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Rizzo believes Ramos can catch 125 games

Dec 9, 2013, 7:54 PM EDT

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Conventional wisdom, entering the Winter Meetings, suggested the Nationals were in the market for a veteran backup catcher, someone who could be a reliable No. 2 behind Wilson Ramos.

Mike Rizzo, though, appeared to quash that line of thinking on Monday, saying he believes Ramos can start 125 or more games in 2014, with Jhonatan Solano and Sandy Leon capably backing him up.

“I don’t think he needs any more regular time off than any other front-line, full-time catcher,” Rizzo said of Ramos. “He can play regularly. I don’t know what the average everyday catcher caught … what, about a 125-128 games? I think he can take on that load. And if that’s the case, we feel good about what we’ve got as our backups.”

Ramos has yet to start more than 106 games in a big-league season, and he has been limited to 101 total starts the last two seasons combined due to a torn knee ligament and a recurring hamstring strain.

But the 26-year-old came back strong during the second half of the season and started 63 of the Nationals’ final 78 games, including a stretch of 23 consecutive starts behind the plate from Aug. 22-Sept. 15.

If he can maintain that type of pace over a full season, Ramos would be right on course to start 125-130 games in 2014, leaving only 32-37 games for a No. 2 catcher to take over. The Nationals are confident Solano and/or Leon could handle that load, even though the two young catchers have combined to appear in only 50 big-league games while batting a collective .228.

Based on Rizzo’s comments Monday, the Nationals would feel the need to acquire a more experienced catcher only if Ramos was injured and needed to be replaced for a prolonged stretch, as they did in Aug. 2012 when they traded for Kurt Suzuki.

“The question comes in: If Wilson were to get hurt for an extended period of time, can they handle the load?” Rizzo said. “Going into spring training right now, we’re comfortable with what we have. We’re always looking to upgrade. We did it two years ago when Wilson got hurt and we went and got a Suzuki. That would probably be the plan of attack going forward, because we feel good about where Ramos is health-wise.”

  1. nats128 - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    If Ramos plays 5 games a week that easily get you to 125 games. Why not! There is no need for an ironman award to push him more than that.

  2. Hiram Hover - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    I don’t doubt his ability to play (basically) every day if healthy. I do have some doubts about his ability to stay healthy.

    Bonus comment:

    “The question comes in: If Wilson were to get hurt for an extended period of time, can they handle the load?”

    The answer comes in: no, they cannot.

  3. David Proctor - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    I don’t buy Rizzo’s comments for a second (then again, I never do). Ladson reported that the Nats were looking for a backup catcher and even had a source who confirmed the Nats had expressed interest in John Buck.

  4. scnatsfan - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    Can he? Probably. Should he? You worry, should we return to form, that he’s beat at the end of the year. Don’t get chinsy on the backup catcher.

    Articles ago on a Espi; he would be an intriguing addition to a deal elsewhere but I think alone his value would fetch little in return.

  5. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 9, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    these are the kind of things we don’t want to do with contention in mind. add a good backup please.

  6. masterfishkeeper - Dec 9, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    I take from this article and the two that preceded it that (1) the Nats really want to sign a veteran catcher, (2) the Nats really want to sign a left-handed reliever, and (3) the Nats are willing to trade Espinosa for the right price. No disrespect to Mark, of course, but when Mike Rizzo says stuff like this I assume that he’s talking his book.

  7. derwink - Dec 9, 2013 at 9:11 PM

    Poker face – with Ramos’ injury history, this just is a negotiating ploy. Rizzo doesn’t want to appear too desperate.

    • nats128 - Dec 9, 2013 at 9:25 PM

      He doesnt need to do that unless he was planning on a trade. I think hes speaking what he feels here and also on Espinosa.

      Why would you trade Espinosa for a bag of balls? Get him going and see if he can be MLB quality again.

  8. realdealnats - Dec 9, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    Bad idea to go into the season w/o a decent backup for Ramos and I believe Rizzo is looking.

    1. Go after Michael McKenry as 2nd catcher.
    2. Go after O’Flaherty and wait on his recovery.
    3. Go after Downs for OD in the BP. Howell will stay with LA.
    4. Keep TyMo to rotate regularly w/La Roche b/c TyMo is much better when he gets regular at bats. And if La Roche is raking who cares if TyMo bats?
    5. Roark for #5 starter. He attacks/pinpoints/ain’t scared of no-bod-y.
    6. Det to the BP as long lefty.
    7. If league figures Roark out, move Det in and hopefully O’Flaherty is ready.

  9. David Proctor - Dec 9, 2013 at 10:24 PM

    Jayson Stark ‏@jaysonst 14s
    Now appears that if #Nationals sign a LH reliever, it will be Howell or Downs. Other clubs getting feeling O’Flaherty will go back to Braves

    • David Proctor - Dec 9, 2013 at 10:27 PM

      I get the feeling that Rizzo isn’t too enamored with the free agent market at this point. This combined with Kilgore’s tweet about a trade makes me think that’s the avenue Rizzo will pursue.

      • nats128 - Dec 9, 2013 at 10:51 PM

        Got 2 really good leftys that only cost cash and no draft picks or players in a trade. I would hope they get Howell or Downs and save the players to trade for the last bench spot.

  10. nats128 - Dec 9, 2013 at 10:53 PM

    These Orioles rumors put a smile on my face.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/12/rajai-davis-nearing-deal.html

  11. Section 222 - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:33 AM

    Oh Rizzo, you jokester. Even if Ramos catches 125 games, that doesn’t mean Solano or Leon are good enough to catch the rest. You know, we know it, and the American people know it. (For those of you old enough to catch that reference.) And we all know the chances that he’ll catch that many are pretty slim, given his history. To abandon the search for a backup catcher now would be a triumph of hope over experience. That doesn’t usually work in baseball.

  12. David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    Apparently the White Sox are going to claim Adrien Nieto in the Rule 5 draft. Can’t really blame Rizzo for not protecting him, he’s in A ball.

    • water47 - Dec 10, 2013 at 7:00 AM

      Interesting. I would think it would be one of those, he sits on their roster for part of the year and then is returned.

  13. natsjackinfl - Dec 10, 2013 at 7:19 AM

    I find it hard to believe that Rizzo would go into the regular season with all in house options at catcher. However, there comes a time when the organization has to test it’s developmental capabilities and both Solano and Leon have been in the system for 4 years.

    Sooner or later the Nats have to show some confidence in their system.

  14. edshelton2013 - Dec 10, 2013 at 7:28 AM

    John Buck has been mentioned as a possible back-up for Ramos. Not sure he’s an upgrade over Solano/Leon:
    they hit .228 last year, while Buck hit .219.

    • masterfishkeeper - Dec 10, 2013 at 7:32 AM

      Buck has power, which Solano and Leon don’t have. Buck isn’t a great hitter, but he’s a lot better than Solano and Leon.

  15. Jw - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:27 AM

    It’s Throwback Tuesday on Nats Insider. The ad right under the banner at the top of the page is Caddies in Bethesda.

  16. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    Jw, the ads you see vary depending on sites you’ve visited, or interests you have otherwise indicated (I’m seeing MedStar, for instance). Not saying; I’m just saying.

    • natsfan1a - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      Wait, so you’re saying that JW may be JR? Nah. :-)

      • nats128 - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:44 AM

        It took me a while to get it…….Caddies=JR

        Good one!

      • Sonny G 10 - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:55 PM

        Hmmm…I still don’t get it.

  17. JamesFan - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    The Nats are negotiating in the media. They cannot go into 2014 with the staff they have and no serious backup for Ramos beyond a couple of minor leaguers. This is a bigger need than a new lefty in the pen.

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