How do you think Jayson Werth has done this year, considering he hasn't had Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche or a productive leadoff hitter in the lineup for most of the season so far? -- Connor D., Silver Spring, Md.
I was asked this question on a radio show Sunday. If I had to give Werth a letter grade, I would give him a "B." I realize Werth is not hitting for average and not driving in runs, but I think his presence is one of the reasons the Nationals have a respectable record.
His winning attitude has brought a spark to the team. Young players such as Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond look up to Werth. Those kids don't want to disappoint him. I think you have to look beyond the numbers when it comes to Werth this year.
Should the Nationals trade a valuable reliever like Tyler Clippard to get a hitter that could improve the team's offense? -- Alex C., Montreal
There is no way I see the Nationals trading Clippard, who is arguably the best reliever on the team. General manager Mike Rizzo would have to be blown away by the chance to acquire a superstar player for Clippard. It's not going to the happen. If the Nats trade Clippard, the bullpen would take a hit.
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Should Espinosa start hitting strictly right-handed? -- Ryan K., Carlisle, Pa.
I think he should continue to be a switch-hitter. He shows a lot of power from the left side. I believe the batting average will go up with his hard work. Entering Tuesday's action against the Mariners, Espinosa is hitting .206, with nine home runs and 32 RBIs.
Do you see the Nationals making many major moves at the Trade Deadline? -- Noah L., Aldie, Va.
I do. Rizzo said they are looking for starting pitching. It will be interesting to see how long they stick with Tom Gorzelanny in the rotation; it's pretty clear that he has not pitched well lately. The Nationals also need a leadoff man, because they see Werth as a middle-of-order hitter.
Why would the Nats trade Jason Marquis? He solidifies the third spot in the rotation for 2012. -- Grant S., Saranac Lake, N.Y.
I know a lot of news outlets are talking about Marquis as trade bait. However, if the Nationals are playoff contenders, I could see Marquis staying the entire season. But if Washington drops out of the race before the All-Star break, I could see Marquis getting dealt before the Trade Deadline.
Michael Morse has played well at first base. Is there any chance the Nationals will trade or release Adam LaRoche to make sure Morse stays at the position? -- Billy H., Washington
I don't see the Nationals trading LaRoche until opposing teams see him play during Spring Training. I also don't see the club releasing him. Although he played just 43 games, I believe LaRoche is one of the reasons the team's defense has improved tremendously this year.
Do you think we might persuade Ivan Rodriguez to join the Giants to get some pitching in return? -- Tom F., Bethesda, Md.
First of all, there are reports that the Giants don't see Pudge as the answer to their catching predicament. And personally, I don't see a need to trade him. Rodriguez is a positive influence in the clubhouse and has accepted his role as a backup. Besides, for this year, I think he and Wilson Ramos make a good combination behind the plate.
Regarding Matt Stairs -- aren't Pudge, Laynce Nix and Marquis better designated-hitter options during Interleague Play? -- Brian R., Rockville, Va.
I think many fans would agree with what you said. But I would not be surprised if manager Jim Riggleman gave Stairs a couple of starts, but I don't see him as the primary DH.