Washington Nationals: Winter Meetings Day Two - Bruney, Pudge And Smoltz?

Brian Bruney's name was all but forgotten as the DC Faithful and the national press turned first to the story of the Washington Nationals signing 38-year-old catcher Paul L...uh, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, and then to the three-way-deal between the Arizona Diamondbacks, Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees, which of course dominated the headlines once it was announced. But that trade holds little interest for fans of the Washington Nationals, who were still naval-gazingly introspective as they pondered the significance of signing Rodriguez, and the effect it would have on Jesus Flores' future in the nation's capital. Oh, and Bruney, (while he said all the right things yesterday to the Washington press, telling Washington Post writer Chico Harlan, as quoted in a Nationals Journal article entitled, "Bruney wants a chance to close", that he, "'...felt like New York was a good stepping stone with lots of pressure-filled situations. But to be honest, I had talked to my agent and I said, 'I can't wait to get to the place where I can try and close somewhere.'")...Bruney struck a slightly different tone in the New York press with New York Daily News' writer Mark Feinsand, in an article entitled, "New York Yankees trade Brian Bruney to Washington Nationals for draft pick", quoting Bruney saying that he believes, "...the opportunity is going to be better for me over there," with "there" of course being Washington, but, "Going from winning the World Series with the Yankees to playing for the Nationals," Bruney continues, "...that's going to be different." ...(ed. note - "And I know it will be "different", I wouldn't deny that, it's just that five years after the promise of change once the team was taken from Montreal, the Nationals are still talked about in such a condescending tone by everyone in baseball, even their own fans...")

BACKPAGE: 

• Nationals And Lo D...uh "Pudge" Define The Word Backup.

• Ken Rosenthal: "Nats are Smoltz's Last Resort"

BACKPAGE: 

• Nationals And Lo D...uh "Pudge" Define The Word Backup.

I wasn't the only one who wondered exactly what signing catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez said about the Nationals' plans for 2010 when I heard Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez's agent Scott Boras on XM's Home Plate Update all day repeating the same assessment of his client's role in the nation's capital as the Nationals' newest backstop:

"Certainly in Washington, Pudge has an opportunity, particularly this year to play at a number that's well above that of a backup catcher, so he's going to be a significant contributor..."

Define "significant contributor"? According to Washington Times' writer Ben Goessling, that means Jesus Flores, "...could lose significant playing time to Rodriguez, who the Nationals expect to play 70-80 games." Not quite the mentor/teacher role everyone was talking about when the deal was first announced, and Mr. Goessling goes on to report that, in fact, "Washington had interest in Rodriguez since late this season, and he was their No. 1 option for a backup catcher." Is Flores not recovering as quickly as they had hoped? Will Flores be ready for the start of the season? Is Pudge Rodriguez still an everyday catcher? And if Flores isn't ready, who backs up Pudge? Please don't bring up Josh Willingham as an emergency catcher, or tell me about how Robert Fick is somewhere practicing...

How do the Nationals make a significant signing (pending Pudge passing his physical) and end up with more questions than they began the winter with? 

• Ken Rosenthal: "Nats are Smoltz's Last Resort"

FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal sent a Tweet out late this afternoon concerning the fate of 42-year-old free agent pitcher John Smoltz:

"Smoltz still possibility in STL. J. Garcia might not be ready to be No. 5. Smoltz could start and/or relieve. Nats are Smoltz's last resort."

Smoltz is still on the list of pitchers the Nationals are interested in according to former DC GM Jim Bowden, who put out a Twitter post today which read in part: 

"Nats in on Garland, Pineiro, Padilla, Smoltz but not Lackey."

MLB.com's Bill Ladson said in a Tweet that, "The Nationals see Smoltz as a starter" and Mr. Ladson adds one name to that list with his own Tweet on the Nationals' targets:

"The Nats have interest in free-agent pitchers such as Jon Garland, Vicente Padilla, Joel Pineiro, John Smoltz and Jarrod Washburn."

The Meetings aren't over yet...

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