Mailbag: How will the Nats fare in 2007?

Mailbag: How will the Nationals fare in 2007?

With Spring Training starting next month, a lot of baseball fans want to know about the Nationals and their chances of getting better in the National League East.

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

Do you have any predictions on how the Nationals will play in 2007?
-- Mark R., Ottawa, Canada

It's too early, Mark. Before I make a prediction, I want to see how the starting pitching shapes up and Manny Acta manages the team during Spring Training.

If Cristian Guzman can produce the way he did a few years back, the Nationals' infield looks pretty good with Ryan Zimmerman, Guzman, Felipe Lopez and Nick Johnson. However, with the loss of Alfonso Soriano and Jose Guillen, I am worried about our outfield. Is this a legitimate concern?
-- Jon D., Washington, D.C.

I think the outfield will be OK. I think the Nationals have good options if Kory Casto or Nook Logan don't pan out. You have Alex Escobar and Ryan Church. When healthy, they can hit the baseball. The Nationals are more worried about their starting pitching staff than anything else.

Has Acta voiced his opinion on the Chad Cordero trade rumors?
-- Will S., Reston, Va.

The last time we heard Acta talk about the Cordero trade rumors was during the Winter Meetings, and he said he wanted Cordero on his team. Here's what he said last December: "One of the most discouraging things in baseball is winning a ballgame for eight innings and losing it in one. Bill Virdon told us way back, 'Wherever you go, you'd better bring a closer with you.' If you go out there for eight innings and play hard and are winning the ballgame, and then in an inning you lose it, it's just tough to swallow, so it's a very important piece of our club."

Woody S. from Orlando, Fla., created a stir last week when he wondered why Expos great Andre Dawson was featured on the Nationals' Web site. We received a lot of e-mails about Woody's opinion and question and my response. Here is what some of the readers said:

No disrespect to Dawson, but I thoroughly agree with Woody that it is a "burden" to Washington baseball fans to have Expos history shoved down our throats.

Dawson never played in Washington. The people who are interested in him are in Montreal. Instead of featuring him on the Nationals' Web site, we should have seen features on Cecil Travis and Mickey Vernon, both of who played for the Washington Senators. Dawson would have been better served if his feature had appeared on the site of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Have a question about the Nationals?
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I really do cringe every time a former Expo is featured on the site or mentioned by the broadcasters, because I know there are plenty of Senators records and tales of old that are being ignored.
-- George T., Scottsdale, Ariz.

Just a comment to Woody S. from Orlando: Don't discount the Expos connection to the Nationals. I started following the Expos as a 9-year-old growing up in Montreal and lived and died with their every move.

Yes, the Expos are gone and are now the Nationals, but they'll always be mine. So please, Woody, don't take them away from us. We are as much behind the Nationals as you are. Please give us that same respect. Go Nats!
-- John M., Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

Please ask the fans who are whining about the Expos to give it a rest. Washington fans, of all people, should be sensitive to what it means to have all evidence of your team's former existence washed away.
-- Alan R., Alexandria, Va.

I respectively disagree with you, Bill. The Washington Senators are the team we look to for our former records to be broken, not any Expos, all of whom we mostly never heard of, even Dawson.
-- Earl B., Sebring, Fla.

I've seen a few comments and questions in the mailbag from time to time about the relevancy of Expos history for the Nats. I just want to remind some fans in D.C. that they're not the only ones cheering on the Nats. Growing up in Canada, the closest choices for a "home team" were Toronto and Montreal. I've always been and always will be an Expos fan, even if they changed their name and location. Is it too much to ask that Nats fans should be reminded of the Expos' legacy every once in a while, considering the heartbreak their fans had to suffer in order to bring the team to Washington? I'm an Expos/Nats fan for life, and I'm not willing to just forget the team of my childhood.
-- Allan R., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

As a former longtime Expos, now Nationals fan, I have to agree with some of the Nats' fans comments regarding the Expos history. It's time for the Nationals to write their own. I think it's safe to say that if the Nats were still in Montreal, they wouldn't have had the budget to have signed the players they drafted in the last couple of years, most notably Ryan Zimmerman. Also, they wouldn't be in a position to sign the influx of talent they have been signing from the Dominican Republic.
-- Michael R., St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada

Tell Woody S. from Orlando that if he doesn't know who Dawson is, he should not even bother e-mailing. For some of us, the only reason we follow the Nats is because we've been following the Expos for 25 years and our team was taken away.
-- Brent, Las Vegas, Nev.

There will be many former Expos fans who will continue to be Nationals fans and compare present and future players to former players. I look forward to the Nationals having a team like the Expos had in 1994.
-- Dave A., Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

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