Is Mike Morse being considered for any Major League role in 2010? He was as impressive as any player on the team.
-- Joel G, Lynchburg, Va.
Morse should be in the mix, but he shouldn't be guaranteed a spot. He is much better defensively at 1B than Dunn and showed signs of brilliance with the bat, but 2009 Mike Morse is not what we should expect next year if he gets significant playing time. I'd put him down for an improvement in batting average, more walks, less strikeouts but a drop-off in power.
I don't think Adam Dunn's fielding was that bad at first base. How many errors did he make at the position?
-- Craig B., Gaithersburg, Md.
He only made 8 errors, but that doesn't tell the whole story. He has the worst UZR/150 out of all 1B over the last 3 years with at least 600 innings played in the field, twice as bad as Dmitri Young. It's a small-ish sample size, but Dunn simply does not reach the balls in play that a Major League 1B should be able to do.
What do you think right-hander Shairon Martis must do to be successful in the Major Leagues?
-- Daniel G., The Netherlands
He absolutely needs to start striking out more batters and walking less. Having more BB than K is simply not something you can do as a Major League SP. I'm not going to lie: I'm not a big believer in Martis.
Who will be the Nats' closer next season?
-- Jose C., Silver Spring, Md.
Hopefully somebody not in the organization. Ladson noted Mike Gonzalez as a possibility, and I wouldn't mind that. There are a handful of decent closers on the market: Kevin Gregg, Fernando Rodney, Rafael Soriano, Jose Valverde and Billy Wagner. I would not be surprised if the Nats made a run at one of them. I really, really, REALLY hope MacDougal is not the closer next year. He will not repeat his 2009 "success."
Jermaine Dye is a free agent. Could we see general manager Mike Rizzo make a move for him?
-- Nick S., Erma, N.J.
No. Dye is still a great hitter, but he has the outfield range of an elephant these days. He's still a useful player by AL standards for a team looking for a DH, but he's not a fit for the Nats.
What is your conclusion about Alberto Gonzalez? I think it's clear that he doesn't have what it takes to be a starter in the Majors.
-- Alex C., Montreal
I'm not ready to give up on him yet. He's been wildly inconsistent in the minors and majors throughout his career, so nobody really knows what to expect. He needs to be more patient, but his pre-2009 numbers suggest he will walk more than the 4.6% of the time he did in the majors this year. I think he has the ability to end up as a Guzman-type player, but then again, Guzman doesn't have what it takes to be a starter in the Majors either. I like him on the bench, though.
Are the Nats content with starting Wil Nieves next season at catcher until Jesus Flores is healthy?
-- Will S., Reston, Va.
Please, no. Nieves is barely passable as a backup let alone a starter. He's a great guy and everything, but he's not a great player.
What is happening with Tim Foli? I heard a lot of positive things about his work as the Syracuse manager, but now I read that Trent Jewett was just named to that position. Will Foli be a coach for the Nats? Is he in the running for the manager position? Thanks.
-- Scott S., Vienna, Va.
I don't have the answer, but Ladson does:
"Foli has done great things in the Nationals' Minor League system. One could say he is the best manager/coach they have ever had in the system. I would have to believe a promotion to the big leagues is in order. From what I understand, if Foli is not promoted to the big leagues, he will be an advisor in the Minor Leagues."
I'm glad to hear this, because the Nats should not let Foli get away from the organization.