Mailbag: Bonifacio the right move?

Mailbag: Bonifacio the right move?

Right-hander Jon Rauch has been my favorite player since the Expos acquired him in 2004. Do you think it was good to trade Rauch to the Diamondbacks for second baseman Emilio Bonifacio?
-- Ben F., Suffolk, Va.

There is no question that Rauch was a quality reliever for the Nationals, but with the way the team was going, how many saves was he going to get? They probably would have been few and far between. Besides, the Nationals need a second baseman, and Bonifacio fit what they were looking for. I would not be surprised if we saw Bonifacio within the next two weeks. The team also believes that it is easier to develop a closer than it is to find an everyday position player. As you can see, they found their new closer in right-hander Joel Hanrahan.

How could the Nats trade away such a valuable player in Rauch? He's clearly been their most consistent pitcher. I'm very disappointed in this trade, as I'm sure many others are, too.
-- Steve O., Montreal

Based on the e-mails I have received, a lot of fans are disappointed in the trade, but let's give Bonifacio a chance and see what happens. I spoke to an old friend, Brian Golden of the Antelope Valley Press in Southern California, recently. He has watched Bonifacio play and believes the Nationals received the best of the deal because of what Bonifacio can do on the bases and with the bat.

What is going on with the Nationals' bullpen? It was advertised as the team's strength and hasn't performed as such. Is it because Chad Cordero went down with a shoulder injury?
-- Lee H., Silver Spring, Md.

Losing Cordero was a tremendous blow, but the team still has Luis Ayala and Jesus Colome. They were supposed to be productive, but have been disappointments. I believe the Nationals need to overhaul the bullpen. I would keep Hanrahan because of his potential. Steven Shell has been a nice addition, but he has to do it again next year to let me know that he is for real. I would also keep Cordero, but I do not think he will be back with the team because of conflicts with general manager Jim Bowden.

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Question:

Are there any middle infielders in the system who are close to being the big leagues?
-- Michael P., Minneapolis, Minn.

Outside of Bonifacio, the answer is no. That's why Washington gave shortstop Cristian Guzman a two-year extension.

I was so excited when the Nationals acquired Elijah Dukes from the Rays. How has he been so far?
-- J.P., Fairfax, Va.

Before he injured his right knee in early July, he was arguably the Nationals' best all-around player. He is now rehabbing with the Gulf Coast Nationals, but I don't know when he will back on the Major League side.

With the Nats' inability to generate offense, has there been any mention of replacing Lenny Harris as hitting coach? I believe they were better offensively under Mitchell Page.
-- Tim H., Lorton, Va.

Yes. Some members of the "think tank" are disappointed in the job Harris has done and I'm sure a change is a possibility. No one can deny that the hitters had a game plan under Page.

It appears to me that the team needs to change the manager. Manny Acta doesn't really appear to make tough decisions, especially at critical parts of a game. Appreciate your thoughts.
-- Phil P., Falls Church, Va.

I don't think they need to change managers. I still believe Acta will be a good one when it's all said and done. However, I believe they need to overhaul the roster. The record doesn't lie. Changes need to be made.

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