{}
CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Inbox: Who will be the lefty specialist?

Inbox: Who will be the lefty specialist?

|
Inbox: Who will be the lefty specialist?
Who will replace Sean Burnett as the lefty specialist in the bullpen?
-- Ian R., Bethesda, Md.

It's not going to be Zach Duke, who will be a long reliever. I know the Nationals are still looking for another left-handed reliever. I'm not ruling out Bill Bray, who signed a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Michael Gonzalez and J.P. Howell are still out on the free-agent market, so the Nats could have interest in them if they don't ask for too much money.

Have a question about the Nationals?
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.
First Name, Last Initial:

Hometown:

Email Address:

Question:

When looking at the 40-man roster, could you tell me what Yunesky Maya has to offer?
-- Roger B., Bethesda, Md.

Maya is Mike Rizzo's worst transaction since he has been the general manager of the Nationals. The only thing that I can say is that Maya adds pitching depth. The only way he will make the big league team is if someone in the rotation gets injured.

Who do you think has more of an upside: Michael Morse or Adam LaRoche? I would hate to lose either, but it looks as if that's how it will be.
-- Kevin S., Rochester, N.Y.

I like them both. But if I'm forced to choose one, I would have to go with LaRoche. I can't say enough about his defense. He is the best defensive first baseman in Nationals history. I also think LaRoche will continue to be a clutch performer if he stays with the Nats. I don't see him getting another major injury.

Is there any chance of the Nationals getting J.P. Howell to fill Burnett's spot? Do you think the club needs him?
Carl R., Martinsburg, W.Va.

There is still a chance the Nationals could sign Howell. But the Nats have competition for his services. From what I'm hearing, the Phillies, Cubs, Mariners and Rangers have interest in Howell. I don't expect Howell to sign a deal until after Christmas.

In answer to your second question: Yes, manager Davey Johnson likes to have at least two lefties in his bullpen.

Considering his last outing in the postseason against the Cardinals, is Drew Storen the Nationals' closer entering Spring Training, or will he have to win the job?
-- Alex C., Montreal

Johnson isn't the type of person to give up on a player that quickly. I'm expecting Storen to be 100 percent healthy and save at least 30-35 games in the 2013 season.

Burnett, who was a valuable asset in the bullpen, signed a two-year deal with the Angels. Couldn't the Nationals have matched that kind of deal?
-- Trevor C., New York

That's what everyone was thinking during the Winter Meetings. No one has told me this, but I don't think the Nationals were willing to give Burnett a multiyear deal considering that he is coming off elbow surgery.

Johnson's favoritism drives me crazy, and I'm weary of reading about him trying to coax LaRoche into signing. Doesn't favoritism bother the rest of the team, perhaps cause discord? And does the ballclub truly believe LaRoche can achieve the same numbers next year? I am dubious.
-- Beth B., Virginia

I never felt Johnson played favorites. He simply plays the players he feels will win the game for him. I believe Johnson is a great judge of talent. Believe me when I tell you this: The players love him, so there isn't any discord between him and the players over playing time.

I would never question Johnson's opinion on LaRoche. I agree with Johnson on everything he says about LaRoche.

Do you think Ian Desmond can pull off another incredible year in 2013?
-- Chris I., Princeton, N.J.

When his career comes to an end, I believe Desmond will go down as one of the great shortstops in baseball. Last year was great, but the best is yet to come.

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

{}
{}
Boys and Girls Club of America

©2014 MLBAM, LP. All rights reserved.

The following are trademarks or service marks of Major League Baseball entities and may be used only with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. or the relevant Major League Baseball entity: Major League, Major League Baseball, MLB, the silhouetted batter logo, World Series, National League, American League, Division Series, League Championship Series, All-Star Game, and the names, nicknames, logos, uniform designs, color combinations, and slogans designating the Major League Baseball clubs and entities, and their respective mascots, events and exhibitions. Use of the Website signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy (updated May 24, 2013).

View MLB.com in English | En Español