Pretty soon, the Nationals' injured pitchers are going to return to the mound, with left-hander Ross Detwiler most likely being the first one to come back. Having shown some potential last year, will the Nationals make an effort to bring him back once his rehab assignment is finished?
-- Evan S., Chevy Chase, Md.
Detwiler, along with guys like Stammen and Atilano, should not be assumed members of the starting rotation at any given point in time. What have any of them proved in their short stints in the majors? All three could (and should) get some more seasoning in AAA once Strasburg is up for good and the rest of the rotation gets healthy.
It seems like the Nats' offense has been lackluster lately. Are the Nats looking to upgrade anywhere offensively?
-- Matt W., Bowie, Md.
I certainly hope so. Bernadina, as good as his last week or so has been, is not a starting right fielder on a contender. He needs to start taking walks and cutting down on strikeouts if he wants to stay in the starting lineup. The Nats should go for a RF upgrade, but beyond that, I can't think of a realistic upgrade for their lineup. Pudge, Dunn, Kennedy/Guz/Desmond, Zim, Willingham, Morgan and an upgraded RF is the best case scenario (out of realistic scenarios, at least) for this year.
Do you think the Nats will take a chance on outfielder Pat Burrell so they could get more power in right field? It also gives him a chance to go back to the National League East.
-- Ben P., Alton, IL
I certainly hope not. Burrell is Adam Dunn without the bat. He didn't hit last year, didn't hit this year and couldn't field, throw or run when he could hit back in the day. Unless he's willing to sign a minor league deal, I can't say "no" enough.
I know Willie Harris has been a great role player for the Nationals these past few years but he is just not performing this year. His average is not good. I know it is early, but how many chances are we going to give this guy? I would rather see Kevin Mench or someone like that up here who will at least provide us with a great option off the bench. Thanks
-- Mike N., Buffalo, N.Y.
His average has never been good, even when he's been a productive bench player. And what do you mean by "how many chances are we going to give this guy?" Harris is nowhere near roster bubble material right now. Guys like Bernadina and Maxwell would probably get sent down before Harris because they still have options and guys like Gonzalez and Morse might get sent down before Harris as well even though they are out of options. But right now, the Nats really don't have any batters to call up and there is nobody really out there to sign, so why even have this discussion?
When Stephen Strasburg arrives in the Majors, who is most likely to lose his spot in the starting rotation?
-- Ryan K., Carlisle, Pa.
Ladson has it right: whoever has the best 2 or 3 starts before Strasmas out of Stammen and Atilano will get to stay up. Stammen seems to step it up every time his roster spot is threatened, so I'll put my money on him for now. It won't matter too much, though, because some combination of Wang, Detwiler and Marquis will probably displace both by the all-star break.
Do you think Cristian Guzman could be a full-time right fielder? We could use his bat full time in the lineup.
-- Michael W., Silver Spring, Md.
Right now, we can use Guzman's bat in the lineup. But once he returns to being .290/.320/.400 hitting Cristian Guzman, being a utility player is just fine. I think that he should play a little more right field in the time being, but the Nats need to find a true RF solution, and soon.
If the Nats stay competitive for the next two months, do you think management will be active before the July 31 trade deadline? If so, what does management feel the biggest need is, and who might they possibly go after?
-- Dean O., Winnipeg, Canada
I have a good feeling that the Nats will be buyers rather than sellers at the deadline as long as they're around .500. I don't think they're gonna sell off the whole team and I don't think they'll stand pat. I could see them looking at guys like Corey Hart, Jody Gerut, Conor Jackson, Ty Wigginton, Jim Edmonds, Andruw Jones, Carlos Quentin, Mark Teahen and David DeJesus. I'm a big fan of DeJesus. If they chase after some pitchers, your names could be Roy Oswalt, Kevin Millwood, Javier Vazquez, Jake Westbrook or Wandy Rodriguez. This is pretty much just baseless speculation, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Nats run after some of those guys. Not advocating all of those names, of course...just throwing them out.