Monday, April 09, 2007

Pudge Plus Contract Year Equals A Good Thing

I must admit the Tigers player that causes me to shake my head in both wonder and bewilderment the most is Ivan Rodriguez. He is such a great ball player, yet he has been disappointing on many levels the last 2 1-2 seasons. He strikes out a lot and doesn’t walk. How can a player that good hitting in the middle of the lineup drive in so few runs? And he did act up in 2005, which helped cost Tigers icon Alan Trammell his job as manager. Yet, there is still no better defensive catcher in baseball. Period. At times, the guy can do any thing with the bat, too. Last season he did defer to manager Jim Leyland when it came to dropping from third in the order and playing first base and even second base. So here it is, and Pudge hits a three-run homer to win a game Sunday. So he is hitting .381. At 35, it is expected he will slow down and the Tigers certainly haven’t been in a hurry to sign him to another long-term deal. But he seems motivated. The last time Pudge was in this position, he put the Florida Marlins on his back and carried them to the world title. Don’t be surprised if he has a similarly big season - despite his age. Special players do special things - especially when their survival mode kicks in. Pudge is playing for a new contract. That can only help the Tigers.
(Pudge has a $13 million club option for next season. The Tigers can buy out his contract for $3 million.)

Random Thoughts

- It’s funny how the Phil Mickelsons and the other top golfers seem to cower at the sight of Tiger Woods in a major on Sunday, while grunts like Zach Johnson are the ones that beat him sometimes. Weird.

-Honestly, the Flames haven’t been that good this season. Still, if there was an opponent the Red Wings didn’t want to see in the first round, it was Calgary. It will be interesting to see if Brad Stuart shows for the Flames during the playoffs. He is immensely talented, but hasn’t been that good when it matters in the past.

- ESPN The Magazine got it right. The Pistons, Tigers and Red Wings do belong among the best 18 franchises in all of professional sports. And, yes, the Lions belong at the very bottom. I think a lot of it has to do with ownership. Mike Ilitch and William Davidson are self-made business people who just won’t accept failure. It doesn’t matter if William Clay Ford fails. And it never has. He has been set for life from the minute he was born.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Nick P said...

What Up Book!
Ah baseball. Pudge has started hot, let's see what happens as the season progresses.
Did you have a chance to watch the Masters yesterday? That was some terrific golf to watch, very back and forth, with some real clutch shots (Tigers birdie on 13) and some epic misses (Tigers hit in the water on 15). Really kept you watching the whole way.
One other (Detroit) Tiger question, why is Chad Durbin starting today? I think you touched on this before, but seriously, this is rediculous.
And lastly, when the hell can I hear The Book on Baseball again?!?!?!

9:32 AM 
Anonymous Danny said...

I hope you are right about Pudge.

I'm with nick p on hearing "The Book on Baseball". Also last year, we counted on you talking us down from the ledge after some Tiger games. I REALLY miss that. Great drive home from the game listening!

One more thing about the bullpen. What is your take on Bobby Seay?

Danny

12:00 PM 
Blogger ThinkingMan said...

Pat,

It is good to see Pudge off to a fast start. I think his numbers could jump a bit, perhaps 15-20 home runs and 85 RBIs or so, but I just don't think he's capable of carrying the Tigers offenisvely. His power numbers have been on a steady decline for several years. When a player hits his age, they don't start going way back up again - even as great as he is.
I'd have to say I'm a little concerned about the Tigers after this first week. They look good, don't get me wrong. But something seems to be missing, I'm not even sure I can put my finger on it. Perhaps they're just finding out its a lot more difficult to stay on top of the mountain than it is to get there.

I enjoyed your comments about the Masters. I'm not sure where it would rank in terms of national sporting events. I think it's the second most important golf major behind the U.S. Open. Overall, I'd say the Super Bowl, World Series, NCAA football and basketball playoffs are ahead of it. A good friend of mine, a sportswriter out east, has covered the Masters several times and even gotten to play Augusta. He said it is truly everything that it's made out to be.

Pat, I'm not sure if you guys have had it in the OP, but the Observer is reporting that the WLAA and KVC high school leagues are about to merge - and that the two Waterford schools would be included. Brad Emmons has it in their on-line edition today.

12:42 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Nick P,
Thanks for the kind words and your contributions to this blog. Great stuff. I appreciate it. Golf has a reputation for being boring when it is anything but - especially for a major like The Masters. It actually presents a lot of drama and is very compelling. I like Tiger Woods, but it was nice, in a way, to see someone else come out on top for once.
Caputo.

3:23 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Danny,
Thanks for the compliment. You and Nick P, Vinny, Maddog52, Garold, Thinkingman, Andrew Winkleman - so many pepple have made this blog good because it isn't a trivial discussion place with silly agendas, but just a place to discuss, intelligently, the sports issues of the day. I liked what I saw from Bobby Seay Sunday. He doesn't throw hard, but he spots the ball well and drops down some. Sometimes the best situational lefties are journeymen like that who find a niche.
Caputo

3:23 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Thinkingman
Your point about Pudge is the best argument you could make as a counterpoint to mine. It is very rare players improve at that age - regardless of their motivation. Time will tell.
Caputo

3:24 PM 

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