Should Mets Sign Pudge Rodriguez?

According to Mike Puma:

A Mets official spoke with Ivan Rodriguez as recently as 10 days ago, and the team hasn’t ruled out the possibility of signing Rodriguez as a backup to Josh Thole. But before the Mets spend the roughly $2 million they have remaining in the budget, their priority is to ensure Johan Santana is healthy. Otherwise, the remaining money would be allocated toward another starting pitcher. The Mets official told Rodriguez to “stay in shape,” because anything can still happen.

I feel like there is a Pudge-to-Mets rumor right after the end of every season and right before the beginning of every season; it’s like a bookend. Could it really happen this time?

In past seasons, signing Ivan Rodriguez would have made plenty of sense, because the Mets could have used his veteran experience and leadership behind the plate in years when they were gunning for the postseason. Now, I’m not so sure why the Mets would add him.

Perhaps Pudge fits in as a mentor, both to Josh Thole and to the youngsters on the Mets’ pitching staff. The Thole idea holds water, but as for the latter, the Mets’ Opening Day roster doesn’t project to have many “young” pitchers. Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee, and Pedro Beato are all the youngest, at 25 years old (and Beato may start the year in AAA), so I’m not sure the “teaching the youngsters” thing flies.

On the other hand, I wonder if the Mets bring in Pudge because they don’t have confidence in Thole to properly handle a pitching staff. If that’s the case, well, hmm … if Thole isn’t going to be given the chance to learn this year, then he likely never will.

One more possibility: the Mets believe that there’s still enough left in Pudge to make him a worthwhile chip at the trading deadline. Who knows? If he goes on a hot streak in June, and a contender’s starting catcher goes down with injury, Pudge could command interest.

My best guess is that the Mets would bring in Ivan Rodriguez to both teach Thole and take some of the load off of him. Mike Nickeas appears to be a solid defensive catcher who pitchers like to work with, but Nickeas doesn’t have the same aura or experience that Pudge does — and therefore isn’t as valuable as Pudge in terms of mentoring Josh Thole.

What do you think? Should the Mets bring in Pudge? Why or why not? Answer in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Steven February 29, 2012 at 12:55 pm
    I would not bring in Pudge. This is a year where we have to see if our young players can develop. As you said “if Thole isn’t going to be given the chance to learn this year, then he likely never will.
  2. Joe February 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm
    My impression is Pudge isn’t a full time player any more so is more of a back-up these days. So, the question is if you want to take time away from Nickeas. If N. spends more time in the minors, I reckon that wouldn’t be a horrible idea.

    Pudge there might add some interest. As to trading deadline stuff, yeah, maybe. I recall one year the Twins needed a back-up catcher, they were a playoff team and had few options. Probably can find a taker for one of the slots there. The back-up often is some vet.

    I rather give N. time in the bigs though.

  3. Walnutz15 February 29, 2012 at 1:21 pm
    Per Rubin:

    Second Mets source adds definitively: “We are not bringing Ivan here.”

    • Joe Janish February 29, 2012 at 11:32 pm
      Yeah saw that too. Luckily, though, the lines of communication are still open with Chris Young (/sarcasm).
  4. Glenn March 1, 2012 at 2:13 am
    Why? According to all experts (snicker) the Mets aren’t going anyway so why bother? It’s time to see what the Mets got by letting the players play.
  5. Izzy March 1, 2012 at 8:45 am
    Sign Ivan would have nothing to do with today and everything to do with tomorrow. The current and future catcher Thole would not be jeopardized or lose playing time to Ivan. He would be mentored and would improve. Thole improved tremendously in 2009 with a vet backing him up and mentoring him, and he regressed with Paulino behind him. Nickeas can’t help Thiole. He’s a career minor leaguer. Ivan can help Thole. don’t believe it??? Look at the progress Wilson Ramos made in Dc last year; offensively and defensively. All the guys screaming that we need to be patient and all that miss the point of what Ivan could do, and not bringing him in shows that the Met front office is once again all talk and no action.
  6. Mike Kelm March 2, 2012 at 10:51 am
    Living down here in DC, I’ve had a chance to see Pudge the last two years, and I have to agree with Izzy that the guy could be a big help. First off, this is not a team with a lot of veterans on it- outside of Bay and Wright, there’s not too many guys who have been there and done that- a steady clubhouse presence and veteran who can work with Thole and the pitching staff isn’t the worst thing. Wilson Ramos went from an almost miss to a quality catcher, and you can’t say that Pudge alone didn’t have a role in that. Second, your backup catchers are Mike Nickeas and Rob Johnson- a guy who hit .212 last season and a guy who hit .190 last season. While Pudge isn’t the .300/25/95 guy he used to be, he can at least hit as well as that.

    The mets should get creative with deal making- an incentive laden contract that would top out at around $2M dollars. Something like $800K plus tiered bonuses for games caught, number of hits, home runs, etc. Is Pudge going to help the Mets win the division this year- no. But if he can impart guidance to the flashes of brilliance but amazingly inconsistent Pelfrey, Neise and Gee and the potentially useful Josh Thole, than we would be looking at having a quality 3,4, and 5 in the rotation and a catcher that would be in the upper half of big leaguers.

    Lastly it allows you to cultivate a relationship with someone who could in the future fill the roving catcher instructor/mentor role, especially with younger players from Latin America. If this is going to be Pudge’s last year as an active player, he still has a long future ahead of them as a coach.