Well, it's been a slow couple of weeks around these parts as we sit around trying to dream up all the ways Ted Lerner isn't going to spend his money this offseason, so why don't we break open the latest edition of the Nationals dot com Mailbag? As always, keep those e-mails coming to Nationals.com, and we'll keep copying and pasting your questions and giving our half-assed answers.
What do you think Austin Kearns's future is with the Nats?
-- R. S., Millersville, Md.
Maybe Kearns has a bright future with the Nationals as the guy who fires the t-shirt gun into the crowd at Nationals Park. Or security guard, take your pick.
Does Willie Harris have a shot as an everyday player?
-- T.T., Reston, Va.
About a year ago, I asked if you thought a Chad Cordero trade for Jason Bay was a possibility. You said, "That would be a steal for the Pirates. I want to know why Bay slumped so badly for the Bucs last year." Do you think a player like Bay would have salvaged the poor offense and provided the extra power the Nationals needed throughout the season?
-- B. P., Bethesda, Md.
Hey, I never said that! But it definitely would've taken a lot more than Jason Bay to have salvaged the stinking, rotten carcass that was the 2008 season.
I have followed Levale Speigner since he was in high school. What are his prospects for next season?
-- T. S., Lisbon, Ohio
Know any good restaurants in Syracuse?
After the last four seasons, how can we view pitching as the one area not in need of a new coach? The Nationals rank near the bottom of every category in pitching as well as hitting, but we're not replacing the pitching coach during this major housecleaning?
-- B. W., Alexandria, Va.
Good question. A little something to do with the naked pictures Randy St. Claire has of Bud Selig that got him a 'job for life' clause in the deal when the Lerners bought the team from MLB.
What is Ryan Wagner's status with the team?
-- R. B., Highland, Va.
Great question. Wagner is Bowden's last hope for getting the last laugh on Wayne Krivsky, and his last hope for salvaging the 2006 "Blockbuster" that made us suffer through several seasons of Kearns and Lopez. So, as long as he's healthy, he'll be in the mix for a job in the bullpen.
Why do you keep saying that Lastings Milledge is a building block given his numbers in the Major Leagues? Compare his numbers to the center fielders on contending teams - Elijah Dukes and Justin Maxwell have shown much more potential.
-- K. G., Bethesda, Md.
You sure about that? (I mean, the Maxwell part?)
How safe is Manny Acta's job, and how long does his current contract run?
-- F. H., Northampton, UK
That the Nationals didn't pick up the 2010 option on Acta's contract at the end of 2008 speaks volumes. A big, fat, no-vote of confidence. Could be looking for work by the All Star Break.