01/31/11 2:09 PM EST
Inbox: Will offseason moves help Nats in '11?
Beat reporter Bill Ladson answers questions from fans
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
-- Kenny I., Alexandria, Va.
I need to see the team in Spring Training before I can predict how it will finish in the standings. However, I think the Nationals did a great job improving their defense by adding Adam LaRoche at first base. I like the Jayson Werth signing because he adds speed and defense. No doubt, he will add power to the team as well.
I've said this many times. This team is still not good enough to rely just on the long ball. I would like to see it do the little things -- hit and run, sacrifice bunt and steal bases, for example -- to win games. The Nationals need a big year from Nyjer Morgan. If they don't get it, they will most likely have problems scoring runs.
The starting pitching is also a key ingredient. With the exception of Livan Hernandez and Stephen Strasburg, none of the starters were impressive. It will be interesting to see how they perform this season without Strasburg to start the year.
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Chris Marrero was a highly-regarded Draft pick in 2006. When will we see him in Washington?
-- Joe E., Clarksburg, Md.
I would be surprised if we saw Marrero in the big leagues. Quite frankly, I was surprised that he was put on the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 Draft. Defense has been his problem, and I don't see him in a Nationals uniform anytime soon for that reason.
Why do you keep saying Jason Marquis should be in the starting rotation? This guy didn't do anything last year. I'd rather see Tom Gorzelanny become part of the rotation.
-- Russ W., Ft. Washington, Md.
Marquis is in the rotation because of his past history. This is a guy who won 11 or more games for six straight seasons. The Nationals believe his elbow is 100 percent and he will be the same guy who was a consistent winner with the Cardinals and Rockies.
If the Rangers are trying to move Michael Young, isn't he a good fit for the Nats?
-- James C., Detroit
The only way I see Young as a good fit for the Nationals is if they give up on second baseman Danny Espinosa or shortstop Ian Desmond, which is not going to happen. Entering Spring Training, Washington is committed to Espinosa and Desmond.
I didn't like seeing Josh Willingham go to the A's, but I'm happy with the return, mainly Henry Rodriguez. Was he the key to the trade? Is he Major League ready and does he have a power arm?
-- Anthony C., Hopkinton, Mass.
Yes, Rodriguez was the key to the trade and he will battle for the closer role. No doubt he has a power arm. The key is, can he throw strikes on a consistent basis? The Nats believe that he can.
How does Mike Morse fit in the Nats' plans in 2011?
-- Hal J., Woodinville, Wa.
For now, I see Morse platooning with Roger Bernadina in left field and becoming a backup first baseman. I would not be surprised if Morse didn't get as many at-bats as he did last year. I don't see him getting regular time in right field because of Werth.
When Jesus Flores comes back healthy, will he be the starter behind the plate?
-- William, M., Great Falls, Va.
From what I understand, Flores' right shoulder is 100 percent. He will battle for one of the spots behind the plate, but it would not come as a surprise if the Nationals use Flores as a trade chip during Spring Training.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.