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WBC Auditions: Pudge Rodriguez

The World Baseball Classic is a psuedo self-congratulatory event for major league baseball, but there are plenty of larger implications for players in it, particularly in the current economy, when some veterans who would have been snapped up in the past still don't have a major league deal.

Cue Ivan Pudge Rodriguez. He's impressed for Puerto Rico, and it's entirely possible that his opening WBC salvos last week (a 4-for-5 day with 2 HR for Pudge) could go a long way toward landing him a job.

After a series of denials from all teams throughout the offseason, it's now clear that the Marlins would like to bring Rodriguez back to Miami. Yesterday, the Miami Herald's David Quinones asked Rodriguez about the Marlins, with the veteran reporting that he and his agent were in conversation with the Marlins. According to a different report from MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, the only big obstacle remaining for Florida and Pudge may be playing time, not money in a deal.

The Marlins intrest being noted -- and their location near his offseason home in Miami yet another factor in their favor -- there are other teams vying for Pudge's services, too. The Mets have -- despite reports to the countrary -- clearly had interest in adding Rodriguez, though that would require moving their current backup, Ramon Castro. As with the Marlins, Rodriguez also want might assurances about playing time, and that might be the biggest obstacle with New York. Rodriguez would almost surely rather play for a contender, but the Mets have Brian Schneider established as their starter, and there's no reason to believe they'd give the job outright to Rodriguez, risking a faceoff with Schneider and chemistry issues with the rest of the team.

So where will Rodriguez land? It's hard to bet against the Marlins at this point, but you never know until the ink is dry on a contract. Could he end up unemployed? Sure, particularly given the current economy. But don't bet on it, particularly after that WBC opening win over Panama.

By Cameron Smith  |  March 10, 2009; 12:41 PM ET
Categories:  Astros , Marlins , Mets  
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Comments

Brian Schneider is a solid major league catcher. He hits enough that nobody gets upset, since he is a catcher and offense is an afterthought (at least until you find one who can hit, then it's just fantastic).

If the Mets believe Pudge can still contribute I see nothing in Schneider's career stats that suggests that he shouldn't be sharing playing time, or at least giving Pudge a few games a week to "keep him fresh". Pudge, even at this stage in his career, has an OBP that's not too far off and he slugs for a higher rate.

Then you can factor in defense. According to The Fielding Bible, Pudge has saved 29 more runs than Schneider over the last 3 years and has saved the 4th most runs overall in the last 3 years.

All I'm saying is that the Mets should be able to realistically have a little sit down with Schneider were they tell him they like him, he's their starter, but they're bringing in Pudge as a backup who will start 1 or 2 times a week to keep him fresh. Then, if Schneider's a big boy, he'll be ok and they can move on.

Pudge may be old, but he still has some gas left in the tank (just don't ask Canseco what kind of gas it is).

Posted by: adampschroeder | March 10, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

There is a big part of me who would like a solid veteran catcher to split time with Flores, even 50/50. I think Flores wore down last year (compare his 1st half and second half numbers.

I'll be curious if any of the Italian or Dutch players who are not affiliated with an MLB team get an offer out of the WBC. I'm watching Cordemans pitching right now (jinx). Minor league contract with an invite.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 10, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

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