After reading that Pudge and the Astros were again in contract negotiations, I was initially excited. The biggest area of concern on the team, outside of starting pitching was the catching situation. With Rodriguez we would be getting a player who has worked well with multiple pitching staffs, and could stabilize things until Jason Castro gained more minor league seasoning. JR Towles, Humberto Quintero and Lou Palmisano are all replacement level players at this juncture, anyways.
It's then that I went and purused the projections for our new starting catcher. My optimism faded pretty quickly. I realized Pudge wasn't going to be a savior by any stretch. What irks me is that Pudge's skills are fading fast. His extremely high GB% leads me to think that he'll be hitting into a lot of double plays this season. He walks next to never (not that our other catchers walk with any regularity). What's more- what are the odds that Cecil Cooper bats him at the top of our lineup? I would say pretty decent. Pudge will probably still hit for a decent average, which is "perfect" for a number two hitter. I hope to be proved wrong. He has hit well in the WBC, but it's such a small sample size, we really can't glean too much from it.
I would like to think that if Drayton were to give money to a veteran player, it would have been Pedro Martinez. His demands have been in the $2.5 million range for one year. Who's to say if he would've considered pitching for the Astros, but that possibility is almost certainly gone now.
Lou Palmisano's time in Houston is probably over, as players who were selected in the Rule V draft have to stay on the major league 25 man roster or else risk being sent back to their original club. Quintero is the presumptive choice to be the second catcher. JR Towles will have a chance to be the starting catcher for Round Rock. That's fine. He needs more time and showed he can handle hitting AAA pitching in his time last year at Round Rock. JJO likes the signing. I have to question his point that Humberto Quintero can learn under Pudge. That's all well and good, but who expects Quintero to be anything more than insurance for Castro/Towles in the future? He is a veteran catcher, and what we've seen so far is probably what we're going to get from him.
As far as Pudge's "leadership" qualities are concerned- this team is full of leadership/clubhouse/character guys. Berkman, Oswalt, Bloone's Farm, Hampton, Moehler, Brocail, Michaels, Erstad....the list goes on. I don't think the club will benefit from any more leadership, even if the new edition is a catcher.
Ultimately, it's not like his signing impedes anyone's path to the majors, or is a multi year debacle. It's just another million or so dollars the team was more or less forced to spend in order to help hold down the ship until (hopefully) the next crop of youngsters is ready to play on the major league level.