Pudge is not the guy you want developing your young pitchers

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Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus is the first person I’ve seen defend the Pudge Rodriguez deal:

But it many ways, this deal isn’t about Pudge at all. If you are the
Nationals, who is the most important player on your roster? It’s
Stephen Strasburg, and it’s by a country mile. Could there really be
anything better for Strasburg’s development than giving him a veteran
catcher who understands the game as well as anyone around?

The
only problem with that is that Pudge has no real history of helping to
develop young pitchers.  I was talking to some reporters who have
covered Rodriguez in the past yesterday — guys who followed him in
Texas, Florida and Detroit. Reporters who have very high opinions of
Pudge in general and who have never slammed him in print as far as I
can tell. To a man they say that Pudge is neutral if not detrimental to
a young pitcher’s development.

The story is that he rarely if
ever takes part in the pitcher/catcher meetings before games during
which game plans and opposing hitters are discussed. He mostly just
kind of sits there and lets the backup catchers take the lead. He also
is said to care so much about his caught stealing percentages that
he’ll call fastballs when they’re not warranted by the count so he has
a better chance of killing the runner.  I suppose killing runners is
valuable and no one’s better at it than Pudge, but the runner can’t
score if you get the hitter out, right?

Granted: this is
hearsay. But it’s hearsay from people who have covered the guy in the
past and from people who don’t seem to have any axes to grind. The
story they tell:  Pudge Rodriguez: great catcher; was once a great
hitter; nice enough guy; not the best mentor for young pitchers.  If
you’re gonna defend the Nats signing him for two years and $6 million,
you’re going to have to do better than that.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

Mariano Rivera
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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.