Given the way Dan Haren has pitched since being activated from the disabled list, do you see any chance the Nationals re-signing him?
-- Ed G., Alexandria, Va.
If you asked me this question a month ago, I would have said no, because of Haren's overall performance. A month later, my answer is still no, because I don't see the Nationals giving him $13 million or more to stay. Keep in mind that Haren is a big-time family man, and I would think he would want to be closer to his wife and kids in Southern California. We should have more information after the season ends. Things could change.
Tyler Clippard is and has been pitching better than anyone in the Nationals' bullpen, including Rafael Soriano. Why isn't Clippard closing? As a Nats fan, it's tough to sit through so much drama every time Soriano steps on the mound.
-- Ethan K., Los Angeles
This past weekend, manager Davey Johnson gave me the impression that he was feeling the same way. Here is what he said after the Nationals defeated the Royals, 7-2, on Saturday night, after he put Clippard in the game in the ninth inning: "I wasn't taking any chances. I was using Clip. I want to make sure we ice that one down. ... We can't take nothing for granted. That was a great win. We need to keep it going tomorrow."
I wondered if Clippard was going to be the closer for the rest of the season. We should know by the time the Nats face the Marlins starting Tuesday.
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Do you think Mike Rizzo would consider hiring Mike Scioscia as the Nationals' next manager? Looks like his time in Anaheim may be ending.
-- Rich R., Slingerlands, N.Y.
I have not talked to Rizzo about his managerial candidates, but if Scioscia is dismissed as manager of the Angels, there is no question he should be considered for the job in Washington. He would be my top choice. Scioscia's record speaks for itself. He has the respect of his players.
Here is what Haren said about Scioscia not too long ago: "He's really an intelligent guy. If [he is dismissed], he would be without a job for two minutes. Teams would be lucky to have him."
Before we start contemplating giving up on Denard Span after less than a year, I think about how many people were also inclined to give up on Jayson Werth after his first year in Washington. Now, Werth is contending for the batting title this year. Good thing the Nationals were locked in by his contract after that first year.
-- Don P., Alexandria, Va.
I see your point. Span is 16-for-40 (.400) in his last nine games and has seen his overall batting average go up to .270. But keep in mind that Span has a friendly contract and can be easily dealt if the Nationals decide to acquire another center fielder. Werth does not have a friendly contract and couldn't be dealt if the Nats tried, so they had no choice but to be patient with Werth.
Looking to next year, doesn't Steve Lombardozzi remind you of Chase Utley at second? And what happens with Tyler Moore as either an outfielder or first baseman? Both of these young guys are too good not to get a real chance at starting for the Nats.
-- Norm F., Berryville, Va.
I don't see the comparison between Lombardozzi and Utley, except that both play the game hard. If you took a fan poll, Lombo would play every day, but the Nationals see him as no more than a backup. Johnson has had plenty of chances to start Lombo, but he's decided to play Anthony Rendon at second base.
As for Moore, I see him getting a lot of playing time in the future. The Nats really believe in him as a player. I think most of his playing time in the future will be at first base if they trade Adam LaRoche after this season.
Would the Nationals have interest in signing outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who is a free agent after this season? -- Chris B., Alexandria, Va.
Ellsbury's agent is Scott Boras, and I wouldn't put anything past the Nationals regarding a Boras client. Ellsbury has a high on-base percentage when he is healthy and is one of the reasons the Red Sox could go to the postseason this year.