Question marks remain for Nats
Addition of veteran slugger Dunn will help, but second base in flux
Five questions that need answers
1. Who plays first base for the Nationals?
It was scheduled to be Nick Johnson, but the club signed veteran left-handed slugger Adam Dunn to a two-year deal on Wednesday. Dmitri Young is also still on the team, but as a non-roster invitee.
2. Can Joel Hanrahan become the full-time closer?
The answer is yes, as long as he lowers his walk totals. Hanrahan became a reliever last year and was named the closer last July, when Washington traded right-hander Jon Rauch to Arizona for infielder Emilio Bonifacio. The results for Hanrahan were mixed, as he posted a 3.96 ERA with nine saves.
Right now, it's Anderson Hernandez. It's not a secret that he is special with the glove, but he surprised many with the bat last season, hitting .333 with 17 RBIs in 28 games for Washington. But if Hernandez falters, look for manager Manny Acta to go to Ronnie Belliard or Willie Harris. Both players have done well off the bench. 4. Should Harris play every day?
The answer is yes. He is the Nationals' best leadoff hitter and can play all three outfield positions, but Washington still considers him no more than a fourth outfielder. The Nationals seem set on giving Elijah Dukes, Austin Kearns, Lastings Milledge and Josh Willingham a chance at the three starting outfield spots.
5. Will Bowden make a move during Spring Training?
Even with the Dunn signing, it seems likely that Bowden will do something, but how big will the deal be? He most likely will have to make a trade to improve the team, because second baseman Orlando Hudson has not accepted the club's offers.
59-102, fifth place, National League East
1. 2B Anderson Hernandez:
.333 BA, .407 OBP, .383 SLG, 0 HRs, 17 RBIs in 2008
2. SS Cristian Guzman:
.316 BA, .345 OBP, .440 SLG, 9 HR, 55 RBI in 2008
3. 3B Ryan Zimmerman:
.283 BA, .333 OBP, .442 SLG, 14 HR, 51 RBI in 2008
4. 1B Adam Dunn:
.236 BA, .386 OBP, .513 SLG, 40 HR, 100 RBI in 2008
5. RF Elijah Dukes:
.264 BA, .386 OBP, .478 SLG, 13 HR, 44 RBI in 2008
6. CF Lastings Milledge:
.268 BA, .330 OBP, .402 SLG, 14 HR, 61 RBI in 2008
7. LFJosh Willingham:
.254 BA, .364 OBP, .470 SLG, 15 HR, 51 RBI in 2008
8. C Jesus Flores:
.256 BA, .296 OBP, .402 SLG, 8 HR, 59 RBI in 2008
1. John Lannan, 9-15, 3.91 ERA in 2008
2. Scott Olsen, 8-11, 4.20 ERA in 2008
3. Odalis Perez, 7-12, 4.34 ERA in 2008
4. Daniel Cabrera, 8-10, 5.25 ERA in 2008
5. Jordan Zimmermann, 10-3, 2.89 ERA in Minors in 2008 Projected bullpen
Closer: Joel Hanrahan, 9/13 saves, 3.95 ERA in 2008
RH setup man: Saul Rivera, 3.96 ERA in 2008
RH setup man: Garrett Mock, 4.17 ERA in 2008 The new guys
Dunn: The 29-year-old veteran will add some pop to the middle of the Nats' batting order. The 6-foot-6, 275-pound slugger has five consecutive 40-homer seasons and sports a career .518 slugging percentage.
Cabrera: There are days when Cabrera is good and other days when he is hit hard. The Nationals are hoping that pitching coach Randy St. Claire can make Cabrera a more consistent pitcher like he did with Perez.