07/05/10 5:20 PM ET
Inbox: Dunn deal coming for club?
Beat reporter Bill Ladson answers Nats fans' questions
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
-- Tracy D., Washington, D.C.
I have mixed feelings about Dunn. Considering the Nationals are having problems on defense, I would say they would have to make a move. While Dunn has improved at first base, I think Washington can do better. Granted, Dunn is better hitter than I thought. But when I look at the defense at shortstop, second and first base, something must change. Defense is the No. 1 reason the Nationals have a record under .500 entering Tuesday's action.
I often think back to what the White Sox did after the 2004 season. They traded Carlos Lee to the Brewers and let Magglio Ordonez become a free agent. Both were power hitters, but were not the best on defense. What happened in 2005? The White Sox improved their defense and won the World Series. Ask Willie Harris, who was on that championship squad.
If the Nationals elect to move Dunn before the Trade Deadline, can Chris Marrero be ready to step into the first-base position by next year?
-- Ryan K., Carlisle, Pa.
That's a great question. I have to say no for right now. I think from a defensive standpoint, Marrero is not an upgrade. Although his stats are good with Double-A Harrisburg, I don't think it's enough to warrant a promotion to the Major Leagues.
After leading the league in errors, is Ian Desmond still regarded as the Nationals' shortstop of the future?
-- Alex C., Montreal
The answer is yes. In fact, manager Jim Riggleman went so far as to say that the team was expecting Desmond to make a lot of errors because he is rookie and is still learning his craft. But Riggleman expects him to improve as the season goes on.
Do you think the Nationals will sign Ivan Rodriguez for 2012 after his two-year contract expires? Wouldn't it be nice if he's with Washington to collect his 3,000th hit and mentor young pitchers?
-- Paul S., Haymarket, Va.
One year at a time. Let's see how he does after he turns 40. And, yes, it would be great to see him collect career hit No. 3,000 with the Nationals. He could get it next year if he continues to hit the way he has.
Mike Morse has been hot. Why don't the Nationals play him every day? Roger Bernadina has been hot, too, but play one at center and the other in right -- it's not a bad problem for the Nats to have.
-- Don H., Fairfax, Va.
The way it is right now, the Nationals are committed to Nyjer Morgan in center and Bernadina in right. Will it last toward the end of the season? If Morgan continues to be inconsistent at the plate, I would expect general manager Mike Rizzo to make a move. There is no one in the Minor Leagues who is ready to take Morgan's place right now.
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How would you arrange the top of the Nats' batting order? Would they consider batting Ryan Zimmerman or Dunn second and moving Desmond up to the fifth spot, because he seems to be the best clutch hitter on the team?
-- Kermit S., Gettysburg, Pa.
Here what I would do: I would let Harris lead off and play second base for a week and bat Desmond second. I think Zimmerman, Dunn and Josh Willingham would drive in a lot of runs if Harris and Desmond would be in the top of the order. I would bat Morgan seventh or eighth in the order until he started hitting again.
But what does your gut say: Will the Nats be buyers, sellers or stand pat in the weeks before the July 31 Trade Deadline?
-- Billy A., Washington, D.C.
If the Nationals were sellers, they would trade a lot of players, which will not happen. However, I see Rizzo making moves to improve the club like he did last year. To me, the Nationals need to get another bat. It's going to be hard to find someone at the top of the order.
Do you see John Lannan back in the Major League rotation with the Nationals this year?
-- Anthony B., Washington
I honestly don't know. The rotation is not bad, and you have Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Marquis and Ross Detwiler coming back in the second half of the season. I think Lannan needs to get hot in the Minor Leagues first. So far, it has been a mixed bag for Lannan in the Minors. I often wonder if he is 100 percent healthy. The answer from him and the front office is always yes, he is healthy.