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?

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.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.