Has it really been more than two months since the last time we answered the call? Yes!? Well then, let's open up this week's Nationals dot com Mailbag! 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.
Dmitri Young and Ronnie Belliard are always mentioned in trade talks. Yet, they have been solid performers who have brought some much-needed veteran experience to the team. Do you think there is any chance either of them will remain with the team into next year?
-- D. C., Annandale, Va.
No chance. Ok, that's not true: yes, there is a chance. There's this recurring theme theme out there that Jim Bowden's asking price is too high for Da Meat Hook, and that Belliard fits into the team's short term (ie: 2008) plans. The compensation picks for Belliard add an interesting twist to the argument for holding on to him at least until the end of the season and then playing arbitration; similarly the compensation pick question muddies the argument for dealing Da Meat Hook. But we're putting our money on both guys getting moved before the trading deadline.
Is Tony Batista going to be traded as the deadline approaches? Is Kory Casto a third baseman or an outfielder?
-- J. C, Washington, D.C.
Yes, definitely. Our sources tell us Bowden's cellphone has been ringing nonstop for the last few weeks with calls for Tony Batista; teams are literally lining up to make a deal for him. And who is this Corkey Kastro you speak of?
Do you think right fielder Austin Kearns is good enough to be a long-time starter for the Nats? Why are his average and power numbers so low right now? Do you think he will pick it up and have a good season?
-- B. A., Jonesboro, Ark.
Maybe. Don't know. Hope so (maybe Larkin can give him a hint or two?).
Brandon Watson earned his way back to the Major Leagues and hit well (.278). D'Angelo Jimenez (.040) cannot hit and has not been used that much in the infield. Why don't we send Jimenez back down and bring back Watson, who deserves it?
-- B. G., Laurel, Md.
I still don't understand why Watson got sent down and Nook Logan stuck around in the first place, but let's not go back and revisit that debacle. Regarding Jimenez, you need to keep an extra infielder around -- would you rather have Manny Alexander? At this point, Escobar will be the next up from Columbus (despite his struggles at the plate) and will play left until a body part falls off. Church will play center until he gets moved at the trading deadline, at that point you'll probably see Watson get another shot in center for a few days.
I'm sick of seeing Kearns and Felipe Lopez struggle. If Alex Escobar comes back to the club healthy, would we see him getting starts over Kearns, and do you think someone could replace Lopez?
-- J. C., Arlington, Va.
Like it or not, Kearns and Lopez won't be replaced any time soon, unless they get shipped back to the Reds, as our sources tell us is a distinct possibility. Hopefully both guys do better the rest of the season; then again, you know as much as I do that what happens on the field in 2007 doesn't matter, right?
Do you think Zimmerman should be thinking bunt occasionally with a man on first and no outs? He seems to hit into so many double plays and the bunt now and then for a base hit would put a lot of pressure on the defense.
-- R. D., Rockville, Md.
Nah, he should be thinking 'drive the ball somewhere' with a man on first and no outs.
Do you think trading for Alfonzo Soriano was a fair deal? Yes, he is a good player, but I knew that he would become a free agent and not sign with the Nats.
-- J. M., Burke, Va.
Yes, although I miss Terrmel Sledge dearly.