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

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Thomas Boswell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 4, 2010; 11:00 AM

Washington Post sports columnist Thomas Boswell was online Thursday, Feb. 25 at 11:00 a.m. ET 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 his latest columns from Spring Training.

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The transcript follows.

Discussion Archives

Boswell Column Archives

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Tom Boswell: Don't think there have been too many Thursday's when there were more fascinating subjects to talk about.

The Caps add four players and make it clear they think that This Is The Year. I really like the moves. A good sign that the Caps could win a tight goalie's duel last night against Olympic MVP Ryan Miller.

Maryland knocks off Duke on Senior Night. What a great (crazy) shot by Vasquez -- a career-summary moment -- in the final minute for a 73-69. Over the shoulder, no backboard, rattles, goes up, drops in! Coach K's face said, "It's over."

So, has anybody figured out the NFL's Scary New World? I'm trying. Looks like the Skins are OK with keeping Campbell and are showing him some respect but, by tendering him as they did (a No. 1, not a No. 1 and No. 3), they are also sending a message: If you'd like to talk trade, give us a call and we might not demand a No. 1 pick.

Strasburg, of course, is still the buzz for next Tuesday's first exhibition start. I'll be there. CBS Evening News just sent a crew down to do a piece (for Sunday, I think) on him. I'll do a shot with them this afternoon.

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El Segundo, Calif.: Tom,

Gold medal hockey--I was a bit bothered with the switch to 4-on-4 for overtime. To me it really changed the feel of that game. While regulation favors team play more, the OT seems to favor individual talent more heavily. And what happens, the most talented guy on the ice, Crosby, puts it in the net with a bang-bang play. I imagine even some purists north of the border would agree. Thanks.

Tom Boswell: I like the 4-on-4 style in overtime. But it does open the ice and give an edge to talent. Annoying to see Crosby score the game-winner while Ovechkin and the Russians didn't make the podium. But maybe that'll just make Ovie and Seimin a little more ornery if they meet the Pens in the playoffs.

Wilson, the only coach to get the Caps to the Stanley Cup finals, is a favorite of mine. He really thinks outside the box and loves to look for analogiues between various sports. He's a big baseball fan. I wondered if, in OT, he might try something crazy -- both to try to win the game and also to take pressure off his own team (make losing "his fault) and put the Canada team back on its heels. But I couldn't figure out what that could be. You can't just pull the goalie -- could you? That's how they tied the game in the last 30 seconds; but, in empty net situations, I assume the team that's already leading scores 3-4-5 times as often as the desperate team ties up the game. Does anybody know that ratio in the NHL? Just a very (crazy) thought.

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Harrisburg (Senators), Pa.: Stephen Strasburg's arm needs to be developed by mastering skills at the double A level and then eventually moving up to the major leagues. It makes no sense to burn out his arm and possibly destroy his self confidence by starting him in the majors. Yes, he needs to begin in double A. Oh, my, I wonder in what city the double A team is?

Tom Boswell: You are exactly right. And if they star serious thinking about starting the season with Strasburg in the majors, I will go semi-nuts, I expect. SS will start in Potomac because it's warmer, then head to AA in Harrisburg and, if he pitches as well as Mike Mussina and Mark Prior (as two examples) pitched in the minors, he can come up in mid-season. But if there is the slightest doubt about his progress -- nerves, a tendency to give up HRs because, perhaps, his four-seam fastball is a bit straight, or whatever -- don't bring him up until September.

The Nats have a poor record with their best arms -- Cordero, Hill, Patterson, Zimmermann. Take it easy with this guy. Yes, he's probably the best they've got already. So what? He deserves a fair shot at a huge career.

Also, don't expect too much too soon. n termsof stuff, the pitcher that Strasburg reminds me most of is Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies. Both throw 100 m.p.h. Jimenez has a biger-breaking curve than Strasburg's slider. Jimenez also has a filthy sinker. The Nats, last season, said that Jimenez had the best stuff they'd seen all year. SS may havea better changeup. That's relly improved since last year. But look at Jimenez career. If SS does that well, it will be just fine with me. Jimenez was 44, 4.28 ERA in 82 innings his rookie season and started three games in the post-season including one in the World Series. Then, in '08, he was 12-12 with a 3.9 ERA and 172 Ks in 198.2 innings. Last year, at 25, Jimenez was 15-12 with a 3.47 in 218 innings with 198 Ks. He may have a Cy Young in him.

Strasburg doesn't have to be 1) Roger Clemens, 2) a blown arm, 3) a 3-4-5-year Prior/Wood burn out. He can also just have a very good career. Pitching is subtle. You need feel as well as stuff. The right mental makeup. You're fastball needs late movement as well as velocity. On and on. Maybe Strasburg will have them all eventually. But give him time. Thee years from now he could be 15-12 -- and still be improving. Patience.

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Terps comment: Tom,

I know the Caps and Nats are hot topics right now but you have to love the excitement (and wins) that the Terps have had lately. Luckily I have a strong heart and lots of mylanta.

GV should be the ACC MVP, no question.

Just think what Williams could do if he always got the talent that the Dukies get? Oops he already won a title.

Go Terps.

Tom Boswell: I love the Maryland-Duke games because, over the decades, I've really learned to hate Duke. My mom went to Duke, was Prez of the women's student body, dated the captain of the basketball team, etc. So, I had to listen to a lot of Duke growing up. But it's really Coach K that has done the trick for me. He's admirable. But he's so condescending, so pup-out-of-Bobby-Knight. The way he patted Gary Williams on the shoulder last night -- like he was Gary's father or something -- after Maryland won was the definition of why I can't stand Duke. It's a good thing I'm not a coach. I had a bad temper when young and even now, if he'd put his arm on my shoulder like that -- and I'd known how it looked, how calculated to make it seem that Duke would win (easily) the next time -- I think I'd have slapped it off.

I really enjoyed seeing Nolan Smith play. I first predicted that he would be a star for an ACC or Big East power and play in the NBA, if he improved his outside shooting, when he was in the 5th grade. Seriously. Nolan went to elementary school at Key School in Annapolis, two years behind my son. Nolan had to play two grades ahead of his age to get any competition at all. He and my son were on the same team one or two years. I'd sit in the stands and people would ask me "how good is he, really?" Usually, I don't have opinion that strong. But he was already being coached by Wiz players (after his dad died tragically). And you could see that, if he grew up to have any of his father's NBA size, he had it all. Except the shot. He has that now. I saw Adrian Dantley in the eighth grade and you could tell. But Noaln is the youngest, so far, that I've been semi-sure about. He was a great kid, unselfish even in a tiny school where he should have scored every point.

He got a good early education, then switched to a more appropriate school. He's up to 17.4 points a game and should be even better next year. He played fine D on Vasquez at times. My 1st guess was he'd be a 3rd guard in the NBA someday. Now, I think he may be better than that. He's the one area in which I am a Duke fan.

Oh, before Nolan got to Key, they were so bad that oneof my son's teams lost 49-2. The "coach" thought that a basket counted as one point. Honest to God. Nolan showed the school, imo, that it was nt an acedemic disgrace to have decent sports teams. And, over the years, they improved a lot. No child is taught anything of value by losing 49-2. A point you can be sure several parents mentioned! Nolan taught it was fun t cheer at a sports event. Sorry for the long Nolan post.

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Nats' Budgets: You have been criticized by Kasten for supporting a Nats' payroll of $75 million, which is far less than the MLB median payroll. Please explain why we would want to settle for such low budgets in the first place? The Nats do not seem financially competitive in any phase of their baseball operations, from the draft to taking in salary in trades to signing international kids to signing free agents!

Tom Boswell: The Nats have made significant progress in realizing what it takes to field a decent team. And they assume that, as young players are developed and some become stars, that this will pull their payroll up. The offer to Teixeira, though mostly symbolic, was real. The Chapman offer was very legit because, until the Reds stunned everybody with a $30M offer, the Nats $25M would have been considered big money. Also, there's been progress in other signings or offers -- Ryan Z's extension, getting Marquis, Pudge and Capps at full market value very quickly in the off season to make sure they weren't shut out.

BUT there is still a ways to go. Who were (probably) the Nats first choices at the various positions they targeted in the off-season and who did they actually get? Lot of chat about that in Florida about that. (And, man, is it fun to talk to all the sharp guys they've added to the front office.) They probably wanted Garland more than Marquis. Garland wanted West Coast. No problem. They got Marquis. I'm sure they targeted a better reliever than Capps, maybe Wagner, but paid 1/2 what Wagner (or other top FA relievers) got. Is that a money decision or does Capps age -- 26 -- make him a better long-term choice?

Hudson vs. Kennedy is definitely a money-influence decision. If Rizzo had a $75M budget, plus incentives, not a $67M budget plus incentives, I bet he'd have gotten Hudson for $6M; he eventually got $5.3M. Hudson would really help the middle infield defense. Kennedy's OK but he won't be much of an upgrade.

The Nats wanted to re-sign Olsen and Livan all along, I'd guess, and got them cheap.

The main point is that with a 10 percent higher budget the whole thinking process by the front office is different. So your whole plan is different. Maybe you go high for a better closer, or for Hudson or even for Chapman or a second Marquis-level starter. But at least you have normal MLB team firepower. You didn't just get outgunned.

The Nats did very well with what they had.And they'll be better this year. But their budget is still too low. They could have improved even more. And this was a winter when a ton of players -- who fit what the Nats needed to build a bridge to '11 -- were available.

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Long Island, N.Y.: Tom, What is your expectation of Tiger's 2010 golf schedule? My thought is that he will do the majors and a few warms ups (Bay Hill, Players, Memorial, AT&T) but will not do too many others. I find it very strange that two weeks ago he didn't know when he would play again and now a source (probably planted given Team Woods love for total control) is talking about his schedule. Did he "play" the world, or did he realize that he is first and foremost a golfer?

Tom Boswell: After I heard Woods speak, I thought the chances were very slim that he would play at the Masters. And I thought that was a good sign -- probably, how can you really know -- that he was dead serious about working on himself. Now, Nicklaus says he thinks Tiger will play in the Masters. There are other hints. This year, Tiger has all four of the majors at courses that he loves. So the "I'll Show 'Em Grand Slam" has to be in some corner of his mind.

He's made it very clear that his therapy is enormously important to him. Whatever else you can say, his non-press conference was a 12-step-recovery-in-progress event. I hope he gives more weight to his mental health, marriage and self-esteem -- however, you want to phrase it -- than he does to any one golf tournament, even the Masters. But, of course, it's entirely his call, not ours. And there isn't a "right" decision. Though you can bet that the world will have an opinion!

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Arlington Nats Fan: I am rooting for Elijah Dukes. I want him to succeed, but I am a little surprised to hear how much people assume RF is a done deal for Dukes. If the month of march ends with Dukes not really putting it together and Maxwell or Bernadina or Duncan ripping the cover off the ball, does Dukes still go north as the starting RF?

Tom Boswell: Dukes is a 25-year-old RF with a .771 OPS in nearly 1,000 plate appearances. And he's had some lower-body injuries and has knees that probably won't age too well. But he has enormous athletic talent, fire for the game and very good baseball talent (not the same as athletic talent). Generally, people want to see him succeed. But with Rizzo and Riggleman, much as they support him, he has to produce to play. The job is his -- but it ain't a Supreme Court appointment. He can play himself out of the lineup. Bernadina has supporters. I don't see it -- yet. But he's a superior outfielder and the Nats sure would love to keep improving that awful '09 defense. Pudge, even at age 101, helps. Morgan is a huge upgrade from Milledge. Dunn is probably less bad at 1st than LF. Kennedy is bland, at best. In short, Dukes doesn't have to hit immediately. But he has to hit to play. And not .250 with a .393 slugging average like last year. He has to be the Dukes of '08 to hold the job longer-term.

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Fairfax, Va.: Boz,

I agree with all your points on Strasburg and expectations. On the other hand, you have to admit there is also the possibility of something no-one has ever seen before. Maybe he starts out like Doc Gooden but stays away from drugs. You never know. That is what makes being a fan so exciting. The team, however, has to be rational.

Speaking of exciting, how about those Terps? I hope Justin Maxwell can feed off the Turtle Power and have a great spring. Any chance of that?

Tom Boswell: Agee, Fairfax. There are only a handful of pitchers who have the chance to be Randy Johnson, Clemens, etc. -- both exceptional pitchers and heart-stopping drawing cards. That's what's so special -- for the low-identity Nats -- about Strasburg. He can probably be electric. Though I would STILL like to see him pitch to a major league lineup before we annoint him!

It took one inning against the real Tiger lineup last spring for people to see Jordan Zimmermann and say, "Oh, boy, he could be the real thing in a couple of years." Turned Cabrera and Ordonez inside out. The HITTERS will tell us more this March about Strasburg than all the talk and side sessions.

But, yes, it's great to think that Strasburg could be the X Factor that draws the general fan to Nationals Park. I can't tell you the enormous number of people I encounter that, I assume, would have been to any major new sports spot in D.C. area, but have not been to Nats Park. They don't even really know where it is.

Strasburg could change that. The combination of Dunn's power -- like Fank Howard, he really does hit the longest homers in baseball -- Nyjer Morgan's speed, Zimmermann's all-around excellence and Strasburg's charisma could take the Nats to some kind of gotta-see-'em-a-few-times-a-year critical mass with the general fan by '11.

Oh, assuming they have the good sense to extend Dunn.

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Almost Former Terp Fan: What's with the brain damaged Terp fans and their propensity to tearing up College Park each time they beat Duke? Every one of those idiots should be expelled from the University immediately. Your thoughts?

Tom Boswell: I'll have to get a report from my son (a Md student) who was at the game last night. Last year, after the upset of Carolina, he phoned me. I asked if he was storming the court. He said he thought he'd watch it one time after a big win to figure out the odds of getting killed. I assume he's now a stormer. I can't speak for him but my impression is that he's one of MANY Maryland students who don't think that vandalism is cool.

I also want to talk to other Maryland-grad fans who were there last night for a recap!

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Burke, Va.: What's your estimate of the season ticket holder base for 2010? When will Stan release those figures?

Tom Boswell: I think it's going to be ugly. History says that attendance arrives with a one-year lag. You get the attendance that you deserve based on the PREVIOUS year.

In '08, the Nats had a new park, but a lousy almost-no-star team from '07 at RFK. So, they drew 30,000-a-game instead of 33K-35K if they'd had a better product on the field in '07.

In '09, attendance dropped 20 percent because the team was so bad -- 102 loses -- in '08. They paid for the previous year's sins.

Well, '09 was atrocious in terms of value given per ticket dollar. You get punished for that in any business and you should. I hope the Nats don't push Strasburg too soon as a way to prevent being shamed by their crowds. Kasten always says, "We will get the attendance we deserve." That should be changed to: Every team gets the attendance they deserved LAST year. In the Nats case, ut oh.

However, the Nats are quietly giving away a ton of free tickets to their season ticket holders. It's 3-for-2 for everybody, as far as I cantell. The season-ticket group, of which I'm a tiny part, will get 50 percent extra free tickets in any comparably-priced section for any (non-premium) game.

So, the (paid) crowds may actually be considerably worse than the number of people in the park. For example, if they sell 10,000 season-ticket-equivalents, that may translate into 15,000-tickets-a-game being given to those people. They still buy concessions, cheer and give tickets to friends.

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Adamstown, Md.: Hi Boz.

Was at Terps game last night. If I were younger, I would have stormed the court. But I don't like the fires and rioting. I'd be for public displays of support, even foul language chanting on Route 1, but not fires/throwing snowballs, etc. Just dumb plain dumb.

I'm a '95 grad and avid supporter of the University and Terps sports. I dread the riot talk after big games.

Tom Boswell: As a lifelong Washington-area resident with a huge number of friends and relatives who've gone to Maryland, I agree with every word of that.

I went to the first graduation of a relative from Maryland in the late '50's as a little kid. I still remember the parade of new grads. The school has come a thousand miles since then. All the work by so many people and all the accomplishmentsof the universary deserve far, far better.

I'd be interested in feedback. After the win over Clemson in football this season -- one of the few high points -- the Maryland fans acted a lot better than the Clemson fans who don't take losing real well! (Which always fun to enjoy.)

Are things getting better after big-game wins the last couple of years? Hope so.

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Pentagon City, Va.: Boz,

NFL free agency begins tonight, and all we hear about the Redskins is chatter that they're going to treat it like they always have -- a Black Friday style stampede through the aisles of Best Buy. Julius Peppers! Darren Sproles! Mine mine mine!

Please tell me it's all just chatter, and that Bruce Allen has the keys to Redskins One locked in the drawer of an alligator desk somewhere. Wasn't a real GM and a strong-willed coach supposed to calm this annual frenzy?

Tom Boswell: The general wisdom -- a.k.a. "the dumb money" -- is that teams will act under the new non-style in much the same way they acted previously. In other words, the Redskins will storm the aisles because they always do. They did with Joe Gibbs. Why wouldn't they now?

You can see, perhaps, in the discontent of McIntosh (kind of justified) and Rogers (oh, please, tell it to somebody else), that the Redskins are playing hardball: save money on players where it's possible to do so, then spend it on free agents, like Peppers.

Imo, the Skins need to be careful. On a 12-4 team with good chemistry and little locker room resentment of salary disparities, you might be able to play it this way and get away with it and not blow up your team's internal dynamic.

But, wow, the Skins are 4-12 with exactly the opposite kind of history in their clubhouse. When McIntosh talks about what a good Skins citizen he's been -- always show up, play hurt, etc. -- is he pointing at a certain guy making $40-million guaranteed who didn't fit that profile last season?

Shanahan's arrival will help morale a lot. Don't do too many things in free agency to counteract that positive impact.

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Wye River, Md.: Shouldn't Adam Kennedy hit second rather than Cristian Guzman?

Kennedy's line last year was .289 BA, .348 OBP, 11 HRS, 63 RBIS and 20-26 steals.

Guzman's line was .284 BA, .306 OBP, 6 HRS, 52 RBIS and 4-9 steals.

Tom Boswell: That will be one of the spring decisions.

Both are switch-hitters. Both are comfortable at No. 2.

The Nats have to see if Guzman's healthy enough -- foot problems, etc. -- to have the range to play SS this year. They assume so. But it's not a lock. Rizzo really does have a good chess mind as a GM. If Guzzy is at SS, he bats second and Kennedy has enough pop to bat 7th. If Desmond wins the SS job,or simply when/if he plays there, Kennedy is a natural to hit No. 2.

All in all, the Nats look like they have a decent average N.L. lineup. But it sure would look better with Flores (who can now throw a ball 90 feet) than Rodriguez.

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Arlington, Va.: Did you see Bell's two bombs yesterday? In my opinion, the O's should trade Tejada and Wigginton now, let Bell learn at third and there aren't enough at bats for them with Pie, and Scott on the bench.

Tom Boswell: Keep hearing about Bell. Looking forward to seeing him. Andy is making real progress in Balto.

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Olney, Md.: As a recent U-Md. grad, I'd like a chance to respond to those that constantly rip U-Md. students for "tearing up College Park" after big wins. I watched the game from a restaurant near College Park, and then had to drive down Rt 1 after the game. We decided to stop and check out the mayhem.

First, I find it very difficult to classify what happened last night as a "riot". The collection of dozens of police in body armor, on horses, helicopters, swat vehicles and so on in was gives the revelry the appearance of a riot. Otherwise, it's much more like 1,000 kids outside jumping around and chanting "Let's go Maryland!" I'd estimate 75 percent of the kids down there were there simply to witness the spectacle, given the excitement of horses and helicopter spotlights and so on.

Second, I know in the past there have been issues with things burning and so on, but I saw no one last night interested in vandalizing or trashing our campus or town. Just because they're in the streets and just because there are police there, doesn't mean it's a riot and doesn't mean things are being destroyed.

Go Terps!

Tom Boswell: Thank you very much. That sounds very plausible to me. Glad to hear.

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Silver Spring, Md.: About the growing popularity of the Nats: Two hours after single game tickets went on sale, the only thing left for the opener on April 5 were single seats. MAYBE because it's on Easter Monday and MAYBE because it's against the Pillies, but it's AMAZING and EXCITING nonetheless.

Tom Boswell: First I'd heard of that.

It would take a very sophisticated sports/baseball town to "read" the Nats as much improved -- +10-to-15 wins -- with Marquis-Morgan-Strasburg-Pudge-Capps-Kennedy and translate that immediately into "lets support a team that's just lost 205 games in two years."

I'll believe it when I see it. But I'd certainly like it.

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McLean, Va.: Tom,

In the last 10 or 15 years MLB teams have attempted to protect the arms of pitchers, especially young pitchers, through the use of pitch counts. Have you seen any empirical evidence that the "babying" of pitchers has worked to reduce the amount of arm trouble incurred by pitchers? It seems as though pitchers have as many arm injuries as they had when they were abused.

Tom Boswell: I had a long talk with Ron Schueler in spirng training about that. He came abard last November in the Big Hire in the front office. He's a pip. Looks like Johnn Cash if he'd pitched in the big leagues and drilled a few people in the ribs when they needed it. Schuler pitched in the majors, was a pitching coach, then was GM of the White Sox for 10 years and is now Rizzo's left-hand man.

We went through the progression from Harry (The Cat) Brecheen's "baby 'em" theory in the '50's to George Bamberger, who wanted pitchers to throw a LOT through Tom House studying the impact of pitch counts by age. On and on. Pitches in a jam count more than pitches in non-jams. Rizzo says, "100 innings in the majors is as much stress and strain on a young pitcher's arm as 180 innings in the minors."

Then we went off on the impact of weight work on pitchers -- and whether lifting weights ABOVE the head actually hurts the shoulder, though other weight work is good. "Ask Strasburg what he does with weights. He must not be doin' too much wrong," said Schuler. Didn't have to time to get to Strasburg on that but Drew Storen is from the new weight-lifting generation of pitchers. Lannan's worked out a lot more and his grip strength is up 50 per cent from last year.

Anyway, I asked both Schuler and davey Johnson, so what is the most current thinking on how to build and presevre young pitcher's arms. I forget which one said, "Well, at this point, it looks like everybody is pretty g*ddamn confused."

You gotta love 'em

Hitting is the hardest act in sports. But throwing a baseball is the most unnatural act in sports. Nice game. No wonder it drives everybody crazy trying to figure it out.

_______________________

Florida: Greivis Vasquez deserves to be considered among the all time great basketball players at U-Md. Now maybe I'm getting cranky in my old age, but too many of these discussions don't include players like John Lucas, Tom McMillen, or Gene Shue. (I can understand folks leaving off Louis Berger!) As an old hand, where do you put GV?

Tom Boswell: Hey, what's this old hand stuff! I'm many years younger than Gary Williams (okay, several). I've long been a vasquez fan and keeping boring my son by saying that he'll be a better fit in the NBA, relative to his talent, than he was in the ACC. I don't mwean he's going to be an instant NBA star. I mean that his slashing skills, his shooting range, his cokiness (boy, do you need that to survive in the NBA), his high energy, even his craziness at times, fits into the NBA better than the coach-controled world of the ACC. If he isn't at least an excellent third guard or a make-some-happen-fast sixth man, I'll be surprised.

The Post had a poll yesterday: Is Vasquez one of the 7 best players in the history of Maryland?

I vote: "Yes." (Twice.)

Note: I checked. My son wasn't at the game last night. Good heavens, it seems he studied, went to his part-time job, then watched it in a "restaurant" with friends. (What hath God wrought?) I promise to leave him out in future.

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Sec 114, Row E: Bos -

Guzman is an awful choice for hitting in the No. 2 slot. He doesn't take enough pitches to let Morgan run and swinging at everything doesn't give Dunn or Zimm much chance to see today's opposing pitcher.

I know that ball players are people, but bat him eighth, tell him to cash his $8 million checks with a smile, and do what's best for the team ...

Tom Boswell: Interesting decision. First, Kennedy hits LH _not a switch-hitter. A brain cramp. The other day I noticed how much better he's always hit off RH pitchers -- OPS 111 points higher (career) and quite poor his whole life vs lefties. That suggests, if Desmond makes the 25-man, that Kennedy might sit against lefties. Kennedy's On-Base is generally .340-.350 -- decent. Guzman was excellent in '07-'08, then fell back to his career level of (very poor) .307 last year.

Good reason to bat Kennedy No. 2 vs. righties, as a starting point.

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Bethesda, Md.: Why isn't there an open competition for SS? Moreover, why did the nats trade for an older 2b instead of playing Guzman at 2b and Desmond at SS. Might as well find out about Ian now.

They are not going to be competitive in the NL east for a couple of years so what good is Kennedy.

Tom Boswell: Kennedy is a one-year deal and cheap at $1.25M. They value Desmond a lot, want him to play every day (in MLB or AAA)and, after all the progress he made last year, they want him to move at the pace that is best for him. IOW, Desmond is very much in their long-term plans. Kennedy is the steady-pro stop gap. If Desmond pushes everybody aside with excellent play, I don't believe the Nats will hold him back.

That's it for this week. Looking forward to seeing the Caps new players at Verizon tonight, then I'll be in Viera next week for Strasburg's first game and other spring training gab. Cheers.

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