11/05/12 3:53 PM ET
Inbox: Can the Nats pull off another pitching deal?
Nationals beat reporter Bill Ladson answers questions from fans
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
-- Dean O., Winnipeg, Canada
That's a good thought, Dean. If such a trade happened, the Nationals would have to deal a lot for Price, just like they did for Gonzalez. I could be wrong, but I don't see the Nats making a similar deal this year. However, I could see them trying to sign a free agent like right-hander Zack Grienke. We'll see how it goes this offseason.
Do you expect Nationals to go after outfielder Josh Hamilton, who is a free agent?
-- Archie M., Arlington, Va.
I do not see the Nationals going after Hamilton. I know Hamilton has put up great numbers in four out of the past five years. But if you look at Rizzo's history as the Nats' GM, he doesn't sign players with a troubled past. Hamilton is also injury-prone, and that is another reason I don't see Washington going after Hamilton.
If the Nationals stay healthy, do you think they could win the World Series for the next several years?
-- Naftali G., Queens
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There is no doubt in my mind that the Nationals will win a title as long they remain injury-free and have the right players in place. They need a starting pitcher, if they don't re-sign Edwin Jackson, and a leadoff hitter. I have mixed feelings about the bullpen. As of now, I don't think they need to make major changes.
Why are so many fans intent on trading Michael Morse? I don't get it. He is one year removed from being team's MVP in 2011.
-- Kevin S., Rochester, N.Y.
I think they are reacting to how Morse played the outfield during the regular season and the postseason. For example, it seemed the Cardinals often took the extra base whenever a ball was hit to Morse in left field. Granted, he had hamstring issues, but he never complained. I think Morse's future will depend on what happens to Adam LaRoche. If LaRoche doesn't re-sign, I think the Natis will most likely put Morse back at first base. If LaRoche re-signs, I think there is a possibility Morse could be traded.
Has the organization soured on Danny Espinosa? And do you see Anthony Rendon on a fast track?
-- Bill I., Woodbridge. Va.
To say the Nationals have soured on Espinosa is a stretch. However, the team is having constant discussions on what to do with Espinosa and Steve Lombardozzi. It doesn't think both are bench players. I was told the Nats are looking for a backup middle infielder, which tells me that neither Espinosa nor Lombardozzi are being considered for a backup role. There is no question in my mind that Espinosa must cut down on the strikeouts from the left side of the plate. He can do everything else well.
As far as Rendon is concerned, he is on the fast track, but he must show he can stay healthy for a full season. Rendon missed most of last season because of an ankle injury.
Why are you for keeping Davey Johnson around? Do you think that it's smart to have your closer pitch the ninth inning of a game your team is losing by eight runs?
-- Timothy F., Montreal
Simply put, he is the best manager in Nationals history, and he should and will be back. It's rare that I question Johnson's decisions, and putting Drew Storen in Game 3 of the National League Division Series is not one of them.
I do question two things Johnson did. First, why didn't Johnson use Ryan Mattheus in Game 5? Second, why wasn't Pete Kozma walked intentionally? I understand Johnson's decisions. He felt Jackson was the better pitcher instead of Mattheus. Johnson also said he felt Storen was being too fine on the mound when he pitched to Kozma.
I've seen worse decisions made by Nats managers of the past, so it's hard for me to get on Johnson for what he did.