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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

And we're off

One day of winter meetings, two new players and no departures. I can't wait to see what this day will bring. I read somewhere - Nationals Journal? - the player to be named will be a pick in the Rule 5 draft.

I spent most of yesterday trying to shake cobwebs out of my old brain and figure out why Brian Bruney stuck out for some reason other than pitching. It finally clicked. He was the guy who got into it with K-Rod early in the season, I believe while he was still on the DL. Video (not very good video) here, story here.

So our man Bruney has a bit of a big mouth. Can he pitch? At this point, I think he's an upgrade over the Saul Rivera we saw last season, so I'm willing to look at it with an open mind. That bullpen has kind of become like the live well on a bass fisherman's tournament boat. They can catch five a day, so they catch five and then start replacing them with bigger fish. Bruney's a bigger fish.

MacDougal, Clippard, Burnett, Bruney. There's four keeper fish. Storen? Who am I missing here. Is Bergmann a keeper fish or one you throw back?

As for the Pudge thing, I at first thought the Nats had signed me. That's among the nicer things I'd been called. Hey, it's an easy mix-up to make. I've caught before and he's about my age. Save for 13 or so gold gloves and multiple all-star appearances and some athletic ability, we could pretty much be the same guy (although he does have hair).

No offense to former Nat Brian Schneider (or it is Snyder, where's Don Sutton?) - that's who I was convinced the Nats were going to sign and this is an upgrade. I hate to see Wil Nieves go because I like the guy so darn much, but this is an upgrade. Pudge as your everyday catcher now? An upgrade over Bard/Nieves but not what you want. Pudge as a backup? I can live with that.

My concern is about the mentor thing and his mindset toward being a backup. Does he have any history of "ment-ing?" Does he have a real desire to do so? Sure, he'll say he does and gush about Flores in the first interviews we read. Does he mean it? Because, without the right attitude in a spot like that, his presence can cause more harm than it can do good. I trust the braintrust checked all that out. I hope.

We'd all be thrilled if Flores turned into a Pudge type catcher. During those healthy periods he's had, he's shown some great flashes on offense and defense. If he's of a mind to do so, Rodriguez can be a tremendous asset to Flores. He can truly make Flores better and I'm not sure we could say that about many available catchers.

I also wonder how well he'll handle a backup role. Is 40 games going to be enough if Flores does manage to stay healthy?

I didn't pore over the available catchers as well as I should have, so I can't comment with any authority on whether this was the best option available (like that's ever stopped me). Is it? Who else should the Nats have tried to sign?


An Briosca Mor said...

Remember, Flores is only a couple of years removed from A ball. Plus he's had a few injuries. Either of those by itself would indicate that the player in question may not be ready to be the full-time starter, that he could use a bit more seasoning. The thing is, that has been the plan for Flores since 2007 - to ease him in gradually - but that plan has always been thwarted by something. First, injuries to LoDuca and Estrada in 2008, and then the total lack of anyone else to be the #1 catcher in 2009. Now, Flores is too far along to be sent down to AAA, but he still needs the seasoning. Signing Pudge provides the perfect way to get more seasoning for Flores, in addition to providing him a slower path back to complete health. I expect to see Pudge named the #1 catcher, but he'll get more spelling from Flores than would be typical for a #1 catcher. Maybe Pudge starts 4-5 games a week and Flores gets 2-3. At Pudge's age, he's going to need more rest anyway.

If both of them stay healthy for the whole season, this will be looked back on as a brilliant move on Rizzo's part.

DoubleH said...

Me like.

Anonymous said...

The only problem I have is that there is a rumor that Pudge isn't very good with young pitchers. He also likes a fast ball almost everytime ther's a man on base, and the hitters know this. Other than that, I think he can bring some fire to the whole club. Hopefully it will be a good trade off.

Dave P.