Inbox: Who will be starting shortstop?

Inbox: Who will be starting shortstop?

Who do you think will be the Nationals' Opening Day shortstop?
-- Patrick S., Chantilly, Va.

I still say it's going to be Ian Desmond, and he deserves a shot. I would hate to see the Nationals give the job to a veteran who is past his prime or is less talented than Desmond. I know manager Jim Riggleman wants to give him a chance. Because Desmond makes his share of errors, I think the Nationals should acquire a player who would make a good late-inning replacement.

It seems odd that the Nationals would offer arbitration to right-hander Jason Bergmann. Likeable as he is, he's an average pitcher at best.
-- Mike H., Washington

I, too, thought Bergmann would be non-tendered, but keep in mind that he had a good second half in 2009, going 2-3 with a 3.38 ERA as a reliever. Bergmann has a lot of potential and I know that Riggleman wanted him back on the team.

What do you think the rotation and bullpen will look like on Opening Day next year? I expect Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen not to be on the roster until later in 2010.
-- Keith C., Greenbelt, Md.

I can't predict what the rotation and bullpen will look like right now. We know that John Lannan will be in the rotation. The other four spots are up for grabs and I expect Strasburg to battle for a spot provided that his knee is healthy.

As far as the bullpen goes, I expect Bergmann, Brian Bruney and Tyler Clippard to be three of the Nationals relievers. The Nationals have to fill in the blanks. I expect Storen to battle and win a spot in the bullpen. I think he is the real deal.

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:

If the Nationals are unable to land a "Big Time" starter this offseason, do you see any potential trade packages that could land Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay?
-- Michael L., Williamsburg Va.

First of all, Halladay has a no-trade clause and I don't think he would go to the Nationals at this stage in his career. I do see the Nationals picking up two quality starters before Spring Training starts. Who are they? I don't know. General manager Mike Rizzo said it may take a while before they sign a free agent or make a trade.

Will Clippard get a shot in the rotation? He's deadly against left-handed hitters. Just ask Bobby Cox, who would like to have him.
-- Brandon D., Muncie, Ind.

Clippard is staying in the bullpen. The Nationals feel he is better in that role. The Nationals have been so encouraged by what Clippard did last year that they are thinking about putting Luis Atilano, Collin Balester and Craig Stammen in that role if they can't get quality relievers from the outside.

Not too long, it was reported that the Nationals were shopping Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn because they are defensive liabilities. Why? There bats are crucial parts of the lineup, and with Nyjer Morgan, Willie Harris, Roger Bernadina and Justin Maxwell in the mix, the defense is solid.
-- Ben F., Suffolk, Va.

There seems to be some confusion about what I said. The Nationals are not going to trade Dunn and Willingham unless they get an offer they can't refuse. I said if I were in Rizzo's shoes, I would try to trade Dunn or Willingham because they are defensive liabilities in the National League.

I still like the potential of left-hander Matt Chico. Based on his progress in rehab, what do you think his chances are of being with the team in 2010?
-- Todd B., Smithsburg, Md.

The Nationals are going to give Chico every chance to make the team out of Spring Training, and he deserves another shot at being in the rotation. Two years ago, he was one of their best starters.

It blows my mind how many of the readers like to badmouth you when you attempt to bring up the Expos. I thoroughly enjoy when you tie the present team with the Expos teams of the past. Don't stop what you are doing.
-- Paul S., Washington

I'm going to continue to mention the Expos when it is warranted. The Nationals came from Montreal, so the connection will always be there for me.

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