Pudge on the Outs

Like a lot of free agents, Ivan Rodriguez is looking for a job. However, while most of the big names will eventually find work, even if it’s for less than they had hoped, it appears at least somewhat likely that Pudge might be on the Kenny Lofton/Sammy Sosa forced retirement path. David Samson, president of the Marlins, recently stated that there is zero chance that Florida will sign Pudge, and the other teams with catching needs simply don’t sound interested.

I find this pretty strange, honestly. Over the last four years, Pudge has been worth 2.2, 2.5, 1.6, and 1.9 wins, if you assume that he’s been average defensively. I know pitchers have reported having problems with his pitch calling, but he’s still generally regarded as one of the best defensive catchers of all time – it’s hard to imagine that he could have declined so much that his defense would take away all of his offensive value.

This is, after all, a catcher who hasn’t posted a wOBA below .300 since 1992. Those aren’t exactly laying around on the waiver wire. Brad Ausmus, who just signed for $1 million with the Dodgers yesterday, has had a wOBA of greater than .300 only one time this decade. His career wOBA is .298, compared to Pudge’s .350. Ausmus found two suitors, and when the Padres lost him to LA, they turned to Henry Blanco, who has a career .282 wOBA.

Both of those guys have good reputations for their work with pitchers, but that is apparently the only criteria teams are using when choosing which catchers to sign. You’d have to believe that Pudge was the worst handler of pitchers of all time to make up for the offensive gap between him and guys like Ausmus or Blanco.

Clearly, there’s something about Pudge that teams don’t like. Much like with Kenny Lofton, though, he’s definitely still a major league caliber player who wants to keep playing. He may not get that chance, however.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


17 Responses to “Pudge on the Outs”

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  1. Steve Wower says:

    WAR tells a team the value they may or may not be getting but it doesn’t tell a team how the player will really effect the difference between their RS and RA.

    Pudge might be a 2 WAR player and Abreu might be a 2 WAR player in ’09. However, adding an Abreu will impact pythag much greater though because those 20 runs in the position adjustments aren’t going to apply to Pudge’s actual production.

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      • Steve Wower says:

        Pythag doesn’t care where the RS or RA come from….

        People paying for them do.

        Abreu was a 39 run bat last season normalized for 600 PAs. Pudge was a 13 run bat over replacement normalized for 600 PAs. Who is going to effect the pythag more as a DH?

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      • Steve Wower says:

        WAR makes sense when talking about how much money player A is worth versus player B (i.e. players production can be compared on an apples to apples basis).

        But when looking at real wins and the pythag (RS/RA), position adjustments aren’t really kosher. By that I mean a shortstop didn’t contribute 15 more runs to the RA/RS difference than a corner outfielder just because of the position he played. His production may be more valuable money wise because of where on the field it came from but there is no difference between a +10 bat/+10 glove at short vs a +10 bat/+10 glove in leftfield when it comes to a team’s won-loss record.

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      • Dave Cameron says:

        Sorry Steve, but what you’re saying just isn’t true.

        The +10 bat is compared to a league average hitter. The +10 glove is compared to a league average fielder at that position. To get them on the same scale, you have to include a positional adjustment.

        You can’t pretend like the difference between a +10 SS and a +10 LF is zero runs.

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      • Steve Wower says:

        Thanks for your reply Dave.

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  2. BTC says:

    I have to believe that Pudge will land a job before Spring Training breaks. While he is clearly past his prime, he has (supposedly, according to him) maintained his body and is self-proclaimed to be in his best shape since 2004.

    He isn’t nearly what he was, but he’s still better than a lot out there. I’m a bit surprised that the Orioles never really looked into him. I get that Zaun is a viable mentor / stopgap for Wieters, but why not learn from one of the best we’ve seen over the past few decades?

    While the Padres are fairly content in going with Nick Hundley as their backstop right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave Pudge a look of he could come in at a discounted rate (yes, I realize the Friars are right at their budget line).

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  3. Matt B. says:

    Probably because he is a huge jackass. Word is he is a serious jerk and less than ideal teammate. My bet is he is finished.

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  4. Matt B. says:

    Pudge is a rally killer supreme version. His stats have stunk pretty bad since he dropped 50 lbs to be ‘more agile’. He isn’t exactly a fan favourite, ideal teammate, he’s become lazy behind the plate (in terms of blocking balls), never been a good game caller.

    Pudge was a stud catcher in his day, and outside of arm, is below average.

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  5. Matt B. says:

    He’s had negative WPA the past 3 seasons, and his defense is highly overstated, WHY would anyone pay his ransom when there are a multitude of cheap catchers who will peform either better offensively, or comparable defensively.

    Brad Ausmus got a shot because he is a great teammate, solid leader and a great game caller. Why would you potentially poison a young pitching staff?

    Ausmus or Pudge? I am taking Brad all day… Although I will miss Pudge’s 5 BBs in 400 PAs, that’s for sure…

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  6. lisa says:

    Listen, ass(es). I am from Detroit and Pudge was absolutely a fan FAVORITE. He meant and means so much to the city of Detroit. We still have love for Mags and Cabby, Verlander, Poli, and Guillen, but Baseball in Detroit will NEVER be as good as it was when Ivan was here. He was our renaissance man. He did a lot for us, and as for the jackass comment that he was a “less that ideal” Teammate…Im sure you are just ideal sitting at home with your beer gut and needing to shave, giveing stupid baseless statistics to make yourself feel better. How many other Future hall of famers do you know who volunteer to play 2nd because of an injury. He was 100% Detroit Tigers Baseball. I know a lot of people who cancelled their season tickets because of that trade.. and for KYLE *&^$%*) Farnsworth. I hope Dave Dombrowski falls in the grave he’s dug for himself. Because as much morrale as our city has lost. He’s gonna need another Renaissance man, and if they were smart they would resign him. Gerald Freakin Laird and Dusty Ryan? What a joke. I love mi tigres, but I hope despite my love for the rest of the guys that Dombrowski gets what he deserves.

    And at Tigerfest when fans asked Dave Dombrowski “What to we need most?” He said “Catching”. Hmmm Heinsights 20/20. Also, Dombrowski called pudge a “long shot” which means they DID want him back. So all you haters….Just watch and see.

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  7. lisa says:

    opps we forgot CJ and Co, We still love Grandy and Zumaya and Shef and Inge (though its a sore subject) too. Not enough time to list them all!

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  8. Matt B. says:

    Actually, I have inside knowledge on things Tigers related. A family friend works for the team, even used to play for a few years – sounds made up I know, but true.

    Pudge was one of the most despised players on the team. He was apparantly a huge JA and a serious drama queen. Oh, to top it off, he dumped his family for a stripper.

    Gerald Laird is a steal compared to Pudge’s brutal contract the past few years.

    As for future HOF, we’ll see how his steroid stats affect his HOF vote, I wouldn’t crown him quite yet.

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    • Lisa says:

      Touche’.

      The real question is…What the HELL does this have to do with anything I said. 1st off, I bet your “family member”, (who more that likely if he dealt with the guys’ personal business had to sign a confidentiality agreement, And then blabbed to you) is a REAL realiable source. Really. Ivan and his personal life (Including the one you made up w/ the stripper) have nothing to do with anything I said. I think your grasping for straws. Sad. I bet your a football man. Stick to what you know.

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  9. Jhoward says:

    After 4 years of season tickets, Pudge was always great with our kids. He was a huge fan favorite. Excuse me Pudge dropped his family for a stripper? Are you sure you have the right Rodriguez? As far as your “inside information” you might as well give us some names so we can follow-up. Because Pudge wasn’t a media darling, rumors have always been made up. He isn’t perfect, but was great fun to watch and we will miss him.

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