Mailbag: Fans ponder Soriano deal

Mailbag: Fans ponder Soriano acquisition

With the Nationals ending their first season in Washington with an 81-81 record, a lot of fans want to know about the team and its offseason plans.

Here are some answers to your questions. Keep those e-mails coming. Thanks a bunch.

Why do the Nationals want Alfonso Soriano to play outfield when he never played that position? Couldn't he be used as a shortstop?
-- Alex C., Montreal

In 2001, Soriano played left field for the Yankees during Spring Training and was slated to start at the position until Chuck Knoblauch developed throwing problems. Soriano was then switched to second base.

Soriano started his career as a shortstop, but it appears he doesn't want to play that position either.

With Miguel Tejada apparently wanting to get traded, what are the chances of the Nationals getting him for Jose Vidro and Cristian Guzman? That would open up second base for Soriano.
-- Tom P., Burlington, Ontario

That proposed trade will not happen because Vidro is hurt and Guzman is coming off the worst year of his career. Both players are not tradeable at this point. Vidro and Guzman will be Nationals during the 2006 season.

Instead of forcing Soriano to play the outfield where he won't be happy, why don't the Nationals trade Jose Vidro for Padres outfielder Dave Roberts, who would be our answer for a leadoff catalyst.
-- Howard L., Baltimore, Md.

It's going to be impossible to trade Vidro because he is hurt right now. He has a sore right knee and weak quadriceps. For now, the Nationals are not interested in Roberts because they feel he is still recovering from a leg injury.

Do you think trading for Soriano was a good move? And do you think they will be able to keep him for more than one year?
-- Kevin F., McLean, Va.

It depends on new ownership, which is not in place yet. Once that is settled, I'm sure management will try hard to keep Soriano. Keep in mind that it's a two-way street, and Soriano is going to have to put up big numbers to stay.

As for the trade, I think it was a good one because the Nationals need a power hitter and a speedster. Last year, the Nationals were a base-to-base team. However, of the three the Nationals traded, I hated to see Terrmel Sledge go, because I believe he is going to be a star in the Major Leagues. He can hit all types of pitching and doesn't strike out much.

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Brad Wilkerson is a great person and team player, but he must cut down on the strikeouts. Maybe a change of scenery will work wonders for him.

Why did the Nationals offer Tony Armas arbitration? I thought the team didn't want him because he gets injured so often.
-- Alex C., Montreal

The Nationals are desperate for pitching, and Dr. Tim Kremchek, the team's senior consultant, believes Armas will be productive in 2006 after having shoulder surgery.

With two of the outfield positions likely taken up by Soriano and Jose Guillen, it seems the third outfielder will be the leadoff man like Brandon Watson. Does this make Ryan Church more likely to be traded?
-- Dustin C., North Hero, Vt.

If the Nationals want better pitching, I would have to say, yes, Church most likely will be traded. In fact, he was almost traded to the Diamondbacks for Javier Vazquez last week. I would hate to see Church leave because he has a lot of potential. I think he's capable of hitting 30 home runs and driving in 100 runs in a season.

Considering the asset Jamey Carroll was to the Nationals in 2005, why are the Nationals looking to trade him during the offseason?
-- Andy B., Pittston, Pa.

Some in the organization are not fans of Carroll's because he doesn't bring any power off the bench and doesn't have the range of a Derek Jeter.

I think it would be a mistake to trade Carroll. To me, he is the most fundamentally sound player on the team. Nobody on the team can bunt other than Carroll and he can hit the other way consistently to advance runners.

The things that Carroll bring to the table reminds me of what Fred Stanley, Bucky Dent and Paul Blair used to do for the Yankees in the late 1970s. They were not the greatest players in the world, but they did the little things perfectly and helped the Yankees win two championships. The Yankees don't win those championships in the '70s without them.

What is your opinion of Mets GM Omar Minaya? He is referred to as a savvy baseball person. He traded Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Philips. We might have won the division last year and would be in excellent shape this year.
-- Michael L., Westport, Conn.

When Minaya was the general manager of the Expos, I thought he was excellent when it came to handling the Major League club, but I thought he gave up on the Minor Leaguers too quickly. It's not just Sizemore, Lee and Phillips he gave up on. He also traded Jason Bay, Chris Young and Carl Pavano.

Minaya will tell you that he dealt most of those players for veterans because he thought the Expos were going to be contracted. Minaya also was looking to win on the Major League level, and he was going to be judged on his won-loss record, not how he kept the Minor League system in good shape.

Where does Henry Mateo fit into the Nationals' plans?
-- Wally R., New Cumberland, Pa.

Mateo is a six-year Minor League free agent and will not return. He has not fully recovered from a right shoulder injury that he suffered while playing winter ball in 2003.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.