Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus is the first person I’ve seen defend the Pudge Rodriguez deal:
But it many ways, this deal isn’t about Pudge at all. If you are the
Nationals, who is the most important player on your roster? It’s
Stephen Strasburg, and it’s by a country mile. Could there really be
anything better for Strasburg’s development than giving him a veteran
catcher who understands the game as well as anyone around?
only problem with that is that Pudge has no real history of helping to
develop young pitchers. I was talking to some reporters who have
covered Rodriguez in the past yesterday — guys who followed him in
Texas, Florida and Detroit. Reporters who have very high opinions of
Pudge in general and who have never slammed him in print as far as I
can tell. To a man they say that Pudge is neutral if not detrimental to
a young pitcher’s development.
The story is that he rarely if
ever takes part in the pitcher/catcher meetings before games during
which game plans and opposing hitters are discussed. He mostly just
kind of sits there and lets the backup catchers take the lead. He also
is said to care so much about his caught stealing percentages that
he’ll call fastballs when they’re not warranted by the count so he has
a better chance of killing the runner. I suppose killing runners is
valuable and no one’s better at it than Pudge, but the runner can’t
score if you get the hitter out, right?
Granted: this is
hearsay. But it’s hearsay from people who have covered the guy in the
past and from people who don’t seem to have any axes to grind. The
story they tell: Pudge Rodriguez: great catcher; was once a great
hitter; nice enough guy; not the best mentor for young pitchers. If
you’re gonna defend the Nats signing him for two years and $6 million,
you’re going to have to do better than that.