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It’s time

Feb 18, 2012, 6:31 PM EDT

The bags are packed. The household chores have been (mostly) taken care of. Mrs. Z and Baby Z have been assured all will be fine in my absence.

It's time to head down to Viera. It's time for baseball.

This will be my eighth spring covering the Nationals — how did that happen? — and it promises to be the most anticipated and intriguing camp since the franchise arrived in town. As always, I'll do my best to bring it all to you via a multitude of platforms: Nats Insider, CSNwashington.com, Comcast SportsNet, Twitter, ESPN-980.

My itinerary for the spring, as assigned by CSN: Flying to Orlando this afternoon, then making the short drive east to Viera. I'll be on-site at Space Coast Stadium tomorrow morning as pitchers and catchers officially report (though nearly all of them, plus several position players,Read more »

  1. MicheleS - Feb 18, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    WOOO HOOO!!! Mark is on his way!

  2. sec3mysofa - Feb 18, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    Safe travels, Mr. Z. Looking forward to your posts.

  3. Jim Kurtzke - Feb 18, 2012 at 7:03 PM

    Year 8 of the Nats. I'm getting old.

  4. Just sayin' - Feb 18, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    I'm already old.

  5. natsfan1a - Feb 18, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    Happy trails and safe travels, Mark.

  6. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 18, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    I'll see you and Amanda Friday.

  7. Anonymous - Feb 18, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    My sense is that Johnson picks Detwiler for that final spot. It only makes sense at this point. Wang and Lannan left hanging … if he can convince Rizzo that Detwiler gives him the best chance to win games early and often.

  8. baseballswami - Feb 18, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    When I saw the heading I got goose bumps. Yes, it is time. Hallelujah!

  9. Anonymous - Feb 18, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    Oh and Natsjack, I saw Morse in AAA Syracuse after the trade, and after he had already torn up the PCL. I'm the one who compared his stats ini AAA to Jason Heyward's almost exclusively in AA. I got summarily trounced for even considering comparing the two, you included dude … who turned out to be right? In any case I surprisingly enough find myself agreeing with the sentiments relative to JMax. But I'm not sure he would want to try again with the Nats? I can see it because Johnson is the manager not Riggleman. If Johnson is as smart as many say and he thinks when it comes to developing prospects maybe he could fix JMax. Perhaps undo another snafu Bowden created.

  10. NatsNut - Feb 18, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    SQUEAL!!

  11. LoveDaNats - Feb 18, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    Longest. Winter. Ever.

  12. Positively Half St. - Feb 18, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    I didn't see the conversation about Justin Maxwell, but my thought is definitely that that ship has sailed. I'd rather take my chance with other prospects on their way up, with a stopgap like Cameron until then. I take that back- I would so much rather a trade to obtain someone to fill CF for years, but I don't seee it happening.As for Detwiler, I simply don't see him taking Wang's place if Wang is healthy. He will almost certainly be in the bullpen.+1/2St.

  13. Anonymous - Feb 18, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    I didn't see the conversation about Justin Maxwell, but my thought is definitely that that ship has sailed. I'd rather take my chance with other prospects on their way up, with a stopgap like Cameron until then. I take that back- I would so much rather a trade to obtain someone to fill CF for years, but I don't seee it happening.There is no reason for the Nats to deal for a CF given that Upton will be a free agent next year. UNLESS they are offered attractive additional prospect[s] to go with him. Something to watch as the season moves toward July. By then the LaRoche issue will likely have been resolved, Morse would be ensconced at first base. They will also be analyzing Brian Goodwin to see how far away he is and whether he is a corner outfielder or a CF. That is still TBD in the minds of many. But, then there's also Eury Perez and the surprising Michael Taylor. Perez could be in Harrisburg while Taylor in Potomac. Close enough for consideration. So, I'm not too worried about CF as many here are. I think its something Rizzo has a good handle on … things have been moving very fast just not fast enough to make more impatient long-time season ticket holders happy.What concerns me is the offense which statistically dwells close to bottom feeders like Pittsburgh and Baltimore. It needs to improve and adding a CF won't do that by any measure or means. Harper might be a big part of the answer which is why I believe his chances to end up in the starting line up this year are very high. Beyond Harper, and short of a trade, there really isn't any cavalry on the way unless Tyler Moore hits .300 with 50 home runs and 100 BB's and 150 RBI in AAA Syracuse. That's smoking some heavy duty opiate though …

  14. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 18, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    As a Beast Mode fan, the only time I remember using "AAAA" and Michael Morse in the same comment had to be when the trade for Langerhans went down and I said SEATTLE said he was a "AAAA" defensive guy. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

  15. realdealnats - Feb 18, 2012 at 8:55 PM

    In terms of yesterday's suggestion of signing Harper up early to an even longer term deal: think Ovie. Trying to control the future in smaller segments is smart; trying to control the future forever usually backfires. Keep'm hungry. Stay at least somewhat flexible. Keep him wanting to show off for the Yankees, then who knows what happens? In terms of Starting Rotation, NatsLady says Wang, and I usually agree with her. But I've still got that sneaking suspicion we'll see Lannan. Virtually no one agrees, I know. But he's steady, and quietly good, on average. Wang's shoulder is still an unexpolred world looking for a northwest passage. Too many of us are taking his recovery for granted. I hope I'm wrong.I say Lannan as our 2nd lefty for #5. Wang opens on DL whether this hurts his chances for a June trade or not. Detwiler in the pen. I've got a good feel about Detwiler this year and we'll need him down the line. Keep all 7 for September unless a deal for a #1 CF arises we don't want to decline. Having tested lefties on hand and in the pipeline is a good thing. Don't dump anyone to save 5 mil.

  16. dj in Fl. - Feb 18, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    @NatsJackThanks for the heads up on fans not allowed in till Tuesday. I will just have to go fishing to kill a couple more days. I will plan to see you Friday.

  17. Anonymous - Feb 18, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    I say Lannan as our 2nd lefty for #5. Wang opens on DL whether this hurts his chances for a June trade or not. Detwiler in the pen. And people forget that the only lefty out of the bullpen besides Sean Burnett is Attie Severino. That means Gorzelanny is front and center. Certainly, Detwiler could help with that but Johnson made it very clear that he sees Ross as a starting pitcher. He wasn't as effusive in his praise for either Wang or Lannan. In 2011 Burnett's year was almost as bad as Slaten's. He was not effective. Whereas Gorzelanny WAS.So, perhaps0 Rizzo manages to trade for a young and experienced left-handed reliever, but meanwhile, Lannan is on his way to AAA to be veteran backup for the starting rotation along with Maya, perhaps Stammen (he may win the right handed long relief job), Bradley Meyers, Erik Arneson, perhaps Purke and Solis … unless they are in AA then the fillers signed would be added to that rotation.Can left Hyde make an impression? I expect he'll get a late invite to ST?

  18. JayB - Feb 18, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    Ok…..I have waited until Late Feb and Spring training opened. No Lead Off hitter….No CF…..No bats for the bench……Can you tell me now why I should not point out these huge holes in a Team that could have been much better if they had spend the money and addressed the holes back in Nov and December. Can you tell my why Rizzo should be given a pass on his failure to make the moves he himself judged as most important for his team to progress this off season?Doing 1/3 of the job this off season is not a success for the Team. They could win 90-95 games with CF, Leadoff and Pinch hitting/Bench improvements. As it stands………They could still make this kind of improvement but only if absolutely everything plays out perfectly…..and that is not a good plan in baseball or life folks.

  19. Buzz Killington - Feb 18, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    Because it will totally harsh our ST start mellow?

  20. Another_Sam - Feb 18, 2012 at 9:24 PM

    Play ball.

  21. alexva - Feb 18, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    OK JayB,,,,,, I have waited until 4:22 to respond.Virtually every team has holes, everybody is searching for a solid bench, not every player will wan tot come to a team just because they put the most money on the table. Enjoy the progress, and I know you'll admit that there has been progress.

  22. JayB - Feb 18, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    Yes great progress but still under .500 after seven years in DC. Lerner's skimmed millions of dollars of profit out of these years. Yes they will say they did that to pay down debt…..reality is they mismanaged the tea. They let Mark Lerner protect Jimbo because he he was super cool and let Mark play in the OF before games. They hired the cheapest manager they could find for 4 year. They did not spend on scouting and front office and player development as promised. They missed multiply opportunities over 5 years to build a winning team…..they still have not done that. Show me 95 wins and playoffs and I will see the progress they should have made by now.

  23. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 18, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    How about 91 wins and a division title? I'll be at camp Friday and Saturday.

  24. Section 109 - Feb 18, 2012 at 10:33 PM

    @ NatsJack–could you remind me what your Twitter address is? Then all I'll need to do is figure out how to do Twitter. ;-) Natsfan1a, I ordered the Zinsser book on spring training from Amazon–thanks for the recommendation. Mark, have a good trip–I hope Mrs. Z and Baby Z. will be coming down for a visit!

  25. MicheleS - Feb 18, 2012 at 10:46 PM

    I second that! LoveDaNats said… Longest. Winter. Ever. February 18, 2012 3:17 PM

  26. MIcheleS - Feb 18, 2012 at 10:48 PM

    And since it is nearly 60 degrees (snow tomorrow? what the… ?) and I am watching the college baseball on MLB.. I am starting early folks on this years food and beverage….Grilling steaks and opening a nice bottle of Cab… Enjoy your evening!

  27. Cwj - Feb 18, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    MicheleS- Enjoy the steaks and wine!Another Mac and Cheese and beer night for me :-)Oh yeah, I've completely flip flopped and now think Lannan should be the number 5 starter.Detwiler has "bullpen stuff", and Wang…I have no idea what they should do with him.Hope you all are enjoying your weekend.Go Nats!

  28. natsfan1a - Feb 18, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    Chicken wraps and fries for us (I had coupons), but I think I may make butternut squash soup tomorrow.I think you'll enjoy the book, sec109. I don't have a Twitter account, but I've bookmarked the home pages for the feeds (or whatever you call them) of some beat writers and I go there to read them from time to time. Now I've bookmarked NatsJack's as well.

  29. waddu eye no - Feb 18, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    bon voyage, vaya con dios, froehliche fahren, hasta la vista, etc. i'm sure you'll make this site the second best seat in the house.

  30. Cwj - Feb 18, 2012 at 11:38 PM

    Just for fun I was trying to compile my own list of the best starting pitchers in baseball, complete with various stats.Who do you guys and gals think should be in the top 10?I have 21 so far, in absolutely no order:VerlanderHalladayKershawSabathiaLeeHarenFelix HernandezLincecumWeaverCainHamelsGreinkeI. KennedyPriceShieldsJosh JohnsonLesterPinedaBeckettStrasburgCJ WilsonThoughts would be appreciated. Am I missing anyone? I love making my own lists and top 10s, so any feedback would be great :-)Go Nats!!

  31. Anonymous - Feb 18, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    JayB nailed it. We're so close to having a winner and Rizzo hasn't met his stated goals. Let's give him till April to see if he improves the offense and bench. If not, I could see another 81-81 year with a lot of 2-1 and 3-2 wins and losses.Senators/Nats fan in SC

  32. Section 109 - Feb 18, 2012 at 11:59 PM

    Natsfan1a, thanks so much for NatsJack's page. I didn't even know such pages existed, which shows you how much I understand Twitter. This is a very exciting time of year!

  33. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 19, 2012 at 12:13 AM

    I agree, let's give them until April. If they don't win 81 games by then, we should … ummm … write a strongly worded post on the Internet someplace. Yeah, that'll show 'em.

  34. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 19, 2012 at 12:19 AM

    God, I love you guys.

  35. SCNatsFan - Feb 19, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    No team in the NL East wins 95; not playing so many against the Phils, Braves, Fish and Nats. 90 wins the division and hard to see a wild card as the other divisions beat up on the lesser teams.

  36. Cwj - Feb 19, 2012 at 12:59 AM

    Ugh, the armchair GM thing is getting old.Unfortunately, even stat sites analyze contracts to death. Impossible to get player analysis without reference to how much $$$ they make.Frustrating for me as a fan who doesn't care about salaries, just potential and results.

  37. Gonat - Feb 19, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    Cwj, you are tough. How can you do a Top 21 without JZim and Gio. Both rated within the Top 20 in both ERA, K, and JZim also on WHIP.Sure, Gio may push to Top 25 to 30 moving away from Oakland but JZim definitely is in there.

  38. Anonymous - Feb 19, 2012 at 1:08 AM

    Did anyone see that awesome leadoff hitting CF fee agent that Rizzo and the Learners missed out on this winter because they're so incompetent and cheap?Yeah, me neither.

  39. SonnyG10 - Feb 19, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    Hope you have a safe journey, Mark. It'll be great to have your coverage on site. Looking forward to reports from NatsJack and any other NI folks who go to Viera.

  40. SonnyG10 - Feb 19, 2012 at 1:24 AM

    Heck with the deals, real or imaginary, that didn't get made. Its time to play baseball. GYFNG!!!

  41. SonnyG10 - Feb 19, 2012 at 1:24 AM

    Wow, no captchas required.

  42. SCNatsFan - Feb 19, 2012 at 1:36 AM

    Oh yeah, safe journey Mark.One! I remember when it was over 100.

  43. ehay2k - Feb 19, 2012 at 2:21 AM

    So much progress that I really am over the moon about this season's possibilities. I agree that we do not *yet* know if we have a leadoff hitter or CF. Guess what? Until ST breaks and the season starts, NO team knows who they will bring up because of injuries, "geez he got old fast", and whatever else happens before the team is assembled. Remember in 2011 when we had our leadoff/CF issue "solved" with Nyjer? Then ST happened. I bet last year the Chi Sox thought their DH issues were handled. Nope. If Desi leads off at same the clip that he ended on last year, then we are set. If Cameron/Ankiel can just play good defense, and see a lot of pitches to hit because of the rest of the lineup, then maybe CF is covered. Or one of the young guys (Brown, etc.) rakes in ST and we can't *not* take him to Nats park (avoiding use of the word North here), then we are set. If Harper plays well and comes up in May (he will NOT come up before then even if he bats .500), and Werth slides into CF and plays up to his ample ability, then the offense gets a huge boost. So, there is no reason to panic. There is no reason to try to trade our "extra" pitchers to get something we are not yet sure that we even need. (And you sure don't trade an SP for some bench bats in any case.) This is the wrong time of year to do deals mainly because you have something you don't want. Trade from Weakness with no plan, and you get Cutter Dykstra. Trade from Strength with a plan, and you get Ramos.Enjoy for the next few weeks. Just think, now Mark Z. can put up a countdown timer to opening day. And also one for the home opener. Just sayin'

  44. Anonymous - Feb 19, 2012 at 2:25 AM

    No Lead Off hitter….No CF…..No bats for the bench……Can you tell me now why I should not point out these huge holes in a Team that could have been much better if they had spend the money and addressed the holes back in Nov and December. On MLB Network last night, they pointed out that half the teams in MLB have question marks in the leadoff spot. No doubt just as many teams have question marks in CF or on the bench. No team in MLB is perfect. All teams have weaknesses somewhere. And for those that don't, like the 2011 Red Sox, 2010/2011 Phillies etc, they often find a way to blow it. And even teams that win it all, like the 2011 Cards, often have glaring weaknesses somewhere.No team, no one is perfect. Except for JayB. He's perfectly wrong. Every single time.

  45. Anonymous - Feb 19, 2012 at 2:36 AM

    JayB,I think they do have a lead off hitter and he even has a gold glove. They just don't know where to put him as yet. And that would be Stephen Lombardozzi. Heard of him?As for CF oh JayB you know its Werth so that Harper can fit into the lineup? At least until they move Morse to first base. Anthony Rendon is the likely best candidate to hit 2nd. Where are they going to play him? Its not like they didn't spend any money signing him?Johnson is right when he said they have what they need inside the organization. The problem is they are different stages of readiness.

  46. Anonymous - Feb 19, 2012 at 2:38 AM

    But even with Harper the offense could still be dismal … until Espinosa, Rendon, Harper, Ramos, et al come into their own. And they still do need an impact left-handed bat in addition to Harper's.

  47. Gonat - Feb 19, 2012 at 2:51 AM

    It was pointed out that the Phillies last year went into the season without filling Werth's spot.What did they do, they got Hunter Pence on July 31st. Personally, I felt as the Nats approached the off season that you get your pitcher through Free Agency and trade for your CF with the wealth of depth the Nats had. Rizzo didn't get that done after he lost Buehrle. Stuff happens.This is still a better team than the 2011 squad so the hope is the team is in the hunt at the All Star break and find their CF or else a kid name Bryce Harper may be the answer.JayB—-TAKE A CHILL PILL

  48. Cwj - Feb 19, 2012 at 3:00 AM

    Gonat- yeah that's why I was asking for help :)The pitchers I listed weren't really in any order, and I do think Zimmermann should be in the top 20-25.Anyone you would add/subtract from my list?I was going mainly on "track record" + 2011 Stats.

  49. sjm308 - Feb 19, 2012 at 3:01 AM

    I don't mind JayB complaining and I appreciate that even though we will probably never meet, I have a name on this blog to respond to. What I do mind is the constant referal to what is "In The Past". There is nothing to be gained by rehashing what can't be changed. Let it go. As AlexVa correctly pointed out, look at the positives and progress and stop grosing about what went on in years past.Sec.3, I did not get a chance to join your section or your couch last year but I will try and join up this year when we craft that nasty note on Rizzo's failures along with the multiple anon's. That will surely show the Lerners who is running the team. I am inclined to give them the first two weeks of the season and then I am really going to shout from the rooftops about our impending doom and failure. OK, enough sarcasm – as always, I am going to enjoy 1. Baseball 2. Baseball played by our Washington Nationals 3. A nice cold beeror two and 4. More Baseball, and if we win more than we lose it will be the first time since 1969 and I will be a happy fan. I am not that hard to please.Go Nats!!

  50. Luqman Sh-Hersi - Feb 19, 2012 at 3:08 AM

    Its great that the Nationals season has begun, finally we get to talk about the different team in DC, Wizards struggling, "expected" by the way, Capitals, struggling "unexpected", Redskins "need qb", Nationals "hope" have a chance to grab dc attention. We need to be exicted for this time. I guarantee playoffs.

  51. sjm308 - Feb 19, 2012 at 3:09 AM

    NatsfanA1A and others:So, I went to the primer on links that one of you nice people provided. this is really not a huge thing but it would be nice to know how to do it. It appears that it is set up for a pc and I have a mac. I hate to ask this group but is there any help for an old fool who can barely turn his computer on in the morning.?

  52. Gonat - Feb 19, 2012 at 3:29 AM

    Cwj, Greinke fell out of the Top 20 in 2011 to Top 25 to 30. I like Tim Hudson, Ryan Vogelsong, and I think Latos is on the cusp as well as Brandon McCarthy.

  53. gonatsgo - Feb 19, 2012 at 4:27 AM

    I find myself wondering – who will be this year's Michael Morse? Who will just stun us and break out with a career year? Can't wait to find out!!!!!!!!And – JZINN definitely belongs in a list of top pitchers. So I'm a homer – big deal.

  54. Scooter - Feb 19, 2012 at 5:14 AM

    sjm, I don't know exactly what primer 1a provided, but I presume it was dealing with HTML, which is the same whether on PC or Mac.

  55. Scooter - Feb 19, 2012 at 5:19 AM

    Here are the basics. I'll use parentheses instead of angle brackets. So where you see ( you should use a < instead; any ) should be changed to a >(i)italics(/i)(b)bold(/b)Mark Zuckerman's (a href="http://www.natsinsider.com&quot;)blog(/a)That last example is a link. It would show up in the browser as "Mark Zuckerman's blog" and the word blog would be a link to http://www.natsinsider.comI hope that helps.

  56. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 19, 2012 at 6:36 AM

    The software for this blog only allows very, very, *very* limited use of HTML coding, so don't worry about hurting anything. You are pretty much limited to bold AKA strong text, italics AKA em(phasis), and hyperlinks without attributes. It would be nice if we could get a link to open in a new window, for instance, but that is one of many, many things that ain't gonna happen this season. And for the record, the browsers will interpret any pair of < brackets as an HTML tag, even it there's nothing in them, and they won't show here.

  57. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 19, 2012 at 7:08 AM

    FWIW: Marlon Byrd has lost about 20 pounds, and has a new Teddy Roosevelt tattoo. Coincidence??

  58. Gonat - Feb 19, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Very nice. Now we have the Opening Day ticker!

  59. The Retired Journalist - Feb 19, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    A grouper sandwich and beer followed by watching the Capitals lose in Tampa last night; but I'm headed back home to Satellite Beach this morning, so I'll see you at Space Coast Stadium (or Charlie and Jake's, MZ?)

  60. MicheleS - Feb 19, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    Sec3.. I saw that article about Marlon and the Teddy tattoo.. that is just bizarre. He has to explain why he got it!! Is going to a running mate in the Bull Moose Party with Werth?An Opening DAY TICKER! That means the BSox exhibition is only 45 days!!!

  61. JayB - Feb 19, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    The thing is…..yes they are much better…tons better….but to become winners they have to change how they do business. They have to stop hoping to fill key roles and go out and FILL KEY ROLES…Yes half the league needs a lead off hitter and the other half needs a CF……THE NATS NEED BOTH…..and a bench (worst in all of baseball last year…by a lot)….SO have things changed…not really…that is how this team has always done business….we will wait until it is too late and pick up whatever is left or try to trade for something in spring training….that is how we got last years bench problem….that is how we got the worst BP in all of baseball in 2009-2010.My point is that the same approach that killed the team for years is still here and will kill the team yet again….THE DIFFERENCE THIS YEAR…..Killed is defined as underachieving by 7 – 10 wins…and that will keep this team out of any meaningful games in Sept.

  62. MicheleS - Feb 19, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    JayBI think they have completely changed how they do business the last few years (ever since Rizzo was put in charge) The PLAN was to rebuild the farm system (check), bring in some free agents (okay, the jury is still out on this one), develop your young core stars (check), use the farm system and other pieces for trades (check – Ramos/Capps, Gio for 4). This is how the Rays did it.We all hate losing, you are just more vocal about it. But that is okay and good. We need people to scream "I am mad as hell and I can't take it anymore" Sometimes that is what drives the change. Look at all of the fans grumbling about Philly invasion? At least we got the front offices attention on that one. Now if we could just do something about the lines at the consession stands…. ;-)

  63. natsfan1a - Feb 19, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    Zero! er, 46! Happy P&C day, everybody!Scooter, great idea to replace brackets with parens in the example. Wish I'd thought of that. The link that sec222 provided had such an example as well as an example that used a software "button." I'm thinking that the latter example may have been the confounding factor.sec3, thanks for the Marlon update. Maybe he and Werth went on a bender and got matching tats? Of course, Jayson's Teddy portrait would be enclosed within the "no" symbol.

  64. JayB - Feb 19, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    Even that has improved since 2008-2010…..the Miller Scoreboard food is great….Your point about the plan….that was always the plan….they just got someone (rizzo) who had a clue what he was doing…..The wait till spring and pick up what is left and sign a bunch of old cheap bench guys…..that is not new and is still going to cost the team big this year…..like our first chance to play meaningful games in Sept…..a very high cost indeed and one that could have been solved with a a focused approach and a relative small amount of money (5-8 Million) back in Nov and December. Rizzo seems to allow himself to get side tracked on one negotiation and is unable to multitask….or so it seems to me.

  65. natsfan1a - Feb 19, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Oh, it's a tattoo of a Roosevelt speech, not of the man. Pretty deep stuff there, Marlon. I kinda like it. Now go get 'em out there! (Wonder whether Rizzo has a similar tat. hmmm…)

  66. sjm308 - Feb 19, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Scooter and Sec 3 – thank you for trying I read and reread your hints and its like looking at Calculus for me. I just sort of freeze up – I will just be happy to continue to click on links others provide, type in mostly lower case letters and enjoy the comments here. But I do appreciate the effort. I have another retired friend, not so much into baseball but into computers and maybe I will invite him over to school me.JayB – I too appreciate your wanting us to break out of the patterns of the last 6 years. I just prefer to look at all the positives. Once again, no sense complaining about what Rizzo did or did not do back in Nov. or Dec. You can't change it unless you want to write a new movie Back to the Future 1V or something. This is the hand we have been dealt, there are probably still moves to be made. The Hunter Pence trade is a good example. Love the new countdown and again thanks to those who really did try and help me.Go Nats!!

  67. natsfan1a - Feb 19, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    LOL at Mark's Twitter update, as posted on the top right side of this page. (That's okay, neither am I. :-))"Good news: I've reported to spring training. Bad news: I'm nowhere close to being in the best shape of my life."

  68. ehay2k - Feb 19, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    Since people mentioned concessions at Nats Park, does anyone else miss Five Guys? I like their burgers better than the Shake Shack, mainly because they had so many topping options, but also because you got a bigger burger for your eight bucks. Add to that their ability to move product fast, and that they never ran out of food in my experience.If there was any way to bring Five Guys back, I'd be all for it. Sunday AM, have tomato juice, horseradish, celery…Bring the best 25 North!

  69. natsfan1a - Feb 19, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    Hat tip to Nats Enquirer (see link at left of page) for the heads up on this piece regarding Philly tours and the Take Back the Park initiative. That's what I'm talking about!

  70. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 19, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    A few thoughts on perspective (now that Spring Training has finally arrived, which occurs a few hours later out here on the west coast):– Three words: Boston Red Sox. At this time last year, virtually everyone who follows baseball assumed that Theo Epstein and company had put together some version of 'the best team ever' (or close to it). Recall the final night of last season, when we all watched the O's beat them and deny them even a wild card slot. There are no guarantees in baseball.– Three more words: St. Louis Cardinals. As someone above pointed out, a team that had significant holes (even with their big names) and that was counted out in mid-season (even by its GM, publicly), yet made the playoffs by a whisker and eventually won the World Series. Magic happens in baseball.– Several dates to focus on: Opening Day; Memorial Day, July 4th, the trade deadline (July 31), Labor Day, the last day of the regular season. Opening Day will tell us what the 'final' (not that anything is truly final) roster is; until then there will be a lot of speculation and angst, but I anticipate a significant move or two before then. Memorial Day and the 4th of July are good times to look at the standings; the first, a couple of months into a long season, the second about a month before the trade deadline. Lots of teams have overachieved in the first few months (recall last year's Pirates and Indians); others have overachieved and come back (again, last year's Cardinals). Don't get too excited, too soon, but don't despair too soon either. The trade deadline this year could be quite telling. If the Nats are in contention for a playoff spot (as I expect — or at least hope), you could easily see significant moves (e.g., trading LaRoche to make room for Morse at first to make room for that elusive CF/lead-off hitter in the form of a player like an Upton or a Bourne — assuming, of course, that Harper is playing and playing well). I won't go in the other direction, but that could happen too. Labor Day standings are significant, if only to gin up the excitement factor. And, finally, in a 162 game season, playoff spots seem to come down to the last regularly scheduled games more than you'd expect. With the new two-team wild card (if actually implemented), this may change. But, in any case, it's the final standings that count. Yes, you have to play all games, but with 162 of them to get through, no one should be jumping off any bridges over a two or three game losing streak. I'm as guilty as anyone of a daily peek at the NL East standings, but I'm only going to get really excited if the Nats are in the mix consistently, i.e., on Memorial Day, again on the 4th, and still again on Labor Day. Let's hope they are and let's all enjoy the ride.Play ball!

  71. Just sayin' - Feb 19, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    natsfan1a (and Mark) re Mark's tweet: As Jim Bouton wrote in Ball Four: Get a tan, quickly, at Spring Training. It makes you look 10 pounds lighter and 10 years younger.(But updated 2012 advice would include use of appropriate sunscreen, as well.)

  72. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 19, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    That second 'overachieved' should have read 'underachieved'; sorry.

  73. natsfan1a - Feb 19, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Another Florida Today piece regarding the potential for a Nats ST site move.

  74. Anonymous - Feb 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    SO have things changed…not really…The only thing that hasn't changed is JayB's cluelessness and hatred. It knows no bounds.

  75. SCNatsFan - Feb 19, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    I was looking forward to seeing a zero up top… but now I have a new ticket to stare at.

  76. natsfan1a - Feb 19, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Just sayin, yeah, until one's face begins to resemble a well-worn catcher's mitt due to many years of sun exposure. I never did tan well, though I certainly tried as a younger gal. I was always more of a burner, actually. On the plus side, I did find Ball Four to be a fun read. :-)

  77. Feel Wood - Feb 19, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    Since people mentioned concessions at Nats Park, does anyone else miss Five Guys?There's a Five Guys a couple of blocks away outside the stadium. Just go there before the game, pay less than stadium prices, and carry it in with you.Five Guys is good, but the Shake Shack et al is a major upgrade.

  78. Just sayin' - Feb 19, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    Just read the Cefardo column in the Boston Globe (link from MLBTR). Two Nat-like stats to mention. (1) Just like the Nats have had a merry-go-round in center field, the Red Sox have had 25 different players play shortstop since they trade Nomar G. in mid-2004. And, last year's collapse notwithstanding, they've done pretty well. (2) Like the Nats of old, the Twins have invited 33 — that's not a typo — pitchers to major league camp this spring.

  79. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Feb 19, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    Four greatest words in the English language:"Pitchers and Catchers. Today."NatsJack, I second your 91 wins. That will mean postseason baseball in Washington for the first time since 1933. And as Casey used to say, "You can look it up."Mark, travel safely. Enjoy the CSN expense account. Michelle, I hope the Cab went down smoothly. And to all those planning the ST trek to Viera, travel safely. I've got a trip planned to St. Pete Beach in mid-March with an eye on the Friday, March 16 game at Steinbrenner Field in vs. the Yankees. NatsJack, thanks for the coverage and the Twitter feeds.And to all, GYFNG!!

  80. NatsNut - Feb 19, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Sofa, there's always the option to right click any link. It gives you the option to open the link in a new window or tab.

  81. JayB - Feb 19, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    Great Plan in CF Rizzo….Mike Cameron is not going to show up to camp….announced retirement…..just great Rizzo….really good plan on CF.

  82. JayB - Feb 19, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    Roger B and Rick A….that is the plan to make a push at Playoffs……more of the same from Nats.

  83. MicheleS - Feb 19, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    1A. Thanks for that piece on the ST sites. I DO NOT want to share a site with the Mets. I would prefer gulf coast site. My Mom is near Clearwater/Dunedin, so I would rather be on that side of the state.And NOOOO to Arizona. I saw what Clint Hurdle said about it taking 2 hours to go 12 miles. (plus unless California drops into the ocean, there is no beach in Arizona)!Happy P&C Day to everyone!!!GYNNG! Best 25 North!!

  84. Sunderland - Feb 19, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    JayB – Most likely Cameron called it quits because he saw the writing on the wall. At best, very little playing time with the Nats.So this is good, right?It shows progress that a borderline MLB'er sees little hope of playing time with the Nats.So congrats to Rizzo. Right?

  85. JayB - Feb 19, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Matt Stairs, Mike Cameron, Cora, these are the types Mike Rizzo thinks can bring winning to DC?

  86. JayB - Feb 19, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    No….that is not good news…who on this roster is going to provide MLB average or better innings in CF?Who?

  87. JayB - Feb 19, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    Roger B, Brown, Rick A….that is the good news?

  88. Sunderland - Feb 19, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    You thought it was Cameron? If so, then yes, this is bad news to you. If not, then so what?

  89. Gonat - Feb 19, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    JayB said… Matt Stairs, Mike Cameron, Cora, these are the types Mike Rizzo thinks can bring winning to DC? February 19, 2012 11:28 AM _________________________________I am with Jayb on Stairs and Cameron. The fact Rizzo stuck with Stairs as long as he did was a joke.Now Cameron retires! As Bryce Harper would say Hah!I didn't have Cameron on my 25 man. I had DeRosa going to RF and Werth going to CF against LH pitching. I don't see this as a big deal—–just some egg on Mike Rizzo's face.

  90. Gonat - Feb 19, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    That will also free up a 40 man spot!

  91. Sunderland - Feb 19, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    Cameron did not have a roster spot.We have 38 on the roster, and 2 of those are 60 Day DL candidates, so we have plenty of roster flexibility.

  92. JaneB - Feb 19, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    I got on this site early today, but I haven't been able to post from my iPad since the no capcha era commenced.I am so hoping that this year we can — as in WE, on this site — can just let go of the past and quit complaining about moves Jim Bowden made or didn't make and that the Lerners paid or failed to pay for. We cannot change history. This is where we are. It's three years "too late" for some. It's here NOW. And since there is no time machine in Viera, and no do-overs. lets make a pact to stick with the present and the future. Let's look at things through the lens of what we have and what we can do in the future —kvteching and I-told-you-soing about the past nets us nothing. We have a team guys! And Mark is down there! And some Insiders are there with him, and others will be headed there soon. I am really hoping that Davey (about whom I've complained, I know) is gonna do with these guys what he did with the '86 Mets. It was fun to watch then. I, for one, am completely willing to spend hours a day reading every word and watching every video about these guys — the 25 who go North, the ones who follow, the babies in other cities, the ones we give up to other cities — and from YOU guys, on the Nats march to the playoffs. Whatever the year that happens to happen.GYFNG!

  93. JayB - Feb 19, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    I may have mentioned i was not happy with any of the cf_bench or leadoff moves rizzo made

  94. MicheleS - Feb 19, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    New post.. Cameron retired.

  95. Sunderland - Feb 19, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    Right, and now you are complaining that a guy you think Rizzo should not have signed has decided to not come to camp to try and make the team. Seriously. Given how you feel about CF and bench, Cameron's decision has no down side for you. It's either a nothing or a maginally good thing. You should be pleased.Besides, doesn't it seem like "the plan" has a decent chance of dropping Werth in CF for a good chunk of 2012?

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NLDS: NATIONALS VS. GIANTS

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