Posted on: May 12, 2010 2:54 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2010 3:23 pm
Bob Boone believes Pudge Rodriguez is "a shoo-in" to get 3,000 hits. He believes Rodriguez might catch 3,000 games.
And he believes . . .
"He's going to end up as the best catcher ever," said Boone, who caught 19 seasons in the big leagues and now serves as the Nationals vice president for player development. "You can talk about Johnny Bench, or Mike Piazza, or Gary Carter. Ivan Rodriguez is the best catcher who ever played the game.
"There's a catching fraternity, and right now Pudge is Numero Uno. He's the chairman of the fraternity."
Rodriguez ranks first among catchers in all-time games caught (2,312), hits as a catcher (2,653) and doubles as a catcher (535). He ranks seventh in home runs as a catcher (306, with Piazza the record holder at 396).
Boone was involved in the Nationals' decision to sign the 38-year-old Rodriguez to a $6 million, two-year contract over the winter.
"People said how could we do it, but I just kind of laughed," Boone said. "I knew he could do it. To me, it was a no-brainer."
At the time he retired in 1990, Boone held the record for most games caught, with 2,225. Carlton Fisk later passed him, and Rodriguez passed Fisk last year.
"I'm sure Pudge thinks he'd better move this record out for a while," Boone said with a chuckle. "That Mauer kid is on the way."
For the record, Joe Mauer caught his 631st career game on Wednesday in Minnesota. He entered play Wednesday with 770 hits as a catcher.
Boone and Rodriguez spent time together in Nationals camp this spring, and Boone said he told Rodriguez that the key to hitting as you get older is to concentrate on going the other way.
"You lose bat speed," Boone said. "I did. But you can play with limited bat speed as long as you're short to the ball. Hit it the other way. And Pudge has always been great at that."
The Nationals will be adding Stephen Strasburg to their rotation at some point, likely in early June. They expect Jordan Zimmermann, who had Tommy John elbow surgery last year, to pitch for them sometime in August.
They also have Chien-Ming Wang, but general manager Mike Rizzo refuses to set any kind of timetable for him.
"He's throwing bullpens," Rizzo said.
Wang had shoulder surgery last July.
Posted on: June 11, 2009 6:07 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2009 6:08 pm
BOSTON -- The easy thing for the Yankees to do would have been to take Chien-Ming Wang out of the rotation and replace him with Phil Hughes.
It would be easy, and it would be easily justified, since Wang is 0-4 with a 14.34 ERA (and has pitched just 13 1/3 innings with a 21.60 ERA in his five starts). But it wouldn't necessarily be the right move.
Manager Joe Girardi's decision to start Wang again next Wednesday against the Nationals won't make everyone happy. If Wang fails as badly next Wednesday as he did last night against the Red Sox, Girardi will be roasted in New York.
Fine, because for the Yankees this is a risk worth taking.
Here's why: First, despite the horrible numbers, there's a real chance that Wang is fixable. I spoke to an ex-big league pitching coach who has seen Wang recently and believes his command problems are caused by a small mechanical flaw. He also believes that regular work as a starter is the only way Wang will get fixed.
Second, the Yankees need to try everything they can to get Wang fixed. They don't have the starting pitching depth that the Red Sox possess. They have a bunch of starters whose history suggests they could miss time with injuries at some point in the season, and few options to fill in for a starter who gets hurt. There's every chance that Hughes will be starting for them later this year, and every chance that it will be in place of someone other than Wang.
Finally, let's remember that we're still in the middle of June. Let's remember that the Yankees are still one game behind the Red Sox, and that if the playoffs started today, the Yankees would be in. Yes, every game is important, but the rest of the season is even more important. Wang's velocity last night (95 mph at times) suggests that if he get his command back, he can be an important contributor later in the year.
Maybe he can't get there. The Yankees need to do everything to find out if he can.
Posted on: June 17, 2008 8:29 pm
Edited on: June 19, 2008 9:32 am
Another American League pitcher fell victim to National League rules today, when the Red Sox put Bartolo Colon on the disabled list with a back injury suffered while swinging and missing on Monday night. At least Colon isn't as important to the Sox as Chien-Ming Wang is to the Yankees. In fact, the Red Sox were simply able to put Daisuke Matsuzaka into Colon's spot in the rotation.
"I don't agree with the American League," he said. "I don't want to be in the American League. I don't want to face a No. 9 hitter making $8 million."
When Hamels beat the Red Sox Monday, he twice escaped trouble by striking out Colon with two on and two out.
It doesn't hurt that Hamels is a good hitter himself, with a .316 average this season (although he's a more pitcher-like .176 for his career).
A few other Tuesday thoughts:
Did you notice that the Tigers' Marcus Thames has homered in five straight games, with six home runs total in that span? Well, Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey noticed. "I think if you give that guy 500-some at-bats, he'd have a shot to hit 40," said Casey, Thames' ex-teammate with the Tigers. "He's in the top five as far as the longest balls hit by guys I've played with. I'm a big fan of his."
The Mariners have a lot of work to do in the next month, but scouts from opposing teams say they should be able to start the rebuilding process by trading away pitchers Carlos Silva and Erik Bedard. The pitching market should be interesting to watch in July, with quite a few teams looking but also quite a few decents arms available (C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Paul Byrd, among others).
While several other American League teams bemoan their lack of speed (White Sox, Indians, Tigers, to name three), the Red Sox are seeing the impact of AL steals leader Jacoby Ellsbury. "He's brought a brand of baseball that we're not accustomed to," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "We talk about preparing for the Angels, Tampa Bay and Minnesota, teams that run and put pressure on you. Now other teams are having to prepare that way for us. We've always been good, but we've been big and slow. We went through periods where we didn't hit, and we looked big and slow."