In the Detroit News this morning a scathing article from Lynn Henning about Pudge and his frustration and finger pointing. Pudge says he is tired of playing for the Tigers and makes veiled comments about how some of his teammates are losers. Henning, to his credit doesn't hold back on his criticism of Pudge and Pudge's refusal to acknowledge that his play has been much less than advertised and that he is partially responsible for the Tigers poor play.
Here's a link to the article:
Rather than acknowledge his own role in the Tigers' mournful 2005 baseball story, Pudge sat in front of his locker Saturday afternoon conducting a news conference that might as well have been sponsored by Carnival Cruises. It was a "get me out of here" plea if ever one was issued. "I hate losing, I'm tired of losing," Pudge said, broadcasting his first news bulletin. "I'm not used to playing like this. I don't like to play like this. I've been here two years and I don't see any changes. It's hard to be on a ballclub like that, because I'm not used to that." Compassion for Pudge seems to be selling at discounted prices in the Tigers clubhouse. One possible reason: 24 other teammates, not to mention a manager and a coaching staff -- and, possibly an owner and front office -- also want to win. But with Pudge there is always a higher elevation. Just ask him. "I love to win," he repeated. "I love to be in the playoffs. I would love to see my teammates the same way, but I don't know. I don't have their minds. I can talk to you from my heart. I'm not a loser."
Pudge really comes off looking like a jerk, IMO. I would have like it if they would have asked Pudge why his base running is such a joke and why so many hitters are raking on pitches when they have two strikes. Pudge sucks at calling pitches.
I would love to see the Tigers tell Pudge he can go to his boat, his services are no longer needed this season.
The real question is: Does the money in his contract make him untradeable? Will the Tigers be willing to eat some of the contract?
If Pudge "loves to win" so much, maybe he should try contributing for a change. Why is this team losing? Well, there are a lot of reasons and Pudge's performance is definitely among them. Only a .295 OBP, 84/7 BB/K ratio, and empty .286 BA because his average falls to .239 with any runners on base, all leading up to the fact that he only has 47 RBI's. I respect his defense a lot still, but he is a black hole on offense.
With that kind of production, expensive contract, advanced age/declining skills, no MLB-ready alternatives behind him in the minors, and Mike Ilitch pretty much running the show behind the scenes, Pudge will be your Tigers' starting catcher in 2006.
Trade him for whatever we can get. Rome ripped him a new one on Rome is Burning a couple days ago. Basically he said Pudge made a cash grab and now he's paying for it. Pudge WILLINGLY signed with a team who had lost 119 the year before. He didn't get traded or drafted, he signed on his own accord. He knew what he was getting when he came here and now he's complaining.
It's the Tigers who should be complaining about Pudge, not the other way around.
"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."
Too bad contracts can't be prorated year to year based on performance. Hit 40HRs 120RBIs and bat .350? Welcome to 15-18mill next year. Hit 20HRs 75RBIs and bat .275 the next year? Welcome to the 3-5mill wage scale. <sigh> oh well, one can dream can't they?
Pudge is a black hole. Sorry you guys have to deal with him along with everything else.
A big part of it is the front office not doing it's job. The Tigers had some holes to fill this year, and while they managed to fill one (Polanco), they totally failed everywhere else and the deadline trade actually exploited a weakness rather than fill a hole. Considering that fact plus the injury problems this team has had and some dissappointing performances, Pudge has every right to be frustrated, although his way of going about it is probably wrong. I'm sure Pudge and Ordonez aren't the only frustrated players in that locker room.
Because of this, I'm not so sure we're in a situation (yet) where we have to dump Pudge. The key is that the front office has to do something to improve the team this offseason, or else they are only making matters worse.
If his head/attitude is right, Pudge can help this team in a big way. He may never be the offensive force he once was, but he practically shuts the opposing running game down like few other catchers can. Plus could the divorce issues Pudge has been dealing with been hurting him? This game is so mental, that distractions like that can cause problems (of course so can teammates' bad attitudes). With a good offseason showing by this organization and personal issues further behind him, maybe he can have a slightly better year next year. I may/may not be being a bit overly optimistic, but considering that I am of the opinion that Pudge will definitely be the starting catcher in 2006, there isn't much other choice than to hope things will happen to allow him to coexist with this team.