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Franchise values, Lo Duca update -- and that bench

Many of you have obviously discovered that Forbes magazine is out with its latest round of baseball franchise values, etc. These things are very, very well-educated guesstimates, and it's interesting that the Nationals rank 13th overall in franchise value ($460 million, $10 million more than the Lerners paid for them) and first in operating income -- which Forbes defines as earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

The point: This franchise isn't losing money. Indeed, it's making money, despite empty seats and that unsold sponsorship signage at Nationals Park and a television deal over which it has no control. It appears that some of you have duly noted that.

Paul Lo Duca: Good news for him (and I'll ask him today if he's the Paul L posting here, though I doubt he is). The CT scan of his right hand came back negative. It confirmed the X-ray results that indicated he does not have a fracture. He has soft tissue swelling and if he can grip a bat, he'll be able to play.

The plan, as I believe I indicated, is that if Lo Duca is ready to go by Saturday, when the club needs to activate Shawn Hill, then Wil Nieves can go back down. It gets more interesting if Lo Duca's not ready. Would they DL him in order to activate Hill? Perhaps.

Right now at sunny Shea, where it is truly beautiful out, several Nationals are on the field taking early, extra batting practice -- Nick Johnson, Ryan Zimmerman, Austin Kearns, Willie Harris, Rob Mackowiak, Felipe Lopez, Aaron Boone. Lenny Harris is watching, as is Manny Acta from the outfield.

You'll notice that some of the bench guys are here. Perhaps they realize they need it.

Jim Bowden believed that he improved the bench this offseason. If everyone was healthy, the bench would consist of three switch-hitters -- Dmitri Young, Johnny Estrada and Felipe Lopez. Throw in Willie Harris as a left-handed speedster, Aaron Boone as a right-handed bat, Rob Mackowiak as a left-handed bat and Elijah Dukes as a right-handed bat with some pop. (That's too many guys, I realize, but those are supposed to be the choices).

But at this point, the Nationals' reserves are offering nothing. Washington pinch hitters are hitting .103/.188/.138. Ick. Mackowiak is 0 for 11 on the season, 0 for 7 as a pinch hitter. Boone is 3 for 9 as a starter, 0 for 5 as a pinch hitter. Lopez is 0 for 2 as a pinch hitter. Harris is 0 for 4.

Where's Robert Fick?

By Barry Svrluga  |  April 17, 2008; 2:44 PM ET
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Next: Lineups -- and Frank Robinson in the house

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