Blog post from JJO with the word from the Man in the Uniform:
It was clear to several Astros players that trading Rodriguez meant the Astros had given up on the 2009 season...
...I will say that Humberto Quintero can give you what Pudge Rodriguez gave the Astros. If anything, the Astros should have spent the $1.5 million they spent on Rodriguez on a reliever this winter and let Quintero settle in while J.R. Towles or Lou Santangelo proved if they were ready before Jason Castro comes up next year.
At the risk of sounding like a cynical reporter, I agree with the players that the Astros have waved the white flag and begun to look toward 2010. That is not a bad thing, in my opinion. Heck, unless Drayton McLane plans to extend Jose Valverde and Miguel Tejada, he should trade those guys and get some more quality prospects. Those are the jewels, not Pudge Rodriguez. I would re-sign Valverde and Tejada, who I would move to third. If McLane doesn't want to do that, ship them off to a contender and get some real quality prospects instead of the package they got for Rodriguez.
There's nothing wrong with trading Ivan Rodriguez, Valverde or Tejada, but be honest to the fans.
If the players don't believe, fans won't either.
I tend to think that MGMT has realized (and whether or not you think that Drayton is pulling the strings, it's still the case) that there's no way it's going to work out this year. Did I just say that I would be okay with Pudge coming back in 2010, but in a mentoring role? Yes, I did. I also briefly dropped Justice saying that Drayton was interested in bringing Pudge back (here) in 2010 - that was on August 12. What happened in the six days since that blog was posted? Well, Alyson Footer says it started when Saltalamacchia (try that, spell check) went down on Saturday.
Presumably, when Jon Daniels started dangling prospects, even prospects that wouldn't have a shot to impact the Big Club until 2013, the Astros couldn't refuse, and who can blame them? Pudge 2009 isn't Pudge 1996. It's a low-risk, unknowable reward, but it had to happen. If the rest of the Astros are pissed, so what? I cannot believe that Berkman lays awake at night thinking, "If only Ed Wade would believe in me and my team..."
I'm sorry Berkman got hurt when he did, because that's when the season started to slip away. I'm sorry that Oswalt got hurt when Berkman did, because that pretty much did it. Trading pieces off had to happen sooner or later, but if the pouting Astros in the clubhouse think that Pudge getting hot was keeping them from making a run, then I need to seriously reevaluate the level of intelligence of my chosen team.
I don't sit in the clubhouse, I don't get to talk to the players, and I'm sure Pudge is a great guy: funny, buys dinner, tells bawdy stories about Juan Gonzalez and all. That's right, I just used "bawdy." I don't know about team chemistry, but this club hasn't exactly jelled at any point this season. I doubt that Pudge was the guy keeping Berkman from shanking Cooper after a game. There doesn't look to be any chemistry on this team. Losing Pudge doesn't change that.