With the Nationals playing in their third month of the 2006 season, a lot of baseball fans want to know about the team and its chances of getting even better in the National League East.
Here are some answers to your questions. Keep those e-mails coming. Thanks a bunch.
Why would we trade such a great player like Alfonso Soriano for prospects, who we won't even know will do well? I understand bringing up Ryan Zimmerman, but he can be considered one of those once in a lifetime players.
-- Dan, Midlothian, Va.
I can totally understand the Nationals' thinking here. Soriano is a free agent and they have to try to sign him before the trade deadline. If they can't, the Nationals would be better off getting prospects in return. If Soriano stayed with the Nationals the entire season and then he signs somewhere else, then they will get the opposing team's first-round draft pick. I think the Nationals are better off getting the prospects, who are almost ready for the big leagues, instead of getting a player from the First-Year Player Draft, a player the team will not see in the Majors for another three to four years.
While Soriano is saying all the right things about playing the outfield, I really feel that he considers himself a second baseman. He will see if he can sign with a team that will allow him to play the position.
I am constantly telling my 7-year-old Little Leaguer to use both hands to catch fly balls, but then he sees Soriano one-handing nearly everything in the air. Why can't pros, particularly ones learning their outfield positions, set a good example with the basics?
-- Pedro G., Arlington, Va.
You are right, a player like Soriano should catch the ball with two hands. It's scary the way Soriano catches fly balls. It seems like he is going to drop them every time. But I don't see the Nationals telling him what to do in that area, because they want him to be comfortable.
What's wrong with Jose Vidro at the plate recently? Will he ever return to
being the doubles-hitting machine he was in Montreal?
-- Brian P., Washington, D.C.
It's too early to panic when it comes to Vidro. To me, he looks much better than he did the last three years. Right now, he's not working the count and swinging at almost every pitch he sees.
You will know that Vidro is back on track when he hits the ball the other way from both sides of the plate.
Have a question about the Nationals?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Nationals beat reporter Bill Ladson for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
How would you rate Jose Guillen since the 2005 All-Star break? It seems his popularity is far greater than his on-the-field performance. The Nationals also show better team chemistry with Guillen out of the lineup. Should he be traded for a strong prospect?
-- Glenn G, Potomac Falls, Va.
Guillen will be traded for prospects. As far as his on-field performance, Guillen has been hurt, so I think you are being a little harsh on that front. When he's healthy, as we saw on Saturday against the Yankees, Guillen can be a productive hitter. As far as the chemistry goes, it privately didn't go unnoticed how well the Nationals played without him when he was on the disabled list.
Who should Frank Robinson have played in place of Preston Wilson and Cristian Guzman last year who would have strengthened the Nats' playoff bid?
-- Steve F., Cabin John, Md.
Robinson should have played Jamey Carroll at short and, when he was healthy, Ryan Church in center. I would have even taken a chance on Brandon Watson at the time, because most of Wilson's home runs and RBIs were meaningless.
How close is John Patterson to returning? And how much impact will he have on the rotation when he is healthy?
-- Brooks E., Boston
Patterson is expected to pitch on Friday against the Orioles, and I expect him to have a great impact on the rotation when he returns. In a month or two, I expect him to be the ace of the staff.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.