Just when I was about to put together something about the catching core of the Rangers that has thus far failed to live up to their expectations, Texas goes out an acquires former golden boy Ivan Rodriguez. But back to him in a moment. The three young studs, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Tyler Teagarden, and Max Ramirez, were all thought of as impressive, major league catchers. Here were their lines from 2007:
Saltalamacchia (22 years old): .452 wOBA (AA), .318 wOBA (MLB)
Teagarden (24): .456 wOBA (A+), .387 wOBA (AA)
Ramirez (23): .411 wOBA (A+ Rangers), .417 wOBA (A+ Indians)
And now, their 2009 lines:
Saltalamacchia (24): .290 wOBA (MLB)
Teagarden (26): .278 wOBA (MLB)
Ramirez (25): .294 wOBA (AAA)
That’s quite a downfall. Although they aren’t quite busts yet, all three have been largely disappointing, and it has been especially hard for a Rangers team fighting for a Wild Card spot. So, today they decided to go out and deal for a player that the fans in Arlington know quite well in Ivan Rodriguez.
I’d say that the Rangers would at least be producing some jersey sales from the trade, but Texans just have to dig into their closets and grab their I-Rod jerseys from years back. Right now, Pudge is just not that much of an upgrade for the Rangers. He has a .285 wOBA on the year, and his BABIP (.302) can’t be blamed. Rodriguez is striking out at the highest rate of his career. His OBP (.280) is barely better than it was his first season in the majors in 1991. He’s slugging at the lowest rate he has since 1992. He’s been worth just .6 WAR on the year, and the value is mostly derived from his being a catcher.
ziPS gives Pudge a .299 wOBA for the rest of the year. Teagarden, who has been extremely unlucky with balls in play (.260 BABIP), is projected to have a .319 wOBA the rest of the way. Right now, unless some magical Nolan Ryan pep talk gives Rodriguez a rejuvenation, Pudge will probably continue to be a below average player. Unlike Teagarden, he’s not the future of the organization (in fact, he’s the past). Adding insult, the Rangers gave up a 22 year-old reliever with a 50:15 K:BB ratio in A ball and a second baseman who hit .297/.341/.394 as a 21 year-old in Double-A.
The great Rany Jazayerli says that “sometimes things can happen in a small sample size that are so extraordinary that you learn a lot about the quality of a player from that small sample.” I think I learned a lot from Pudge when he struck out swinging against Livan Hernandez not once, not twice, but thrice in a game against the Mets on July 26th. That’s tough to do, and unless Rodriguez goes back to his old form, the Rangers’ Texan next-door neighbor may have just pulled one over on them.