FICK FINDS HOPE IN D.C. REDUX
[December 20th] -- Robert Fick just might wear the Nationals' red, blue and gold after all.
The Nationals announced on Wednesday that Fick has signed a minor-league contract that comes with an invitation to spring training.
Frankly, I've been confused about the Nationals' treatment of Fick since the season ended. When the journeyman utility player told Jim Bowden that he wanted "nothing more than to return to Washington," he was told that the Nationals' first order of business was finding a new manager to replace Frank Robinson. "We'll let you know" was all Fick was told.
Fick feels that he can get 300+ at-bats in 2007, though that sounds like a very high number to me, even if he would be the #1 choice off the bench for new manager Manny Acta.
From Nationals.com: "I like Washington, that's the No. 1 reason for coming back," Fick said. "The opportunity is there. With [Alfonso Soriano] gone, that leaves left field open with more playing time. I can catch behind Schneider and the young kid [Jesus Flores]. Daryle Ward is not there. Marlon Anderson is not there. So it's a chance for me to be the top guy off the bench. I feel lucky that the team wants me back."
Look, I know he's not a great catcher, and he's not a great first baseman, and he's not a great outfielder, but he's good enough at all three positions to play them at the major league level. It's especially important that the team carry as many versatile players on the roster as possible if they intend to keep uber-rule 5 draft pick Jesus Flores on the roster all year. I see the potential problems if Fick makes the team. Flores will be the only right-handed hitting catcher, and he's not ready to be the #2 catcher. That's just not an ideal situation. Also, fan favorite Brandon Harper, just recently outrighted to 'AAA' Columbus, won't have much of a chance to return to the Nationals, even if he passes through waivers.
Fick is the kind of guy you want on your team. He is versatile, and he is hard-nosed. He plays to win and he plays flat-out every time he takes the field. His .261 career batting average isn't great, but it's good enough for the job he'll do for the Nationals. Last year, he batted .266 last year with 2 home runs and 9 RBI's.
I've always been a Robert Fick fan. I have to assume that he'll make the team and have a role similar to that of last year.
Congratulations, Robert. Welcome home (again).
Note: This is the article I wrote a year ago about my desire to have Robert Fick on the Nationals.
HEY JIM, PICK FICK!
He played 28 games at catcher and 29 games at first base. He trolled the outfield for 19 games and even filled in at 3rd base.
And he's a free agent.
When The Atlanta Braves were searching for a first baseman following the 2002 season, manager Bobby Cox got a call from a friend in the American League. "Robert Fick," the friend began, "plays baseball the way you did. He's scrappy and fights every moment he's on the field." The Braves signed Fick, who went .269-11-80 for Atlanta, good but not good enough for a first baseman. He was signed by the Padres the following season, and promptly had the worst year of his career. After being cut by San Diego, he was signed by the Devil Rays, the only team that wanted him. Talk about a career ender. He never gave up, however, and was resigned by the Padres in 2005. In 93 games, the 30 year old batted .265 with 3 homers and 30 RBI's.
Fick was the backup at FIVE different positions. He hustled, he dove for ever ball, he ran to first base when he walked, and was a team leader from the bench. Fick earned $450,000 in 2005, and could earn $1 million next season, a figure that easily can be worked into the Nationals salary structure for
The Nationals are maturing as a team, and need to rid themselves of the older, worn out players that rode the bench in 2005.
Fick is [relatively] young, healthy, and gives new meaning to the term "utility player." With newly acquired Damian Jackson and Fick, Frank Robinson could make almost any lineup move during a game and not worry about running out of position players. The two of them can play every position except pitcher.
The Yankees and Cardinals build from the top down, signing high priced free agents and then filling in backup positions with whom ever they can find [This explains the Cardinals signing Expos/Nationals castoff Einar Diaz as their backup catcher]. The Nationals, however, must build from the bottom up, signing high quality, versatile players who can make a difference coming off the bench. Robert Fick is just that kind of player.
Let's hope the Nationals sign Fick before the rest of the league gets wise.