Inbox: What can Dukes do to improve?

Inbox: What can Dukes do to improve?

I would think a player as strong as outfielder Elijah Dukes would hit far more home runs than he has this season. What are the Nationals doing to improve Dukes' long ball production?
-- Mike, M. Smithfield, Va.

First of all, don't forget that Dukes spent time at Triple-A Syracuse. That's why the power numbers are down. Second, it's Dukes that has to do the improving and he has said so. He said he must improve in terms of hitting the breaking ball and staying healthy. The team has given him a red light to steal bases because of his knees. He will also play for the Licey Tigers in the Dominican Winter League to improve his game.

Do you think Dukes will be with the Nationals next season?
-- Kay B., Washington D.C.

The answer is yes, because he is not arbitration eligible until after the 2010 season. Do I think he will be the everyday right fielder? I think he has to earn the position. General manager Mike Rizzo is the type of guy that is not going to give a player a position.

Is it possible that the Nationals attempt to acquire DC native Emmanuel Burriss to fill the void at second base? He seems like a solid middle infielder, and I can see him becoming a fan favorite if he was a member of the Nats.
-- Alex H. Washington, D.C.

I don't see Burris coming here as a second baseman or anything else for the Nationals. I see Cristian Guzman as the second baseman, and maybe, Ian Desmond as the shortstop.

As well as Desmond has played since being called up, don't you think he deserves a chance to take over the starting shortstop position next season, with Guzman moving to second or being dealt? Desmond seems to have a great glove and I think he would fit nicely in the second spot in the order behind Nyjer Morgan.
-- Ryan K, Carlisle, Pa.

Have a question about the Nationals?
Bill LadsonE-mail your query to 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:


Email Address:


I've always said, "Play the kids." I think he earned a chance to go to Spring Training and fight to be the starting shortstop. I think he can hit enough and play the position even though he will make his share of errors.

Would the Nationals trade for outfielder Milton Bradley if the Cubs paid all of his salary?
-- David L., Poland

There is no chance Bradley is coming here because of his on-the-field problems. If Jim Bowden were still here, I would say, yes, because he believed in giving players second chances.

Looks like nothing has changed. This is why I don't like you. You want to trade Adam Dunn? What does this guy have to do to please you? Without him the offense would collapse.
-- Richard A., Annapolis, Md.

You are entitled to your opinion about me. To your first question,: Yes, indeed, if I could get top pitching and defense in a trade for Dunn, it would make sense. He doesn't have to please me. The question was, if I were in Rizzo's shoes what I would do? I would look to see Dunn gain more range when it comes to playing first base. There is no question Dunn has been great with the bat.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.