This afternoon, the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees swapped catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez and right-handed reliever Kyle Farnsworth. For the Yankees, this move filled the void left by Jorge Posada's season ending surgery; for the Tigers, it shored up their beleaguered bullpen. This is a rare case of a seemingly even trade with both teams dealing from strength to fill a weakness.
From the Yankees' perspective, Pudge is an excellent upgrade from Jose Molina. While Rodriguez's defense has regressed in recent years, it is still good; he was +9 in 127 games last year with an RAA of 10.
This year, he is actually a bit better, with an RAA of eight in only 81 games this year (Molina has an RAA of 12 this year in 67 games). It appears Pudge's defense has stabilized for now and he should be a defensive asset for the rest of the year, if not as good as Molina.
Still, Pudge is by far the superior hitter, with an OPS of .755 compared to Molina's hideous .586. That difference should far eclipse the defensive differential. And while there have been reports of Tigers pitchers complaining about Pudge's callousness handling the pitching staff, it is unlikely to continue in New York. He will know that the New York media will be scrutinizing every move, so I expect him to be on his best behavior.
As for the Tigers, they gain some desperately needed stability for their bullpen. Todd Jones' ineffectiveness combined with the continued uncertainty over Joel Zumaya's effectiveness during his recovery created a need for a solid bullpen arm. Farnsworth should be solid with the Tigers, as he in the midst of a comeback year.
After two mediocre years with the Yankees, he finally harnessed his dominating stuff again, posting a DERA of 3.35 thus far. His strikeout rate has returned to its previously high levels (43 SO in 44.1 innings), leading to much more effective outings. He should provide quality relief in high leverage situations.
One possibly stumbling point is the effect of Joe Girardi upon Farnsworth. They have an outstanding relationship, as Girardi had caught Farnsworth in the past and made it a priority to straighten him out.
This was some excellent work by both front offices. Both teams were realistic about their needs and managed to craft a deal remarkable for its fairness. Teams in Detroit and New York should be happy about this win-win, as it enhances both teams' chances down the stretch.