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Thomas Boswell discusses the latest sports news

Thomas Boswell
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Thursday, January 27, 2011; 11:00 AM

Washington Post sports columnist Thomas Boswell will be online Thursday, Jan. 27, at 11:00 ET to discuss and analyze the latest sports news.

Today's Column: Tiger Woods returns to golf amid questions about his game and psyche (Post, Jan. 27)

Submit your questions or comments before or during the discussion.

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Thomas Boswell: Hi! Glad to see plenty of folks still have power. (I don't at my house.) So, this will be my first Mall Chat. I think Starbucks deserves a plug.

Lots of Super Bowl, college hoops, Caps (shutout in Atlanta!?), spring training coming up and plenty more top tslk about. I assume the Wiz can't go 0-41 on the road. They probably couldn't even go 5-36. But it's going to be interesting until they win that first one. Slump/streaks have a momentum of their own.

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Deale, Md.: With the starting pitching sub-par with no real ace, won't the Nats find it tough to win more than 70 games this season?

Thomas Boswell: The preseason consensus will be that the Nats are a mildly improved 72-90 team. That's certainly sensible, especially if you assume they have a couple of injuries to their starting rotation.

But it doesn't have to be that way. The Nats "should" have been 72-90 last year based on run differential. If their defense improves to "league average," they should save about 25 unearned runs. I suspect having Espinosa all season (if he can hit enough in Florida to come North immediately), as well as Werth and LaRoche everyday, should be worth at least 20 "saved runs." Ramos should be a betteer defensive pairing with Pudge than Nieves was. And more Bernadina in LF, not Willingham, should help there.

So, you could see >75 wins based on that, especially is Lannan and Marquis pitched as they did in August and September when they both had ERAs slightly below 4.00. And Gorzelanny adds needed rotation depth. You now have four starters who've pitched more than 200 innings in a big-league season __Livan, Marquis and Lannan multiple times and Gorzelanny once. Finally, all of Jordan Zimmermann's "advanced stats" say that he's better than his career 4.70 ERA. His FIP and +FIP numbers __Fielder Independent Pitching__ are already well under 4.00. Over a whole career FIP is almost always predictive of your eventual ERA. There are exceptions. FIP doesn't capture the full efficiency of pitchers (like Lannan or, at the HOF level Maddux) who throw tons of grolund balls and get lots of GIDPs). And super power pitchers like Nolan Ryan are also likely to have actual ERAs that are 20 points lower for their careers than FIP would predict.

BUT the Nats probably have a 3.75 ERA pitcher in Zimmermann and, if he's healthy, that changes the quality of the rotation considerably.

However __and you knew I'd get here__ I suspect the loss of Adam Dunn from the cleanup spot is going to hurt the Nats run production more than they think. Mike Rizzo and his stat crunchers think that with LaRoche replacing Willingham's bat and Werth looking as productive as Dunn in recent years, they they will be about the same offensively.

Until proven wrong, I disagree. There is batting-order-chemistry. The Nats had some of it in '09 with Zim-Dunn-Willingham. Last year, it seemed to disappear with lots of solo homers and poor hitting with RISP. But I don't think Zim-Werth-LaRoche is going to anchor the order as much as last year's trio. If Espinoza hits, then maybe that compensates for it.

So, when I go to Vieera, I'm expewcting to see a 75-win team, but with a lot of potential to improve in '12.

Come on, you've got to start on the semi-bright side!

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Harrisonburg, Va.: I've always wondered why "victory formation" isn't changed to have a QB receive a snap in shotgun formation. Look at how many snaps are fumbled (Pitt just last week), and I'm waiting for that to happen at the end of a game to possibly cost a team. Wouldn't shotgun just be easier?

Thomas Boswell: I've never heard that before! I was a (bad) HS quarterback and no matter how careful you are, every once in a while you just misconnect with your center. However, no coach is going to run the risk of watching an errant shotgun snap go OVER the QB's head and get scooped up and returned for a defensive TD! You'd get fired before you reached the locker room! So, there is a tiny amount of danger even in the victory formation. Probably not much different than a shotgun snap, on a percentage basis. But if the standard snap is fumbled, you fire the center. On a shotgun snap, the coach gets the boot.

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Norfolk, Va.: Boz, what is the correlation between a minor league baseball player's prospect ranking and his advancement to the major leagues? I know this sounds like a ridiculous question but except for the top few prospects who are "can't miss" what is the historical value of the rankings to the player's advancement changes and value to the major team once called up.

Thomas Boswell: Bill James and others have done lots of work on this. I wish I could remember their exact projection formula, but it doesn't seem to be listed here at Starbucks between the Caffe Latte and the Coffee of the Day.

I generally look at a player's OPS at AA and AAA combined and assume 90% of that at the MLB level. IOW, an .800 OPS outfielder in the minors may end up being .720 hitter in the majors leagues. So, he's not much of a prospect. If you see a .900 OPS in the minors, you can probably assume you've got a real hitter on your hands.

With ERA, I also add at least 10 percent to the minor league numbers. But there are a zillion players who contradict this pattern. Some collapse completely when they move up just one level __from AA to AAA or else to the majors. Some hit just as well when they hit the big time. And some hit better. The first example I ever saw of a player improving at the MLB level was Fred Lynn as a rookie when he won MVP. Why? "They all throw strikes!" he said. He liked to swing. In BP, they called him "Five-swing Freddy" because he'd swing at the first five BP pitches, even if they bounced, to work on his hand-eye coordination. So, to Lynn, it looked like he was getting far more "good pitches to hit" as soon as he got to MLB.

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Bowl system: Isn't the real problem with the current bowl system that they have gone away from having 3 games on at the same time? I remember 10 years ago that people would sit around on New Year's Eve and day watching bowl games because you could flip around and find an exciting game. Now there is only 1 on TV at a time and if you don't care about the teams then people aren't going to watch.

Thomas Boswell: The old bowl system was infinity better. I loved watching football all day on Jan. 1. Now the BCS just confuses everybody. It devalues every game except the "title game." And by the time that game comes around, if you don't have a passion for Auburn or Oregon, then you're not too psyched. I watched the first half of that game live, then taped the rest. I never even bothered to go back and watch it. When a season __like college football_ is over, then it's over. "Done, next subject."

I don't know how they could have screwed ujp college football much worse. I don't even like the playoff system either. My solution? I don't have one. And I've thought about it. They screwed up a decent system looking for something sexier and ended up with a mess.

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On Blake Griffin: Isn't Clippers' rookie Blake Griffin very fortunate enforcer players like Charles Oakley, Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn or Tom Heinsohn aren't playing in the NBA today? In the day, such enforcers likely would not stand mute with hands at their sides watching Griffin's nightly dunk contest as did Knick Timofey Mozgov. After B Haywood fouled him Tue night in Dallas, Griffin might be more selective/cautious about dunking in the future. Haywood's foul wasn't particularly hard, but it sent Blake to the floor on his elbow. Blake merely got up and directly went to the free throw line without even a backward a glance toward Haywood. Skip Bayless @ESPN says during his college play in OK, the Big 12 book on Blake was you got to hit him "hard early" to drop "his RPM," and when that occurred Blake's "big brother Taylor had to come in to defend him" because Blake would back off and not fight back "under any circumstances." After the Tue night foul, Blake wore a protective sleeve on his arm and didn't do much else in the remainder of the game. Didn't someone smart coin the phrase "discretion is the better part of valor"?

Thomas Boswell: Nice points. I'm amazed that Griffin already has 100 __I mean 1000!?__ dunks already this year. That would not have been tolerated even 15 years ago. Yes, the Oakleys, all the way back to Lucius Jackson, 6-[9, 275, in the Wilt Chamberlain days in Philly, would have enforced some order.

I'm against the violent foul in theory. But at some point...

Griffin said the other day that he was trying to get his teammates to come up with some original dunk ideas for the All-Star contest because "everything that can be done has already been done."

Interesting. I've alwayas loved the mid-sized players who could do incredible windmill dunks, tomahawks, etc. Dave Bing, from Spingarn High and now the mayor of Detroit, was one of the most amazing 6-foot-3 dunkmasters of his time. The tradition of D.C. players __Elgin Baylor, Bing, Kenny Carr (DeMatha and N.C. State star)__ had an impact on the art of dunking for a long time. But Dr. J took it to the moon.

Be interested to hear some of you folks favorite dunkers and their dunks.

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Richmond, Va.: Pop quiz - who was the last Redskins player to be named AP 1st Team All Pro? I'll give you a hint - since 2000, they're the only team in the NFL without one (and you have to go back a bit further than that).

Do you see anyone on the roster right now who even threatens to break that drought? MAYBE Orakpo or Landry, but that's about it right?

Thomas Boswell: I don't have an instant guess. Brian Mitchell as a kick returner, if that was included as AP 1st Team All Pro in the '90's?

Submit your guesses on that one, too!

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Capitol Hill: There's so much cynicism about the Nats out there. To what extent do the Lerners need to worry about this? And do you think there are things they can or should do to address this? (Besides fielding a winning team, of course.)

Thomas Boswell: The cynicism, and it seems ridiculous at times, will die within one or two years of the team becoming a winner or extremely interesting. And, if Strasburg heals and Harper arrives in '12, that could be next year.

Part of the problem is that if you don't know much baseball but what to sound like you're not a dope, then just rip. It's easier. But the other part of the problem is that the Lerners waited two-to-three years too long to put a product on the field. People within the organization felt that way at the time. Some left.

However, never undervalue luck. If the Nats had been awful in '07, as they intended, in their last year in RFK, and gotten the No. 1 overall pick, they might have gotten Tim Beachem (sp?) who's still an AA shortstop. Then, if they'd improved, as they thought they would, they'd never have gotten Strasburg and Harper. They didn't plan it. And if Riggleman, when he was half-season manager in Seattle hadn't gotten the Mariners to play better __and PASS the Nats in the standings in the last week of the season__ Washington wouldn't have gotten Strasburg.

I say lets bury the past and look forward to a much better future. But the Nats still need to do a more MLB-standard job in staffing and hiring in a lot of parts of the organization. Scouting is much better, but still needs to be beefed up more.

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Baltimore, Md.: Update: Caps sign Semin for 1 year. Boo. Is cheapness the only reason the O's haven't signed Guerrero yet? Do they purposely try to alienate what little fans they have left?

Thomas Boswell: You'd hate to give up a talent like Alex S, even if he seems to score his goals one hat-trick at a time. I'm concerned that the NHL really does seem to have found ways to slow down the Caps. You hear people say, "Stand 'em up at the blue line" and slow them down at mid-ice for decades. But it does seem to bother the Caps, and Ovie, if you engage them earlier, slow them down and try to steal the puck from No. 8 from behind. Also, defenders are very conscious of not letting Ovie use them as hujman screens so he can get his slap shot off with the goalie's vision partially blocked.

Hope they get this worked out. Boudreau is an "offensive coach," so it's on him to figure out a fix. Thius is what he's supposed to know how to do.

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North Carolina: Forget about McNabb and Grossman....Did the Skins make a mistake letting go Jason C?

Thomas Boswell: I pointed out in a column on Tuesday that mobile QB's were at a premium these days as you moved into the playoffs where you'd meet the top defenses, and especially, it appears, the best 3-4 blitzing defenses like those of the Steelers, Packers and Jets. A younger McNabb would fit the definition. Grossman would. Campbell is in the middle. Mostly a pocket passer, but actually the 3rd or 4th best QB at gaining yards on scrambles the last few years. But Campbell actually runs for gains better than he simply buys time to read the field.

I still think Donovan has 2-3 good years left in him and will end up back in the playoffs before the Redskins do. But that's partly hunch, partly respect for McNabb and partly my assumption that '11 won't be a Skins playoffs year.

This year, Oakland was 8-5 in the games in which Campbell playerd. His QB rating was right at the Jay Cutler level and slightly below McNabb's 86 career mark.

I'd certainly rather have Campbell, who's good at avoiding INTs and, except for one year, has few fumbles, than Grossman. So, yes, if you'd had a crystal ball and seen that McNabb was a terrible fit with the Shanahans, then you'd have been better off keeping Campbell all along.

Now, if somebody would just give me one of those crystal balls. But they're awful hard to come by.

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24/7 Ref-Player Interactions: I rewatched the Caps-Pens 24/7 series recently and was struck by something the second time around: the interactions between the players and the refs. I couldn't believe how much yelling, cursing, arguing was going back and forth! Does this just go on in hockey? I can't think of another sport in which the player-ref dynamic operates like that. Basketball? Some light complaining, but you'll get tossed for really getting into it. Same with the NFL, the officials run a pretty tight ship. MLB? I saw Dunn get tossed last year for walking away slowly from a called third strike!

So, was this just apparent because of the unique access provided by 24/7 and I'd notice it with an inside look at any sport? Or is there really a different treshold for ref tolerance in the different sports -- and if so, what do you think the strictest/loosest sports are?

PS-Best 24/7 moment: Ovechkin complained about a high-sticking call, to which the ref responded that the guy must have gotten hit, because his face was bleeding. Ovi's response: "Maybe he has sensitive skin, no?" Classic!

Thomas Boswell: I loved the Ovie crack, too.

I thought the 24/7 series started off fabulously in Part 1, but that everybody became increasingly "camera conscious" in Parts 2-3. Especially the coaches. They got more cautious. Too bad. George McPhee, as I expected, was too smart and too private to allow himself to be see clearly in that show. He's one of the best GM's you'll find in any sport, imo. But he's super intense and close to the vest. Always enjoy talking with him.

In baseball, there is still a ton of cussing, as long as you don't direct it at the ump himself, but at the call. You can yell, "%^^%$#^&, where was that pitch?" You may get away with "That was a %^&&*% call." But you can never say, "You %^&^%$, you were %^^$##@ last night and youre even more *&^%%$$ TONIGHT."

The NHL seems to have a very limited and restrained vocabulary. In MLB, the F-bomb is simply consiodered insufficient you make your point. If you can't work in at least one 10-letter and one 12-letter word, you just aren't trying. It's amazing to hear a 12-letyter word used as four or five different parts of speach in the same sentence. And, in the clutch, I've never met a big-league manager who couldn't do it.

The NFL is uptight and wants its refs treated like gods on TV. So, that's how it is. In the NBA, the crowd can actually hear what's being said. But plenty still gets said. But baseball remains the best, as far as I can tell.
"That

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Can you squeeze an Orioles question in between Nats/Skins?: Optimism always reigns supreme as spring training approaches, but it's at a higher level in Baltimore than in quite a few years. It kinda reminds me of the year they signed Miggy/Javy and tried to strike gold with Lee Mazilli. We all know how that turned out. I want to be optimistic. I want to believe that Derrek Lee will solidify first base and Markakis will have a great year with more protection. I want to believe the revamped bullpen will pan out and the starters will continue to progress. I want to believe the momentum of Buck's finish to 2010 will carry over. But to me, it still has the feel of getting my hopes up when the reality will be a 70-75 win season; maybe .500 if enough stuff breaks right. To me, I guess it depends on whether they start fast or start slow and get into that "here we go again" mode. Am I being too negative here or on the right track?

Thomas Boswell: Gosh, I almost answered an O's question earliuer, but choked.

I think they've had an excellent off-season. They have a better short-term outlook than the Nats for '11. In the A.L. East I just can't see them getting to .500. But Mark Reynolds and D. Lee make that offense much more of a homer lineup, which seems to be necessary in the A.L. SAlso, power is contageous. Markakis, Weiters and Jones could all be >20 homer guys, rather than 15-20 folks if they didn't feel the pressure to be power hitters. Just "let it happen."

I like J.J. Hardy to bounce back at SS. And the Nats definitely thought that Lee had a higher bounce-back ceiling than LaRoche, who's steady but will never turn into Tino Martinez. The O's just beat them out to get Lee. So, that shows that, to some players, Baltimore is a better destination than Washington.

However, because of Strasburg and Harper, because the DC market may still produce 30K crowds and because the Lerners are just so rich, Washington has a better chance of actually contending __certainly for a wildcard, at least__ in that '12-'17 window when the Nats will have SS, BH, an extending Ryan Z and Werth as well as the rookie class of '10.

O's fans should look forward to '11 with Buck. But Nats fans may __may__ have a great deal more to fascinate them from '12 onward. But Stras and Harper have to pan out at the Doc Gooden, D Strawberry level. They don't have to be HOFers. But they need to be good.

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Springfield, Va.: The winter is going by so slowly. How do we surive until spring training starts?

Thomas Boswell: I always take two weeks vacation and come back to writing when spring training starts. It keeps me sane. My escape starts next week.

It would sure help everybody if the Hoyas, Terps and Wiz were playing a level better. Just as they show progress, they kick you in the shins.

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Cabin John, Md.: Boz - Great column on Tiger. He's a balding, 35-year-old golfer who can't make the money putts or control his long game. Haven't you seen this before? Don't golfers age as fast or faster than ball-players? We all remember him in that red shirt dominating the field at the Masters, and it's hard to admit, but, for a golfer, he's old.

Thomas Boswell: Your view is held by many. But I once researched every golf over a 30-year period to see how well they aged and what "the prime" really was for a golfer.

Some blossom young, like Nicklaus and Tiger. But, by and large, a pro goldfers prime is his entire 30's. Right up to 40. Golfers age more slowing than MLB, NFL, NBA or NHL __and by a lot. In "athletic years," I'd say Tiger at 35 is more like a 30-year-old baseball player or a 28-year-old NFL player.

There is nothing he couldn't accomplish in the next 3-4-5 years, if he can get his game back together. After 40, it gets tougher. But others have won multiple majors after 40th birthday. Jack had three.

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Potomac, Md.: Hi Tom,

Any chance the Redskins trade Albert Haynesworth and/or Donovan Mcnabb to Tennessee for Vince Young?

Thomas Boswell: You don't want Vince Young. JMHO.

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Wieters: Good morning. As an O's fan, I have to admit I've been a little worried about Wieters. I wonder how every scout could have been wrong? Then I read ESPN's Keith Law still has no doubts about Wieters and his swing is not "too long." I know you disagree, I was just curious what exactly you've seen in Wieters that give you doubts? Thanks.

Thomas Boswell: Well, one of the smartest players in the HOF, who sees quite a few Orioels games, said to me last year, "He's just not strong enough to be a top hitter. His bat speed is terrible for a guy his size. Too bad."

That doesn't mean he won't get stronger or quicker as he gets older. But he's been a shock.

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Potomac, Md.: Tom,

When all is said and done who will be the more famous #8 in D.C. sports, Alex Ovechkin or Cal Ripken?

Thomas Boswell: If you really include Ripken as D.C.-area __which is a whole other question__ I'd say that Ovie has an awful long way to go to catch up. Ripken did everything to have as long a career as possible. Ovie plays and lives like there is no tomorrow. Ovie has already been more spectacular, during his two MVP seasons, than Ripken was during his two MVP years. But Cal has a ring. And he has a record that will prob ably never be broken or appraoched. And baseball is simply a much more widely followed sport than hockey. So, if you phrase the question in terms of "famous," I doubt that it will even be close. Ripken.

But it sure would be fun, 10 years from now, to say, "Wow, who thought Ovechkin could stay so great for so long and accomplish so much."

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Potomac, Md.: Hi Tom,

What are the chances the Redskins try to make trades to get Andrew Luck in the draft? Is it even worth it with all the other needs that need to be addressed?

Thomas Boswell: I'm normally a "build the lines" guy. Can you survive for a year with Grossman? I know, he didn't look like too bad a "system QB" in his three starts. I'd try my luck with building the O-line, not going after Luck.

By draft day, I may change my mind!

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Good sign for the NFL season: Should we be encouraged that Goodell is willing to take a $1 salary rather than $10 million if we do not have a CBA for the the next NFL season? Hope so!

Thomas Boswell: Come on, everybody in sports knows that the NFL owners are orchestrating all of this, just like the MLB owners did in '94.

The difference is that the NFL owners are smart and always win while the NFL union is inherently splintered and always loses. The owners will get everything they can, ruthlessly, then when it suits them, they'll let the games resume. I suspect they'll shaft the players sufficiently to satisfy their greed without the necessity of actually canceling games. Just so you know, this is ALL about the owners. The players just beat their heads against the wall, weep and hope they don't come out too badly.

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Potomac, Md.: Hi Tom,

Palmeiro makes the argument that he got caught in his last year, having over 550 home runs and very close to 3,000 hits. Each one of these by itself would get you into the hall of fame. In his own words, "To take something then would have been the absolute stupidest thing in the history of mankind." He did get caught though. Is he a hall of famer?

Thomas Boswell: Nobody who ever got caught __flat out caught__ will ever make the Hall. What Raffy says makes some sense. But however he came up "positive," he's never going to live it down in HOF terms.

I really like Raffy and put this squarely in the "life is a (bleep)" category.

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NATS Outfield: In anticipation of Harper being in the majors in 2 years it would serve the NATS well to test out Werth in CF this season since I do not think Morgan is part of the solution in 2 years and the NATS need to know if Morse, Ankiel or Bernadina are the answer for left fielder as everyday players or platoon. The good news is that it looks like we are set at catcher and infield in 2 years and have a promising set of young pitchers to fill out the starting rotation and bullpen. Corner outfield is the biggest question.

Thomas Boswell: Werth will play CF against lefthanders all season, I believe. The Nats just aren't talking about it much. They hope Morgan pans out. But if he doesn't look a lot like '09, then you'll see Werth in CF and Harper in RF when he arrives. That opens up the possibility of adding another power bat in LF.

Trust me, the idea of THREE power hitters in the OF eventually is part of why the Nats think they can eventually be quite good and why they spent as much as they did for Werth. CFs are much more valuable. And I'll be very surprised if WEerth doesn't play 2-3 years out there for the Nats.

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D.C.: Did you read the article on the 30 Hall of Famers playing right now? I was fascinated to see Ryan Zimmerman get a mention.

Thomas Boswell: Haven't see it. Will look!

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Hot Stove, Maine: Will Mike Rizzo have the courage to stand his ground and not be forced off the cliff after Carl (I'm The Only One Left) Pavano? Is it baseball suicide to rely on a rotation of Zimm, Lannan, Livan, Marquis and Maya, with a couple of younger Nats pitchers waiting to show what they can do if needed? (Or maybe "when needed").

Thomas Boswell: Riz will almost certainly styand his ground on this one. Hey, he got Gorzelanny who, in his good years, is perfectly decent. And a lefty. No need to waste3 money on Pavanao.

I see by the old "low battery" on the wall, that it's time to go. Ah, life in the food court!

It's been fun. I'll be back chatting __FROM VIERA__ the first week that pitchers and catchers report. Ahhhh, that would be "physicals" on 2/16 and the first workout on 2/17.

Do you think I'm counting the days, or what?

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Virginia: Boz,

What are your thoughts about moving Norris over to first since the organization is pretty deep at the catcher spot. Why not groom this guy take over for LaRoche in two years. His hitting is way ahead of his catching so why not speed up his development and play him at a less demanding position considering there is no depth at 1B.

Thomas Boswell: Norris appears to be a fine hitter __for a catcher__ with a good eye for walks. But he hasn't shown the power to play 1st base. I suspect, at some point, you'll see him traded because a hitter with his bat isn't going to stay in the minors. Rizzo believes in defense first at C, so Ramos probably has the inside track entirely to himself.

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On the Nats and O's: Is it wrong to support both the Nats and the O's? My calculation is that with one National League and one American, it is rare for them to play each other; and it is going to be a very, very, very long time before they play each other in anything other than the somewhat contrived Battle of the Beltways... So can't I like and cheer for both teams without being an anathema to baseball fandom?

Thomas Boswell: I do.

I'm a native Washingtonian, went to games at Griffith Stadium, grew up in N.E. DC about 18 blocks from RFK and rode my bike to games. You never shake a connection like that and I wouldn't want to.

But I covered the Orioles for almost 30 years __and in retrospect it really would have been nuts for Washington fans to say "Oh, I'll just forget about baseball for a third of a century and ignore a couple of World Series and a few Hall of Famers, so I can pout about losing the Senators. So, I find it natural to remain interested in the Orioles and wish them well. If they ever met in a World Series __talk about a hypothetical__ I wouldn't have any trouble knowing where my heart was. Come on, I watched the Skins at Griffith Stadium (once) as a kid, too. You never "overcome" that.

But the O's are a perfectly fine "No. 2" team. For my son, who grew up going to Memorial Stadium, they will probably always be his No. 1 team. That's just how it works.

But I understand all sides on this one and don't think there is a "right" position. If it makes you feel good to "hate" the Orioles (or the Nats), have a ball. But I won't join in. I'm predisposed to like to see people succeed. It seems to be a disease I can't shake.

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Vienna, Va.: Tom,

Thanks for taking this question and I am sorry to hear of your family's recent loss.

Nats lead off and CF option.....

What does Rizzo see in Morgan that is allowing him to risk going into Spring training handing Morgan the job?

Like Dukes before him, is this not a huge risk with a key position? Can a team reach its potential without a lead off hitter. Morgan has the most obvious holes (low OBP, Runs into Outs, No baseball sense, sure out against LH Pitching, how can Rizzo and his scouts miss these flaws?

Thomas Boswell: Morgan is a low-salary "free player" who showed a lot of promise in '09. The Nats aren't going to the playoffs this year, so it costs them nothing to start the year trying to find out if the true Morgan is the star of '09 or the frustrated player of '10. Once they feel they have an answer, Morgan will either be their stellar CF (which they'd prefer) or he'll be in a lesser role (and like it.)

Thanks very much. Sorry to miss those last two chats but we needed to spend some time with my wife's mom in her last week, then the funeral last week. I'll close by remembering one of my mother-in-law's favorite expresssions. In her mid-80's she'd still be killing me at gin while we all watched a Red Sox gamne in the background. You'd think she wasn't even watching the game, much less knew the score. But then it always seemed like she was talking about politics or Haverhill, Mass life or whatever while she was smoking us at cards. Then out of the blue, just like a fan at Fenway, this lovely classy elderly lady, former club golf champ, would suddenly say, quite firmly, "Come on, Big Papi, get a hit." And we'd realize the game was at a turning polint and she was the only one who'd noticed. Boy, are we going to miss Ellie.

See you all from Vikera.

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