Nationals sign Ivan Rodriguez to head-scratcher of a two-year deal

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Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Nationals and Ivan Rodriguez have agreed to a two-year, $6 million contract. To which I say … huh?
Rodriguez is not without value despite declining significantly in recent years, but committing to him for two seasons seems crazy given that he’s 38 years old and hit .249/.280/.384 in 2009. He managed just a one-year, $1.5 million deal as a free agent last offseason and had arguably the worst season of his career, so suddenly now he’s worth four times as much for twice long?
And then there’s the fact that the Nationals have a good young catcher in Jesus Flores, who despite being a question mark for the start of 2010 thanks to shoulder surgery is a superior player and still just 25 years old. Between the unlikelihood that they’ll be anywhere close to contenders in 2010 or perhaps even 2011 and Flores’ presence Washington seems like one of the least sensible destinations for Rodriguez.
Perhaps the Nationals still have faith in Flores as the long-term answer behind the plate and are merely bringing Rodriguez in to be a backup, in which case the question becomes why a non-contender needs to pay $3 million per season for a 38-year-old backup catcher. And if instead they’re planning to hand Rodriguez the starting job while either benching or trading Flores … well, I’ll give general manager Mike Rizzo the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s not completely crazy. For now at least.

Mike Trout has been really good at baseball lately

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“Water wet,” “Sky blue,” “Dog bites man” and “Mike Trout good” are not exactly newsworthy sentiments, but once in a while you have to state the obvious just so you can look back later and make sure you were, in the moment, aware of the obvious.

And to be fair, “Mike Trout good” is underselling the Angels outfielder lately. He’s on the greatest tear of his great career lately, and dang it, that’s worthy of a few words on this blog.

Last night Trout went a mere 1-for-1, but that’s because the Diamondbacks were smart enough not to pitch to him too much, walking him twice. There was no one on base the first time he came up and he got a free pass. There was a guy on first but two outs the second time, so he was once again not given much to hit and took his base again. Arizona was not so lucky the third time. The bases were loaded and there was nowhere to put Trout. He smacked the first pitch he saw for a two-run single. They probably shoulda just walked him anyway, limiting the damage to one. The last time up he reached on catcher’s interference. Maybe Arizona figured that literally grabbing the bat from him with a catcher’s mitt was the best bet?

If so you can’t blame them, really. Not with the month he’s had. In June, Trout is hitting .448/.554/.776 with five homers. He currently leads the league in the following categories: home runs (23), runs (60), walks (64), on-base percentage (.469), OPS (1.158) OPS+ (219), total bases (179) and intentional walks (9). He currently has a bWAR of 6.5. WAR, in case you did not know, is a cumulative stat. When he won the 2014 MVP Award, he “only” had 7.6 for the entire year.

Sadly, one man does not a team make, so the Angels are only 9-8 in the month of June and have fallen far back of the red-hot Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners in the division race. For this reason I suspect a lot of people are going to do what they’ve long done and overlook Mike Trout’s sheer dominance or, even more ridiculously, claim he is overrated or something (believe me, I’ve seen it even this month).

Feel free to ignore those people and concentrate instead on the greatest baseball player in the game today, who has somehow managed to up his game in recent weeks.