Nationals Cornering Market On Widely Available Commodity

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 10: Ivan Rodriguez #7 of the Washington Nationals bunts against the New York Mets during their game on April 10, 2011 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Hey, kids! You too can have three right-handed-hitting catchers on your roster! Just do what the Washington Nationals do! Adam Kilgore:

The Nationals will call-up catcher Jesus Flores from Class AAA Syracuse to replace third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the 25-man roster, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. It's a somewhat surprising choice that gives the Nationals another right-handed bat off the bench, returns Flores to the majors for the first time since September 2009 and will also allow the Nationals to use either Ivan Rodriguez or Wilson Ramos as pinch-hitter without using their last catcher.

Because you can never have enough right-handed-hitting catchers who can't hit.

No, I kid the Nationals' catchers because I love them.

Seriously, though ... What the hell are they doing?

Since taking over last season as the Nats' No. 1 catcher, Pudge is walloping the ball at a .263/.291/.342 clip.

His co-No. 1 so far, Wilson Ramos, has only 101 plate appearances in the majors; his .258/.293/.378 line in 91 Triple-A games isn't anything special.

And Flores missed all of 2010 and most of 2009 with shoulder problems. He will, on the other hand, always have those 106 Plate Appearances of Excellence in '09 (.301/.371/.505).

It's never been clear what the Nationals are doing with their catchers, and now it's become utterly opaque. Maybe if just one of these guys batted left-handed ... but, no.

And guess what? Another is probably on the way. You know about Bryce Harper, the ex-catcher. Well, the Nationals' No. 2 prospect is a young fellow named Derek Norris who -- you guessed it -- bats right-handed. At least he's still year or so away from the majors, otherwise management might be tempted ...

Look, this isn't difficult stuff. Ramos is young, and might be pretty good. Flores is less young, and might be decent if he can stay healthy. Rodriguez is old. It's time to quit futzing around with Rodriguez (let alone Flores) and see if Ramos is the Catcher of the Future.

Fortunately, it looks like small sample sizes might settle the issue. In his six games, Ramos is batting .412; in his five games, Pudge is batting .176. Granted, we're just talking about a few singles here or there. But bigger decisions have been made on fewer data. Ramos should be playing five games every week, with one of his backups traded for a Class A relief pitcher.

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