Thursday, March 10, 2011

25 in 25: Ivan Rodriguez (#5)

In 21 days, all the Nationals diehards will be preparing to head to Nationals Park on Opening Day. Until then, we're going to predict the 25 man roster. With one catch. We're going to do it one day at a time. This way, we can provide more in depth thoughts on who we think is going to make the roster, why we think so, and what to expect from them in 2011. On the morning of Opening Day, we'll post the real 25-man compared with what we predicted.

The seems to be little doubt that this Nats catcher will end up in the Baseball Hall of Fame. While there's no chance he'll be wearing the Curly W in Cooperstown, that doesn't downgrade him a lick in our countdown. Player #5 is Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez.

Why?: The summary of Pudge pretty much tells the story of why he'll make the club. He won't be the every day catcher like in his younger days, but his talent provides the young catchers (Ramos and Flores) with the opportunity to learn from one of the best to ever play the position. His defense is still stellar despite his advanced age, especially for a career long catcher. His presence and baseball knowledge more than make up for any offensive struggles he may experience.

What to expect?: Expect Pudge to get a good number of starts and to struggle offensively. He might start out strong like last year, but eventually age and persistent his persistent back issues will catch up to him. Expect to see more of Ramos and/or Flores as the season progresses as Pudge's body breaks down during the course of a 162 game season.

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