Mailbag: Is Castro ready yet?

Mailbag: Is Castro ready yet?

With the Nationals in their sixth 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 Jose Vidro expected to be traded in the offseason, do you view Bernie Castro as their second baseman of the future?
-- Cliff S., Springfield, Va.

Not so fast about Vidro getting traded. First of all, he has two years left on his contract, and I think the Nationals will have to eat some or a lot of it to get Vidro moved. Vidro also has not played very well with the glove or the bat. I was happy to see that Vidro acknowledged that he wasn't playing well.

As far as Castro goes, he hasn't done enough to warrant being an everyday second baseman. He can't turn a double play and I would like to see a little bit more pop with the bat. I think he's a backup/pinch-runner at best. I would not be surprised if the Nationals consider Felipe Lopez the future second baseman.

At this point, it seems to be getting comical. Why is it that the team looks down on Ryan Church, who since coming back from New Orleans on July 22 is hitting .305? They replaced him with Nook Logan. It seems to me, the Nationals need to part ways with Church so he can get a decent chance.
-- Ed E., Santa Maria, Calif.

There is no doubt, Church is better than Logan in terms of overall talent, but the reason Church is not playing is because of his defense. It's clear he is not a center fielder, Church is a corner man. During the last homestand, there were balls Church should have caught in center field.

In terms of parting ways with Church, I think it would be crazy to trade him now. If the Nationals lose Alfonso Soriano, they could put Church in left field. If Church stays, he could be productive if he stays healthy.

What is the status of Brian Lawrence?
-- Brendan W., Newport News, Va.

Lawrence will not pitch this season because of a torn rotator cuff injury. Lawrence has an option left on his contract, but I don't see the Nationals picking it up. I could see him become a National at a cheap price next season.

In instances when Frank Robinson believes he has a pretty good idea why a player is struggling at the plate, why doesn't he, on his own initiative, volunteer his insights to the player rather than wait to be asked?
-- David B., Washington D.C.

Have a question about the Nationals?
Bill LadsonE-mail your query to Nationals beat reporter Bill Ladson for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
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That is a great question. Since I've covered him, Robinson has said repeatedly that he doesn't want to interfere with his coaches and the jobs they do. Robinson sometimes will go to a hitter and tell him what's wrong, but for the most part, it's Mitchell Page's job to solve the problem.

One thing that has struck me about the Nationals since the second half of last year is their lack of toughness. What do you think?
-- Rob C., Vienna, Va.

I never thought of it that way. That's an interesting observation. But what has struck me more than anything since the second half of the 2005 season is the denials from most of the major players in terms of their performances.

Do you think Kory Casto will get a September callup this year?
-- Britta A., Jonestown, Pa.

I doubt it. The Nationals don't want him to sit on the bench. But I expect him to play a lot in the Arizona Fall League.

I attended 26 games and the Nats went 17-9. How many more home games should I go to so they can win more games?
-- Judy K., Maryland

Judy, go to all 12 remaining games at RFK and give the Nationals luck. You can get your tickets at

I am curious of what you thought of the decision to pull Ramon Ortiz in the ninth inning last Monday? I personally thought it was a mistake and that he should have been allowed to finish the game.
-- John H., Sterling, Va.

There's no doubt in my mind that Ortiz should have completed the game. He threw only 95 pitches.

What is the status of Micah Bowie and Shawn Hill? Will they pitch again this year?
-- Eddie R., Washington D.C.

I expect to see Bowie before the season is over. Hill's season is over because of elbow problems. Hill is expected to be ready for Spring Training and has a chance to make the rotation.

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