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12/11/07 Lo Duca/Milledge vs Schneider/Church? Why Are The Nationals And Mets So Friendly?

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     In Howard Fendrich's examiner.com article entitled, "New-look Nationals specializing in giving 2nd chances," Mr. Fendrich quotes Washington Nationals Manager Manny Acta, who says of Nationals GM Jim Bowden:

           "Jim - he's not done yet...That's why I'm not even
           thinking about a lineup yet, because I know he's going to
           keep on working and continue to make our team better.
           It is a totally different ballclub."

     Manager Manny Acta is not exaggerating. Just two weeks ago the Nationals starting lineup in '08 was arguably as follows...

SS Cristian Guzman
2B Ronnie Belliard
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Nick Johnson/Dmitri Young
RF Austin Kearns
LF Wily Mo Pena
CF Ryan Church/Nook Logan
C Brian Schneider

     Then GM Jim Bowden headed to the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee and set about reshaping the Washington roster. First was the trade of C Brian Schneider and OF Ryan Church to the New York Mets in return for OF Lastings Milledge.

     GM Jim Bowden's next move was to acquire two Major League ready prospects, Tyler Clippard and Elijah Dukes, both of whom should compete for roster spots, from the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, respectively, sending relief pitcher Jonathan Albaladejo to the Yankees and Minor League pitcher Glenn Gibson to the Rays in the exchanges.

     Up next...Paul Lo Duca. After trading away Schneider, 31, to the Mets, GM Jim Bowden signs the Mets' former catcher Paul Lo Duca, 36 in April of '08, to a one-year mentorship deal which allows sophomore backstop Jesus Flores another year of Major League grooming, and unloads two years of Brian Schneider's services at $4.9 million per, for one year of Lo Duca at $5 million per, and then hopefully a decade or so behind the plate from the affordable former Mets prospect Jesus "The Future" Flores...("Is Omar Minaya being taken by the Nationals?")

     The tradeoff between Schneider and Lo Duca, on the field, is an exchange of exceptional defense for an above average bat in the the catcher's spot, with the Nationals opting for offense in an attempt to improve one of the Major League's worst.

     In the exchange of outfielders with the Mets, the Nationals unloaded an underachieving veteran of five MLB seasons, in Ryan Church, 29, for Lastings Milledge, 23 in April '08, a prospect with considerable upside if he can live up to the hype that preceded his controversial arrival in NY.

     As it stands today, and with Nationals Manager Manny Acta's warning that GM Jim Bowden was not done dealing, in mind, the Nationals starting lineup would most likely consist of...

SS Cristian Guzman
C Paul Lo Duca
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Nick Johnson/Dmitri Young
RF Austin Kearns
LF Wily Mo Pena
2B Ronnie Belliard
CF Lastings Milledge

     Is this a new-improved lineup capable of competing in the NL East? Can Ronnie Belliard produce the same results as he did last season from a lower spot in the order? Would you bat Lo Duca or Belliard second? Can Wily Mo Pena win the starting job in left? Is Lastings Milledge penciled in at center? Can Justin Maxwell or Elijah Dukes earn themselves a spot in Spring Training?...

     ...What else does GM Jim Bowden have in mind? Are the Nationals done looking for pitching?...Will Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young both be on the Opening Day Roster? How about Chad Cordero and John Rauch?...(SAVE CORDERO!!)..The Winter is just getting started...

*Nationals' Lineup Links*

www.examiner.com's Howard Frendrich's article, "New-look Nationals specializing in giving 2nd chances":

http://www.examiner.com/a-1099390~New_look_Nationals_specializing_in_giving_2nd_chances.html