- The Washington Times - Monday, May 15, 2006

Q: What are the chances of Alfonso Soriano being traded to the Yankees, and what would the Nats want from them in return? Vincent Panico

A: Boy, the rumors sure started flying as soon as Hideki Matsui went down the other night, huh? GM Brian Cashman said there are no plans to acquire someone to replace Matsui, but how much of Melky Cabrera can the Yankees take before they reverse that position?

I certainly believe Soriano will be one name Cashman is interested in, but the Yanks won’t be the only club calling. The Mets could have interest, the Cardinals could have interest (either in the outfield or at second base) and who knows how many other teams might decide the same by July?

Nationals GM Jim Bowden has made it clear he wants multiple top prospects in exchange for Soriano. If he can get a couple of teams in a bidding war for the guy, he might make out like a bandit.

Q: How secure is Brian Schneider’s job? Is Matt LeCroy getting ready to take over as the No. 1 catcher? — Kevin Dillon

A: Well, since Schneider is on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, I suppose you can’t consider LeCroy the No. 1 catcher at all. Look for Frank Robinson to spread the starts around, though, with LeCroy, Robert Fick and Wiki Gonzalez (called up just yesterday) sharing time.

That said, Schneider will still be the guy once he gets healthy. Though he’s struggled with the bat so far this season, none of the aforementioned catchers can match his skills defensively. Plus, none of those other guys signed a four-year contract with the Nationals in the offseason.

Q: With the new ownership stating they will build the Nationals from the minor leagues up, I was wondering about two players now at Class AA Harrisburg that were, at one time, highly touted prospects. Both pitcher Shawn Hill and outfielder Alex Escobar are having excellent early seasons. Do these two players have any real chance of moving up to the major leagues? Are they still prospects, or are they just filling out minor league rosters? — Jeffrey Saffelle

A: I’d say both players would fall under a category somewhere between those two. They’re not really considered top-flight prospects anymore, but they are more than just roster-fillers.

Hill is an interesting case. The Expos’ sixth-round pick in 2000 was pitching well until he blew out his elbow and was forced to miss all of last season. He’s come back strong this spring, though, and the Nationals considered calling him up a couple weeks ago when the pitching staff was thin. Truthfully, Hill probably needs some more time to strengthen his arm. You might see him in Washington in September.

Escobar, too, has battled through his share of injuries. More than anything, he needs to prove he can stay healthy for a full season. If he can do that, perhaps he might fit in the Nationals’ plans somewhere down the road.

Q: As for a new song to play at RFK, why not “Bustin’ Loose” by D.C.’s own Chuck Brown? It’s something we’d all like to see the Nats offense do more often! The song might excite the crowd and inspire Nats hitters. — Carrolton Thomas

Q: You asked for suggestions for a song the Nats should play at RFK. I think this is a no-brainer: “[You Gotta Have] Heart” from the musical “Damn Yankees.” — Eddie Cunningham

A: Both are worthy recommendations, certainly better than stealing “Sweet Caroline” from the Red Sox. Hmm, 40,000 baseball fans breaking out into a big, Broadway musical number in the sixth inning — I doubt you’d find that at any other park in the majors!

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To

submit a question, go to the Sports Page

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