We just can’t let the signing of “Pudge” Rodriguez go without a comment: not only is the all-around-good-guyÂ winner of 13 Gold Gloves the newest Nats signing, Nats beat reporter Bill Ladson (speaking on the Nats website on one of those webcast doo-hickey thingies) says that the Nats are “sending a message” to their fans that his signing means “they want to contend now.” Here’s our reaction — if that’s the message they’re sending, they ought to send it again. It’s easy to be critical, but Pudge stopped being one of the game’s indispensible players long, long ago: which (obviously) Mike Rizzo and CompanyÂ know.
The reason RodriguezÂ is here is not to make the Nats a contender now (because he won’t), but to keep the box behind the plate warm for Jesus Flores (whose tender mercies have yet toÂ fully heal) and to keepÂ aÂ dugout ofÂ trembling young pitchers from wetting their pants. Pudge is as close as the Nats can get, just now, to a player-coach — a clubhouse presence who’s been through the wars and an unruffled and steadying player who, at the end of his career, knows pitchers not because of any inherent genius, but because he’s seen so many of them.Â There’s something to be said for having years of experienceÂ behind the plate.
There’s a little odor to the deal among some sportswriters, who say that the Nats overpaid (sniff, sniff). That seems particularly true now that it appears as if the Purples will re-sign Yorvit Torrealba for a near-song: $5.5 million over two years.Â But the Nats not only probably (probably) couldn’t get Pudge for two years, they didn’t need him for one: there’s no guarantee that Flores will heal that fast or, even if he did, that he’ll stay healed. Then too, Derek Norris is not just a few months away — if he works out at all. The deal maker in this was Jim Bowden: he complained that “this was another bad signing.”Â Yeah, wellÂ he oughta know. Thus was inaugurated “the Bowden rule”: if Jim hates it, Mike Rizzo should do it.Â If he doesn’t, flee.
The Board of Directors here at CFG (you remember them, right?) likes the deal and so do I:Â the signing ofÂ Rodriguez saves fans from having to watch Josh Bard gimp his way to first base, or gaze in wincing shame as Wil Nieves (Who? Wil Nieves!) slams his bat in disgust at striking out. Fun as that was. Then too, unless you’re the Boston Red Sox and you think you can just let catchers walk out the doorÂ — they’re damned hard to find and every team needs one. Yeah, so the signing of Pudge Rodriguez sends a message: the Nats desperately needed a catcher and now they have one. Or, if things work out for the very best, they might even have two.