Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Are the Nationals Crazy or Perfectly Rational?

Did anyone see this coming? The Nationals, yes the same Nationals that finished with the worst record in baseball last season, signed Ivan Rodriguez to a 2 year/$6 million dollar contract:
"Ivan Rodriguez will reportedly take his catching expertise to Washington, helping develop youngster Jesus Flores.

Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star with 13 Gold Gloves, has agreed to a two-year, $6 million deal with the Nats, MLB.com reported on Monday night. He turned down arbitration from the Rangers.

The Associated Press reported that the deal is subject to the 38-year-old passing a physical.

He was acquired by the Rangers in August last season, serving his second stint with the team on which he became a star. Rodriguez made 10 All-Star Games and won an MVP with the Rangers from 1991-2002."
Now, I'm sure there will be those who will shutter at the thought of giving Pudge a 2 year deal because well, let's be honest, Pudge is not the offensive presence he once was nor can a team really justify having Pudge as a starting catcher.

But for the Nationals, this move makes sense. Sure, Jesus Flores is a intriguing catching prospect, but he has yet to prove that he can play everyday in the big leagues because of injuries.

That's where Pudge comes in. Yes, he can be a mentor and lend his "catching expertise" to Flores, but over the next two years, the Nationals are hoping that Pudge can give them something that they have been lacking over the past two seasons: consistency. If Flores gets hurt again this season and misses lots of playing time, then the Nationals will at least have Pudge to fall back on to handle the pitching staff and help develop the Nationals' young arms.

So that brings me back to this, why two years? I think for the Nationals to bring aboard a player of Rodriguez's stature and pedigree as a backup for the worst team in baseball, they had to guarantee him two years. From Pudge's perspective, this deal gives him another level of security and is vaguely similar to the deal he signed with the Tigers after the Marlins won the World Series in 2003. Even if Rodriguez is in the twilight of his career, his leadership, knowledge, defense, and dependability will be invaluable to the Nationals. And his name alone should serve as a mini draw for fans to come out to Nationals games this season and especially next.

Now if we can just get Pudge to raise his OBP another 40 or 50 points....

No comments: