Sure, the numbers don't back it up, but we've got no problem with this move, and no argument other than that Watson earned his shot based on his spring performance (which isn't much of an argument). But would you really rather start the season with Church or Watson leading off and playing center? We'll take our chances with Watson.
"I just want to make sure that when something goes wrong there, when he starts making some bad throws or something, I don't want to see people start going after him and ripping him. That would be bad. Everybody knows he's going to play left field, and he's just learning that position now. I think we've just got to be patient with him." (Jose Guillen, via Washington Post, 3/24/2006)
"It's a relief for everybody, it really is. We get the distractions away from here and we can focus on baseball now and getting this ballclub tuned up and ready to go for Opening Day." (Frank Robinson, via AP/ESPN.com, 3/22/2006)
"When you make $10 million, and you're going to say, 'No,' when you know what's coming? Come on. What do you think? That's a lot of money, man. I didn't see him leaving all that money on the table and moving on and not playing, just go and sit at home for a year." (Jose Guillen, via Washington Post, 3/23/2006)
But wait: stop the presses! Soriano didn't know he was in the lineup because there were TWO lineup cards floating around! It was all a big misunderstanding! Let the spin begin!
"With me, I'm thinking I'm out of the lineup...Before they made the lineup, I told them if I'm not playing second base, I do not want to be in the lineup. Nick Johnson called me at that time and he told me that they had me in the lineup, but [nobody showed up]. Now I look like the bad guy." (Mr. There Is No I In Team, via Nationals dot com, 3/21/2006)
Although just about everybody has Soriano still on the fence about the move, we take the comical lineup card story as an indication that Soriano WILL cave in and play left. The story reads like the first move in a PR campaign - an opportunity to allow Soriano to save face. He'll probably just take the field today, and it'll all be over, and Monday's fiasco will be chalked up to a big misunderstanding, and Fonzi and Jim will pose for the cameras arm-in-arm with big ol' shit eating grins. It'll be a love fest. That's not to say the Nats won't continue to try to move him, but I think the Soriano-in-left saga ends this afternoon.
Soriano returns to camp; refuses to take the field with his teammates.
Memo to Jim Bowden: Fix it. No second or third chances.
"We told him if we get to Thursday, and he refuses to play left field, we told him at that point we will request that the commissioner's office place him on the disqualified list, at that time -- no pay, no service time." (Jim Bowden, via AP/ESPN.com, 3/20/2006)
"I just hope they can fix that situation. I think everybody's a grown-enough man here. I just hope for the best for the team and those guys can fix the situation. Let's let Jim and Soriano and his agent fix the situation." (Jose Guillen, via Washington Times, 3/21/2006)
So this week begins with the not-surprising news that Soriano refused to join his teammates on the field after being penciled into the lineup as the starting left fielder for last night's game against LA. Bowden claims that the team will give him another chance on Wednesday; we say trade him now, even if it's for ten cents on the dollar - he's gonna walk at the end of the year anyway. Get him out of here. (Is it too late to flip-flop and say that we don't like the Soriano for Wilkerson/Sledge/Galarraga deal?)
Just last Wednesday, Tom Boswell was all giddy with rah-rah-rah about how suddenly everything was looking up for the Nationals. Thanks Boz, you jinxed it. Since then, while the Nationals have continued to play like the Bad News Bears, Guzman officially joined the Torn Labrum Club (no matter how bad he stunk it up last year, its not good news), and then the clincher: the irreplaceable Luis Ayala became the inevitable WBC casualty (every team in the majors was holding their breath, because it was inevitable that someone, somewhere, was going to go down), done for the year. And now, the Soriano soap opera continues...
If Cristian Guzman is out for the season, would the Nationals consider making Alfonso Soriano the everyday shortstop? -- D. C., Nova Scotia, Canada
Sure, why not. They could also consider making him a starting pitcher, bullpen coach, left fielder...
I know Michael Tucker was brought in to provide experience off the bench, but Kenny Kelly and George Lombard are both having a better camp. Is there a chance of either beating Tucker out? -- J. N., Ottawa, Ontario
I don't know.
Why don't the Nationals give Billy Traber a shot to be a starter? He seems to be having a good Spring Training. -- A. K., Mountain Brook, Ala.
Traber will probably get his shot sometime before the All Star break - just give it a while for a few more arms to fall off.
Now that Luis Ayala will be out for the season, who will become the fill his spot as the setup man? -- C. C., Frankton, Ind.
That's a great question. Maybe a bunch of the guys on the Cuban team will defect after the WBC and join Livan in Washington?
What are the Nationals' plans with the designated hitter in American League parks? -- D. S., Potomac, Md.
Come on, you didn't think Bowden signed Matt LeCroy for nothing, did you?
Given the current second base situation, do either Soriano or Jose Vidro come across as decent trade bait? -- R. L., Washington, D.C.
First, let's check Bill Ladson's answer to your question. He said: "General manager Jim Bowden is on the phone looking to make deals. It crossed my mind today that maybe he would trade Soriano to the Red Sox for outfielder Wily Mo Pena, one of Bowden's favorite players when he was GM of the Reds."
This translates loosely as: "Bowden told me today that has been on the phone with the Red Sox begging them to save his ass, because the Soriano experiment has gone so bad that its unlikely that even Cold Pizza will take him back after Bud wakes up and gets a new owner in here."
It seems like one of the biggest underlying issues to the entire Nationals' problems is a dry Minor League system. What steps do they need to take to retool the Minors? -- C. L., Alexandria, Va.
Do the Nationals view Brendan Harris as their second baseman of the future? -- J. A., Monrovia, Md.
Yes. I mean, no.
(all questions taken from The Washington Nationals Official Website)