Tag: pudge rodriguez

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.


2009 Fantasy Projections – Catcher

Gary Carter: He won't get injured and his BA won't hurt your team

Hi. My name is John. I enjoy eating pizza and yelling at parked cars.

Joe asked me to step in here and write something, so here goes… I’m going to rank the top 5 players at each position in the NL and the top 5 in the NL East. These offensive rankings are both for the season and for fantasy baseball – because that’s just how I roll.

Today’s position is catcher. Here goes:

National League Catchers

Catchers… Always a crapshoot and usually a big disappointment if you draft them too high. My strategy is to draft Gary Carter and live in a nostalgic fantasy world while everyone else’s catchers are on the DL or batting .220 due to sprained fingers and bad knees. When in doubt, think about ’86. Bring on the rankings:

  1. Brian McCann (.295-22-95) – If he stays healthy, the numbers could be even better.
  2. Russell Martin (.290-15-75) – Solid hitter without much power. If Torre doesn’t run him, his overall value could drop significantly in mixed leagues, but he has been durable and should drop no lower than the #2 catcher in the NL.
  3. Ryan Doumit (.310-18-75) – This guy can flat out hit but he’s an injury risk.
  4. Chris Iannetta (.260-20-85) – A decent prospect who finally came through last season. He should continue to improve and you can’t really go wrong with a catcher who calls Coors Field home.
  5. Ivan Rodriguez (.275-14-60) – I don’t believe in Geovany Soto (yet) and I’m willing to bet Pudge has enough in the gas tank for one more decent season. It looks like he may be hitting second, which could improve SB totals (he had 10 last year). Steroids or not, the guy knows how to play the game and he could be one of a few bright spots in Houston this season, until he is traded.

Sleeper: Keep an eye on Pablo Sandoval. He has an undisciplined approach at the plate, but he should get ABs and he should have or attain 1B/3B/C eligibility in most fantasy leagues.

National League East Catchers

After Brian McCann, things fall off sharply. If you take any other NL East catchers in your fantasy draft, you should probably just forget about your team, because you’re in serious trouble. There’s always fantasy NASCAR…

  1. Brian McCann (.295-22-95) – If he stays healthy, the numbers could be even better.
  2. John Baker (.250-12-65) – I like Baker’s approach at the plate and he may benefit from hitting in a decent lineup (if Florida’s lineup doesn’t regress). Get him cheap and hope for the best.
  3. Jesus Flores (.240-12-65) – Flores may be overrated because his name isn’t Paul LoDuca. I like him if he comes cheap.
  4. Ramon Castro (.250-7-35) – I can’t put Brian Schneider on this list. I just can’t. At least Castro has some upside – I could see him posting line of a .260-10-60 if he gets the chance to play everyday for extended time. If you’re in a deep NL-only league, Castro for $1 might pay dividends. Or not. Hey, it’s only a buck.
  5. Carlos Ruiz (.240-6-40) – Eh. I think Ruiz loses his job by mid-season, if Ronny Paulino shows up to play. If not, the Phillies could trade for a competent catcher (Ivan Rodriguez?).

Sleeper: Keep an eye on Ronny Paulino. He could be out of baseball and working in a car wash by mid-August, but he could also be hitting .270-8-55 by then too.

UPDATE: 3/26/09 – I have updated Ramon Castro’s projection. Thanks to Isuzudude for pointing out my projection was incorrect based on probable playing time.


7 Myths About Pudge Rodriguez Dispelled

Every excuse in the book is being thrown around as to why the Mets simply cannot sign Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. The Hall of Fame-caliber catcher’s recent performance in the WBC has the natives restless, creating so much noise that Mets’ Assistant GM Tony Bernazard (The Office reference — “no Tony, assistant TO the GM!”) felt the need to respond through Puerto Rico newspaper El Nuevo Dia. (Google translation here.)

Let’s go through some of the myths that are keeping Pudge out of Flushing.

1. He doesn’t fit in the Mets’ payroll — not with two catchers already under contract.

Really? Even after the Mets saved themselves about $1.6M by cutting Duaner Sanchez? From all public reports, Ivan Rodriguez is dying to play for the Mets, and likely would take much less than $1M. In fact, he might just take $500K for the opportunity to play for a pennant chaser in New York. Last year, manager Jerry Manuel liked the idea of having three catchers, and chances are good that both Robinson Cancel and Rene Rivera will spend time on the 25-man roster in ’09. Would you rather pay around $400-750K for a combination of Rivera and Cancel or about the same amount for Rodriguez?

2. Ivan Rodriguez hinders the development of young pitchers / doesn’t work well with them.

This is one of the most illogical knocks against him, but don’t take it from me — look at past history. For example, look at the two teams that Pudge LED into the World Series — the 2006 Tigers and the 2003 Marlins. The Tigers rode the arms of 23-year-old stallions Jeremy Bonderman and Justin Verlander; 24-year-old Zach Miner; and 21-year-old Joel Zumaya, among others. In fact, of the 19 hurlers who threw a pitch for the Tigers in ’06, only 3 were over the age of 29.

Compare that to the 2003 Marlins, whose aces that year were 21-year-old Dontrelle Willis and 23-year-old Josh Beckett, who led a rotation that also featured 25-year-old Brad Penny and 27-year-old Carl Pavano. Of the 22 pitchers from that squad, only four were over the age of 29.

Again, both the Tigers and the Marlins went to the World Series, with Ivan Rodriguez catching their young phenoms. I’m not sure where this myth emanated from, but it has no legs.

3. Ivan Rodriguez calls too many fastballs … and can’t call a game in general.

This one really gets my blood boiling, since I’ve been a catcher myself for the past 30 years. Let me just say this: it’s next to impossible to catch every day in MLB for nearly 20 years and be “bad” at calling a game. Even if you’re as dumb as a stump, after all that experience you have to pick up SOMETHING.

As far as the “too many fastballs” BS, I want to know exactly what pitchers expressed that complaint. In my experience of catching several hundred pitchers, there have been quite a few who “fell in love” with their breaking balls, to the point where they’d throw them on 3-1 counts despite it not being their best pitch. Anyone who complains about throwing “too many” fastballs probably needs to work on his command, and probably likes to mess around too much with trying to fool hitters instead of doing his job of throwing strikes to specific spots.

4. Ivan Rodriguez can’t hit any more.

This is a favorite of Yankees fans, who base their opinion on his 96 at-bats in pinstripes last year. In the first 82 games of 2008, in a Tigers uniform, Pudge hit .295 with a .338 OBP and .417 SLG. Those aren’t anywhere near the numbers he put up in his younger days, but no one is expecting him to return to MVP status — all the Mets need is someone to platoon with Brian Schneider. Those offensive numbers will be fine in the #7 or #8 spot in the order.

5. Ivan Rodriguez may hit for average, but so what? His OBP stinks.

Hmm …. the sabermetricians have me there, don’t they? Well it’s true that Pudge’s combined OBP last year wasn’t too hot — only .319. But his career OBP is .340, which isn’t too shabby. And his OBP as a Tiger in 2008 was, as previously mentioned, .338 — which by the way is one point less than Brian Schneider’s .339.

Again, we’re talking about a seventh or eighth-place hitter on a National League team, who will be making less than a million dollars — does he need to be an on-base machine? Oh, and as long as we’re so enthralled with OBP, Robinson Cancel’s was .288 last year, and Ramon Castro’s was .312.

6. He’s not the same player since he stopped taking PEDs.

Got me again. But then, neither is Paul LoDuca, Guillermo Mota, Ron Villone, Mike Piazza, Lino Urdaneta, Matt Franco, Todd Pratt, Todd Hundley, Lenny Dykstra, Mark Carreon, Mo Vaughn, Scott Schoeneweis, Mike Stanton, Matt Lawton, Yusaku Iriki, or Felix Heredia. But he’s still a fairly productive and durable player off “the juice”.

7. Bringing in Pudge might upset Brian Schneider, Ramon Castro, and/or disrupt the chemistry of the clubhouse.

So what? Last I checked, that “chemistry” was in serious doubt, and leaderless. The rumblings we keep hearing is that the Mets’ clubhouse is comprised of segmented factions and clicks, with language as a dividing line. And why wouldn’t you want to disrupt a team that blew September leads and wilted under pressure two years in a row? Maybe Pudge can be a go-to guy for the media — a role that is sorely lacking in that clubhouse.

As for Schneider and Castro, neither of them have proven to me that they deserve to be comfortable. I see no World Series rings nor MVP trophies from either that suggest they’ve earned the right not to compete for their jobs. And Castro’s joking manner and “ability to keep the team loose” may be just the thing Jeff Wilpon was talking about when he mentioned “addition by subtraction” last fall. Until the Mets laugh their way into the playoffs, I’m not buying into Castro’s personality being a positive factor … though, in his defense, it’s easier to be funny when you win.

Bottom Line

Pudge Rodriguez wants to come to New York, and NOT for the money … how often do you find that combination in a player? Heck, I guarantee there are at least 3-4 current Mets who would gladly play in Kansas City, or a similarly small media market, if they could take their hefty salary with them. Further, no one is suggesting that Pudge would be the Mets’ everyday catcher. Rather, he’d be an ideal platoon partner with Brian Schneider, and/or a third catcher and RH bat to have on the bench. And he’ll probably come at a price less than what the Mets are paying Cory Sullivan. Isn’t it worth giving someone with his resume and postseason experience a shot — particularly when your team can use a durable, righthanded hitting catcher?


Mets Release Duaner Sanchez

After another underwhelming outing, Duaner Sanchez was released by the New York Mets.

Sanchez topped out at only 84 MPH in a spring training game against the Orioles, allowing three hits, a walk, and two runs in one inning. He did, however, strike out two. In five appearances this spring, Sanchez spun five innings, allowing five hits, three runs, and six walks, while striking out four. His ERA is 3.60.

From Adam Rubin’s blog:

“We looked at it, really, his overall performance based upon last year to where he is now,” GM Omar Minaya said. “We really didn’t see the improvement we felt was needed to be effective in the major leagues. I thought he was improving some. We sat down and talked about it yesterday, late after the game.”

Minaya said the Mets had too many other attractive options in the bullpen. The move appears to directly help Bobby Parnell, although it could allow for a second lefthander to join Pedro Feliciano as well.

Personally, I’m not sure how this move helps Bobby Parnell, who has been getting battered around himself. If anything, it helps Rule 5 picks Darren O’Day and Rocky Cherry, as well as Brian Stokes and Connor Robertson.

Minaya also said the move was made as a favor to Sanchez, as it will be easier for him to hook on with another club now rather than later in the spring. Though, the quick release certainly doesn’t hurt the finances — by cutting him now, the Mets owe only $276,339 of his $1.6875M salary. Hmm …. that gives the Mets some payroll flexibility to sign, say, Pudge Rodriguez.

Sanchez was released because the Mets were unhappy with his lack of improvement over last season, though Minaya believed he was working hard. Minaya supposedly told Rubin that the Mets “…had too many other attractive options in the bullpen.” Well, Sanchez certainly has shown to be only a shell of his former self, but I have yet to see anyone out of the bullpen showing to be head and shoulders above Duaner. As bad as Sanchez looks in the second week of March, he did appear in 66 games last year, mostly as a 7th or 8th-inning reliever. I’m not so certain he’s so awful that he isn’t worth keeping around as a long man / mopup guy, in the hopes he can regain his velocity. Bottom line is the finances — if Sanchez’s salary was under $1M, he’d likely still be around.

Some interesting quotes by Sanchez from Rubin’s article:

“I don’t like the result,” Sanchez said after that appearance. “… I like how my arm feels and everything else. I’m not worried about the shoulder. When you get the results is when the season starts. … Last season basically was part of my rehab, if you put it that way. You’re doing rehab for a year and a half and are jumping right into the season. I got no rest or anything else. It was just part of the rehab. Did I like the results from last season? No. Definitely no. That’s not me. But I was trying to compete with what I had last year.”

As for now, Sanchez added: “My arm is not bothering me. It’s not getting sore the next day after I pitch. I feel really good. … I’m just trying to build up my arm so it can be like ’06.”

Someone will jump on Sanchez, who on a minor league deal and the MLB minimum will be worth rolling the dice to see if he can come back.


Oliver Perez Signed

Finally, the Mets signed Oliver Perez.

The contract is a very fair three years at $36M. Not too much for the Mets to feel hamstrung in the event Ollie spends more time as Mr. Hyde, and not so little that Perez should feel slighted. And in fact, the three-year contract makes a lot of sense for the still-young lefty, who at the end will be only 30 years old and — if he plays his cards right — could be in line for a mega deal.

Personally, I’m very happy Oliver Perez is back with the Mets. He’s one of the few members of the team who has some style and character, and plays the entire game with passion. Yes, that passion sometimes is his downfall, and he has yet to learn how to avoid falling apart and beating himself when things go poorly. However, it’s part of who he is, and I enjoy watching “colorful” and unique ballplayers.

As we all know, Ollie is as gifted as any lefthander in MLB. Whether he can “figure it out” and get his mental skills to reach the levels of his physical gifts remains to be seen. Should that connection ever occur, the Mets could have the best lefty in the NL, a dominant Cy Young candidate. More likely, he’ll be the same Ollie we’ve known since 2006 — up and down, outstanding at times and awful at others. In the end, that’s OK, because the bottom line is this: he takes the ball every five days, and he goes into the 7th inning the majority of the time. Yes, there are days he can’t get out of the fourth (or third) frame, but for more than half his starts, he’ll get past the sixth. Considering that both John Maine and Johan Santana are coming off surgeries, and the back end is full of question marks, one cannot underestimate the value of an above-average starter making 30-32 starts. It’s easy to forget the days that people like Brian Lawrence, Jose Lima, Dave Williams, and Chan Ho Park took the mound too many times.

With Oliver Perez in the fold, we can assume that the Mets are done assembling arms for the starting rotation — though, I’d still like to see Pedro Martinez brought back on a minor league deal. They might pick up another scrub for the back end, but you can forget Ben Sheets — at this point, it ain’t gonna happen. Hopefully, Omar Minaya will now focus on bringing in one or two more middle relief arms (Chad Cordero?) and a power-hitting outfielder. At this point, I no longer care if it’s a lefthanded hitter (Adam Dunn? Bobby Abreu?) or a righty (Manny Ramirez!) — a strong hitting lefty is still better than anything that Fernando Tatis and Danny Murphy can produce.

Oh, and how about picking up Pudge Rodriguez on the cheap, to platoon with Brian Schneider? He’ll come cheap.