|Days after learning that Jorge Posada would miss the remainder of the season after having shoulder sugery, the Yankees rectified their catching situation by acquiring Ivan Rodriguez from the Tigers for righthanded reliever Kyle Farnsworth. The deal comes less than a week after they added outfielder Xavier Nady and lefty reliever Damaso Marte for the stretch drive.
|The Big Leaguers|
|Rodriguez, 36, is enjoying a bounce-back season in what is almost certainly a Hall of Fame career, batting .295/.338/.417 in 302 at-bats for the Tigers. Because he debuted at age 19 in 1991 and because he's been exceptionally durable (logging at least 363 at-bats in every season after his rookie year), Rodriguez has racked up impressive career totals, including .302/.340/.477 averages, 2,584 hits (third among active players), 520 doubles (also third) and 293 home runs. His 286 homers as a catcher place him seventh on the all-time list, 12 behind Gary Carter. A 14-time all-star, 13-time Gold Glove winner and 1999 American League MVP, Rodriguez has thrown out 36 percent of basestealers this season, fourth among AL catchers, and for his career he's nailed 597 of 1,268 basestealers—or an impressive 47 percent.
Farnsworth, 32, had been an unmitigated disaster for the Yankees in his first two years of a three-year, $17 million deal he signed following the 2005 season. Brought aboard to replace the departed Tom Gordon, he instead went 5-7, 4.57 with 123 strikeouts (8.8 per nine innings), 55 walks (3.6) and 17 home runs allowed (1.2) in 126 innings for New York in 2006 and 2007. That was solid, but not exactly eighth-inning-of-a-close-game material. Farnsworth started the 2008 season along the same lines, posting a 4.26 ERA and allowing eight home runs in 25 1/3 innings in April and May. But manager Joe Girardi began showing more faith in Farnsworth after Joba Chamberlain moved to the rotation in June, and the righthander responded with a 2.84 ERA with 21 strikeouts, eight walks and three home runs in 19 innings over the past two months. Armed with the standard-fare reliever repertoire of the mid-90s fastball and a slider, Farnsworth has gone 29-47, 4.42 with 720 strikeouts and 323 walks in 719 career innings.
|Yankees de facto catcher Jose Molina leads all AL receivers in gunning down runners this season, at 47 percent, so New York does not stand to yield a defensive advantage in acquiring Rodriguez. However, Molina is such a poor hitter (.229/.279/.307 this year) that the addition of Rodriguez, who waived his no-trade clause to make the deal happen, will have a tangible effect on the Yankees' offense.
Farnsworth had his best half-season in Detroit in 2005, posting a 2.32 ERA, 55 strikeouts, 20 walks and only one home run in 43 innings, suggesting that the Tigers are hoping for a repeat performance, as they mix and match with Fernando Rodney, Todd Jones and Joel Zumaya at the end of games. Detroit also stands to save about $2.5 million in salary over the next two months in exchanging Rodriguez ($13 million) for Farnsworth ($5.5 million). Both players can become free agents in October.