Ivan Rodriguez

Giants could target Ivan Rodriguez after losing Buster Posey


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.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero
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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.

Marlins announcer Tommy Hutton was let go because he was “too negative”

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We heard earlier this week that Marlins television analyst Tommy Hutton was let go after 19 seasons on the job. By all accounts, he’s well-liked and respected, so it smelled a little fishy with a team that has owner Jeffrey Loria calling the shots. Well, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald was told by a source close to the Marlins that Hutton was let go because he was “too negative.”

Jackson was also able to get in touch with Hutton, who provided some details about how things went down.

“I know there were times I was negative, but I thought those times were called for,” he said. “Ninety percent of what I said was positive. I tried not to be a homer, but you could tell I wanted the Marlins to do well.”

After being told that his salary wasn’t a factor in the decision, Hutton suspected that his candid, blunt analysis might be the impetus for his ouster.

So after learning his fate on Monday, he asked that question – whether they thought he was too negative — to both a Fox producer (at a meeting at Starbucks) and the Marlins’ vice president/communications (by phone).

He said the question was met with silence by both executives.

“I couldn’t get a yes or a no,” he said.

Hutton said there were three incident in recent years where he was told the Marlins were uncomfortable with something he said. He disclosed one example where he was exasperated at the ballpark’s dimensions after former catcher John Buck flew out to the warning track for the final out of a game. He was told by a Marlins vice president after the game that Loria prefer he not talk about the ballpark’s dimensions. Of course, the team is moving in the fences this winter.

To be clear, Hutton said he was told it was a “mutual decision” between the Marlins and FOX to let him go, but Jackson’s source hears that the concern about his “negativity” came from the team.

Hey, do you know the best way to prevent “negative” talk about your team? Fielding a winning baseball team without a dysfunctional ownership and front office. Crazy idea, I know, but it could be cool?