Inbox: Is Reyes an option for Nats?
Beat reporter Bill Ladson answers fans' questions
You talk about the Nationals needing a leadoff man. Who better than free agent Jose Reyes? Do you think there's any chance the Nationals might pursue him? He can hit, get on base and steal.
-- Alex L., Montreal
I have to say no because Davey Johnson often talked about how he wants Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa to be his double-play combination. I believe the Nationals will go in another direction when it comes to fixing their leadoff problems. I haven't ruled out Desmond being the leadoff hitter. After all, he hit .281 when hitting first in the order.
I was curious as to what the organization had in store for right-hander Shairon Martis. I know that he had not been lights-out when he was called up to the big leagues, but I think most people are unaware of how young this individual is. He is only 24, and he had a solid season this year. Is Martis under the radar or is he only future trade fodder?
-- Ben C., Daly City, Calif.
As of now, I don't think Martis has a future with the Nationals. He is technically in the system, but could become a Minor League free agent if he is not put on the 40-man roster before the free-agency period. If he stays and is invited to Spring Training, Martis must have a great spring to make the Major League roster.
Have a question about the Nationals?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Nationals beat reporter Bill Ladson for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
With Stephen Strasburg on an innings limit next season, wouldn't it make sense to stretch out his season by going with a six-man rotation? This way, if the Nationals are good enough to play October baseball, Strasburg and potentially Chien-Ming Wang -- if he re-signs -- would be forces for the entire season. It also opens another rotation spot for one of the pitchers.
-- Don M., Stratford, PE, Canada
You are one of many people to make this suggestion. There were others who would like to see Strasburg start the season in June because of the innings limit. First of all, I don't see Johnson having a six-man rotation. If the Nationals need a spot starter, Tom Gorzelanny most likely would get the nod. As far as Strasburg goes, his season will start the way Jordan Zimmermann's season started: in a five-man rotation. If they are in the playoffs next year, the Nationals will make sure that Strasburg is part of the rotation.
What do you think of Rick Eckstein's performance as the Nats' hitting coach? I do not think he has had the success as a coach, for the Nats were one of the worst hitting teams in the National League last year. Will the Nats look for someone new?
-- Alex B., Washington, D.C.
Eckstein is expected to be back as the hitting coach next season. He has the support of Johnson, general manager Mike Rizzo and the players. That's all that counts. Of all the hitting coaches the Nationals have had over the years, Eckstein is the best one. The job he did with Michael Morse, especially from the mental side of the game, was incredible. I don't think anyone expected Morse to have the season that he had in 2011.
In the last Inbox, you brought up Brett Gardner's name as a possible trade target, and I have to admit I was intrigued. After a few days of seeing the reaction in the blog section of the story, I was wondering what you thought it would take for the Nationals to acquire Gardner's services.
-- Dean C., Charlottesville, Va.
I want to make this clear: An opposing scout felt that Gardner would be a perfect fit for the Nationals and I agreed with the scout. I don't know if the two clubs are talking. To answer your question, it would take starting pitching from the Major and Minor Leagues to get a deal done, I believe.
Would the Nationals ever consider doing a throwback game in which they wear Expos uniforms? I know that many people in Washington want nothing to do with Montreal, but I'm confident it would attract some attention to the team. It would be super cool to see the old uniforms once again.
-- Brock J. Osoyoos, BC, Canada
It would be cool to see the Nationals wear Expos uniforms for a day. Before a game in 2010, the Nationals wore Expos caps during batting practice. That same day, the team retired the numbers of Gary Carter and Andre Dawson, which I thought was a great move.
Besides Morse and Ryan Zimmerman, it seems to me that the Nats aren't exactly overflowing with power bats. Are the Nats planning on searching for a power bat this offseason?
-- Jon. D., Poolesville, Md.
I see your point. They are searching for more power off the bench. Johnson is not a fan of speed and defense off the bench. As far as the regulars go, the Nationals are hoping that Espinosa and Jayson Werth can provide more power. The team's top priority is getting a leadoff hitter/center fielder.
What are your thoughts on trading a young pitcher for a player like Lorenzo Cain of the Royals? Is he on the Nats' radar or are the Nats looking for someone more established? Or is Cain just not that promising?
-- Dean O., Winnipeg, Canada
I think it's a great idea. I asked Rizzo about Cain and didn't get a response. I honestly think the Nationals are looking for a more established center fielder. There is a possibility that Werth could start the season at the position.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.