Q: How did the deal come together? What does signing Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez mean to DC?
Mike Rizzo: "Going into the offseason we had a check list of things that we wanted to accomplish," DC GM Mike Rizzo responded when asked what Pudge Rodriguez signing in Washington meant for the Nationals, "to address the catching situation was certainly a priority for us, with the injury and the surgery to Jesus Flores, we thought that we needed a person that could be a significant contributor to the ball club, particulary in 2010, but in 2010 and beyond, and when we made our checklist and our evaluations, and it was very evident very quickly in the process, when we gathered all our evaluators together in one place, that we were no longer looking for "a" catcher to fill that role, we were looking for Ivan Rodriguez to fill that role."
Q: Why Pudge?
Mike Rizzo: "Not only his character, his leadership abilities, his track record and the aura that he brings to a clubhouse, but also for the fact that he threw out 38% of the would-be base stealers, which was fourth in all of baseball last year, has a potent bat and we think that there's a lot left in the tank with this particular player."
Q: The status of Jesus Flores?
Q: The status of Jesus Flores?
Mike Rizzo: "Jesus Flores is still rehabbing the shoulder surgery, it's been passed along to me in a meeting as early as yesterday, that he should be ready to go by the beginning of Spring Training, and we'll go to Spring Training with that in mind. But, we have, we certainly have in the past, specifically with arm surgeries, and labrum surgeries, specifically, we go into it cautiously optimistic."
Q: "The biggest catcher signing of the Winter Meetings, how did it come together?
Mike Rizzo: "It all began before the Winter Meetings with our discussions with our evaluators, and in the Winter Meetings, in the suite, we were putting together our hitlist, our check list, and how to improve the ballclub, and the catching situation, we thought, needed to be addressed, with the uncertainty of where we're at with Jesus Flores, we feel he's going to be healthy for Spring Training, but those injuries are kind of a...you never know. We felt that we had an opportunity to go out and fill the need with a major league catcher, and it wasn't so much as we were looking for "a" catcher, it came very apparent, very early in our room in Indianapolis, that we weren't looking for a catcher to help us, we were looking for Ivan Rodriguez to help us. The sense that I got in the room, it was a unanimous evaluation that this was the guy at this time in this place for this franchise."
Q: How much of a difference will Pudge make in attracting free agent pitchers?
Mike Rizzo: "If you think that didn't go into my thought process when we were talking to Ivan Rodriguez, you don't know me very well, but it certainly doesn't hurt when you talk to prospective free agent starting pitchers that they're going to be throwing to a legendary Hall of Fame catcher, and the 14 Gold Gloves does not go unnoticed by the guys you're trying to court to come to the Washington Nationals. So, we certainly will give them that information, when we talk to prospective pitchers, if they don't know that already, and it certainly is an asset to the ballclub in so many ways..."
What They're Saying:
• SI.com's Jon Heyman, in an article entitled, "Winners and losers from relatively uneventful winter meetings", put Ivan Rodriguez on his list of the Winter Meetings Winners, writing that the 38-year-old catcher, who was, "Thought to be nearing the end of his great career entering last winter...somehow finagled a two-year deal from the Nationals (with Scott Boras' help)."
• Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell notes, in an article entitled, "Nats act like they belong", that the Nationals started to address their needs this winter by bringing in a reliever (Brian Bruney) and a catcher (Pudge Rodriguez), which should help when the Nationals talk to free agent arms:
"What gives a pitcher a sense of security? Why, the catcher in front of him and the bullpen behind him. So, Rodríguez and Bruney came first."
• MLBTraderumors.com linked to an AP report by Howard Fendrich Friday night at SI.com entitled, "Kendall goes to Royals, Putz to White Sox", wherein Mr. Fendrich reports that the Washington Nationals signed free agent pitcher Ryan Speier. An undrafted free agent signed by the Colorado Rockies in 2001, the 30-year-old, right-handed Speier is (7-3) with a 3.99 career ERA in 90 games pitched for the Rockies in which walked more batters per 9 innings (4.8 BB/9) than he's struck out (3.2 K/9).