I am very excited about the upcoming season. The Nats' front office has -- at least on paper -- put together a decent group of players. Am I jumping the gun?
-- Craig E., Leesburg, Va.

You are not jumping the gun. First of all, I'm excited about the 2010 Nationals because Jim Riggleman is managing the team. He is an old-school manager who is going to manufacture runs instead of simply waiting for the three-run homer. I hope I get to see Ryan Zimmerman bunt for base hits like I saw in 2006. He wasn't allowed to use that secret weapon from '07 to the first half of '09.

I'm also excited that Riggleman and general manager Mike Rizzo are not allowing players to get away with mistakes on the field and blame the media for them. It happened too often during the team's first 4 1/2 years in Washington, D.C.

I also love the moves Rizzo made this offseason. He has acquired players who care about baseball and weeded out players who should have left long time ago. Will this lead to a lot of victories? Ask me this question a week before Opening Day.

After reading your stories, I get the impression that you want Ian Desmond to be the regular shortstop. Is this true?
-- Joe G., Washington D.C.

I have this quote that I use once in a while: "Play the kids." Desmond brings energy, and I think he is talented. I would hate to see him go to the Minor Leagues. There is no doubt in my mind that Desmond is a big leaguer right now -- his attitude is out of this world. To answer your question, yes, he should be the everyday shortstop.

What are J.D. Martin's chances of being in the Nationals' starting rotation? I really liked the way he pitched last year. He proved you don't need to have overpowering stuff to be successful.
-- Scott N., Bethesda, Md.

I would say it's 50-50 that Martin is in the rotation. He is competing against eight pitchers for two spots in the rotation. Riggleman hasn't ruled out having Martin work out of the bullpen as a long reliever. We'll see how this plays out during the next few weeks.

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Question:

You never mention Jason Bergmann as being part of the Nationals' bullpen. I know you weren't really fond of him a year ago, but he had a decent season in 2009. What are his chances to make the team?
-- Joy B., New York

I'm going to give Bergmann credit. Yes, he had a nice second half and will be given every opportunity to make the club. However, the way I see it, Bergmann is battling at least four relievers for the final two spots in the bullpen. As of right now, Brian Bruney, Sean Burnett, Matt Capps and Tyler Clippard are essentially locks to be on the Opening Day roster.

Any chance Drew Storen could be Washington's closer this season if Capps doesn't get the job done?
-- Gary S., Flint, Mich.

Storen has made a great impression this spring, but I don't see him getting the job right away. If Capps falters -- and I don't think he will -- Bruney would be next in line. I would not be surprised if Clippard was given a chance in the future. I think Storen has a chance to make the club, though, if he continues to pitch well.

Do you honestly think that the Nationals have a shot at the playoffs in 2010?
-- Steve S., Rockville Md.

I can't answer this question right now because Rizzo is not finished trying to build the Nationals for 2010. I know they're trying to trade for a top-of-the-rotation starter. We'll see what happens before Opening Day.

Are you worried about the Nats giving up 82 runs in eight Spring Training games?
-- Alex C., Montreal

Not right now. Let's see how they play after making some roster cuts over the final days of camp.