Wednesday, April 25, 1 p.m. ET

The Washington Nationals

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Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 25, 2007; 1:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Barry Svrluga was online Wednesday, April 25, at 1 p.m. ET to take your questions and comments about the 2007 Nationals.

The transcript follows.

Svrluga covers the Nationals beat for The Post and writes the Nationals Journal blog for washingtonpost.com. He's also the author of "National Pastime: Sports, Politics, and the Return of Baseball to Washington, D.C."

Full Coverage: Washington Nationals

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Barry Svrluga: Greetings from Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love (which means, I guess, brotherly love translates to booing and heckling your local teams at the top of your lungs).

John Patterson vs. Jon Lieber tonight. I find each of Patterson's starts intriguing, and tonight is no different. I remember that guy from August '05, striking out 13 Los Angeles Dodgers. I know Patterson believes he's still that guy, but he is preaching patience as he regains his arm strength. Tonight is the next step.

For you chatters who are not avid readers of "Nationals Journal," (which is linked above), well, first, shame on you. Second, check out an entry from yesterday about former Nationals. I put up some stats of almost everybody who's gone from the 2005 and '06 teams and asked people who they missed and who they liked the most of the new arrivals. An interesting discussion. You might enjoy it.

Okay, on to your questions.

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He's like a puppy, see, only more useful: In 6.1 innings pitched over five games, Saul Rivera's got an ERA of 0. He's given up four hits, he's walked one, and he's struck out six. If I promise to feed and walk him myself, can we keep him? He's doing rather well, and it would be a shame to see him sent down when he's pitching better than just about anyone else on the staff.

Barry Svrluga: Except did you see the second pitch he threw last night? Aaron Rowand did, and he crushed it for a game-tying homer.

The club likes Rivera. He earned a lot of respect last season when he posted a 3.43 ERA over 54 appearances. But there are going to be tough choices when Ray King returns from the disabled list. As Jim Bowden likes to say, "The players will decide who stays," and he's right. By Friday, when King can return, we'll know more about who's performing well and who isn't.

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Alexandria, Va.: Is Ryan Zimmerman just pressing in a attempt to try to do too much? He, at times, this young season has looked lost both at the plate and in the field.

PS--Is Manny still giving that great charismatic smile he showed all through Spring Training?

Barry Svrluga: I think it's a legitimate question, and -- warning: another plug for "Nationals Journal" upcoming -- as I just wrote in a Journal post, he is getting a little frustrated because he's hitting balls hard and is getting few results. Happened twice last night. I think there was a time when he was swinging at more bad pitches than he should have, but he's past that now. I expect him to break out soon and have a rather hot streak.

The fielding, I agree, is worrisome. It is one of his strongest suits, something he can bring everyday. Again, I think he has the kind of makeup that it won't be a long-standing problem, but he hasn't lived up to his own standard in that regard over the last week or so.

Acta: He's still got that smile. We see it more in the afternoon than late at night, though, after some of these games.

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Manny's explanation for Fick's non-hustle:"The other play was a bunt play where he probably thought that a throw was going to first base or whatever."

I'm sorry, Barry, but I don't buy that for a minute. What if the throw was bad or the first baseman drops it? The need to hustle was always there. There are several other explanations I could understand, but not that one. Fick's screwup could have potentially cost the ballgame.

Barry Svrluga: I don't think Acta is trying to downplay Fick's jogging to first on a bunt play over the weekend in Florida (a play that ended up as a double play). I think his point is this: On Ryan Church's grounder to first on Sunday, there is no other outcome possible. You have to run hard, because the defense has only one play -- at first, to get you. On Fick's play, he froze (admittedly), and Acta believed that because the normal play would be to throw to first, Fick's lack of a sprint was more normal.

Not to say it was a good play by Fick, which it wasn't. He knows it, and he knew it immediately. I'm just reporting what the manager said about the difference between the two.

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Fairfax, Va.: Barry:

I think the entire Nationals marketing department should be fired! First of all, their entire marketing campaign for this year seems to center around the idea that "if you don't buy tickets to see this miserable team in 2007, you won't get good seats at the new stadium for 2008." People resent that kind of coercive effort, and based on early attendance figures, it clearly hasn't worked! On top of that, I got numerous e-mails during the offseason saying that if I bought a ticket plan for 2007, I would get a free Nationals "W" cap! Don't these people realize that EVERY Nationals fan already has a "W" cap?! And why would a $25 gift offer induce me to spend thousands of dollars to see a bad team??? I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Barry Svrluga: I'm just here to pass on the thoughts of fans like you to any of those front office types who might read these kinds of things.

(Hello, Stan.)

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Reston, Va.: Is morale going to be a problem for the better players as the loses pile up? I sense the problems in the field with Zimmerman and in the pen with Chad stem from frustration and lack of focus possible caused by a sense of hopelessness.

Barry Svrluga: I actually don't think there's a sense of hopelessness at all right now, which is weird to say for a team that (ahem) is on pace to win 48 games (that's with one eighth of the season already gone). Here's why: They've been competitive for the most part since that absolutely horrific start. Yes, there will be games like Sunday's, which was 12-2 until Zimmerman's late grand slam.

But I do think it will be interesting to chart how different guys handle the grind of what could/will be a very long season. All that stuff reveals character, and who can handle different situations. If, say, Austin Kearns is still hustling after every ball and positioning himself well on defense and running out every grounder in August -- as he is now -- we'll know that the Nationals have signed a hard-nosed, no-BS guy for the next few years. It'll be fascinating to watch.

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washingtonpost.com: Nationals Journal: Your "Where Are They Now?" Entry

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Washington, D.C.: Your quote from John Patterson saying "My thought when that ball fell in was: I can't catch a break." after giving up a bloop single to Jimmy Rollins was very telling. He seems to constantly have something go wrong that he cannot get over. If he's not perfect (in his mind) all bets are off on his performance. What can the Nationals do about Patterson's psyche?

Barry Svrluga: Patterson's psyche is another reason I think this team is quite interesting. Patterson is extremely analytical. He knows his velocity is down. He's frustrated that that's the case. He knows he's still building arm strength. He doesn't want to go out there and be less than the pitcher he knows he was/is. But he also believes that positive thinking is all that will get him through this rough stretch.

The Nationals have talked to Patterson about his reaction to things like the bloop double from Rollins on the mound. He knows there's nothing he can do to prevent something that's already happened. Still, truly putting it behind him is another matter. That's why I look forward to each of his starts, because I think it's a great study in the mental and physical dynamics that make up elite athletes.

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Metro Centro (D.C.): Lugey: Do you think Kasten and the Lerners would even WANT a surprisingly good team this year (i.e. first half Nats of '05)?

Barry Svrluga: Oh, I think they'd love that, because it would put more people into RFK, would allow them to say, "Look, we're further along than expected," etc.

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Phillies Fan in D.C.: Sorry Barry, but "City of Brotherly Love" really translates to "loving your team so much that you have to express your displeasure when they are not performing at an expected level." We're not all foaming-at-the-mouth lunatics.

Barry Svrluga: Duly noted. And I do think this whole thing is about expectations -- expectations created by one leadoff hitter/shortstop (not to mention a starting rotation so deep that one of the seven or eight best starters in the NL East was dumped to the bullpen).

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Rockville, Md.: Barry: Is it possible the naysayers who said Washington wasn't a baseball town were right? The novelty of having baseball back seems to have worn off pretty quickly. Not only are the stands empty, but I have been to bars where the TV is not tuned to the Nats, and there seems to be no real buzz about the team.

Barry Svrluga: Again, yet another fascinating topic surrounding this team. I was surprised, in the responses to that Journal post yesterday about who readers liked among the new additions, some of the errors that were made. Someone really liked "Felix Lopez," etc.

Is this a baseball town? I suspect it is, because there is a high-income, educated base here. Does that mean that the baseball lovers are focused completely on the Nationals? Perhaps not. They go to see good games, and they'll get into the team as it gets better, but spending three hours a night with a team that's 6-14 might not be everybody's first choice.

That said, I'll revert to my standard answer with these types of questions: This season, because of the Lerner/Kasten rebuilding plan that has led to a losing product on the field for 2007, isn't likely a true indicator of whether DC is a baseball town. I think the same is true for 2008, when the new park will be open, and there should/will be some curiosity factor that drives attendance up. The key year for this franchise -- and DC as a baseball town -- is 2009, when the novelty of the new park has worn off, and the product should be more competitive.

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Anchorage, Alaska: Hey there Barry...

Regarding "Great Expectations" (that is, John Patterson)...

Not being a medical or athletic professional, I don't have a way to evaluate the whole arm strength issue... but Patterson seems to have a lot more excuses than answers about his recent starts... and admittedly I am only getting my information from what I read online in "The Washington Post" and other sources (that pale by comparison).

Do you have a sense of what part of his struggles are related to rehabilitation of the arm, and which are attitude problems? While this might not be fair, I was sure hoping that he was the part of the rotation that we could count on every fifth day... Fortunately, Hill and Bergmann have stepped up and shown something as of late.

Your thoughts??

Barry Svrluga: I do not think they are "attitude problems" in terms of not trying or working or caring or any of that. Patterson is in excellent physical shape and really, really puts a lot into each start.

There could be a mental part of it, though, that pitching coach Randy St. Claire has pointed to from time to time. Is Patterson mentally letting himself drive to the plate and throw with his full effort? Or his he subconsciously holding back a bit because he's worried about the elbow, etc.? I asked Patterson last week about this, and he said he felt he was allowing himself to give maximum effort. "I'm grunting and everything," he said. And even as St. Claire believes there might be a mental aspect to it, too, he also absolutely believes Patterson is building arm strength after essentially missing all of 2006.

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While you have Stan's ear....: Barry, have you ever asked Kasten about the ushers, ticket fiasco, higher prices and worse service for concessions or any of the other really awful off-the-field approaches they're taking this year to the fans? I'm a huge fan, but at Bowie they at least pretend to appreciate my business after the check clears. Does Stan care at all how disgusted how many fans are with the entire ballgame experience this year?

Barry Svrluga: Oh, he cares. He cares. And yes, I ask him about this stuff all the time. More than he'd want me to, I suppose.

Whether all those things improve over time -- or, ideally, instantly -- will go a long way toward determining whether Kasten and the Lerners can deliver on their promise/pledge to have the best customer experience possible, regardless of the product on the field.

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Ellicott City, Md.: I'm beginning to wonder if Schneider is the answer at catcher for the next several years. I believe he recently signed a several-year contract, but he's currently hitting below his actual weight (after a mostly subpar offensive year in 2006), and I believe has thrown out a low percentage of runners trying to steal both this year and last. Perhaps Flores should get a longer look this year? Any other viable catching prospects in the organization?

Barry Svrluga: This is a very good question. First off, Schneider knows he's not performing as he should offensively. I talked to him a while yesterday afternoon, and he understands a .169 average (as he had yesterday afternoon, before his two-out RBI single) isn't going to cut it. He has to get back to allowing the ball to travel in to him rather than lunging for it and rolling it over to the right side.

As for throwing out runners, most of the blame the Nationals put on this problem is on the pitching staff. I understand that it's not a popular answer for the problem, and the number -- as I've talked to Schneider about time and again over the past three years -- is always going to be attached to him. But look at it this way: Schneider finally threw out a runner over the weekend. It was Hanley Ramirez, one of the fastest guys in the division. The pitcher on the mound at the time: Chad Cordero, one of the Nationals' quickest in delivering the ball to the plate. Had Jesus Colome or John Patterson been on the mound, Schneider could have made the same throw, and Ramirez would have been safe. It's a complex equation.

Flores: I asked Acta yesterday if Flores had earned the right to have more of a look, not just because he drilled a couple of doubles on Sunday when he gave Schneider a rest, but because he had handled himself so well at the plate, laying off some breaking stuff and drawing walks, a very mature approach. Acta said he stands by Schneider as his every day guy -- and yes, he's signed through 2009 -- but that Flores has "more trust" now, and could be used as a late double switch option or as a right-handed pinch hitter.

Last part of a long-winded answer: Schneider would like to stay here, and there's no talk of trading him now. But keep in mind that he has a clause in his contract that if he gets traded, the team he goes to must pay him a $500,000 bonus.

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Park Avenue, N.Y.: Barry --

Have you heard anything from Kasten or Lerner in reaction to the Forbes MLB Team Valuations, which claim that the team made $20 million in profit last year?

I suspect I know what they'd say, but it's worth asking, at least.

Barry Svrluga: Not specifically on that. But I will say they have pledged to not take "a dime" (their words) from the team in profit for the first 10 years. In other words, if they made $20 million, they're soaking that back into the club in some way shape or form.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Barry, do you think we're seeing the low point of Nats performance right now? Can we expect it to not get worse or even (gulp) improve when the injured staples return, the team gels, the pitchers improve, etc.?

Barry Svrluga: I gotta think the low point was the 1-8 start. Since then, 5-6 and much more competitive -- even with three losses in a row.

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Washington, D.C.: Given Chad's ineffectiveness thus far, is there any market out there for him anymore? Since we are tooling along at a .300 clip, I wouldn't be averse to trading him for more arms. Thoughts?

Barry Svrluga: This is an interesting and important question for the first half of the season. I'm not sure whether Cordero's recent performances have "scared" would-be buyers or not. His stuff is the same -- it's not like his velocity is down or he's a different pitcher. The popular in-house theory is that he's "pitching backwards," relying too much on his breaking stuff (slider) and falling behind in the count, then getting hit hard when he has to come back in. He also has a slight mechanical flaw right now that is causing his fastball to tail back over the plate, but it's been identified and they're trying to fix it.

Would a buying team like Cordero to pitch better? Sure. But I'm not sure there's anything fundamentally different about his physical makeup than there was in the spring or last year. I think everyone -- whether it's the Nationals or a team that would like to trade for him -- would like Cordero to get back to relying more on spotting his fastball with precision. The results, everyone seems to believe, will follow from there.

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Journalism question (kinda): Barry,

Between writing daily stories about the team, being a "go-between" with cranky fans, and so on, how do you keep your mental perspective of your role? It sounds like you talk to team execs a lot. While you conspicuously avoid writing opinions in your WaPo work, do you share them with team execs? Boz? Jorge?

Thanks!

Barry Svrluga: I don't have any opinions about this team.

Kidding.

Do I talk to team execs a lot? Ask them. But the answer is yes. That's my job. Sometimes, I call them to inquire about things. Sometimes, they call me to inquire about why I wrote something a certain way, etc. Constant, constant give and take. Part of the job.

My job is not to express opinions in my stories. That is left for Boz and columnists. There is an analytical part of the job, one that allows me to present evidence from stats or interviews or anything to build a case for why something happened. And there is an entertainment aspect, too, because we do, after all, want people to read the stories and come away with a good understanding of the game, but also enjoy them. But in general, the job is to present both sides of whatever the issue of the day is.

Take last night. Bergmann came out after 87 pitches and six innings. Why? My job is to ask Acta, ask Bergmann, ask the Phillies (or, in this case, have the always helpful Dave Sheinin duck into the Philly locker room to bounce it off a few guys) and report back what everyone said. Hopefully it's done in a way that both informs and entertains.

I'll leave the opinions to Boz, though.

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Weather.com: While the team hasn't been worth the ticket prices so far, a great evening at the park with a team that tries hard is still worth the trip. EXCEPT in 30-40 weather. It's easy to look at the poor attendance so far, but I think you have to discount them (across the league) based on the first couple series being played in (outdoor) hockey conditions.

Barry Svrluga: I absolutely agree that the weather contributed to those sparse crowds early on. It'll be interesting to see what the Mets bring in over this upcoming weekend, particularly if the conditions are good.

Also: This is a really horrible part of the Nationals schedule. Twenty-one of 28 games on the road, and bizarre things like three days in Florida, off day, three days in Philly, three days at home -- and then a 10-day trip to San Diego, Chicago and Milwaukee. The club will be very happy when May is over.

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16th and M: One of the worst traits a coach or GM can have is the urge to reunite with every Tom, Dick and Harry from a previous stop, especially if the team in question wasn't doing anything to begin with. For example, former Caps coach Ron Wilson thought things would be hunky dory if every bum that played for him in Anaheim wore a Caps sweater. A couple of seasons later, he was fired.

I'm noticing the same disturbing trend with Bowden. We already have three ex-Reds (Kearns, Lopez and Wagner), and Wily Mo Pena isn't far behind. Kearns is a solid everyday player, but Lopez is questionable in the field and Wagner stinks. How can we get Jim to stop raiding old Cincinnati teams that didn't go anywhere themselves?

Barry Svrluga: There was a time when I thought this was true about Bowden, but I've kind of changed my mind. I think it's hard to question the Kearns/Lopez/Wagner trade with Cincinnati, even if Wagner is currently struggling. Gary Majewski is currently in Class AAA with an 8 ERA. Bill Bray hasn't pitched this year because of a sprained or broken finger (I forget which). And Royce Clayton is playing for Toronto, not the Blue Jays.

Basically, the trade has turned out to be what Bowden said it would be -- two middle relievers for two every day players that could be part of the future.

Also: I disagree that Wily Mo Pena is far behind. I think there's a faction in the Nats offices that believes Pena strikes out too much. Let me put it this way: If Pena ends up with Washington, I believe it would be as part of a package deal, not one-for-one. And another thing to consider: Now that Jonathan Papelbon has re-embraced the closer's role with the Red Sox, Boston doesn't exactly need Cordero like they once did.

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Chevy Chase, D.C.: Okay Barry. What is your answer to your own question at the Journal? Who do you miss the most? What acquisition do you like the most? What is your undo?

Are you surprised by the love being shown to Jamey Carroll?

Barry Svrluga: Ah, touche, Chevy Chase. Thanks for asking.

We'll start at the bottom. No, I'm not surprised at the love being shown for Jamey Carroll, because Frank Robinson was effusive in his praise for his ability to get the most out of his ... well, limited abilities, and his willingness to stay prepared every day. That said, I don't think his loss had as big an impact on the overall team as some people seem to think.

Two guys I miss the most -- and this is not to say that I think the deals were wrong -- are Livan Hernandez and Jose Guillen. I loved watching Livo pitch, even if he was getting torched or his knee was bothering him. I loved the flair he showed when fielding a grounder. Does it make sense to give him up for two young pitchers? Given the state of this franchise, sure.

Guillen: Let's be clear. His welcome in the Nationals clubhouse had long since worn off. But he was liable to say/do anything on any given day, and that added some intrigue. Remember, this is a writer talking, not a teammate, so I don't think they SHOULD have kept him. I'm just saying there's an odd reason I miss him.

Undo: Uh, hmmmm, well, given the state of the pitching staff, maybe not pushing Darrell Rasner off the 40-man roster to make room for (and I'm 90 percent sure this was the move) Matt LeCroy. Two asides: One, if that hadn't happened, I would never have met LeCroy, and he's one of the most genuine, down-to-earth, funniest guys in the game, I have to think. And I'm not even saying that Rasner (who was in the Yankees beat-up rotation until recently) would be a world beater here. I just think that for a franchise that so desperately needs pitching, it'd be nice to keep those arms around.

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Park Avenue, N.Y.: If they're not taking "a dime," then Kasten, Lerner and all their family members who work in the front office are doing it for free or for reasonable wages?

Barry Svrluga: Don't mean that. Mean that they're not taking it as pure profit and, say, building a back deck on their house.

(Remember, this is what they have said, not what I'm saying.)

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Silver Spring, Md.: Thanks for the chat today, and please keep plugging Nationals Journal.

I confess I'm one of those -- and I suspect there are many -- who haven't had it near the top of their bookmarks, because of some hazy notion that it was just a spring training thing. Of course it's not that at all, and it's nice to be able to see your insights on a daily basis. Keep it up!

Barry Svrluga: Silver Spring, you are kind. Please keep chiming in.

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Lompoc, Calif.: I've read that Ryan Church has "improved" in center field.

Do you think that he's actually better out there, or is it just spin?

When Logan comes back, does Church move to LF and Snelling to the bench?

Barry Svrluga: I don't think it's just spin. Let's be clear, though: Church doesn't get to as many balls as Logan does. In fact, few people do. But what he has done better is make catches of the balls that he gets to (though he barely allowed Aaron Rowand's RBI double to fall in last night after he took a long run). Because he plays so deep (which allows him to get balls over his head), he lets balls fall in front of him. But has he improved? Yes, I think he has.

And yes: When Logan comes back, I expect Church in left and Snelling on the bench.

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NattyDelite!: Hey Barry!

Thanks for doing these things, they are really great!

When is it that Jerome Williams is demoted or put into the bullpen? He has been terrible in each of his outings. Is there really a threat that another team will claim him off of waivers? And if he goes down, who is most likely to come up? Hanrahan? Simontacchi (if he's better by then)? or could maybe Billy Traber be the guy (lefty with not bad stuff, outdueled Smoltzy once)?

Barry Svrluga: Good question. There will be a limited amount of patience with Williams, without question. And your guesses about who might come up are good ones. Simontacchi is going to pitch five innings for Class AAA Columbus on Friday, and Bowden said the club will then evaluate whether he needs one more minor league start before he comes to the big leagues. (He's been out with a strained groin.) The club, though, seems inclined to find a spot for him. "Jason knows how to pitch," Bowden said yesterday.

Hanrahan would be the next target. He threw five innings of two-hit ball the other day, left with a small groin problem that the club doesn't seem worried about. Learning to better control his breaking stuff within the strike zone. I'd expect to see him at some point.

Traber: Being used out of the pen in Columbus. And actually, it was Tom Glavine that he out-dueled last year.

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Washington, D.C.: Barry: How close do you get to the team when it is on the road? I am assuming that The Post does not provide you with your own Lear Jet. Are you on the same flights? Do you stay at the same hotels? Have a nightcap in the same spots?

Barry Svrluga: No, not on the same flights. They charter immediately after games, and it's not practical (because I'm writing after games) nor ethically right (because I shouldn't be sharing flights with the guys I cover) to take those same planes. Occasionally, I'll be in the same hotel as the team, but generally not. And if I stumble across a National or two at the same nightcap spot, I generally try to let them have their space.

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Washington, D.C.: Okay, thanks for that Belliard experiment, he has obviously reverted to his career average. Can we now please put someone with good career OBP in the 2 hole? I recommend Kearns. He isn't hitting for any power anyway and he's probably a faster runner than Belliard. If you prefer a lefty, use Church. If Acta puts Guzman at the top of the order, I think I'll puke.

Barry Svrluga: I might ask about this today, but I think Acta is inclined to keep Church down in the order, both because he's having success there and because he has a little pop -- nine doubles and three homers.

I would expect, though, that when Guzman comes back -- probably next week some time -- he'll stick right in that second slot, with Lopez moving back to second base. But that hasn't been determined absolutely yet. Acta is going to have some decisions to make.

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Old Town, Alexandria: Would the Nats ever consider moving someone else into the closer role? It doesn't seem like Cordero is fooling anyone. Some of the starting pitchers are working their tails off to keep the lead late in a game only to watch Mr. Silly Looking Hat give up hit after hit.

Barry Svrluga: No, right now, I don't think that's an option. And just for fun, let's look at Cordero's April 2006, when he gave up homers in three consecutive outings. Are the problems worse now? Yes. But this team needs to get Chad Cordero back to being himself -- whether it's because he's part of the future here, or because another team really wants to trade for him. They won't do that by making him a setup guy.

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Phillies fan in Reston,: No, the expectations on the Phillies are due to missing out on postseason play by a combined 3 games over the last two seasons.

Both of which, you can point to slow starts in April as to where those games were dropped. A third consecutive poor opening fortnight has folks looking a three-peat heartbreak in late September.

That and the first MLB team to 10,000 loses is looming large.

Barry Svrluga: Also a good point.

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Vienna, Va.: Is Jim Bowden in trouble with Stan? Nobody can be impressed with what he went out and got this winter at SS or starting pitching.

Barry Svrluga: Hmmmm. If you want to lay the Guzman contract on Bowden, that's fair game. But because Guzman was coming back and Lopez was in house, they didn't consider shortstop an area in need of addressing. Starting pitching: They simply weren't going to pay the going rate for mediocre pitchers, leaving them with a rotation in which the highest paid player (Patterson) makes $850,000. No, Bowden is not in trouble with Kasten for any of that, because it in fact fits in with Kasten's long-term plan.

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There's always next season.: Barry, you're the biggest rock star to hit D.C. since Barack Obama took over for the campaign trail.

But my question is this: In the past, we've seen that some members of the Nats clubhouse (read: Jose Guillen) took issue with Ryan Church's attitude, and some said he was a rookie trying to act like a veteran. Given Sunday's benching of Church for "not hustling," are we seeing a recurrence of these attitude problems? What's the dynamic like between him and the rest of the team?

Barry Svrluga: I am thinking of running in 2012, but don't tell anyone yet. Just an exploratory committee at this point.

Church: I don't think anyone has a problem with Church. He is producing. He screwed up on Sunday. He acknowledged it. Everybody's moved on. Yes, he knows people have questioned him in the past, and it frustrates him. But I think he's decided the best way to quiet critics -- or even perceived critics -- is to produce. He is doing that.

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Barry Svrluga: Folks, there's a few more questions, but I have to log off and depart for the ballpark. Another game awaits.

Thanks very much for your time and your thoughtful questions, and let's make a point to meet back here each Wednesday. Oh, and keep reading the Journal.

Have a great week.

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