Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I would think a player as strong as outfielder Elijah Dukes would hit far more home runs than he has this season. What are the Nationals doing to improve Dukes' long ball production?
-- Mike, M. Smithfield, Va.
Pitch recognition and getting into hitters counts are the two buzz-topics for Dukes' lack of success at the plate this year, and I tended to agree at first...but then I looked at his game logs. Since coming back from AAA on August 1, Dukes has greatly improved his plate discipline, with 23 walks and 23 strikeouts, but only 12 extra base hits in 46 games. I'm guessing (and hoping) his current lack of power is just an aberration and will come back next year...but 11 HR in 482 PA through all levels this year is a little bit worrisome.
Do you think Dukes will be with the Nationals next season?
-- Kay B., Washington D.C.
Without a doubt. He's the most talented player in the entire system, has been a model citizen in Washington and is under team control. Rizzo's not a dummy-he's not going to dump Dukes.
Is it possible that the Nationals attempt to acquire DC native Emmanuel Burriss to fill the void at second base? He seems like a solid middle infielder, and I can see him becoming a fan favorite if he was a member of the Nats.
-- Alex H. Washington, D.C.
A move like this wouldn't surprise me, but I don't think Burriss is on the Giants' trade block, nor do I think he is a great option to start for the Nats. As a backup/platoon role, sure, but he's worth more to San Francisco right now than the Nats.
As well as Desmond has played since being called up, don't you think he deserves a chance to take over the starting shortstop position next season, with Guzman moving to second or being dealt? Desmond seems to have a great glove and I think he would fit nicely in the second spot in the order behind Nyjer Morgan.
-- Ryan K, Carlisle, Pa.
The chances of Desmond being the starting SS next year are above 50% I'd say. At the end of the day, I don't think Guzman is going to switch to 2B easily (or happily) and will probably end up being dealt. I'm still hoping for a Desmond-Iwamura infield.
Would the Nationals trade for outfielder Milton Bradley if the Cubs paid all of his salary?
-- David L., Poland
If the Cubs paid all of his salary (unlikely), I would put the chances of it happening at .01%. If they did not pay all of his salary, 0%. The Nats don't particularly need Bradley and it doesn't make sense to add a headache when you don't particularly need the player.
Looks like nothing has changed. This is why I don't like you. You want to trade Adam Dunn? What does this guy have to do to please you? Without him the offense would collapse.
-- Richard A., Annapolis, Md.
"You are entitled to your opinion about me. To your first question,: Yes, indeed, if I could get top pitching and defense in a trade for Dunn, it would make sense. He doesn't have to please me. The question was, if I were in Rizzo's shoes what I would do? I would look to see Dunn gain more range when it comes to playing first base. There is no question Dunn has been great with the bat."
Top pitching in a trade for Dunn? I'll take some of that! Too bad nobody will give up top pitching for Adam Dunn....
2009 Nationals season in graphs (Beyond the Box Score)
The best and worst MLB projections of the year (Vegas Watch) (note-we'll be going over our projections when the season officially ends)
Stammen willing to pitch out of the pen next year (Ladson's Blog)
The Nats celebrate their 5th anniversary today! (Nationals Journal)
Bobby Valentine doesn't rule out returning to the Mets (Yahoo! Sports)
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I'm a little late to the party this week, but here is your Inbox!
What are the chances of Cristian Guzman being traded this offseason?
-- Ross B., Washington
I was surprised when they didn't trade him at the deadline. The emergence of Ian Desmond makes it likely that they will try to move him, but will anyone actually want to take on that salary?
If you were in general manager Mike Rizzo's shoes, what you would do to make the Nationals better?
-- Ron J., Washington
"I would trade Dunn, Guzman or Josh Willingham to get more pitching and speed. You may have to trade two of the three to get what you want. Nyjer Morgan's absence has proven that they are too slow on the bases."-Ladson
Bill, you're wrong. You need to trade all 3 of them, plus Slothburg (0 career stolen bases) and Zimmerman (only 2 stolen bases this year).
In all seriousness, the Nats need to add 2 starting pitchers, 3 relief pitchers (one being a closer), a catcher and a second baseman to be competitive. A little too long of a list for me to predict a huge improvement next year.
You said that next year's rotation is still unknown except for John Lannan. What about Stephen Strasburg?
-- Alex C., Montreal
Ummm...really? He hasn't thrown a single pitch in the Nationals organization. Tony Gwynn said he was not ready for the big leagues. He might not be worse than what we've got, but we're not exactly in a "win now" mode.
Right-hander Shairon Martis has more wins in a short period of time than all the other Nationals' starters. He should have been called up to the big leagues this month.
-- Stan C., New York
Have you even been to Nationals.com in the last month? There was an article about Martis being shut down and it was mentioned in the last Inbox. And unfortunately, you're not the only person in the world who uses wins as the primary rating for pitchers. Ugh.
I really liked the competitive spirit of Jamey Carroll when he played with the Nationals. Pete Orr reminds me of Jamey in that way. What do you think?
-- Jim T., Beaufort, S.C.
Competitive spirit, yes. Talent, no. Pete Orr is miles away from Jamey Carroll talent-wise, and that's saying something.
I've heard lots of talk about the Nats going after second baseman Orlando Hudson. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see Hudson in a Nationals uniform. But what do you think the chances are they will really signing him?
-- Matt H., Tallahassee, Fla.
5%. The Nats may throw a lot of money at him, but so are 29 other teams.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
What do the Oakland A’s need to do be competitive again?
Joe Morgan: "Become more athletic. Sometimes, when I look at the A’s players, I think they’re playing softball. They have some big guys who try to hit the ball out of the ballpark. They strike out a lot. They just are not in position to make things happen on the basepaths. They’ve never really been a team to run or steal bases, bunt guys over or hit and run. They’ve always tried to hit the big home run. Now they have one guy in Davis. Their philosophy was working for a while, but now that philosophy doesn’t work any more. You have to be more athletic, steal some bases in order to be a well rounded team. You don’t have to steal a lot of bases, but you have to have the threat there."
Oh, the joy of thinking the old-fashioned way.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Inbox time, boy oh boy!
I recently read about the September callups for the Nationals. I was shocked not to see Matt Chico's name on the list. I really liked him in 2007 when he was the team's most consistent starting pitcher.
-- Ben F., Suffolk, Va.
Here's a list of the Nationals' most consistent starting pitchers, year by year:
2005-Livan Hernandez/John Patterson/Esteban Loaiza-Patterson and Loaiza are out of baseball and Livan will be soon
2006-Mike O'Connor-O'Connor was last seen pitching for the Royals' AAA affiliate, his 3rd team of 2009 after the Nats and Padres. He'll likely be out of baseball soon.
2008-John Lannan/Odalis Perez-Perez is out of baseball
Out of the 7 names, 3 are out of baseball and 2 likely will be soon. Not exactly great company if you ask me. Chico wasn't really very good in the first place. I don't expect to see him back.
Why didn't the Nationals call up right-hander Shairon Martis when the roster expanded? Of all the Nationals pitchers this season, he had one of the better records and should be given more serious consideration to play in the Majors.
-- Joe W., Waldorf, Md.
Innings limit...and if you use still use records to judge pitchers, please stay away from keyboards.
I understand that Mike Morse is a shortstop, but has there been any consideration about trying him out at short or second?
-- Matt D., Alexandria, Va.
Huh? I understand that Matt D. is from Alexandria, but is there any consideration about him moving to Alexandria?
Nats need to rethink Morse if they want him to play just 1B/OF.
Mets catcher Brian Schneider is a free agent after this season. Do you see him back with the Nationals as a backup catcher? He's a great defensive backstop and could help both Jesus Flores and the pitching staff as a mentor. What do you think?
-- Geoff B., Las Vegas
Please bring Schneider back. I like Bard a lot, but he's poor defensively (I'd rather have my backup catcher excel defensively and hit like Livan Hernandez than hit and field like Josh Bard). Nieves is below average. Schneider would bring stability to the pitching staff, and it certainly wouldn't hurt to have a lefthanded hitting catcher.
During the offseason, the Nationals should get better pitching for the rotation and the bullpen, but the offense is in great shape. What do you think?
-- Jonathan G., New York
Ladson: "I don't think the offense is in great shape. With Nyjer Morgan out of the lineup, this team is too slow on the basepaths. It needs more speed. It shouldn't rely on just the home run."
Well, now we know Joe Morgan's pseudonym is Bill Ladson.
I think Garrett Mock has monster stuff and deserves to be in the rotation. The same can be said about J.D. Martin, but for some reason, his stuff doesn't impress me.
-- Ryan R., Fairfax, Va.
For some reason, J.D. Martin's stuff doesn't impress me either.
Will the Nats keep Pete Orr around at least as a utilityman? I am so impressed with him. He's such a pro, and I can't help but root for him.
-- James W., Warrenton, Va.
Are these people kidding? If today's mailbag question ran the Nats, they would be lucky not to lose 150 games.
The lineup would consist of this:
CF Nyjer Morgan
LF Willie Harris
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Elijah Dukes (Willingham is too slow)
SS Cristian Guzman (I feel like this is the pro-Guzman crowd)
1B Mike Morse (Dunn is too slow)
C Brian Schneider
2B Pete Orr
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Guess what time it is? If you guessed Inbox time, you're right!
After two seasons of almost 200 losses, I think the Nationals need to sign some free agents to bridge the gap. Is management seriously considering acquiring veteran starting pitching, a few relief pitchers and at least two position players?
-- Joseph M., Eynon, Pa.
I expect the Nats to sign a veteran SP or two (but no more than that), a handful of mediocre relievers and a 2B. Not enough to compete with, but enough to continue the build...and the top 10 draft picks.
Do you see the Nationals trying to trade for Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla in the offseason? Washington has made many trades with Florida in the past, and it would be great if Uggla could be the Nationals' long-term solution at second base.
-- Patrick S., Fairfax, Va.
I doubt they would go in this direction. They don't really need another good bat/bad glove guy. If anything, they'll go after a leadoff/#2 hitter type who can handle the glove well to fill in at 2B.
With the pickup of Nyjer Morgan in center field, do you believe Justin Maxwell has trade value? I feel he could develop into a star center fielder if given the opportunity to grow and have a decent amount of at-bats.
-- Mick F., Springfield, Va.
I disagree. Until Maxwell can prove that he can handle the bat, I doubt anyone would give up anything that would make it worth it for the Nats to trade him. He'll be a National for a while I believe.
With Greg Maddux's brother, Mike, doing a great job in Texas, do you feel there might be a chance for Greg to come to the Nationals as a pitching coach?
-- Andy C., Nevada, Mo.
If anyone can go from never being an acutal pitching coach to being an ML pitching coach, it's Greg Maddux. I doubt it would happen, but it would be quite a catch for the Nats.
What are the odds of keeping Livan Hernandez? He has more commitment to D.C. than anyone I've ever seen. Why not?
-- Rafael B., Miami
We'll see how much committment he has to DC if they only offer him a minor league contract. I doubt they would offer him anything more than that, but stranger things have happened...
What are the Nationals' plans for Alberto Gonzalez?
-- Chris P., Alabama
I think he thrives in a part-time role as opposed to a starting role. They definitely need to hold on to him, but I don't see them relying on him to do anything more than backup Guzman/Desmond/the other middle infielders.
I would like to see the Nationals sign Vladimir Guerrero and undo one of the biggest mistakes in Nats/Expos history.
-- Michael R., St. John's, Canada
No. Guerrero has begun a clear decline, one that has seen his BB rate drop to 4.5% this year and his isolated power dropping below .200 for the first time since 1997. He's still an offensively valuable player for the time being, but, as Ladson says, the Nats are better off going for players with upside, not those on the decline.
And for the record, the 2010 Roster Building series will continue sometime tonight with shortstop!