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The plan for the season

Apr 1, 2010, 12:00 PM EST

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE FOR THE REGULAR SEASON

VIERA, Fla. — Six weeks ago, the Washington Nationals convened here for the start of spring training. Stephen Strasburg had yet to face a big-league hitter. Same for Drew Storen. Ross Detwiler was a contender for a spot in the Opening Day rotation. Livan Hernandez was unemployed.

Jesus Flores was hoping to be ready for the start of the season. Elijah Dukes assumed his status as an everyday player was safe. So did Cristian Guzman.

Either Eddie Guardado or Ron Villone figured to make the club. Jesse English figured to be among the first players cut.

And a sportswriter, fueled by the generous support of his readers, packed up his car and hit the road from Northern Virginia to Florida's Space Coast.

As you read this today, I'm back on that road, heading home. Spring training isn't officially over for the Nats, who still play against the Mets in Port St. Lucie this afternoon and against the Red Sox in Fort Myers tomorrow. Much as I would have liked to stick around for those final two games, I've got to hightail it back to D.C. and get re-situated before Saturday's exhibition against the Red Sox at Nationals Park and then Monday's season opener against the Phillies.

Yes, I'm planning to continue covering this team into the regular season. All season.

From the moment I commenced my initial fundraising campaign to cover spring training, the following question kept coming up, from readers, from colleagues, from members of the Nationals: What are you going to do once the season starts? My answer all along was: I'mRead more ยป

  1. JayB - Apr 1, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    Mark, You made Spring Training more enjoyable (a Proven RF and a Feb. move of Guz to 2nd and 1st in would have been too much to hope for I guess).Thanks for the specifics of the Minor League Camp schedules when I was down. I see big changes there. Have a great year!

  2. tedv15 2 - Apr 1, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    Mark,Thank you for outstanding "Insider" coverage of the Nationals. Your writing "put us there" and made Nats fans feel like part of the team. Looking forward to your regular season coverage.all the best!

  3. Andrew - Apr 1, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    Mark, it has been enjoyable so far!

  4. bumsfan4 - Apr 1, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    I get paid tomorrow and I'll get on board.

  5. Les in NC - Apr 1, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    Thanks, Mark, for such a wonderful job of keeping us informed of all the latest Nats news! I am excited to hear that you will be continuing your coverage throughout the season!

  6. Anonymous - Apr 1, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    Mark,Are you going to be going on road trips, or just covering the home games in person (along with, I suppose, the Baltimore and Philadelphia games)? It seems like that would dramatically alter your business plan.Good luck!

  7. Knoxville Nat - Apr 1, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    I have enjoyed reading your posts during spring training and more than happy to sign up for the regular season. Bring on the Phillies!! Go Nationals!!

  8. Mark Zuckerman - Apr 1, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    Anon: My plan is to cover as many road games as possible, funds permitting.

  9. LoveDaNats - Apr 1, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    Mark,So glad you can continue your great blog. Have you ever thought of having a meet-and-greet after a home game during the season? Bet you'd have a lot of people show.

  10. Joe - Apr 1, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    Mark, it's been incredible to read this blog throughout the spring and I'll be doing so every day during the season. You can count on my contribution with my next paycheck.

  11. Nervous Nats Fan - Apr 1, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    Is there a way to make the monthly contribution automatic, or will I need to go back to PayPal every month to pay? Thanks! I'm excited you'll be continuing to cover the team!

  12. NatsNut - Apr 1, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    This is so great. Contributing is easiest decision ever. It's not just the great baseball coverage, it's that you went out on a limb for us too. With no income and the willingness to live on the cheap for 6 weeks to cover the team was way more gutsy than forking over a couple bucks. And you still let non-contributors read too. Very cool. I'm not sure this is a sustainable model though because this is a special case. You're a special case. And a nice guy too. The "subscription" is more like a big thank you to you and Mrs. Z for being so willing to take such a big risk to get us great Nats coverage.

  13. Josh - Apr 1, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    If only I weren't a poor college student I would definitely contribute. Your blog makes for fantastic reading and I love your brand of legitimate journalism and the fact that you do your own research and don't just regurgitate the AP articles. Congratulations on getting a new gig, and I hope you continue to provide us with Nats coverage for a long time to come.

  14. HALjr - Apr 1, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    Mark, ditto what NatsNut said. Cannot wait for the season to begin and your reports to continue.

  15. Josh - Apr 1, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    Thinking about it a little further, why not, at $40 for the season it's really an absolute steal given the quality of the coverage.

  16. Traveler8 - Apr 1, 2010 at 2:22 PM

    @ Josh, you're right, talking less than 25 cents a game. Mark, I have greatly enjoyed the coverage and the audio files, so certainly will be re-upping.

  17. Anonymous - Apr 1, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    Any way to pay a bit more and get peric's endless (and useless) comments filtered out?

  18. Pete - Apr 1, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    Just ponied up my $40. Keep up the good work.

  19. Anonymous - Apr 1, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    Mark,You have done a fantastic job so far! Everything you promised. I think I personally got 10 people to start following your blog by the way I talk about it.btw, I'd pay $250 if peric is restricted to only 1 comment per post.

  20. sec314 - Apr 1, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    I'm BLUE. Although I prefer the Nats' red home colors. And Peric doesn't bother me. I usually agree with him.

  21. K.D. - Apr 1, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    Congrats to you Mark and all your lucky readers. Play Ball!

  22. Doc - Apr 1, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    Greaaaaaaat job MarkMeister. I'm gonna go for the "Gold". This is a very unique opportunity. Thanks for all your effort. You have a model blog.

  23. Anonymous - Apr 1, 2010 at 3:45 PM

    Great job Mark! Any thoughts about having a Nats Insider subscriber night at the Park, maybe mid-season with a meet and greet with you before the game???

  24. Berndaddy - Apr 1, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    LOL about the Peric comments…Mark your site is awesome and I've already signed up. God bless you and the Mrs. Keep on keeping on, brother…oh yea!! Thanks for what you've done already. Bernie from Reston

  25. greg - Apr 1, 2010 at 4:05 PM

    glad to hear this is working out as an ongoing venture, mark. count me in.as a side baseball note (since this is the most current post), interesting stat about livan…===TMI blog on ESPN===Looking at things the other way, as long as Livan Hernandez is on a roster, it seems as though we can count on him to lose at least 10 games. Hernandez has done that in 12 straight seasons. In the modern era, only three pitchers have had longer runs. =======================next closest on the active list? barry zito with 7.

  26. alm1000 - Apr 1, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    I am in also and oh so blue.Thanks for all of your hard work and good luck!

  27. cadeck13 - Apr 1, 2010 at 5:03 PM

    WOOOHOOO!!! This is fantastic news Mark!! Count me in! I like the idea of a meet & greet with all of us too – Nats Insider subscriber at the Park! Thank you for going out on a limb to give us this great coverage – ditto what Natsnut said :) Let's play ball! Go Nats!

  28. peric - Apr 1, 2010 at 5:28 PM

    Thank you sec314! Great job! I am with NatsNut in wondering if it is sustainable. Seems like Ben Goessling your former partner at the Times is rustling up many of the same ideas for MASN. Plus a new web page to support multi-media output. I must admit that Jim Bowden's last 2 GM Corner installments have been extremely interesting … after he stopped with the Joy worship and distracting with his politically positioned Nats and Reds office decor. I wonder if you might be able to do something similar with the Nats? It would be way cool to watch online videos with MIke Rizzo, the players, perhaps other teams as well? I realize that may be way beyond your budget or initial outlay but I am hoping that my humble analysis might spark some epiphany ??

  29. Richard Moore - Apr 1, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    Just heard your long interview on ESPN 980 and it was good to hear your voice as well as your always interesting analysis. I'm interested to know your part-time gig but most of all I'm pleased to hear you have one as it probably makes this sustainable for the season.So count me in as a paying customer!! It took guts to take the chance on Spring Training and it worked out for you and certainly for all of us. We got our money's worth and then some.

  30. Anonymous - Apr 1, 2010 at 6:32 PM

    Mark, When you get the time, can you explain the Taveras platoon to me? This guy has been in pretty steady decline at the plate the past three seasons (OPS+ of 89, 55, 48). Sure he's fast, but who cares how fast a guy can run back to the bench because he isn't going to be on the basepaths. So he had a hot spring (he even walked!) but everyone says it's ST, and spring stats don't matter. So, excuse my rambling but why did the Nationals decide Taveras is the right answer?

  31. JayB - Apr 1, 2010 at 6:52 PM

    It is becoming clear the Nats brain trust is very worried about the defense…..as they should be….but I want to know why they did not do more in the Winter to address the Defense. Putting Taveras in RF to plug the holes is just grasping at straws. They need to trade Willingham and Dunn and get a true first baseman and a some proven hit and field corner outfielders. It is very hard to do at the end of camp. Mark, we need to hear from Rizzo about why he did not see these problems coming and why he was not more proactive in the winter. He needed a great defensive SS, LF 1B and RF….he got a OK 2B!. How is that acceptable given the defense this team played last year? They can not carry two DH's in the everyday line up.

  32. 219Katie - Apr 1, 2010 at 8:22 PM

    I think we should all pitch in for Mrs. Zuckerman. She deserves a night on the town for being such a supportive spouse. Mark, please thank her for us!!

  33. Anonymous - Apr 1, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    the box score from todays game shows guzman moving to RF late in the game…is this true??

  34. Anonymous - Apr 1, 2010 at 9:14 PM

    Get rid of Bil Ladson and lets hire Mark Z. for the MLB

  35. SBrent - Apr 1, 2010 at 9:32 PM

    I'm in for the full-season plan. VERY glad this blog will continue — I'm addicted. And I'm very impressed with the geographic diversity of Mark's audience.

  36. peric - Apr 1, 2010 at 9:56 PM

    Guzman did indeed move to the outfield in the ninth inning.

  37. peric - Apr 1, 2010 at 10:03 PM

    @JayB,I think we should wait to see what Rizzo manages to do with waiver wire at the end. Plus have to figure Harris, Willingham, perhaps Dunn and others are being discussed. They apparently had a discussion about Corey Hart but his defense is sub standard. If Pittsburgh releases Ryan Church you have to wonder about the Nats picking him up. (In spite of some Nats players' attitudes about him.) He makes sense if they want Bernadina to play almost everyday somewhere. He opens the door for Harris to be trades. He certainly would make more sense platooned with Morris than a Tavares. But we'll have to see.Base on the question&answer on Ben's MASN site with Mike Rizzo one can see that he appears to value left-handed starters who have had success and are still young. He says he will be very patient with him. He also believes in stacking up MLB ready starters in the minors. He also went on record as saying that a prospect like JZim is like gold, very difficult to acquire through trade.Seems to support my contention that even Marquis may not be a starter (depending on performance) toward the end of the year. And that he is not depending on Wang and would prefer a JZimm over a Wang in his rotation if he recovers from the surgery completely.

  38. peric - Apr 1, 2010 at 10:05 PM

    In paragraph 3 I meant to say Olsen not "him". I hope he let's him spend April in extended spring training in Florida and not with the club in the cold April weather.

  39. SonnyG10 - Apr 1, 2010 at 10:27 PM

    Mark, I'm so happy you are continuing Nats Insider through the regular season. I've really enjoyed your coverage. I have just funded a Gold membership, and am very pleased to be able to do so. Go Nats!!!

  40. natsfan1a - Apr 1, 2010 at 10:32 PM

    Good news re. the freelance gig. I'll be reupping as well. Just need to do some number crunching.

  41. FakeReiss - Apr 1, 2010 at 11:31 PM

    Three comments in a row from peric is four too many. I'm with the others who'd pay extra to avoid that!

  42. mjr - Apr 2, 2010 at 12:19 AM

    OK, I just signed up. So…dumb question but…how will we get access to the extra content? (Yes, I used to jump into the pool before checking the water temperature, too.)

  43. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_is_Too_Pessismistic_for_Me - Apr 2, 2010 at 12:31 AM

    Travel safely and keep trudging the road to Happy Destiny. Here's to keeping hope alive, and have a great season.

  44. Mark Zuckerman - Apr 2, 2010 at 12:35 AM

    OK, finally have a chance to get online and caught up on everything…Nervous Nats Fan: For now, there's no automated system to charge you every month for the subscription, so you'll need to manually do it yourself. But I'll make sure to send a reminder out to all month-to-month subscribers with a week or so to go.MJR: All extra content (audio files, series previews, info about submitting questions) will be emailed directly to you.

  45. Matt - Apr 2, 2010 at 1:27 AM

    Mark — thanks for the coverage so far; I'm in at Red for the regular season!I think people should lay off Peric — some posters are being pretty mean. I often disagree with him, but he's perfectly civil and there's no need to read his comments if he bothers you.

  46. Nervous Nats Fan - Apr 2, 2010 at 2:53 AM

    Last question. Can I start at one monthly level and then upgrade or downgrade later? Or is that too confusing for you? Thanks!

  47. Mark Zuckerman - Apr 2, 2010 at 2:56 AM

    Nervous Nats Fan: That's no trouble. I'll just see however much you contribute for a given month and assign you that level of extras.

  48. Dave - Apr 2, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    I'm in for the "white" plan. (Hope I'm not sorry later on that I didn't go for "blue." I just don't think I'd keep up with all the updates.)You have done a great job, Mark and I'm happy to do my little part to keep you going. My wife and I were just in central Florida, although our Viera game on Monday got rained out.We drove across the Grapefruit League listening to your audio in the car. Thanks! It gave us perspective we never would have had otherwise.

  49. SteveR - Apr 2, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    Congrats on a great month while working on an unproven platform. You've shown it can work.At this rate, you'll be hiring staff in no time! (Need a stats guy? — har har)Fine, fine work.

  50. David - Apr 2, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    Hmmm…is there an ESPN DC in the works? Just idle speculation while waiting for opening day.

  51. Mrs. Zuckerman - Apr 2, 2010 at 9:57 PM

    I'd just like to add my personal thanks to all of you, readers. This spring has been a lot of fun for *me* reading your back-and-forth with Mark and with each other, in addition to my beloved husband's excellent writing. Thanks for your continued support–subscribing, commenting, reading, everything–and I hope this adventure will continue (hey, if we could afford for me to be a full-time Nats Insider photographer, that would be AWESOME).

  52. Anonymous - Apr 2, 2010 at 11:48 PM

    Mark,Just re-upped for the season. You did a great job at spring training. I hope you're keeping notes for a magazine article or possibly even a book on your transition to this form of journalism.Good luck.Bob CullenPS: If you need volunteer photography help this summer, let me know.

  53. NattyDelite! - Apr 3, 2010 at 2:01 AM

    Hey Mark,I just re-upped and wanted to add my thanks for all that you too (and you too Mrs. Z!) I can't wait to see the coverage for this season!

  54. natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    Thanks for sharing him with us, Mrs. Z., while you hunkered through the long, cold winter up here with the rest of us. (p.s. I trust that he's back on dust bunny duty now.) ;-)

  55. Anonymous - Apr 3, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    Just chipped my $100. Mr. Z — thank you for adding so much to the week I just spent at spring training. Insider is right. Teriffic stuff. A question for you — what kind of camera did you use to take those dandy shots you posted with your entries?

  56. peric - Apr 4, 2010 at 1:22 AM

    Hmmm maybe I should turn the tables and change my handle to "anonymous" and use my wickedly sharp rapier on some you reprobates. It might be fun.

  57. Anonymous - Apr 4, 2010 at 2:51 AM

    I work for a non profit..thus i am poor, so the 8 bucks was all I can do.. but you deserve it!Keep up the good work and good luck in your endeavors..GO NATS!!!!

  58. Mark Zuckerman - Apr 4, 2010 at 3:07 AM

    Anon 10:06: Nothing special with the camera. Just a standard Kodak digital with a zoom lens. It helps when you can shoot from the front row or the photographer's pit at spring training!

  59. thebrowncoat - Apr 5, 2010 at 7:02 PM

    Sent in my $100 – thanks for all the great content to date!When should we expect our first emailed content for the regular season?

  60. Positively Half St. - Apr 11, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    I'm in.

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ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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