Sports

Picking Splinters: Spring Time Queries

Ladies and gentlemen, spring is in the air. We may not have totally escaped from the clutches of winter’s shivers yet, but when Spring Training begins, my mood certainly warms up. I felt like this would be a good time to dive into the old Magic Mailbag to check in on the Nats in camp, the Caps in the stretch drive and the Wiz … well, a little closer to yet another lottery pick.

Mike,

Can Bryce Harper stick with the big club this season?

Frank R.

Overlyoptomisticville, VA

I suppose it’s possible, but it seems highly unlikely. There’s still plenty of time to prepare Harper for the Majors and I’m sure he’ll be in D.C. soon enough. I wouldn’t be surprised if he even showed up in September, depending on how his minor league campaign goes.

I understand the excitement though: This kid is the real deal. Of course with the Nats that likely means his left leg will spontaneously combust or something, but until then fans have a lot to look forward to.

Talent evaluators everywhere are super high on Harper, the clear-cut No. 1 choice in last June’s draft. With Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman added in, the thinking is that the Nats have three very solid, all-star caliber players in the fold right now. Of course, with Strasburg sidelined for the season and Harper likely to play out the year in the minors, the time isn’t now for the Nats. But it’s coming. And in the meantime, keep a close eye on Jordan Zimmerman on the mound. Prior to his Tommy John surgery, Buster Olney picked Zimmerman as a rookie of the year candidate in 2009 and his strikeout to walk ratios are pretty strong.

Hume,

Dude, have you loosened up on your criticism of the Jayson Werth signing yet?

Matt S.

Dontharshmybuzzbury, D.C.

It’s great that the Nats decided to spend money this winter. It’s lousy that they decided to spend it so poorly.

In my mind, they spent more money on a worse asset. They could have re-signed Adam Dunn for less than they paid Werth and gotten perhaps the most consistent hitter in all of baseball. Here are Dunn’s home run totals seven seasons starting in 2004: 46, 40, 40, 40, 40, 38, 38. Wonder what he’s going to do this year?

Here are Werth’s AB totals over that same span (when he topped 40 HRs just once … last season): 290, 337 — missed 2006 — 255, 418, 571, 554. Dunn was over 500 ABs in every one of the past seven seasons and will make about $6 million less this season. And before you give me the “upside” argument, both Werth and Dunn are 31.

I hope Werth succeeds this season. I know Dunn will in Chicago.

Mike,

Do you think the Caps got enough at the trade deadline to win a Stanley Cup?

Alex

Capitalgainsville, MD

I think the Caps addressed their needs at the trade deadline. They needed help in the back end and got it (Dennis Wideman) and added a savvy second-line center (Jason Arnott) who knows what it takes to win in the playoffs. The latter deal paid dividends Tuesday when Arnott set up Brooks Laich for the game-tying goal with under a minute to play in regulation vs. the Islanders. Whether that’s enough to win a Cup or heck, get out of the first round is another issue.

What the Caps really need to win the Cup is for Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Semin to play to their full potential in the playoffs. If they don’t do that, Washington probably could have added Brad Richards and it still wouldn’t make a difference.

Mr. Hume,

In your estimations, who with the Washington Wizards pursue in the coming NBA Draft?

David

Pleasemakethepainstoptown, D.C.

I personally think it depends on who comes out. There’s talk of the Wiz looking at Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger, who could make a nice sidekick in the post with Jevale McGee. Perry Jones from Baylor could be an absolute freak in the NBA though and NBA teams tend to draft on upside over visible production in college. I also wouldn’t rule out Harrison Barnes, who was projected as the No. 1 pick coming into the season and slipped after UNC struggled early. He’s played better lately and, if he comes out, I’d expect him to surge back up the boards before June.