Inbox: What offseason moves could the Nats make?
Beat reporter Bill Ladson answers Nationals fans' questions
This past season, Adam LaRoche had a .403 slugging percentage, which might fly at shortstop, but not at first base. Do you think that Tyler Moore is good enough to be in a platoon with LaRoche, or should the Nats go after someone like James Loney to start most of the time?
-- Jack G. , Kensington, N.Y.
LaRoche will be back as the everyday first baseman in 2014. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt in this case when it comes to the numbers he put up this past season. He has to figure out his medication for attention deficit disorder. The medication is the reason he lost 15 to 20 pounds and lost some of his home run power. As for Moore, he will come off the bench, and there is a feeling in the front office that he will do much better than he did this year.
How does Ross Ohlendorf fit in with the Nationals' future plans? I see him as a great No. 4 or 5 starter.
-- Bill D., Cromwell, Conn.
He is arbitration eligible and he should be back as a long man. I don't see him as a fourth or fifth starter next year. He had a tendency to run out of gas after five innings, according to former manager Davey Johnson.
I feel like the Nationals should go after center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. How do you feel about that?
-- Nico M., Brooklyn N.Y.
A few months ago, I thought the same thing because Ellsbury is a Scott Boras client and has put impressive numbers when he is healthy. But after watching Denard Span play the last two months, I believe he will continue to be the Nationals' center fielder in 2014. Span put up respectable numbers this past season and he has earned the right to be the starting center fielder in Washington. I think he will put up better numbers next year.
Have you noticed how similar the home run swings of Wilson Ramos and Andres Galarraga are? Every time Ramos goes yard, he reminds me of The Big Cat.
-- John B., Portland, Ore.
I can see similarities, especially the way they stand in the batter's box. If Ramos can stay healthy, he can put up similar numbers to The Big Cat.
Do you think the Nationals should go after another pitcher or two during the free agency period?
-- Brian V., Slinger, Wis.
I could see them going after a pitcher in free agency or trading for one. At this time, they shouldn't go after a guy who is coming off a disappointing season or worth a lot of money. Give your money to Jordan Zimmermann, who deserves a raise.
Will Jhonatan Solano be the backup catcher out of Spring Training or will the Nationals try to bring in someone else? -- Anthony M., Dublin, Ga.
Solano will have to prove during Spring Training that he can be the No. 2 guy behind the plate. He didn't get much of a chance in the Major Leagues, but he didn't have a good season in the Minor Leagues. It would not surprise me if the Nationals tried to get a No. 2 catcher with some power.
Do you think a new manager will be able to change the hitting philosophy of the team and play more small ball instead of over-swinging and trying for home runs all of the time?
-- Kermit S., Gettysburg, Pa.
I thought the hitting philosophy was settled after the Nationals hired Rick Schu as the hitting coach after the All-Star break. The team hit .267 with a .331 on-base percentage after Schu arrived. I expect the Nationals to improve even more under Schu in 2014.
From a hitting standpoint, the only thing I expect to change dramatically is the bench. I think the starting eight will remain the same as this past season.
I think that left-hander David Price would be the ideal arm to add to the Nationals' rotation. If he is willing to agree to an extension, do you think that he would be a good fit for the Nationals?
-- Greg M., Washington D.C.
Of course Price would be a great addition for the Nationals. However, the Rays still have two more years of control when it comes to Price. Keep in mind that the Rays are not loaded with pitching like they were a few years back. Let's see what happens during the offseason.