03/19/07 2:18 PM ET
Mailbag: Will Snelling or Casto make it?
Nationals beat reporter Bill Ladson answers fans' questions
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
Here are some answers to your questions and a few of those comments.
I was just wondering about your thoughts on Snelling, especially since he's looking productive this spring and leading the Nats in RBIs. It's been eluded that he won't be a starter, but he is outperforming Ryan Church to date. Any chance that manager Manny Acta will have a change of heart?
-- Scott B., Washington, D.C.
It looks like Snelling will be a candidate to start in left field, according to general manager Jim Bowden. I have been impressed with the way Snelling has played this spring. Besides putting up impressive numbers, he plays extremely hard.
I'm a little confused regarding the direction Bowden is looking toward first base. I was under the impression new ownership was focusing on youth and promoting from within. Why, then, are two players -- Travis Lee and Dmitri Young -- being considered when it will cost the team at least twice as much to sign them, as opposed to Larry Broadway, who's making the minimum salary?
-- Angela D., New Orleans
Lee or Young will come cheaply, but, yes, it appears demoting Broadway goes against what the organization talked about when it comes to sticking with young players. But the Nationals wanted wanted more pop out of the position, and Young provides it.
In the normal course of Spring Training, how much thought is given to trading a player who belongs in the bigs but cannot find a spot? It seems to me that if Casto shows that he belongs in the big leagues, but can't break in at third, first or the outfield, why doesn't Bowden do him a favor and try to trade him in exchange for a proven lefty starter?
-- David W., Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
I don't see it happening anytime soon. I believe Casto's future is with the Nationals. He is one of the most patient hitters in the organization and is also good with the glove. Casto is one of the few hitters in the organization who is ready for the big leagues.
What is your opinion of pitch counts? Do you believe they are overrated? I remember left-hander Wilbur Wood starting both ends of a doubleheader in the 1970s and nobody had as many arm problems then as they do now.
-- Mike Z., Utica, N.Y.
With all the injuries that pitchers are getting these days, I think pitch counts are very important. I don't think you would want to see Shawn Hill, for example, throw 150 pitches in a game considering that he has had Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. The only pitcher that I covered that wasn't concerned about pitch counts was Livan Hernandez. It never seemed to bother him if he threw 160 pitches in a game.
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As far as Wood goes, he threw a lot of innings during his career and was very durable, but I'm not going to give him that much credit for pitching both ends of a doubleheader. The game you are talking about occurred against the Yankees on July 20, 1973. In the first game, Wood was taken out of the game in the first inning after not retiring a batter.
In the second game, which was rain-shortened, Wood pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up five earned runs.
I'm very excited about the way many of the Nationals prospects are performing in Spring Training. Who, in your opinion, has been the most pleasant surprise?
-- Michael S., Washington, D.C.
I have to pick two players: Snelling and Levale Speigner. I like the way Snelling plays the game, while Speigner hasn't given up a run in 8 2/3 innings.
With Casto doing very well with the bat, do you think he'll make the Opening Day roster?
-- Craig G., Chester Gap, Va.
As of now, I would have to say no, because he will likely be a victim of the numbers game. Church and Snelling are out of options, and the Nationals are committed to either Lee or Young at first base.
Comments from Nationals' fans:
I can't believe the Nats gave up so early on Broadway just because of his lack of power. There are a lot of players in the Majors that don't have any power but can be very helpful with singles and get the job done, like Kenny Lofton or Juan Pierre.
-- Alex C., Montreal
I know many Nats fans are already down on Cristian Guzman, but I would like to remind them that this looks like a healthy Guzman for the first time in three years. Although he is not the offensive stud that Miguel Tejada is, Guzman is one of the strongest defensive shortstops in the league. In addition, he has a great make up for an 8-hole hitter who can drive in runs at the bottom of the order. Give him a chance.
-- Dean C., Charlottesville, Va.
I know you must be getting tired of talking about Church. I feel that he has proved that he does not belong on the Nationals' big-league roster. He is not hitting. I say they should cut him and give a Minor League player a chance in the bigs.
-- Jason H., Rockwood, Tenn.