Last night I made a mistake that I knew was going to be a mistake. I decided that I wanted to take my wife out to dinner and instead of going to an old standby we decided to try a new resaurant that had just openned in Fairfax Corner. She asked me what type of place it was, and I answered saying that I thought it was just a meat place. I was wrong. Despite the facade having pictures of animals displayed as cuts of meat pieced back together it was suppossedly an Italian eatery. Like any new restaurant in this area it had a wait. While waiting I looked it up on the internet and found out it was owned by Great American Restaurants. This should have been enough to make me walk away right then and there, but I didn't. I decided to try it out. The second warning sign was that it was an Italian eatery with a grand total of five pasta dishes and none of them were spaghetti or linguini. I ordered the lasagna because I figured no one can mess that up. Hahaha. Instead of lasagna I got some sort of flat noodle overcooked and soggy and then burned in a skillet and toped with tomato paste and a couple of frozen unseasoned meatballs. Just want to give that little word of warning so hopefully I can help someone out there to avoid a bad dining experience.
There is an interesting little nugget burried in this column about the Nationals off-season needs. Josh Willingham is listed as a non-tender canidate. I would have never thought that possible. --Bill Ladson from nationals.com
It should be obvious to anyone that watched the team in 2009 as well as 2010 that the latter season's roster was much improved. --Mark Zuckerman at natsinsider.com
The Nationals number one need is a top of the rotation starting pitcher and just like they did with Mark Teixeira the Nationals could drive the market for Cliff Lee. --Jon Heyman from si.com
Another pressing need for the Nationals is outfield help. I remember listenning to the radio and hearing about how terrible Matt Kemp was one day. At this time he still had an OPS over .800 as a centerfielder. Kemp didn't give up on the Dodgers until it was clear they had given up on him, and honestly I can't blame him. It has got to be hard to play hard in a place that has made it clear they don't want you. Kemp also was terrible at defense this past season, but won a gold glove the prior season. He should probably be moved to a corner position and be informed to concentrate on offense. --Adam Kilgore from washingtonpost.com
One of the things that fascinates me right now is what is happenning in Viera. The best players from the farm system are gathered together and are continuing to learn the game of baseball, and Sammy Solis likes what he sees, lots of power pitching. --Byron Kerr from masnsports.com
The other news from Viera is that the Nationals might not be there much longer as they continue to look for a new Spring Training home. --Mark Decotis at floridatoday.com
More on the Nats and playoff news after the jump.
Before the season began the Nationals released Elijah Dukes. They felt that they could easily replace his production and not have to put up with the attitude problems. Right field is still an issue for the Nationals, but they didn't suffer much of a drop off without Dukes. --Ben Goessling from masnsports.com
The entire coaching staff will return for the 2011 season. --Bill Ladson at nationals.com
What happens now with Adam Dunn could change the grade Rizzo recieved for his work this past season, and Riggleman is a decidedly average manager. --Ben Goessling from masnsports.com
Around the NL East
Roy Halladay's no-hitter was a thing of beauty, but according to one metric Lincecum's 14 K game was better. --Joe Posnanski from si.com
There are just those times in life when we see stats and just shake our heads and say no*. --Craig Calcaterra from nbcsports.com
*The next evolution in stats is going to be, has to be, the quantifying of batted balls. There has to be some way to judge exactly how a pitcher is pitching. Pitchers like Chris Carpenter and Tim Hudson routinely outperform their FIP, because that is the type of pitchers they are. One of Carpenter's best pitches is a curveball that he hangs on purpose. It goes against all common knowledge to do something like that, but yet he throws that curve all the time and it just sits there daring hitters to hit it with all their might, and most of the time they fly out. Halladay is also known as a pitcher that wants the ball put in play, but he wants it put in play where he wants it. He is a master at pitching to his defense and hitting the spots to get the results he wants. What we need now with stats is to see just what types of balls are being put in play. It is already broken down by ground ball, fly ball, and line drive, but all of those can be broken down further. A soft liner to the second baseman is in no way equal to a hard liner that splits a gap. Same thing with a soft roller up the third base line when compared to a hard grounder right back up the middle. Harder and better hit balls have a better chance of being hits. As soon as next season this all might be broken down for us and then we can really start judging what this all means and if a pitcher really can control what types of balls are put in play.
Players and umps to have summit after the season to discuss solutions to bad or questionable calls. --Craig Calcaterra at nbcsports.com
I unfortunately won't be able to watch the baseball game tonight, but the reason is I will be at the Caps vs. Sens game tonight at the Verizon Center.