Mailbag: What is Guzman's status?

Mailbag: What is Guzman's status?

With the Nationals ending their first season in Washington with an 81-81 record, a lot of fans want to know about the team as the offseason draws to a close and Spring Training nears.

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

Cristian Guzman had a tough year last season. What are the chances of the Nationals trading or releasing him?
-- Mike M., Alexandria, Va.

Guzman will not be traded, released or sent down to the Minor Leagues unless the Nationals are willing to eat his contract. Guzman is here to stay. The Nationals are going to give him all of Spring Training to prove himself. If he doesn't do well, look for Royce Clayton to be the Opening Day shortstop and Guzman to be on the bench.

In parts of 15 seasons as a Major League manager, Frank Robinson has never managed a team into the postseason and he has a career winning percentage under .500. Why is Robinson still managing a Major League team?
-- Adam O., Montreal

Adam, you are one of many people -- fans, writers and broadcasters -- from Montreal who are angry with Robinson, and to this day, I don't understand it. With hardly any money and facing contraction, he kept the Expos competitive in two of the last three seasons in Montreal.

Robinson's history as a manager has been to fix teams, which he has done with the Giants, Orioles and Expos. Does he make mistakes as a manager? No question about it. I would love to see him manage with a high payroll just once in his career. I think the results would be different.

If Nick Johnson has a big year, do you think the Nationals will shell out the money to sign him to a multiyear deal?
-- Nick J., Richmond, Va.

I think the Nationals will think twice about giving Johnson a multiyear deal. What Johnson has going against him is his injuries, which have hampered him for six consecutive years. Most of his injuries have been freak ones.

I remember after the first three months of the 2005 season, there was talk about Ryan Church being in the hunt for the Rookie of the Year Award. Why do the Nationals keep signing all these outfielders when they have a very special one right under their noses?
-- Matthew O., Springfield, Va.

The Nationals were really turned off by Church's injuries. They felt he should have played with the groin strain and broken pinky toe. The team also didn't like the way he handled being a bench player. He struck out quite a bit. Church has to show that he can play with injuries and be a better bench player.

How do you explain the roster moves that general manager Jim Bowden made during the 2005 season, like letting go Sun-Woo Kim and trading Zach Day and Tomo Ohka?
-- Sam D., Bergen Co., N.J.

Kim was out of options, so the Nationals put him on waivers and the Rockies grabbed him, which I thought was a good move on Colorado's part. I think Kim will turn out to be a good pitcher in the future. I don't think he would have been successful with Robinson as his manager. Kim was berated by the skipper in 2003, and I don't think Kim ever recovered from it.

I have mixed feelings when it comes to Ohka. He's a good person, but when he was traded to the Brewers, I was all for it because he was so inconsistent. When I started covering the Expos, one of the first things I was told was that Ohka was better than Javier Vazquez. To be honest, I never saw it. Hands down, Vazquez is better.

When he was good, Ohka was good. When he was bad, he was awful. There was no in between with Ohka. In the two-plus years I covered him, he never gutted out a performance -- which means he has nothing in his pitches but found a way to get hitters out.

The same can be said about Day. I expected great things from him. There was a time I thought he was much wiser than his years. But something happened, starting in 2004, which changed him. I don't know what that was. Only Day has the answer.

Last season, Day was hit hard, and he showed up Robinson, which spelled the end of Day in a Nationals uniform. It remains to be seen if Day becomes a star. He must stay healthy and get his sinker down at all times.

Have a question about the Nationals?
Bill LadsonE-mail your query to Nationals beat reporter Bill Ladson for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
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Following the final day of the 2004 season, the franchise had helmets, jerseys, bags, jackets and many other items that carried the distinctive Expos logo and name. Whatever happened to all those things?
-- Farid R., Pocatello, Idaho

The last Expos game was at Shea Stadium. After that game, the players took their jerseys, bags and jackets to their offseason homes. There were other items, like lunch room chairs and media guides, that went to Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

Last year, the Nationals had one of the lowest-ranking teams in stolen bases. Seeing the size of the park, should they concentrate on having a team with speed and defense, rather than putting in the names like Sammy Sosa?
-- Mike B, Epsom N.H.

You would think teams who play in big ballparks would have learned from former Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog, who traded away his slow sluggers and acquired fast singles and doubles hitters. The results were pretty good. I agree that the Nationals should go after somebody other than Sosa, but I see where Bowden is coming from. He is working on a limited budget and is looking for lightning in a bottle.

Has there been any discussion about moving the fences in at RFK Stadium?
-- John D., Alexandria, Va.

There are no plans to moves the fences in. Hitters such as Jose Guillen and Alfonso Soriano have to get used to it.

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