Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez has finally latched on with a major league team when the 13-time Gold Glove winner signed a one-year $1.5 million deal with the Houston Astros.
Rodriguez, 37, returns to the National League for the first time since 2003 when he played for the Marlins. Rodriguez is coming off a sub-par season last year when he hit just seven homeruns and 35 RBI in 115 games split between the Tigers and the Yankees, but he is in great shape as usual after playing for the Puerto Rico team in the World Baseball Classic.
“We are very happy to have him,” Houston general manager Ed Wade said. “It’s a huge upgrade for our ballclub, and we’re excited about this signing.
The Astros were in desperate need of a catcher just like they remain in need of a third baseman with Aaron Boone skipping this season. Veteran catcher Brad Ausmus became a free agents and signed with the Dodgers. This left the catching duties to Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles.
Quintero tried to look at the positive side of the move. “I’ll learn something from him, like I learned from Brad last year,” Quintero said. “Brad taught me everything last year and I’m going to learn something different this year.”
The Astros have struggled to score runs all spring and Quintero and Towles have shown no reason to give manager Cecil Cooper any confidence. Quintero is hitting .179 and Towles just .118. Quintero had shown some pop last year with 12 homers and 50 RBI in just 168 at bats, but his average was just .226 and he’s only a .230 lifetime hitter.
Ivan Rodriguez can be expected to get most of the starts behind the plate for the Astros this year. Although he can’t be expected to match the stats he put up in the late 90′s with the Rangers, he’s still a decent second catcher in large fantasy baseball leagues. Rodriguez’s homerun totals have declined in recent years, but his batting average has been consistent; Rodriguez hit .295 last year for the Tigers before he moved to the Yankees and he ended the year at .276.
Rodriguez is 37-years-old, however, so he will need some rest over the 162 game season so expect Quintero to see some action again. Quintero, 29, may be called upon for fantasy baseball teams if Rodriguez goes down, but he’s likely not suited for the backup catcher role except in the largest of fantasy baseball leagues.