Lightning I-Rod

I was happy to see that (Ivan) Rodriguez is no longer mentioning the
Astros as the teams who are supposedly interested in him. The latest
news I read listed only the Mets and Marlins. That is good, because
after checking with Ed Wade yet again today, I can assure you the
Astros are not pursuing him. And judging from the irritated look on his
face, I can also assure you I won’t be asking him about Pudge again
anytime soon. At least not for two weeks. Or maybe 10 days. At the very
least, I’ll wait a week.

Oh, and he’s not bidding on Pedro Martinez, either.

Ivan Rodriguez.jpg

This was from Alyson Footer’s blog, Alyson’s Footnotes, three days ago.  This morning, Roy Oswalt let loose with the scoop that he ran into Rodriguez at Dolphin Stadium during the WBC, and that Rodriguez greeted him with, “Hey, teammate.”

I respect and admire Alyson very much, and don’t blame her for the misdirection play Wade ran, despite many major media outlets continuing to say that the Astros were talking to Pudge’s agent, Scott Boras.  If that’s how he felt he needed to play it, then so be it.

Yes, following the WBC and a physical, Rodriguez is expected to sign with the Astros (please keep in mind that he has not signed – he is simply expected to.)

J.R. Towles.jpg

On the surface, I have to admit that this makes perfect sense.  The Astros’ catching situation is a quagmire.  Neither Humberto Quintero nor J.R. Towles has separated himself from the admittedly-abysmal pack this spring, and here is one of the best, if not the best catcher of his generation, looking for nothing more than playing time.

And a $1.5m deal, with another $1.5m in possible incentives, doesn’t break the bank.  Rodriguez comes with a solid resume.  He’s raking for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.  He may have single-handedly carried the Marlins to a World Series championship in 2003.  He’s probably the best dual offensive-defensive catcher since Johnny Bench.  And despite a tumultuous time in New York at the end of 2008, he finished the year going .276/.319/.394, which by far bests the current Astros duo of Towles and Quintero, who went a combined .185/.255/.306 at the big league level.

As far as moves go, it was an instant and decisive upgrade at a reasonable price, and most Astros fans should be thrilled.  As for me, I don’t really like the move.

Humberto Quintero.jpg

My last entry detailed a lot of why this is.  Over the past two seasons, Rodriguez has averaged 1.75 Win Shares with his offense and defense.  Quintero, almost the very definition of league-average, contributed 0.0.  Towles had -0.3.  This gives, at the most, a 2-3 game swing.  If that 2-3 wins is enough to get us into the playoffs, this is a great move.

If it isn’t, we’ve hurt ourselves in a few ways.  First, we’ve lost money.  Without knowing the incentives, let’s assume Pudge makes $3m in 2009.  Since he’s unlikely to make the team significantly more competitive by himself, it’s unlikely the attendance figures will increase from 2008.  In fact, a decrease in attendance is still more likely.  The money going to Rodriguez, a temporary stop-gap measure that may mean the difference between 3rd and 4th place in the weak NL Central, would be far better spent on signing bonuses and development, in my opinion.

Second, assuming we pick up those 2-3 wins, we’ve hurt ourselves in the 2010 June draft.  Last season, a 3-win swing could have hurt a team’s draft spot by as many as four draft picks (had Atlanta won three more games, they would have ended up drafting after Detroit, Cincinnati, Colorado, and Kansas City.)  Additionally, though Rodriguez is a Type-B Free Agent and therefore doesn’t require the surrender of a 2009 draft pick, the Yankees do receive a sandwich pick for him.  This means that there will be one more player off the board by the time we get to our second round pick, after what was already going to be the longest first round in history.

If I’m wrong and Pudge helps whip the pitching staff into shape and ignites the offense, batting second in the order and providing multiple opportunities for Berkman, Lee, Tejada, and Pence, propelling us into the playoffs, then I’ll be happy to be wrong.

But if all he does is put us into the hunt for a Wild Card late in the season, it will actually have turned out to have been a bad move for a team that needs to re-stock its farm system.

(Note: I was working on an article about the Boston Red Sox to post today.  However, due to some unforeseen time constraints and this breaking news, I will have to delay it.  I hope to have it completed by the end of the week.)


  1. mwilly33

    rr15, I was wondering what your thoughts were. I was going to fire off an e-mail, but I guess this works a bit better (would have been a long e-mail). I like the move. I seriously doubted it would happen because of all the factors Alyson stated, but I’m happy to be wrong. It is a bit embarrassing that the national outlets kept reporting the Astros as suitors, while our own beat writer (and locals too) kept denying the story. I’m sure she/ they aren’t too pleased with Wade. Yet another example of how sleazy Boras is.

    I hope it works out, and he’s all that we think he’ll be. I’m really expecting Miggy to have a good year, and adding Pudge in the 2-hole will most certainly help everyone out.

    Later on buddy.

  2. Cockroach

    I assume it’s entirely predictable that I’m in favor of the Pudge signing. 😉 I do think your points are valid, and I don’t disagree with you there. I do feel the positives outweigh the negatives, though, and therefore I believe the signing is worth the risk. No, Pudge himself won’t get us to the playoffs – we need Russ Ortiz and Mike Hampton dueling each other for Comeback Player of the Year for that. But it’s a good PR move for the majority of Astros fans who haven’t had much to get excited about since the Tejada trade, or the Carlos Lee signing before that (even though Pudge won’t match either of them offensively). It improves the team’s chances at making the playoffs, with the kind of low-cost, high-reward signing Drayton loves. And it keeps some of your current stars happy too; Oswalt loves the signing, and I expect Berkman and others will say the same. There’s something to be said for boosting morale within the ranks.

  3. roundrock15

    Wade must have had his reasons for having to lie. “Embarrassing” is exactly right, though. Major (and not so major) news outlets were reporting interest “despite what they say publicly” and all Alyson can go off of is what Ed says, and that was “no.” Ah well we still love ‘er. 🙂

    I would never question someone for being excited about this move. As I said in my entry, it’s a decisive and definitive upgrade; the catcher position went from solid defensively and mediocre offensively to being superior defensively and solid offensively. It’s a move that definitely improves the major league team, and could be responsible for getting them into the playoffs. It gives the Astros the best catcher in the division – better defensively than Hernandez, Doumit, or Soto; better offensively than Molina or Kendall.

    I guess I’m just at the point where I look at this decimated farm system and I think that any move that doesn’t put us into the playoffs just makes it harder for us to compete in the future. My opinion; and I more than respect yours. The fan in me wants to be thrilled.

  4. stonebutch99

    I guess you can say that Wade threw her a curveball, and that is exactly why I wouldn’t be a good media person. I’m thinking that could have led to another Chacon moment, and we all know how that turned out. 😉
    Anyone drinking green beer tonight? Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

  5. roundrock15

    Yeah poor Alyson. I mean, it doesn’t really make her look very good. But it doesn’t really make her look bad, either. Just that the next time there are rumors and Wade rants and raves and turns all red in denying them and wonders why the fans just keep asking, he’ll have no reason not to blame himself.

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