My oh my oh my…. Jesus, what shall we do with you? We should give you a chance to start.
If the Nationals hope to woo any free agents, they should show that they already have some chips in place, and that they are serious about winning. The majority of the Nationals rotation is young (with the exception of Chien-Ming Wang), so why not add a veteran presence that can win some ballgames and eat up some innings? Getting an innings-eater and maybe a guy like Prince Fielder, or even a center fielder like B.J. Upton, would go so nicely with Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Michael Morse, etc. that it is nearly impossible to sit here typing without singing my “We Goin’ To The Playoffs” song – which I will reveal once I get to know some of you guys a little better (currently too embarrassing). Obviously, Fielder/other free agent acquisitions don’t factor into this specific idea, but I like to dream whenever possible.
A “With-Wandy” Rotation could look something like this:
I slotted Wandy in at #2 so that there is an alternating “Right, Left, Right, etc.” thing going on. If Detwiler is the pitcher that wins that 5th spot, beating out any other potential suitors, then I would move him in front of Wang to keep that theme going. But for now, I slotted him in at the bottom just to group him with the rest of the “battlers.”
Adding Wandy would give the Nats the flexibility to trade guys like Lannan, Detwiler, and Peacock, and still hang on to one or two to let them ultimately take over the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation. This could let Rizzo go get a few more shut-down bullpen guys (perhaps someone like Luke Gregorson from San Diego?) to stick in front of Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, and Sean Burnett; making Washington one of the best late-inning teams in baseball. The depth would also give Rizzo a better chance at acquiring a legitimate long-term answer at center field. It seemed as though talks for Denard Span fell through at the deadline last year because Rizzo was unwilling to move Storen (understandably), but now instead of just saying no, he can say, “No, but we have some other pieces you might be interested in.”
There is also the point that the Astros could use a decent catcher. They have 23-year-old Jason Castro coming off injury, but should he falter, wouldn’t they want a better replacement option than Humberto Quintero? Adding Flores will, if nothing else, make Castro work harder to try and earn the starting job, but hopefully it leads to Flores landing the gig. He is a fun guy to have in the clubhouse, and the ‘Stros are losing consistently, so having someone fun will help to keep their players’ spirits up as they continue to struggle and rebuild.
Half way through reading this you may be asking, “Why is he bringing up Flores out of all the potential trade chips?” Excellent question! Allow me to explain.
The Nationals have no room for Flores right now. First, there is Wilson Ramos, who had a very impressive rookie season as a whole (.267/15 HRs/52 RBIs), and despite all the GIDPs, I think he will build on the success that he had, and have more productive seasons in the future. Then there is 22-year-old prospect Derek Norris, who, despite having a disappointing season at AA Harrisburg (.210/20 HRs/46 RBIs), still has the potential to become an everyday player. He must improve defensively, but his 20 bombs did show that he has pop in his bat, which, considering that catcher is typically a defensive-dominant position, is a desirable and rare trait for a backstop to have. Flores has little chance of beating these guys out, as there are great expectations for both of them in the Nationals Front Office.
There is something to say about the fact that Flores is 27 years old. If he is ever going to be a big league starting catcher, he must start immediately. The catcher position is not like some of the other positions such as outfield or first base, where guys seemingly last forever. The catcher’s position is far more taxing on his knees, and the body as a whole, so these guys usually stop starting around age 33 or 34. That leaves 6 or 7 years for Flores to make a name for himself, and that is if the Nationals trade him this offseason. He deserves an opportunity to play every day.
Look, I like Jesus Flores, and am certainly not trying to run him out of town. He was one of the first Nationals who ever signed a ball for me (back in 2008). He is a quality guy, fun to talk to, and a solid ball player. That is why I am suggesting that he gets traded. I want the best for him, and he deserves a chance to play. With any luck he will go touch some fans in Houston, and do the same thing for them that he did for us. He can become a fan favorite and teammate favorite alike, and hopefully he will help turn those struggling ‘Stros around.