January 22, 2003
The Pudge Meister.
The King of Pudge-ville.
Sorry, I just felt like doing that for some strange reason.
The Florida Marlins inked Ivan Rodriguez to a 1 year year contract yesterday, for $10 million dollars.
I definitely did a double-take when I first saw this move and even now that I know it's true, I think that maybe baseball has entered some sort of bizarro world. Up is down, right is left, bad is good and the Florida Marlins are signing future Hall of Famers for $10 million dollars.
Not too long ago the Marlins were sending their best hitter to Japan, partly in order to clear payroll.
I say partly because it appears as though Kevin Millar was very interested in going to Japan, although you've got to think the Marlins convinced him at least a little bit.
They replaced Millar with Todd Hollandsworth in left field, which is a huge downgrade.
It's too bad they didn't keep Kevin Millar.
With him in left field and The Pudge Meister behind the dish, that offense might have scored a few runs.
Instead, here is their "projected lineup"
CF Juan Pierre .230 EqA
2B Luis Castillo .267
3B Mike Lowell .285
1B Derrek Lee .302
C Ivan Rodriguez .298
RF Juan Encarnacion .267
LF Todd Hollandsworth .262
SS Alex Gonzalez .227
That is an awful lineup.
The Marlins seem think that, despite all the home runs being hit and runs being scored in this era of baseball, the way to win games is by stealing bases.
Unfortunately for them, that's not a real good strategy and a lot of these speedsters suck at the plate.
If everyone repeats their 2002 performance, the Marlins will have 4 spots that are solidly above average: first base, catcher, third base and second base.
And then the other 4 spots are way below average, including center field, left field and shortstop, which all have the potential to be among the worst in the league.
For more on the awfulness of the Marlins' offense, check out what I wrote about their craptastic outfield last week.
Back to Pudgy-Pudgeman for a moment.
Here are his numbers for the past 5 years:
Year G AVG OBP SLG
1998 145 .321 .358 .513
1999 144 .332 .356 .558
2000 91 .347 .375 .667
2001 111 .308 .347 .541
2002 108 .314 .353 .542
While on the field, Rodriguez has been an excellent hitter every year.
The problem is that he hasn't been on the field as much as he would have liked for the past 3 years.
But, that's what happens when a catcher plays 153, 150, 145 and 144 games in 4 consecutive seasons.
Rodriguez is a special player and proved to be extremely durable, but catching is so tough on the body and a human being can only take so much before they break down.
Here is what I wrote about Pudge in my look at the top free agents way back in November:
Catchers on the wrong side of 30 usually don't get more durable with age, especially when they have as many innings behind the plate as Rodriguez does.
I don't think Pudge can be counted on to catch 140-150 games a year anymore (and he probably never should've been).
His hitting is showing no signs of slowing down and for team that is willing to play him like a "normal catcher" (100-110 starts a season) he would be extremely valuable.
The Marlins have a very good backup catcher in Mike Redmond (.305/.372/.387 last year).
In fact, before they signed Rodriguez, I was expecting Redmond to have a very good season as the starter.
So, they should be in a position to play Rodriguez like a normal catcher, giving him plenty of days off, with Redmond behind the plate.
I like signing Ivan Rodriguez to a 1 year deal, but I don't think the Marlins doing it will really have any effect on anything significant.
They have too many awful spots in their lineup and while their pitching staff is young and very talented, I don't think they will be good enough to off-set Juan Pierre, Alex Gonzalez, Todd Hollandsworth and Juan Encarnacion making up 50% of the lineup.
If nothing else, it should be an interesting season for Rodriguez, as he will no doubt try to prove that he is capable of being healthy for a full-season and will also try to continue being the offensive force he has been for the past several years.
And who knows, maybe come the trade deadline, the Fish could flip Pudgywoogy to a contender for a prospect or two and turn their short-term investment into a some long-term help.
In other news...
I haven't touched on the this subject since I have been busy getting back into the flow of school and everything, but I don't see how I could ignore it, so I won't.
Baseball Prospectus announced last week that they will soon be adding a "premium" portion to their website, at a cost of $40 per year.
Some people appear to be angry at BP for deciding that they want to try to make some money off of their awesome website.
One thing I have noticed over the last year or so is that any website that is really a great one eventually moves to some sort of premium or subscriber system for at least some of their content.
During last year's college basketball season, I used to check CollegeRPI.com every single morning to see the new, updated computer rankings.
Apparently I wasn't alone and a lot of other people enjoyed the site.
This year, the site's owner decided to move it to a pay service and I did not subscribe.
However, I am not angry and I certainly can't blame any website that decides their time, energy and quality product is worth some money.
People pay money for newspapers and books and magazines, so I don't see a problem with a website that produces a lot of good, readable content charging for that service.
I certainly won't tell anyone what to do with their money, but I will say that if you have enjoyed BaseballProspectus.com as much as I have over the last several years, it is certainly worth $3 dollars a month to continue getting it. Plus, it sounds as though they will be producing even more than their usual amount of content for the new premium service, which is good news.
I am a college student with no job and no income whatsoever, so spending $40 on something is a big decision.
That said, my "budget" for whatever money I do have is almost completely reserved for baseball stuff.
Books and websites and fantasy teams and everything else.
And if you have some money set aside for baseball products, you can't do much better than Baseball Prospectus.
Late last night I subscribed to BP's new premium site and shelled out the $40.
I also pre-ordered their 2003 book for $20.
So, I will be spending $60 on Baseball Prospectus stuff in 2003.
I am confident it will be worth it.
If you're interested in learning more about BP's premium content, click on the following link:
State of the Prospectus
"Aaron's Baseball Blog Premium"
That has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
Okay, maybe not.
I would like give a special "shout out" to my little cousin Amy.
A budding young actress, Amy just got the lead in the school play, Alice in Wonderland.
Amy is a 5th grader and was chosen over some much older competition (like 6th, 7th and 8th graders).
She's the best mimic I have ever met and is occasionally too good, particularly when she is mimicking yours truly.
Break a leg Amy! (that's what I'm supposed to say, right?)
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