Alyson Footer, beat writer for the Astros, wrote on her blog about the Astros getting Pudge as an upgrade at catcher. If you haven’t read her stuff before, go check it out – she knows her stuff.
It got me wondering just how valuable Pudge is, both for Houston and for anyone drafting their fantasy team this week. Of course, they’re not exclusively interchangable, so don’t take it that they are.
Here’s what I said to Alyson as a comment on her post:
I think getting Pudge, even on a short-term deal is
good news for the Astros, but only because of the mediocrity that
previously surrounded their catchers.
That said, Pudge’s skills
have been sliding since 2006 and, at 37, they’re not going to get
better. His power is marginally better than Qunitero and on a par with
Towles and only his batting average being 30 points higher will really
differentiate himself from the other two. He also doesn’t know how to
take a walk and if his linedrive swing even begins to dry up, his
batting average could drop from .280 to much nearer the .240 or so you
could expect from any of the others.
He is there to provide
experience and leadership; don’t expect him to light up the box scores.
The days of double-digit homers or steals are behind him. That is how
bad Towles and Quintero are right now.
And I actually stand by that. The Astros have done well to get him, especially at the price they paid, but if they had even an average backstop to begin with, I don’t believe they would have gone near him.
The Astros have a veteran club with guys like Berkman, Boone, Blum and
Tejada and I’m sure will fit in well with the 30-somethings pitching
staff (Moehler, 37; Hampton, 36; Ortiz, 34; Backe and Oswald, 31 and
Unfortunately, with Ausmus now in LA and Towles and Quintero bordering on useless, they didn’t really have too many options. It’s a shame, because I have a soft spot for Towles. He has a rare blend of power and speed that you don;t get from that many catchers. Unfortuantely, and hindsight is 20-20, I think they brought him up a year early. If they had let him continue in the minors, where he started to improve again when they sent him down, they may not have even had to get Pudge.
So, is Pudge an asset to your fantasy team? In short, no.
His .285 average is his only saving grace in a pool of catchers who so frequently hit less. But, as I said in my post to Alyson, if he loses that line drive swing, he’s in trouble.
His walk rate (4 per cent) is pretty much the worst you will find among any catcher and both his power and speed are distinctly below average.
If you want a catcher who can hit for average, you have guys like Mauer, Doumit and McCann. If you need some pop then try Napoli, Snyder or Iannetta; for speed you need to be looking more at a Martin.
There are maybe 20 or so catchers who I think are better than Pudge. If you get to the point in your draft when you’re considering him, the chances are, you’ve left it about 14 rounds too late.
Barely needed in real life, Pudge’s services won’t find many takers in the fantasy world.
Unfortunately for Pudge, knowing how to call a game or handle a pitching staff just doesn’t cut it in the world of 5-by-5 Roto leagues.