Giants could target Ivan Rodriguez after losing Buster Posey

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While he’s exceeded expectations as the backup for Bengie Molina and later Buster Posey these last three years, Eli Whiteside is no one’s idea of a full-time catcher.  That means the Giants are likely going to have to look elsewhere after losing Posey for the season.  They may first turn their eyes to D.C.

Getting phased out by youngster Wilson Ramos, the Nationals’ Ivan Rodriguez is believed to be very much available in trade talks.  He’s not much of an offensive contributor these days — he’s batting just .205/.256/.342 with two homers in 73 at-bats this year — but even at age 39, he still has a gun behind the plate and the stamina to play pretty regularly.  If the Giants don’t at least touch base with the Nationals before the end of the week, it will be a shock.

Some other possibilities:

Ryan Doumit (Pirates) – Doumit is no Posey, but he’d do a better job of filling the offensive void than Pudge would.  He’s hit .272/.337/.446 with four homers in 92 at-bats while splitting time with Chris Snyder for the Pirates this season.  Unfortunately, he’s a weak defender with durability issues.

Bengie Molina (free agent) – Molina didn’t seem to have a whole left last year.  He posted a .644 OPS in 202 at-bats with the Giants and then a .599 OPS in 175 at-bats following the move to the Rangers.  He’s also awfully immobile behind the plate.  On the other hand, he has one big plus over the alternatives: he knows most of the team’s pitchers.  If he’s willing to take a minor league contract and play himself into shape, the Giants might as well give him a look.

Kelly Shoppach (Rays) – A big offensive disappointment since being acquired prior to 2010, Shoppach is hitting just .167/.247/.250 in 72 at-bats this year.  The Rays are far from sellers, but they might jump at the chance to move Shoppach’s salary, figuring that Jose Lobaton could give them more production as John Jaso’s platoon partner.

George Kottaras (Brewers) – Milwaukee’s backup last season, Kottaras is currently in Triple-A and hitting .271/.358/.373 in 59 at-bats.  He’s made a lot of progress defensively, though he’s still below average at best.  Offensively, he’s a better bet than everyone here except Doumit.

Bobby Wilson (Angels) – The Angels don’t need Wilson, but they’ve kept him around because he’s out of options and they don’t want to lose him for nothing.  A solid defender with a decent stick, he’s not quite good enough to be a regular, but there are certainly worse stopgap options.

Landon Powell (Athletics) – With nine homers and 43 RBI in 293 major league at-bats, Powell has the ability to contribute as a bottom-of-the-order hitter.  However, he also has an extensive injury history and it seems unlikely he’d hold up if asked to play much more than once or twice per week.

Taylor Teagarden (Rangers) – It seems doubtful that the Giants will go young, but then, Teagarden isn’t really very young anymore at 27.  He’s always drawn pretty good marks for defense, and the Rangers won’t ask for the same kind of return they would have a couple of years ago.  Teagarden is durable enough to catch five times per week, and he has lots of power.  He might be lucky to hit .220, but he could be a decent regular anyway.

Rival Executives Expect Justin Verlander To Hit The Trading Block

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About a month ago, a report circulated that if the Detroit Tigers weren’t above .500 by the end of June, they were going to chuck the season, look to trade off veterans and rebuild. It’s now June 29 and the Tigers are 34-42 and sit six games out of first place.

As such, we should not be too terribly surprised to see a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo that multiple baseball executives expect Tigers ace Justin Verlander to hit the trade market sometime in the next two weeks. Passan notes that the Tigers haven’t formally offered him and that he’s just passing along speculation from rivals, but it’s pretty astute speculation.

The question is what the Tigers can get for Verlander. On the one hand, yes, Verlander is Verlander and has been one of the top starters in baseball for a decade. While he had struggled for a bit, last year featured a return to Cy Young form. He still has a blazing fastball and there is no reason to think he could not anchor the staff of a playoff caliber team.

On the other hand, as Passan notes, his 2017 has been . . . not so good. He looks amazing at times and very hittable at other times. Overall his walk rate is way up and his strikeout rate is down. There doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with him — various ailments contributed to his 2014-15 swoon — so it’s possible he’s just had a rough couple of months. Like I said, Verlander is Verlander, and it may not be a bad gamble to expect him to run off a string of dominant starts like he has so many times in the past.

The problem, though, is that anyone acquiring Verlander is not just gambling on a handful of starts down the stretch. They’re gambling on the $56 million he’s owed between 2018 and 2019 and the $22 million extra he’ll be guaranteed for 2020 if he finishes in the top five in Cy Young voting in 2019. Those would be his age 35, 36 and 37 seasons. There are certainly worse gambles in baseball, but it’s a gamble all the same.

If the Tigers don’t find any gamblers out there on the market, they’re going to have to make a gamble of their own: let Verlander go and get relatively little in return if another club picks up that $56 million commitment or eat it themselves and get prospects back in return to help kickstart a rebuild. Personally I’d go with the latter option, but I don’t work for the Illitch family.

 

There is a Tyler glut in baseball

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It’s a slow news morning — Miguel Montero is gone and everyone else is quiet — so you should go read Tyler Kepner’s latest column over at the New York Times. It’s, appropriately, about Tylers.

There are a lot of them in baseball now, Tyler notes. No Larrys and hardly any Eddies or Bobs. This obviously tracks the prevalence of the name Tyler in the population at large and the declines in Larrys, Eddies and Bobs. It’s the kind of thing I imagine we’ve all noticed from time to time, and it’s fun to do it in baseball. For his part, Kepner tries to make an all-Tyler All-Star team. The results are sort of sad.

There are always one or two Craigs floating around baseball from time to time, but not many more than that. We got a Hall of Famer recently, so that’s pretty nice. There will likely be fewer over time, as Craig — never even a top-30 name in popularity — is now near historic lows. I’m not complaining, though. I never once had to go by “Craig C.” in class to differentiate myself from other Craigs. Our biggest problem is being called Greg. We tend to let it pass. Craigs are used to it by now.