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April 14, 2005

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Baseball Producer Jacob Luft will host a daily, open-ended discussion with SI.com readers this season. Don't just sit on the bench eating sunflower seeds. Get into the game by submitting your own thoughts. The best replies will be posted throughout the day.

Future shock for Nationals

• Unless the MLB finds an owner willing to invest some money into the Nationals this relocation will be a joke. No matter what baseball officials say, what killed the Expos in Montreal wasn't a lack of fan interest it was an untimely strike and most of all the greed of former owner Jeffrey Loria who all but ruined baseball in Montreal.
-- Martin Siegel, Albuquerque, N.M. (6:10 p.m.)

• When the Nationals were known as the Senators, it was said of them: "They are first in war, first in peace and last in the American League." It remains to be seen what this new team will do.
-- Dick Delson, Los Angeles (5:45 p.m.)

• Anyone who watched Ian Desmond at the Nats' spring training was dazzled by his play in the field. At 19, he's a long way off, but he represents the future generation of stars that we have come to expect from this organziation (Vladdy, the Big Unit, Larry Walker, etc).
-- Matt R., Nepean, Ontario (3:41 p.m.)

Jose Vidro, Jose Guillen, Nick Johnson
Jose Vidro, left, Jose Guillen, center, and Nick Johnson have helped the Nationals get off to a 5-4 start.
AP
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Luft says: A 5-4 road trip to open 2005 has many observers, including myself, wondering if we may have short-shrifted the Nationals in our preseason evaluations. (SI picked them last in the NL East.) Say what you will about Jose Guillen's attitude, but the guy is a legitimate middle-of-the-order threat and keeps runners from advancing with that cannon arm. I love how manager Frank Robinson isn't afraid to put his best hitter -- Brad Wilkerson -- in the leadoff spot. The starting pitching isn't bad, either, especially with the rubber-armed Livan Hernandez at the top. The only thing keeping them from approaching the .500 mark this season is a shoddy bullpen. The future doesn't look nearly as bright, though. Years of MLB ownership (remember the Cliff Lee/Grady Sizemore for Bartolo Colon deal?) has taken its toll on the farm system, which now boasts only one player -- left-hander Mike Hinckley, among Baseball America's top 100 prospects. You don't have to be Youppi to know this team will have problems contending, but apparently it helps.
-- JL (1:47 p.m.)

Wood overrated? (Part II)

• I'd much rather watch a game at a crumbling Wrigley Field than at any park that was built within the past 10 years. Enjoy your $8 beer and your view from your shaded club seats. I'll enjoy my $8 beer sitting with the Bleacher Bums at one of the most legendary baseball stadiums ever erected.
-- Chris, Fond du Lac, Wisc. (4:49 p.m.)

• Obviously, John Schwendler, you are not a White Sox fan. If you were, you would realize what happens in Chicago when no one goes to ballpark filled with a losing team: nothing. The White Sox fans do exactly what you propose and when was the last time they won a World Series? Oh yeah, when they bought it in 1917. Cubs fans (including myself) might be stupid, but it's not because we go to the ballpark. It's because we go there and talk on our cellphones, look at good looking women and ponder Manny Trillo's batting average instead of caring about baseball.
-- Jason Tham, Chicago (2:55 p.m.)

• Why does the media continue to waste time writing about an overrated underachiever like Kerry Wood? Forget about him and move on. Ben Sheets is just 90 miles north and is much more deserving of the media attention.
-- A.J. Glendale, Wisc. (2:54 p.m.)

• The Cubs aren't going to the postseason. They've got no guts. The umpires are out to get them. The Cardinals are stealing signs. Roy Oswalt is a big doodie head. The Cubs are wimps. They are MLB's copyright infringement on the WWF. They are daytime soaps. I keep expecting to see Susan Lucci come out of the bullpen to relieve Kerry Wood with the team down 15 runs because he walked every other hitter. It's just as well, Lucci would get more guys out than LaTroy Hawkins.
-- Billy, Austin, Texas (2:10 p.m.)

• Cubs fans are stupid. Their ballpark is crumbling and their organization will never ever win a championship. How stupid can fans be to support a loser year after year? As long as they fill that tiny ballpark to watch losing baseball, the ownership won't bother to make improvements either on the field or to it. Fraud at a major league level!
-- John Schwendler, Ft. Mohave, Ariz. (2:10 p.m.)

• Wood does win the 2003 NLCS MVP if Alex Gonzalez makes the play... if Bartman doesn't reach for the ball .. if the Billy Goat thing never happened ... "if" just doesnt get it done though. Wood and Prior's bodies are still reeling after the long outings from 2003. Weren't they No. 1 and No. 2 that year in pitches thrown?
-- Tim, Jacksonville, Fla.

Indeed, Prior and Wood ranked first and second, respectively, in pitches per start in 2003. Prior averaged 113.3 pitches and Wood averaged 110.7. Teammate Carlos Zambrano ranked seventh (106.4), making the Cubs the only team in the NL with three pitchers in the top 10 that season. (Also, how did we get this far into a Cubs take without the Billy Goat coming up?)
-- JL (11:20 a.m.)

• Jacob, Jacob, Jacob ... you're writing about a team, making universal statements eight games into the season? Did they not implement a logic class into your writing curriculum in college? What's worse is you post a the staff ERAs so far and act like they'll hold up all season! Well, gosh, Jose Guillen has five home runs so far this year -- he's on pace for 101! Don't waste my time with garbage like that this early in the season. I'm not a Cubs fan, yet I know it's too early to judge their staff.
-- Patrick, Boston

You're right, Patrick. Let's not write anything about this season until six months are in the books! Basically, though, you are correct in playing the role of sample-size police here. Can I get off with just a warning this time?
-- JL (11:12 a.m.) 

• Wood hasn't had a breakout year, but to say he is overrated has absolutely no basis to it. If you are calling Wood overrated you are also calling pitchers like Josh Beckett (who has identical stuff and lacks a breakout year) overrated. Wood carried the Cubs down the stretch run in 2003 and if he stays healthy this year he will win 15-plus games and carry the Cubs into the postseason.
-- Jason Epner, Iowa City, Iowa

• Wood has also been the victim of a shaky bullpen. In both 2002 and '03 the Cubs bullpen blew at least six games when Woody left with the lead. Add six wins to his 2003 totals and you are looking at a 20-game winner, which is generally considered a good mark.
-- Chip, Fort Wayne, Ind.

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