It's Ladson inbox time!
What's the deal with Strasburg? Will the Nationals sign him?
-- Jeff G., Esperance, N.Y.
Without a doubt, yes.
How do you think Adam Dunn is doing at first base right now?
-- Yu-Hung S., Chiayi, Taiwan
He's better than I expected he would be...I'll take him over Dmitri. Still would like to see Willingham get some PT there as well, though, because he might end up being a good defensive 1B rather than the liability that Dunn still is.
The Nationals have been a totally different team after the All-Star break. How has Jim Riggleman changed the attitude and approach of the ballclub?
-- Asher K., Birmingham, Ala.
I'm not going to lie-I'm a fan of managers like Riggleman rather than Acta. It seemed like nobody cared about losing when Acta was around...now the players seem to me like they're more into games and are enjoying winning more than before.
I was surprised by your answer that sticking with Austin Kearns too long was former manager Manny Acta's worst move, even though I totally agree. Weren't you the first to defend him all the time, saying that he was a superstar and could hit 40 homers?
-- Alex C., Montreal
"I never said Kearns was a superstar and could hit 40 homers. I often complimented Kearns for his work ethic. Last year, for example, it always stuck out because there were players on that team who didn't give it their all."
I looked into this and Ladson's telling the truth as far as I can tell. He once said "There is no question that he must produce with the bat this year. I would like to see him hit 35 home runs and drive in 110 runs. I've been told many times by members of the Nats' front office that Kearns is the club's second-best player behind Ryan Zimmerman. Now it's time for Kearns to put up Zimmerman-type stats." I think people misconstrued that to be a prediction rather than the challenge it looks like in retrospect.
How much longer do the Nationals have Nyjer Morgan under contract? I think he's the answer in center field and in the leadoff spot. He could contribute for many years in D.C.
-- Chris M., Springfield, Va.
As Ladson noted, he can be auto-renewed for 2 more years and then is arb-eligible for 3 years after that...so he's ours for quite a while.
I have a great admiration for Bard for playing in such pain. But why do the Nats keep playing him when he is obviously injured?
-- Roy H., Fredericksburg, Va.
They don't really have another option to call up, so I guess they're just doing what they can with what they have. If he says he can play, who are they to tell him no?
I think the Nationals have a nice young core of young starting pitchers. If the Nats could add a veteran through free agency this offseason, who would be a good fit?
-- Bryan A., Fairfield, Conn.
John Lackey, Jason Marquis and Randy Wolf are 3 guys who stick out to me as reasonable candidates. MLBTR has a list of 2010 free agents here.
I was wondering the status of catcher Jesus Flores. How is he doing in his rehab?
-- Roy H., Charleston, S.C.
In his NJ interview from late July, Flores sounded very gung-ho about being back for Winter League, but didn't sound like he would be back this year...so prepare for more Bard/Nieves.
And all I have to say on ZNN-crap. We're pulling for you, Jordan...we'll be ready for you in ST 2011.