Pudge's Future Depends On Now
Then you look at the alternative. Vance Wilson after missing an entire season. Mike Rabelo, who seems suited to be a backup at best. No catchers developing in the minor league system. No viable options, really, via free agency. Trades are highly unlikely because there is such a dearth of catching in baseball these days any team with a good catcher holds onto him. Period.
So should the Tigers keep Pudge and be happy to pay the $13 million? There is no easy answer at this point. But by the end of this season, however, it should be apparent.
Pudge is having a poor season. On a team that scores a ton of runs with premier hitters in front of him in the order, he has 52 RBI. His on-base percentage is below .300. How can a player that experienced walk just seven times in more than 400 plate appearances? Seems like Pudge has also lost a little bit defensively, too. But it isn’t nearly to the same degree as at the plate because his skill level behind the plate was so extraordinary, the dropoff still puts him at a high level. And the Tigers pitching staff has been such a mess this season it has had a bearing on his defensive statistics.
The only person who can change these perceptions is Pudge himself. This last month of the season will make or break his career in Detroit. He is a certain Hall of Famer. Often when players of that ilk are put on the spot, they respond by silencing the doubts. Pudge has done that a few times in his career already. If he doesn’t respond to it, then you know he is done. It’s up to him.
I’d still be leaning toward picking up the option, but not if he doesn’t perform better down the stretch than he has lately.
- I got to know Sylvester Croom pretty well when he was the Lions’ offensive coordinator and thought he took a lot of unfair knocks for what were essentially decisions by Bobby Ross. Still, that wasn’t good for Croom that his Mississippi State team was thrashed so soundly by LSU Thursday. Granted, it is a tough task turning around a program in the SEC, but it doesn’t appear as if Croom has done so. Mississippi State should have been more competitive against, especially at home.
- I am glad there were so few fans at the Lions’ fourth preseason game Thursday. Charging regular season prices for cut-rate football is a ripoff. The NFL should do something about it, but won’t.
- It will be interesting to see what type of wrinkles Mike Martz pulls out in the Lions’ opener at Oakland. He revealed essentially nothing this preseason - which is a good thing. And you know there is something there. The Raiders have a strong defense, but I think the Lions will move the football. The question is: Will they be able to avoid sacks and turnovers?
- Andrew Miller’s future will depend on how much he learned from this experience. He had some solid success early on, but didn’t handle adversity well. If he throws strikes early in the count and commands his breaking ball reasonably well, he will star. If he doesn’t, he won’t. It’s not real complex.