Free agent Pedro Martinez would win some games and draw fans in Washington. The Nationals could use a tested starter. Any thoughts?
-- Kyle S. Arlington, Va.
Martinez is the type of veteran the Nats SHOULD sign. He's an ex-star (unlike Paul Lo Duca, who was just an ex-decent player). His velocity is apparently back, his pitches are moving well...he would be a great fit and could teach our guys something.
I saw Ivan Rodriguez in the World Baseball Classic, and he looks impressive. He has not signed with a Major League team yet. Would the Nationals be interested in him as a mentor to Jesus Flores and a backup catcher?
-- Raul T., Arlington, Va.
Along with Pedro, I think Pudge would be a good signing, but for defensive reasons. Like Ladson said, however, it depends on whether or not he'd be willing to accept a backup/split role. I don't believe Flores is going to be able to catch a full season successfully at this point...no basis, just a feeling. Plus, we could use a catcher who is famous for catching would-be base stealers to make them think twice when running on Daniel Cabrera.
It is exciting to think that in the not too distance future, the Nationals are going to have John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg leading this starting pitching staff for years to come.
-- Rich R., Slingerlands, N.Y.
It is exciting, but there are no guarantees. Lannan relies a lot on pinpoint control and changing speeds, something that is near impossible to be compeltely consistent on through a career. Zimmermann and Strasburg have never thrown above AA before, so they aren't sure things either. All three (and Balester and Martis, too) have a wealth of talent. It's up to our coaching staff to try and corral this talent and mold some awesome pitchers. Pray for no injuries as well.
What will the Nats do with their crowded outfield? Obviously, Austin Kearns or Elijah Dukes will not accept a backup role.
-- Michael R., St. John's, Newfoundland
I think Willingham will be dealt. I also think Kearns will accept a backup role if asked (or at least a "start 2 of every 4 days" sort of deal). With Johnson being Johnson and Dukes being Dukes (and Willingham being Willingham), I think injuries might sort things out.
I would like to see the Nationals acknowledge earlier Washington teams rather than the Montreal Expos. Surely, Washington fans prefer to think of a team history that includes Walter Johnson, Bucky Harris and Frank Howard, rather than one featuring Andre Dawson, who never played a game in Washington.
-- Larry F., Gaithersburg, Md.
Unfortunately, the Twins and Rangers "own" the franchise records, per se. Anything involving The Big Train and Hondo would have to be filed under "Washington DC baseball records" instead of "Nationals Franchise Records." Technicality, yes, but it's tacky to take a team from a city and then pretend like they never existed.