My goal was to sit down tonight and drop a few doses of optimism on this dismal Astros spring.
Well, Astros fans, we just got a bucket of complimentary rose colored glasses, so pass ’em out!
The veteran and sparky IVAN “PUDGE” RODRIGUEZ has just signed with the Stros!
There are definitely criticisms due Rodriguez, but they are outweighed, big time, by what he brings to the “Juice Box” come opening day.
First, though he’s older, he can still rake, and is clearly a better hitter come crunch time than any of the catchers we currently have on staff. Sorry, Q, it’s true. He brings an enhancement to the line-up, batting sixth or seventh, that makes it that much harder to pitch around Lee, Pence, and Tejada. His mere presence should also give Bourn more incentive to get on board the basepaths, assuming he’s batting in front of Pudge, and in perfect symbiosis, Pudge marked in on the batting order will give Bourn better pitches to hit. Pudge takes a very good line-up and makes it better.
Monetarily, the Puerto Rican legend is a steal, possibly the only steal credited to his name this year. He doesn’t bust the budget, and this deal should give Wade critics a pause. I’m not saying Wade deserves no verbal bludgeoning, but credit is due here for a smooth and tight under the radar signing.
Psychologically, Rodriguez gives the other Astro veterans(and Cooper) a boost I’m sure, because management just gave them a clear signal that “we’re in it to win it”. I also have a feeling Tejada and Rodriguez will be freakin’ clubhouse magic together.
One of the most important elements of Pudge’s signing that I don’t want fellow fans to overlook is the effect he’ll have on the pitching staff. He’s a real veteran, not in the style of Milton Bradley attitude wise, who is known around the leagues in his ability to call a good game. His ability to help a Moehler stay in the game longer is matched by his ability to help newer starters, like Capellan, work out of trouble. I know in my gut that young pitchers will benefit huge with Pudge behind the plate. One of the few guys who can call a better game is Ausmus, but think of Pudge as an almost Ausmus with a real sweet bat.
Certain fellow bloggers may freak out that certain catchers may get less playing time, hmm, but I hope they and all of our fine readers see the bigger picture. Lou could use another season at Round Rock, and Rodriguez’s signing only solidifies Quintero’s job as the official backup catcher. Q will still get a start every five days, two many weeks, and I think a seasoned fellow catcher can provide him unique bits of wisdom on how to approach hitting.
So there you have it, my take on this great signing. I just read an article in which Berkman said basically to ‘relax and look ahead, we’ve got the real season ahead of us’. His only major criticism of the team is he wished a few more proven free agents had been signed. Puma, your wish is Wade’s command.
Yes, of COURSE we still need better starting pitching. But if you look closely, you’ll see Pudge is a start.