Arts & Entertainment

Picking Splinters: November Mailbag




Been wrapped up with racing lately (why can’t I get away from guys named Jimmie Johnson?) and haven’t watched much football. I heard about two losses in a row for the Redskins. Is it time to panic or keep the faith?

Joe G.

There are two ways of looking at Sunday night’s loss to the Cowboys. The first way is if you see the Cowboys as their owner Jerry Jones does – a playoff-caliber team ready to rattle off win after win and burst into the postseason. If that’s how you view Dallas, then yeah, Sunday’s loss was nothing more than the second straight game the surprising Skins have lost to a top tier team and isn’t worth worrying much about.

If you don’t adopt that rosy view of the Cowboys, and considering the Cowboys were annihilated by the 2-8 St. Louis Rams you probably shouldn’t, then it’s time to worry about Washington playoff chances.

For two consecutive games Washington’s offense has failed to break 225 total yards, a number the New York Giants nearly surpassed in the first half in their game against the Ravens Sunday. Both Dallas and Pittsburgh were able to get to Redskins QB Jason Campbell and attack him before he could make good decisions and/or accurate throws. It was also a prerequisite for him to evade a would-be tackler before taking any shot down field. What’s more disturbing is that Washington’s West Coast offense is based on short dropbacks and quick passes, meaning the offensive line has been about as effective as balsa wood holding back a battleship.

The line needs to buy Campbell some more time because the low-scoring Redskins positively must make the most out of each offensive chance they get. Washington is averaging just 18.1 points per game this season. Only Detroit, Kansas City, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Oakland have worse point production. And those teams are most certainly not heading for the playoffs.

How serious is the Nats’ interest in Mark Teixeira? And is it a good move for the club or will Mark hate himself if he signs there?

Scott B.

Thanks for the questions, Scott, and thanks also for submitting them on a $100 bill. That is some serious stationary you have there. Ben Franklin takes you to the top of the heap.

The Nats appear dead serious about signing him and I think it could be a mutually beneficial move for the Maryland-born first baseman and a team looking for a jolt.

At first glance Teixeira’s asking price, thought to be more than $20 million per year, doesn’t seem wise given the franchise’s current state of disarray. Not only are the Nats struggling mightily on the major league level, but all of those top draft picks they’ve been stockpiling with their last place finishes are progressing slower than expected. So if Washington won’t compete for the playoffs for another three years, why flush away $60 million-plus on the first three years of a long term contract to Teixeira?

It’s sound logic, but I don’t agree with that approach. If the Nats can get Teixeira to believe that Washington won’t always be a wasteland, they should sign him.

True, the Nats don’t have a pitching staff that can bring them to the playoffs yet, but if they can ink Teixeira they can at least make a putrid lineup far more respectable. With Teixeira, their top six of the order looks like this: Cristian Guzman, Lastings Milledge, Ryan Zimmerman, Mark Teixeira, Josh Willingham, Elijah Dukes. Milledge, Zimmerman and Dukes are all on the upswings of their career. Teixeira is also young (currently 28) and will still be in his prime when the team’s top prospects finally blossom.

A signing of that caliber will also convince Washington’s fans that the Lerner family’s frugality to this point really has been driven by strategy rather than stinginess. And that good will could be invaluable given the team’s flagging TV ratings and disappointing attendance in the first year of the new ballpark.

But more importantly, by giving a long-term deal to Teixeira, maybe the Nats can avoid a long-term lease on the basement of the National League East.