Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Twenty Questions With Barry

In yesterday's svrlugian chat session, the Post's beat writer gave out a few mild nuggets of info.
New Carrollton, Md. - Part 2.: so, you speak of trading Soriano, like you know something we don't.

Are we actively looking to flip him somewhere?

Can you give some sort of vague-ish "nod, wink" type of answer, if you can't really say anything?

Barry Svrluga: Nod.


(There aren't takers right now, though.)

Which indicates that the Nationals are actively trying to trade Soriano. We had heard the godawful Soriano for Josh Beckett rumor -- which Boston probably answered not with words, but by hanging up the phone. But this indicates that there's a little more shopping going on than what we had assumed.

The key point is Barry's last sentence, though. Who wouldn't want a $12 million player? And that's the problem. Soriano is a desirable commodity, but not at that price.

  • Later, responding to a question about Bowden wanting to make another move to shore up the pitching staff, Barold said:
    The GM change in Cincinnati yesterday ,where Dan O'Brien was fired, could be significant for Washington. Bowden is still obsessed with some of his former players over there, namely Wily Mo Pena and Austin Kearns. The former front office, with O'Brien reporting to John Allen, basically refused to deal with Bowden. I don't think that will be the case with the interim GM, Brad Kullman.

    Bowden has always lusted after his players, Kearns, Dunn, Pena. If Cinci management is finally ready to bury the hatchet, Bowden's probably soiling himself at the opportunity to bring one or more of them.

    It had been reported that the Reds, under the old regime, had turned down an offer of Jake Westbrook for Kearns. Truthfully, I don't know why they'd have turned that down -- especially if it came prior to the Casey trade. But that gives us an idea of the kind of deal we'd have to offer. And no, the low budget Reds are not going to take Soriano off our hands.

  • Barry answered a different question, which I found interesting:
    Midlothian, Va.: Barry,

    Thanks for your great work. I have sort of an inside baseball question. Occasionally, quotes similar to ones in your stories show up in other inferior outlets. Is it that the Nationals do a lot of this stuff via conference call or press conference? Or does the front office just stick to the same talking points with each reporter?

    How is access with the front office?

    Barry Svrluga: Hello, Midlothian.

    Jim Bowden, the GM, is very good at staying on point when he's making an argument or explaining why he did or didn't do something. Typically, all the beat writers will get him separately by phone, but he'll send the same message. When it's a conference call (as it was when they signed Schneider to a four-year deal), I'll indicate it in the story.

    The front office is generally quite accessible.

    I'm always sort of interested in how they go about their job. I suspect that it's pretty different than the way we generally think of.

    One question I'd like to know is about the feature stories. We saw this a lot, especially last spring training. All the papers would have profiles of the same player on roughly the same schedule. Is that something the team set up? Did they give the papers access to a player one at a time? Or did the reporters do that for the inter-paper competition (not that there's really much of one anyway)? It's not really important... just something I'm strangely curious about.

  • Here's another one that interests me:
    Washington, D.C.: In the wake of the Abramoff scandal, congressional leaders are racing to change lobbying regulations to prevent Members of Congress and staff from accepting tickets to sporting events.

    Are the Nats nervous about any impact this could have on attendance?

    Barry Svrluga: Someone on the Hill mentioned this to me last week, and it's something I'll look into. RFK became a place for lobbyists to entertain last year, and my understanding is there's a movement to push the level of gifts down to $20, which can get you in the ballpark but not into one of the primo seats. Thanks for the reminder.

    I had heard it alleged (without having direct knowledge, so keep that caveat in mind) that the reason for the Diamond Club ticket price at $90 (when even the Devil Rays have similar seats for $200ish) is precisely because of that. With the buffet 'meal' beforehand, they could count the ticket as half dinner, half admission, and not be in violation of any of the rules. I'm sure this is something that MLB-PAC will be examining closely.