Let this be one of the first “Should The Mets Do This” articles of the soon-to-be-offseason: Should the Mets target future hall-of-fame backstop Ivan Rodriguez during this winter? I say 100% yes, they should.
The 39-year old Puerto Rican native would serve as an exceptional backup to Josh Thole. Not only providing gold-glove defense and a cannon of an arm, but also as veteran presence to the young Thole, much better of an influence than Paulino, a guy who started the season on suspension for testing positive for PEDs. Pudge could mentor Thole and give him some pointers on defense, which are much needed. The Mets are bringing in John Franco to tutor Bobby Parnell, why not have Rodriguez do the same for Thole?
Not only could Pudge be a good influence on Thole, but he is known for working extremely well with young pitchers. So with a roster filled with an overwhelming majority of young hurlers, a seasoned veteran behind the dish might not be a bad idea. Pitchers like Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell, Pedro Beato and plenty of others could benefit from a backstop that can work with them, pitch-by-pitch and cruise them through the highs and lows of a ballgame.
Yes, the offense of Pudge is long-gone, but, – at least in my opinion – unless you have a budding star like a Brian McCann or Buster Posey, the catching position is basically a defensive position. The catcher is responsible for working with the pitcher, catching every pitch, and basically the leader of the field as far as defense (telling everyone how many outs there are, whether to move back or not, etc.), so I see those factors as superior to whatever offense you get out of the catcher (which more often than not, is not much anyway).
Of course there is the internal option of Mike Nickeas, but for one I would not be comfortable with him being the only decent catcher other than Thole in the system, but also you can’t beat a veteran backstop on the roster.
Pudge will probably be looking for a $2-3 million per year deal, and 1-2 years. If the Mets can pick up I-Rod on the low end of that $2-3 million figure and give him one year with an option, this would be a relatively cheap, smart veteran/mentor acquisition for the Amazin’s for the 2012 season.