Do you think Dusty Baker has a shot at becoming the manager of the Nationals?
-- Ben S., California
Of all the candidates mentioned for the job, Baker has the most experience, but I don't see him getting the job. I think the Nationals are looking for a much younger manager than Davey Johnson was. Baker and the Nationals haven't talked yet, and I'm expecting the Nationals to name a skipper by the first week of November. General manager Mike Rizzo said he wants to have the manager in place so that person can help put the roster together. I think it's going to come down to Matt Williams and Brad Ausmus. I had two talent evaluators tell me that Williams is the favorite. We'll see what happens in November.
What are the chances of Cal Ripken Jr. managing the Nats?
-- Billy P., Vienna, Va.
I don't think it's going to happen. As of Monday, Ripken has not interviewed for the job. The team has two weeks to go before an announcement is made.
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When do you think Rizzo will finally give Ian Desmond a long-term contract which he deserves?
-- Barry. S., Rockville, Md.
I think it will happen before or during Spring Training. One of the top priorities this offseason is to give Desmond a long-term extension. How much Desmond wants one is unknown, but there is no question he deserves a big contract. Besides being one of the best players on the team, Desmond is a consistent run producer and has cut down on his errors at shortstop.
I know the Nats insist the offense is set for next year, but do you see any possibility of the team pursuing a big name like Robinson Cano to help improve the offense?
-- Ryan K., Mechanicsburg, Pa.
I'm not counting anything out. Going into last offseason, I didn't think there was a need in the bullpen and the team signed Rafael Soriano to a two-year deal. Of all the positions on the roster, second base is the one position they could improve upon. Do I see the Nationals giving Cano a 10-year, $300 million contract? No. Maybe a deal spanning five or six years. Don't forget that Brandon Phillips is available, according to a published report. Anything is possible.
I look around with envy at the Braves and Cardinals with their young fireballers. After Henry Rodriguez left, it seems as if the Nationals do not have any relievers who fit that role. Are they in the Minors, and if so, how long until they can contribute? -- Danny, Rockville, Md.
Yes, Rodriguez had a blazing fastball, but he couldn't throw strikes on a consistent basis and had a problem staying on a Major League team this past season. As far as the Nationals having pitchers that throw close to 100 miles per hour, right-handers A.J. Cole, Blake Treinen, Jake Johansen and Jefry Rodriguez are all starters but could end up in the bullpen if the rotation is crowded. Cole and Treinen could be in the big leagues in a year or two.
With Michael Morse available as a free agent next year, would the Nats consider bringing him back?
-- Bob R., Washington
I don't see it happening. There isn't any room for him to become an everyday player. I don't think he would want to become a bench player again.