Inbox: How will back end of rotation take shape?
Beat reporter Bill Ladson answers questions from Nationals fans
Will Davey Johnson still play a role in the organization?
-- George S., Washington
Johnson is expected to be a consultant for the team. How much the club will rely on the former skipper is not known. Johnson didn't have anything to do with the hiring of new manager Matt Williams. Johnson is one of the best talent evaluators around, so I'm sure the team will ask his advice when it comes to trades and free-agent signings.
After Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, how do you see the rest of the rotation shaking out?
-- Kenny I., Washington
The fourth and fifth spots are up for grabs. I know the Nationals are going to try and trade for a starting pitcher, and they have interest in Rays left-hander David Price, who is arbitration-eligible. I don't know if the Nats have the players to make a deal with Rays. We'll see what happens before the Winter Meetings begin in December.
The fifth spot is up for grabs between Tanner Roark, Taylor Jordan and maybe Ross Detwiler. Right now, I have to say Roark has the edge based on what he did the last two months of the season. There is talk about having Detwiler as one of the lefties out of the bullpen. We'll see how Williams puts the pitching together this spring.
What did you think about the Nationals hiring Williams as manager last week?
-- Cameron G., Washington
It's too early to tell. Williams had a great news conference and talked a great game. He is very excited to start managing this team. Williams said the team is going to be aggressive. It sounds like we are going to see some small-ball action, as well as the team going for the three-run homer. The key to success is pitching, and I think general manager Mike Rizzo will provide Williams with enough pitching to be competitive in the National League East.
What is Christian Garcia's status? Will he join the Nationals in 2014? He was a great late addition to the bullpen in 2012.
-- Tom B., Farnham, Va.
Garcia was recently taken off the 60-day disabled list and is expected to be ready for Spring Training. I expect Garcia to compete for one of the bullpen spots, but the days of him becoming a starter are likely over. Johnson wanted him to be a starter, but I don't see that happening now that Williams is the manager.
Do you think the Nationals will trade Danny Espinosa, Tyler Moore and Steve Lombardozzi this winter or sign a couple free agents? I believe they need a lefty middle reliever, a left-handed bat coming off the bench and a veteran backup catcher.
-- Bill P., Arlington, Va.
I see the Nationals trading Espinosa as part of a big deal. I'll be shocked if Espinosa plays another game with the Nats, as it's tough to see him beating out Anthony Rendon or Lombardozzi at second base -- or any infield position, for that matter.
I see Lombardozzi and Moore being valuable players off the bench, so it's unlikely that either will be traded. I agree with you that Washington needs all three things you mentioned. I think most of it will come via free agency.
Are Gold Glove Awards given with consideration to the offensive stats of a player? Otherwise, how could Denard Span miss out on the award this year?
-- Alex C., Montreal
I was shocked that Span didn't win the Gold Glove. Besides not making an error, Span's range that reminded me of Paul Blair, when he played the Orioles in the 1970s. Whenever there was a ball hit in the gap, Span always found a way to grab it for a key out. I thought that Rick Ankiel was the best defensive center fielder in Nationals history, but I have to say that Span is right up there with him.
I am hard pressed to think that Carlos Gomez's offensive numbers had a lot to do with him winning the Gold Glove. He is an excellent center fielder, but he's not better than Span.