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Spring Training Fan Guide Part 1: The complex

Feb 7, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT

US Presswire file photo
Autographs are easy to obtain before and after workouts near Space Coast Stadium.

That magical date we've been counting down to for months is nearly upon us. Pitchers and catchers report for the start of spring training in a mere 12 days. And that means a lot of people are making their final preparations for the journey down to Viera, from players and support staff to media members to fans who want to see it all up close.

If you've been to Nationals camp before, you know the drill. But if you're a first-time visitor, you want to know what to expect.

With that in mind, it's time for the annual Nats Insider Spring Training Fan Guide. As I've done in previous years, I'll break this down into two parts over two days. Tomorrow, we'll talk about Viera and the surrounding community, where to stay and where to eat.

But first, let's talk some baseball. Here's what you'll find at Space Coast Stadium and the adjacent spring training complex…

Viera remains an enigma of sorts. It's still the most-remote stop in the Grapefruit League, 45 minutes east of Orlando near Melbourne andRead more »

107 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Oh man, I so gotta down there one of these days. Thanks Zuck, great stuff.dfh21

  2. Waddu eye no - Feb 7, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Sigh……I wish

  3. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    When you write that season-ticket holders can get into pre-game workout early, are you talking about spring training season-ticket holders or regular season ST-holders? And are tickets to games usually available on a walk-up basis or do you need to buy them ahead of time?

  4. Section 215 Row A - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    My wife and I bought the full spring train plan…a couple of great seats on the first base side. We will only be using them for the last three games and the rest will go up on StubHub. If anyone wants to get them from me directly let me know. I will sell them to my fellow Insiders at face value less the 15% that StubHub takes….or $30.60 for the pair. For more information: pryorcommitments@yahoo.com

  5. whatsanattau - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    Mark, When are you going? How long will you be there? Is Little Zuck going? Does he have a mitt? If they autograph his pampers will you keep them?

  6. N. Cognito - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    Went down last year and had a good time. Watched Harper doing bunting practice from about 5 feet away, just outside the backstop. He couldn't bunt the ball to save his life. About a week or two later, they found out he need glasses/contacts.Looked for NatJack before a game but couldn't find him – must have known I was coming and hidden in a stall in the bathroom.Zimmerman captcha: throwhi

  7. N. Cognito - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    Anonymous said… "When you write that season-ticket holders can get into pre-game workout early, are you talking about spring training season-ticket holders or regular season ST-holders?"I'm pretty sure it's preseason STH."And are tickets to games usually available on a walk-up basis or do you need to buy them ahead of time?"Yes – except the Yankees game.

  8. Anonymous8 - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    My bags are packed, I'm ready to go. This is the series I plan on attending w/ the drive to the 'Stros game.First exhibition game: March 2 vs. GeorgetownFirst Grapefruit League game: March 3 at AstrosFirst home Grapefruit League game: March 4 vs. Astros

  9. MicheleS - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    Sigh have to stay home and pay the bills.. Wish I was going to be there.

  10. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    Hey "N"…..I don't hide from anybody. I'll be at practice the the 24th and the 25th. Look for me.And "8"…. I'll be at all those games, too.

  11. Big Cat - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    I should of taken that government job way back when……I could of been retired now with a little shanty down there right next to the ballpark. A lunker stick for the off season…. but noooooo, I knew it all back then. Should of listened to dad

  12. natsfan1a - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    I was able to find NatsJack when I attended some games last year (his "NatsJack" t-shirt was quite helpful in that regard), and my husband and I enjoyed meeting him.I don't think that we'll be making the trip this year (I wish), and I'm envious of those who will be. Will have some food/sightseeing comments in the next thread.Re. seeing players elsewhere, some of the young kids/ST invitees happened to be staying at our hotel, so we ran into them and their families at the breakfast tables and in the elevators. I remember being amused by one strapping young man who came downstairs carrying a large takeout container (with dinner leftovers, I guessed); he swooped into the breakfast room and grabbed a handful of hard-boiled eggs from the breakfast buffet on his way out the front door. Lots of protein to fuel his workout. Another player's young son was sharing a table with his mom and an elderly couple. One of them asked what brought him to Florida (a trip to Disneyland, maybe?) He proudly stated that his dad was there to play baseball. (Can't recall dad's name but it turns out he was destined for the minors and was subsequently released, if memory serves.)

  13. DCDingo - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    I went three years ago. Cut a deal with my daughters. Two days at the parks in Orlando, but one day for dad at Viera. The players are relaxed but there's a buzz among the fans. The very start of another season when all things are possible and hopes are high. Now, if I could just experience the Nats in the playoffs…

  14. Knoxville Nat - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Went last year for the first time in late March and got to see the Cards and the Marlins at home. (Met NatsJack at the Marlins game.) Apparently there had been some sort of altercation earlier that week between the Nats and Cards, something involving Nyjer Morgan if I remember corrctly. Anyway LaRussa brought a lot of the front line players up from Jupiter that night and definitely looked and acted as if he was managing to win that night. Gorzelany pitched a heck of a good game and the Nats won. No such luck when we played the Marlins in 95 degree weather on a Sunday afternoon. If looking for a good seafood restaurant I'll definitely recommend Bonefish Willy's near Melbourne but if you go there note that they do not have a liquor license, just beer and wine as I recall.

  15. markfd - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Unfortunately my work schedule is preventing me from continuing my ST streak (yep it ends at 7 years) so I will be living vicariously through those of you who are down in lovely Viera. good wrap up Mark I do not think you left anything out. The complex offers unprecedented access to the players.

  16. N. Cognito - Feb 7, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… "Hey "N"…..I don't hide from anybody. I'll be at practice the the 24th and the 25th. Look for me."I'd like to go but can't this year. I've got a new work assignment and the learning curve is a vertical wall.

  17. N. Cognito - Feb 7, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    natsfan1a said… "Can't recall dad's name but it turns out he was destined for the minors and was subsequently released, if memory serves."I envy the Dad. He got a tste of the dream. My dream was ended by the high school curve ball. It was a short dream.

  18. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 7, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    Sorry for being a bit off-topic, but this is following up on NatinBeanTown's query yesterday about projected 2012 runs scored/runs allowed. Clay Davenport, a legitimate sabrematrician, has his early projections out and, in a new post on the Nats generated by the Edwin Jackson signing concludes that "their projected run totals – 4th best in the majors in the pitching, 6th-worst in batting – point to a seriously unbalanced team." He has the Nats with an 80-82 record based on their low offensive production. If you go to his site — ClayDavenport.com — then scroll down to the 'standings' and click on 'WAS' you'll also get his player-by-player projections. I don't know (nor am I defending) his methodology, but I was struck by the low number of ABs he gives some players (e.g., LaRoche, Ramos).

  19. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    stupid cruve ball

  20. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Feb 7, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Attention, Uncle Teddy: Please move to St. Petersburg! I've got a girlfriend there.

  21. Anonymous Hero - Feb 7, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    My folks are snowbirds who've nested in Vero for the winters. We plan on visiting them every year, so I am not rooting for a Gulf Coast or Cactus migration. Dad and I will be taking in the first game against the 'Stros and we plan to take my son in the spring of 2013–he's only 2 now, so I don't think he's got the patience, bandwidth, of foul ball reaction time to go!

  22. Drew - Feb 7, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    I've been three times, but not this year.I've found that the most relaxing trip is to go for a week and attend the home games, but enjoy other amusements when the team is on the road. There's plenty to do — beach, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, manatees, space center tours.I've tried it the other way, driving to Tampa (Yanks) Lakeland (Tigers) Jupiter (Cardinals) Vero Beach (when the Dodgers were still there).It's cool to see the other parks, but some of them are a hike from Melbourne or Cocoa Beach — where folks stay to see the Nats in Viera.Also: If you want to see something akin to the real team, go late in spring training.

  23. skidge - Feb 7, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    I'll be there for the games on March 10 and 12. First time! Thanks for all the info.

  24. N. Cognito - Feb 7, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    "I was struck by the low number of ABs he gives some players (e.g., LaRoche, Ramos)."The predictions are based upon past performances, including number of games played, and trend lines. Players who have had injuries or were part time/just coming, can get "shortchanged" on the expected number of games played.If he expects LaRoche to play 85 games and hit 10 homeruns, but you expect/think/hope he will play 140 games, based upon Davenports HR rate for LaRoche, you would then expect LaRoche to hit about 16 homeruns.

  25. natsfan1a - Feb 7, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Like Drew, we mixed sightseeing and home game attendance. We did the space center and Merritt Island refuge thing, but if you're staying in Viera and not inclined to go very far afield, I highly recommend the Viera wetlands, which was conveniently located near our hotel. Will post more in the "part 2" thread.

  26. natscan reduxit - Feb 7, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    … as Nats fans, we have entertained ourselves – and each other – all winter with our views about who should do what, and when. Some of the moves made have supported our opinions, some have not. But one thing we have all agreed on, right from the word 'play ball', is that the 2012 Nats are a better team, a much better team, than the 2011 version. To a fan, we can hardly wait to see our dreams and predictions come true…. and come true they will, but only when the team actually performs as we now know it can. And in order to do that, they, and we, have to put those valid expectations on hold. The team has yet to step up to the plate and do the job. … that's where Spring Training comes in. It is a God-given fact that some of our strongly held opinions will be sorely tested in the next two months. Some of our favourites will struggle; some obvious strategies will show glaring weaknesses; some new plans will be tried and tested; some lesser lights will shine through like the Florida sun after a downpour. But that's why we love it. That's why true fans understand the value and the necessity of Spring Training. That's why in February, we won't be caught pining for April – not yet. The game 'marches' on and ST is a fact of life – unavoidable and not to be missed.Go Nats!

  27. frank - Feb 7, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    THis is great! Thank you so much! WE've already got tickets to a few games at the end of March and we're staying in Melbourne. We'll be going to Disney on the Saturday, but other than that it's going to be fun baseball and sun all weekend! WOOHOO!

  28. Steve M. - Feb 7, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… Hey "N"…..I don't hide from anybody. I'll be at practice the the 24th and the 25th. Look for me.And "8"…. I'll be at all those games, too. February 07, 2012 8:30 AM I am staying with friends in Tampa and will see you March 3 (Saturday) against the Astros. I like going to the 1st game as my opening day fix then I will spend time watching some of the other teams the rest of the week on the West Coast.

  29. Steady Eddie - Feb 7, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Got tickets for 4 out of 5 Nats games March 8-12, with one other to cheer the Tigers (and hopefully see a little of the Prince we missed out on) against the Phils on the travel day vs. the Marlins.I've only seen one Nats ST game before, ~5-6 years ago vs. the Bucs in Bradenton, so looking forward to catching a little East Coast ST before they move across the peninsula. Staying out on Cocoa Beach.

  30. PAY TO PLAY - Feb 7, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    Everybody make sure you get your Nats tickets for Saturday May 5th against the Philthies. That is the day all Phillies fans are determined to take over the park. Encourage your friends, relatives, and co-workers also.The Philthies are already claiming they will buy all tickets off of StubHub. Let's shut them out!

  31. natsfan1a - Feb 7, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    Thanks, got Saturday tix for the hubster and myself the day the offer came out.

  32. ignobel - Feb 7, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    Went last year and, among other things, got to see this young guy named Harper play right field. Provided interesting context for posts that suggest he is ready to step in as a major league center fielder. Also saw and heard him get hold of a fast ball. Should be fun when he is ready.

  33. Steve M. - Feb 7, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    Looks like the Boras clients continue on a lackluster off-season (except Prince Fielder) so what do they do, they sign Bill Gluvna from the Nats front office.By the way, Alex Cora signed a MiLB contract with the Cardinals. It would be a shame if Pudge can't make a MLB team.

  34. natsfan1a - Feb 7, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Interesting about Gluvna. The pun potential of Boras' client binders is off the charts now, as Gluvna is a master (imho).

  35. Steve M. - Feb 7, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    natsfan1a, good point the rhyming Gluvna. Funny thing is because all of the East Coast Boras clients, Gluvna is going to keep an office in DC.

  36. The Retired Journalist - Feb 7, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    I used to have regular season season tickets until I retired — and moved from Arlington to a place both by the beach and 15 minutes from Space Coast Stadium. Now I have spring training season tickets so anybody who comes down for some games in Viera should look for the bearded guy behind home plate and just above the access ramp from the concourse.

  37. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 7, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    SteveM…….I'll be sitting 3 rows behind the Nats dugout on the 3rd. Looking forward to meeting you.

  38. Somebody do something already - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    Gak!!! Deadest weeks of the sports year. All this extra productivity is killing me!

  39. Jim Webster - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    The Retired Journalist said . . . Could be some mixup here. Another (semi-) retired journalist who still lives in Arlington, a bearded guy too, will be in Sec.109 back row during the last 2 week2 of spring training . . . and commuting from a place on the ocean (Satellite Beach). Maybe we can swap stories.

  40. Steve M. - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… SteveM…….I'll be sitting 3 rows behind the Nats dugout on the 3rd. Looking forward to meeting you. February 07, 2012 11:58 AM Perfect! Looking forward to seeing you! It sounds like there will be a lot of NatsInsiders there! I will be wearing a #47 Gio Gonzalez red Nats jersey if it is warm enough!

  41. NatsNut - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    Got my 8 tickets to the Saturday Phrillies game!

  42. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    When do the "intramurals" – the practice games in the stadium – start? I used to hit the O's in spring training in Ft. Lauderdale, and loved going to the practice games that were in the mornings, usually starting about 4-5 days before the first spring training game.

  43. Friend of all the World - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    Is it too early to begin predicting which players will report to camp 'in the best shape of their lives'?

  44. natsfan1a - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    Ex-Nats News Department: just stumbled across a nice story on Jamey Carroll.

  45. natsfan1a - Feb 7, 2012 at 5:57 PM

    Friend of the World, funny you should mention that phrase, as I was recently musing to myself that it could be a good candidate for a drinking game, a pastime in which some denizens of NatsInsider have been known to indulge. :-)

  46. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    who or what is NatsJack?

  47. JaneB - Feb 7, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    Somebody do something, you made me laugh out loud!Last year, we were lucky to meet NatsJack down there, and SteveM and two brothers, one from Manassas (anon8?) whose names I'm blanking on. No Mark Z then. I thought I was getting to go again this year, but …I'm not. This is me whining. Next year, I want to go before the games start, and then see a game.Access to the players was cool. Cooler still was to see them working on stuff. Saw Clip keep throwing the same pitch over and over and getting hit every time, till suddenly they couldn't hit it. It was hard on the part of me that wants every guy OUT. Unless he is wearing a Curlie W. One afternoon, we looked up to see 12 Nats on the field…the nine playing defense and the three doing light sprints in the outfield.Liked the Cuban sandwiches there.Talk to the scouts. You'll know them by their multiple wireless devices. Most will talk back, especially about why they love the game, who they spotted early on in his career, what they know that civilians don't. Check 'em out. Don't ask who they are looking at, if you want to keep your head on your shoulders.Send reports! Tell what imaginary friends you meet and what the scouts told you and what you noticed. Ask for advice on restaurants and then take it

  48. JaneB - Feb 7, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    NatsJack is one of your imaginary friends. He comments on this site, and is really smart about baseball and these guys, in particular. He is our eyes at spring training, because he sees a lot of the games,

  49. The Retired Journalist - Feb 7, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    Jim Webster said, "Could be some mixup here." Sounds like we need to trade stories about when we committed journalism as well as watch baseball. Along with the ballpark, there's a brewpub/barbecue place near Space Coast that trades your ticket stub for a free beer after a ballgame. (www.cjbrewery.com)

  50. The Retired Journalist - Feb 7, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    Oh, and at least some of the time I'll be wearing a Dawson Expos jersey that I found on sale in Australia. (Long story that I'll happily tell over that free beer at Charlie and Jake's)

  51. JaneB - Feb 7, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    1a, thanks for the Jamey Carroll story link!

  52. Steve M. - Feb 7, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    Friend of all the World said… Is it too early to begin predicting which players will report to camp 'in the best shape of their lives'? February 07, 2012 12:55 PM I think most of my predictions were once ST started. Since I predicted last year that Zim was going to have an issue with his core and that Bernadina, Lannan, and Corey Brown were going to be in great shape, I will say that Zim will be coming in well-balanced this Spring Training. I understand that his routine at Saddlewood has been as much on speed and agility as it was on core balance.Corey Brown will be in even better shape than last year, and Roger Bernadina will be in great shape and not quite as muscular as last season where he thought he had to be a HR hitter to play LF. Strasburg will have his 6-pack abs again (I didn't predict that last year). I will say that Wilson Ramos will come in 5 to 10 pounds below his playing weight last year.If Mike Cameron comes in without a walking cane, that is a good sign for him!So my 'Best Shape of Their Lives' prediction is Wilson Ramos!

  53. Scooter - Feb 7, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    Yippee! Spring training info post!My dad and I will be at the practice on Thurs, 3/1, staying through the away game on Tues, 3/6. I hope to see a couple of y'all.One thing wasn't clear from the post, and I hope someone can help me out: when the Nats have an away game, even at the very beginning of the schedule, the minor-leaguers will be working out in Viera, at this "adjacent complex"? (I had gotten the impression that minor-league camp might not open till later in March.) (I ask because we're actually there for a bunch of away games, so we might stay "home" one day.)GNYB25GN!

  54. David - Feb 7, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    my baseball dream ended after high school… when i realized i was still 5 feet 10, 125 pounds, and couldn't hit the ball farther than 250 feet. my error-free glove at 3B did not matter. haha. i did slap hit my way to a .350 batting average though, and ended my senior year with a 13 game hit streak. quite proud of that. :-)

  55. Cwj - Feb 7, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    Wont be going down to Viera, but am very excited for those of you who will.Have fun and let us all know how are Nats are doing! :)

  56. Cwj - Feb 7, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    * "our Nats*

  57. FS - Feb 7, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    I do not like that Clay guy's predictions. I don't get why he has such a huge jump in ERA for SS, Clippard, GioG, etc.

  58. Scooter - Feb 7, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    FS, clearly it's because he hates the Nationals and wants to see them fail. It's the only plausible explanation.

  59. natsfan1a - Feb 7, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    NatsLady, just noticed this item re. anthem singer auditions. Posted in case you've not seen it, as I believe you'd expressed interest in attending.

  60. Cwj - Feb 7, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    FS- Yeah that's ridiculous.FanGraphs has much more realistic "predictions".For the curious here are mine:Strasburg- 2.90 ERA, 160 IP, 190 SO, 40 BBZimmermann- 2.95 ERA, 200 IP, 160 SO, 45 BBGonzalez- 3.10 ERA, 210 IP, 190 SO, 70 BBJackson- 3.75 ERA, 210 IP, 175 SO, 65 BBLike any prediction, I have as good a chance as getting them right as the "experts". :-)

  61. jcj5y - Feb 7, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    If the Nats' top 4 starters have ERAs of 2.90, 2.95 3.10 and 3.75, they are definitely going to contend. I don't care how bad the hitting is.If anyone's curious, the crowdsourcing at Fangraphs has Strasburg at 2.88 ERA/162 IP; Zimmermann at 3.41/184; Gio at 3.47/207; and Jackson at 3.84/211. I would take all of those numbers.

  62. Mark'd - Feb 7, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    Jcj5y, if Gio is at 3.47 that is a disappointment. John Lannan was sitting at 3.48 the 1st week of September.

  63. SonnyG10 - Feb 7, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    I made my first trip ever to spring training last winter and really enjoyed it. I was there before the games started. It was great to get to see the players up close. Wish I could go again this year. Maybe next year.

  64. Scooter - Feb 7, 2012 at 8:55 PM

    But, Mark'd, isn't a whole season of 3.47 better than five months of 3.48? I mean, they do keep counting the games, yes?

  65. Mark'd - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    Scooter, of course. Lannan lost .22 over his last 4 starts. It gives you hope that Lannan and JZim will both improve this year.Gio at 3.47 is just not what the Nats gave up 3 1/2 studs for.I think this is the weakest National League I have seen in about 5 years so the pitchers can dominate a little more.

  66. Cwj - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:16 PM

    Jcj5y- Yeah I believe they will contend for a wild card spot. I do worry a bit about their hitting, but a lot of things would have to go wrong for their hitting not to improve this season.Clearly though, pitching will be the Nats strength this year. I just wish I could look into the future and see who the 5th starter will be.

  67. jcj5y - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    I'd be a little disappointed if Gonzalez was at 3.47 too. He's been 3.23 and 3.12 his past two seasons pitching in the AL. I'm hopeful that he can keep it close to 3.00 with the switch to the league with no DH.

  68. Scooter - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    Mark'd, you're quicker to dismiss a 3.47 ERA than I am (and apparently more invested in the bushers who got traded), but that's okay. I hope he's better too.

  69. Cwj - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    A 3.47 ERA is still pretty good.But I would expect Gio Gonzalez to be lower, 3.10 sounds right.I have a feeling that Zimmermann will be even better than last year. His HR/FB rate was a little lucky last year, but even if he gives up a few more homers there's no doubt in my mind he'll retain a high SO/BB rate. I think 2.95 ERA is reasonable.

  70. Drew - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    Obscure spring training tip: Scan the light towers for birds' nests. We've seen some pretty cool birds at the Florida ballparks, including swallow-tail kites and ospreys.

  71. FS - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:24 PM

    Cwj, that's another extreme. 190 strikeouts in 160 innings? I don't think so. SS can manage that ERA I think. Not sure about others. forty innings bump for Jordan also sounds unreasonable. I don't think anyone from FO would stretch him that much. I like the numbers jcj5y has posted for everyone, except GioG. I think GioG will have better numbers than everyone expects him to have. All his numbers seem to be trending in the right direction over last 3 seasons.I hope our offense improves though. Lots of ifs and uncertainty, but I hope everything pans out. I wanna see them contend this season hopefully.

  72. jd - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:29 PM

    mark'd'Gio at 3.47 is just not what the Nats gave up 3 1/2 studs for.' Over estimating our prospect a little maybe?

  73. Cwj - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    FS- I'm not so sure. FanGraphs has Strasburg at between 10.1-10.7 SO/9. I think that's comparable to my prediction of 190 K's in 160 IP.

  74. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    Lannan may improve this year, but he's got a good chance of pitching for a different club.

  75. NatsLady - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    Thanks, 1a. Just sent an email to my student. She is interning with the FBI today, so I hope she gets it and I hope she has a headshot to send in…

  76. Gardner - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    On my way down with the boys for a 4 game swing the 15th-18th (with a swing East to Tampa). Games against the Tigers, Marlins and Yankees twice should be spicy. Go Nats!

  77. natsfan1a - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:50 PM

    You're welcome, NatsLady. Let us know what happens.Good call on the birds (bird call?), Drew. I saw an osprey at Space Coast stadium last year. Had some other bird sightings at the pond just outside the stadium but can't recall what we saw where at the moment. Of course, back in the day the Nats fielded a sandhill crane in one ST game (yeah, we've come a long way with roster building since then ;-)). We didn't see them at the stadium but did see some cranes at the wetland I mentioned, and scads of other birds, and gators, and an armadillo. But I digress. (I know. What else is new?)

  78. Cwj - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    Yeah I would imagine there would be some interesting bird and other animal sightings down there.The possibility of seeing a gator alone is pretty cool Natsfan! :)

  79. Cwj - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:57 PM

    Anyone else have their own predictions for some Nats players?It's kinda fun, and who knows, at the end of the season you may get a few right :)12 more days…ugh I can't wait that long.

  80. N. Cognito - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:01 PM

    FS said… "I do not like that Clay guy's predictions. I don't get why he has such a huge jump in ERA for SS, Clippard, GioG, etc."Because the predictions are based upon past track records, not the best season they've ever had or the season we might believe they can have.

  81. HHover - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    Cwj/jcjy53.10 might be a best case for Gio, but it's hardly likely–it would have made him the 10th best pitcher or so in the NL last year. He won't have to face DHs, but he's going to be pitching in a tougher home ballpark. His FIP for the past few seasons has been 3.6-3.8, which also doesn't support an expectation of 3.10.Expecting 3.50-ish and being happy with anything better is probably a safer and saner course.

  82. Cwj - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    HHover- But for all we know Gio may have a career year. He's now just entering his prime after all.But, of course, no one knows. I do believe though that the Nats will have 4 starters with ERA's under 4.00. With one or two possibly under 3.00.Not many past seasons where such a thing was even possible.

  83. FS - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:28 PM

    off-topic, but have we ever talked about Maybin as an option for CF? maybe we can flip Lannan to Padres for him. :DCwj, you are right about strikeout rate. He is capable of that strikeout rate. Not sure he will realize that potential just one season away from TJS.

  84. Another_Sam - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    JaneB – you met me and my brother. NatsJack — so nice to have met you last year. Great fun seeing you guys last year. Looking forward to seeing you both this year.I'm still firming up plans but the week of 19th is looking like when I'll be at spring training.

  85. HHover - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    CwjSure he might. But I thought we were talking about what it's realistic to project, not what it's possible to dream. 4 SP with ERAs under 4 is not that far-fetched. The Nats starters last year had a collective ERA of 3.80, and there were 3 SP with 20 or more starts under 4 (Zmann, Lannan, and Jason Marquis).

  86. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    Hey Another Sam. Looking forward to meeting up again. I'll be in my same seats in Section 111.

  87. greg - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:44 PM

    mark'd, another difference btwn lannan/gio would be that gio would be at that mid-3 ERA with around an extra inning per start than lannan will. he goes deeper into games and puts less guys on base. i think gio will still be at least 0.5 better ERA than lannan (just like last year).

  88. Cwj - Feb 7, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    HHover- For what it's worth, I do believe a 3.10 ERA (not FIP) for Gio is a realistic prediction. Which is why I'm predicting it :)It's just my projection. I don't see why it's unreasonable based on everything I've seen, read, heard and studied about Gio Gonzalez.But that's another great thing about Baseball. Not everyone will see everything the same way.

  89. Cwj - Feb 7, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    Greg- Very good point. Though I'm still not sure why people compare Lannan to Gonzalez and/or Jackson.Lannan averaged 5.6 innings per start last year (not good).Gonzalez was 6.31, and Jackson was 6.41. Zimmermann was 6.21.Another problem with the comparison is that Lannan cannot strikeout of his jams. Gio can, as can Jackson to a lesser extent. Zimmermann doesn't allow many jams :)

  90. Cwj - Feb 7, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    *(just a note to my last post. Jackson pitched 1 game in relief last year (1 IP). So I subtracted that from his IP and divided by starts.)

  91. Just sayin' - Feb 7, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    FS said: "off-topic, but have we ever talked about Maybin as an option for CF? maybe we can flip Lannan to Padres for him. :D"=========================I'm not sure whether that little symbol at the end means you're not being serious, but if you are don't hold your breath. The Padres are just like the Nats right now — at least in one sense — they need hitting, not pitching. And I believe they see Maybin as a part of their ongoing rebuilding.

  92. FS - Feb 7, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    Just sayin', I was not serious. Why would padres move their CF for two years of average pitching? Like you said, hitting is their main problem. He could actually fit in well with our lineup.

  93. Just sayin' - Feb 7, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    Just looked at the Davenport projections — not just for the Nats but for other teams about which I know a little something — and they seem reasonable, but by no means perfect. His Runs Allowed for Boston seems much too optimistic when compared to Tampa Bay, for example. But his fundamental point about the Nats seems about right: the lack balance between offense and pitching. I thus continue to hope and expect that we'll see a trade before Opening Day that will move one of our excess pitchers in exchange for someone that can generate additional runs, one way or the other. Neither the Jackson nor the Lidge signings make sense, otherwise.

  94. Just sayin' - Feb 7, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    FS – Sorry; I'm a dunce on those little sign thingees.

  95. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2012 at 12:15 AM

    A lot of talk about ERA. It's not such a good indicator of a pitcher's effectiveness all things considered. Scoring decisions, quality of defense and relief pitchers being huge factors.

  96. :-) - Feb 8, 2012 at 12:32 AM

    Emoticon list.

  97. Cwj - Feb 8, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    Anon 7:15- That is true. Yet ERA is a basic stat and more predictable than some of the more advanced stats. I intentionally left off W-L record for pitchers because that is almost completely Team dependent.ERA at least focus a bit more on the pitcher.

  98. Drew - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:16 AM

    One last Wild Kingdom note. A couple of years ago a friend and I used an off day at spring training to drive through the Merritt Island wildlife refuge. Right away, we came across a wild pig that had been hit by a car. My friend says: "Toto, I don't think we're in Arlington anymore."Merritt Island is in the flight path of fantastic migratory birds, including a resplendent flamingo-looking thingy called the roseate spoonbill. A few miles into the refuge I was preoccupied with the gator a few feet from my passenger side window. My buddy says, "The gator's cool, but you're not going to see these birds anyplace else."It's well worth the trip.

  99. Just sayin' - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:31 AM

    Sideways smiley-faced thingee @ 7:32,Thanks for the list, but if I'm going to study a new language I think it will be Italian.

  100. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:42 AM

    I guess for those who have been to Merritt Island it wouldn't be fair to ask if they went to Playalinda Beach. If any of you have, what sort of wildlife did you see there?

  101. DHamm - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:45 AM

    I'll be there from March 3 to 8, following the Nats around all week. Making all the stops! See you there!

  102. Gonat - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:54 AM

    jcj5y said… I'd be a little disappointed if Gonzalez was at 3.47 too. He's been 3.23 and 3.12 his past two seasons pitching in the AL. I'm hopeful that he can keep it close to 3.00 with the switch to the league with no DH. February 07, 2012 4:20 PM ________________________________Good convo on this. Not sure how FanGraphs came up with all of their calculations. I'm hoping Gio is much closer to 3.00 than 3.50I guess we will see!

  103. Scooter - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:04 AM

    Gonat (and plenty of other folks), you might enjoy this. Fangraphs has a pretty great glossary section, and it includes this nugget on the projection systems they include on their player pages. If you scroll down far enough, there's even a brief description of where each individual system comes from.Finally, I'll quote a couple of sentences that speak nicely to many people's problems with projections; namely, that they are never, ever right: Since projections cannot account for luck and random variation, though, the projections are never 100% accurate in their predictions. Instead, one should view these systems as ways of measuring a player’s current underlying talent level. I don’t know if David Wright is going to hit for a .360 wOBA or not, but CHONE suggests that his talent level is such of a .360 wOBA hitter.So, there's the basics. Thanks for asking!

  104. Gonat - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:23 AM

    Scoot, while I agree Gio will have some +'s and -'s based on factors such as maturation, age, stadium conditions, no DL in the NL, strength of schedule, comparative strength of defense, pitching coach, compatibility with catcher, etc.A lot of people bring up Zito changing teams and leagues but on the other side you have Tim Hudson.

  105. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:28 AM

    Scooter,Thanks for that link. What's left unsaid is that if CHONE concludes that David Wright has a 'talent level' of .360 wOBA, then his 2012 projection really shouldn't be in the form of a single number but rather in the form of a range of probable outcomes. Most likely — without seeing the data I going to take a wild, but somewhat educated, guess here — there would be something like a 75 percent chance that Mr. Wright produces somewhere between wOBA .335 and wOBA .395 (those could be higher or lower depending on the what the actual standard deviation is). And there's just as much likelihood that he will produce the lower number as there is that he will be produce the higher one. But people don't want to bother with interpreting a range, they want a single number they can fix on; doesn't matter whether they're talking baseball stats, political polling, or financial projections.

  106. natsfan1a - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    In case anybody is still reading here, I thought I'd post a re-purposed baseball-specific trip report, seeing as how I'd done so for the subsequent sightseeing/food thread. The game in question was vs. STL.As we were walking into the park, we saw John Lannan working with Trent Jewett and an anonymous batter (at least, I didn't recognize the guy and he didn't have a name on his jersey). They were working in a fenced area next to the sidewalk. I think they were doing pitcher's fielding practice. A bit beyond that area was a walkway leading to the home locker room. Lots of kids were standing next to the fence waiting for players to go by, in hopes of getting autographs. We saw a few players signing there during our visits, although I didn't recognize any of them.The stadium itself looked pretty spiffy, and I liked the space program aspect (the tribute foul poles, the shuttle mockup outside). Most of the employees were seniors, and everyone was very friendly. There was a cancer prevention promotion, and the team gave away a bag that contained a large bottle of sunscreen, a bottle/can sleeve, and some educational literature. Oh, and I got to see the famously loud beer vendor, who can be heard on every broadcast. I thought about asking for his autograph, but I didn't. That night, our web-purchased tickets had us up by the press box (I was glad we'd gotten them ahead of time, as evidently the game was a sellout). When we got to our seats, we saw Mark Zuckerman leaning out the window talking to a fan. I stopped by to say "hi," and he asked me if I'd met NatsJack. I hadn't done so yet, so Mark told me what to look for (NatsJack makes it easy on you by wearing an eponymous t-shirt). We did end up meeting NatsJack after the game, and I thanked him for all the ST tips he's posted to the blog.As you may recall, that game was started by Gorzelanny and we ended up with a curly W. You may also recall the spiffy sliding catch by Roger Bernadina. During that inning, Werth and Zimmerman were doing sprints on the warning track, having come out of the game earlier. After the catch, Werth turned toward the field and doffed his cap, I assume in recognition of Rahjah's feat.Our next game was the Sunday day game, vs. the Marlins (who evidently still own us). Before the game, we sat next to a retired couple who were also dining on concession food. They attend every home ST game and were very knowledgeable about the team. It was a hot day and the wife was trying to avoid sitting in the sun before game time. A light bulb went off over my head, and I asked her if she would like a bottle of sunscreen. She said yes, so I gave her my giveaway bottle from the Friday game. I'd brought it along in hopes of finding someone who could use it, as it was too big to take through airline security on the way home.Speaking of the food, my hubby had a very good grilled mahi mahi sandwich and some very tasty hush puppies. I had a grilled hot dog (also tasty). At the previous game, we'd shared a cheeseburger basket. It was decent and the fries were quite good.Then we headed off to our seats. As it turned out, the couple was a few rows below us in the same section. Detwiler, who started, looked good, and so did Broderick in his first inning. In his second, things got a little dicey, in part due to a Zimmerman error, and the Marlins took the lead, which they held onto for the win (oh, and in between there was a dinger by Michael Morse).

Archives

NLDS: NATIONALS VS. GIANTS

FRI: Game 1 at Washington, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2 at Washington, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3 at San Francisco, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4 at San Francisco, TBA (FS1)*
THU: Game 5 at Washington, TBA (FS1)*
*if necessary

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

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.

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