Jason Varitek is said to be leaning toward retirement, but the other 40-year-old catcher on the free agent market, Ivan Rodriguez, is still trying to land a gig for 2012.
Rodriguez told the Associated Press that he’s been “working out every day in the gym” and “can still play” if a team gives him a chance, noting that the number of big-name veterans without jobs as spring training begins “is hard to believe.”
In some cases, perhaps, but at this point Rodriguez, like Varitek, is a pretty marginal major leaguer. He brings plenty of experience and still-strong defense to the table, but the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer was abysmal offensively last season and hasn’t been a productive hitter–even for a catcher–since 2006.
Rodriguez is still hoping to reach 3,000 hits, but even if he can find a part-time gig for this season getting the 166 hits necessary is an extreme long shot. He had just 27 hits last year and hasn’t topped 110 hits in a season since 2007. Overall he’s no worse than several backups around baseball, but unfortunately for Rodriguez he’s also not clearly better.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.