>The Washington Times notes that Nats are close to an agreement with Brian Schneider, but remain 'far apart' on new deals for Nick Johnson and Alfonso Soriano. "Without an agreement in place with Johnson and Soriano, both sides must submit arbitration figures by Tuesday." (via Washington Times 1/13/2006)
"The ownership derby for the Nationals has been narrowed to the Fred Malek group and Jeff Smulyan, according to sources close to the sale process. Marlins GM Larry Beinfest has emerged as a top candidate to become the Nationals' next general manager." (via "The Buzz", Bob Nightengale/USA Today 1/11/2006)
It was inevitable. In what might be the perfect symbol of the current state of affairs for the Nationals, the team is in talks to sign washed up Sammy Sosa to an incentive-laden deal.
"We're going to sit down and see what happens...It's a good opportunity. It's a good chance. We don't know anything yet, but we're going to sit down and talk." (Sammy Sosa via Washington Post 1/12/2006)
"...Club sources yesterday confirmed the Nationals have expressed mild interest in free agent slugger Sammy Sosa. A television report out of the Dominican Republic suggested the two sides were close to an agreement, but the sources said no deal was imminent." (via Washington Times 1/12/2006)
In other words: Bud and his cronies have threatened to move the team to Vegas unless a stadium deal gets done immediately; If the stadium deal gets done by the end of the week, look for the new owner (Smulyan) to be announced at Jan. 18 or 19 at the Major League Baseball Owners meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz.
>Nats re-sign Luis Ayala, an indespensible member of the bullpen and one of the best set-up men out in the NL the last 3 seasons, to a 2 year, $2.2 million deal. Nats shut him down in September because of a bone spur in his elbow after making 68 appearances (81 in '04; 65 in '03) - but his agent Joe Longo claims he's healthy: "He's throwing already, he's feeling great, he feels no pain whatsoever...He's going to be fine for spring training." (via Washington Times 1/10/2005).
Can the Nationals win with Frank Robinson as their manager? -- A. R., Toronto
Bwwwahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahha!!!!!!!!! Love that Canadian wit!
Who are the possible candidates to be on the coaching staff in 2006? -- C. R., Long Island, N.Y.
Have no idea, but then again, neither does Frank Robinson. You might want to ask Tony and Jim.
With Alfonso Soriano saying he wants to return to the American League after the 2006 season, do you see the Nationals trading him for pitching or hitting? -- D. H., Rockville, Md.
Dan, let's hope the Nats hold on to both Vidro and Soriano, at least through Spring Training, so we can see just how ugly this whole situation gets. A lot depends on how confident the Nats are that Vidro will return healthy.
If Guzman doesn't break out of his year-long slump during Spring Training, do you expect Bowden to make a move for another starting shortstop? -- T. B., Falls Church, Va.
Guzman started to turn things around offensively last season just in time for the Nats to fall out of contention. He can't be as bad as he was last year. Right? The best news of all with Guzman is the Nats are only on the hook for $12.6 mil for three more years. For his 4 year, $16.8 million contract alone, Bowden deserves to be fired, right now.
Do you think it is possible Tyrell Godwin could become an everyday player for the Nationals? -- M. K., Elizabethtown, Pa.
Is anyone in the Nationals organization looking at free agent Jeff Weaver? Would he be a good No. 3 starter at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium? -- J. N., Washington
No way, Jose: Too expensive. Weaver made around $9 million last year with the Dodgers. Look for him to sign a 3-4 year deal for similar dollars with someone else.
And would he be a good No. 3 starter at RFK? Remember that we're talking about a team that'll be trotting out some combination of Lawrence, Armas, Drese, and Ortiz in slots 3-5. Do you still want to ask the second part of your question?
With regards to the Ryan Church vs. Brandon Watson debate, are the Nationals focusing too much on finding a leadoff hitter who can play center field rather than finding the best possible center fielder? While Church is not a prototypical leadoff hitter, he is a better defensive center fielder than Watson and he has a good bat for the middle of the order. -- B. O., Alexandria, Va.
Yes. I mean, no. What did you just ask me?
How is Nick Johnson doing? Do you think 2006 will be a good year for Nick? -- A. A., Fairfax Station, Va.
Nick is most likely fully recovered from his heel injury, and hard at work preparing for another injury-plagued season in which he shows flashes of brilliance yet ultimately disappoints in the end. He is also quietly working on his beard.
Will Chad Cordero be able to repeat what he did last year as a closer? -- P. G., Brandywine, Del.
Jose Guillen recovering from shoulder surgery, claims he'll be healthy this season: "I feel great...I'm doing perfect, better than anybody expected me to be. I'm so happy about it." (Jose Guillen via Washington Post 1/6/2006).