In an obvious attempt to make up for losing out on Prince Fielder, the Washington Nationals today signed 35-year-old Brad Lidge to a one-year deal worth about $1 million, plus incentives.
And I don’t imagine one of those incentives is finishing the year with his arm still attached to his shoulder socket.
Earlier this week, I noted that the Phillies were having discussions with their former closer to return to the club in 2012 as a late-inning set-up man.
Without rehashing the entire column, here was the gist. The Phillies should not attempt to sign Lidge to a deal. He has only one pitch left, and while it’s a good one, it’s dangerous to think he can survive an entire season on just that one pitch. Not only that, with all the young studs the Phillies have to potentially fill out the bullpen, signing Lidge to a $2-3 million deal, while so close to the luxury tax, wouldn’t be smart.
Apparently, the Phillies agreed. The Nationals did not.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweeted earlier today that the Phils’ offer to Lidge was “of the low-ball variety.” As well it should have been. While by all accounts Lidge was a tremendous guy, and will forever be able to get a free beer anywhere he goes in the Philadelphia area, signing him to anything more than a $1 million deal just didn’t make any sense.
For many, Lidge will be remembered as much for his struggles in 2009 and his failure to stay healthy in 2011 as for his perfect season in 2008. Lidge was actually better than most will remember, but because of his injuries and ineffectiveness for long periods of time, he is a cautionary tale about giving closers long-term, big-money deals (cough, cough, Papelbon, cough).
For the Nationals, the deal will depend solely on whether Lidge can get hitters out with a high-80s fastball and a slider that must be thrown for strikes in order to get people out, and whether he can actually make it through an entire season. Lidge will likely be one of a number of pitchers to set up for Drew Storen, provided Storen doesn’t get traded for a center fielder at some point this year.
As for Phils fans, Lidge’s departure should be met with some degree of sadness. The salad days are clearly over. Only eight players remain from that 2008 championship season: Blanton, Hamels, Kendrick, Chooch, Howard, Rollins, Utley and Victorino.
So, if you’re feeling nostalgic, grab a beer from the fridge tonight, watch the 2008 Phils World Series video and gaze at Mr. Lidge doing his thing.
And, my advice for the Phillies should they face Lidge in 2012 is… LOOK… FOR… THE… SLIDER.