Giants could target Ivan Rodriguez after losing Buster Posey

14 Comments

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.

Michael Bourn opts out of his minor league deal with the Orioles

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.

Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.

As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.

Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.

Rob Manfred talks about playing regular season games in Mexico

8 Comments

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.

Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”

A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.

Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.

Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.