Rangers bring back Ivan Rodriguez

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This offseason the Rangers traded Gerald Laird to the Tigers because they seemingly had a ton of MLB-ready catching depth in Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, and Max Ramirez. Unfortunately that has all changed during the past five months.
Saltalamacchia is on the disabled list with an arm injury after hitting just .236/.293/.375 in 83 games as the Rangers’ primary catcher, Teagarden has been even worse while batting .198 as his backup, and Ramirez has struggled at Triple-A while missing time with a wrist injury. What was once a strength has quickly become a weakness.
Instead of overflowing with young catching depth that made the position one of the team’s biggest on-paper advantages, the Rangers rank just 10th in the league with a measly .664 OPS from their backstops. Their search for veteran help behind the plate has led them to the greatest catcher in franchise history, as the Rangers re-acquired Ivan Rodriguez from the Astros this afternoon for a player to be named later.
Rodriguez played in Texas from 1991-2002, during which time he was an All-Star and Gold Glover in 10 straight seasons while taking MVP honors in 1999. Unfortunately at 37 years old he’s now merely a shell of that Hall of Fame player, hitting .251/.280/.382 in 93 games with the Astros and .271/.299/.402 over the past three seasons. For comparison, Rangers catchers have posted a nearly identical .228/.287/.377 line this year.
Texas seems to realize his limitations, with T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reporting that “Rodriguez is coming as the backup catcher” and “understands” that Teagarden is the starter. My guess is that it’ll end up being more of a job-sharing arrangement than Sullivan suggests, but Rangers fans should be realistic. As far as stop-gap solutions go he’s not a bad one, especially if Saltalamacchia’s injury proves serious, but don’t expect Pudge to discover the fountain of youth in Arlington.

Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga to throw out first pitches in Games 1 and 2

CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 05:  Kenny Lofton #7 of the Cleveland Indians runs to first base against the New York Yankees during Game Two of the American League Divisional Series at Jacobs Field on October 5, 2007 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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Major League Baseball just announced the details for the ceremonial and off-field stuff in connection with Games 1 and 2 of the World Series. The one most people were wondering about was the ceremonial first pitch. Sorry, Charlie Sheen fans. Sorry fans of “Major League” in general. Two real baseball stars are handing first pitch duties: Kenny Lofton before Game 1, Carlos Baerga for Game 2.

Lofton needs no introduction. He should be a Hall of Famer but is criminally overlooked, perhaps because he bounced around to a lot of different clubs. He made his name in Cleveland, however, doing three separate tours with the Indians, leading the AL in stolen bases for five straight years early in his career and putting up a line of .300/.375/.426 in ten seasons on the shores of Lake Erie.

Baerga played for the Tribe between 1990 and 1996 and was, for a time, quite the superstar, even if people don’t talk about him much anymore. His career fell off pretty quickly in that way that often happens for second basemen and/or stars who end up on the Mets, but there was a time when he was perhaps the biggest star on some excellent Indians teams. People had “will Carlos Baerga be a Hall of Famer?” conversations and stuff. The mid-90s were a special time.

Beyond the first pitches, the National Anthem will be sung by Rachel Platten before Game 1 and by the group Locash before Game 2. As I am an old man out of touch with most things, I have no idea who they are, but I am sure their fans are passionate and their renditions of the Anthem will be fine and non-controversial. Fox, MLB and the folks at major record labels are pretty good about that sort of thing and everyone will be especially vigilant in light of what happened with that Canadian tenors group at the All-Star Game. If nothing else, I bet you pick up the check for the Anthem performance after the song, and not before these days.

I guess the White Sox don’t count

CHICAGO - APRIL 04: General Manager Ken Williams of the Chicago White Sox shows off his World Series Championship ring during ceremonies prior to the start of a game against the Cleveland Indians on April 4, 2006 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I realize everyone is super excited about the Cubs being in the World Series for the first time since 1945, with the chance to win it for the first time since 1908. But you’d think folks would remember that it’s just the Cubs — and not Chicago as a whole — who have been away from the Fall Classic for so long.

I know their recent struggles makes it seem like a long, long time ago, but the White Sox won the World Series in 2005. They were in the World Series in 1959 too. You wouldn’t know that, though, if you looked at some prominent media outlets:





I understand the impulse to tell the “a whole city is coming together!” story every time stuff like this happens, but there are a lot of White Sox fans in Chicago. A good number of them don’t give a crap about the Cubs. Many even resent them for being the glory franchise in the city in the eyes of many. They certainly don’t feel like there’s a championship drought afoot, and I imagine they’re somewhat cranky about having their team’s glory plastered over like this.