With the Nationals completing their fourth 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.
With the acquisition of Felipe Lopez, what are the plans for Cristian Guzman?
-- Mike S., Montreal
That's a good question. I could see one of two scenarios. The Nationals could try to trade Guzman. It would be tough because he has a little over $8 million left on his contract. I also could see the Nationals trading Jose Vidro, putting Lopez at second base and letting Guzman become the starting shortstop. The latter seems to be Washington's best choice.
What is the biography on Micah Bowie? All I know is he's 6-foot-4, 31 years old, born in Texas and pitching like an All-Star closer.
-- Ron S., Alexandria, Va.
Bowie has played professional baseball since 1994. He started his career with the Braves. He also spent time with the Cubs and Athletics before having elbow reconstruction in 2003. He then missed a couple years because of the surgery.
With the Nationals under new management, are they trying to tell their fans that they are not competitive enough to sign Alfonso Soriano in the offseason? It appears that Soriano's good working habits and positive outlook is good for the fans and the team. -- David P., Washington
I don't think the Lerner Group is saying that. They want to sign Soriano. In fact, team president Stan Kasten has continued to praise Soriano. However, the Soriano camp, led by agent Diego Bentz, does not want to talk about a contract until after the season.
Besides, with the team in fifth place, I agree with general manager Jim Bowden that it's best to get prospects and build for the future. I believe the team needs to be overhauled and give some of the young players, like Double-A infielder Kory Casto, a chance.
Why not wing it and worry about negotiations with Soriano later? Trading the best player on the team in exchange for prospects is like selling off a Kentucky Derby winner in exchange for a couple of promising young colts. You quote Vidro saying, "It would be a devastating blow." Vidro is right.
-- Richard L., Moultonborough, N.H.
It's easier said than done. It's one thing if Soriano had a say in the situation, but Bentz calls all the shots when it comes to contract negotiations. Soriano always says the team has to talk to Bentz. I heard through sources that special assistant to the general manager Jose Rijo is trying to convince Soriano to stay.
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.
Are the Nats trying to move Nick Johnson for pitching since they have Larry Broadway at Triple-A New Orleans, or does Johnson's injury history make him hard to move?
-- Ed B., Washington
The Nationals have no intentions of moving Johnson, because of his impressive hitting and defensive skills. I think the team would rather trade Broadway, who is having the best season of his career at New Orleans. Some members of the Nationals' think tank believe Broadway is far behind Johnson with the glove.
What are the plans for Broadway? I think someone is overlooking a good player here.
-- Lou S., Nashville, Tenn.
A few weeks ago, I was told by sources that Johnson was the guy at first base because he was a better defensive player than Broadway, who is on the trading block. I agree Broadway is going to be a very good player one day, but I don't see it happening in a Nationals uniform.
Is there any chance the Nats would trade the oft-injured Vidro?
-- Kevin B., New Brunswick, Canada
I could see it happening after he is taken off the disabled list. Some members of the organization believe it is time to go with a younger player at the position. Vidro has lost a lot of range at second base. To many, Vidro is hitting a soft .300 and leaving too many runners on base. It may be best for Vidro to make a position switch, like moving to first base.
I heard that Javier Vazquez is available. Do you think the Nationals are willing to get him from the White Sox?
-- George P., Montreal
That's a good question, because the Nationals were interested in him during the offseason. But I don't see Washington picking up Vazquez, because he makes too much money and he doesn't fit into the long-term plan of the club.
Does Ryan Zimmerman have a chance to win the Jackie Robinson (Rookie of the Year) Award in the National League?
-- Jerry F., Navarre, Fla.
In my opinion, no rookie is better than Zimmerman right now. He is a complete player. Growing up in New York, I've always said Graig Nettles is the best defensive third baseman I ever saw. Ten years from now, however, I think people will be saying Zimmerman is the best ever. The thing that has surprised me about Zimmerman's game is his speed. He can run. I think he is capable of being a 30-30 guy one day.
Ryan Church was first touted as one of the top rookies. Then he was sent down while others were kept. I don't understand it.
-- Earl B., Sebring, Fla.
I see your point. As far as Church goes, he needed to be a Minor Leaguer to get his act together with the bat. Church will say the same thing. What I find amazing is the great attitude Church has had throughout the whole ordeal. He will even joke with some of his critics -- me being one of them.
Was releasing Mathew LeCroy a financial move or just a baseball decision? I always thought he was a hard worker. And, do you think anyone will pick him up?
-- Ray B., Gainesville, Fla.
It was a baseball decision, because the Nationals are still paying him his $850,000 salary. LeCroy was a liability on defense and is better suited for the American League as a designated hitter. LeCroy is likely to sign with an AL team, but I don't see it happening soon.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.