Mailbag: Big plans for new owners?

Mailbag: Nats to get new look with new owners?

With the Nationals playing in their second month of the 2006 season, many fans want to know about the team and its chances of improving in the National League East.

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

While there is no doubt that the Nationals need to rebuild the farm system and essentially start from scratch, don't you agree that they need to retain at least some of the good players on the Major League roster?
-- Kyle D., Washington, DC.

I do think they should keep some of the veterans, who can teach the Minor Leaguers how to win. If you look at the Braves of the early 1990s, the only veterans -- with at least 10 years experience -- they kept from the losing years were Charlie Leibrandt and Lonnie Smith, and those two guys had postseason experience before they arrived in Atlanta.

Rebuilding the farm system is good, but will the Lerner group spend money on free agents?
-- David W., Richmond, Va.

I don't see the Lerner group spending a lot of money on free agents during its first year at the helm. New team president Stan Kasten has already announced that a lot of money is going to be spent on the farm system.

With new ownership almost in place, how safe is Frank Robinson's job if the Nationals continue to lose? After all, they have been losing regularly since the second half of last season.
-- Vince I., Raleigh, North Carolina

The Lerner group has been quiet on Robinson's future. But I have to believe that he will be judged on what he does this season.

With the new ownership, what are the chances of signing Alfonso Soriano to a long-term contract?
-- John D., Staten Island, N.Y.

That's a good question. As of now, the Lerner group has not announced its plans for Soriano. I know at least 15 clubs are interested in Soriano's services. So, if they can't sign him long term, the Nationals will trade Soriano for prospects.

You seem to give Robinson too much credit. He can do no wrong. Please defend your actions.
-- Mike Z., Utica, N.Y.

I never said Robinson is 100 percent perfect. I have often said that he sticks with slumping players too long and he's doing it again with Joey Eischen. However, I've felt that he never managed the Nationals/Expos on a level playing field because of the team's limited budget.

Have you noticed that Jamey Carroll is hitting over .300 and is seeing his share of playing time with the Rockies? Meanwhile, the Nationals' utility infielders are not exactly burning up the league.
-- Andrew D., Gettysburg, Pa.

Jim Bowden has gone on record to say that trading Tomo Ohka was his biggest mistake as general manager of the Nationals. But you could make a case that trading Carroll was the biggest mistake. Carroll plays the game the right way, has a plan at the plate and plays several positions very well.

Now, I agree with getting Marlon Anderson because he is one of the best pinch-hitters in the league, but Carroll is better than the rest of the infielders the Nationals acquired this offseason.

As a Harrisburg Senators fan, I have been watching Kory Casto a lot. What are the Nationals' plans for him? His career at third base does not look promising with Ryan Zimmerman around.
-- Gerald N, East Berlin, Pa.

The original plan was to have Casto play second base this season, but that was scrapped because the Nationals wanted to use him as trade bait. However, if Casto stays with the Nationals, Bowden didn't rule out the prospect going back to the outfield.

Why do some Nationals players -- Jose Guillen in particular -- continue to complain about playing at RFK? Is it really that bad playing in RFK? Other teams don't seem to mind, and they are able to hit balls over the fence.
-- Arden L., Cheverly, Md.

It's not that bad when it comes to hitting home runs. I think Soriano is making Guillen look silly on this matter. The Nationals are not going to change the dimensions of the park, so with the time he has left with the team, Guillen should start getting used to RFK.

When is Bill Bray coming up? This team could use a flame-thrower in the bullpen.
-- Dave F., Seaford, De.

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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Dave, you are one of many readers who are asking this question. A lot of people thought he would be in the big leagues after Eischen gave up the game-winning home run to Ken Griffey Jr. last week. But it appears that Robinson is sticking with Eischen.

Bray has proven he should be given a chance in the Majors. Entering Monday's action, Bray is 4-1 with a 2.92 ERA in 24 2/3 innings. He also has 37 strikeouts and only nine walks.

It seems like the media and the Nationals push the trio of Ryan Zimmerman, Nick Johnson and Brian Schneider as the face of the franchise. Why not Jose Vidro? He has been with the organization the longest, and I feel he is usually left out of conversations relating to the "cornerstones" of the franchise.
-- Jerry G., Madison, Wis.

Since the team moved to Washington, Vidro's name hasn't been mentioned that much, I believe, because of his knee problems the previous three years. If he continues to have a great season, I believe, Vidro will be recognized.

On the other hand, there's a possibility that Vidro could be traded to a contending team. I know the Mets are interested in his services, but the Nationals are not going to give him away.

Why is Robinson insisting on using Mike Stanton in a setup role? He should only be used as a lefty specialist at this point in his career.
-- Keith, Binghamton, N.Y.

The reason Stanton is being used in the setup role is because Gary Majewski and Felix Rodriguez have been inconsistent. Stanton will be in that role until something changes.

A bunch of us here in Washington want to know what the Nationals have in store for Josh Karp.
--- Howard H., Seattle

There are no plans for Karp right now because he is recovering from shoulder surgery. I don't see Karp pitching in a Nationals uniform unless he really improves on the mound. With the exception of 2002, Karp has not looked good.

With the loss of Hideki Matsui, the Yankees need an outfielder. Would the Nats be willing to give them Guillen or Soriano?
-- Rich R., Slingerlands, N.Y.

I'm sure they would as long as they get prospects in return, but I don't see the Nationals trading their veterans until after the First-Year Player Draft, which is in June. That's the team's top priority right now.

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