- The Washington Times - Monday, September 25, 2006

Q: Do you really think Nook Logan is the answer as the everyday center fielder for the Nationals? My observation is he will not hit over a long period of time teams will start taking away his bunt hits by moving the infield in and I have noticed he does not have a good arm from center field. Speed alone does not make you anything but a pinch runner. Mac Herndon

A: I don’t know whether Logan is the answer. We really haven’t seen enough of him to make a concrete judgment, but I will say that what we have seen has been impressive. His speed and ability to track down fly balls are unquestioned. His arm doesn’t appear to be anything special.

At the plate, Logan clearly needs some work, especially from the left side. You’re right that opposing defenses will start taking those bunts away from him, and the only way to make them back up is to prove he can hit the ball out of the infield.

I think Logan will be given a real shot to win the center field job next spring, but I don’t think he’s the only one in the mix. Alex Escobar looked mighty good before he got hurt and, if healthy, deserves a shot next year.

Q: Put on your GM’s cap to give us a preview of next season. Understanding that you can’t break the bank for a guy like Barry Zito to anchor the rotation but you do have money to add one or two free agents, who would you go after? — Michael Barth

A: Well, I definitely would go after starting pitching. The Nationals don’t have a single returning arm they can count on heading into 2007, because no one knows how John Patterson will come back from surgery.

I wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of Washington making a run at either of the two big-name free agents: Zito and Jason Schmidt. I don’t think they ultimately will spend the money on either guy, but they may try to get in the mix.

If not those two, perhaps GM Jim Bowden would be wise to look to pick up a couple of second-tier free agents, a list that should include Mark Buehrle, Cory Lidle, Jeff Suppan, Jason Marquis, Mark Redman and Randy Wolf.

Q: We’re counting down on Alfonso Soriano’s final days with the Washington Nationals. What has his 40 HR, 40 2B, 40 SB season done to his market value? Is it the same as it was this time last year? And which are the teams that might vastly overpay for him? Bob Grossberg

A: Soriano’s market value will never be higher, something the Nationals might have wanted to consider July 31 before the trade deadline passed. He figures to be the premier free agent this winter along with slugger Carlos Lee. And that means several teams could get into a bidding war, driving Soriano’s price up beyond $15 million a year. That’s $5 million more than he made this season.

The Nationals will be involved in the discussion and may be willing to spend the money to keep Soriano in town. If not, I would expect several “big-market” teams to made serious offers. Look for the New York Mets, Los Angeles Angels and Chicago Cubs, among others, to be in the mix.

Send your questions to natsmailbag@washingtontimes.com or go to washingtontimes.com/sports and click on the Nats Mailbag logo. Please include your full name.

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