Ward, De Los Santos Come Aboard, But Hey, What Happened To Felix Rodriguez??
[January 27th] -The Nationals signed on Friday pitcher Valerio De Los Santos and first baseman Daryle Ward. The signing of Ward is no surprise as it's been rumored for several days, but the acquisition of De Los Santos came out of the blue. Felix Rodriguez was the name mentioned coming to Washington (and still may as several sites reported on Wednesday that his deal was "done."
De Los Santos went 1-2, 6.14 in in 22 innings with the Marlins, striking out 16 and walking 12. He has a decent 7-8, 4.33 career mark in four major league seasons. He has also played for the Brewers, Phillies and the Blue Jays. De Los Santos' career looked promising before blowing our his arm in 2002 while playing with the Brewers. Before being injured, De Los Santos had a 2-3, 3.12 record in 67 innings.
In 2005, Ward batted .260-12-63 in just over 400 at bats. He has tremendous power and hits well in clutch situations, but tends to be too aggressive when behind in the count. Defensively, he's 'average' at best. He can play the outfield as well as first, and can do a credible job as a platoon player.
Ward's "internals" indicate just why he remains unsigned this close to spring training. He hit only .200 against left-handers vs. .281 when facing righties. His .318 on-base percentage for 2005, and .309 for his career, are numbers reserved for slick-fielding shortstops and not slugging first baseman. Strangely, he went only 5-60 (.083) at three of the most hitter-friendly parks in the National League, Wrigley Field, Busch Stadium and SBC Park in San Francisco.
I don't see De Los Santos as having much of a chance of making the team coming out of spring training, not with Joey Eischen and Mike Stanton already part of the bullpen staff. He'll likely be a spare-part kept at 'AAA' New Orleans, just in case something goes wrong in D.C.
Now, As to Daryle Ward. I might be completely wrong here, but follow this logic:
- The Nationals wouldn't have signed Ward to play at 'AAA' New Orleans because that's where young Mr. Broadway is refining his game in hopes of making the big club in 2007.
- They wouldn't have signed Ward as the backup first baseman because Robert Fick is already there. Fick is far more versatile and can play left or right field as well as catch in addition to playing first.
- My guess is that Ward may end up being part of a platoon at first in 2006 (I couldn't say if it's on opening day or sometime in July) with Nick Johnson traded for prospects and/or pitching.
Johnson is a free agent at the end of the 2006 season, and unless he remains 100% healthy and hits above his apparent "285-20-80" lot in life this year, I don't think the Nationals will want to resign him. and having been stung by the departures of Esteban Loiaza and Hector Carrasco this past fall, Nationals' GM Jim Bowden won't want to lose Johnson and get nothing in return.
Like I said, I could be wrong, but the signing of Ward does have a "sneaky" Bowden-like quality to it.
Although I haven't heard a thing, I'm guessing the De Los Santos signing doesn't effect Felix Rodriguez as they wouldn't have the same responsibilities coming out of the bullpen.
I don't understand the logic on any level, to tell you the truth (unless Johnson is traded and Ward is handed the starting job at first straight-up . . . but as you noted, Ward struggles against lefties, so he'd need that platoon partner who doesn't seem to exist at this point).
If Ward makes the squad, it also means that either Fick is the backup catcher or Carroll is gone. That would also mean Fick is the backup catcher or there's no Royce Clayton (instead of Carroll).
It's getting confusing . . .
But honestly, I just don't know.
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