Back by popular demand, The Nationals Enquirer answers the latest installment of the Nationals.com mailbag! The correct answers are available on Nationals dot com; now we'll give it a shot.
Keep those e-mails coming to Bill Ladson, and we'll keep copying and pasting them over here. Thanks a bunch.
Why would we trade such a great player like Alfonso Soriano for prospects, who we won't even know will do well? I understand bringing up Ryan Zimmerman, but he can be considered one of those once in a lifetime players. -- Dan, Midlothian, Va.
Dan, we've got no sources, but our sources tell us that Soriano is going to sign with the highest bidder. We read somewhere in the last few weeks that he's going to be looking for something in the ballpark of $15 million. That's silly money, really. Think about it, for 15 mil, you could buy yourself 20+ Jamey Carrolls, enough to make the entire "Why did we let Jamey Carroll go?!" contingent quiet down for a while. Look, we love Soriano - loved the trade from the beginning (ok, we freaked out a bit when he refused to take the field that first fateful day in the Spring, but other than that, we've always been on board) - but we hope that Lerner & Co. don't get themselves involved in the inevitable bidding war. A smart trade for top prospects is what we're hoping for - otherwise, the Nats will be left with draft picks as a consolation prize; or a $15 million dollar albatross.
I am constantly telling my 7-year-old Little Leaguer to use both hands to catch fly balls, but then he sees Soriano one-handing nearly everything in the air. Why can't pros, particularly ones learning their outfield positions, set a good example with the basics? -- Pedro G., Arlington, Va.
Oh please, give me a break with that crap, Pedro.
What's wrong with Jose Vidro at the plate recently? Will he ever return to being the doubles-hitting machine he was in Montreal? -- Brian P., Washington, D.C.
Wishful thinking there, Brian. Sadly, we think Vidro's best days are behind him.
How would you rate Jose Guillen since the 2005 All-Star break? It seems his popularity is far greater than his on-the-field performance. The Nationals also show better team chemistry with Guillen out of the lineup. Should he be traded for a strong prospect? -- Glenn G, Potomac Falls, Va.
Well, how would you rate him, Glenn? A 6 out of 10? 5.3 out of 10? 4 out of 10? Ok, so Guillen has been pretty bad since the All-Star break last summer. And yes, he's got a reputation as a problematic figure in the clubhouse. But we still like Jose, so stop picking on him, alright? But should he be traded for a strong prospect? Of course!
There are two untouchable players on the current 40-man roster: Ryan Zimmerman and Bill Bray. Everybody else is trade bait, as far as we're concerned.
Who should Frank Robinson have played in place of Preston Wilson and Cristian Guzman last year who would have strengthened the Nats' playoff bid? -- Steve F., Cabin John, Md.
Steve: Let it go. It's 2006, man. Time to move on.
How close is John Patterson to returning? And how much impact will he have on the rotation when he is healthy? -- Brooks E., Boston
Our sources, and don't forget -- our sources are your sources -- tell us that Patterson is set to start Friday night in Baltimore. The biggest impact his return will have on the rotation, at least initially, is that either Shawn Hill or Mike O'Connor, who both deserve to stick, will be whacked. Don't be fooled by Jim Bowden's bluster about Patterson being a "number one or number two starter" - most likely he's not going to be back there yet. But give him time, and maybe by after the All-Star break, Patterson will be back to his old self.
With four straight losses, weekend visit from Yankees couldn't have come at a worse time for reeling Nationals. Seems as appropriate a time as any to break out the official Nationals Enquirer Panic Button.
BUT...we're not afraid of the big bad Yankees. Our prediction? Nats take 2 out of 3 (win tonight and Sunday and lose big - like, real big - Saturday)
Tonight: Jaret Wright (3-4 4.44 ERA) vs. Shawn Hill (1-1 1.80 ERA) Saturday: Shawn Chacon (4-1 5.23 ERA) vs. Ramon Ortiz (5-5 4.88 ERA) Sunday: Chien-Ming Wang (7-2 4.15 ERA) vs. Mike O'Connor (3-4 3.70 ERA)
"I was disappointed and angered by revelations that a Major League player had acknowledged using human growth hormone (HGH), a performance-enhancing substance banned by Major League Baseball, and had said that others were using HGH as well. " (Bud Selig, via 'An Open Letter to Baseball Fans", 6/15/2006)
Maybe someone wants to ask a certain Yankee slugger how he feels about Bud's letter when he's in town this weekend?
"Over a period of time, we were not getting the best out of the guys out there that I've seen in the past. There have been spots of good outings, but it hasn't been a consistent type of thing. They seemed focused more on practical jokes and fooling around in the bullpen rather than concentrating on the game. I couldn't put up with it anymore." (Frank Robinson, via Nationals dot com, 6/15/2006)
Frank reaches his breaking point, gets his wish for Wetteland's removal. So Wetteland is the reason the bullpen is underperforming?