- The Washington Times - Monday, August 21, 2006

Q: How likely are any of the Nationals veterans — especially Jose Vidro, Tony Armas, Pedro Astacio and Ramon Ortiz — to be traded before the end of the season? If they aren’t, how likely are any of them to be on the roster for Opening Day 2007? — Meg

A: I think it’s pretty unlikely any of the aforementioned will be traded at this point. There’s only six weeks left in the season, and unless some contending team suffers a major injury, few are likely to make deals of consequence at this stage of the season.

I do think the Nationals will make a real effort to shop around Vidro during the offseason, hoping to find a club willing to take on the final two years of his contract.

The other three will be free agents, and I don’t see Washington having much interest in re-signing either Armas or Astacio. I might bring Ortiz back, though, provided he doesn’t cost too much.

Q: I consider Damian Jackson an automatic out every time he comes to the plate. Why don’t the Nationals just release him and bring up a prospect from the minors? Anyone would have to be better. — Mac Herndon

A: You’re not alone in this line of thinking, Mac. There are plenty of people inside and outside the organization who wonder the same thing.

I wouldn’t count on it happening, though. While Jackson isn’t contributing much for the Nationals on or off the field, they really don’t have anyone else who can play shortstop or third base in a pinch. This is where Brendan Harris’ inclusion in the eight-player trade with Cincinnati comes back to haunt Washington.

For that matter, this is where general manager Jim Bowden’s decision to send Jamey Carroll to Colorado for $300,000 really comes back to haunt him. Carroll’s batting average (.298) is almost 100 points higher than Jackson’s (.200). I also don’t remember Jamey ever throwing a chair across the Nationals’ locker room last season.

Q: Given the fact that Peter Angelos and the Orioles have done nothing to keep Cal Ripken in their organization, is there any chance the Nationals can “pick up” Cal and get him the coaching position he deserves? Like manager? — Bryan Dittmer

A: Before the District officially was awarded the franchise, there often was speculation that Ripken could somehow find his way into the Nationals’ organization. But I suspect that’s no longer a possibility.

Cal does have interest in running a major league team someday. But he’s not really interested in managing or even being a GM. He’s more interested in running an entire organization, establishing a philosophy for player development and getting at least some stake in ownership.

With the Lerner family and Stan Kasten now running the show, there’s not really an opportunity for Ripken to have that kind of power.

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