07/30/07 3:06 PM ET
Mailbag: How does Young fit in puzzle?
Nationals beat reporter Bill Ladson answers fans' questions
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
With the signing of Dmitri Young, is it safe to say the Nationals truly do not care about rebuilding? -- Pat R., Oakton, Va.The Nationals care about rebuilding and Young is one of the pieces to that championship puzzle. I can't tell you how much he has improved the clubhouse, which was the worst in 2006. Young's contributions go beyond the baseball field.
Does Young have enough mobility to play in left field? -- Seth, C., Potomac, Md.
Young has to lose about 20 pounds to play the position, but I think he can do it and be reliable out there. I do see manager Manny Acta using a defensive specialist in the late innings.
Why do the Nationals keep Brian Schneider in the staring lineup? He is hitting .228 with four home runs and 37 RBIs. He almost could be considered an automatic out. It's like there is another pitcher hitting in their lineup. Will the Nationals do anything? -- Pat R., Oakton, Va.
There is no question Schneider is not having a good year with the bat, but he is having a good year behind the plate. He is one of the reasons the starting pitching has overachieved this year. However, I think the Nationals have to make a decision between him and Jesus Flores for next year. It's clear to me that Flores is not a bench player. There's no doubt in my mind that he is a star in the making. It would be a waste to see Flores on the bench next year.
Why doesn't someone teach Nook Logan how to bunt? He has the speed to squeeze out a couple of extra base hits a week. -- Mark W., Nashville
You won't get any argument here. After joining the Nationals in September, Logan was getting his share of base hits because he was bunting the ball. This year, he stopped doing what made him successful. He is one of the reasons the Nationals are looking hard for a center fielder.
What is the story with John Patterson? Do you think we'll ever see this guy pitch for the Nats again? And while we're on the subject of injuries, do you think Nick Johnson is finished for this year? -- Terry D., Gettysburg, Pa.
Patterson is in Toronto trying to get rid of the nerve problems in his right elbow and bicep. You ask a good question regarding his future with the Nationals and the answer is, I don't know. All of the sudden, the Nationals have a plethora of arms that can help this team as early as next year, so that leaves doubt about Patterson's future. I would be shocked if the Nationals took Patterson to arbitration this offseason.
As far as Johnson goes, time is running out. He needs to have a serious rehab assignment and the Minor League season is almost over. Acta recently said the Nationals are not going to put Johnson out there for the sake of saying that he played during the 2007 season.
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I have always been a staunch supporter of Acta's, and am glad he is getting a chance to prove his worth as a big-league manager. How would you evaluate his work this season at the helm of the Nats? -- Benjamin P., Plattsburgh, N.Y.
I think Acta is doing a great job. When things are going wrong on the field, Acta doesn't let things fester. Taking Felipe Lopez out of a game, for example, for not hustling was admirable. Acta is not afraid to bench players for not hustling. Acta will be a World Series manager soon.
Now that Alex Escobar is down again and our current center fielders haven't been too refreshing, shouldn't the Nationals give Brandon Watson a chance? -- Daryll, S. Washington, D.C.
You are preaching to the choir. It was a shame that Watson was sent down. So what if Logan is out of options? Watson is clearly the better player. Keeping Logan reminds me how the Expos kept Peter Bergeron over Endy Chavez at the start of the 2004 season. Then-manager Frank Robinson said, "May the best man win during Spring Training." Bergeron did have a good Spring Training, but it was a no-brainer that Chavez was the better player.
What is former Expos closer Rocky Biddle doing these days? I know he tore his labrum at the end of the 2004 season and I have not seen him anywhere since. -- Peter N., Elmwood Park, NJ
The last thing I heard about Biddle was in 2006. He is retired and living in Southern California and taking care of his family. I also heard through a source that he wanted to come back and play baseball, but nothing ever came of it.