If they sign a first baseman like Mark Teixeira, what are the Nationals' plans for Nick Johnson?
-- Don T., Milwaukee
Start him and bench Teixeira, durrrrrrr. But in reality, I think we'd ship him off to an AL team who can DH him (Oakland has reportedly been interested and I could see the Yankees in on him if they lose on Tex).
Knowing the Nationals had one of the worst ERAs in the National League last year, would you rather get a high-priced slugger or a pitcher?
-- Matt S., Farmingdale, N.Y.
I'd rather have a good pitcher than a good slugger but at the same time I'd rather have a high-priced slugger than a high-priced pitcher, if that makes sense. I think with a slugger you're more likely to get production in the latter years of those big contracts.
Given the glut of outfielders on the Nats' roster, do you see one of them possibly moving to first base?
-- Chris W., Woodbridge, Conn.
Willingham is the only one I can see moving to 1B. Kearns and Dukes are too valuable defensively in the outfield and I don't think Milledge or Pena could handle 1B.
Did Ryan Wagner re-sign with the Nationals after electing free agency?
-- Kristen H., Alexandria, Va.
Yes. Info was cloudy on this at first, but Baseball America seemed to have confirmed it a while ago. Funny how a certain Nationals.com reporter never said anything about it...
I would like to see the Nats sign Pedro Martinez to a one-year deal. Although he has been hurt often, Martinez has shown he can be dominant at times. I also think he could be a good mentor for Collin Balester or Jordan Zimmermann. What are your thoughts?
-- Eric R., Shullsburg, Wis.
I wholeheartedly agree with this idea. Sign 2 pitchers with injury risks-Pedro and Ben Sheets. Between the two of them, you might get 300 innings of Cy Young pitching. Or you might get 100. Money is the only risk, but these guys come at a discount. These are the types of moves that we need to be making-take chances on guys with immense talent and hope that they stay healthy. The difference would be that we would (probably for the first time ever) have decent plan B's if these guys go down with injuries. We have several capable starters already: Balester, Redding, Lannan, Bergmann, Zimmermann, Olsen, Hill Martis, etc. but It's safe to say Sheets and Pedro would be 1-2. That would leave us with probably Lannan, Olsen and Balester, with Redding as a long reliever, Bergmann put in the pen where I think he belongs, Hill on the DL and Zimmermann and martis with more time in AA/AAA. EDIT-I forgot about Randy Johnson. I wholeheartedly support signing him.
Why not put Ronnie Belliard at first base? In limited time, he has put up decent offensive numbers.
-- Andy S., Fairfax, Va.
He's not tall enough, simply put.
Do you see the Nats trying to sign any veteran starting pitchers?
-- Andy S., Fairfax, Va.
"Yes, I do. Who that is, I don't know." Answer of the year, Ladson. Ideally, as I said, the Nats would bring in Pedro and Sheets. I think a retread like Mike Hampton is more likely, however (although his lefthandedness might keep the Nats from doing so...any ideas on another guy? I had a list at some point that I'll dig for). EDIT-Hampton signed with the Astros, so we really will need to look elsewhere.
What's Wily Mo Pena been up to this offseason?
-- Dan D., Washington
He's gotten as many hits this offseason as he did last season, that's for sure.
"A couple of weeks ago, general manager Jim Bowden told the local media that Pena is slowly recovering from shoulder surgery and it has prevented him from playing winter ball this offseason. Pena is expected to be ready for Spring Training, however."-Ladson
Do you think Ian Desmond has a chance to become the Nationals' regular shortstop in two years?
-- Gary G., North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
No. He can't hit. I'm done being optimistic with this guy...until he can prove me wrong (a la Mike Hinckley), I'm sticking to my gut and saying no, Ian Desmond will never be a starting shortstop in the major leagues.