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In a freakishly bizarre move, the Florida Marlins have signed Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez to a one-year, $10 million dollar contract.

It's clearly a move nobody in this blog community saw coming -- witness the last few days of assumption that Pudge would backstop the horrid Orioles this year -- and for good reason.

First, for the Marlins: Bad team. Little chance to win. Clearly on a cost-cutting mission. Why Pudge? The only reasons I can fathom are (A) possibly replicating the massive goodwill generated by a popular All-Star, potentially Hall-of-Fame Latino ballplayer in a community starved for such role models -- Dallas, meet Miami; and (B) If he's healthy, maybe he leads the Marlins to a pennant charge in a revamped division and even if they don't win, surely someone will deal prospects for his one-year contract in July.

Second, for Pudge: Coming off an injury-plagued season or three, do you really want to learn all the new pitchers (as a hitter -- he's never bothered to learn much about the pitchers he catches) in a new league ... and that being a league where your breaking-down body can't rack up good offensive numbers at DH once in a while?

Finally, kudos (in order) to Lee Sinins and Jamey Newberg, who according to my e-mail Inbox beat both major domestic wire services to this story.

Anyway, I guess this is great news for Geronimo Gil ...
Marlins Ink Pudge | 12 comments | Create New Account
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Coach - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 07:21 PM EST (#33744) #
Seems Beatagan felt the same way I did about Pudge having no other choices, and insisted on at least one club option year, which I-Rod refused to consider. Agent Jeff Moorad made one more round of calls, demanding one year then another chance at free agency, and the Marlins bit. Here's the ESPN report, in which Pudge's Miami Beach home is cited as a factor, but the agreement to NOT offer him salary arbitration probably clinched the deal.

It doesn't make any sense, but this winter, not much does.
_Shrike - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 07:35 PM EST (#33745) #
The common-sense assumption of a possible trade for prospects by the Marlins is refuted by the reports that the contract has both a no-trade clause *and* prohibits arbitration by the club, as Kent notes above.

Trully, Rodriguez's agent should be commended for securing a 1-year, 10M deal with no strings, allowing his client to again be a free-agent in 2004, with a fair chance that Rodriguez could have a strong comeback season and maintain his marketability.
Gitz - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 07:58 PM EST (#33746) #
It wasn't just this community of bloggers, Mick, nobody saw this coming. Of course the only surprise is that people are still surprised when rumours don't come true. But that is old news ...

I will argue with Mick on a minor point, that being Rodrigeuez's adjustment to a new league and the assumption that he'll struggle somewhat. Pudge has always been a hacker, so I don't see that being much of a concern. I don't have any sort of data to back this up, but I suspect free swingers have less trouble adjusting than patient hitters would. A slider in the dirt is a slider in the dirt, and either you're patient enough to lay off them or you're not; it doesn't matter what league you're in, the failures of Kevin Mitchell and others notwithstanding. I think Jim Thome may struggle more than Pudge, because he may think himself into trouble instead of simply reacting to a pitch, like a free-swinger would. Rodriguez will pile up his numbers, provided he stays healthy, and then some team, which may or may not be the Yankees, will lay out the cash for him. Again, this is an un-scientific, visceral reaction to the move, and I would be curious to see a real study of players changing leagues and see who typically struggles and who doesn't.

It is still possible that Pudge can enjoy a Paul-Molitor-type resurrection -- after several injury-plagued years he'll manage to stay healthy for a goodly amount of time -- and earn a spot in Coooperstown. Good luck to him.
_R Billie - Wednesday, January 22 2003 @ 10:34 PM EST (#33747) #
I think I'm through trying to make sense of transactions like these. Apparently it was a move made purely for marketing purposes. It's also worth noting that a large portion of the money is deferred without interest which is pretty big for the Marlins...payments are spread over four years.
_Mick - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 12:27 AM EST (#33748) #
The early reports I saw didn't mention the no-trade provision; that makes it, to repeat the phrase from my lede, even more freakishly bizarre. But topping even that, the generic long-feature wire report (URL has expired already, sorry) quoted a Marlins official as noting how great it would be to have a veteran catcher like Pudge to mentor the talents young Marlins pitcher.

Yeah, that worked out pretty well for Doug Davis, Rob Bell, Colby Lewis, Justin Duchschurer and company, didn't it? Even when Pudge was healthy, when one of the (((oxymoron alert))) Ranager pitching prospects took a rotation turn, it was inevitably Bill Haselman behind the plate.

As for the potential bounceback after signing a huge free agent contract to catch for Florida, well ... insert Charles Johnson joke here. (Of course, Rodriguez has a much better chance of actually doing it ... I'm just sayin' ...)

Actually, I think the worst part of this entire deal -- and I just realized this -- is that fantasy baseball readers are going to be subjected to six months of "Pudge" puns from Thor Kolnes.
_Chuck Van Den C - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 08:30 AM EST (#33749) #
There is a widely held belief that says a catcher's throwing prowess correlates directly to his ability to bring along young pitchers. If you've got a great arm, you must be the complete package as a defensive catcher and hence you must be a great teacher. Non sequitur salad with cliche dressing.

When Charles Johnson was brought to Florida, he was to mentor the young pitchers. Now Rodriguez is.

Yet, if anecdotal evidence and CERA's mean anything, Rodriguez has the rep of being the poor mentor, and never the great master of choice when grooming a young pitcher, while all throughout Piazza's career, his pitchers have praised him for "calling a good game".

In the world of S-O-M or DM, it's easy to equate throwing arm to catcher's ability. In the real world, much less so. I'm not sure what exactly the intangibles (or measurables) of a catcher's mentoring ability are, but they simply can't be directly equated to throwing ability.
Craig B - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 08:41 AM EST (#33750) #
I don't know, I think the Haselman thing was weird, but it does *seem* like a good idea to have I-Rod, a veteran, working with the young hurlers. The difference between the young Texas pitchers and the young Florida pitchers is that the Texas kids are just young; the Florida kids are young and talented.

I'd rather see teams like Florida try, rather than not. Remember, they finished a very respectable 79-83 last year in a tough division. Dropping Millar for Hollandsworth and replacing Wilson with Pierre are odd moves for a team trying to compete, but it just might be that Florida saw three things and said "shit, we're going the wrong way... let's turn this ship around and try to compete"

1 - the Braves trading Millwood, losing Glavine, bringing in Hampton, and seem ready to play Castilla at third again.

2 - the Phillies made some splashy signings, brought in Millwood, and then just stopped. They look to have maxed out their budget, instead of trying to consolidate their gains.

3 - the Expos got worse, possibly considerably worse, in the Colon deal, and may not be done dealing yet.

(Plus the Mets, naturally, have floundered). The NL East, which was looking to maybe be better than the West, suddenly doesn't look as tough anymore. It's not too late to take the savings the Marlins have appaerntly made, and put it to good use. They need to trade Mike Redmond to do that, but it's not out of the question. If Estrada can bring Millwood, maybe Redmond can bring somebody of value.
Coach - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 08:54 AM EST (#33751) #
Non sequitur salad with cliche dressing

True about catcher's reputations, but also a concise review of my writing style. Extra bases for Chuck. Pudge has been accused of calling mostly fastballs (to help his caught stealing numbers) for about ten years, and neither his game-calling nor his mentorship is particularly brilliant.

If he wants to prove he's still great, rack up big numbers, and cash in next winter with a big contract, why didn't he sign with an AL team where he could DH when the knees and back get creaky?

Using the Bob Elliott scouting system, all five NL East teams will be "average."
Craig B - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 09:03 AM EST (#33752) #
Coach, I see two above average and three average, actually. You see the Phils and Braves as "average"?

I would predict 90 wins for each team. The others look to cluster around 80, maybe fewer for Florida but I'd be comfortable saying 75-80.
Pistol - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 10:10 AM EST (#33753) #
"If he wants to prove he's still great, rack up big numbers, and cash in next winter with a big contract, why didn't he sign with an AL team where he could DH when the knees and back get creaky?"

The Marlins offered a lot more than anyone else. There's no guarantees that teams will be more likely to spend money next year on a catcher who will be a year older. There's also no guarantees that he'll stay healthy and/or have a great season.

Take the money when you can get it.
Coach - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 02:00 PM EST (#33754) #
Craig, I was really just going for the joke, but I'm pretty sure there are five or six AL teams and at least four in the NL better than anyone in the NL East. The Braves rotation and bullpen aren't as good as usual, and all those changes on the Phils have yet to come together on the field. Sure, I give Atlanta and Philly the edge, but it's a wide open division. A new manager, Glavine and a return to form by Alomar may inspire the Mets, who could also be last again. Pudge, motivated to prove a point, might even get the Fish into the race. And I've heard you say optimistic things about the San Juan club. It should be interesting, but whoever prevails, I think there will be stronger teams emerging from other divisions in both leagues.
Coach - Thursday, January 23 2003 @ 03:25 PM EST (#33755) #
Here is what Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald has to say about the I-Rod signing:

...the blueprint is so meandering and stupefyingly inconsistent that the Marlins will save a few pennies by firing the mascot but blow the budget on a catcher they don't need.

Imagine if Richard Griffin worked in Florida. (Just wishful thinking, though he hasn't attacked the Jays for nearly two weeks.)
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