Posts Tagged ‘Pudge Rodriguez’
Rookie sensation Danny Espinosa continued his late-season surge through the pitching rotations of the National League, victimizing the New York Mets by going 4-5, with two home runs and six RBIs. The Espinosa attack, which included an inside the pole homer to left field and a grand slam off the facade in right field, led the Nationals to a 13-3 pasting of the Mets. MASN commenter Ray Knight called Espinosa’s Labor Day outing “a career game,” in this, Espinosa’s fifth game in the majors. Espinosa is hitting .563 with three doubles, three home runs, ten RBIs and four runs scored in just five games since being called to the majors on September 1. With their 60th win of the season, the Nationals passed their wins total for the 2009 campaign, which stood at 59. Washington has now won seven of its last 11 games. The Nats recent winning ways have been powered by their work at the plate: the team has scored 74 runs in the last ten games.
The game’s other hero was Pudge Rodriguez who, after suffering through a season of puzzling and unpredictable slumps, has batted in seven runs over the last two tilts. The game also resulted in a win for lefty Scott Olsen, who grumbled about being relegated to the bullpen in this morning’s Washington Post. Olsen pitched four solid innings in relief of starter Jordan Zimmermann, taming the Mets’ batting order, while striking out three and walking none. Olsen upped his season total to 4-8, while lowering his ERA to 5.58. Recently recalled Collin Balester pitched the 9th inning, striking out two. But the game was truly “all-Espinosa,” who was rewarded with a curtain call after his grand slam, and a whipped cream pie in the face by Nats John Lannan during his post-game interview. “It was a great day,” Espinosa told reporters after the game. “I had so much fun.”
The hitting of Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and the stellas pitching of John Lannan paced the Washington Nationals to a 9-2 victory over the Pirates at PNC Park on Saturday. Rodriguez led the Nats’ fifteen hit attack, with an opposite field home run, while John Lannan pitched seven complete — giving up only five hits. It was his best outing of the year and solidified his place in the rotation for 2011. “Pudge and I did a great job just mixing it up on both sides of the plate,” Lannan said after the game. “I threw some [four-seam fastballs] inside to righties and some [two-seam fastballs] into lefties. I had my changeup working again, and that’s been the pitch I’ve gone to if I was getting behind hitters. It kept them off-balance a little bit. You get a little more comfortable out there when your team puts up that many runs.”
Desmond Makes His Case: Washington Nationals’ rookie shortstop Ian Desmond is making a strong case for being considered as the N.L.’s premier rookie. But two obstacles stand in his way — he makes too many errors (31! — including two last night), and the competition is stiff. The early betting was that Atlanta’s Jason Heyward would win the award, and for a time it looked like he would. Heyward set the baseball world chattering through April and May, but his production fell off through the summer. Still: .282 with 16 home runs (and he’s only 20) could find him shoehorned into the top spot. The betting now seems to be that Buster Posey will get the nod — despite the fact that he started the season late. Tim Dierkes over at MLB Trade Rumors posted a list in April that included all of the good guesses, which included Heyward and Desmond, as well as Florida’s Gaby Sanchez, San Francisco’s Buster Posey, Chicago’s Starlin Castro, Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez, Washington’s Drew Storen (and Stephen Strasburg), and Cincinnati’s Mike Leake. That leaves out Cubbie Tyler Colvin, who’s having a tremendous year — he’s stroked 19 home runs.
You can make a strong case for Desmond, who has raised his batting average over the last month from the so-so mid-.260s to .287 — an unforeseen spike that, if it continues, could see the 24-year-old ending the season near .300. And Desmond has unpredicted power, line-driving nine home runs. That number could easily increase in 2011. Desmond’s long-ball potential is a plus for the Nats, who would gladly take a .280 batting average with a handful of home runs each year — but 20? 25? Desmond says that he patterns his play on the model provided by Empire glove man Derek Jeter and his numbers show it. While Jeter seems to be struggling for homers as he ages, the pinstriper once hit 24, a number well within reach of his younger apprentice. But Jeter’s value is his day-in-and-day-out crusade in the middle of the Yankees infield, his ability to play virtually injury free and his steady glove-work. Ah, and he has a .314 lifetime BA — which Desmond might find difficult to equal. Desmond is right to emulate his hero, but he has a long way to go to reach his level (cutting down on the errors would be the way to start). It’s the fielding stats that will likely doom Desmond in any final voting for the Jackie Robinson Award, which means that Giants workhorse Buster Posey will get the nod. It’s hard to argue with that choice — with a .328 batting average, he deserves it.
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.