Inbox: Nationals have need for speed

Inbox: Nationals have need for speed

Do you like the speed the Nats are displaying on the bases this spring? I really hope to see a lot of it during the regular season.
-- Garin S., Austin, Texas

I love the speed. The 2010 Nationals could be one of the fastest teams in baseball. Ian Desmond, Willie Harris, Nyjer Morgan and Willy Taveras are going to steal bases, when they are in the lineup. Call me crazy, but Ryan Zimmerman is capable of stealing bases. I hope he gets a chance to steal at least 20 this season. He can do it.

I believe the Nationals are going to need speed to win games. I've said this before: The Nationals are not good enough to wait for the three-run homer, so they need to manufacture runs.

With the 25-man roster almost set, will the Nationals have a winning record this year?
--Billy P., Washington D.C.

WTOP's Craig Heist asked me to make a prediction on his radio show Thursday. Here's what I said: The Nationals are not going to lose 100 games this year. I believe they could win at least 83 games provided they don't wait for the three-run home run, play better defense and get better pitching.

After watching Matt Capps' below-average performance this spring, do you think he's the best choice for the closer role?
-- Daniel O, Centreville, Va.

As of now, yes. I'm not worried about Capps because of what he did in Spring Training. If there's good news, it's that his arm is OK. There have been rumors for a year that Capps' arm is hurting, but there weren't any signs that something was wrong. The velocity on his fastball is where it should be -- in the low-to-mid 90s.

In your opinion, who should be the fifth starter and why?
-- Alex C., Montreal

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I'm not going to sugarcoat this. Scott Olsen should get the job no matter what he does Friday against the Red Sox. I believe he is close to being back to what he was with the Marlins. Plus, he doesn't come up with excuses whenever something goes wrong.

From what I understand, however, the decision will not be an easy one for the Nationals. The organization is split on Olsen and Garrett Mock. Olsen has Minor League options and could be sent to Triple-A Syracuse.

There are some who believe Mock can get hitters out on a more consistent basis, even though he was hit hard in his past two outings, which includes the game against a team of Astros Minor Leaguers.

Whoever wins the job, Mock or Olsen could be pitching Friday against the Mets. We'll see what happens.

When are the Nationals going to sign Jermaine Dye?
-- Jerry J., Atlanta

I've been getting a lot of e-mails from Nationals fans about Dye. It's pretty clear they want him in right field. To answer your question: No time soon. The only way Dye plays in Washington is if he brings his price down.

At this point, I'm not sure if the Nationals want to pay $3 million to a player who hasn't played any Spring Training games this year. Let's see how the platoon between Harris and Taveras works out before we start clamoring for Dye.

. What do you make of Jason Marquis' struggles this spring? How worried are you?
-- Austin D., West Hartford, Conn.

Marquis said it himself: He couldn't find a comfort zone until his past two outings. He is going to be fine. In fact, I'll go so far to say that he'll win 10-15 ballgames this year.

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