01/14/2013 2:20 PM ET
Inbox: Who will replace Johnson after this season?
Beat reporter Bill Ladson tackles questions about all things Washington
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
Who will replace Davey Johnson once he retires after the 2013 season?
-- Joe G., Rockville, Md.
At this point, it's anyone's guess. In the past few years, the Nationals have promoted from within. Randy Knorr and Trent Jewett are obvious candidates. However, I'm going to put another name out there. Joe Girardi is in the last year of his contract with the Yankees. If he is not retained after 2013, it would not surprise me if Girardi became a candidate with the Nats. Remember, Washington had interest in Girardi after the 2006 season, but he took himself out of the managerial race.
Is there any validity to the Nationals having interest in Javier Vazquez? If the Nats were to sign him, would they move Ross Detwiler to the bullpen so he could be their second lefty?
-- Derek, Ottawa, Ontario
Yes, there is validity regarding Vazquez. General manager Mike Rizzo saw him pitch last week, but did not offer him a contract. Besides, Vazquez has not decided if he will play. If the Nats decide to sign Vazquez, I see him starting the season as a reliever.
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I don't see Johnson putting Detwiler in the bullpen, as Johnson and the rest of the organization love Detwiler as a starter. I don't see Detwiler as a situational lefty. He would be a long reliever if they put him in the bullpen, and the team already has a lefty long man in Zach Duke.
If Michael Morse is only making $6.7 million, why not keep him around as insurance and a right-handed bat off the bench?
-- Kent, N.Y.
There is no question that Morse would be a great bat off the bench, and he proved it in 2009 and '10. But I think the Nationals will do Morse a favor by trading him for the right price. He still has a lot of years left to become an All-Star. I will be shocked if Morse is on Washington's Opening Day roster.
Who do you see as the Opening Day closer -- Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen?
-- Ryan, Indianapolis
Entering Spring Training, I think Storen is the closer. However, it would not surprise me if Johnson splits the role between the two. I could see Johnson going with the hot hand during the regular season.
With Adam LaRoche now signed, what are the Nats' long-term plans for Tyler Moore?
-- Wes E., Arlington, Va.
If Morse is not with the team in 2013, Moore will be the backup first baseman. From a long-term standpoint, I don't see how he becomes an everyday player unless LaRoche gets hurt. It would not surprise me if the Astros had interest in Moore. Houston manager Bo Porter is familiar with Moore, as helped teach him how to play the outfield.
Which Minor League player do you think will have a breakout season this year?
-- Zach L., Potomac, Md.
The obvious choices are infielder Anthony Rendon and outfielder Brian Goodwin. A lot of people in the organization expect them to take major steps toward the big league level. If both could stay healthy, I would not be surprised if they were able to get September callups.
Is Ryan Zimmerman expected to be healthy for Spring Training? Is he throwing and swinging already?
-- John S., Chesapeake, Okla.
By the time the exhibition season starts, Zimmerman is expected to be at full strength. He will not be held back for any reason.
If Jayson Werth bats in the middle of the order, what right-handed hitter is the best choice for No. 2 after Denard Span?
-- John F., Germantown, Md.
First of all, I think Bryce Harper will hit second most of the time. But if a tough left-hander is on the mound, I could see Johnson inserting Danny Espinosa or Ian Desmond as the second-place hitter. Batting second, Desmond has a .288 career batting average and a .321 on-base percentage. While Espinosa's numbers aren't impressive, I see him making improvements hitting second under Johnson.
Will Cristian Garcia do any starting for the Nats next season? I know Johnson would love to see that.
-- James G., Washington
Johnson would love to see it, but I don't see how that would happen unless one of the pitchers in the rotation gets hurt. Garcia will be stretched out during Spring Training and will be ready to start if someone goes down with an injury.