Monday, December 10, 2007

Nationals Sign LoDuca

Pending a physical, the Washington Nationals starting catcher next year will be Paul LoDuca, formerly of the New York Mets. The terms at this point are for one year and represent a very solid addition behind the plate. LoDuca is a more than adequate starting catcher while Jesus Flores is groomed for the big leagues, and even though teams can and will run on his arm, he works very well with a pitching staff. He has given very ordinary pitchers career years, most notably Carl Pavano, while he was with the Marlins, and Eric Gagne, while they both played for the Dodgers.
It's not the best addition to the team they've made this off-season, but as he is the best option still available on the market, I am glad they moved on the deal. His offense isn't anywhere near where it was a few years ago, when he was a legitimate doubles hitter, but to look at this deal in the scope of the overall winter meetings it strengthens the team.
LoDuca and Schneider were very similar players in 2007. Schneider was a little bit better defensively, but LoDuca was a little bit better offensively. In essence, as the signing of LoDuca balances out the loss of Schneider, this turns the Lastings Milledge trade into a one-on-one swap for Ryan Church, which we have already determined was a smart move. The team got younger, stronger and has more potential for future greatness with Milledge in center than it did with Church.
What this deal also shows is the increasing influence of head coach Manny Acta. With other suitors in the mix for LoDuca's services, it must have surely been Acta's ties to LoDuca while working for the Mets that drew him to Washington. We saw the confidence a younger player like Milledge showed at the possibility to work under Acta and it is refreshing that veteran players respect his coaching style as well. Organizations work best when all people are on the same page and it seems that from the front office down to the coaching staff the Nationals have a plan they are all willing to follow. If their plan is the best plan to produce a winning ball club... that has yet to be seen, but I will never argue with our team as long as they are committed to getting better.
This lack of commitment is what I hate about Baltimore's Peter Angelos, whose inaction saw our beloved Orioles get systematically dismantled and go from a powerhouse franchise into a basement dweller.


DMG said...

Good move for the Nationals; if I were the Mets ownership I'd be demanding some answers of Manaya right now.

Like you, I consider LoDuca for Schneider a wash - LoDuca is good offensively and poor defensively; Schneider is good defensively and mediocre offensively. That considered, it makes the Church/Milledge swap laughable. I wouldn't be surprised to see Milledge have a better season in 2008, let alone 2, 3, 4 years down the road.

Good point about the Acta/Mets connection and the ability to sign LoDuca. I think staying on the East Coast (and in the Washington-Boston corridor) played a role as well.

DMG said...

re the Orioles - I don't know if it's inaction. After all the Orioles have made some big signing like Javy Lopez and Tejada. I think it's just as much the wrong actions like...Javy Lopez. And especially trying to replace Robbie Alomar and Reaffy Palmeiro with Will Clark and DeLine Desheildes...

DC SportsClown said...

My biggest thing with the Orioles is even more recently. I think we've seen Tejada a little miffed that they failed to take the next step after signing him. I mean, they got him and Melvin Mora who played well for a while and signed Brian Roberts long term, but have never addressed their starting pitching concerns or lack of power in the outfield and first base. We know they have some cash to throw around, and it's obvious their farm system can produce some guys (Markakis, Bedard) But your big offseaon moves should not be Jay Payton and Aubry Huff.

DMG said...

I agree 100%. Baltimore made moves to get/keep guys who could put up nice offensive numbers for their positions (Lopez, Mora, Tejada, Roberts) but they never really made moves to get good hitters at the positions good hitters usually play. And their lack of starting pitching has been pathetic.

Really the Orioles couldn't ever decide if they were coming or going - whether they wanted to get serious about contending or if they wanted to tear down and rebuild and as a result they haven't done a great job of either.

Yard Yoder said...

Lo Duca probably also went to D.C beause he knew he wouldnt have to compete to get the starting job.

With the orioles, you cant be that upset about their starting rotation. It was more a matter of getting their hitting in sync with their rotation. This starting rotation should have worked in theory. I mean there were times last year where both Eric Bedard and Jeremey Guthrie were the best pitchers in baseball. Daniel Cabrerra was allways supposed to develop, they had to chose to give up on him or physically ungifted john maine and made the wrong choice. Kris Benson had supposed upside and a hot wife. They also had reason to believe they could ake it work for guys like Cabrerra and Benson because they had the legendary pitching coach out in the pen.

I think david's right, it was more a matter of deciding whether to come or go. This was for 2 reasons. First Cal Ripken, its kind of hard to start to rebuild when you have a legend still on the team(not to imply Ripken was a disruption). Second Angelos didnt want to put a team on the field that had 0 chance of winning. He knew if he did then his people would demand a team in dc. But it happend anyways.

Also with Baltimore you look at all the stupid signings. Javy Lopez, Albert Belle, long term for Brian Roberts, Jay Payton ect. ect.

It's just a poorly run team

DC SportsClown said...

not sure whether to come or go = inactive undecisiveness.

And I can be upset about their starting rotation. They are talking about dealing Bedard because they don't want to pay him the money when he become arbitration eligible in the near future. Guthrie was a fluke, someone they picked off waivers from the Indians and got lucky for a while. Cabrera and Benson have never been good. And not one of these four guys shows a whole lot of courage or ingenuity from the front office to truely make their team better = inactivity.

Yard Yoder said...

Well they were clearly active, whether or not it was smart activity is another question. They made decisions, just bad ones.

Guthrie had a great year in 2006 and 2007, showing that he was able to regain his first round pick talent. Whether or not he can continue his success without Mazzone next year will have to wait to be seen. However a pitcher reaching their top talent at age 27 is about average.

To the point on trading can't be upset with them about not figuring out whether to come or go and then get angry when they trade their best players who will be great when all they do is lose. Honestly they are going to have to deal Tejada, Bedard, and probably Roberts to get good young talent that will be ready to compete in the 2010 range. With the prospects the O's get they could become a brand new team built around Markakis, Rowell, Snyder(if he gets his act together), Loewen, Penn and Chris Ray.

Yard Yoder said...

Also Daniel Cabrera at the age of 23 struck out 157 and walked only 87, while putting up a solid 4.52 era. He throws high 90's and is 6-7. So it's not unreasonable to think he was only a good pitching coach away from being a great starter. This is why the kept with him, he just never got it.

By the time Benson got to the orioles he was considered no longer a possible superstar. However he was a huge prospect himself when on the pirates. He had a very good year at the age of 25 for them and since then has had very solid years for a number 3 pitcher. Honestly for a number 3 or 4 pitcher having a 4.34 career era is actually pretty solid.

DMG said...

I don't think that not being able to decide whether they were coming or going means the team was inactive. They've made several major and several pretty significant signings over the last few years, being relatively active. If anything I think they were too active, thinking they could have a decent team by signing big names rather than building a cohesive team by being patient.

I think the Orioles starters right now are okay; of the guys they wanted to have in the rotation (Guthrie, Cabrera, Tracshel, Lowen and Bedard) 4 out of 5 have ERAs better than the league average (and Camden Yards is not too pitcher friendly). But several years ago when they were picking up Lopez, Tejada, Palmeiro, etc and not addressing their pitching, I think that raised some eyebrows.

I could either way on Bedard and so I think it makes sense to trade him if the Orioles can get a decent package for him, but it isn't like they need to. That said, if they can't sign him before he's eligible to become an UFA they should trade him and get some compensation beyond potential draft picks.

Baltimore desperately needs to rebuild, but at this point their potential trade pieces Tejada, Roberts and Henandez aren't that attractive. The problem is that Baltimore should have committed hard to a rebuild in about 2003, rather than trying vainly to keep their heads above water and delaying the inevitable. Now instead of suffering for 3-4 years as the team rebuilds, Orioles fans are going to have suffer through a decade.

DMG said...

Also, Bedard already is arbitration eligible and has been for at least a year. Team don't just give guys 3.4 million a year when they can control them for 500k