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Pudge For Kyle – Initial Thoughts

The story of the day is the Tigers trade with the Yankees.  The Tigers sent future Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez to the Yankees for former Tiger reliever Kyle Farnsworth.  When I saw the headline, my initial thought was WTF but then I thought about it and in a lot of ways, this move makes some sense.  Here’s why…

1)  The difference between Pudge and Brandon Inge, especially for just two months of the season, isn’t that big of a deal.  Heading into tonight’s game, Brandon Inge has an OPS of .758 and Ivan Rodriguez sits at .755.  Both have been average hitters but Inge’s low batting average with extra base hits is about on par with Ivan Rodriguez’s hollow .295 batting average.  And over the course of the season, Pudge’s defense would definitely tip the scale in his favor but that advantage is muted considerably when you take into account that we’re 2/3 of the way through the season.

2)  Pudge is getting old. He’s 37 and he’s on pace to catch around 130 games.  That wear and tear could take its toll on Rodriguez through the final two months of the season and his career second half OPS is almost 100 points lower then his first half.  Combine that with the stress of playing in the Big Apple and it could be a long two months.

3)  The move might not make a ton of sense now, but odds are good the Tigers aren’t done dealing so when all of the deals are taken together, there could be more method to the madness.  If they can trade the out of favor Todd Jones for even a good backup catcher, it gives the Tigers some insurance behind the plate.  Marcus Thames (Matt Joyce has done well, which could make Thames expendable) is someone with some value and while it might be an odd move, Armando Galarraga’s value could never be higher then it is right now.  The only way trading Galarraga would make sense though is if the Tigers upgrade at starting pitcher.

4)  Kyle Farnsworth, Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya would make a formidable 1-2-3 punch.  While not as good as the combination in Minnesota, this would more closely resemble the solid pen the Tigers had going for them in 2006.  Shortening games is always a good thing especially when you have guys like Zach Miner and Galarraga who aren’t used to throwing a ton of innings.

5)  The draft picks for Pudge probably wouldn’t have been there.  You’ll have some people point to the fact that if someone would have signed Rodriguez, we would have gotten two draft picks but that’s only had we offered arbtitration and he subsequently declined it.  Odds are good Rodriguez would have accepted arbitration and the Tigers would have had him for another for somewhere in the range of $5-$8 million a year.

I guess I like the deal.  It’s low risk and at worse, the loss will be muted because of the short time period.  I’m also curious as to what else the Tigers might do tomorrow.

The Tigers have just scored four runs in the eighth and after being down 8-1 at one point, they’ve tied the game up at 11-11.  The White Sox are probably going to win, so the Tigers need to win to keep their current deficit intact.

Great point about arbitration. My first thought when the trade scenarios started getting discussed was “why would Pudge turn down arbitration?” I don’t purport to know the situation with the other teams, but I can’t imagine that there are two many teams willing to give him two years and $10-12 million. If Pudge goes to arbitration, I can see him asking for, and getting $7 million, especially considering that Posada just signed for $13 mill a year.

Posted by Juskimo on July 31st, 2008 at 1:39 am

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t there a maximum 20% pay cut allowed in arbitration? That would mean over $10M. Would the Tigers have offered that? It could be interpreted as insulting to issue the max pay cut? An arbiter might rule in Pudge’s favor anyway since he is an above average hitting catcher and that seems to be what the market is paying. Would Pudge have accepted it? Or would he be interested in a longer term, but more lucrative deal elsewhere?

Posted by CP on July 31st, 2008 at 8:08 pm

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