Prior.

One of them's a Hall of Famer (a guy who took a little while to figure it out at the big league level). Verlander's maybe the best young pitcher in the game at 27.

The other two are the most interesting. Yes, the Nats should be able to learn from what happened to Prior and not overuse Strasburg.

But what if he turns out to be Gooden? Gooden is seen by some as a guy who got too much, too soon and didn't fulfill his promise. But he won the Rookie of the Year, the Cy Young and the World Series in his first three years in the big leagues.

Even if he crashed and burned after that, I'd take those results for Strasburg right now. Nats' Rodriguez terms Strasburg 'amazing' (Washington Post, Feb. 24)

Tom Boswell: I was pleased that those four names appeared. Kerry Wood would be another -- same buiuld, similar stuff.

Studies show that pitchers' arms need some protection until they reach 25. Strasburg's still 21. Motto: Be excited, but act sensible.


Silver Spring, Md.: You're on vacation, TK gets suspended from PTI - it's been HORRIBLE around here. Thank GOD you're back!

My take on Tiger - I was not expecting so much self blame or contrition from him so I came away quite impressed with what he said at last Friday's press announcement, yet the media including you blasted him. What am I missing?

Tom Boswell: Don't worry, TK will be back in a blink.

I certainly hope my YTiger column didn't sound like a blast. I was also impressed by the level of self-blame and accountability and thought the first 6-8 graphs of the column made that very clear.

But this is an enormopusly complex subject, not just the "he's sincere-No, he wasn't" debate that many reduced it to. It seems like he is taking his VERY intensive rehab -- 45 straight days, then right back in -- very seriously. And all his words sounded like they reflected a 12-step program approach. That's all to the good.

However, I saw one psychiatrist quoted as saying that Tiger's speech was "Sincerity in the service of survival." You can't ignore the enornous financial impact -- over the next 20 years -- of whether Tiger's apology is "accepted" by the public or whether there is long-term resistance to him. If he can save his marriage and get half of his old fans and sponsors back, I think it could amount to a billion dollars difference to the corporate side of Woods, Inc., over the rest of his long career. I didn't want to ignore the hall of mirros aspect of such a closely-staged appearance and the simple fact that every spin-master point was touched. It was sincere and personal. And it was, though perhaps to a lesser degree in my (generous) opinion, corporate and a matter of rebranding. It CAN be both at the same time. And I think it was.


Dunkirk, Md.: Are the Nats stuck with Dukes in right-field?

Tom Boswell: The Nats have a RF option in Maxwell, but Dukes certainly starts camp with the position in his hands.

A couple of off-season notes. The biggest trades that the Nats may have been fairly close to doing would have gotten Jonathan Sanchez from SF, where he pitched a no-hitter last year, with Willingham presumably in the trade; also, they dreamed about Seattle second baseman Jose Lopez (26 homers, 96 RBI) and offered young pitching (not Lannan). Doubt they got too close to landing Lopez. This is an era of fabulous second basemen.


Carson City, Nev.: Boz, just a quick answer will suffice please good sir. Who will have a winning season first, the O's or Nat's? And which, in your opinion, will continue the winning tradition after having that first winning season? Thanks!!

Tom Boswell: My guess is that, in '11, the Nats and O's combined record will be (a little) over .500.

This is hardly "optimism." The average team, by definition, plays .500. It just SEEMS like a high goals. The O's young players are arriving a little sooner. But Stasburg and Storen could have a big impact by '11.

It's been fun. But even for a long chat this is getting outta hand! Just delighted to see it all starting again.

The sky here is a cloudless blue, the field a perfect green. Yeah, yeah, it's windy and chilly today, blah, blah. But it was actually humid the last two days and I haven't seen a six-foot snowdrift in 72 hours. All's right (enough) with the world.

See you next week.


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