Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Answers to the mailbag

Here are my own answers to Bill Ladson's mailbag:

Is Aaron Boone going to get more playing time? He should.
-- Dean O., Winnipeg, MB.

Yes, but not for good reasons. As we all know, Johnson is out for a few more weeks, so Boone will spell young at 1B every once in a while. But now we hear that Zimmerman could miss more games so, unfortunately, Aaron Boone is going to be playing there. Not that Boone playing is a bad thing (as he's hitting very well), but I'd much rather see the face of the franchise manning the hot corner and batting 3rd. I'd say there's a 75% chance Boone gets shipped somewhere at the deadline a la Daryle Ward. San Francisco, perhaps?

It seems like after every game, there's an item about Lastings Milledge being careless or lackadaisical on the field. And all I hear from him are excuses. What is he still doing in center field?
-- Adam C., Atlanta, Ga.

I don't think he's being careless or lackadaisical. That would be Andruw Jones territory. Milledge simply is not very good at fielding the CF position at this point, as he misreads everything and ends up where the ball lands a second late, often letting up to let it fall. He's still in CF because we don't have any other options. Dukes could play there, but we can't play Pena in RF and Milledge's arm in RF isn't a good option either. When Kearns comes back (and if Dukes actually starts to hit), I can see Dukes becoming the CF and Milledge becoming the 4th OF (or being shipped to AAA to work on CF skills). I'm confident that Elijah Dukes is the team's long-term option in CF and Lastings Milledge will be a LF when it's all said and done.

Can we get some love for Tim Redding? What a warrior, but nobody talks about him. He's by far our best pitcher this year.
-- Scott C., Washington, DC

I've heard a lot of love for Redding about being the team's lone all-star pick (don't feel like searching for links, but I'm sure you've seen them anyways, including in Ladson's mailbag). I disagree with the premise that He is "by far our best pitcher this year," however.

John Lannan is almost as good, if not just as good, if not better than Redding this year. They have basically the same ERA (3.57 for Lannan, 3.59 for Redding...remember that 6 of the 7 runs Redding allowed here don't count against his ERA), similar K:BB ratios (2 for Lannan, 1.9 for Redding), similar ERA+ (118 for Lannan, 117 for Redding). Redding has a decent lead in WHIP (1.229 to Lannan's 1.397) but that could be easily attributed to a low BABIP (.228 to Lannan's .271). The biggest difference is W-L record, with Redding sitting at 6-3 to Lannan's 4-5. I'm not even going to get into it all, but look at each of their run support stats. Redding gets 4.6 runs a game, Lannan gets 3.1. Lannan has given up 2 runs or less in 60% of his starts, to Redding's 45%. Lannan has given up 3 runs or less in 70% of his starts, to Redding's 64%. I won't say Lannan is better, but to call Redding "by far our best pitcher this year" would not be accurate.

Acta and Washington management should be commended for their patience, but how much longer will it last?
-- Dean O., Winnipeg. MB

"As long as Acta is in the organization, the patience will be there." Agreed. If he didn't lose it over the blown "stolen base" call with Gabe Kapler in the 9th today, I don't see him losing it any time soon. His job isn't on the line and there are very low expectations, so he doesn't need to panic...he can afford to be patient.

I completely agree with Nationals' idea of building a strong farm system. However, the club needs to get somebody to make fans excited, and somebody who is proven. You can't keep getting guys hitting .100 with five RBIs in a month. They also can't keep bringing up young guys before they are ready. I think the Nationals must stop being stingy and at least sign one big-name free agent.
-- Adam H., Nazareth, Pa.

Who do you suggest they sign? You're a week late, bro, Piazza already retired! Who else...you want Bonds? Nobody wants Bonds for a reason. It's not the right time to suggest a big-name signing, but over the offseason I guess there are a few worth looking at: Teixeira, Furcal, Dunn, Sabathia, Perez, Sheets. These days you're almost better off developing your own young talent that may not be quite as good as these guys at their peaks rather than going 7 or 8 years on players, signing them to hundred million dollar deals that pay them almost $20 mil per year when they're past their prime at 38 or so. I hope they'll be in the running for one of those 6 guys this offseason, just to appease the fans. I'd take any of those guys on a 5 year deal.

One last note: BERGMANNIA CONTINUES!!!! Too bad the Nats' new guys (Sanches and Manning) couldn't hold a 2-0 lead and get Bergmann his second W of the year.

One more last note: Dukes has raised his batting average from .038 to .119 in the last 6 games. He's still behind Tim Redding, Matt Chico, Odalis Perez and Austin Kearns, but at least he's starting to defrost.

Okay, for real last note: Guzman has 5 HR this year, halfway to his career high of 10. BERGMANNIA+GUZMANIA=BERGUZMANIA!!!! Kinda like ManBearPig?

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