Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Inbox

2 in 4 days, hooray! It's Ladson time.

Should the Nationals hold on to right-hander Shawn Hill? Will outfielder Elijah Dukes have a big year? Those are two of the many questions Nats fans want to know during Spring Training. Here are answers to some of those questions.

With Hill constantly getting hurt as a starter, wouldn't it be ideal for him to be moved to the bullpen? I hear he has great stuff, but his lack of endurance scares me. 
-- Rafael B., Miami

Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES. Or does moving Hill to the pen just make too much sense?

I'll keep saying it again and again. When are the Nationals going to wake up and smell the coffee concerning Hill? He is injured far too often. I think there are a couple of young pitchers in the organization that would do much better than him. 
-- Jorge T., Springfield, Va.

I'll meet you halfway. Hill is worth keeping around. It's worth taking a chance that he'll one day get healthy because when healthy, he's not just good, he's really good. But what the team needs to do is stop expecting him to be healthy, because he's not. Consider him Nick Johnson-enjoy his 1/4 of the season while it lasts.

If first basemen Chris Marrero and Nick Johnson continue to have good springs, would that affect how the Nats think about Johnson's future with the club? 
-- Brett L., Washington, D.C.

With his injury last year, Marrero is really nowhere near ML-ready. I can see Johnson being dealt, but instead of rushing Marrero to the bigs, Dunn or Willingham would shift to 1B.

Do you think the Nats will eat the salaries of Dmitri Young and Austin Kearns in an effort to keep the best players on the roster? I think the bench looks much better with Willie Harris, Ronnie Belliard, Josh Willingham, Roger Bernadina and Wil Nieves. 
-- Chris O., Ashland, Va.

Dmitri's not going to be on the bench, so to be honest that doesn't have any effect here. I wish people would actually give Kearns a chance instead of considering his 2008 season extreme and uncharacteristic suckitude  rather than caused by injury suckitude.

Don't you think they should keep Young and put him on the bench? I think he would be a great pinch-hitter. 
-- Michael B., Epsom, N.H.

They are keeping Young, but he isn't close to being healthy enough right now to be worth a roster shot.

As a season-ticket holder, I watched Dukes improve his hitting during the latter half of the season. He developed a keen eye for the strike zone and seldom swung at bad pitches. I believe he will draw a lot of walks and be one of the best hitters on the team this year. What is your take? 
-- Charles K., Va.

I like you, Charles K. Glad to see some good insight here as opposed to "I LIKE ______________ LET'S START HIM!!!" or "KEARNS SUCKS!!!!!1!!!"

Can we expect to see President Barack Obama throwing out the first pitch at the home opener? 
-- Michael L., Williamsburg, Va.

Don't expect it, but be pleasantly surprised if he does. He's a sports fan so I think he will throw out a home opener, but could you blame him for throwing it out for the White Sox, his favorite team?

Are the Nats interested in free agent Will Ohman? They need bullpen help, and he is a young lefty. 
-- Rich R., Slingerlands, N.Y.

"I see the Nationals making a trade to improve their bullpen."-Ladson

That's dangerous in my opinion. Ohman could be had for ~$1 mil. We would have to give up a prospect to get a lefty, so why not spring an extra $500k or so to get a player without having to give one up.

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