What the team can do to get even better? Are you high, Ladson? To be "even better," you have to be good in the first place. We need to get "better" before we can get "even better."
I'm a big Austin Kearns fan. I think he's the greatest asset to the Nats' outfield. Do you have any information on how his elbow is doing and when we can expect to see him back with the team?
-- April W., Clifton, Va.
I don't have the answer, so here's Ladson:
"He is back with the team and working out. After surgery to remove loose bodies, Kearns' right elbow is getting better and he should be back in action in two-to-four weeks."
Wait, didn't they say three-to-four weeks almost three weeks ago?
What's happened to the Nats' vaunted bullpen? There's not a single guy I feel comfortable seeing when the game is on the line. Why the drop off from last year?
-- Luke H., Southern Md.
You don't trust Rauch? Well, Cordero's hurt, Colome sucks and Ayala and Rivera aren't a whole lot better (scratch that, Ayala sucks too). Hanrahan is improving and the jury's still out on Sanches and Manning.
Frankly, I'm tired of your optimism. This team is nowhere near a contender, or a .500 club for that matter. How can any team expect to contend with the offense that the Nationals field? How do you respond to this?
-- Jon A., Stony Brook, NY
Do you see the Nationals actively trying to trade any players? I think the team can honestly do without players such as Paul Lo Duca, Wily Mo Pena, Johnny Estrada and Kearns.
-- Jason H., Rockwood, Tenn.
Oh goodness, please trade Estrada!! I would love any deal getting him out of here (Estrada, contract fully paid and a dozen bats for 1 baseball). Pena and Kearns have no value, as they have contracts that go into next year (Kearns makes big money, Pena will make at least $2 mil (player option) and as much as $5 mil (team option).
Any chance Aaron Boone can play second base? Felipe Lopez hasn't been playing up to his potential.
-- Michael S., Richmond, Va.
BELLIARD IS COMING BACK SOON!! TRADE LOPEZ!!!!!!!!1!!!!!!! Geez, even cut Lopez, he's just awful. I'd rather see someone who at least looks like they want to play out there.
When are we going to see Justin Maxwell again in the Major Leagues?
-- Jim M., Harrisburg, Pa.
As Ladson said, Maxwell is DL'ed right now with a wrist injury. If Pena and Kearns don't hit when he's healthy (assuming Kearns is healthy when Maxwell gets back and gets a week or so of at bats under his belt), I think he'll get called up. I'd guess a mid-July call up for Maxwell.
With Ryan Braun, Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki getting long-term deals at reasonable prices, shouldn't the Nats negotiate a similar contract with Ryan Zimmerman?
-- Matt W., Waldorf, Md.
They are negotiating. The problem is that, as Ladson said, Zimmerman is asking for David Wright money (which is way too much) and the Nats are offering Troy Tulowitzki money (which is not enough). I still think they'll settle in the middle, around 6 years $48 mil. Maybe 5 years $40-45 mil could be a compromise as well.