Mailbag: Robinson on Nats fans' minds

Mailbag: Robinson on Nats fans' minds

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 better in the National League East.

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

I take offense to Frank Robinson's recent comments in an interview conducted by you. Regarding his lack of popularity in Montreal compared to Washington, he stated, "The Montreal fans are not baseball savvy like the people in the D.C./Baltimore area." The reason he was unpopular in Montreal was not because we are not baseball savvy.

Everyone was aware of his accomplishments through his Hall of Fame career. The reason he was unpopular was because of his poor choices as manager. Continuously putting the likes of Jim Brower, Hector Almonte and Rocky Biddle in key game situations is an example. Edwards Guzman getting 150 at-bats is another. His love for Ron Calloway and Henry Mateo are further examples.
-- Jeffrey S., Montreal

I'm baffled by his unpopularity in Montreal. I don't think anyone could have done a better job. Robinson, Omar Minaya and Tony Tavares should get a standing ovation for what they did over there with no money.

And I think what Robinson said to me was legitimate because look how the fans and the media responded when he took Vladimir Guerrero out of his last game in Montreal in 2003. All Robinson was doing was making sure that Guerrero received a curtain call, which is done all around baseball. But what did Robinson get for it? Nothing but boos and criticism, which was wrong.

As far as the players Robinson used in Montreal, what other choices did he have? Unlike in Washington, Robinson didn't have choices. The Minor League system was depleted and the Expos couldn't make deals on a regular basis to improve the club.

What's up with the new owners not even having a conversation with Robinson yet? He is Frank Robinson, after all, not some no-name who is just warming the manager's chair. He deserves at least that.
-- Joe T., Silver Spring, Md.

The Lerner group has had informal conversations, not formal ones, with Robinson. I believe they will talk seriously once the closing is completed sometime in July. But the final decision, according to incoming president Stan Kasten, will be left to general manager Jim Bowden.

After all this talk about building the Nationals farm system, I'm wonder what the typical timeline is for that type of investment to pay off.
-- Troy Pomroy, Washington, D.C.

I think it depends on the organization. Under Kasten, it took the Braves four years for the investment to pay off. Look at the Mets of the 1980s. When the Wilpon/Doubleday group took over, it took New York four years to become playoff contenders.

Will that happen with the Nationals? No one can give an answer to that question. I think it will depend on the scouts and player development people they hire. They also have to have strong drafts. The 2006 First-Year Player Draft is a start. But they still need to trade for young starting pitchers and power hitters, And that's why veterans such as Jose Guillen are likely to be traded before the trade deadline.

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What are the Nationals going to do in center field? Marlon Byrd is a fourth outfielder at best, and Damian Jackson is an occasional fill-in. Where do the Nationals go from here? Do you think they'll look to acquire someone or are they content to finish out the year with what they already have?
-- Joel K., Washington, D.C.

For now, you are going to see Byrd and Jackson on this team for a while. There's no one that is ready in the Minor League system that could help them, so to go in a different direction the Nationals would have to trade for a center fielder.

What do you see happening, the Nationals keeping Livan Hernandez or trading him before the deadline is up? Which teams are looking at the ace?
-- Peter, Alexandria, Va.

I believe Hernandez will be traded. I know the Mets would love to have him, but Minaya, now the Mets GM, is not giving up his prospects for him. There are at least 14 other clubs who have inquired about Hernandez, such as the Yankees and Angels.

I read all about the situation with John Wetteland's dismissal. What's your take on it?
-- Dave G., North Dartmouth, Mass.

It was very alarming to hear that he ignored Robinson's instructions and that most of the relievers, for example, paid more attention to breaking Chad Cordero bobblehead dolls than watching the game.

I commend Cordero and Gary Majewski for coming forward and telling their side of the story. They denied they were influenced by Wetteland.

Why is Tony Armas always getting injured and how come the Nationals/Expos never get rid of him?
-- Alex C., Montreal

You don't get rid of a player like Armas because of the potential he brings to the table. The Nationals don't want to see him have a breakout year with somebody else. As far as why he gets hurt so much, that's a question Armas asked this weekend. I don't think it's anything he has done. It's just bad luck.

What is the possibility of trading Armas prior to the deadline?
-- Brian K., Carle Place, N.Y.

Two weeks ago, I would have said it was a good chance Armas would be gone by the July 31 trade deadline. I'm not to sure now because of his recent forearm injury and his past history with his shoulder. If they trade Armas alone, I don't see the Nationals getting much for him. If he's part of a package, that's a different story.

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