Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez has come full circle. The Texas Rangers traded two minor leaguers to the Houston Astros in exchange for the player who is arguably the greatest catcher to wear the tools of ignorance.
Pudge played with the Rangers from 1991 through 2002 with an AL MVP to his credit in 1999. He also won ten consecutive Gold Gloves for his defensive work behind the plate. The Rangers went to the post-season in 1996, 1998 and 1999 although they could never get past the New York Yankees in the ALDS.
I-Rod signed with the Florida Marlins as a free agent before the 2003 season and would earn his first World Series ring. He would sign a four year, $40 million contract with the Detroit Tigers in 2004 and would return to the World Series with the Tigers in 2006. Pudge won three more Gold Gloves in a Tigers uniform.
Although the Tigers picked up his option in 2008 he would be traded to the New York Yankees midway through the season for relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth. Pudge did not fit in well with the Yankees and could not fill the void left by the injured Jorge Posada. But I-Rod would play for Puerto Rico in the 2009 World Baseball Classic before signing a one-year contract with the Houston Astros. In 93 games with the Astros, Pudge was hitting .251 with 8 homeruns and 34 RBI.
Pudge's return to the Rangers is quite interesting. First, this past weekend, the Rangers overtook the Boston Red Sox for the AL Wild Card spot and currently have a one game lead over the Sox. Second, the Rangers number one catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (try saying that fast five times) was put on the 15-day disabled list with a bad shoulder. This leaves 25-year-old Taylor Teagarden as the number one catcher in a pennant race. The presence of Pudge will be one of a mentor to Teagarden as well as to the Rangers young pitching staff. Somehow I think this midseason trade will work better for Pudge this year than the one that sent him to the Yankees last year. And if it does work out for Pudge it will most likely be at the expense of the Red Sox.