With Guzman struggling defensively at shortstop, is there any chance he could be the Nationals' second baseman next year? The guy is a hitting machine, and I would love to keep his bat in the lineup.
-- Rich R., Slingerlands, N.Y.
I could see it happening, but there is no way for us to see how Guz could make the transition unless we actually tried it out. I'd say the chances of this happening are low (mainly because I think they'll deal him at the deadline), but wouldn't be shocked if it happened.
Is Dunn in the team's long-term plans?
-- Yu-Hung Su, Chiayi, Taiwan
Ladson says no, but I have a feeling he is. The Nats need a more interesting icon than Zimmerman (unfortunately, he is very boring) and it appears that Nats fans are more accepting of his shortcomings because he is worth so much offensively. No matter what the team may say about wanting to be better defensively, he is in the long-term plan until he is dealt in my eyes.
Is there any timetable for the return of Lastings Milledge and Roger Bernadina?
-- Ray U., Washington
From Ladson: "Milledge is playing in the Gulf Coast League after breaking his right hand more than a month ago. However, I don't see him playing in the big leagues for the Nationals, because many in the organization believe he is not an impact player.
As far as Bernadina goes, he still is recovering from a left ankle injury, and the Nationals are hoping he will be playing in Major Leagues by September."
I disagree with Ladson-I bet Milledge will be up soon after he returns because that will be a chance for them to deal Willingham while his value is high.
Can the Nationals do something about Austin Kearns and Ronnie Belliard when it comes to the low batting averages?
-- Shelton A., Silver Spring, Md.
Besides being patient, I don't really think so. Like Ladson said, Eckstein will work on it with them, but there's no guarantee it will work.
Do you think the Nats should re-sign Nick Johnson? He arguably is the most consistent player on the team.
-- Ted P., Alexandria, Va.
The Nats should trade Johnson at the deadline and then sign him in the offseason, as he will be no higher than a type B free agent (since he didn't play enough last year).
I'm a big Elijah Dukes fan, but I want to know how the Nationals feel about him?
-- Eric S., Washington
He's not a center fielder and his baseball IQ is not all there yet, but he will be a stud in RF for years to come if he can continue to behave.
Would you say Pedro Martinez is a good fit for this rotation? Someone with his kind of resume could help out a lot.
-- Philip G., Brandywine, Md.
I campaigned hard for the Nats to sign him a while ago, but every day he sits in free agency he makes less and less sense. They've found some nice young pitchers that need time in the majors. Maybe it could happen if he wants to take an offer to build up his value over the offseason in late August or early September when the young guns need to be shut down for innings totals but not now.
Some other thoughts:
J.D. Martin does deserve a shot. He'll hopefully get one when the Nats start to shut down the rookies toward the end of the year.
Craig Stammen will stay in the rotation while Shairon Martis will be sent to AAA. It's the correct move in my opinion, with age being the deciding factor. Let Martis learn to make adjustments in AAA and let Stammen pitch for his future in the majors.
I'm torn on the Langerhans-for-Morse (or as Ladson says, "Mores") swap. Morse makes more sense for the Nats, but Langerhans was one of my favorites and could have been our Nyjer Morgan defensively without us having to move Milledge. But since the organization obviously wasn't doing anything with Langerhans (heck, they called up Corey Patterson before him!), it's good to get a guy who is still young-ish, has had moderate offensive success in the majors, and can be a passable shortstop if they decide to move Guzman. But for the record, I wish they didn't have to deal Langerhans.
Buster Olney reports (via MLBTR, since I don't have insider) that the Nats are trying to get rid of their "dysfunctional players" such as Milledge. Not a bad idea at an appropriate time, but I don't support moving him when his value is at it's lowest.