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Washington Nationals: C Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez And Jesus Flores.

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Yahoo!'s David Brown did not include the Washington Nationals' free agent signing of veteran catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez on his list of the best moves of the recently-concluded '09 Winter Meetings entitled, "Indianapolis Jones and the Winter Meetings: The top 10 deals", but they do earn honorable mention under the subheading, "Best of the rest", where Mr. Brown writes that, "It's easy to knock the Nats," for signing the 38-year-old, 14-time All-Star, Gold Glove-winning catcher to a 2-year/$6M dollar deal to act as a mentor/backup to a hopefully-healthy Jesus Flores, because, at least to Mr. Brown, " makes little sense."

Everyone got a good laugh, even Jim Bowden himself...


Everyone got a good laugh, even Jim Bowden himself, out of the new XM MLB host openly questioning the signing by comparing it to the Nationals signing Paul Lo Duca and Dmitri Young, and praising Rodriguez's agent Scott "Maximum" Boras for getting, "...a two-year guaranteed contract for a 38-year old catcher with an on-base percentage of .280," but what I found humorous, in the transcript of the conversation between Bowden and co-host Steve Davis as it appears in D.C. Sports Bog writer Dan Steinberg's article entitled, "Jim Bowden criticizes Pudge Rodriguez deal", is how Mr. Bowden goes on to describe Rodriguez's motivation in accepting the Nationals' offer:

"Six million dollars at the end of your career, that's all it is. You don't sign there if it's not, because [they're] the only team that came to the table with $6 million and two years guaranteed."

You mean, sort of like the way Mr. Bowden lured Adam Dunn to DC? When Adam Dunn, believing he wasn't ready for semi-retirement as a DH in the AL, was expecting 4-years/$56M, found no suitors, and settled for the Nationals' 2-year/$20 million dollar deal, a little over a week after a "baseball source" let the rest of the baseball world know, in's Jon Heyman's article entitled, "Nationals still waiting on Dunn", that Dunn had an offer on the table that he would consider if there were no better offers...(Anyone? Anyone? Please?)...even though as Mr. Heyman put it, "...the Nationals' offer sat there so long (he) sent a clear message he'd prefer to go somewhere else."

But back to Yahoo!'s David Brown's opinion that the signing of "Pudge" Rodriguez makes no sense for's Bill Ladson cites an anonymous source in an article entitled, "Pudge deal with Nats awaiting physical", who says that the signing of a catcher capable of playing everyday and providing solid defense, if not much offense any more, makes sense with Jesus Flores recovering from a stress fracture in his shoulder, the result of a foul-ball direct-hit and a torn labrum which was discovered when Flores attempted to return to the lineup late in '09 just to hit though he wasn't healthy enough for full-time action. So this time around, according to Mr. Ladson's "source":

"[The Nationals] want to go slow with Flores...By June, Flores and Rodriguez may split time, or [Riggleman] may go with the hot hand. We know this -- Rodriguez is not going to play 100 games."

In 2007, Flores, who had to remain on the 25-man roster since he was a Rule 5 pick, proved to be a little more advanced than expected, playing 79 games as a backup for Brian Schneider, who started 129, and hitting for a .244 AVG with a .310 OBP, .361 SLG and a .671 OPS. In 2008, Washington brought Paul Lo Duca and Johnny Estrada in because they were unsure Flores was ready for the full-time job, but he outplayed both veteran catchers and was the clear-cut starter when he was injured in a collision at the plate with Chase Utley that ended his season in early September. 2009 was a wash for Flores, as he was injured in early May by the foul ball that caused a stress fracture in his right shoulder, which effectively ended his season, before the torn labrum officially ended it after three games in the second week of September.

With Flores on the DL in 2009, the Nationals were left with Josh Bard and Wil Nieves splitting time behind the plate. Bard hit .230 with a .293 OBP, .361 SLG, a .655 OPS, 18 doubles, 6 HR's and 31 RBI's. Defensively, Bard made 5 errors, allowed 3 passed balls and posted a .988 FLD%, while throwing out 27% of the runners who attempted to take bases on his arm. Nieves provided pretty much the same thing he had in the previous season, putting up a .259 AVG, .313 OBP, .299 SLG and a .612 OPS with 6 doubles, 1 HR and 26 RBI's in 72 games, over which he committed 6 errors, allowed 4 passed balls and had a .986 FLD%, with 28% of stolen base attempts turned back...

Rodriguez's projected stats for 2010 according to the Bill James Handbook 2010? (Over 113 G): .266 AVG, .302 OBP, .397 SLG, .699 OPS, 20 doubles, 8 HR's and 40 RBI's, .22 K/BB. Defensively in '09, even in his "declining years", Rodriguez had a .992 FLD%, with 5 errors in 115 games, over which he threw out 22 of 53 runners who attempted to steal, (32%)...The Bill James Handbook has Jesus Flores hitting .265 in 116 games and 431 AB's in '09, with 22 doubles, 13 HR's, 75 RBI's, a .323 OBP, .415 SLG and a .738 OPS. (0.33 BB/K)...and over his career, he's caught 161 games, with a .990 FLD%,10 errors, 13 passed balls allowed, (12 of which were thrown by Daniel Cabrera, just kidding), and a 31% career CS%, having thrown out 38 of 123 runners who have dared...

Clearly the Nationals will be going into 2009 with the best catcher tandem, in Rodriguez and Flores, they've had since moving to Washington ? (Sorry, Schneider!)...And they're much better off than they were last season with Bard and long as Flores can stay healthy...Still don't think it make sense?...WAR? According to Pudge was worth (+0.8) in '09, and the Fan Projections have him at (+0.6) in 2010...Jesus Flores in '09 (+1.0)...(+0.7) in '09 for Bard...Nieves in '09 (+0.3)...How's DC GM Mike Rizzo's approval rating after the Winter Meetings?

Washington Post writer Alexa Steele put up a post at the Nationals Journal Thursday night entitled, "Free agent signing set for Friday", which announced that the Nationals would introduce their new catcher in a press conference Friday afternoon (12/11/09) at 1:00 pm in Nationals Park.