Just a dozen games left in the '06 campaign, which means only a handful of Mailbags to go! As usual, the latest installment of the Nationals.com Mailbag is available in all its glory over at Nationals dot com. We've swiped the questions. Read on for our answers.
Keep those e-mails coming to Nationals beat writer Bill Ladson, and we'll keep copying and pasting them over here and giving our half-assed answers. Thanks a bunch.
What do you think of Alfonso Soriano's chances of being the first player to hit 45 homers and swipe 45 bases or even become a 50-50 guy in baseball history?
-- A.R., Montreal
About as good as the chances the Nationals will move back to Montreal.
What would you do in the offseason with the Brandon Harper/Robert Fick situation? It would be a shame to lose Fick, who can do so much with the bat, play several positions and keep the clubhouse loose. Harper has shown a lot in a short time, but at his age, his future is now. How would you solve it?
-- J.T., Silver Spring, Md.
Before now, it hadn't even crossed my mind that there was a "situation" unfolding with Brandon Harper and Robert Fick. Does this really qualify as a situation? If it does, and if I were Bowden, I would solve it by going out and getting myself a proper backup catcher in the offseason...then I'd let it play itself out in Spring Training.
How is John Patterson's arm progressing?
-- S.V., Washington, D.C.
We don't know, but don't you sometimes wonder what Cristian Guzman has been up to all summer? Besides cashing big fat paychecks every two weeks?
What is going on with the Rookie of the Year Award? Is Ryan Zimmerman so ahead of the class that sports writers have no one else to compare him to? Has a rookie ever gotten 100 RBIs in a season?
-- D.D., Washington, D.C.
Ahh...sarcasm...we like your spirit...
What's the Nationals' center field situation look like next year?
-- J.B., Richmond, Va.
It looks a lot like this year - they'll start the season with a speedy guy in center but find out that he can't hit (Nook Logan instead of Brandon Watson), then they'll put Church out there for a week or two before yanking him and sending him back to AAA, then it will be a revolving cast of characters, including Alex Escobar, who will show flashes of brilliance before succumbing to a gruesome and career-threatening ingrown toenail, at which point Church will be re-installed in center -- until Bowden trades a bunch of pitching prospects to the Mets for Endy Chavez and declares him the center fielder of the future.
Why are there so many walks given up by Nationals pitchers this season? Is it because they literally can't hit the strike zone?
-- L.B., Fairfax
It's because of sucky pitching. Literally.
Do you think Zimmerman has benefited from the instruction provided by Mitchell Page? Is there any chance that Mitchell will turn him into another Pujols?
-- K.A., Fairfax Station, Va.
Is there any chance that Mitchell Page will turn Zimmerman into the next Pujols? Probably not, considering that it's not likely Davey Johnson will ask anyone on the current coaching staff back next year. He'll bring in his own guys.
What do you think are the important lessons learned from this season, and how can they be implemented in the offseason and in '07?
-- M.L., Washington, D.C.