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02/08/10 4:20 PM EST

Inbox: How will shortstop shake out?

Beat reporter Bill Ladson answers Nats fans' questions

What do you think about Cristian Guzman? Do you think he is on the way out before Opening Day?
-- Jesse P., Arlington, Va.

I think Guzman has had a nice career with the Nationals. I believe he made up for the bad year he had in 2005 -- big time. I don't see Guzman getting traded before Opening Day, because he will make $8 million in '10. The Nationals are going to give him another chance at shortstop, because they realize his problems on defense last year were because of shoulder and foot ailments.

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 have mixed emotions about the Desmond situation. I think he is ready to be a big leaguer as a utility guy -- if that's the case. If Desmond is sent down, I don't want to see him go through what happened to outfielder Justin Maxwell, who was devastated when he was sent down. It affected his play at Triple-A Syracuse, and now people in the front office have mixed emotions on Maxwell.

Do you see Jermaine Dye coming to the Nationals? He is a great defensive outfielder and a great power hitter.
-- Alan W., Herndon, Va.

I don't see Dye coming to Washington unless he accepts being a fourth outfielder. The Nationals are committed to Elijah Dukes right now. However, Dye would be a nice pickup because he has playoff experience.

Do you see Livan Hernandez returning to the Nationals in 2010?
-- Ryan B., Fairfax Va.

The only way I see Hernandez coming back to Washington is if the Nationals don't acquire the pitcher they really want in a trade or the free-agent market. If they sign Hernandez, it will most likely occur during Spring Training.

Why is right-hander Shairon Martis never mentioned as a possible starter for the Nats this year?
-- Steve B., Washington

That's a great question. He will be in Spring Training, but like Collin Balester, Garrett Mock and Scott Olsen, Martis must have a great Spring Training to be on the 25-man roster. The biggest thing about Martis is, he must cut down his walk total.

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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.

I sure hope Dunn worked on his fielding this offseason, and I agree if he improves his defense, the Nationals will win more games. As far as depth goes, it's too early to answer this question, because general manager Mike Rizzo is still trying to improve the club. He wants to add another starter. I would not be surprised if he tried to acquire another hitter for the bench.

Could you give me a projected starting lineup for 2010?
-- Juan F., Alexandria, Va.

As of right now, the Nationals' starting lineup would go like this:
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

It's not a bad lineup, but the key to winning this year is pitching and defense.

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 hope I'm wrong, but Marrero and Dunn are one and the same player. Marrero is defensively challenged at first, too. I hope there is improvement when I see him during Spring Training. If not, you have to trade both players to the American League.

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.

I have mixed emotions when it comes to Willingham. He's a great person, clubhouse guy and an above average hitter. He should have been an Opening Day starter over Austin Kearns. I think Willingham's defense could be tolerable if the Nationals didn't have other defensive liabilities.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.