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"What A Day For Nook Logan!"

Those were Bob Carpenter's words after Logan's clutch two-out, two-run single carried the Nats past the (Baltimore) Orioles today, which salvaged a win in this first round of the "Battle of the Beltways" interleague series. Logan, who went two-for-three with a walk, two stolen bases, and the Nats' first run scored in addition to driving in their final two runs, had a great day.

Perspective is a real buzz-kill on days like this, so let's not indulge its existence too much. Speaking only for myself, I wonder if the realization that it's a long season carries too much force sometimes. Yes, it is a long season, and a day's successes and failures inhere in themselves very little. Back in June 1995, for instance, light-hitting middle infielder Mike Benjamin lashed out 14 hits in a three-game period. Benjamin ended the season with a .220 batting average. He hit .229 in a 13-year career. As an offensive player, Benjamin was pretty much nothing. But for those three days in 1995, he was really something. When Benjamin was in the midst of going six-for-seven on June 14, raising his average to .447, I doubt anyone was saying, "Yeah, but he was hitting .150 four days ago." Instead, inasmuch as Benjamin led the Giants to a 4-3 victory, their fans were more likely screaming, "Whoo-hoo!"

And so it should be with Nook Logan. Most of us out there in fanland know the guy's limitations, and they require little elaboration in this post. Admittedly, this directive becomes more difficult when the the gamer includes Good grief, please hold your horses-inducing lines like "If Sunday was any indication, Logan could be batting second by the second half the season." I don't want to dwell on what Logan can't do, but I certainly don't want to use a great game to get ahead of ourselves.

Logan's day was what it was, and it was great. They say that speed never slumps, which is an interesting type of cliche in the sense that it's a negative proposition; what is revealing about the saying is what it doesn't say. Speed doesn't win, at least not in the sense that on-base and extra-base-advancement do. (On-base and slugging percentages are said to correlate well with runs scored.) Speed must be occasioned by something else, because, as another saying goes, you can't steal first base. But you can come pretty close, as Nook evinced in the third inning when he stretched out a bunt single. Having gotten to first, Logan matriculated his way down the basepaths, as Hank Stram might have said. He stole second and then stole third. The latter swipe was rendered somewhat superfluous when Felipe Lopez singled him home, but it was a pretty steal nonetheless.

As mesmerizing as Logan's third inning performance was, however, it must be repeated: speed doesn't win, baseball skill does. We most associate "one-dimensional" with plodding, whifftastic sluggers like Rob Deer, but generally speaking, Nook Logan is just as one-dimensional, only he represents a different dimension. Not today, though. In the bottom of the eighth, Logan was a tenacious ballplayer, reversing a difficult hole in the count and churning out the decisive base hit. It was a nine-pitch at-bat that started called strike/foul ball. Logan then fouled off another Danys Baez offering, took a waste pitch in the dirt, took another ball, fouled off two pitches, and then took another ball. Having battling his way back to a full count, Logan struck a grounder in the hole between first and second and led his team to victory.

There were certainly other heroes today (to the extent a single victory over the O's can be considered a heroic accomplishment). In the decisive eighth inning, Ryan Zimmerman lashed his second double of the game, Ryan Langerhans drove him home with a single, and Ronnie Belliard perfectly/luckily placed a short fly that eluded the glove of second baseman Brian Roberts. Emergency starter Micah Bowie, making his first start since the "Chicks Dig the Long Ball" era, did well enough for three innings before requiring relief in the fourth. But it was Logan's day, and there cannot be much doubt about that.

A recent innovation from the mind of Bill James is the concept of a "win share." I'm not going to delve into the dorky details for this post, but I'll note the concept of parceling shares for wins is illustrative here. How many wins would a player of Nook Logan's caliber "create" over the course of a season? Probably not too many above and beyond what a "replacement player" would. His bat is too weak, his ability to get on base too meager to enable his speed to profit. Yet, today, May 20, Logan gets plenty of share for this win.

And that is certainly reason enough to celebrate. What a day for Nook Logan, indeed. Whooo-hoo!

* * * *

Changing the tone just a bit, we can be rather certain Logan is not the long-term answer in centerfield. Logan joins a particularly inclusive club, as the Expos/Nationals have tried just about everyone in center during the first part of the milennium except maybe that telepathic Area 51 alien who manipulated poor old Commander Data in Independence Day. Oh, and Andruw Jones.

Speaking of Jones, he's one of the prospective free agent centerfielders profiled in today's Post. Jones is not likely to be a future Washington National insofar as he'll be callin' rain in a matter of months. He's younger than Alfonso Soriano, can actually play centerfield (as we all know), and is represented Scott Boras. That spells money, with a synonym being Yankees.

Anyway, there are plenty of other centerfielders on the list: Torii Hunter, who figures to be something of a poor man's Andruw on the free agent market (poor in all but the financial sense); Ichiro!, who is almost as unlikely to join the Nats as Frank Robinson (I'm guessing Ichiro either re-signs with the Mariners or joins the Bonds-less Giants); Corey Patterson; Aaron Rowand; Mike Cameron; or the awesomely-named Japanese star Kosuke Fukudome.

I've got a funny feeling it's going to be Cameron. Okay, it's not so funny; the guy's an ex-Red, which is one thing Jim Bowden looks for in a player. Or a scout. Or a front office guy. Or a bullpen coach. Or a studio analyst.

Keep an eye on this Fukudome guy, too. The Nats have contacts in Japan, which seems like a nice idea. Anyway, a set of bold, Plantastic predictions: If Fukudome signs with the Nats, he'll hit .345 with 40 homers and 130 ribbies. If he doesn't, he'll hit like .257 with 18 homers.