Josh Willingham was traded to the Oakland Athletics for pitcher Henry Rodriguez and outfield prospect Corey Brown. Willingham was definitely a “ball player” and won the favor of the fans who nicknamed him the “Hammer” for his powerful swing. Josh enhanced his hitting in Washington as he developed more patience at the plate, and looked to hit to right field when pitchers threw to the outer half of the plate. He will make Oakland a better ball club, and have the opportunity to play every day with the DH slot available. Josh missed the last month and a half of the 2010 season with a knee injury (left medial meniscus tear), but during his Washington tenure he batted .263 with 40 HRs and 117 RBIs.
Henry Rodriguez can compete to earn a bullpen spot for the 2011 season, and strengthen the Achilles heel of the Washington Nationals. The bullpen was horrific since the team arrived in DC, but last year we saw some progress as Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen looked great at times. Corey Brown will add depth to the Nationals minor league as he could be called upon like Justin Maxwell was often with the accumulation of injuries to the starters.
The management team made the move with Willingham while he still had value. The argument could be made that we acquired two players that had sub standard performances in 2010 instead of an established veteran. Yet the logical move was made to bring in more players to bolster for a possible big trade to acquire an all star first baseman or starting pitcher.
Good luck to Josh Willingham as he will take his hammer and class act to Oakland. Now it’s weekend at Bernie’s in left field.