Thanks to The Plan, there's no hot stove to keep Washington baseball fans warm during this cold snap here in DC. Thankfully, we've got the latest edition of the Nationals.com Mailbag to keep us lukewarm. As usual, real fans email their questions to Nationals beat writer Bill Ladson at MLB.com. We copy and paste the questions over here. We answer the questions -- sort of.
As always, keep those e-mails coming to Nationals.com, and we'll keep copying and pasting them over here and giving our half-assed answers. Thanks a bunch.
Do you think the Nationals will make a trade before the 2007 season starts?
-- Matt S., McLean, Va.
Probably not. But a "source" with no connection to the Nationals hinted to us today that he's still expecting The Chief and The Church to be shipped north to Boston for a couple of young arms (including at least Manny Delcarmen) and Bowden's true love: Wily Mo Pena. (Ignore the fact that the source is my 8 month old kid.)
The starting eight looks fairly competitive for the Nats, but the bench looks pretty thin. At this point, who do you think will make up the bench?
-- Blaine P., Ocala, Fla.
"Competitive" is probably the most optimistic assessment of the starting eight we've heard so far: Forget that no one really knows what's gonna happen in left and center, the offensively challenged SS, the defensively challenged ex-shortstop moving to second, and the big ol' question mark at first until (if?) Nick J. returns sometime before the All-Star break -- but yeah, I guess competitive works just as well as any other adjective at this point. Who knows? And the bench? Let's see, how about: Church (if he doesn't start the season in Columbus), Fick, Flores, Lee, and Womack. Thin enough for ya?
As we watch the Nats in Spring Training, what are the key points to watch for, especially the pitchers who are competing for the four spots in the rotation?
-- Dan S., New York
Lots of interesting storylines to follow this spring for the NAAAtionals. How many surgically repaired shoulders fall apart? Guzman's weight: Does he show up to camp looking like Matt Lecroy? Escobar vs. Church vs. Snelling vs. Casto in left, Nook Logan in center: What the hell is going on in the outfield? Luis Ayala. And on and on...
What would it take to pry right-hander Carl Pavano from the Yankees? I think a change of scenery and a return to the National League might do wonders for him.
-- Thom H., Stillwater, N.J.
Go to hell. Things are bad, but not that bad. Well, maybe...
With so many players leaving the Nationals, how's the morale? It seems like they might be the Marlins of '06, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
-- Matt D., Montreal
Morale? Probably the least of their problems right now and probably not a real factor until June. Re: The other part about the Marlins. The only similarities between the Marlins of '06 and the Nationals of '07 is that both teams play in the NL East.
I think the Nationals should make a run at Ronnie Belliard, because no one seems to be interested in the infielder. Why not give him a two-year deal? Belliard could be used in a utility role and if Cristian Guzman does not work out, Belliard would slip right in at second and Felipe Lopez could return to shortstop. What do you think?
-- Jarred T., Fredericksburg, Va.
*shrug* Okay...a two year deal it is, why not?
Is there any chance that Frank Robinson's uniform number will be retired by the Nationals? I believe that his service to the organization throughout the whole moving process and the role he played in creating excitement in the Washington, D.C., area deserve to be rewarded by being the first National with his number retired. I think Opening Day in the new stadium would be a fitting time to honor him.
-- Joe B., Washington
Ha ha, right. There's something about the saying "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out..." that seems appropriate here. Are we talking about the guy they offered a bus ticket to Viera to in return for the honor of being a glorified usher and the right to hang around the batting cages all Spring? At this point, we'll be lucky to have the opportunity to thank Frank one more time at Frank Robinson Day: He probably wouldn't show up.
As you can see, fans get emotional when it comes to baseball history. As a native Washingtonian and Senators fan, I view the current Nats as continuing the legacies of Walter Johnson, Sam Rice and Frank Howard. I can't relate to Expos history, but I realize there are many Expos fans now rooting for the Nats. Can't the webmaster find a creative way to satisfy both sets of fans on this site?
-- Jeff B., Silver Spring, Md.
The webmaster? Here's an idea Jeff: start a blog.
Where do you stand on the history of the Expos playing a role with the Nationals?
-- Brian K., Carle Place, N.Y.
The Nationals are the Expos, minus Canada.
Woody S.'s comments about the Nationals/Expos history caused a lot of commotion the past two weeks, and [The Nationals Enquirer] will let him have the last word on the subject.
I certainly didn't mean to start any kind of stir with my comments about Expos history and its irrelevance to current Nationals fans. I merely noted that I have been uninterested in Twins and Rangers history after they left D.C., and I presumed Montreal fans would feel the same bitterness and switch their allegiance to the Blue Jays, like when most Washington fans turned to the Orioles.
I want our Washington baseball history back, with Clark Griffith, Johnson, Joe Cronin, Harmon Killebrew and Howard, which was the baseball history I grew up with in the D.C. area and that I still cherish. I never rooted for Andre Dawson or any of the other Expos players who left before they became the Nats. But I love the Nats and listen to every game down here in Orlando, Fla., where I live in exile and where I attend Spring Training games in nearby Viera, Fla. And I really enjoy Nationals broadcaster Charlie Slowes!
-- Woody S., Orlando, Fla.
First of all, Woody, I apologize for telling you to go F yourself two weeks ago. Secondly, no one is taking your Washington baseball history away from you. Stop, please. It is what it is: History. Time to move on.