April 22, 2011

J-Rod Era Ends, Wood Claimed

The Josh Rodriguez experiment ended yesterday as the Pirates designated their utility infielder for assignment. You have to wonder what happened here.

The Pirates owned the first pick in the Rule V draft and presumably had plenty of time to decide on who they wanted. I was on board with the choice of Rodriguez since he had hit well in AAA and was capable of playing shortstop. It seemed like a good idea to bring in absolutely anyone to replace Ronny Cedeno.

Rodriguez got into only seven of the 19 games played so far, starting three times. The first time he played a full game was also apparently his final appearance in a Pirates uniform Thursday night. Josh went 1-for-3, drove in a run and also reached base another time via hit by pitch. Then a day after collecting his first major league hit, Rodriguez was gone.

One wonders why Ronny Cedeno deserves to get a shot at a 592nd game playing in the big leagues tonight, a game which will also be his 204th game in a Pirates uniform. After 1,915 major league plate appearances in which Cedeno hit .242/.282/.351 overall, Pirates management is intent on continuing to give him a shot to see if he can turn things around. Yet after 14 plate appearances, Josh Rodriguez is judged not a major league shortstop.

I'm not saying Rodriguez was the definitive answer, but we'll never know. I am reminded of the time when Brandon Phillips batted .000 in nine plate appearances for the 2005 Indians. The Tribe sent their infielder to Cincinnati for a player to be named later. It was a shortsighted move not because everyone knew what Phillips would become, but because no one knew what Phillips would become.

To be sure, Neil Huntington has had his share of success in the Rule V draft. One All-Star setup man isn't a bad haul in a four year stretch. But with the second and first picks in the draft the past two years, how did we end up with two players who batted a grand total of 25 times in Pittsburgh?

Brandon Wood Claimed
The reason for this claim is that with the #1 waiver priority, the Pirates claimed infielder Brandon Wood from the Angels. I remembered Wood being a top prospect, but it's also true that he's hit .168/.197/.259 in 494 plate appearances in his MLB career. Now OBP isn't everything, but .197 is pretty bad considering National League pitchers compiled a .177 OBP last year. No matter, he isn't Ronny Cedeno so I'd like to see him starting and find out if he can ever learn to hit the curveball. Wood did put up very good numbers for several years in AAA, so maybe he can figure things out in Pittsburgh.

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