Rangers bring back Ivan Rodriguez

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This offseason the Rangers traded Gerald Laird to the Tigers because they seemingly had a ton of MLB-ready catching depth in Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, and Max Ramirez. Unfortunately that has all changed during the past five months.
Saltalamacchia is on the disabled list with an arm injury after hitting just .236/.293/.375 in 83 games as the Rangers’ primary catcher, Teagarden has been even worse while batting .198 as his backup, and Ramirez has struggled at Triple-A while missing time with a wrist injury. What was once a strength has quickly become a weakness.
Instead of overflowing with young catching depth that made the position one of the team’s biggest on-paper advantages, the Rangers rank just 10th in the league with a measly .664 OPS from their backstops. Their search for veteran help behind the plate has led them to the greatest catcher in franchise history, as the Rangers re-acquired Ivan Rodriguez from the Astros this afternoon for a player to be named later.
Rodriguez played in Texas from 1991-2002, during which time he was an All-Star and Gold Glover in 10 straight seasons while taking MVP honors in 1999. Unfortunately at 37 years old he’s now merely a shell of that Hall of Fame player, hitting .251/.280/.382 in 93 games with the Astros and .271/.299/.402 over the past three seasons. For comparison, Rangers catchers have posted a nearly identical .228/.287/.377 line this year.
Texas seems to realize his limitations, with T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reporting that “Rodriguez is coming as the backup catcher” and “understands” that Teagarden is the starter. My guess is that it’ll end up being more of a job-sharing arrangement than Sullivan suggests, but Rangers fans should be realistic. As far as stop-gap solutions go he’s not a bad one, especially if Saltalamacchia’s injury proves serious, but don’t expect Pudge to discover the fountain of youth in Arlington.

Dodgers look to join the Red Sox in the World Series

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One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.

NLCS Game 6

Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers:  Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
Breakdown:

The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.

For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.

As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.