Since things are really heating up down in Viera, what with the NAAAtionals tying, then losing to themselves in a couple of intrasquad games, it seems now would be as good a time as any to take a crack at the latest edition of the Nationals dot com Mailbag! As usual, real fans email their questions to Nationals beat writer Bill Ladson at MLB.com. We copy and paste the questions over here. Then we answer them. Easy.
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.
How much playing time will Ronnie Belliard get with the Nationals? With Felipe Lopez at second and Christian Guzman at shortstop, there doesn't seem to be too many opportunities for Belliard.
-- Dylan P., Shiloh, Ohio
Lots and lots of playing time, if Cristian Guzman has anything to say about it.
Do you think Acta will be more patient with the starters and let them go deep into games and not burn out the bullpen which I felt like was a problem last year.
-- Mike Z., Utica, N.Y.
"Our bullpen is our strength when it comes to our pitching, obviously, because we have some depth. You can't burn those guys. I like to get guys out of the game when they have the opportunity only to win or tie the ballgame, so they can come out of the game on a positive note and can build on it for the next game...But you need guys to give you some innings, too, because you don't want to burn out the bullpen. I am not a big fan of throwing guys more than three days in a row."
Sounds good, right? But the answer might have less to do with him being patient with his starters and more to do with how effective his starters are. Whoever those starters are. No manager wants to burn out his bullpen (except Frank Robinson, maybe), Acta says he doesn't want to burn out his bullpen, but whether he has a choice might be out of his hands (even if he is carrying an extra pitcher).
I have noticed that left-hander Mark Redman is still unsigned. Is it possible that the Nats could acquire this veteran for the cheap?
-- Matt G., Boston
Thanks, but no thanks.
Is there a possibility that a reliever could become a potential starter? I remember in the mid-1990's, Jeff Fassero was a reliever before becoming a great starter for the Expos. I don't know, but someone like Chad Cordero, for example, could be a great guess. Am I dreaming for nothing, or I can hope for this to happen?
-- Alex P., Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, Canada
I think you are definitely "dreaming for nothing", but keep on dreaming, Alex.
The Nats need a center fielder. Should they sign a veteran outfielder like Bernie Williams to a one-year deal and see what impact he would have with Nick Johnson out?
-- Nelson N., Yonkers, N.Y.
So when you say "The Nats need a center fielder", is that a no-confidence vote for Nook Logan?
How is left-hander Brandon Claussen's rehab going? What is the outlook for him this year?
-- Frank L. Roswell, N.M.
I don't know.
I can tolerate the concept of a team dress code -- although I don't like it -- but could you or anyone else explain to me why wearing a hat backwards is frowned upon? I'm 61 years old and I still do that.
-- David W, Fredericton, NB, Canada
Glad to hear you're willing to tolerate the dress code, but it sounds like it's time to grow up, David. 61 and still wearing a hat backwards?
What is the latest on Ian Desmond?
-- Mike M., Springfield, Va.
We have heard Acta's opinion and other reporters opinions on how well the Nationals will do in 2007. What about you? Outside of starting pitching, the Nationals have a fairly solid/talented team.
-- Patrick B., Fairfax Station, Va.
Let me get back to you on that. But based on no analysis whatsoever, I'll tell you with 99.99% certainty that they won't finish in the NL East basement this season.
A couple of comments from Nationals fans:
Robert Fick also is a good choice at first base. He will be a reliable bat this year and will win games for them. They will want him to play to build numbers for trade bait, also. He is as good as the other guys and a tougher out at the plate.
-- Carrie F., Los Angeles, Calif.
Since he was with the Tigers, Dmitri Young's stats have gone down each year to where he was a below-average ballplayer. He might be a good Minor Leaguer, but as far as the Major Leagues, he has seen his best days.
--Mark S., Washington D.C.
Come on, no love for DA MEAT HOOK!?
(Photo by Evan Vucci/AP)