Why are the Nats looking for a leadoff batter when Jayson Werth appeared to do the job very well in 2012? Do the Nats think someone can do that job better, or do they think Werth belongs elsewhere in the batting order? -- Alan C., Waldorf, Md.
Werth did a great job as the leadoff hitter, but I think the Nationals want him in the middle of the order driving in runs. The Nats will look for a prototypical leadoff hitter like Michael Bourn or Angel Pagan. We'll see what happens as the weeks go by.
Given Roger Bernadina's improved hitting this past season, is there any possibility that the Nats may try him as a leadoff hitter? -- David H., Washington
As of now, the answer is no. The Nationals consider Bernadina no more than a fourth outfielder. Maybe during Spring Training, he could open some eyes again. I could see him in a platoon role, but he most likely will bat near the bottom of the order.
What do you think of Tony Beasley taking over as Nats manager after Davey Johnson calls it quits? Beasley has the experience. He just needs a chance. -- George M., Burke, Va.
There is no question that Beasley deserves a chance to become a big league manager, however I believe Randy Knorr is the leading candidate to get the job. You also can't forget Trent Jewett. Knorr paid his dues and has managed a handful of Nationals players in the Minor Leagues, including Drew Storen and Ryan Zimmerman.
Why don't the Nats consider left-hander John Lannan a No. 4 or 5 starter in '13? Lannan showed he can pitch well in the past. -- Anthony M., El Paso, Texas
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You are right. Lannan has pitched well in the past, but he doesn't have a fastball that could blow hitters away. The Nationals prefer guys who have a fastball like the one Stephen Strasburg, Ross Detwiler and Jordan Zimmermann throw.
Besides, I don't expect Lannan to be with the team next season. I don't see them paying Lannan $5 million or more in arbitration.
What are the chances of our GM, Mike Rizzo, going after a shutdown closer? Getting a top-notch closer to go along with Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard would shore up the bullpen. -- Don M., Stratford
I believe they have a shutdown closer in Storen. The Nationals need help in other areas of the bullpen, and closer is not one of them. I think Storen will have a nice comeback season in 2013 and lead the team in saves.
Is Danny Espinosa really a switch-hitter? He is just horrible from the left side. Why doesn't he just bat from the right side? -- William M., Leesburg Va.
Espinosa is a switch-hitter, and based on my talk with Johnson recently, the manager has all the confidence in the world that he will have a solid season from both sides of the plate in 2013. Espinosa will be the first to tell you that he needs to cut down on the strikeouts.
Can Zack Duke start for the Nationals? How does he compare with Zack Greinke? -- Tom B., Nashville, Tenn.
There is no chance Duke will start for the Nationals, and he is now a free agent. Johnson already likes the idea of Christian Garcia joining the rotation. At the same time, I see the Nationals going after a veteran pitcher such as Grienke, who is hands down better than Duke. We'll see how things play out during the Winter Meetings in December.
What will the Nats do with Yunesky Maya? He appears he found himself while pitching a full season with Triple-A Syracuse. -- Barry M., Washington
I wouldn't say that Maya found himself. His 3.88 ERA tells me he was just OK. I'll take this even further: If a trade doesn't happen before the Winter Meetings, I predict that Maya will be left unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft. I don't know if an opposing team will take him. But there is no chance Maya will be in the Nationals' rotation in 2013.
What's up with Chris Marrero? Haven't heard anything about him replacing Adam LaRoche at first base. -- Jim S., Alexandria, Va.
Marrero had hamstring issues throughout the 2012 season. I know Johnson didn't forget about him. I expect to see Marrero during Spring Training trying to make the 25-man roster.