Nats Inbox: What is Morgan's ceiling?
Beat reporter Bill Ladson answers fans' spring questions
Nyjer Morgan has really sparked everybody in the short time he has been on the team. How important is he, and can he be a difference-maker to pull the team closer to .500?
-- Robbie C., Washington, D.C.
I think Morgan is the key to the offense. If he can improve against left-handed pitching, Morgan is going to be an All-Star in 2010. If it falls into place, I expect Morgan to score 120 runs and hit slightly over .300, provided that he improves against southpaws.
Do you agree with manager Jim Riggleman with the fact that left-hander Scott Olsen is a lock for the rotation if he's healthy? With all those other pitchers battling for a rotation spot, don't you think Olsen needs a good Spring Training to make it?
-- Alex C., Montreal
I think Olsen should be given a second chance to be in the rotation. He has a track record of pitching a lot of innings. I watched him throw recently and I think he looks real good on the mound. He said his shoulder is not 100 percent, but I expect him to be by Opening Day.
What role do you see Willie Harris playing for the Nationals this season?
-- Craig E., Leesburg, Va.
After looking at Thursday's Spring Training lineups, I would say that Harris is going to be a backup outfielder and infielder. I believe most of his playing time will be in the outfield. The only way I see Harris playing every day is if somebody gets hurt.
If the Nationals give Adam Dunn a contract extension, what does that mean for Chris Marrero?
-- Evan S., Chevy Chase, Md.
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That is a great question. Here's what could happen: Marrero could switch to another position, probably back to the outfield. There's no chance he is going back to third base. Marrero could also be traded. We'll see what happens after this season.
Does it worry you that no one on the Nationals collected more than 100 strikeouts? The closest one was right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, and he was out for most of the second half of the season.
-- Ray U., Washington, D.C.
I'm not worried about them being ground-ball pitchers as long as the Nationals play great defense to back them up. I don't think people realize how bad the defense was last year. I think it will determine how far they go this year.
Where does outfielder Justin Maxwell fit into the scheme of things?
-- Pam K., Frederick, Md.
Maxwell must have a great Spring Training to make the team. He is great defensively and at running the bases. I think he needs to show that last September, in which he hit .306 with three home runs and six RBIs, wasn't a fluke.
Why didn't the Nationals pick up Ryan Church after he was non-tendered?
-- Kimon G., Bethesda, Md.
I don't think the Nationals need Church because they have so many outfielders. To tell you the truth, I don't think he is better than what they have right now.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.