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[February 18th] -- That was quite a "oh by the way" that Bill Ladson dropped on us on Friday at the team's website.

Oh by the way, the Nationals have an interest in Ronnie Belliard, who played for the Indians and Cardinals last year.

That the Nationals have an interest in Belliard isn't surprising. That Ronnie Belliard might have an interest in the Nationals is.

Belliard, 30, has been an offensive force since the joined the Colorado Rockies in 2003. Since then, he's averaged .280-13-67, though his .765 OPS since then isn't exactly star quality. The point is, the guy is still (relatively) young, and has shown that he is still capable of being an everyday major league second baseman.

There were grumblings out of St. Louis that his lack of defense didn't make up for his strong bat. Hector Lugo, traded to the Indians for Belliard, had less power but was far more able with the glove. Perhaps Lugo's better defense doesn't show in his statistics. Luga has averaged one error every 9.6 games while Belliard has averaged an error every 10.5 games. Jose Vidro made only 5 errors last year because he couldn't get to enough balls to make any more than that. Maybe that's the deal with Belliard.

So why does a guy who can hit like Belliard not have job in February? I don't know. Perhaps it's his recent legal troubles. Belliard is involved in an extortion case in St. Louis, where the father of a woman he got pregnant demanded $150,000 from Belliard to keep quiet. He is married and has two children. The Padres had been discussing a deal with the second baseman but seem to have bowed out since the extortion revelations.

I can't see this happening, unless his legal troubles have made him persona non grata around the rest of the league. If the Nationals do sign him, it would have to be for the purpose of trading him later in the year for - you guessed it - prospects. Belliard has been an everyday player for too long to be willing to play backup at both second and third.

We'll see. For now, it makes for an interesting story. Let's see how it plays out.

Hector Luna
Andrew, you're absolutely right! I had originally written the name of Hector Luna, but I noticed that a story on the Nats' web page said he was traded for Hector Lugo. Figuring that I was wrong, I changed my story.

I should have had more faith in my information.

Thanks for the comment.
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