ode to stupak-pitts
i read the news today, oh boy

fun with numbers

Look at this list of numbers: 136, 94, 97, 84, 86, 73.

Here’s one that’s even more consistent in its way: .510, .444, .437, .420, .394, .384.

This one’s a bit more herky-jerky: .383, .290, .332, .294, .319, .280.

And finally, a last list that goes in the opposite direction: 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37.

Now, imagine that it’s your job to figure out what the next number will be in the above lists. The last one is the easiest … odds are, even without knowing what the numbers represent, that we can guess 38 with confidence. Again, context matters, so we’re just guessing here, but for the top list I’d guess somewhere between 60-75. For the second list, .360-.390. For the third, .270-.300. I’m sure to be wrong here, but I’m willing to claim that I won’t be very far off. The first three lists are of numbers that are all becoming gradually smaller, the last list is of numbers that are getting larger by 1 each time.

These numbers are the OPS+, SLG, OBP, and Age for Ivan Rodriguez over the past six years. Longtime readers will have an easy time figuring out what comes next: there is a rumor that the Giants are thinking of signing Pudge to a one-year deal. He’s getting worse every year, he’s well-past his sell-by date, he doesn’t get on base, he plays a position where the team already has a young guy in waiting … he’s the perfect Sabean pick. (It must be noted that these rumors don’t often pan out.)

Since the Giants moved west in 1958, there have been nine catchers who managed to play at least 81 games in their “age 38” season. There are some very good players on that list (Carlton Fisk and Gary Carter, to name two) … you have to be good to still play half your team’s games at C when you are 38. Do you know how many of those nine players managed an OPS+ of 100 or better when they were 38? None. You know how many had an OPS+ of 75 or lower? Five. The best season any of them had was Gregg Zaun last year (OPS+ 97), with the Giants’ own Benito Santiago second at 96. There is no one else in the 90s. Those great catchers I mentioned earlier? Gary Carter hit .218 when he was 38, Carlton Fisk hit .221. Elston Howard, a pretty good player in his day as well, posted an OPS+ of 42 when he was 38.

Do you think Ivan Rodriguez, clearly declining with age, is likely to somehow jump above every player on that list of nine, to become the first player since 1958 to catch half his team’s games while providing league-average offense? The most similar player to Pudge-at-37, according to Baseball-Reference.com, is Ryne Sandberg, a Hall-of-Famer who didn’t have 2288 games squatting behind the plate to slow him down. What did he do at age 38? Whatever it was, it wasn’t playing baseball … Ryno retired.

I sure hope Rodriguez’ defense balances out his offense. Oh, let’s be honest: I sure hope Rodriguez is nowhere near a Giants’ uniform in 2010. The best possible conclusion to this blog post would be that it became irrelevant because Brian Sabean saw the light.

Comments

JHB

One rock, several stones...

1. C'mon. The most important thing to notice at bb-ref's Ivan Rodriguez page is his 2009 salary, which was...$1.5M. The Giants need someone around to catch the games Posey won't catch. Assuming that Rodriguez is willing to take $2M or less, and that he's prepared to be a part-time player, I'm OK with having him be the guy in that job. (I'm also OK with Posey starting in AAA if they want to squeeze another year of pre-arb out of him). Sure, I-Rod will stink, but it's not as if the other cheap options will be a lot better, and there's always the possibility that there's something to the whole mentoring thing.

2. I think the blame for this one has to go squarely on Joss Whedon. Really? FOX screwed him again? Who woulda thunk? I have no idea why Whedon wanted to go back to that particular well one more time, but if he really wanted Dollhouse to have a successful run the obvious answer was either basic cable or HBO/SHO, not network TV.

3. Let me try this alternative to either nostalgia or the past was different -- how about the possibility that your expectations are different? My guess is that you weren't disappointed in Clinton in 93-94 because you didn't expect much in the first place, but this time around you got your hopes up. At any rate, I really don't see a lot of difference between the dynamics of 1993-1994 and now (except that the president is more competent and the Congress is more liberal, so the results are likely to be quite a bit better, but the battle-lines are similar). I don't mean to personalize it...I think it's generally true that the left never saw (Bill) Clinton as someone who might do things they liked (at least he wouldn't be Reagan, but that was about it) while the left allowed themselves to really get excited about Obama. The truth is that they're both mainstream liberals, though -- Obama's no more a real left type than Clinton was.

Steven Rubio

You're right about Joss. I have no idea why he keeps trying network TV, unless it's that he can't sell his stuff to anyone else.

I also think you're right about expectations. I, and I imagine many others, was sucked in by the delightfully historic nature of Obama's victory. I think Obama also benefits from following the worse of the two Bushes ... it was easier to believe that Clinton and Bush I were kinda the same, but no one thinks that of Obama and Bush II. I don't know that I'd call either Clinton or Obama mainstream liberals though ... centrist Democrats seems more accurate.

As for the Giants' catching situation, I've always felt there was a place for the mentoring process. I've also always thought that place was on the coaching staff. I agree about cheap backups being a good answer, and looking over the free agent list and the Giants farm system, I have to admit you're right again. I want to barf every time Sabean signs an old guy who doesn't get on base, but outside of a trade, the only available catchers are old guys who don't get on base, many of them at least as expensive as Pudge (I didn't think of it at the time, but you're right, he's pretty cheap at this point). I'd rather see Rodriguez than Bengie, esp. if Bengie, the Type-A FA, signs elsewhere. Since I-Rod's a Type-B, it would be like trading Bengie for Rodriguez and a top draft pick. Of course, if no one signs Bengie, that plan doesn't work.

I guess the bottom line is, the Giants' backup catcher next season is going to be pretty bad.

JHB

I'd be shocked if one one of AMC/FX/SHO/HBO didn't want to try a Joss Whedon show. Really, I'd be surprised if he couldn't move Dollhouse over to AMC or FX or USA, or to whatever that network that showed BSG is calling itself this week, if there are no legal or financial blockages.

I'd be really worried about getting Molina back, except that I'm fairly certain someone will give him a three year contract, and not even Sabean is dumb enough to think that Posey needs three more years in the minors.

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