-- Bruce P., Washington
I have to be honest about this: I keep going back and forth on this topic. One minute, I say give Dunn what he wants, because he is an excellent hitter. The next minute, I say don't give him an extension because of his below-average defense.
Here's is my final answer, and I'm going to stick to it. The Nationals have to find a player who can hit and play defense. If they can't, then sign Dunn to an extension. But the team then has to get a superior defensive second baseman, who has a lot of range. If I were in general manager Mike Rizzo's shoes, I'm not sure I would give him a four-year deal. Maybe a three. We'll see what happens after the season is over.
There hasn't been much news about Bryce Harper recently. Is it a guarantee the Nats will sign him?
-- Mike A. Fairfax, Va.
On Friday, we found out that Harper and the Nationals are not close to a deal, although negotiations could heat up this week. We also learned that Harper enrolled in classes at the College of Southern Nevada and met the school's new coach, Chris Sheff. If I had to predict, I would say Harper and the Nationals will get a deal done before the Aug. 16 deadline. It helps that general manger Mike Rizzo has a great relationship with Harper's adviser, Scott Boras.
What are your thoughts on the Nationals' moves at the Trade Deadline? Have they significantly improved?
-- Alex C., Montreal
I think the Nats were able to get better for the future, although I hated to see Matt Capps leave the organization. He played a big part in improving the bullpen. I understand why the Nationals needed to trade Capps for catcher Wilson Ramos. There isn't a guarantee that Jesus Flores will recover from his right shoulder injury. Derek Norris, considered by many to be the team's best hitting prospect, has had his share of injuries and is having a below average season with the bat.
Should we be concerned about Tyler Clippard, who has nine blown saves this season
-- Richard H., Toronto
The answer is no. Clippard is the least of the Nationals' problems. Yes, he was in a little slump, but every reliever has a funk at one point during the season. Even Capps was in one earlier in the season. I think Clippard has done a great job this year. He is part of Washington's future.
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Can you tell me when Chien-Ming Wang will make his season debut?
-- Rich L., Forest Hills, N.Y.
I really can't. He is throwing bullpen sessions, but there isn't a timetable on when he will pitch in a Major League game. Rizzo hasn't given up on Wang pitching this year. I hope to know more about Wang this week or next.
Why is Adam Kennedy on the Major League roster? He's not a contributor offensively or defensively. I don't see any way to justify him being in the bigs.
-- Ben F., Suffolk, Va.
I don't think Kennedy is a bad player when he plays every day. He proved it early in the season. However, he is the first to admit that he goes into defensive and offensive slumps when he is not playing consistently. We saw it when Cristian Guzman was getting the bulk of the playing time at second base. As I say that, I'll be shocked if Kennedy is back with the Nationals in 2011.
How is Shairon Martis' development coming along and when do you expect to see him up with the big club?
-- Larry W., Montreal
This is a question I get a lot, and it surprises me in a way. I would be shocked if Martis gets a callup this year. Entering Monday's action he is 7-6 with a 4.09 ERA for Triple-A Syracuse. He also has 47 walks in 121 innings. I think he has to dominate in the Minor Leagues before we see him again.
Roger Bernadina has impressed me this season. What do you think the future holds for him?
-- Chad Carson, Washington
Bernadina is going to be star in this league. He has come a long way. Bernadina couldn't hit a lick when he first started in professional baseball. Now he is a tough out and an excellent outfielder, which was always the case dating back to his Minor League days.