I hate what I'm about to write. You have no idea how much it pains me to write what I'm about to write, but...
Richard Justice is correct. The Astros should seriously make a play for Ivan Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, the free agent catcher, has stated that the Astros are one of the teams he's considering signing with for this season. And if the Astros can work out the right deal for a one-year contract with Rodriguez, I say that they should do it -- this would probably be a contract like they've got with Mike Hampton.
Justice goes into the negatives with Pudge. Pitchers don't like him because they don't think he calls a good game, or cares enough to call a good game. And he's aging which means his defense isn't what it used to be -- the guy's won more Gold Gloves for his defensive play at catcher than any catcher in MLB history. And his bat definitely isn't what it used to be.
But then think of this. Do you seriously expect me to believe that Humberto Quintero is a better option for catcher this season than Ivan Rodriguez -- who happens to be one of the greatest catchers in MLB history? The Astros seem to be staking their catching future on last year's number one draft choice Jason Castro, but he's had about half -a-season of minor league experience and probably isn't ready for big league play. So maybe they should try and sign Pudge to a one-year incentive laden deal. See if he will go for it. Let Pudge and Toby Hall handle the catching duties this season.
Let Castro hang around with those two during spring training and pick up the tricks of the trade -- he'll definitely learn more from Pudge and Hall than he'll ever pick up from Quintero. As long as, that is, he doesn't pick up too many tricks of the trade from the Pudge. Tricks like steroids.
Yes, Pudge Rodriguez has been linked to steroids. Jose Canseco has said he injected Rodriguez. And Rodriguez' name is linked to that same list on which A-Rod's name was on. But the Astros treatment of Miguel Tejada shows that the team really doesn't give a damn about steroid users, so Pudge should prove no problem fitting into this clubhouse.
And pitchers might not like working with Pudge. But here's the thing, if Nolan Ryan could work with Pudge, then Roy Oswalt can handle Pudge. And if Wandy Rodriguez can't handle it, then tough shit, because Wandy Rodriguez is a career five starter who should consider himself lucky to still have a spot on a major league roster, much less still challenging for a top spot in a starting rotation.