VIERA, Fla. - Based on his performance down here this spring, I tend to believe that when October rolls around, Wilson Ramos will have handled the bulk of the catching chores with the Nationals in 2011.
And really, why not? On a roster that is building for the future, Ramos, at 23, would seem to be in the same position Jesus Flores was in a couple of years ago, prior to his shoulder injury.
This is to take nothing away from Ivan Rodriguez, whose appetite for the game and for lots of work shows no sign of diminishing. As I wrote in this space recently, I still have this nagging thought that Pudge is going to end up in someone else's uniform when all is said and done. A few clubs are in search of help behind the plate - Houston, Boston and Kansas City, to name a few - and the Nats currently have depth back there. Rodriguez has just this year left on his current contract, which may make him particularly attractive to another club. It's been reported that the Nationals have been scouting Red Sox righty Daisuke Matsuzaka - perhaps there's a fit in Beantown.
Ramos has the requisite defensive skills that allows him to be described as a receiver, not just a catcher. Offensively, he's hit well enough this spring, though his spring stats have been traditionally good the past couple of seasons.
Downside? None, really, unless you're a stickler for experience. Based on the premise that Rodriguez's experience adds an intangible to the pitching staff Ramos - or Flores - can't provide, maybe that argument holds water. But as the franchise moves forward, perhaps the time has come to give that less weight.
Ramos seems ready for prime time. That should get under way by April.