The Post has a new beat writer for the Nats, Chico Harlan. He's looked good so far, but only time will tell regarding whether or not he is Svrlugaesque.
Quick answers to the Mailbag questions:
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.
Are you serious? Edmonds is awful! He can't hit any more (.178/.265/.233). He was outhit by Jake Peavy by over 100 points, and Peavy isn't even a .300 hitter!! Edmonds can still catch the ball but he takes roughly eighteen years to get to it, so his defense isn't better. I mean if we want an more expensive and worse player than Milledge, Edmonds is definitely our guy. Stupid question.
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.
Mackowiak-Good (Signing him was a good idea, keeping him is not)
Estrada-BAD!!!!!!!! MOST WORTHLESS PLAYER ALIVE!!!!!!!
Lo Duca-Poor...not quite bad, but I'm not feeling Jimbo on this one. Should have just let Jesus play in the Majors.
The Lerners were going to have to spend money in the offseason to keep fans from killing themselves, so this is what we got. I would have rather had them sign Boone and Mackowiak and Wil Nieves and save the money they spent on past-their-prime has-beens like Johnny Estrada and Paul Lo Duca on a contract extension for Ryan Zimmerman, because that's something the fans would actually get excited about. Not a stupid question.
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
No matter what corrections were made, Langerhans had 35 hits in 210 at bats last year. We would have to waive Wily Mo or Kearns to send them down. Learn waiver rules, please. It would make so much more sense to send down Mackowiak or Harris (inferior players to Kearns/Pena) or Dukes (options left). Stupid question.
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
Ladson's response: 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.
Sounds good to me. I don't have any "think tank" connections so I'll have to defer to Ladson on this one.
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
It's not bad chemistry, it's the fact that Harris is not a very good hitting coach, period. Teach patience, patience, patience, the Nicky J method. Please, FIRE LENNY!!!
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.
I'm not surprised at all, but I'm rather appalled. Bergmann>Chico. Chico needs the AAA seasoning more. Just because he pitched 31 games in the Majors last year doesn't mean he deserves a spot through thick and thin this year. Bergmann had 21 starts last year and put up a 95 ERA+ to Chico's 91. Give the guy with more pro potential another shot. That guy is Bergmann.
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
Zim: please start doing this again. I miss your amazing drag bunts!!
***And here's your must-see link. A bunch of hilarious "Hardball made easy" videos with real MLB players such as Carlos Zambrano and Brad Hawpe. They're worth 10 minutes of your time (5 videos in all)