Mailbag: Can Soriano win the MVP?

Mailbag: Can Soriano win the MVP?

With the Nationals completing their fifth 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.

What are the chances of Alfonso Soriano winning the National League MVP this year? He has done everything he can for the Nationals to be a competitive team and has been able to hit at spacious RFK stadium.
-- Chris V., Norwalk, Conn.

I don't think it's good because the Nationals are in last place in the NL East. But, I agree with you. Soriano should be a strong MVP candidate. He has adjusted to playing left field extremely well and his biggest contribution has obviously come in the home run department.

Thrown chairs, angry tirades, finger pointing: It looks like the Nationals are imploding right before our eyes. This does not look good to the fans.
-- Andrew K. Wilmington, N.C.

You are right. But give general manager Jim Bowden time. With the help of team president Stan Kasten, I expect Bowden to try and improve the roster as much as possible by next year. It's a start with Bowden picking up Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez and Alfonso Soriano.

Kearns seems to have the potential to be a good player for the Nats. What do you think?
-- Drew, K. Wilmington, N.C.

Even though he is slumping right now, I think he will become one of the better players in the future, and it looks like Kearns' injuries are a thing of the past.

Will Jon Rauch get a chance to be in the rotation soon?
-- Reuven D., Montreal

Manager Frank Robinson said that Rauch most likely will not get a chance to start this year, and Bowden indicated that Rauch wanted to stay in the role of a setup man. So it looks like his days as a starter are over.

The decision to put Alfonso Soriano in the leadoff position was a stroke of genius. However, now that we know he can hit home runs at RFK stadium and with the arrival of Felipe Lopez, isn't it time to move him to the No. 3 spot?
-- Centreville, Va.

I don't think so. They put Soriano in the middle of the order earlier in the season and it didn't' work out. I look for Soriano to stay where he's at for the rest of the season.

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It looks like Ryan Church is taking advantage of another shot with the team. Will he stay up for good?
-- Steven V., Centreville, Va.

Yes, I believe Church is in the big leagues for good. It looks like his batteries have been recharged. He is now in a battle with Alex Escobar for the starting center field job. They are both auditioning for next year.

Why does everyone seem so high on Brian Schneider? He would be a respectable backup catcher but nothing more.
-- John S., Alexandria, Va.

Because prior to this year, Schneider was one of the best defensive catchers in baseball and a decent hitter. That's not the case in 2006. He has slumped offensively and defensively. I don't know what the cause is for Schneider's bad season. He says that he is healthy.

When Kasten helped rebuild the Braves, did his GM, Bobby Cox, restock the farm system through trades or the draft?
-- Jermaine W., Hampton, Va.

It was both. For example, the Braves acquired John Smoltz from the Tigers for veteran pitcher Doyle Alexander. But for the most part, players like David Justice, Ron Gant and Chipper Jones came through the farm system.

Why was Soriano not traded at the deadline? I think that he is great player who can be a cornerstone piece for this franchise, but I thought that the whole reasoning with shopping him around and taking offers for him was that they didn't think they could sign him long term. Why did the Nationals have such a sudden change of heart on their thoughts of signing him long term?
-- John M., Bath, Maine.

I wouldn't call it a change of heart. The Nationals wanted to get the best players for him and opposing teams were not willing to give up equal value for him. I look for the Nationals to try their best to re-sign him.

With Daryle Ward's solid numbers, why doesn't he get more starts?
-- Peter H., Arlington, Va.

The positions that he can play -- left field, right field and first base -- are occupied by Alfonso Soriano, Austin Kearns and Nick Johnson, respectively. I agree that Ward has done a good job off the bench, but I don't see him playing on a regular basis this year.

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