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Your new (starting?) catcher, Pudge Rodriguez

Plenty of highlights from the Pudge Rodriguez press conference this afternoon, but the takeaway lesson can be reduced to four words: Pudge wants to play.

A few days back, all the Nats folks were talking about how Ivan Rodriguez was best suited to play between 70 and 80 games per year. Scott Boras was even on board with this plan, and said his client was, too. Well, today Pudge was asked at least four times about playing time -- with questions being worded in all sorts of creative ways -- and in each instance he answered similarly: He's here to play.

"Well I'm ready to play every day," Rodriguez said at one point. "We discussed that. I'm a player that can still play every day and I will play every day and basically do my best for the club. I know it's hard for me to play 162 games; that's impossible for a catcher. But as long as I'm healthy, feeling great physically, I'll be in the field playing."

So about that 70/80 game plan?

"Again, I said that I'm ready to play. Look forward to spring training and do my job and play the game. I'm a guy that I take care of myself very well; I'm keeping myself in good shape. And I'm gonna be in spring training in February ready. Those decisions are not in my control. My control is just to go to spring training in good shape and be ready mentally and physically to play on an everyday basis."

A few other things to mention...

* Pudge doesn't look like a 38-year-old. This is no Jamie Burke here. He's got about five percent body fat.

* At the start of the presser, Pudge entered wearing a sky-blue T-shirt and a pinstriped suit jacket. Then he took the jacket off, put on a white Nats jersey -- No. 7 -- and did a spinerroo for the cameras. (Not sure if I spelled spinerroo correctly.)

* GM Mike Rizzo, the only other person to speak at the press conference, said, "We feel this is a player to take us into the next level of competition." He added that Rodriguez is "certainly the greatest catcher in our generation, and quite possibly the greatest catcher in the history of baseball."

* A paraphrasing of Pudge's goals: Work with the young pitchers, be a vocal teammate, win, win, win, get 3,000 hits, win.

* Rizzo, on Jesus Flores: "Jesus Flores is still rehabbing [from shoulder surgery]. It's been passed along to me yesterday that he should be full-go, ready to go by the beginning of spring training. We'll go to spring training with that in mind, but in the past, specifically with arm surgeries and labrum surgeries, we go into kind of cautiously optimistic."

* Rizzo, asked post-press conference about his reaction to Pudge's playing time comments: "Would you expect anything different? He's a 14-time all-star. He's a very prideful guy. And he thinks his skills are at their finest, and he might be right, you never know. Like I said at the beginning, he's going to be a significant contributor to the ballclub. Now if that means 70 or 80 games or 70, 80, 90, 100 games, those are questions that will be answered throughout the course of the season. The best problem I could have all season is, 'Who of these two hot catchers are we going to play on an everyday basis?'"

By Chico Harlan  |  December 11, 2009; 4:01 PM ET
 
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Next: [UPDATED] Nats non-tender Olsen, MacDougal

Comments

"quite possibly the greatest catcher in the history of baseball"

He isn't even in the top 5
-Berra
-Dickey
-Bench
-Campanella
-Piazza
Honorable Mention Josh Gibson - would be tops if he was allowed to play in the MLB

Posted by: brothbart | December 11, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I thought it would be a spinaroo.

Not to be confused with the spin-o-rama.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7Zkx2ISOAE

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 11, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Rodriguez is and always has been a far better catcher than Piazza. I don't necessarily have arguments with anyone else on your list...but Piazza? A mediocre catcher who could hit.

Posted by: js_edit | December 11, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I love his attitude. And it can only help Flores to have regular days off, particularly at first when he's making sure his arm is ok.

Here's a question -- Do the Nats have to have a third catcher on the roster to use Pudge as a pinch hitter? It seems like conventional wisdom is that you never use your backup catcher in the game. That's a real waste of a clutch hitter whether Flores is starting or Pudge.

Posted by: Section222 | December 11, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Piazza wasn't a great defensive catcher, but he was the greatest offensive catcher in the game. Okay so maybe he is in the top 5.

Posted by: brothbart | December 11, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

222, I think they could consider Willingham an emergency catcher. I wouldn't deem him a third catcher, though.

Of course, they could trade Willingham.

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 11, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

brothbart - Thurmon Munson, Gary Carter, etc. etc. etc.

Quit while you're ahead.

Posted by: KilgoreQTrout | December 11, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Can't leave Fisk off the list, either, although not sure if he's top 5.

I'm not sure that Rodriguez is top 5, really, but those types of arguments can go on for generations. On the other hand, Rodruiguez deserves a place in the discussion, which ain't a bad place to be.

Posted by: js_edit | December 11, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I just watched some of the press conference.

Look, I know he's old, declining, only hit .249, blah, blah, blah. But my gawd! It's Pudge Rodriguez in a Nats uniform. I'm stunned and a little awestruck here.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 11, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

The best catcher of all time is Johnny Bench. He was the complete package.

Posted by: Section505203 | December 11, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I was experiencing a bit of a buzz myself, NatsNut.

p.s. You forgot the p-p-playoffs (!?) part, Chico. And I would have guessed spinneroo. So that's not Aussie lingo? ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 11, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

JMpls, I've seen mention of Willingham as a 3rd catcher too. But I've never seen anyone from the Nats say that he could actually play that role, allowing Pudge adn Flores to pinch hit. Both of them are to good at the plate to be out of bounds for pinch hitting if they aren't starting.

Posted by: Section222 | December 11, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

What was he supposed to say in response to the playing time questions? I'm content to be a backup? I'm old, and I'm only up for about half a season? He never said that he was told he'd be a starter. I think he's prepared to play, but has been told that a healthy Flores will be the primary catcher.

Posted by: jcj5y | December 11, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

@Brothbart: You forgot Choo Choo Coleman.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | December 11, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Also, Byron Kerr asked Pudge about platooning during a stand-up after the main event (as it were) of the presser. Sounded to me as though the man was on board with the idea.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 11, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I would think that Willingham's history of back issues might rule him out as a catcher.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 11, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

See the link below for video of the stand-up interviews as well as the Maain Eeevent...oops, sorry, just a little Nats Park flashback there...

http://www.masnsports.com/ml/index.php?q=nationals

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 11, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

What was he supposed to say in response to the playing time questions? I'm content to be a backup? I'm old, and I'm only up for about half a season? He never said that he was told he'd be a starter. I think he's prepared to play, but has been told that a healthy Flores will be the primary catcher.

Posted by: jcj5y | December 11, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Exactly. Judging from what he said and his demeanor during the press conference, I think this guy is going to come in here and give our guys something they haven't had here. A winning attitude. Not saying that the guys we have are a bunch of losers, but a guy like Pudge will demand respect and guys will respond. I'm totally on board with this signing now.

Good move Rizzo.

Posted by: FloresFan | December 11, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to moving around a lot and being "unyoung," I have had the chance to see Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Mike Piazza, Thurmon Munson, both Pudge's (Fisk and Rodriguez)and Lance Parrish.

My number-one?

Jim French.

That should have made some old Senators' fans chuckle.

Seriously, I vote for Bench. He was every bit as good an offensive player as any of his contemporaries, and was a machine behind the plate. He was the first catcher to catch with one hand while putting his other behind his back so it didn't get bumped and bruised over a long season. It wasn't long before all the other catcher's copied him.

He was something else.

Posted by: rushfari | December 11, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Y'all may recall that Pete Orr was planning to learn some catching during the offseason, as a way of making himself more useful as a utility man. If he's on the team, he could be the emergency catcher, allowing Pudge or Flo to pinch hit.

Posted by: nunof1 | December 11, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

What was he supposed to say in response to the playing time questions? I'm content to be a backup? I'm old, and I'm only up for about half a season? He never said that he was told he'd be a starter. I think he's prepared to play, but has been told that a healthy Flores will be the primary catcher.

Posted by: jcj5y

---------------------

Exactly. He's ready to play as much as he's needed.

Posted by: js_edit | December 11, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I for one am glad Pudge brings the "I'm Keith Hernandez" confidence with him. I think actually helps coming from a guy like that. Look, he's probably a first-balloter and he knows it, he's done more in his career than the entirety of the other 25 guys on the roster so far combined. Of COURSE he wants to go everyday. That's a good thing, not a bad thing. It'll be Riggleman's job to get him enough ABs to keep him happy.

But, look, as much as I love Jesus, it's not like he's a paragon of health - he has a whiff of Nick Johnson like health about him. In the last two years, he's played in a grand total of 119 ML games and only 105 of those as a catcher. I sincerely hope that he manages to play 90-100 games this year, but I'm glad to know Pudge wants to go if in fact it ends up 110 Pudge, 50 Flores.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | December 11, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Highway295 Revisited has said it all here:
But, look, as much as I love Jesus, it's not like he's a paragon of health - he has a whiff of Nick Johnson like health about him. In the last two years, he's played in a grand total of 119 ML games and only 105 of those as a catcher.

Kid Flores is right now damaged goods. Pudge may be slightly over the hill but Wil Nieves (Who? Wil Nieves) and the Bard Man couldn't see the hill with high-powered binoculars. Anything that keeps me from watching Bard for 125 games behind the plate is a good thing. So we overpaid for Pudge. That's been a problem with this franchise?

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | December 11, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

There was also talk at the end of the season that Pete Orr would start working out at catcher in the off-season to be a third stringer/emergency fill-in for that position, but I haven't heard anymore about that, and of course, Pete needs to make the team in order to even think about filling that role.

Posted by: dabagley | December 11, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I completely forgot about this. Good evidence that the team doesn't even look at Willingham as an emergency - and I use that term deliberately - catcher.

Nevermind that I used him as catcher two or three times a week in my season of MLB 09 The Show (Flores and Nieves were both injured).

-----

Y'all may recall that Pete Orr was planning to learn some catching during the offseason, as a way of making himself more useful as a utility man.

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 11, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Also, Yogi Berra was the greatest catcher of all time.

Except when he wasn't.

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 11, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

John,
Sorry to duplicate your comment about Orr. It wasn't there yet when I started my post, my work kept interrupting me before I could finish.

Posted by: dabagley | December 11, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Pete Orr is on the Syracuse roster ... they may still need another catcher. If Flores can't catch? Perhaps Pudge could help accelerate Rooney and Solano? Rooney is interesting because he is a switch-hitter. Not sure Poppert is as good a catching instructor and mentor. So, the 2 year deal for a larger sum makes sense for a lot of reasons as long as IRod is health.

Posted by: periculum | December 11, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

The guy before Berra wasn't bad either, Dickey? Cochrane? Elston Howard was pretty damned good as well. Roy Campanella?

Posted by: periculum | December 11, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Gibson and Bench were probably the two best.

Posted by: periculum | December 11, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

My number-one? Jim French.
That should have made some old Senators' fans chuckle. Posted by: rushfari
-----------------
rushfari: What was Paul Casanova, chopped liver?

In all seriousness, I'm more than happy to have Pudge Rodriguez as a part of the Nationals for the next two years. Winning attitude, solid defensively, still has a cannon for an arm... What's not to like?

Posted by: BinM | December 11, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Pudge in his day was as good as anybody. Great move Nats.

Posted by: wewinyoulose | December 11, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Bench was the best catcher of all time.

Another good defensive catcher, I would place in the top 10 is now in Washington's front office.

Bob Boone, 7 gold gloves.

Posted by: dashriprock | December 11, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully by this time tomorrow, we'll have the tender/non-tender lists for all Arb-eligible players (deadline is 11:00pm Saturday) & have a real feel for who's either coming back to the Nationals, or readily available for the price of a contract.

Posted by: BinM | December 11, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Folks, don't forget about that kid in Nevada who jumped to a Juco a year or 2 early so he could be eligible for this year's MLB draft. You remember, he was on the cover of SI and needs about 2-3 years of popping zits and hitting more 800 foot home runs til he's ready for the bigs. Not sure if we will go after him if he's eligible...
Just thought I'd put it out there since all should be thinking long term (first serious playoff appearance about the time this kid exits puberty).

Posted by: gamiller1 | December 11, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

The homer in me will never admit that there was a better catcher than the man, the legend Mr. Gary Carter.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 11, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I go back a little further than the Bench days, and he would probably get my vote. But his body gave out on him once he hit the early 30's. It was pretty sad seeing him try to play 3rd base. Berra, Campy, Gibson, etc. were a little before my time so it's a hard comparison. Defensively, though, Rodriquez can hang with anyone that I've seen, which is the most important thing you need in a catcher. I would not be surprised if we see a little more of Pudge than 70 games this year.

Posted by: Sonny9 | December 11, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Александр Овечкин - великий 8

Posted by: hessone | December 11, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

As I recall, Jim French looked about 4 foot 2, and hit about .190, but caught like he owned the place. Fun to watch.

And speaking of emergency catchers, anyone recall the game in 1967 when Jim King had to catch? I recall it as game 2 of a doubleheader vs. the KC As. Camilli started, Casanova pinch hit for him, struck out, and was ejected for arguing. King caught, and seemed to do OK.

-------
Posted by: rushfari
Jim French.
That should have made some old Senators' fans chuckle.

Posted by: KenNat | December 11, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

I really like this move. I think you should use catchers like hockey goalies, and just go with the hot hand all the time. Pudge and Flores platoon for two years until it's Norris and Flores. I also don't think it will hurt our sales pitch to FA pitchers than Pudge is on board. He will make sure that the running game is in check and hopefully help Flores improve too.

I really like the idea of having two starting catchers so that we our lineup doesn't have to take a hit every few days.

Posted by: sec307 | December 11, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Let's just hope that Pudge can do what Muddy Ruel did, take the Washington Nationals to a pair of World Series.

Posted by: Catcher50 | December 11, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, Wily Mo is have a great winter with Los Tigres in PR!

Posted by: ramgut | December 11, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Yo I'm happy for you Pudge, and I'll let you finish, but Mike Piazza was one of the Greatest Catchers of ALL TIME.

Posted by: fourteenth_and_otis | December 11, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Apropos to this thread, MLB Network tonight ranked the top nine catchers of the current decade. Pudge was #1, ahead of (among others) Mauer, Varitek, Martinez, Posada and, yes, Piazza.

Posted by: nunof1 | December 11, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Where did all the 'newbies' come from, and why are some of them posting in Cryllic (Russian)?

Posted by: BinM | December 11, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the Nats have caught the "Orioles Disease", buying up old "has beens" long after they are able to cut the mustard anymore. Pudge was good in his day, but his ability to contribute meaning fully is in doubt, exspecially when a younger better prospect could be using the playing time Pudge will take up that the prospect could use to get his game on.

Posted by: tomniederberger | December 11, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

A rare Post of the Day nomination for the Judge HisOwnSelf...
(and "Josh Gibson.")
*********
Also, Yogi Berra was the greatest catcher of all time.
Except when he wasn't.
Posted by: JohninMpls | December 11, 2009 5:51 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 11, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

And every one a wirgin! What, you don't believe me? GO ahead ... ask Helga!

(actually that's a lost hockey poster -- it says "Alexander Ovechkin - russian 8"
***********************
Where did all the 'newbies' come from, and why are some of them posting in Russian?
Posted by: BinM | December 11, 2009 8:19 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 11, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

and at the same time, our Russian newbie (newski?) probably knows more about baseball than the Pudge-haters showing up here.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 11, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Look, the guy is NOT a normal 38 year old. He's not a normal 38 year old baseball veteran. He could well have five or six meaningful baseball years left--and the Nats are only down for two of that. I mean, LOOK AT THE MAN. Yeah, he might blow out his knee tomorrow--so might Joe Mauer. Boz is right, you don't judge extremes according to the mean, and this guy is a good deal at $6MM/2.

Speaking of deals, here's one: all you "he's tooooo OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOld" whiners--meet us here on Labor Day, and if this turns out to have been a bad deal, I'll sing the "I'm Verrrry, Verrrry Sorrrrr-rry" song. But if Pudge was worth the money, you do it.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 11, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

it says "Alexander Ovechkin - russian 8"
-------------------
No it doesn't.
That's великий, ("velikij") GREAT 8.

"Русский" is "Russian" in Russian.
-----------
The Sofa regrets the error.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 11, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

That Jim French reference oh man LOL!!! Loved Paul Casaaannoooovva as the paa used to say at RFK Cazzie as he was called by John Mclain(old Senators broadcaster) had a hell of an arm and fairly decent bat,nice to hear Pudge be optimistic,gotta love that attitude, hopefully Flores comes all the way back, if he does then problem solved behind the plate.

Posted by: dargregmag | December 11, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

What's Russian for, "Ovechkin is the dirtiest player in the league?"

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | December 11, 2009 10:33 PM | Report abuse

How about "бред сумасшедшего"?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 11, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

"гонево" would be harsh, but not off-point.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 11, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

You know, the Russians did invent baseball.

http://semanticcompositions.typepad.com/index/2004/07/how_the_russian.html

So y'all ought to give the Russian guy a little respect.

Posted by: Snopes1 | December 11, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

The interloper from the team that shall not be named has no idea what he's talking about, of course. Like all sensible Nats fans, I'm thrilled to have Pudge on the team. He's got a lot left in the tank and great attitude.

Re: Piazza, having been a Mets fan between Senators II and DC getting its team back, I can tell you that I was in awe of him as a hitter, but he was defintely mediocre behind the plate.

I loved the Jim King mention. I don't know how he was on balls in the dirt, but I recall he had a rocket arm in right field. The longest tenured expansion Nat.

Posted by: nats24 | December 12, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse

Since the Winter Meetings are over, and it's a weekend, we probably won't have another new post for a few days. And it looks like the Post will be without competition before too long. The "OP" will no longer be doing any kind of sports. Here's the nugget from dcrtv.com:

"TWT To End All Sports Coverage In Early 2010 - 12/11 - As of February 2 at the absolute latest, the Washington Times won't be covering any local sports - not Redskins, Caps, Terps, and Hoyas. So writes Times sports writer Barker Davis about coming massive cuts at the financially troubled Times. As the paper ends its coverage of most local, non-political news."

Posted by: thepostischeap | December 12, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Newspapers aren't the only news outlets anymore, obviously, and the loss of one financed by a wacko religious group that wasn't making a profit should be no surprise. I'm sorry for the working stiffs who are losing jobs. Their bargain with the devil didn't work out as well as Joe Hardy's.

Posted by: nats24 | December 12, 2009 1:31 AM | Report abuse

That's okay. I'll give you that one, sec3, because of the "Cabaret" reference. :-)

---

The Sofa regrets the error.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 11, 2009 10:01 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 12, 2009 6:41 AM | Report abuse

The Nats signed a local kid (West Springfield) last night. Ryan Speier is a relief pitcher who has spent more time in AAA than with the Rockies, but he is ours now.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | December 12, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

The Speier item is in the fourth paragraph from the bottom here:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/baseball/mlb/wires/12/11/2010.ap.bbo.baseball.rdp.0817/

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 12, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

An aging catcher who hasn't been on the DL in 7 years. My Gawd. Special indeed.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 12, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

After spending part of last night digging through Cot's Baseball Contracts website, I found 190+ players who are eligible for arbitration from their current teams. Teams have until 11:00pm tonight to post their tender / non-tender lists to MLB.

While I doubt that there will be a flood of new players added to the Free-Agent pool, I wouldn't be suprised to see 60 or so players get non-tendered. A few new names to add to the discussion could be a good thing.

Posted by: BinM | December 12, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I try to be a rational adult, but as I listen to Bowden absolutely RIP the Pudge signing over and over again on XM, my inner oppositional 12 year old kicks in. If Old Leatherpants thinks it's bad, it must be good.

Thanks for the memories of French and Casanova. Inexplicably one of my favorite players of childhood was Smoky Burgess, a mediocre NL catcher. Pirates mostly I think. He always had a huge chaw in his cheek in his baseball card pictures.

Posted by: utec | December 12, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Nice to hear that Strassburg gave $140k to his alma mater.

I don't know if IRod is in the top 5 of catchers or not, but if he's in the discussion, he's legendary already. Me, I'd take Johnny Bench for talent and performance. But if I was building the best team ever, I would take Yogi Berra hands down!!! Just for the entertainment value. If he's not the #1 draft pick on the most interesting baseball team ever, then there is no justice in the world.

Who else belongs on the most interesting team ever?

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 12, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Natbiscuits, I don't know if interesting and entertaining are the same thing, but you could certainly argue that Mark Fydrich should be pitching on the latter team.

Posted by: Traveler8 | December 12, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

The one thing we must remember is that I Rod will at least give some crede to the Nationals pitching staff. We should see some better cals coming from umpires , because of the HOF behind the plate. I also grew tired od nievasnot being able to hit the ball out of the infield and Josh Bart not being able to run from home plate to first base. He had the longest groin injury I have ever seen.

Posted by: specialg7master | December 12, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Who else belongs on the most interesting team ever?
Posted by: natbiscuits | December 12, 2009 10:18 AM
+++++++++++++++++++
Hmmm... If Berra is the C, how about Rickey Henderson in LF, Ozzie Smith at SS, and Bill Lee & Mark Fydrich as two of the SP's.

Posted by: BinM | December 12, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Clint Courtney. If you remember him, Senators fans, you're OLD.

I don't remember where I read the following, so I can't vouch for its truthiness, but as an old history prof of mine once said, "If it isn't true, it should be."

Courtney once got thrown out of a game without having said a word to the ump. Story is, he was catching, and was unhappy with the ump's strike zone. Complained about it once too often, and the ump warned him that the next time he opened his mouth, he'd get tossed.

So the next pitch that Courtney didn't like the call, he turned around and looked at the ump. Didn't say a word, but drew a line in the dirt. Repeated the process on the next three pitches, so he had four lines in the dirt.

The next pitch, he turned, looked at the ump, and drew a fifth line through the first four.

And the ump threw him out of the game.

A real character; check this out: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/sports/thetoydepartment/2009/05/

Posted by: gilbertbp | December 12, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

My main concern over all this starting catcher hoopla is the fact that it didn't come out til after the signing. I wonder what Jesus thinks about it and if it will be cause for concern in the spring and create clubhouse tension between the two starting? catchers. Perhaps it will work itself out if one or the other isn't completely healthy on opening day, but at some point it will likely surface.

Posted by: cokedispatch | December 12, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Maybe add Ernie Banks at 1B, Satchel Paige in the bullpen, and Moe Berg as a backup catcher?

Posted by: BinM | December 12, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Cokedispatch, I think the Nats are looking at the Joe Girardi/Jorge Posada model. When Posada was the 1997 25-year-old future, the Yanks got the old, experienced Girardi to platoon with him and to teach him everything he knew, which was a lot. Girardi didn't hurt the Yanks behind the plate or with the bat in his hands, and when Posada was ready, Girardi moved on.

I think that's exactly what's going to happen with Pudge and Flores. Sure he'll want to play every single day - he's that kind of competitor, which is a big reason he'll go into the HoF seven or eight years from now. But he's also enough of a professional to know that the Nats expect him to be not just a leader, but a mentor, that they expect him to help Flores be the full-time catcher in a couple of years, not be the guy who blocks Flores's progress.

Posted by: gilbertbp | December 12, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

If it's an all-eccentric team, I second the Spaceman and the Bird. Should we throw in a Charlie Finley guy - Rollie Fingers, maybe?

---

Who else belongs on the most interesting team ever?
Posted by: natbiscuits | December 12, 2009 10:18 AM
+++++++++++++++++++
Hmmm... If Berra is the C, how about Rickey Henderson in LF, Ozzie Smith at SS, and Bill Lee & Mark Fydrich as two of the SP's.

Posted by: BinM | December 12, 2009 10:33 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 12, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Are you predicting Pudge as the next manager of the Nats after Riggleman?

Posted by: nunof1 | December 12, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and Casey Stengel in the outfield?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 12, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Happy Hollidays, Everyone. I like what the Nats have done so far. Bruney will help and Pudge will help immensely. As many others have mentioned, The Nats can't take the chance that flores misses most of the year again. I don't think anyone wants to watch a Bard-Nieves platoon again. I would have liked to have had Kevin Millwood, But the Nats are already short in the bullpen and could not spare anyone to make that deal. I also would have loved to get Rafael Soriano, But I think that the Braves preferred to get him out of the division. But all things condidered, you have to be pretty pleased with the off-season. I am looking forward to some more pitching help and spring training in Viera.

Posted by: chris88 | December 12, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

1a rightly distinguishes between "interesting" and "eccentric," tho the venn diagram would have a lot of overlap, I think (and we can take up the All-Brains team another slow day).
Moe Berg (spoke 10 languages, couldn't hit in any of them) was more interesting off the field than on.
I think the starting rotation should include the Mad Hungarian, lefty Al Hrabowski, and Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams in the bullpen.
Rickey is on the Interesting HOF team, with Yogi and maybe Stengal. Eddie Stanky was fun to watch. Jose Cardenal always had some scam going (I saw this one on TV: Cardenal was on second when a brawl started, dugouts emptied, etc. Took about ten or fifteen minutes to clear the field. Cardenal took his place on third base, and just as action was about to resume, one of the infielders noticed--"Hey! You were on SECOND!" The announcers spent some time discussing how to score that, if he'd gotten away with it.)

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 12, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

gilbert...I agree that is exactly why I thought they signed Pudge, to be the bridge and mentor to Flores, but I question if Pudge is really 100% on board with that thinking. At the presser he stated he wants to play every game, though 162 would not be possible. That doesn't sound so much as mentoring as it does taking over. I hope you are correct in your assumptions, I'm just not sold on it yet. We'll see though.

Posted by: cokedispatch | December 12, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Who manages? Earl Weaver?

Posted by: Traveler8 | December 12, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

1a1: I think Stengel has to be the manager on either an "interesting" or "eccentric" team, and either Charley Finley or Bill Veeck would be the owner. I like sec3's additions of Hrabosky & Mitch Williams to the bullpen.
Anybody for Bill "Mad-Dog" Madlock at 3B on the eccentric side?

Posted by: BinM | December 12, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Does Tony Plush get on the 25 man?

Posted by: Traveler8 | December 12, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Very sad to see WATIMES Sports go by the wayside. If for nothing else, the OP Sports section was first rate.

I know CiL and some others have been critical and rightfully so, but maybe the WAPO will beef up the baseball staff with Zuckerman. Anyway, I must say the iROD signing was an absolute non-event for the local media outlets. The Nats PR Dept is either incompetent or the media just ignores them. Mind boggling!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | December 12, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm tellin' ya, it's Clint Courtney behind the plate on the all-weirdos team. Read this and tell me I'm wrong: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/sports/thetoydepartment/2009/05/

Plus he once spiked Billy Martin. And he looked like George Costanza: http://www.vintagecardtraders.com/virtual/58topps/58topps-092.jpg

Posted by: gilbertbp | December 12, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

If controversial figures make the team: Curt Flood, Dave McNally, Andy Messersmith, Dick Allen, Barry Bonds, Jim Bouton, and a host of others. But for me most interesting tends toward the most eccentric side of the equation. Perhaps Steve Lyons can sit on the bench with Larry Anderson and Roger McDowell in the bullpen. Larry Bowa could at least coach third base.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 12, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

BTW, the Braves are reported likely to cut Kelly Johnson today though he does not qualify as a top defensive 2B, he did have pretty good offensive numbers before 2009 and he can also play a number of other positions.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 12, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo's best problem would not involve hot catchers, the est problem he could have all season is "Who of these several hot ACES should we line-up to start the playoffs?"

Posted by: dfh21 | December 12, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

@Tippy: The local TV media does their utmost best to deny that the Nationals exist out of season, or that DC United exists at all (thank the heavens for Steve Goff at the WaPo). Radio coverage is a complete joke, what with theDanny owning the ESPN franchise for the area and the former WJFK focused on trashing "the other station".

All this accomplishes is to drive more of the true fans of both baseball & soccer to the internet for updates, news & commentary. The probable loss of the Times' sports section is truly sad, because another advocate voice will be muted.

Posted by: BinM | December 12, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

This is how we know we're in Washington DC.

We now have a full All- League:
Interestings
Eccentrics
Weirdos (more than just "eccentric")(and would it be unkind to put Jimmy Piersall on this team? Probably.)
Brains
Controversials
and Smokey Burgess and John Kruk can get the "Not Athletes, Baseball Players" team started.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 12, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Weren't we just discussing hot catchers a week ago?

************
Rizzo's best problem would not involve hot catchers, the est problem he could have all season is "Who of these several hot ACES should we line-up to start the playoffs?"
Posted by: dfh21 | December 12, 2009 1:25 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 12, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

good start on Controversials, btw, Biscuits.
Does Eddie Gaedel go on that team, or the Interestings (as DH, naturally--the only time I'll advocate for DH)?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 12, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I think AJ Pierzynski might make the Weirdos 40-man.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 12, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Bisquit: I'd forgotten what a nutcase Lyons was; McDowell & Anderson too, for that matter. So McDowell goes into the bullpen, and Lyons goes to the bench as an extra OF. Here's what we've compiled so far (I tossed a few more in, just for argument's sake)...

Owner - C. Finley, B. Veeck.
General Manager - J. Bowden, S. Phillips
Manager - C. Stengel, E. Stanky, E. Weaver.
C - Yogi Berra, C. Courtney, M. Berg.
1B - D. Allen, E. Banks, O. Cepeda.
2B - B. Martin, E. Stanky
3B - B. Madlock
SS - L. Bowa, O. Smith
LF - B. Bonds, T. Cobb, R. Henderson
CF - C. Flood, N. Morgan
RF - J. Canseco, J. Cardenal, S. Lyons
SP - J. Bouton, M. Fydrich, B. Lee, G. Maddux, D. McNally, A. Messersmith
Bullpen - L. Anderson, A. Hrabosky, R. McDowell, S. Paige, M. Williams

Have I missed somebody?

Posted by: BinM | December 12, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"@Tippy: The local TV media does their utmost best to deny that the Nationals exist out of season, or that DC United exists at all (thank the heavens for Steve Goff at the WaPo). Radio coverage is a complete joke, what with theDanny owning the ESPN franchise for the area and the former WJFK focused on trashing "the other station"."

As it happens Mike Rizzo was interviewed on WJFK yesterday afternoon after the Pudge press conference. So perhaps you guys might want to listen and/or read sometime before you go condemning all the media around here.

I was listening yesterday, though, so I'm free to criticize. Chad Dukes was trying to sound "in the know" but came off particularly clueless when he mentioned to Rizzo that he had just snagged Pudge for a bargain price. Rizzo was politely silent in response to that comment. Or maybe he was just dumbstruck.

Posted by: nunof1 | December 12, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

@sec3: No I think full blown breakdowns & social anxiety problems should be welcome in one of these compilations. So Piersall can go to RF, and we could add Duscherer & Greinke to the SP possibles.

Posted by: BinM | December 12, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

@nunof1: That's the crux of it - The local radio media is not well rounded; Baseball is almost completely outside the wheelhouse of anyone who currently has a scheduled slot.
If one of the stations would allot time to a voice with some baseball sense (Phil Wood, Charlie Slowes, Dave Jaegler, Bob Carpenter, Dave Shienen, etc), maybe they could grow an audience and share some knowledge. But no, they'd all rather go "all Deadskins, all the time", giving weekly time to the likes of Vinny Cerrato, Jason Campbell, Brian Orakpo, & Clinton Portis.

Posted by: BinM | December 12, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Why Greg Maddux? And who was it in Ball Four Bouton described "decorating" a cake (no, I won't go into detail, someone might be eating), among other locker room shenanigans?

----------------------
And if we're going with the Genuinely Disturbed, we can't leave Bo Belinski off this team.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 12, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse


And there you have the argument in a nutshell: baseball fans don't look to the radio for talk shows, so any show they started would have to have some other reason to get an audience if it's going to start out well enough to be allowed to develop a following.
*******************
@nunof1: That's the crux of it - The local radio media is not well rounded; Baseball is almost completely outside the wheelhouse of anyone who currently has a scheduled slot.
If one of the stations would allot time to a voice with some baseball sense (Phil Wood, Charlie Slowes, Dave Jaegler, Bob Carpenter, Dave Shienen, etc), maybe they could grow an audience and share some knowledge. But no, they'd all rather go "all Deadskins, all the time"

Posted by: BinM | December 12, 2009 2:20 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 12, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

There's a New Post! On Saturday!

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 12, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I can't keep up with all of the teams in the league, but I like the idea!

For the the eccentric team, the Mad Hungarian had occurred to me as well, and I'm on board with Finley or Veeck as owners. I agree that Berg was more interesting off (or perhaps "in") the field than on. Maybe we could short list Eddie Gaedel as well. heh.

Re. other teams, I suspect that AJ might qualify for the All-Jerks team, and I agree that it could be unkind to put Piersall on a Weirdos team.

I'm also sad to see the Times sports coverage end. IMO, they frequently blew away the Post as far as quantity of coverage, and, as Boom Boom noted in a previous post, competition is a good thing. On a somewhat related media note, wouldn't it be great to see MASN give more non-game tv coverage to the Nats? Yeah. I'm not holding my breath on that one.

p.s. Yes, we did discuss hot catchers earlier, but in a different context. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 12, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

This team has to have the following:

Smiley, The Man Who Never Was, Gonzalez
Don "Stan the Man Unusual" Stanhouse
Bert Campaneris, for flinging bats
Walt "No Neck" Williams, (got no neck!)
Rick Dempsey, rain delay entertainment
Dick McAuliffe and Tony Taylor, best batting stances
Mike Hargrove, human rain delay
Larry Dierker, slowest working pitcher ever
Eddie Gaedel, Bill Veeck's midget

Posted by: poncedeleroy | December 12, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

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