Wednesday, May 30, 1 p.m. ET

The Washington Nationals

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Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 30, 2007; 1:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Barry Svrluga was online Wednesday, May 30, 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

Discussion Archive

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Barry Svrluga: Hello folks. Anyone among the 18,000-and change last night at RFK? Pretty grim. But that was bound to happen at some point. The 10-0 blowout at the hands of the Dodgers was their first loss by more than four runs this month, so that's pretty darned competitive.

Another very nice day for a ballgame, and Manny Acta will go with Mike Bacsik to oppose Derek Lowe tonight. That's what it's come to. We'll see.

Let's get started.

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Washington, D.C.: "Now starting, at first base, for your New York Yankees . . . Dmitri Young!"

Waddya think?

It's easier to spell than Mantkviwieezczxkz.

Barry Svrluga: Interesting thought. Things are certainly not going to be quiet in the Bronx, but I'm not sure Dmitri Young is the answer. Don't they have to get some of their main guys -- Cano, Giambi, Abreu -- going?

That said, Young has done his part of the bargain -- he has hit, and therefore made himself tradeable sometime over the next two months. His defense, of course, is a liability, but as a switch-hitter, he has obvious value to a contender.

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Arlington, Va.: Barry,

After watching last night's game, all I can wonder is, in the most simplistic terms, what happened???

Signed,

A Disillusioned Nats Fan

Barry Svrluga: Easy, now. This kind of thing was the norm that first week-and-a-half of the season. It's amazing what one 12-5, two-and-a-half week run will do to expectations. This team is still a solid bet to finish last in the National League East, still 10 games under .500. So nights like that -- against a pitcher such as Brad Penny -- are bound to happen.

The remarkable part, really, is that it hasn't happened more often.

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Washington, D.C.: It's still relatively early in the season, but do you know whether the Nationals have started receiving trade offers and, if so, for which players?

Barry Svrluga: No, I don't know specific offers. I do know that the Nationals have, since spring training, been willing to listen to offers for Chad Cordero, Ryan Church, Jon Rauch and now, increasingly as the year wears on, for Dmitri Young and Ronnie Belliard.

Think of it this way: They must determine which players are part of their long-term future. Anyone who's not is tradable, and that's a lot of guys. That doesn't mean there will be the necessary interest or they'll get what they believe is a fair return, but it does mean there will be a lot of back-and-forth between the Nats and contending teams.

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Section 429: A pretty optimistic piece by your colleague in this mornings paper, yes? I certainly hope his assessment of the teams rebuilding efforts are correct. Your opinion on the state of "The Plan?"

Also, have we seen the best the Nats have to offer and it's all down hill from here or can we expect them to make a run. . .at a .500. . .through the remainder of the season?

Barry Svrluga: Boz's piece this morning was quite optimistic, and indeed, there are some players in the minors -- particularly Class A outfielder Chris Marrero -- who are performing well.

But the Nationals' minor league system won't be close to where it needs to be until there are several players like that. You need a deep pool of minor leaguers in order to get a few useful major leaguers. Success in the minors for a few guys doesn't mean they'll all succeed in the majors.

Next week, there's the draft -- five picks in the first 71. If the Nationals scouting department is as strong as the front office boasts it is, then they should be able to deepen the talent pool then.

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Hong Kong: Hi, Chris Marrero is obviously hitting pretty well so far but he is often playing DH. Is he injured or do they have too many outfielders. He was drafted as a third baseman so he surely needs to play in the outfield to get better defensively.

Zinicola is struggling big time this year. Scouts were saying last year that he might be in the Majors this year... What is the problem with him this year? John Lannan has pitched pretty well; when was he drafted and what is his potential? Other than Balester, is he the best pitching prospect?

Barry Svrluga: Marrero is not fleet afoot (read: he is slow) and Hagerstown's left field is very large. They have played him some in right, where the territory is more manageable, and yes, some at DH. As Bob Boone said in spring training, "I want him to play bat."

The club projects him long-term as a left fielder. Remember, he's only 18, so he has a while to improve his defense -- wherever that might be.

_______________________

Barry Svrluga: Oh, and on Lannan: Some front office types figure he might arrive in the majors before Collin Balester, the Baseball America top prospect in the organization. Zinicola's struggles aren't that unusual for a guy in his first full minor league season. It does, though, show the fickle nature of scouting. Last year, scouting director Dana Brown told GM Jim Bowden that losing Gary Majewski and Bill Bray in the Kearns-Lopez-Wagner deal with Cincinnati would not be that much of a concern because Zinicola would be able to help in the bullpen sooner rather than later. Brown has a reputation as being an excellent evaluator of pitchers, but Zinicola isn't ready yet.

That's why you need a deep farm system. Sometimes, things don't pan out the way you think.

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Re: Trades: Umm, Barry, everyone you named seem to be a part of what our future Nationals team should look like, except Young and Belliard. Why would we be trading Rauch, Cordero or Church??

Barry Svrluga: It's just a possibility. If you can get high-end prospects for those guys -- and I'm not saying you can -- then you make a trade like that. The basic question could be something like: Who helps the team more in 2009, Chad Cordero or Prospect X offered to me by a contending team?

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Atlanta: The most exciting thing that happened last night was when someone (Ronnie Belliard) fouled a ball straight back and it hit the glass(plastic) window of the press box. Admit it, who in there whimpered a little? Was it Todd Jacobson? Mark Zuckerman?

Also, I'm a little late with the book thing, but if I loiter outside the press dining room long enough, will you come out and sign it for me? The book, the blog, the podcasts, the articles. . .all fantastic!

Barry Svrluga: Hello, Atlanta. Hey, we get peppered by foul balls all the time up there. Last night was a pretty direct hit, though well down the row from me. I'll be there again, proudly with my window open so I can hear the crowd, tonight. And in those cases, the first thought is this: Protect the laptop.

Happy to sign a book if you're around. I'm usually in press dining around 6:30 or so.

_______________________

Sec. 511, Row 5: Do you have any word on when playoff tickets will be available? I know RFK is a big baseball stadium, but I don't wanna get shut out...

Now, for my serious question: Where can I go to nominate Dmitri Young for "Major-Leaguer Most Likely To Turn Routine, Albeit Moderately-Tough, Chance Into Guaranteed Hit"?

I know that offense makes people happy, blah blah blah, but this guy seems to me to give back about two hits per game played; they're not errors, but they're receiving plays that even bad fielders make.

Nick, oh Nick -- We need you!

Barry Svrluga: I wrote the notebook this morning about Nick Johnson. Remember in spring training when Nick arbitrarily threw out June 1 as a potential return date, and we all gasped and said, "Wow, that's a lot longer than anyone figured"? Well, June 1 -- which is Friday -- sounds pretty good about now. You have to wonder when he'll actually be out there.

Dmitri: He's not a first baseman. He's a hitter. This is what they knew they'd get, and they have to live with it. He's hitting enough to make him attractive to another team, which is more important.

_______________________

Washington: Barry,

Given that the Dodgers are in town I thought the timing of this question appropriate. Do you know why seats in the mezzanine have the Dodger interlocking "LA" on the sides? I take it that RFK bought some surplus Dodger Stadium seats a long time ago, but I've always found it bizarre.

Barry Svrluga: Wow, I haven't seen that. I'll check it out.

_______________________

Ryan Church: Why doesn't anyone talk about meeeeee as part of the future? Even Boz made me out to be trade bait this morning!

Barry Svrluga: Church can be part of the future, no question. He is being asked to do much more than he's ready for right now, what with hitting cleanup every night. I think he benefits from a day off or two, which he doesn't really get right now. (When he got hit in the forearm with a pitch last week and sat down for two days, he returned and hit a pair of homers and drove in six runs. Correlation? I think so. He talked about the bat feeling lighter.)

I think of it this way: The club needs -- NEEDS -- a 40-homer guy. Where does a 40-homer guy play? Either LF, RF or 1B, usually. If -- IF -- Johnson is the first baseman until his contract runs out in 2009, and if Kearns (who's signed through '09 with a $10 million club option for 2010) is in RF, then LF is the place to stick your big bat. Church would be an outstanding fourth outfielder on an excellent, excellent team.

Also: Take that big bopper and put him fourth. Move everyone around. If this lineup had, say, Kearns hitting sixth and Church hitting seventh, then you're pretty dangerous.

_______________________

Falls Church, Va.: Any chance the Nats make a serious run at Dontrelle Willis if/when the Marlins start shopping him?

Barry Svrluga: I doubt it. Marlins will be looking for serious prospects in return. Nationals won't give up a package of prospects from a thin farm system.

_______________________

Follow up:"Who helps the team more in 2009, Chad Cordero or Prospect X"

Barry help me here. I don't mean to belabor this. But to me, in 2009 Chad Cordero clearly benefits the team more. That's only 2 seasons away. We get a prospect, in 2009 you are going to be writing and chatting things like "Prospect X had a rough night at the plate, but will develop over time, with more exposure to ML pitchers" (or something similar).

Barry Svrluga: No, no. I don't think you can evaluate this unless you know who "Prospect X" is. Say it's Philip Hughes of the Yankees. (Don't get any ideas. The Yankees won't trade Hughes. I'm just using him as an example of a front-line guy.) Even if you believe in Cordero, you could determine that a guy who'll make 35 starts with a 3.00 ERA over 220 innings is more valuable than a closer, that it's easier to find a closer elsewhere than it is an ace.

And you also extrapolate what the prospect you get in 2007 will be in 2009. Even if he's a Class AA guy now, will he be big league ready next year, then ready to excel the following season?

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Upcoming Draft: Hi Barry,

Any idea on who the Nats braintrust are wanting - and why - with their draft picks?

Barry Svrluga: The draft is June 7, and the Nationals are starting to put their pieces together. They sent a contingent to see Missouri St. lefty Russ Detwiler last week. They have been on high school right-hander Rick Porcello from New Jersey.

But I believe they won't use their first pick -- the sixth overall -- on a pitcher. I believe they'll take a high school hitter at that spot, just as they did last year with Marrero (who some people thought was a reach because he had some injuries his senior year). Mike Moutsakas, a corner infielder right now from California, is a highly rated high school hitter.

Also, keep an eye on Boras client Max Scherzer, a pitcher from Missouri who Arizona drafted last year but who hasn't yet signed. He has until tonight to do so (sounds unlikely) and if he doesn't sign, he goes back in the draft. He is pitching in independent ball right now and apparently proving he's healthy.

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RE: Trading Church: I get it. Really, I do. BUT...isn't Ryan Church the exact type of player that you keep when your team has no one else who's exciting to watch in the batter's box? He's cheap and playing better than expected. Seems like Kasten and Co. run the risk of cutting too deep if they start trading the only players anyone can reliably expect might hit the ball out of RFK once in a while.

Barry Svrluga: Absolutely. Again, it's all about the return. You can't evaluate these things in a one-sided way without knowing what's offered in return. Shoot, if someone came to the Nationals and said, "We'll give you Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis for Ryan Zimmerman, Christian Guzman and Shawn Hill," you'd do it, right? Even though there's no way you expect to trade Zimmerman as of now.

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Section 401, Row K: Barry -- now that you've successfully run the former PA guy out of town (such is the power of a journalist/blogger), who's next?

I vote for the head Natpack guy. He just oozes fake charisma.

Barry Svrluga: Really am not a fan of the Natpack guy. He reminds me of a really bad Ryan Seacrest (sp??). Plus, his arm is weak. He constantly can't throw the T-shirt over the backstop. His whole act is lame. The subject of much disdain in the press box.

We do, however, love the presidents.

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RFK Offices:"And you also extrapolate what the prospect you get in 2007 will be in 2009."

And don't forget about the money. Prospect X will be cheaper.

Barry Svrluga: Absolutely a factor, but I think talent will drive the discussion more.

_______________________

Fairfax, Va.: Barry:

I have to admit I expected the book about the return of baseball to Washington and the Nationals first season to be written by Tom Boswell, but I enjoyed the book you wrote. Do you see any more baseball (or other sports) books in your future? What about a future in TV or radio? It seems like newspaper writing is just a starting point for the sports staff of The Washington Post anymore!

Barry Svrluga: Boz, of course, would have written a much better book than I did, but I was fortunate enough to be the guy in the chair for maybe 140 of those games that year. Sheer exposure to the subjects allowed me to write that one.

And no, don't think of the Post as a mere stepping stone. Yes, it's worked out great for some people (Hi Tony and Mike). But if you've seen me on "Washington Post Live" or heard me on the radio or listened to those podcasts, you know there are some people who are best off burying their heads in their laptops and pecking away. It's all I ever wanted to do, and I'm fortunate to be doing it.

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Rockville, Md.: Face it people, with the exception of Zimmerman, there's a sign that says "Cheap, slightly used. Make an offer. Call Jim at 202-XXX-XXXX" with everyone's name on it.

Barry Svrluga: Indeed, I think these e-mails go out daily.

_______________________

Garrett Mock, Potomac, Va.: In Mr. Boswell's column, Mr. Kasten said I was the big piece in the Livo trade (how kind) and that I might pitch in the majors this season.

How is that possible, with my injury history, and being stuck in high A-ball?

Barry Svrluga: The A-ball factor for Mock is more to let him get confidence back as he comes back from knee surgery. He was skipped a turn in the rotation, too, another indication that they're being careful with him.

If things go well, he should be at Class AA Harrisburg by the middle of the summer, and then we'll see what happens. I would be shocked if we didn't see Mock, Lannan and/or Balester by the end of the year. Not right after the all-star break, but in September, when a couple of starts for any of them would be worth it as the team evaluates the 2008 season.

_______________________

Woodbridge, Va.: I'm a novice to baseball so here's my question. Why is the closer looked on to be a really good pitcher? If he was so great shouldn't they be starting? To me it seems like a closer is a mediocre pitcher who you count on not to screw up and cost you the game.

Barry Svrluga: Being a closer is partly about talent and partly about mentality. You have to want to have the pressure on to get three outs in a one-run game. A starter can give up a run in the first and still go out and throw six more shutout innings and have a solid outing. A closer doesn't have that luxury.

There is, too, a physical element. Closers don't have the arm strength to throw 100 pitches every five days. Starters don't have the resilience to bounce back and pitch three consecutive days.

And one more: Closers usually need just two pitches. It's really hard for a starter to get away with having just two pitches.

_______________________

Re; Natpack guy: Amen! He reminds me of an ex of mine....not a good thing. I'm so glad other people can't stand him either.

Hey-what happened to the dude who was upset about Screech and his hat during the national anthem?

Barry Svrluga: Wow, not sure what happened to that guy. Must have found something else to become completely upset with.

_______________________

Re: Upcoming Draft: Barry,

"Money Ball" theology - and stats - says that drafting high schoolers is just too risky in comparison to drafting college players. What think ye?

Barry Svrluga: To be honest, I don't know enough to make a really solid analysis. I will say, though, that when looking at the Nationals' draft history -- read, last year -- they had no fear of taking high schoolers. They took two in the first round (Marrero and right-hander Colton Willems).

Would a college pitcher be able to help sooner? Absolutely.

_______________________

REL Seacrest: Barry - Are you reading my mind? My buddies and I sit in the 100's in Row 1, and shout "Seacrest Out!" everytime that guys rolls by with the tees. Feel free to borrow...

Barry Svrluga: Love it. But to be honest, if anyone looks at that dude and doesn't think "Frat Boy Salesman/Fake Seacrest" or some such thing, I'd like to hear from them.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: Barry,

Interesting times in Natsville, but things are getting dicey All-Star wise. I mean I knew we'd probably be stuck with the obligatory hardly-used all-star -- but who will that even be? Zimm isn't having a good enough year, we want his first All-Star to be legit. Hill and Bergmann have missed time. Nationals.com says Dmitri Young? Are they serious?

So who should it be?

Barry Svrluga: I'll throw one out there: Jesus Colome. He's 4-0 with a 2.20 ERA in 25 appearances. Now, it's almost impossible for a middle reliever -- and not even the primary setup guy -- to be named to the all-star team, but there's a dearth of choices right now.

Keep in mind, too: There's a month to go before the break. If someone like Zimmerman or Church or Kearns gets hot -- say, gets the average up to .280 with decent power numbers -- then they could go. But also, the way Young scalded the ball the last couple weeks, I wouldn't count him out, either.

_______________________

Woodbridge: We all knew Schneider was an excellent defensive catcher, but this almost supernaturally influential handler of pitchers angle has come across so suddenly that it makes me skeptical. Is that a way to balance out Schneider's lesser offensive contributions, or is it a tactic promoted to advance him to the reputation of an elite veteran catcher and enhance his trade value?

Barry Svrluga: Hmmmm. Not sure where you're getting the "supernaturally influential" part. I did talk to Schneider last week -- and wrote about in one of my game stories -- about having to deal with all the moving parts in the Nationals rotation and staff in general, learning different guys on the fly, working with them, learning their strengths and finding out what makes them comfortable. It is widely acknowledged to be a difficult task, and given the majority of the results -- good performances from people like Mike Bacsik and Micah Bowie -- it would appear that Schneider is, at worst, not hurting them. Manny Acta and others believe he is absolutely part of the equation, and an important part.

Not trying to over-state anything. Just trying to point out that there's more to decent pitching from unexpected places than the guy throwing the ball.

_______________________

Section 406: Hi Barry,

Thanks so much for doing the chats, the blogs, the podcasts--am I missing anything? When do you sleep? And of course I never miss the 35-cent coverage.

Curiosity is killing me on this: does Jesus Flores share Brian's mask, or did Jesus go out & get one with the same artwork Brian has?

Barry Svrluga: Thanks very much. I get plenty of sleep, actually. It's quite restful.

On the mask question: I will ask and report back. I keep forgetting. My apologies.

_______________________

Aref K.: The President's race was pretty good last night, huh?

Barry Svrluga: Yes, that was a good Prez race.

But let me ask you this: Does it seem to anyone else that Abe is suffering from a bad case of osteoporosis? The dude is hunched over. I mean, I know he was tall, but I didn't realize he was one of those shy tall people who are embarrassed about their height. The guy needs to prop his head up or he's going to be the next Teddy.

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Washington, D.C.: Not to discuss the substance of the story, but have you ever seen a newspaper go nuclear on a player the way the New York Post did to A-Rod this morning? If you were a beat writer for the Post, would you be concerned for your safety around him? Does anybody fear the Yankees anymore?

Barry Svrluga: And to think Rupert Murdoch is trying to buy the august Wall Street Journal.

_______________________

Going to the game tonight...:...and we're normally Nats fans, but hubby is a Californian who's been a Dodgers fan since birth so will most likely feel compelled to cheer for his boys. I've never been to RFK. How likely are we to catch serious crap for this out in the cheap seats?

And have the crowds thinned enough these days to make it easy to park, or should we still take Metro?

Thanks!

Barry Svrluga: Metro is a great, great way to get there, and cheaper than $15 to park. But I don't think you'll have a problem either way.

And don't worry about wearing Dodger blue. The Nats' best crowds include huge contingents of opposing fans. This is a transient city, after all.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: I'm pessimistic about Kasten's claims that payroll will increase dramatically next year ($30M), implying that the team will make a big run at success in 2008.

For one, there will be a natural bump in salary. Schneider, Johnson and Kearns are due raises. Zimmerman will likely earn a mega-contract worth $10M per year to avoid arbitration.

That leaves approximately $15M for one impact player. I don't see the Lerner's ponying up that kind of dough.

Barry Svrluga: Zimmerman is not yet eligible for arbitration next offseason, though he could sign a long-term deal that buys him out of arbitration and free agency years. Schneider's raise is only from $3.5-$4.9 million. Johnson's salary this year is $5.5 million, the same as it is for the next two seasons. Kearns's salary goes up from $3.5 million this year to $5 million next year. That's a total of $2.9 million in raises for those three guys.

There are other ways to increase salary that don't include free agency. They could make lopsided trades -- taking on big contracts other clubs don't want -- that would increase payroll. In those cases, they may want the other team to pay part of the salary. (That might make more sense for the offseason after 2008, when clubs might be trying to get out from under some of the large contracts signed last offseason.)

_______________________

Southeast, D.C. : To get to your seat can be a long jog;

And it takes near forever to get a hot dog.

Most people think she is way past her prime,

because the place shakes on the third base line.

I'm talkin' about The House that Hondo Built,

that Heartbreak Hotel;

The Place so Sweet,

it's on East Capitol Street.

She is crumbling, and chipped, and not that pretty anymore,

but for me magic happens when I walk through her door.

Sure it ain't Wrigley,

or even Shea

But the place I love most

is RFK.

Hi Barry,

Sure it will be nice to have a new stadium; but I will miss ol' RFK. How about you?

Barry Svrluga: Waxing poetic on our old concrete yard, are ye? We'll be writing some odes to RFK before the summer's over, I'm sure.

I'm ready for the new park, to be honest. Anyone who's ever smelled the stench in the home dugout is ready. But there will have been some nice memories at RFK, with a few more months to make some more.

_______________________

Arlington, Va.: Barry, do the Nats still have scouts beating the bushes in places like the Dominican Republican and Venezuela for talent? I haven't heard about many signings from there since last year. Or is it offseason for that sort of thing right now?

Barry Svrluga: Yes, they do. They have sent Mike Rizzo and Dana Brown to Venezuela, and they're still working in the Dominican. So much effort is being put into next week's draft that we won't hear about the international prospects for a little while yet.

_______________________

Arlington, Va.. : Can you describe Manny Acta as a baseball strategist? Is he more of a small-ball or long-ball manager? Is he more of a computer stat freak or a manager who plays hunches? Is he more inclined to keep his starting pitchers in longer or go to his bullpen early?

Barry Svrluga: Lots of questions. Acta is not a small-ball type in that he will not bunt guys over in the early innings. Just won't. Not who he is. Some guys do it on their own, and it frustrates him.

Stats: He knows them. He has splits in mind, he knows matchups, and he'll build lineups because of that. But I don't think, in a given situation, he'd be afraid to go against the numbers if he had a hunch that wouldn't stop eating at him.

Quick hook: He has pulled guys -- and I'm thinking of a couple of instances with Jason Simontacchi -- when their numbers weren't that bad, but when he just sensed that their stuff isn't competitive any more. But he's also pushed it with a couple of guys, seeing if he can steal an extra out or two knowing it's a risk. I think it comes down to the situation.

_______________________

Section 214, Row 10: I loved Boswell's column today about the glass being 2/3 full but, geez, Barry, what about the defense? Honestly, I coached girls in slo-pitch softball who can cover first base WAY better than Dmitri. And am I wrong? Guzman has NO range. And heaven forbid he dive for a ball. No range and no heart.

Barry Svrluga: We've said it before: Dmitri's not here because of his defense. I have to admit I've been disappointed in Guzman's defense thus far. He seems to be a half-step shy of too many balls, and his timing on diving/jumping (when he does) is horrible.

And yes, for anyone who wants the best-case scenario for the Nats, read Boz today.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: What do you do during a 2 1/2 hour rain delay with 2 outs in the top of the 9th?

Barry Svrluga: Well, it was only an hour and 41 minutes (not that I remember), but you generally curse and brood about how now most of the readership won't get the story in the paper because deadlines are flying by.

Also, you read "Baseball America" and you chat about who was the worst National of all-time (or at least in the 2005-07 editions). I posed that question over at Nationals Journal today.

_______________________

D.C.: Hi there,

I'm just over 1/3 of the way through "National Pastime," and have been thinking about Wilkerson. Where is he these days, and how is he doing? Do you know if he is generally satisfied to have left the Nationals/D.C.?

Barry Svrluga: Wilkerson, unfortunately, is on the disabled list in Texas with a strained right hamstring. He is hitting .250 and has more strikeouts than hits.

I really liked his attitude and his willingness to compete even when he wasn't at his best. But he just can't seem to get it together. It appears his 32-homer season in 2004 was a mirage.

(For updates on other former Nationals, check out "Nationals Journal" today.)

_______________________

Mount Vernon, Va.: What about Felipe Lopez as a potential tradable player for the Nationals? He was arbitration eligible and signed only a one year deal, would he not be a valuable piece to a contender looking for a 2B?

Barry Svrluga: Sure he would, and I've been very very impressed with his defense at second base. But I think the Nationals believe he'll be part of the solution, not the problem. He's another guy who, on the current team, is being asked to do something for which he's not ideally suited, and that's lead off. I think he's better as a No. 2, No. 7 or No. 8 hitter.

_______________________

Section 213: I echo the sentiment that Natpack Boy be shown the tunnel under the seats out to the parking lot. I've never understood major league team's feeling like a half inning without a promotion is a really, really bad idea. Stop the stupid promotions and maybe 50 people will never come back. The others will still return to watch BASEBALL.

Barry Svrluga: A possibility. Keep in mind, though, that Kasten is a believer that if he markets only to baseball fans, he's excluding a huge chunk of his potential audience.

_______________________

Frederick, Md.: Can we not stop referring to the Nationals as the worst team in baseball? Is Manny Acta the real deal? How do "the experts" like his skills: in game, handling pitchers, etc.

Thanks.

Barry Svrluga: The Nationals are, right now, not the worst team in baseball. So feel free to stop mentioning them as such.

Acta's still developing. We won't be able to give a full evaluation until this season is over. There's a lot of ball to play.

_______________________

Barry Svrluga: Unfortunately, I'm out of time. Must get out to the yard.

Thanks for stopping by. I'll check in with you again next week, when we'll still be at home and the Pirates will be in town. Until then, hope to see you at RFK.

_______________________

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