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Bill Ladson: Blogger Lightning Rod

[December 19th] -- Up until a few years ago, I never bothered checking any of the "official sites" of major league baseball. They were nothing more than house-organs, written by guys, it seemed, that were given a list of "do's and don'ts" by the big clubs. Then came the change. Much of the website content was "fire-walled" from the teams, giving the writers at least a modicum of journalistic independence. Of course I don't think they are totally unbiased, but then I wouldn't expect them to be. After all, they are employees of Major League Baseball.

I've always thought that Nationals scribe Bill Ladson has remained pretty independent, and hasn't "towed the line" to any great extent. Sure, there have been instances where Ladson parroted the team's reasons and justifications, but overall, I think he does a pretty good job.

Several of my fellow bloggers, however, disagree. The guy gets pummeled for his efforts. His weekly "Mailbag" column gets the most guff. Many don't like the questions he chooses for publication. Some call them "stupid." Gee, I don't know. Maybe most of us Nats' fans are stupid and that's the best we can do. More likely though, Ladson chooses submissions that reflect what he hears when he goes out into public.

He's not perfect. But I like him.

In this weeks mailbag, Geoff from Greenville asked Ladson what he thought the Nationals' starting lineup might look like in 2006. This is the team that he thinks will take the field next April:

Ladson's lineup is pretty much as expected, that is of course, if you expect Alfonso Soriano to be willing to play in the outfield anytime in the near future. There is one glaring omission, however: Ryan Church. Ladson believes that Ryan Church, who batted .287-9-42 for the Nats last season, will either be a 4th outfielder [very unlikely] or be traded for a starting pitcher [likely if Watson makes the team]. Extrapolate Church's 2005 injury shorted season to 500 at bats, and he would have hit something like .287-20-85, give or take. That's an awful lot of power to be trading away. However, if Watson can hit at the major league level anywhere near what he did last year with New Orleans [.355, 31 sb], Church could be expendable. He'll likely mature into a Grady Sizemore type hitter, another Expos /Nationals outfielder who was traded for pitching three seasons ago.

If if if. If Brandon Watson can play at this level, then Ladson's lineup is a good one. If he can't, the team will be weakened by Church's absence in the outfield. The fact that Bowden offered Church to the Diamondbacks for Javier Vasquez earlier this month may indicate that Watson might be "the man" in left in 2006.

I doubt if Jim Bowden will make any moves until spring training. No way he trades Church until he's certain that Watson is the real deal.

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