Huh, Gerald Laird? Why not Pudge?

On Thursday, the breaking news every Tiger fan dreaded regarding the team came to fruition.  No, not “Miguel Cabrera Arrested for Another DUI” or “Justin Verlander Injured Break dancing”.  Even more horrifying, “The Detroit Tigers Resign Gerald Laird as Backup Catcher”.  After hearing this, I fully expect Adam Everett, Jacques Jones and Jason Grilli to all be resigned in the upcoming weeks.

The veteran backstop didn’t exactly have the greatest run in Detroit.  Images of Laird flailing helplessly at 90 MPH fastballs in the 2009 Play-In game vs. the Minnesota Twins will be forever etched in my mind.  His 2010 was even worse, hitting an Inge-worthy .207.  So they re-signed him for defense, right?  Laird threw out a mere 20% of runners with the Cardinals in 2011.  He’s a great locker room guy then?  Maybe, but remember he and Armando Galarraga nearly got into a fist fight in 2010.  With Galarraga being the face of resiliency following the near perfect robbery, and Laird being the face of “how not to score a runner from third with less than two outs”, regardless of the incident’s cause there’s little doubt that it didn’t gain Laird any more fans among Tiger followers.  This entire Laird deal reeks of the front office doing a guy a favor who can’t find a job anywhere else, cause he seems to add nothing to the roster.  I don’t get.

If Dave Dombrowski was hell bent on giving a former backstop a break, he would have been better off looking toward Ivan Rodriguez.  No doubt, Rodriguez is declining quickly as he had a rough 2011 at the plate with the Nationals, but Laird’s had a rough career there.  Pudge still has a cannon for an arm and threw out a ridiculous 52% of runners last year and hasn’t slipped at all in that department.  It’s an asset that could’ve come in handy as the other AL elite are all run happy teams .  I realize Rodriguez came here for the money in 2004.   And I know any guy who has a life sized, bronze statue of himself has issues and could be a locker room problem…but still, they made it to the World Series with him and Pudge is partially the reason the Tigers are once again a respected organization.  In 2004, a year after the second most miserable season in Detroit sports history (0-16 will always take the cake), Pudge signed with the completely irrelevant Tigers.  His signing paved the way for free agents and opened up the possibility for high profile trades as other players began to see the improving Tigers as an option.  You could argue that the organization wouldn’t be where they if Pudge hadn’t signed here.  Regardless if he’s richer because of it, he’s a big reason for the organization retribution.

Now Rodriguez finds himself unemployed in his fading quest for his historic 3,000th hit.  It could have been a great story.  Pudge Rodriguez came to Detroit when no one wanted a part of it, seven years later they return the favor and give him a shot at history.   Instead we get a second dose of “G-Money” quips from Rod Allen and lots, and lots of inning ending strikeouts.

Topics: Alex Avila, Armando Galarraga, Brandon Inge, Dave Dombrowski, Detroit Tigers, Gerald Laird, Ivan Rodriguez, Pudge Rodriguez

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  • ZacSnyder

    I’m not a Gerald Laird fan but there isn’t a backup catcher that would get me excited anyway. So, I’m left to give it a shrug and move on.

    The bringing Pudge back for a “shot at history” idea has some major holes as well. He needs 156 hits to get to 3,000 for his career. He hasn’t had that many hits in a season since 2006 and the Tigers aren’t looking for a player that will even see 156 plate appearances.

    • detsportsczar

      @ZacSnyder

    • MCBjohnverburg

      @ZacSnyder Agree. He fills the void that they were looking for. I’m not sure Pudge can handle that role.

      • detsportsczar

        @MCBjohnverburg @ZacSnyder Maybe Pudge’s ego couldn’t handle it, but he’s not going to end up being a backup somewhere…so why not here. Honestly, Laird is the worst option in my eyes given fan sentiment toward him. Hopefully for him the majority of Tiger fans have a shorter memory than me.

    • detsportsczar

      @ZacSnyder This isnt a pro-Pudge piece,rather anti-Laird, probably the worst option given his history here. Pudge’s obviously not getting 3000 next year, and I didnt state as such but he needs opportunities to get it. If the Tigers are going to do either of these guys a favor it should be Pudge. 2-3 years as a backup and he could get to 3000 but next he needs chances. Honestly, I wouldn’t get excited about a backup…but my point why Laird? Pudge, among others, are better options.

      • Al Kaline

        @detsportsczar @ZacSnyder the reason they might have signed G-Money over Pudge is that there may be some bad blood between Pudge, Dombrowski and Leyland when he was traded to NY and they made Inge the starter.

        • MCBjohnverburg

          @Al Kaline@detsportsczar@ZacSnyder Pudge I don’t think has exactly been known as Mr. Congeniality everywhere he has been. At 39 with deteriorating skills, he isn’t worth the minor upgrade for the dollars it would’ve cost.

        • detsportsczar

          @Al Kaline @ZacSnyder Don’t forget Pudge’s reaction when the Tigers traded Farnsworth…in was it 2005? Really, this article is more a testament to how much I hate the Laird signing than how I’d like them to sign Pudge.

        • MCBjohnverburg

          @detsportsczar@Al@ZacSnyder It’s too late, we have already labeled you a Pudge lover. Sicko. Haha.

        • detsportsczar

          @MCBjohnverburg @Al @ZacSnyder If it would keep Laird off this roster, I’d declare my love for Pudge….lol.

  • littlestclouds

    I can’t imagine Pudge settling for playing only 30-40 games a year. Especially after how things ended in ’08.

    • detsportsczar

      @littlestclouds No one is going to give Pudge a starting gig. But the guy is a proven hitter and can throw out runners. Both more than you could say for Laird. If Pudge turns down a backup gig, so be it. Besides, bases loaded two down, who would you rather have up? Despite being 39 with no power, I’d take Pudge any day simply because he’s not Laird.

      • BrandonSain

        I would think that in that scenario, Avila would be pinch hitting, or anyone else from the bench. I like the signing. Laird is cheap and knows most of the pitching staff we have here. After the divorce that Galarraga had in Arizona, who knows if Laird was in the wrong or not. As fans we don’t get to see what really happens, we just put Galarraga on a pedestal after his perceived “compassion” to the ump after the perfect game, but he really had no other option.

  • Al Kaline

    Imagine this scenario. Avila gets hurt for a month, who would you rather have filling in Pudge or G-Money? Laird is an automatic out swinging the bat.

    • detsportsczar

      @Al Kaline Thank you Al. I was thinking the same thing.

    • MCBjohnverburg

      @Al Kaline They would probably have to go shopping at that point either way. Yes, in that scenario, Pudge is slightly more attractive, but based on his numbers since 2009, the Tigers would have to look elsewhere anyway. Bottom line, if Avila gets hurt, the Tigers are screwed at that spot.

  • sportz

    Really a 40 year old Pudge who can’t find a team willing to take him..I mean Really..

    1. Pudge wouldn’t play for 1MM
    2. He has laready proven to ba a clubhouse cancer in Detroit
    3. Who said he can still catch and throw, we know he can’t hit

    Lastly, if Avila gets hurt, bet on VMART doing plenty of catching..

    Pudge..too funny..I mean are you freaking kidding me.

    • detsportsczar

      @sportz I not saying Pudge is a good option, merely in lieu of the perplexing Laird signing, Pudge was a better ex-Tiger catcher option. Honestly, I would have loved Ryan Doumat (sp?) Whom the Twinkies signed today.

      • RonnyHurd

        @detsportsczar Laird play’s better defense than Ryan Doumit, plus he cost an additional two million.

  • sportz

    3MM and the worst defensive catcher in baseball..not my first choice..

    A backup Tuger catcher is going to play 30-40X a year…thats it.

    If Avila gets hurt, I promise, VMART will be doing plenty of catching.

    • MCBjohnverburg

      @sportz You promise? Just like this year? Vmart is not going to catch.

  • sportz

    JV He’s gonna catch of Avila gets hurt..because there’s no way they will allow a Laird, Inge, Jackson 8,9,1 for more than a game..if it was weeks..VMART would catch.

  • tiggs1

    Pudge? Are you kidding me. Where have you been. Did yoy not hear what a Cancer he was in the clubhouse? Who do you think was responsible for all the crap that happened when Trammel and Gibson were the coaches? Dumbrowski put up with it because Pudge’s ability and his contract, but as soon as his skills started to erode, and his contract expired, they couldn’t wait to ship his winnie a$$ out of town. Good riddens to bad rubbage.