What do you think about Cristian Guzman? Do you think he is on the way out before Opening Day?
-- Jesse P., Arlington, Va.
Guzman is overpaid and undergood, but needed on the Nats. The system is still bare up the middle; just because Ian Desmond put up a miracle 2009 season doesn't mean he's a sure thing and neither is Adam Kennedy. Since nobody is going to give up anything for Guzman, we HAVE to keep him, simply because he's our best out of the worst-case scenarios. And personally, I don't think Desmond is 100% ready yet, either.
I still think it's funny how things change: 19 months ago 79% of voters on Nationals Journal "approved" of the Guzman 2 year/$16 mil extension. At the time, I said in the comments of my main post that "I still think it's a decent deal, just because we guarantee ourselves an okay shortstop." And looking back, I still think that was the right attitude; Ian Desmond was coming off of a .251/.318/.406 triple slash in 93 games in AA (not counting the 3 games he spent in the GCL). There was no indication that he would become a major league player by September 2010 let alone 2009.
I disagree with using Ian Desmond as a utility player. If he really is the Nationals' shortstop of the future, Desmond needs to play every day. The Nats are better off leaving him in the Minors and send him up when the time is right. What do you think?
-- Alex C., Montreal
I think Desmond is better off starting the year in AAA. He hit fairly well in 89 PA's at the end of the year while playing atrocious defense. The majors are not the place to learn plate discipline (BB% fell from 8.5% in AA and 9.8% in AAA to 5.8% in ML) or defense. This is more for his sake than ours; if he bombs in the majors, that will kill his confidence. Let him work out the kinks and come back up in May or June or whenever he's needed, but don't rush him just because our MI situation is crappy.
That all being said, wherever he plays, he has to play every day. If he's a utility player in the majors, that's fine with me, as long as he's playing at least 4 or 5 times a week somewhere. Anything less than that and he needs to be in AAA.
Do you see Jermaine Dye coming to the Nationals? He is a great defensive outfielder and a great power hitter.
-- Alan W., Herndon, Va.
Jermaine Dye's defense was so bad last year, he was worth -$1.2 million, even with a .250/.340/.453 triple slash and 27 homers! His UZR/150 has been -21.4 or worse for the last 4 seasons. Dye's career UZR/150 in RF is worse than Dunn's career UZR/150 in LF! If he can learn 1B, I wouldn't mind adding him for a righty bench bat and pinch hitter, but anyone who signs Jermaine Dye to start in the outfield (or really anywhere for that matter) is begging for the basement.
Do you see Livan Hernandez returning to the Nationals in 2010?
-- Ryan B., Fairfax Va.
Yes. He'll sign a minor league deal in the next 2 weeks.
Why is right-hander Shairon Martis never mentioned as a possible starter for the Nats this year?
-- Steve B., Washington
I'm honestly not a big fan of Martis. I've certainly been wrong about people before, but Martis was actually worse than his 5.25 ERA in the majors last year. He absolutely has to bring his walk total down as Ladson said, but also needs to bring his K/9 way above the 3.57 it was last year.
Has Adam Dunn been working this offseason on his fielding at first base? Any improvement there could be a huge boost to the infield. If the injury bug bites again, what's your opinion of the team's depth?
-- John B., Burke, Va.
God help us if he hasn't been working on it. Rizzo has added depth to the hitters: Kennedy, Bruntlett, Whitesell, Pudge, Duncan and Mench, but I wouldn't necessarily call it "good" depth, and it's still nowhere close to enough depth. If these guys are on the bench, that's okay. If they're trusted with a starting position at any point, we're in trouble.
Could you give me a projected starting lineup for 2010?
-- Juan F., Alexandria, Va.
1) CF Nyjer Morgan
2) SS Guzman
3) 3B Ryan Zimmerman
4) 1B Dunn
5) LF Josh Willingham
6) RF Dukes
7) C Ivan Rodriguez
8) 2B Adam Kennedy
Looks about right for now. I could see Kennedy batting second and Guz batting 8th, but this is probably the best guess. I don't think Flores or Desmond will start, at this point at least.
If the Nats sign Dunn to a multi-year deal, what does that mean for Chris Marrero's future with the club?
-- Jake B., Silver Spring, Md.
I haven't seen anywhere that Marrero is anything near the poor defender Dunn is like Ladson suggested in his response. Anyways, I say we cross this bridge when we get there; a lot can happen in a few years, as we've seen with Guzman above.
I see Willingham as a defensive liability, and I believe his bat is not stellar enough to tolerate his defense. If the Nationals want to have better defense, they should try to trade him.
-- Andrew, W., Alexandria, Va.
Willingham ended the year with a .863 OPS even with a .156/.248/.278 month of September. I'd say his bat is plenty good enough to counteract his weak defense.
On another note, I promised links, so here they are!
-Baseball-Intellect's work on the Nats: Overview, Top Prospects 1-5 and Top Prospects 6-15. If you're not a member, you still get detailed info on Strasburg (#1), Norris (#2), Marrero (#6) and Eury Perez (#7). Good stuff!
-NatsStats put up an interesting FanPost on Federal Baseball comparing Nats pitchers to other pitchers in terms of ERA and First Pitch Strike %.