Is signing Pudge really necessary?
MASSILLON, Ohio — As I finish helping my daughter Samantha celebrate her 18th birthday, I admire from afar the typically solid reporting by my San Francisco Chronicle counterpart, Henry Schulman, who confirmed that the Giants have explored signing Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez.
Pardon me for not summoning the same enthusiasm for the notion of acquiring Rodriguez. By bringing Rodriguez aboard, the Giants would be admitting that the personnel strategy they’ve considered since the 2008 season ended was flawed. It’s not flawed, if only because they haven’t given it a chance to work yet.
Rodriguez’s arrival would reflect a vote of no confidence in Travis Ishikawa and Pablo Sandoval, who likely would lose playing time at first and third base, respectively. So much for the youth movement.
It’s also quite possible that Rich Aurilia, who has been expected to back up at the infield corners, would be sent packing if Rodriguez joined the Giants. Rodriguez has had an outstanding career and might win election to the Hall of Fame, but at this point in his career it’s debatable whether he’s better than Aurilia.
Rodriguez is 37. He hit all of seven home runs in 398 at-bats last year with the Tigers and Yankees (Aurilia, also 37, homered 10 times in 407 at-bats). How anybody can believe that he’d suddenly regain power while playing in AT&T Park is behind me. Moreoever, since recording a .510 slugging percentage in 2004, Rodriguez has slipped in that category each year, to .444 in 2005, .437 in 2006, .420 in 2007 and .394 last season. The trend is obvious; his career is headed in one direction. At least Ishikawa and Sandoval have youth and a modicum of talent on their side.
Anywhere from six to 16 years ago, the Giants shouldn’t have hesitated to pick up Rodriguez if they had a chance. Now, they shouldn’t hesitate to run from such a deal. I’ve consistently given club management a break when considering their player moves, but this one ranks right down there with the proposed Tim Lincecum-for-Alex Rios trade in Dec. 2007. How can the Giants possibly think that Rodriguez can significantly help them?
– Chris Haft