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.
Comparing Ryan Zimmerman to Brooks Robinson needs to stop immediately. How on earth can you compare 16 Gold Gloves to a rookie year in the bigs? You can't, I can't and even as much as I respect manager Frank Robinson, he can't. Just stop it for goodness sakes. Don't get me wrong, Zimmerman may prove to be the long-term cornerstone but he isn't even the best third baseman in the National League East. Can you say, David Wright? -- Victor W. Shelton, Washington, D.C.
I don't think anybody is saying Zimmerman is better than Robinson, but the comparisons are legitimate. How many runs has Zimmerman saved this season? A ton. It seems like every week Zimmerman is on a highlight show making acrobatic plays. There's no question in my mind that Zimmerman is the best defensive third baseman in baseball -- better than Wright, better than Scott Rolen. Zimmerman should win the Gold Glove.
I noticed that Zimmerman was pulled from a weekend game and did not play in Wednesday night's loss in Florida. Although he has slumped a bit lately, his bat could have been the difference in both games. Has Robinson decided to rest him given the grueling schedule? What are your thoughts on that? -- Jim H. Vienna, Va.
Of the two games you are talking about, I think Zimmerman should have stayed in Sunday's game against the Phillies. After he was taken out, the talent drop off was dramatic and it ended up costing the Nationals the game. I think it shows that the Nationals need a quality backup third baseman for next year. As I say that, I believe Zimmerman needed a break against the Marlins. Even Zimmerman acknowledged that he was a little tired.
Do you see any of the relief pitchers being put into the starting rotation the rest of the season? -- Breanna G., Laurel, Md.
I don't see it. Jason Bergmann has been in the rotation of late, but for now, he will be back in the bullpen the rest of the season. The Nationals are expecting to use Mike O'Connor the rest of the way in the fifth spot.
Will there be any repercussion for what happened between Jeff Francoeur and Nick Johnson on Saturday? -- John H., Falls Church, Va.
Francoeur will not be suspended because Johnson does not believe that Francoeur bumped into him on purpose. However, I do think Francoeur should have been more conscious of the fact that he should have gone around Johnson even before he got out of the batter's box.
Do you agree with Robinson being voted the worst manager in baseball? -- Alex C., Montreal
No, I do not. What I find strange about the poll is, how do all of these players know Robinson is the worst manager? Most of them never played for him. I have to believe some of the players on the Nationals or players who've played for him in the past spread the word around the league about Robinson.
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Given the lack of strength in the Nationals' rotation this year, do you think that it will undergo a major overhaul in the offseason? -- Merrick P., Canberra, Australia
There's no question in my mind that the rotation will be overhauled. After John Patterson, now the ace, it's anybody's guess. Tony Armas Jr., Pedro Astacio and Ramon Ortiz are free agents after the season and one has to believe that it's unlikely they will be back. I think Billy Traber and O'Connor will have to show the rest of the way that they can be quality pitchers.
In 2004 and '05, you kept on talking about Brad Wilkerson's strikeouts. I understand Wilkerson is no Alfonso Soriano, but I have yet to hear you bark about Soriano's 121 strikeouts -- far too much for a leadoff guy as you once put it. -- Peter P. Washington, D.C.
Here's why I'm not barking at Soriano's strikeouts: The man is producing for the Nationals. He hasn't been in the kind of slump that used to plague Wilkerson, who could be a strikeout machine for weeks at a time. Soriano has been a very good leadoff hitter. He is more patient at the plate and has a career high .365 on-base percentage this season.
Do you think that the Nats are playing up to their potential? -- Mark Y., Potomac, Md.
Absolutely not. Before Spring Training, I thought this team would win at least 85 games. I thought the hitting, especially the bench, was a lot better than last year. I believed they had enough pitching to win. But injuries, lack of leadership among the players and lack of accountability from the players are the reasons the Nationals are in fifth place right now.
What ever happened with Soriano going on waivers? The last I heard was they put him on waivers. Did he clear waivers or did he get blocked, and if so, by who? And is there any chance of the Nats working out a deal with this team? -- Tim O., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Soriano was claimed by the Astros, but the Nationals and Astros never came close to a deal, so Soriano was pulled back and cannot be traded for the rest of the season.
Who, other than Brian Schneider and Jose Vidro, is a former Montreal Expo? -- Eric H., Broad Cove, Nova Scotia
Armas, Chad Cordero, Johnson, Henry Mateo, Jon Rauch and Patterson were with the organization when they were still in Montreal.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.