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[January 12th] -- NOTE: The Jerome Williams/Brandon Claussen story is at the end of the Ladson column.

I've been after Nationals.com beat reporter Bill Ladson to do an interview with The Beltway Boys for quite some time. He emailed me yesterday and agreed pending approval by his boss (which he doesn't think will be a problem).

Rather than me being the one asking all the questions, I thought it might be fun for you - the loyal readers of TBB - to do the interviewing. I'll never remember to ask every pertinent question for goodness sakes. After all, even Screech at Nats 320 - for all his hard work - forgot to ask Stan Kasten what one might consider to be "the" single most important question of the day:

Boxers of briefs?

If you have a question for Bill, leave it along with your name and city (kind of our own little mailbag scenario) in the comments box below. I'll then pass along the question to Bill when we talk (which from what I could tell will be in the next few days).

Example of a good question: Has Stan Kasten made his first mistake yet?

Example of a bad question: Why are you such a f****** idiot?

We've emailed several times over the past couple of years and I'll tell you up front that I like the guy. I don't always agree with him but I do always respect him. I think he can be a wealth of knowledge for Nationals' fans now and in the future.

If we treat him with respect.

So please, no f****** stupid questions, okay? :)

Let the Q & A begin!

U-P-D-A-T-E: Nats sign Jerome Williams

In a move that has been whispered about for more than a week, the Nationals on Friday announced the signing of pitcher Jerome Williams. Williams, 25, went 17-12 with the Giants over parts of the 2003 and 2004 seasons. He was initially diagnosed with a tricep strain in August of 2004, but the injury turned out to be far more serious. Williams had bone chips removed in August and was lost for the remainder of the season. He was considered one of the Giants' top prospects at the time.

Williams went 0-2, 6.48 with the Giants in 2005 before being dealt to Chicago for LaTroy Hawkins in one of those "Change of scenery" trades. In two partial seasons with the Cubs, Williams went 6-10 with an ERA of about 4.50. He has a career record of 23-24, 4.03. His 11.97 base-runners to 9 innings ratio is pretty good, but his strikeout totals have dropped from 6 k's per 9 innings in 2003 to 3.5 per 9 in 2006.

His TSN scouting report:

Assets: His terrific change-up makes his low-90's heat look more impressive. He's effective against hitters from both sides.
Flaws: Endurance is the No. 1 thing Williams needs to work on. Along with that, he could stand to improve his arsenal beyond the fastball and change-up.
Career potential: A good mid-rotation starter if given the chance.

That said, I like the signing. He's still only 25, and is now100% healthy. Past indicators suggest that Williams can win 10 games and come in with an ERA of about four runs per game. If he does that, the Nationals are one step closer to respectability.

Brandon Claussen signs a minor league deal.

Bowden also signed former Reds' Brandon Claussen to a minor league contract. Classen, 27, underwent rotator cuff surgery this past August following a dismal 3-8, 6.19 season. Though he was expected to be ready for spring training, the Nationals press release specifies that he will "continue to rehab" during the spring.

Claussen had a 10-11, 4.21 record in 2005 - very good considering the band box that Cincinnati plays in. His career record, however, is just 16-27, 5.04. If he recovers, then he's a find. If he doesn't, then "no harm, no foul."

His TSN scouting report:

Assets: Has good command over a fastball that sits in the low-90s and a quality slider, often getting ahead in the count early. His stuff is extremely tough on left-handed hitters.
Flaws: Right-handed hitters slug him way to easily. The middle innings can be rocky.
Career potential: He's got to keep the ball low to keep the ball in the park and keep his head in the game, especially when there's no one on base.

Two signings - both falling within the parameters of "the plan."

Good deal, Jimbo.

Bill,when did you first know that the Expos were moving to D.C. (I don't mean when were you given the 'official' word -- rather, when did your instincts tell you it was a 'done deal?')
besides scribing for the nats, what was your all time favorite job?
Who is your favorite prospect -- not who is the best prospect -- who do you like the most?
Bill, your reputation for prolific and timely reporting preceded your arrival in DC. Who were some of your inspirations when you decided to enter the baseball writing profession, and who were some of your helpful mentors once you entered it?
How much control does the Nationals have over the stories that you write? Do they give you ideas to write about, or do are they your ideas. Do they have to approve some/all of your stories?
For Ladson: Screech'sBestFriend (Alexandria, Va)-Do you really think, The Washington Nationals will carry 12 pitchers early this season, since, right now, they do not have enough everyday skill players, real talent, to play all the necessary field backup postions? Especially, in light of the fact that Washington MUST carry Jesus Flores (Rule V Draftee) all season long on the Major League Roster or risk losing him back to the NY METS?
Screech'sBestFriend (Alexandria, Va) Bill, in all your years covering baseball, have you ever seen a team, like The Nationals in the upcoming 2007 season, where their starting pitching is so unlclear, the team throws every single pitcher they can find, cheaply, on the wall--finds some that stick. And, in the long run--it all works out for them? Successfully?
Do you root for the Nationals when they play or do you have to maintain objectivity when you work?
Bill, two questions: 1) What do writers and team officials in other MLB cities think about "the plan?" That is, what do you hear them saying about the approach that Kasten and the Lerners are taking toward building the Nationals from the farm system up rather than trying to build using free agency as a primary means of talent acquisition?
2) In your opinion, is Washington a better baseball city than you had thought prior to the Expos moving here, a worse baseball city, or pretty much what you expected?
You seem to get a lot of hostile comments and reaction from readers of your mailbag and bloggers. Why do you think that is?
So Bill, in all your years covering baseball, can you give us a top 5 listing of the biggest jerks you've ever dealt with the clubhouse? Do any former or current Nats make the list?

Also - why is it that Nationals fans act so...entitled? I mean, jeez, lighten up!
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