The Keys to Sean Rodriguez Being a Productive Hitter

The Pittsburgh Pirates added Sean Rodriguez at a high cost this off-season. They traded promising pitching prospect Buddy Borden to the Rays, getting Rodriguez in return after the infielder was designated for assignment. Rodriguez had formerly been a strong utility player, worth about two wins per season, but has struggled the last few years, while also seeing his playing time drop in the process. He only has one year of control remaining, so the Pirates are banking on a quick turnaround in 2015.

So how do the Pirates turn Rodriguez around and get a return on their investment right away?

Clint Hurdle said that one key thing will be finding more playing time for Rodriguez. He mentioned Josh Harrison’s success last year, and how that came from having regular playing time and getting into a routine. He also said that Rodriguez will face a challenge at PNC Park, which isn’t friendly to right-handed pull hitters. I asked Rodriguez about that factor, and he mentioned that PNC should help him fix his swing, and that he has already focused on using the middle of the field more, rather than pulling the ball. Hitting coach Jeff Branson also touched on this as something Rodriguez needs to do to be successful in PNC Park.

Rodriguez is one of several players the Pirates have added this off-season who has either posted a high value in the past, and/or has the potential to post a high value in the future. In 2010 and 2011 he was a 2.0 WAR player as a utility guy. The Pirates found plenty of time for Josh Harrison last year, and they could play Rodriguez anywhere on the field, with the exception of catcher.

Last year saw an increase in power for Rodriguez, but a decrease in his walk rate. If the Pirates can somehow get both things working, then Rodriguez would be a nice utility option to have. We’ll see if they can accomplish this by giving him more playing time to get him in a routine, and by changing his approach to use the middle of the field.

  • The best way to improve Sean Rodriguez’s batting is to give him more time? He wasn’t that good when he played a lot. Maybe he’s gotten better, or by being DFA’d, maybe his value is pretty minimal. If he suddenly learns how to hit, great. I wouldn’t bet on it though.

  • William Wallace
    February 25, 2015 7:12 am

    Borden for Rodriguez was a stretch IMO but they went major league depth this season. Anytime you trade a prospect you think you have given up a great piece of the future especially for a platoon player but I like the depth for this year. I also believe that Kang was not in the mix at this time. If maybe his deal was done maybe this trade would not have been made. As far as P2 and how they rate players I cherish the opinions presented.

  • There is only 1 key to making Sean Rodriguez a productive hitter: only allow him to bat against Left-Handed pitchers.

    Rodriguez has a career wRC+ of 112 against LHP, and a career wRC+ of 69 against RHP.

    He is a logical platoon with Pedro at 1B. Pedro is the exact opposite: his career wRC+ against RHP is 118, and his career wRC+ against LHP is 64.

    Platoon these guys at 1B and the Bucs should wind up with solid production at that position.

  • If Kang makes the club and proves to be a capable MLB player (backing up 2B, SS), Polanco rises to the occasion, and the platoon of Alvarez/Hart works at first base, where does Rodriguez get his at bats?

    • with another team because that “full glass” scenario, we have no need for himand will happily send him to houston lol- we all pray for such an aligning of the stars

  • It seems as if they acquired him to avoid the scenario where the Michael Martinez’s of the world get plate appearances. Ay least he used to be competent at the plate. His walk rate, however, has always been pretty terrible.

  • Rodriguez and Hurdle both talked about more playing time being key, and perhaps that will dovetail with the Pirates’ look at the Golden St. Warriors and more spread out opportunity for the whole roster.

    By the way, these player videos are really great.

  • A guy who has never pitched above A-ball, is a ways away from the Majors, and wasn’t a top 15 prospect is not a high price to pay to fill a hole on the Major League roster when you are a team in win now mode like the Pirates are. This was a very good trade for them to make.

    • Yeah, Tim and John are way, way higher than anyone else seems to be on Borden. But to each his own.

    • We had him as a top 15 prospect. Also, they were trading him for a guy who was DFAd by his former team, and had to be traded. Thus, his value was down.

      Even Hurdle said they were aggressive in going after Rodriguez. What do you think he meant by that?

      • Seriously, top 15?! You guys are nuts. Kiley doesn’t even have him the Rays top 50 and he talks to scouts across the minors and those in their organization (he also once worked for the Pirates). He is a middle relief arm at best who was old for his level. This is why this site needs more scouting expertise as I suggested when you asked for opinions. The videos you have are great, but they don’t mean much if no one here knows how to interpret them.

        His direct comment when asked about Borden not being in their top 50 –
        “Not really. There’s 4-6 relievers at the upper levels that I didn’t
        list on the others list (recently-acquired Mark Sappington probably the
        best of that group), but are the standard 60ish fastball (92-94) with
        50ish breaking ball and below average command. Borden is behind those
        guys right now. His stuff is kinda like Greg Harris but without the
        projection or command, so he likely moves to relief and slots around
        Sappington and co.”

        • So what you’re saying is that there is one other person with a different opinion. That has never happened in the history of scouting until now.

          • Callis’s list does not include him, he wasn’t mentioned on BP, Sickels list is about to come out. The beauty is we will see who is right in just a few short years.

            • The MLB.com top 30 for the Rays hasn’t been announced, and he won’t be on the Pirates list, which also hasn’t been announced.

              BP only does a top 10 for each team, and we’re talking about Borden being around 15, so the fact that they haven’t mentioned him is irrelevant to this discussion.

          • and yes, I’ll take the opinion of someone who has scouting trainin and industry contacts throughout MLB over a fan site. Back to the reports, if you have such expertise why not breakdown all these videos you are providing?

            • You can trust whoever you want. I’m going to continue trusting our system, which was higher than most outlets on Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte, Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham, and other players who have broken out and are now universally regarded as top prospects. It has also been much lower on certain players who never made it.

              There was a time with each player where it was said we were crazy ranking them where we had them, because we had them higher than other outlets. It’s for that reason that I’m not afraid to go against the conventional rankings when we’re higher on a specific prospect.

              • I’ll ask again then, why don’t you add content that more meaningful for these videos and articles? We only get stats (which are incredibly misleading in the low minors) and rudimentary sabermetrics. If you stake your claim to being a reporter, you are well justified and are doing a great job. When you claim to be an expert on scouting then the burden becomes higher.

                So, you are saying that your opinion of Borden should carry more weight than the Pirates front office. It is one thing to disagree with national pundits, but this is an interesting step for you (as you almost always support their moves).

                • We’ve done one video so far of prospects. In that video/article, I talked plenty about scouting Elias Diaz over the years. I talked about his strengths, and what he needed to improve, and how he improved it.

                  At the same time, we reach a huge audience. I need to present the information in a way that attracts and can be comprehended by everyone.

                  The fact that you’re questioning why we don’t have more scouting information on the site suggests you don’t actually read the site, and I know that’s not true.

                  “So, you are saying that your opinion of Borden should carry more weight than the Pirates front office.”

                  I’m not saying this at all.

                  “It is one thing to disagree with national pundits, but this is an interesting step for you (as you almost always support their moves).”

                  I don’t always support their moves. I try to give an objective view of the move each time. If it seems like I agree with a majority of them, maybe that’s because objectively, you should be agreeing with a majority of the moves that have been made, considering those moves have led to two straight playoff appearances.

                  Overall, let’s call this what it is. I said “The Pittsburgh Pirates added Sean Rodriguez at a high cost this off-season.” That’s it. Nothing about how the Pirates were wrong. Nothing about how they didn’t properly evaluate Rodriguez. That’s your translation of this discussion, which is wrong. You want to make this something that it isn’t.

            • lonleylibertarian
              February 25, 2015 11:30 am

              sounds like you need to move on to another site – I respect the work that Tim and others put into trying to keep us informed – and they are entitled to a POV. I have NO idea what your credentials are – but am fine with you expressing an opposite POV – but at some point you need to agree to disagree and move on – or stop reading and posting here.

              In hindsight the price for S Rod is a bit steep – but he was signed before Kang deal and I take Hurdle at his word – they WERE aggressive – they had not desire to see Morel/Martinez play ANY role this year – it may turn out that Rodriquez is not even needed – if all goes well – that is fine – the kind of move that a contender can and should make at times.

              • Lonely, Tim & John are excellent reporters who get access to tons of info that others sitting at a desk in Pittsburgh do not. That does not make them qualified scouting experts or great analytic people. It is a virtue to know what you are good at and what you are not. I have no issue with Tim and John or their site, its is excellent, but I have issue with them criticizing the front office on a trade when their opinion is not well qualified.

                • “That does not make them qualified scouting experts or great analytic people.”

                  Who exactly are you to judge this?

                  “I have no issue with Tim and John or their site, its is excellent, but I have issue with them criticizing the front office on a trade when their opinion is not well qualified.”

                  Do you have an issue with me praising the front office for a trade? Why is it only criticism that isn’t allowed?

                  Also, there wasn’t really any criticism. I just pointed out that the Pirates paid a high price. Clint Hurdle said they were aggressive to get Rodriguez. You seem to care way more about this subject than anyone.

                  • I am someone who considers viewpoints outside of the those from fans with vested interest in our prospects. Its called objectivity. You have yet to provide any report that suggests Borden is not what McDaniel’s many professional contacts suggest he is.

                    You want to suggest that Borden is a better prospect than Trey Supak, Clay Holmes, Willie Garcia, and Jacoby Jones. Where is this evidence? Do you even disagree with Kiley’s assessment of 60 fastball 40 offspeed with poor command?

                • lonleylibertarian
                  February 25, 2015 12:08 pm

                  I have no problem with them being critical of a move that saw a legitimate prospect go for a player who the Rays had DFAd – that in itself suggests the Bucs overpaid – but as I said – the move may have made sense to the FO at the time given the problems that lack of real major league depth caused last year. It would have been nice to hear Huntington or Hurdle explain why a prospect was needed to add a player who the Rays no longer wanted – they have never offered an explanation of why they had to give up Borden to make the deal.

          • There are some guys on here that would argue with a post. (….and often do.) It usually starts with something like the “You guys are nuts!” like you got above. You can always just agree to disagree. Albert Pujols was a 13th rounder and Mike Piazza didn’t go in the first 1200 picks so I am pretty sure everyone (especially someone that lives and breathes this every day of the year) is entitled to an educated opinion.

            • Yes entitled to an opinion, but this article is written with the assertion that the Pirates overpaid which is not supported by anyone else. All I did was point out that the PP view of Borden is far out of line.

              • “All I did was point out that the PP view of Borden is far out of line” with Kiley McDaniel’s view.

                Fixed that for you. It’s not far out of line with anyone else that I’ve seen. And if it is, I don’t care. This is where we have Borden, and as I’ve shown, we’re pretty good at evaluating prospects.

                • Oh boy, so citing your successes with no mention of your failures or any quantitative information is proof? So, prior to your move to Bradenton, you ranked your prospects how? Come on Tim, remember though art mortal.

                  • Prior to my move to Bradenton I traveled everywhere the Pirates played, including Bradenton, and had writers in every city, and talked to scouts that saw every player. The year before I moved to Bradenton, I drove back and forth from Virginia to Florida six times, just to see prospects at various times throughout the year (ST, instructs, Marauders, GCL, etc). That doesn’t include driving to West Virginia, Altoona, etc.

                    That’s how we’ve always ranked prospects. For someone who comments on the site a lot, you seem to have no idea what actually happens on this site.

                    • So, with this wealth of scouting info, why isn’t it on the website or in previous versions of your books (which I bought several)?

                      And don’t start with the insults, I have been with this site since day 1 and honestly, I almost started a similar site in 2005 during the dark ages (I wrote my own organizational reviews. I recognized the limitations of relying on statistical data in this area and moved on. I was very satisfied with the content here until I saw the process that real professional scouts undertake. Seeing that makes me want more. Posting a video of Diaz tells me very little and I want to have a trained eye tell me what is there. If you have these skills then share them, if not acknowledge that you don’t and stick with reporting the news.

              • Now I am the post.

        • FYI, Baseball America had Borden ranked 18th overall in their top 30 of the Pirates’ system, pre-trade. Do they need more scouting expertise as well? What about the scouts we talked to who loved Borden’s stuff?

          • Tim if you talk to scouts, why don’t you include scouting information in your write ups? When you discussed your top 20 it was all stats based which is exceptionally deceiving. And, yes, BA took a very big hit when they lost Callis. John Perotto isn’t exactly a quality source.

          • And then there is the strongest evidence supporting Kiley’s view – The pirates front office (that we so often praise) flipped him for a DFA’d backup MI.

            • Once again, Clint Hurdle said they were aggressive in going after Rodriguez. What do you think that means?

              Why is it wrong to said the Pirates paid a high price for Rodriguez? It’s not saying anything about Rodriguez. It’s just pointing out that they were aggressive in going after him, which is exactly what the Pirates say.

              So either I’m wrong, Baseball America is wrong, and the Pirates themselves are wrong about Borden being a high price to pay to get a player they wanted, or maybe Kiley McDaniel isn’t infallible in his prospect evaluations.

              • Where did you get the BA info, and where is he in the prospect handbook for the Rays?

                • In the BA book.

                  • So where is he on the Rays list a system certainly no better than ours?

                    • Why don’t you buy BA’s book, or ask them?

                    • LOL, I’ll take that to mean he is unranked. I have bought their book every year for the last decade plus, hesitant this year due to the decline in their staff quality.

                    • Tetrapharmakos
                      February 25, 2015 2:05 pm

                      “So where is he on the Rays list a system certainly no better than ours?”

                      “FYI, Baseball America had Borden ranked 18th overall in their top 30 of the Pirates’ system, pre-trade.”

                      I’ll take that to mean you are arguing just to hear the sound of your own voice.

                    • Or there is a distinction between what John Perotto submits and what actually goes to press when their actual staff work on it. The TB ranking would be the relevant information since he was not included in the Pirates list (unless I am mistaken, but based on Tim’s comment, the ranking was past tense).

                    • He wasn’t in their system in time to make their rankings.

              • All this over the word “high” in the tagline. The internet is a funny place.

      • What do I think he meant by that? I think he meant that they were aggressive going after him, because that’s what he said.

        I think throwing around terms like “high cost” need some context, if Hurdle’s quote was your justification. Not sure on what grounds Buddy Borden could be considered “high cost”.

        Care to explain?

        • Hurdle’s quote couldn’t have been my justification, because I’ve been saying this since the trade.

          What do you think he means by “aggressive”?

          • quickly making an offer on a DFA guy instead of waiting out waivers

            • Just making an offer doesn’t guarantee you get the player. You’ve got to make a strong offer if you really want to ensure you get the player.

              • So, you believe Borden is a strong prospect. Lets see the breakdown then. If you want to silence your critics present compelling original evidence that you have compiled. You show me a scouting report that you have taken that says Borden is a MLB SP prospect and I’ll shut up and go about my day. Otherwise I’ll take the word of a professional scout.

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