A little later than expected, what with all the fuss after last night's game, but here's the latest in our series of Q+A with fans of the opposing team. This time, it was William Yoder of The Nats Blog, who stepped up to the plate to address the state of his franchise, the dealings with Steven Strasburg and what makes their stadium special. You can also find my answers to his questions, over on their site here.
Questions and answers after the jump.
Like Arizona, Washington fired their manager and the new one is having some success - coming into this series, Jim Riggleman is 11-11 and riding a winning streak of five games. What has changed under the new boss?
Riggleman has been successful because it seems like he actually wants to do his job. Acta lost the team, he lost the fans, and then he finally lost the support of the front office. Riggleman has infused energy into the team with his passion for making it better. Under his tutelage, the Nats have had better pitching, stronger hitting, and most importantly, competent defense. It has been very exciting.
What's the latest on Steven Strasburg? Do you think the team will be able to sign him, or are they possibly holding back its resources for a shot at Bryce Harper in 2010's draft?
The Nationals have been extremely hush-hush about their dealings with Strasburg. I think the Nats have to sign him, just to keep their fan base. However, recently there have been rumblings that it may not be all that awful if they can’t lock him up. The Nats would then enter the 2010 draft with the number one and the number two picks. That being said, Harper and Strasburg is better than Harper and anyone else.
The team hasn't had a winning season since moving from Montreal. Gazing into the crystal ball, when do you realistically see that streak being broken? Is there optimism for the future among fans or has a fatalistic pessimism set in?
Fatalistic pessimism is a much bigger past time in Washington D.C than baseball, but that’s probably just our cynicism. Many fans are pessimistic but I’m not. The Nationals line up has not been all that bad this season with their Hitter VORP ranking 6th in the majors. The problem is their pitching is dead last. The fate of this team relies on the ability of their young starters to develop into Major Leaguers. If that could happen by next season while the club still has Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham under contract, they’d have an outside shot. More realistically, the Nationals will likely be competitive by 2011 or 2012.
Tell us about an upcoming prospect who we should know to keep an eye out for, either later this year or next season.
Derek Norris is a 20-year-old catcher in low A Hagerstown. While he entered 2009 with light prospect status, the right-handed slugger has plowed his way into being the top Nationals prospects, and probably one of the top prospects in baseball. In 102 games this season for Hagerstown, Norris has batted 304/.414/.564 with 25 doubles, 23 homers, and 72 RBI. With that kind of patience and power he will rise quickly through the system.
This is the second year in Nationals Park. Is it feeling like home? And can you give any visitors a few tips on cool things to see, do or eat at the park?
Nationals Park is starting to feel like home. While it will never be as accessible (or as cheap) as RFK, we are all starting to feel comfortable there. The best part of the ballpark is that they have food from some of our favorite local restaurants. While Five Guys is quickly turning into a nation-wide chain, Nats fans love grabbing a burger from the joint that started in the D.C area. Visitors to the park should be sure to check out the sightlines, both of the field and the national monuments. They should also be sure to stick around in the fourth inning for the nightly presidents race and root on Teddy Roosevelt as he goes for his first ever victory.