Nationals Journal reporter Adam Kilgore is all over Henry Rodriguez. The headline for his article today — in the wake of the Nationals impressive 5-2 win (and sweep) in New York — says it all: “Henry Rodriguez creates another mess, and Drew Storen gets out of it.”
Kilgore is reacting to another blowup by Rodriguez, the second in a row that nearly cost the Nationals a game. “Suddenly, the tying run in a 5-1 game had moved into the on-deck circle,” Kilgore wrote. “Johnson came to yank Rodriguez. For the second straight appearance, Rodriguez had faced two batters, allowed them both to reach base and been pulled.”
Of course, Kilgore wasn’t the only one who noticed — Nationals fans were tweeting about Rodriguez like crazy this afternoon. We’re embarrassed to say this, but the Centerfield Gate editorial staff (for those who’ve forgotten, here we are) were among the chirpers: “out of it” we said after the bullpen rescued Rodriguez: “#nats pitch around the wildness of Henry Rodriguez . . . should be a mantra . . .”
So what should the Nationals do about Henry? There are a number of choices, including one that seems popular just now with a whole boatload of exasperated and frustrated Nationals’ fans: designate him for assignment — the equivalent in Henry’s case (since he’s out of options) of a death sentence. Or trade him, now, for whatever the team can get. But no matter, in either case it would mean the Nationals are giving up on him.
Somehow that not only doesn’t seem right, it doesn’t sound like something that either Mike Rizzo or Davey Johnson would do. Rizzo paid a pretty price for Rodriguez, giving up Josh Willingham to the A’s for him, and for Corey Brown. Willingham is doing pretty well just now: he’s not only playing well for the Minnesota Twins, he is the Minnesota Twins.
Nor does it sounds like something that Davey Johnson would do. The Nats’ skipper has repeatedly expressed his confidence in Rodriguez — and he’s had to. “There’s another day tomorrow,” Johnson said after today’s adventure. “I’m not afraid to run him out there. He’s been spectacular for us, and at times not so good. Next time out, it’ll probably get spectacular.”
We remember: there was a day not long ago when the CFG contingent (regulars in Section 1-2-9) were on their feet cheering for Henry, the unstoppable fireballer who was rescuing the team from Drew Storen’s fragmented elbow. Then too, this is not the first time that Nationals fans (really, it wasn’t just us) have grabbed the guillotine.
Back in 2010, we suggested that Ian Desmond (34 errors!) might not ever make a good shortstop — and should be traded to San Francisco for Jonathan Sanchez. And earlier this year we lost faith that Danny Espinosa (now on an eleven game hitting streak) wouldn’t ever hit. If it was up to us, these guys would be playing up the middle and Johnny Sanchez would be where he is now: plying his questionable wares for one of the worst teams in baseball.
So we admit: we don’t have an answer to the question of what the Nationals should do about Henry, though we suspect that Davey Johnson probably does. Back in the middle of June, as we recall, Chien-Ming Wang was having control problems, and throwing the ball all over the plate. Chien-Ming had “problems with his mechanics” it was said.
And here’s what Davey said — he said that Chien-Ming needed to be fixed. “It’s our job to get him right,” he said. “And we’ll do it.”
Listen, we love Henry Rodriguez, we really do. And we remember those days when he walked calmly off the mound after throwing a 101 mph fastball past a slugger; after he struck out the side. We want him to stay with the Nationals. We want him to be good again. So. Fix. Him.