Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Winter Meetings Chat With Craig Heist--WTOP

While the Braintrust of Our Washington Nationals wheel and deal from their suite and ajoining rooms in Indianapolis this week at The Winter Meetings, WTOP's Craig Heist is on hand reporting all the news. Not only all the rumors and facts involving Washington's Team, but Baltimore's as well. Earlier this evening, I was able to catch up with Craig on the phone as he just completed a media session with The Orioles' President--Andy MacPhail--and was heading to another event. Of course, for Nats320 purposes, we only talked about Our Washington Nationals.

Here is the transcript of that chat:

What’s your take on the Rodriguez signing? (SBF)

“Personally, I don’t think Mike and the brain trust are thoroughly convinced that Jesus Flores is going to be healthy by the start of the season. And that would be my guess--initially. The bottom line here is that they are hoping that, for Pudge, the ideal amount of games would be 90 that he would catch and play. If that is it basically, (playing time) at the beginning of the year, that would give Flores the maximum amount of time to get healthier.”

“In talking to Rizzo yesterday, he seemed to think that all of the medical issues in the reports they've received, Flores would be ready to report by the start of spring training. Whereas, (Manager Jim) Riggleman said the start of the year. That’s a six week difference right there—if you think about it. So, my general feeling is that this was a move they thought they needed to make. And this is the guy they wanted in terms of a catcher to bring in to mentor Flores, to guide him with his 14 All-Star Appearances, 13 Gold Gloves. A guy who is going to the Hall of Fame.”

“Now yes, they are still saying Flo’ is their Number One Guy, and still their catcher of the future, but with his shoulder and elbow being what its been, making him miss almost all of last year--they (The Nationals) felt like this (Rodriguez) was the guy they wanted.”

There has been all this rumbling about the money involved in the package for Pudge, two years, $5 or $6 million dollars depending on whose report you believe. (SBF)

“It’s $6 Million--three one year--three the next. But the whole basis for the deal getting done was the second year. Otherwise, you might be looking at $4 Million for one, or something like that (to sign him).”

I’ve been attempting to stay up with everything going on, reading things online, and some have said this is a total waste of money put out there by The Nationals. But it seems to me they don’t have much payroll anyway, so what does it really matter in the cost of Pudge’s contract? Some more have mentioned this outlay would affect their signing of a starting pitcher or two—like Jon Garland or Rich Harden? I don’t necessarily agree with that. (SBF)

“I don’t agree with that either. In fact, I don’t think I agree with that at all. One signing does not affect any others.”

Have you had the chance to talk with Rizzo about Brian Bruney and whether he felt this guy was better than any other choices possibly available in the Rule V Draft later this week? (SBF)

“I think that is probably part of it. The other thing for me, and the other part of it—at least the way I read it is—another power arm at the back of the bullpen. And they (The Nationals) are under the assumption you can’t have enough of those.”

Knowing you have attended many of these Winter Meetings in the past, do you find any difference in how The Nationals are being treated by other teams and agents this year with Rizzo as GM, as compared to, say, last year in Las Vegas? (SBF)

“I think there is a lot of truth to that. I believe Mike is as respected around baseball as you can get and let’s face it; they have already pulled two deals. (Chuckling) And one of them I think is a fairly decent deal. I don’t mind this Pudge Rodriguez thing at all.”

I believe it is a really good move because Washington can’t go on anymore with Josh Bard and Wil Nieves potentially playing major roles again when they had so many problems behind the plate last year. (SBF)

“If you look at what he (Pudge) did offensively last year, and they (The Nationals) still like what he can do behind the plate, he’s an upgrade and it helps that he stays in shape.”

Also, I don’t believe all the rumors going around. I believe many times it's agents and teams trying to stir the pot for their own advantage. But now, I am reading that Vincente Padilla might be interested in The Nationals. Yesterday, it was Jon Garland. Is it just all talk without substance? (SBF)

“No, in fact there is some truth to it. Rizzo did say yesterday The Nationals had a interest in Jon Garland.”

But do you find these agents are seriously coming to The Nationals to actually get their guy signed and to play here? Or, are they using The Nationals, as some have stated in the past, to get a better offer from the actual team the player really wants to play for? (SBF)

“I don’t think that is going to be the case with Rizzo. I think Rizzo has a plan and he is implementing it piece by piece. Look, I think they have done two pretty decent things, already. It is hard to get really excited about Brian Bruney. But it’s a situation where he has pitched on the big stage before—and that certainly helps. And he brings a power arm and the resume as a closer at one time with Arizona—that helps. And as for Pudge, he brings a professional talent to the ball club. They (The Nationals) have had a good start to this week."

With that final answer my Winter Meetings Chat With Craig Heist in Indianapolis concluded. He had to head off to more coverage for WTOP. But Craig's agreed to update with Nats320 as the week progresses, so, please come back from time to time to read his latest comments.


Unknown said...

1) I disagree that one signing doesn't affect another. Signing Dunn made us a more respectable team, and I think that was reflected in view of the Nats across the league. And you can't tell me if we had gotten Teixeira that it wouldn't have made a difference with other players. And besides, a signing equates to improved team performance. Improved team performance means veterans are more willing to play for you if they think you'll win a title. This is acute to the situation of pitchers and catchers. Pitchers absolutely look for organizations where they can win, where pitching is valued, where the associated staff are of a high quality, and where they'll have a good catcher to work with. Pudge lends some respect in that final area. A tiny little amount, but some nonetheless. I'm not claiming signing him means Cy Young will rise from the dead and win 30 games this year as a zombie.

2) The points about the timelines for Flores are good one's. And especially when you consider the pitcher's and cather's report dates. If Flores were still in rehab mode, there would be no one there to take over as catcher #1. Now we do, and he knows what he's doing.

Screech's Best Friend said...

ckstevenson--I think you misunderstood the context of the line "one signing doesn't effect another". This comment meant that paying $3 million per season for Pudge's services would not shy The Nationals away from making another play for a higher salary for a starting pitcher, or anyone else for that matter, during this off-season. In essence, the money spent on Rodriguez would not affect any later decisions in Free Agency--and really has nothing to do with giving the team respect across the league and equating to improved team performances--as you mention. I don't believe you would get any argument on your points from Craig, or me, actually. They are all valid. Thanks.

Unknown said...

I think Pudge will be a good fit with the team, but I would've rather seen Schneider back. I'm sure the two year deal he signed with Philly is worth less than $6 mil. And, say what you will about his offensive numbers, but NOBODY calls a better game than Schneider.