Do you think Acta should be the Nationals' manager in 2010?
-- Sanjay H., Alexandria, Va.
To be honest, I don't know. Like Ladson says, Manny has never really had much to work with here. This year is his make or break year to prove whether he is a motivator or a manager.
Who is your starting outfield?
-- Byron G., Upper Marlboro, Md.
With this team, calling something a starting outfield would be pretty inaccurate. There are going to be injuries and platoons. I say on opening day, Johnson starts at 1B and the OF will be Dunn/Milledge/Dukes, but you can count on injuries at some point to Johnson and Dukes, which would leave it with Dunn at 1B with and OF of Willingham/Milledge/Kearns...but then Willingham can get hurt and you're stuck with Pena/Milledge/Kearns. See what I mean?
I am befuddled by your comment that Milledge is too "valuable" to trade. Maybe my memory is escaping me, but I remember the few key hits and numerous defensive/mental errors associated with his play. Why is he too valuable to trade?
-- Bob M., Alexandria, Va.
I've sorta joined the Milledge bandwagon this offseason. While he's not a great centerfielder, he does have immense offensive potential. He's only going to be 24 this year. Judging his trade value on his 2008 performance would be pretty dumb...something that Jim Bowden would do.
I never hear anything about Ronnie Belliard. What's going to happen with him this year? He had a pretty good year last year, but he doesn't seem to get much credit.
-- Bill V., Kill Devil Hills, N.C.
If I were Belliard, I would be pretty pissed off at the management. Last year he hit .287/.372/.473 and he's still the underdog for the starting job to a guy who hit worse in 479 AAA at bats last year (.203/.262/.307) than Cristian Guzman hit for the Nats in 2005 (.219/.260/.314).
If Hernandez makes the opening day starting lineup, I'll scream. If he's the leadoff hitter, forget anything I said about Manny earlier-he doesn't deserve to have a job anymore. The Nats lack any real semblance of a leadoff hitter right now, but Guzman's the best bet they have. I agree with Ladson, though, that Milledge might fit in well at #2, although I would probably prefer seeing Johnson there with a Guzman-Johnson-Zimmerman-Dunn-Dukes-Milledge-Flores-Belliard lineup.
What's Matt Chico's status? He was pretty good two seasons ago and now you never hear about him.
-- Richard G., Syracuse, N.Y.
Actually, he was pretty bad two seasons ago and worse last year (although you can attribute last year's failures to his injury). But I'll let Ladson take it from here: "Chico is slowly recovering from left elbow surgery and is not expected to compete in a Minor League game until mid-summer." Ladson doubts he'll be back in the bigs until 2010. I doubt he'll be back in the bigs at all.
I've been an Expos/Nationals fan since the beginning. I was wondering why Andre Dawson is not in the Hall of Fame. He was one of the best players in the National League during the 1980s.
-- Dennis D., Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
He should be, and he eventually will be.
And so they don't get buried, here are my other two posts from the night:
We interrupt the previously scheduled blog...
Why Shawn Hill should be a closer