Why is there constant talk of the Nationals pursuing Rays outfielder B.J. Upton? The Nationals have a crowded outfield with Michael Morse, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper. The Nationals are getting killed in on-base percentage, so why trade for Upton who barely bats .250 with a less than impressive OBP. Wouldn't a better route be to pursue an infielder with a traditional OBP and trade either Ian Desmond or Danny Espinosa?
-- Chris M. , Williamsburg, Va.
There hasn't been much talk about Upton, lately. However, a lot of people love his potential -- hitting for power and driving in a lot of runs. A person like manager Davey Johnson can fix him as a hitter. Look how Johnson turned Ian Desmond's season around, so anything is possible.
I also agree with the assessment that a change of scenery would help Upton. He would be close to home and play with his childhood friend, Ryan Zimmerman.
I wouldn't go so far as to say the Nationals have a crowded outfield. There isn't a guarantee that Harper will be ready for the 2012 season. Remember, one of Johnson's biggest issues is that there isn't enough outfield depth. I expect general manager Mike Rizzo to pick up more than just one outfielder this offseason.
With the Nats still looking for pop in the lineup, is it out of the question for them to pursue first baseman Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder and keep Morse in left?
-- Luis A., Manassas, VA
As of now, Morse will start the 2012 season in the outfield. I was also told by a person in the organization that the Nationals would not pursue a first baseman because Adam LaRoche is coming back. It would not surprise me if the team changes its mind and pursues Fielder. The team is right-handed dominant, so Fielder could be a difference maker in the lineup.
Do you see Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner as a possible trade acquisition for the Nationals. What have you heard?
-- Harry P., Lady Lake, Fla.
It's funny you asked this question. An opposing scout told me this past Friday that Gardner would be a perfect fit for the Nationals and I agree with the scout. Gardner would be a good leadoff hitter and could solve the problems in center field. I have not heard if the Nationals have talked to the Yankees about a trade for Gardner. It would be interesting for sure.
This may sound crazy but what about putting left-hander John Lannan and outfielder Roger Bernadina in a package for a quality starter? Lannan, in my mind, hasn't been a quality starter and Bernadina hasn't improved during his time with the Nats.
-- Ed K., Harrisonburg. Va.
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The Nationals would have to give up a lot more than those two players. Players like Ross Detwiler, Brad Peacock or Tommy Milone would have to be part of the equation.
As far as Lannan goes, he hasn't been that bad on the mound, but he is not an ace pitcher. Bernadina has never fulfilled his promise. I don't why he has been a disappointment to the Nationals.
Do the Nats conduct "exit interviews" whereby they suggest offseason training, workouts and how the player should work on his deficiencies?
-- Larry L., Silver Spring, Md.
I wouldn't call them exit reviews, but Johnson spoke to every player on the Major League roster on the last day of the season and told him what he thought about his performance and what he wanted to see from the player next season. I'm sure in 2012, a lot of things will be different under Johnson.
Behind the scenes, was the Nats' coaching staff holding the players accountable for the high number of strikeouts that were accumulated in 2011?
-- Dave C., Arlington, Va.
Johnson talked about it all the time. He doesn't like that the players have looked at called third strikes too often. Will it change in 2012? It's too early to tell. It depends on who Rizzo trades for or acquires in free agency. Obviously, players such as Desmond, Espinosa and Jayson Werth, who will be with the team next year, must cut down on the strikeouts.