- The Washington Times - Monday, May 1, 2006

Q: Why didn’t the Nationals pick up Brandon Phillips? They knew him he was one of the cornerstone elements in the trade that ruined the Expos. Where was Bowden on this? Michael J. Love

A: First, a little background for those who don’t know the history. Phillips, a talented middle infielder, was one of the Expos’ top prospects when former GM Omar Minaya traded him, pitching prospect Cliff Lee, outfielder Grady Sizemore and first baseman Lee Stevens to the Cleveland Indians in July 2002 for right-handers Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew.

At the time, Minaya was praised for doing whatever it took to try to get the MLB-owned Expos into the playoffs, but the trade backfired. Montreal didn’t make the playoffs, Colon was traded to the White Sox and Lee and Sizemore have become stars in Cleveland. Imagine how much the Nationals could use those last two guys right now.

Phillips, meanwhile, never panned out with the Indians and last season was traded to Cincinnati, where he is realizing his potential.

Bowden and the Nationals showed some interest in reacquiring Phillips this spring, but nothing came of it. Besides, they already had too many second basemen on the roster: Jose Vidro and Alfonso Soriano, who has since moved to left field.

Q: I used to live in the D.C. area the Nationals are my second favorite team after the Braves. But about the other D.C. team, the Senators: I was telling a friend that I don’t think they ever had a winning season. He said they did. Who is right? Bob Thomson

A: Sorry, you’re wrong. Both incarnations of the Senators (the original team and the expansion club) had winning seasons. The original Senators posted winning records 18 times in 60 years. They won the World Series over the New York Giants in 1924 and again won the pennant in 1933, when they won 99 games.

The expansion Senators had a winning record only once in 11 seasons with a 86-76 record in 1969 under manager Ted Williams. Now, that was the only winning season in the combined franchises’ final 18 years in Washington, so perhaps that stretch of futility is what you’re remembering.

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To submit a question, go to the Sports Page.

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