PUDGE NOT WORTH IT
The Tigers chose to keep Pudge Rodriguez, at the price of $13 million for 2008.
“This was a major decision and yet once the season ended, it became an easy one because we still think he’s one of the top catchers overall in the game,” Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said in an interview with The Associated Press.
I disagree. Pudge Rodriguez hit .281/.294/.420 last year. He scored only 50 runs in over 500 at-bats. He is 36 years old. He threw out only 31% of basestealers last season, a far cry from the days when Pudge was routinely throwing out 50-60%. Certainly the Tiger pitchers could have something to do with that number, but it was the lowest in Pudge’s career.
You can make the case that his veteran presence is good for the young Detroit staff. That he was the first face in the remaking of the Tiger franchise and he deserves this contract. True enough. But that’s not what Dombrowski and Leyland are saying.
“People just throw around other options like you can get anybody to catch, but there are not a lot of future Hall of Famers available,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland told the AP. “To me, this was a no-brainer and I’m tickled to death to have him back.
“It eases our mind to know who our catcher is going to be next year. That’s one less headache for us right now.”
Funny Leyland should mention getting anybody to catch. According to Baseball Prospectus, there were 21 players ahead of Pudge in Runs Above Replacement. Not in all of MLB. Just in MLB catchers. That is insane. Certainly Leyland doesn’t care about the money and I doubt he is a big respecter of sabermetrics, although I don’t know this for sure. And those 21 players aren’t necessarily available to play for the Tigers.
The Tigers can spend their dough however they wish. But Rodriguez is simply no longer worth that type of salary. His OPS has been in the 700′s for 3 years running now. That’s not likely to change at his age, especially when you draw 9 walks in over 500 at-bats.