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?