Mailbag: Can Milledge turn it around?

Mailbag: Can Milledge turn it around?

Since Lastings Milledge hasn't been performing well enough, is there any way that the Nationals would consider signing Jim Edmonds?
-- Josh T., Chevy Chase, Md.

No chance. Edmonds is past his prime. But don't be surprised if you see Justin Maxwell or Mike Daniel in the Majors soon. Not only are they quality people, but they play the game hard.

As far as Milledge goes, I don't see the Nats demoting him or benching him any time soon. He has not played well and he will be the first one to tell you that. Should he be benched for a while? Ask me this question in two weeks.

What do you think of general manager Jim Bowden's strategy of signing veterans to fill out his roster -- Aaron Boone, Rob Mackowiak, Johnny Estrada and Paul Lo Duca. The Lerner ownership would have been better served by just saving its money. What is your view of this?
-- Michael L., Westport, Conn.

I'm never going to say a bad word about Bowden. I think he has done a great job since he has been in Washington. Look what he has done to the farm system. It's one of the best in baseball.

Bowden wants to win so badly. But with the limited money that he has on the Major League side, he has no choice but to sign such veteran players and hope they catch lightning in a bottle. I agreed with Bowden signing those players.

Would there be negative consequences by sending Wily Mo Pena or Austin Kearns to the Minors and bringing up Ryan Langerhans? Langerhans seems to have corrected his hitting problems at Triple-A Columbus.
-- Geoff B., Las Vegas

There is no chance that Pena or Kearns would go to the Minor Leagues for Langerhans, because the team views Pena and Kearns as better players. Also, both Pena and Kearns are out of options and would have to clear waivers and accept a Minor League assignment.

I really enjoyed watching the rise of John Lannan from Class A Potomac to the big leagues last year, and now he is our best starter. The Nationals have a similar pitcher this year in Cory VanAllen. Have you heard any mention of him from the "think tank" about moving him up the ladder?
-- Cole J., Atlanta

Oh, yes. He was already promoted to Double-A Harrisburg, and Bowden talks about him often. I would not be surprised if we saw VanAllen in the Majors by August or September.

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You mentioned special assistant to GM Barry Larkin's stepping in to offer advice on hitting. How does hitting coach Lenny Harris feel about Larkin's presence? Is there some bad chemistry going on between the players and Harris?
-- Dean O., Winnipeg, Manitoba

Harris didn't have a problem with Larkin being in the Nationals' clubhouse. I don't know if there is bad chemistry between Harris and the position players, but the numbers don't lie: The players are not very good when it comes to hitting.

Considering how quickly Jason Bergmann was sent down to Columbus after pitching poorly in April, are you surprised that the Nats haven't sent Matt Chico down yet?
-- Mike G. Millersville, Md.

No, I'm not surprised. Manager Manny Acta and pitching coach Randy St. Claire are loyal to Chico for the job that he did last season. Chico led the team in innings, and he did everything that they asked him to do. You can't say that about a lot of the Nationals starters last year.

I recall Ryan Zimmerman's rookie season in which he had a significant number of bunt singles. Any thoughts on him trying that a couple of times to help him get out of his funk?
-- Doug C., Lubbock, Texas

My feeling are that Zimmerman should be bunting often. He is the second-best player -- Mickey Rivers is the best -- I've seen as far as bunting for base hits.

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