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Pudge Switches From Tiger Stripes to Pinstripes

[Tonight's GameThread is below.]

Okay, you guys got to this news before I could. (Hey, that open thread wasn't a bad idea!) But anyone wondering if the Tigers might shed some of their veteran payroll got quite an answer this afternoon (that sound you may have heard was Samela's head exploding), as Pudge Rodriguez was traded to the New York Yankees for Kyle Farnsworth in something of a head-scratching deal.

This trade creates almost as many questions as it does answers. For one thing, Farnsworth seems like an insufficient return for Rodriguez, especially given the demand for a catcher who's currently hitting as well as Pudge. A .295/.338/.417 average with five home runs and 32 RBIs is better production than many teams are getting at that position. (Don't forget the 19 walks Pudge has drawn this season, already 10 more than he drew all of last year.)

But a look at Farnsworth's numbers shows that he's still throwing good stuff and can definitely help the Tigers' bullpen. 43 strikeouts (versus 17 walks) in 44 1/3 innings is the kind of smoke that Detroit has been missing in a lot of key late-inning situations. However, Farnsworth has also given up 43 hits, and perhaps most troubling of all, he's coughed up 11 home runs. On the other hand, the bullpen is suddenly much better in a fight.

I also hate the idea of making a deal with a potential playoff rival, though this appears to be the proverbial trade that helps both teams involved. The Yankees needed a catcher, with Jorge Posada having season-ending surgery on his shoulder. And Farnsworth brings more immediate help than whatever draft picks the Tigers would've received next year with Pudge's free agency. Something else to consider is the difference in salaries; Farnsworth makes approximately $7 million less than Pudge, though I don't know how much of a factor that played in the Tigers' decision-making.

So Brandon Inge becomes Detroit's full-time catcher effective immediately, which may or may not have been something he preferred. You'd have to think this kills any idea of moving him back to third base or even trying him out at shortstop (as some of us have suggested). The Tigers better rub Inge with chicken bones after each game and make sure he sleeps on a cushion of dove feathers, however, because if he gets hurt again, their catching position is - how do you say - screwed.

One last thought as I still try to wrap my head around this before tonight's game: There's something amusing about Pudge being traded for Farnsworth, when it was his petulant reaction to Farns being dealt to Atlanta in 2005 that made him about as unpopular as he's ever been in Detroit. But that's a thought I'll have to form more fully in another post, likely one in which we reflect on what Pudge Rodriguez has meant to this organization over the past five seasons.