In this corner, we have Wandy Rodriguez. Wandy's the very definition of a mediocre pitcher who has managed to hold on in the majors only because he's a left-hander. His career record is 42-45 and his career ERA is 4.59. This season, he's 5-5, but he's lost his last three games, pitching a total of only 13.2 innings in those three starts. Yet, in that short amount of time, he's surrendered 29 hits, 18 runs, 12 earned runs, and four home runs.
And in this corner we have Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, recognized as one of the greatest catchers in the history of major league baseball. Pudge, a former American League MVP, has played in 2,315 games. He's collected 2,684 hits, 300 homers, 1,241 RBI, and he's got a career batting average of .301. He's also noted for his defensive excellence, having won 13 Gold Gloves. During his career, he's caught the likes of Nolan Ryan, Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers, Kevin Brown, and Andy Pettitte.
We bring you this battle because, after Wandy Rodriguez got lit up by the Colorado Rockies last week, Pudge Rodriguez informed the team that it looked as if Wandy was tipping his pitches. Wandy, along with Pudge and pitching coach Dewey Robinson, watched video from that game, and Wandy said he doesn't see any problems. Nor does Robinson.
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"I think my problem is I'm missing my location," Wandy told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. "That's my problem right now."
Now I don't know about you, but if I were a pitcher, and one of the game's greatest players were to come to me and tell me I was tipping my pitches, I might think the problem was a little more than just missing my location, because if I have been tipping my pitches, then the batters have some idea of where the pitch's location is actually going to be. So I think I would pay a bit more attention to someone telling me I'm tipping the pitches than I would to the videotape. Especially if that someone has the hitting and catching credentials of Pudge Rodriguez.
I wouldn't be surprised that the video doesn't show any problems. Unless the camera is zoomed in on just that right spot, it can be easy to miss subtle differences. Frankly, I don't have much faith in any member of Cecil Cooper's staff to spot these type of problems, or well, any member of the Astros staff. Roy Oswalt, after all, went to Tampa Bay's Jim Hickey when he was having trouble last season. And Brad Lidge has said the Phillies told him he was tipping his pitches when he was with the Astros, thus opposing batters were able to tee off him. As they're now doing to Wandy.
Now I'm sure Pudge told Wandy exactly what it was he was doing, and I'm sure that Wandy, like he has for most of his career, is just going to ignore what he's been told. And he'll continue to get lit up by the opposition. Perhaps, if it happens a few more times, he'll actually pay attention when Pudge tells him what he's doing wrong. After all, what's the purpose of having one of the game's greatest-ever catchers on the team if you're not going to pay any attention to anything he says. Especially when you're name is Wandy Rodriguez and your career is defined by the word mediocre.