The Nationals finished the 2008 season in fifth place with a 59-102 record and fans want to know what Washington can do to get better next season. Here are more answers to their questions.
Who do you think will be the starting second baseman between Anderson Hernandez and Emilio Bonifacio in 2009?
-- Ray U., Shrewsbury, Mass.
Right now, I have to believe that Hernandez has the edge because he played extremely well the last two months of the season. I'm not sold on Bonifacio -- yet. He is an automatic out on the right side of the plate and just OK from the left side. There is talk of making Bonifacio strictly a left-handed hitter. Defensively they are equal.
Shouldn't Roger Bernadina be considered as an option for center field in 2009?
-- Luis H., San Juan, P.R.
You know, I was thinking about this recently and I agree with you. I saw a different person during the month of September than I did during his first callup. I saw a swagger in Bernadina off the field that I didn't see before. It was clear to me that Bernandina was nervous during his first callup. I hope what I saw in September isn't what Frank Robinson used to call "fool's gold." I hope it's the real thing.
I get the impression you are not convinced Elijah Dukes is a solid citizen. He is one of our only hitting threats. I want his bat in the lineup next season.
-- Rich R., Slingerlands, N.Y.
You are getting the wrong impression about my feelings on Dukes. There is no question that Dukes is the most talented outfielder on the Nationals roster. However, when a player makes gestures towards fans and taunts an umpire, one has to be cautious about that player. You will never hear me say that Dukes was right in those incidents.
I want to see him be incident-free next year.
Why wasn't Larry Broadway called up last September? Does he have a future in the Majors?
-- Daniel C., Key West, Fla.
There is no question in my mind that Broadway, a Minor League free agent, will be in the big leagues with another team. It's a mystery to me why he wasn't called up in September. When Nick Johnson is unavailable, Broadway is a better defensive alternative at first than Ronnie Belliard or Aaron Boone, two players I respect tremendously. Broadway's problem was that he didn't hit 30 to 40 home runs, which is weird to me.
There are people in the organization who believe Broadway blew his chance to be in the Major Leagues during the 2007 exhibition season, which I find mind-boggling. Broadway went 7-for-21 (.333) with no home runs and three RBIs that year. His biggest mistake was not hitting home runs.
Why did the Nats send Ryan Langerhans to the Minor Leagues? He seemed to have so much to offer.
-- James W., Warrenton, Va.
I was surprised myself. I thought he did a good job coming off the bench. He made tremendous strides compared to the previous season, when he was an automatic out. We'll see what happens in 2009. I would not be surprised if we saw him with the big league club during the season.
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Since the Nationals are looking for a veteran left-handed power hitter, what about signing Ken Griffey Jr.?
-- Nick K., McLean, Va.
He is 39 years old and past his prime. In my opinion, it was alarming that he didn't hit for power for the White Sox. I would be shocked if the Nationals tried to sign him.
Is there anything to hang our hats on as far as going from worst to first in just one year? I realize this is speculation, but how likely is it that Washington will catch lightning in a bottle?
-- Brian Y., Takoma Park, Md.
It's too early to answer this question. Let me see what Jim Bowden and Mike Rizzo do this offseason before I can predict anything. Ask me this question again after the Winter Meetings in December.
I thought Boone was a good reserve. Could he still be with the Nationals for the 2009 season?
-- Megan, G., McLean, Va.
I hope so. I agree that he did a good job in limited action. Remember that Boone is a free agent and could go elsewhere.
How long will it be until Ross Detwiler is in the starting rotation?
-- Andrew W., Alexandria, Va.
I don't think it will be the start of next season. Let's not forget that he had a so-so year. I think Detwiler must have a great season before we see him back in the big leagues.
What has happened to Clint Everts?
-- Nick B., Houston
He will be a Minor League free agent and most likely will not be back with the Nationals. They made Everts a reliever this past season, but he still didn't do well.
Are the Nationals waiting until after the World Series to interview coaching candidates?
-- Tom J., Reva, Va.
Oh, no. They have already contacted candidates such as former Mets manager Willie Randolph. Don Baylor could be a candidate. It's also assumed that Rick Eckstein will be the hitting coach. I also believe the Nationals will promote another coach from the Minor Leagues. Who that is, I don't know yet.
With the Padres shopping Jake Peavy, could the Nats become a serious contender to acquire him?
-- Brandon S., Easthampton, Mass.
The Nationals don't have a shot at Peavy. According to a source, Peavy named six teams for which he would waive his no-trade clause, but Washington is not one of them.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.