Here’s my latest personal answers to Bill Ladson’s inbox, 10/24/11 edition.
As always, I edit the questions for clarity, and write my own response before reading Ladson’s.
Q: You talk about the Nationals needing a leadoff man. Who better than free agent Jose Reyes? Do you think there’s any chance the Nationals might pursue him? He can hit, get on base and steal.
A: Reyes has good numbers, no doubt. However, the difference between his 2011 numbers and his career numbers is scary. He screams “contract year” over-production. At least he’s not on the wrong side of 30 yet. Problem is, the team likes Desmond and needs a center fielder, not a SS. I don’t think they go after him. Ladson suspects that the Nats will stick with the DP combo of Desmond and Espinosa and look elsewhere for FA talent.
Q: I was curious as to what the organization had in store for right-hander Shairon Martis. I know that he had not been lights-out when he was called up to the big leagues, but I think most people are unaware of how young this individual is. He is only 24, and he had a solid season this year. Is Martis under the radar or is he only future trade fodder?
A: I think Martis became an “organizational guy” the moment he passed off our 40-man and passed through waivers successfully. He’ll need to be “lights out” and more in AAA before the team considers him for anything other than roster filling. Ladson notes that he could be minor league free agent this off season (I hadn’t noted this before, but sure enough he’s got six years of minor league service after signing as an international free agent. He may be moving elsewhere this off-season).
Q: With Stephen Strasburg on an innings limit next season, wouldn’t it make sense to stretch out his season by going with a six-man rotation? This way, if the Nationals are good enough to play October baseball, Strasburg and potentially Chien-Ming Wang — if he re-signs — would be forces for the entire season. It also opens another rotation spot for one of the pitchers.
A: A good idea … and one that won’t fly with the rest of the veteran starting pitchers. A 6-man rotation means an extra day of rest for everyone, throwing them off their normal schedules. Its ok to put a bunch of rookie call-ups into a 6-man rotation pitching in meaningless games in September, but I can’t see the team going this route. A better way to stretch out Strasburg would be to stash him on the DL for a few weeks mid-season, which should stretch him through September on his innings limit. Ladson says that Davey Johnson isn’t going to do a 6-man rotation, Gorzelanny probably is your spot starter and that the Nats would “find a way” to have him pitch in a playoff race.
Q: What do you think of Rick Eckstein’s performance as the Nats’ hitting coach? I do not think he has had the success as a coach, for the Nats were one of the worst hitting teams in the National League last year. Will the Nats look for someone new?
A: While i’m not sure you can lay the entire team’s hitting inadequacies on Eckstein, I do think the team needs to shake things up and may move in a different direction. Ladson thinks the team likes Eckstein, notes the improvement in Morse, and predicts he’ll be back in 2012.
Q: In the last Inbox, you brought up Brett Gardner’s name as a possible trade target, and I have to admit I was intrigued. After a few days of seeing the reaction in the blog section of the story, I was wondering what you thought it would take for the Nationals to acquire Gardner’s services.
A: For the Yankees to give up Gardner, we’d probably need to give them starting pitching prospects. I’d think it would probably take someone like Ross Detwiler and Brad Meyers. Gardner would fit what the Nats need; centerfielder who can lead-off. He didn’t have the best 2011 stats but does have a pretty good OBP and gets a ton of steals. He’s arbitration eligible for the first time in 2012 so his price will be rising. Ladson agrees with my guess on what it would take to get him in trade.
Q: Would the Nationals ever consider doing a throwback game in which they wear Expos uniforms? I know that many people in Washington want nothing to do with Montreal, but I’m confident it would attract some attention to the team. It would be super cool to see the old uniforms once again.
A: I think it would be neat to see them in Expos uniforms as well, but the team seems to want to distance itself from the whole Expos debacle. Throwbacks go WAY back, to the time of the Senators generally. Ladson agrees.
Q: Besides Morse and Ryan Zimmerman, it seems to me that the Nats aren’t exactly overflowing with power bats. Are the Nats planning on searching for a power bat this offseason?
A: One can certainly make an argument that one or two more power hitters in this lineup would have turned the team from an 80-81 team into a wild card contender. So I’d like to see this team add some more offense. But, the big bats on the market are going to be expensive. Is this team, which seemed to get burned on the Jayson Werth big contract, be willing to take another risk? Ladson says they are focusing on power off the bench and seem ready to stand pat on most of their lineup.
Q: What are your thoughts on trading a young pitcher for a player like Lorenzo Cain of the Royals? Is he on the Nats’ radar or are the Nats looking for someone more established? Or is Cain just not that promising?
A: I’ve never even heard of Cain, frankly. We have plenty of young arms though, in fact we have too many and the likelihood is that both Tommy Milone and Brad Peacock are starting the year in AAA (to say nothing of Meyers, Maya and a decent set of prospect starters set to arrive within 2-3 years like Solis, Meyer, and Purke). Ladson said he’s never heard about Cain either.