The Nationals...are waiting to find out, and want to learn more about Bowden's possible involvement in a growing baseball-wide scandal before they determine whether he retains his job. But behind the scenes, according to sources, some within the team's ownership group -- which includes Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. Lerner, seven principal owners and nine founding partners -- are eager to cut ties with the general manager they inherited almost three years ago, and see the investigation as a way of facilitating Bowden's exit. The Nationals, one source said, are encouraging the investigation to return an answer on Bowden so the parties can "go on their merry way."
Monday, February 23, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
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
Melissa Segura of SI.com, who broke the Esmailyn Gonzalez story, reports that Jim Bowden is being investigated by federal investigators for skimming signing bonuses as far back as 1994 when he was with the Cincinnati Reds. Segura's source is "a baseball executive familiar with the investigation."
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Chicago Cubs- 94.5
Chicago White Sox- 76.5
Kansas City- 75.5
LA Angels- 87.5
LA Dodgers- 84.5
NY Mets- 90.5
NY Yankees- 96
San Diego- 67.5
San Francisco- 77.5
St. Louis- 83.5
Tampa Bay- 89.5
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I guess big Bill has been saving questions up, so here's the second "Inbox" of the week!
With the glut of outfielders on the roster, who do you think has the best chance of getting traded? -- Derek C., Ottawa, Canada
Wily Mo Pena and Austin Kearns because they're an
yone else's for the taking. If either has a strong ST, I could see them being dealt (as in someone actually wanting them). Willie Harris, Lastings Milledge and Josh Willingham are all possibilities, too.
Was Dunn a Type A free agent, and did the Nationals have to give up a Draft choice for signing him? -- Phil L., Hershey, Pa.
(Ladson's answer): Dunn was not a Type A free agent because the D-backs didn't offer him arbitration. That means the Nationals will not lose a 2009 Draft pick.
(my addition): Imagine if they HAD offered him arbitration. We could have gotten him for like $3 mil a year.
With the addition of Dunn, do you think Ryan Zimmerman will have a breakout year in 2009? -- James C., Washington
(Ladson's answer): Here's what I think Zimmerman will do this season: .290 with 30 home runs and 110 RBIs.
Seriously? I love Zim, but he's not a 30 HR hitter. Put me down for .290, 25 HR, 45 doubles and 100 RBI. And I will not attribute this to Dunn for the most part, but rather to Zim's continued development.
What is the status of Dmitri Young? I can't find any information on him anywhere. -- Steve D., Hayden, Ind.
-- David P., Boucherville, Quebec, Canada
I think signing Pedro would be a great addition-theres's no reason to believe he's got nothing left in the tank. More of an issue on injuries.
Everything I have been reading has Mike Hinckley set to be the main left-hander out of the bullpen. What does this mean for Mike O'Connor?
-- Paul M., Vienna, Va.
O'Connor has been terrible in the majors. Do you really want him back?
You have mentioned that the organization is content with Harris as a reserve. If that's the case, who do you see as the leadoff hitter?
-- Eddie T., New York
How the lineup should go:
If Harris is starting, put him leadoff and move Guzman down to 8th.
If Johnson starts this season and is healthy and plays at the expectations people thinks he can, will he be back in 2010?
-- Juan F., Alexandria, Va.
That's a good question. I would tend to doubt it. I expect the Nats to put Dunn at 1B long-term (as in 2010).
Monday, February 16, 2009
Who do you see starting at first base for the Nationals this season?
-- Mark H., Washington, D.C.
Johnson will start at 1B as long as he's healthy, with Dunn in LF, Milledge in CF and Dukes in RF.
You've written that you don't feel that general manager Jim Bowden relies too heavily on former Reds. After the Dunn signing, has it made you rethink that Bowden is still wearing his Cincinnati bowtie?
-- Matt M., Winooski, Vt.
The Dunn signing is the one former Red that you WANT him to go after. Guys like Damian Jackson, Wily Mo Pena, Chris Michalak are the guys you don't want him to go after. It's a poor time to bring up this point in my opinion. Save it for when he goes after Calvin Pickering.
Why is Milledge penciled in ahead of Elijah Dukes in center field? Dukes has a better arm, glove, on-base and slugging percentage.
-- Trey O., Washington, D.C.
You're going to start Dukes and Milledge whenever they're both healthy. I, like you, would rather see Dukes in CF, but he does have the better arm (which is better suited for RF). We're not going to the World Series this year...might as well keep Milledge out there and see if a ball will hit him in the head and knock some sense into him.
I get the feeling that Anderson Hernandez is getting lost in the shuffle. I still believe Hernandez is the team's best option economically and on the field.
-- Dean C., Washington, D.C.
Why does everyone thing Anderson Hernandez is the 2B savior?!?!? Yeah, he hit great in 28 games for us near the end of last year. Did you notice that he hit .203/.262/.307 in AAA in 125 games? Or that his 10 BB to 8 K ratio is completely out of whack with his career numbers anywhere else (12:25 in ML, including the 10 walks from last year and 231:677 in AAA). Don't be disappointed when he puts up 2005 Guzmanic numbers. Expect it and be pleasantly surprised if he hits his career minor league line of .264/.310/.354.
The Nats have done a pretty good job selecting pitchers in the Draft. Will they make a concerted effort to find bats in this year's First-Year Player Draft?
-- Bern D., Washington, D.C.
I sure hope so. I know a team can't win without pitching, but there are no impact bats in this organization. We're already getting Strasburg at 1...if we have the choice between another Colten Willems and another Justin Smoak at 10, we better pick the Smoak-type.
If Joel Hanrahan can't hold onto the closer role, who is next in line for a chance as Washington's stopper?
-- Ed, New Jersey
Bill came up with a VERY intelligent answer. I've been pining for Shawn Hill to close since forever. It needs to be him-he's got the stuff and the first-time-through-the-lineup success.
With all of the outfielders in the organization, I have yet to hear the suggestion of having Willie Harris play second base.
-- Jeff, Washington, D.C.
He's our best option there. Belliard can't field, Hernandez can't hit and Wee Willie sits in the background saying "Put me in, Manny, I can do both!"
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Red Sox: George Kottaras
Yankees: Melky Cabrera
Cubs: Chad Gaudin, Rich Hill
Brewers: Tony Gwynn Jr.
Indians: Anthony Reyes, Andy Marte
Twins: Boof Bonser, Philip Humber
Rays: Jeff Niemann
Orioles: David Pauley, Felix Pie