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Inbox: Might Nats pursue Lee, Lilly?

Inbox: Might Nats pursue Lee, Lilly?

I think the Nationals should only pursue Cliff Lee or perhaps Ted Lilly this offseason. If losing Adam Dunn saves money to acquire Lee, I think it is absolutely the right move. Also, how high of a ceiling do you see for Michael Morse? He reminds me of Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth. I think if Morse sees more at-bats and works on driving the ball to all fields, he could be a very dangerous four-hole hitter and could take over at first, given his past infield experience.
-- Will T., Washington

As far as free-agent pitchers go, I think Cliff Lee is the only starter the Nationals should go after, because of his dominance on the mound. I'm not crazy about Lilly. Too many ups and downs during his career. Signing Lilly would be like signing Jason Marquis all over again.

Lee would make an excellent top-of-the-rotation starter for the club. If the team doesn't get Lee, they should try to make a trade for a No 1 starter. There is nobody else on the free-agent market I would give a lot of money to, other than Lee.

As far as Morse goes, I think he could be a productive everyday player, but I think he has to show the Nationals that he can alter his swing and not look over-matched against No. 1 starters.

Now that Jim Riggleman has revealed his biggest regret of the year, can you tell us what is your biggest disappointment in 2010?
-- Alex C., Montreal

I really thought this team was going to finish above .500 this year. I felt they had the players to get the job done, but below-average defense and lack of hitting played a huge role in the 69-93 record. There is no way I'm going to blame manager Jim Riggleman and his coaching staff for it, because they worked hard to get things right.

Could the Nationals make a run at Yankees right-hander Javier Vazquez during the offseason? I know he struggled this season, but, to me, he seems like a guy who simply can't pitch under the New York pressure. He's been solid everywhere else he's been.
-- Ryan K., Carlisle, Pa.

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Bill LadsonE-mail your query to MLB.com Nationals beat reporter Bill Ladson for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
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It's funny you mentioned this. I think he would make a great fit for the Nationals, if the Yankees are willing to trade him. I think, once he got out of New York, the results would be the opposite of what he did this year with the Yankees. If I were in the Mike Rizzo's shoes, however, I would not give up a lot for him, because he is coming off a bad year.

What would you do with Justin Maxwell? While he does have power and takes a lot of walks, he hasn't hit consistently in the Majors. I think the Nats should move on.
-- Jordan H., Washington

Maxwell is a great human being, but I'm mystified as to why he hasn't been able to hit in the big leagues. Do I think the Nationals should give up on him? Given his age (26), I don't think the Nationals have a choice. They also have a number of outfielders ahead of him, and the club may pursue a free agent, such Werth or Carl Crawford.

I often wonder if the Indians would be willing to trade for him, as their manager, Manny Acta, loves him. I would not be surprised if Maxwell was traded this offseason.

My question today is, would you rather have the Nats select their closer from within the organization, or should they sign an established closer for next year?
-- George P., Washington

I would rather see them choose their closer from within, unless they can get Matt Capps to return to the team. I think Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen would make great candidates for the job. The bullpen is the least of the team's problem. Any money to be spent should go toward starting pitching and the offense.

While the makeup of next season's starting rotation has been much debated by the faithful, it's never too early to speculate on Opening Day. I suggest that John Lannan gets the start, because of his work of the last three years. Your thoughts?
-- Tom H., Stillwater, N.J.

Lannan has done a good job for the Nationals this year; however, I would be shocked if he was the 2011 Opening Day starter, because I expect Rizzo to acquire a No. 1 starter in the offseason. I expect Lannan to be the No. 2 or 3 starter next year.

Am I the only person in Washington who isn't sure that Storen is the closer of the future?
-- Steve H., Bethesda, Md.

I don't think you are the only one who feels that way. Riggleman has his doubts. I wonder myself. We expect a lot from a player like Storen, who is a first-round pick, but let's see what happens during Spring Training before we write him off.

Do you think first basemen Chris Marrero and Tyler Moore might be good fits for the big club? Do you think the Nats might give one or both of them a shot, if Dunn is gone by the time they get to Spring Training?
-- Woody S., Arlington, Va.

I would be shocked if the Nationals give Marrero a chance in the big leagues. Yes, he can hit, but he is a below-average first baseman. Right now, the way the team is going defensively, they cannot afford to have someone who can hurt them with the glove.

It will be a while before we see Moore. He is at least two years away. He must start showing that he can hit for Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse before being promoted to the big leagues.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also can be reached on twitter -- @washingnats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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