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More on Pudge

For the Nationals, this has started off as a relatively quiet Day II at the winter meetings --only when you push aside the considerable analysis devoted to last night's signing of Pudge Rodriguez. Two years, $6 million? For a guy who probably wouldn't have found a multi-year deal from any other club?

Those in Washington's front office that I spoke with earlier today admitted that the team's offer with a second year was the difference-maker. And I kept hearing this refrain: At least for now, the Nationals need to pay a premium (almost like a tax) to attract the free agents they want. And then, most importantly, there's the matter of what Rodriguez will mean as a player. The free agent market is flooded with respectable second-tier catchers, but the Nationals believed Pudge to be better-suited than any of them to handle everyday duties, if necessary. Clearly, this signing suggests that the Nats aren't entirely sure of Jesus Flores' health, much as they're hopeful for him to be ready come February. The Nats would rather go through a season getting 300 ABs from Rodriguez than from, say, Brad Ausmus or Rod Barajas.

A few other musings ...

* To add some perspective on the market for Pudge, Sheinin heard from a Royals source that Kansas City, another team interested in the catcher, was discussing a one-year deal between $800,000 and $1 million. The contract, like the one Rodriguez had last year, would have been heavily laden with performance incentives.

* For a few minutes, I discussed Rodriguez with Jack McKeon, who managed the catcher in 2003 with Florida, where the pair won a World Series. McKeon called Rodriguez one of his favorite players of all-time.

"What a leader he was," McKeon said. "He not only leads by example, but he was really positive with the Latin players. He's a guy that took charge. He took charge of that [2003] club. Good guy, comes to play, unselfish, does all the little things. He's a winner. I heard about the move and I couldn't wait to see Rizzo to say, 'Damn, you got one of my favorite guys!'"

Later in our discussion, McKeon explained Rodriguez's value in relation to the young pitchers he can potentially help.

Speaking about the Nationals, McKeon said, "You're probably going to get a half a year quicker development from those young guys and that's where he'll really pay off. That's where you'll really like him."

* Manny Acta was hanging out in the Marriott lobby for quite a while around lunchtime today. Later this afternoon, he'll formally address the media.

By Chico Harlan  |  December 8, 2009; 3:42 PM ET
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Next: Nats interested in Padilla; Bowden on Pudge


Sometimes, the value of a playe, or the logic of a trade, can't be found in on-base percentage and slugging percent with two outs and a runner at third.

Jack McKeon sees it and understands. The Nationals aren't a team able to bring in who they want without paying a premium. Simple as that.

The money didn't make sense, and the Royals were thinking about a number 1/6th of what Rodriguez got.

That said, who has him as their catcher, and who doesn't?

Posted by: rushfari | December 8, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

So what do you all think was Rizzo's first offer for Pudge? I'll put the over/under at 1yr/1.3M

Posted by: SpashCity | December 8, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Right--no other team was going to give him 2 years. But no other team was going to make him sit through 200 losses in those 2 years.

So yeah if you're really set on Ausmus, Barajas, or Greg Zaun as your back up, then get mad.

Or if you're Ted Lerner's accountant.

Posted by: sbiel2 | December 8, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

"But no other team was going to make him sit through 200 losses in those 2 years."

Steven--you think 2 more 100 loss seasons? Wow. There's no reason it has/had to be that way. You know that no team has ever had the #1 pick 3 years in a row since the amateur draft was established? Anyone think the Nats will pull off that neat trick?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 8, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Let's face it, the pool of top catcher's in the market that were avaiable was not great.

As a backup, Pudge will do the job and overpaying him will keep a smile on his face.

At least the Nats get it and aren't fooling themselves to believe they are going to be anyone's first choice in Free Agency.

Now, Rizzo needs to land Garland. I think for the good pitchers you have to get out there early and hope these pitchers with their agents take the bird in the hand instead of waiting for January and see what the market is then.

Let all the big market teams fight over Lackey.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | December 8, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm betting that Rizzo et al. were well aware of Rodriguez's rep as a clubhouse leader, especially with Latin players, and that they factored that into their decision to make him an offer he couldn't refuse. Rizzo also knew, I'm sure, that the people at Baseball Prospectus (which I always enjoy) would hate the signing.

This is one of those old-school vs. new-school decisions, except that things seem to have shifted in that debate. It used to be that the new-school stat-heads knew something that the old-school scouts didn't. Now, it seems to me that many of the old-schoolers are perfectly capable of digesting the stats, but also factoring in the intangibles in a way that statistically-oriented people refuse to do.

Let's hope that means that Rizzo and his hybrid thinking now has an advantage in the market for players.

Posted by: jcj5y | December 8, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Having a couple of guys like Pudge and Bruney who actually have RINGS can only be a positive. They've been around and know a little something about how to win. Pudge especially. Winning is something that NO ONE on the Nats roster has any experience with other than these two guys. Hooray for Pudge who's led several teams into the postseason. Texas, Fla., Detroit. Maybe we get lucky and pick up Smoltz as well and really give these younger guys a lesson about being winners. Seasoned veteran (winning) experience and leadership is what this team has lacked since day 1.

Posted by: chekhov1 | December 8, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

There's no way this team loses 100 games again. Riggleman with a depleted roster had a .440 winning percentage (71-91) and will have a stronger roster this year. Imagine what this team could do with a competently constructed bullpen, an established lineup of hitters who showed great improvement last year, plus the addition of some veteran FA starters to replace the 5.00+ era AAAA guys we threw out there for the majority of the starts last year?

Stammen, Martis, Balester, Detwiler, Mock, Estrada, Olsen, Livan and Cabrera. All of them had ERAs 5+ (most closer to 6) and together they had 98 of our 162 starts.

Replace those guys with (if you believe the rumors) Smoltz, Garland and Strasburg and maybe this team is respectable in a hurry.

Posted by: tboss | December 8, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

It cracks me up when I sit here patting myself on the back, thinking I just made a really smart argument in the comments. Then find out I've been new-posted for quite awhile and nobody's even listening. LOL!!

Serves me right for being a smartypants.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 8, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I, for one, just read your comments in the earlier thread, NatsNut. (I'm getting caught up with my NJ reading.)

Of course, now we're both new-posted. D'oh! (But part of the new post relates to a Bog posting, so never mind. hehe.)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 8, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Olney's report on ESPN says it is a 2yr/$5 mil deal. I wonder which is the right deal, although $5mil deal makes more sense for the nationals. I feel like the main reason for the 2yr deal is that Rizzo Inc. believes that he'll a good bridge to Norris in 2 years and have lost confidence in Flores' ability to stay healthy.

Posted by: gonats1 | December 8, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

"But no other team was going to make him sit through 200 losses in those 2 years."

Steven--you think 2 more 100 loss seasons? Wow. There's no reason it has/had to be that way. You know that no team has ever had the #1 pick 3 years in a row since the amateur draft was established? Anyone think the Nats will pull off that neat trick?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 8, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Coverage: the Nats lost 205 games the last two years. So when Steven says the Nats will lose 200, he is building in a 5 game improvement.

I do think the Nats can probably beat out both the Pads and the Pirates this season at a minimum, but first they have to find some decent pitching.

My main problem with Steven's comment is that he thinks it's tough to sit through 200 losses for $6 million as a backup catcher. Whatever the number of losses is, I'm sure Pudge is blissfully grateful for the chance to do just that.

By comparison, we fans actually pay out money to the Nats to watch the games! We would pay much more than we already do if we could get a dugout view.

Posted by: EdDC | December 8, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

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