Big Rod Signs with the Bucs
By Scott Andes
Hey guys, just got some news in.
The Dodgers who have been grappling with the idea of going with youth behind the plate this winter, now may have had their decision made for them. Veteran catcher Rod Barajas, better known to us as Big Rod, has moved on and signed with the Pirates. Pittsburgh inked Big Rod to a one year deal worth a surprising 4 million dollars with a club option worth 3.5 million for 2013.
The Veteran Catcher, was acquired by the dodgers off of waivers from the Mets, during august of 2010, after then catcher Russell Martin went down with a bizarre broken hip injury. Big Rod gave the Dodgers average-ish defense and occasional power, batting .230 with the Dodgers last season, hitting 16 home runs, and driving in 47 RBI. he started 85 games, and put up a .287 OBP.
What was surprising was that Big Rod, was a socal native, and lifelong Dodger fan. As a kid, Big Rod dreamed of playing at Dodger stadium, and often said that he would love to stay with the Dodgers for the rest of his career. I guess that didn’t last long now did it? I’m not sure if the Dodgers ever really offered him a contract or not, I guess we will never know the whole story. The Pirates were aggressive Big Rod said, and are looking for a veteran catcher to fill in over the next year or so, until their top catching prospect Tony Sanchez is ready. Apparently Big Rod will be there number 1 catcher, as the 36 year old veteran will join his seventh team.
The move makes sense for the Pirates, but for the Dodgers, it likely will mean a catching tandem of A.J. Ellis, and Tim Federowicz (Fedex) for the 2012 season. The question comes up though, should the Dodgers bring in a veteran to work with the kids? Generally The Dodgers recent Catching M.O. pairs a vet like Big Rod, with a kid like Ellis, and the third catcher usually another young kid starts the year in AAA for depth. The free agent market this year for catchers is just awful. the top offensive catchers on the market, include Ramon Hernandez, and Ryan Doumit, among a couple of others. No one on this list impresses me though.
What worries me, is the Dodgers will be losing some pop from their lineup. Big Rod wasn’t all that great or anything, but he did provide the Dodgers with his occasional pop. This means were losing 15-20 homers from the catcher’s spot. If the Dodgers are looking to replace Big Rod with another veteran catcher with power, then perhaps Ramon Hernandez would be the next best choice, although he would be expensive.
All in total, Big Rod hit 21 home runs with the Dodgers. There’s really no other reason Big Rod would want to sign with Pittsburgh other than they offered him 4 million dollars. Good luck and farewell Big Rod! Thanks for the Homers I guess.
On a side note, we wont have to wait long to see Big Rod again, as the Dodgers first home series is against the Bucs. We also get a draft pick for compensation since Big Rod was a type B free agent. So there’s that. GO BLUE