Posted on: February 24, 2012 5:50 pm
PHOENIX -- Meanwhile, over in the non-Ryan Braun corner of the clubhouse Friday, former closer Francisco Rodriguez took time out from contemplating a lawsuit against his former agents to report for duty as the 2012 Brewers' set-up man.
In what could be termed as a mild surprise, Rodriguez was smiling and appeared happy. Once intending to declare free agency over the winter and find a job as a closer, K-Rod wound up discovering a tepid market and wound up accepting a one-year, $8 million deal from the Brewers.
Unhappy a year ago because he did not pitch in one save opportunity after being traded to Milwaukee on July 12, Rodriguez again is slated to pitch the eighth innings while Milwaukee closer John Axford works the ninth innings.
Though Rodriguez is contemplating a malpractice and fraud suit against former agents Paul Kinzer and Arn Tellem of the Wasserman Media Group because they failed to file a no-trade provision on his behalf when he pitched for the Mets, he emphasized that he is not unhappy to be returning to Milwaukee.
"I want to make that clear," said Rodriguez, who had the Brewers listed among 10 teams he could not be traded to in the paperwork that was never filed. "Some newspapers said I did not want to come here, and that's not the point.
"Three years ago when they asked me about the list, it was not that I did not want to come to this city or this team, but the closer was Trevor Hoffman. It had nothing to do with the fact that I did not want to come to Milwaukee.
Because of Hoffman's presence, Rodriguez explained, he placed Milwaukee on his no-trade list because he never intended to pitch for a team on which he would not close.
"I'm honored and happy to be here," Rodriguez insisted. "If I didn't like the city, trust me, I'd go my separate way."
Sunblock day? Great day. It's heating up in the desert, close to 80 degrees. You want to see Cactus League clubs, you'd better slather on the sunscreen.
Likes: Looking forward to serving as a panelist at Arizona State University's Cronkite School of Journalism on Monday night. I'll be joining Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Janie McCauley of the Associated Press and Bob Nightengale of USA Today in a panel discussion talking about covering spring training. ... Cool scene with the Rangers with Yu Darvish in camp. His parents are really nice folks. ... Meatballz Italian Deli in Peoria. Had the eggplant parmesan the other night and it was great. And I don't say that lightly: I've never before had eggplant parmesan. But it was Ash Wednesday, and I was going meatless, so I skipped the chicken parmesan. ... The shrimp creole at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen in Phoenix. ... Sirius/XM Satellite radio's E Street Channel. Been digging the unveiling of a new track each day from Bruce Springsteen's forthcoming Wrecking Ball record.
Dislikes: Grady Sizemore, hurt again in Cleveland. Poor guy, and poor Indians. What was shaping up as a brilliant career now looks certain to fall way short of that.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Kiss a little baby
"Give the world a smile
"And if you take an inch
"Give them back a mile
"'Cause if you lie like a rug
"And you don't give a damn
"You're never going to be
"As happy as a clam"
-- John Prine, Big Old Goofy World
Posted on: October 7, 2011 8:54 pm
MILWAUKEE -- This might be a beer town, but they will take champagne. Oh yes they will. Especially when it's the first postseason champagne they've sprayed in 29 hard, lean years.
Especially when it's a team as free-spirited and beloved as this year's Brewers, who drew three million fans to Miller Park this summer and, with a scintillating 3-2, 10-inning Game 5 win over the Diamondbacks on Friday, earned the privilege to draw several thousand more over the next 10 or so days.
National League Championship Series, here they come.
First time ever.
Not since 1982 have the Brewers moved to within one step of the World Series, and back then, they were in the American League. And yes, they advanced to the Fall Classic, where they fell to St. Louis.
Since then, it's been 29 Octobers of raking the leaves and cheering for the Packers.
What a game, what a season.
To hold on and win, Milwaukee's bullpen had to face down an Arizona team with 48 come-from-behind wins, most in the majors this year. But the Brewers' bullpen is so good, it hadn't blown a lead after the seventh inning since July 4.
There was tension, there was sweat, there was nail biting.
And for the first time since 1982, the result was a win in a postseason series.
The Brewers won this last winter, when they decided to keep Prince Fielder and swing for the fences in 2011. They won it when the acquired Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke. Won it in July, when they landed closer-turned-setup-man Francisco Rodriguez from the New York Mets the night of the All-Star Games.
And they won it with one out in the 10th when Nyjer Morgan drove a 2-2 pitch against Arizona closer J.J. Putz up the middle, scoring Carlos Gomez from second.
Miller Park immediately went crazy, blue and gold confetti papering the place.
What a game, what a season. Next stop: NLCS.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 11:32 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2011 2:22 am
MILWAUKEE -- He's done his job. He's been a good soldier.
But if you think Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez is fine with pitching exclusively as a set-up man for first-place Milwaukee, you'd be wrong.
"I'm not fine," Rodriguez said Tuesday. "They told me I'd have the opportunity to close some games, and we've had 20-some save opportunities since then and I haven't even had one."
John Axford has earned 19 of his 42 saves since K-Rod's arrival. In 24 appearances, Rodriguez has worked only one ninth inning, in what was a 5-1 cruise over St. Louis on Aug. 10.
"I'm a little disappointed in that," said Rodriguez, who is 3-0 with a 2.31 ERA for the Brewers. "But that's something that's out of my hands."
Rodriguez will be a free agent this winter and figures he will return to closing in 2012.
"Suck it up, pretty much," he said.
He apparently has not expressed these feelings of betrayal much to his teammates. No wonder, either, with Axford having converted a club-record 39 consecutive saves.
"He's been great," Axford says. "Coming to a new team, it takes a couple of days to adjust, but he jumped in pretty quickly.
"He's similar in attitude to the rest of us in the pen. It's a goofy group. Guys like to have fun. But we get serious at game time. That's the way he is, too. By the sixth or seventh inning, he's all business."
Initially, when the Brewers acquired Rodriguez, even Axford wasn't sure of what the roles would be -- his own, or K-Rod's.
"The biggest thing was, when I found out, I felt I did everything I could to that point to be the closer," Axford said. "But I wasn't going to argue if my role changed.
"We got Francisco to help the team. The important part wasn't was I going to close or was he?"
For his part, though he's unhappy he's not getting any save opportunities, Rodriguez has enjoyed his teammates and is looking forward to October.
"We've still got a couple of series to win to wrap up the division," he says.
Ironically, K-Rod could be in line for his first save opportunity Wednesday against Colorado. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told reporters after Tuesday's 2-1, 11-inning win over the Rockies that, because he used Axford for two innings on Tuesday, Rodriguez will be his closer on Wednesday if a save situation arises.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 11:49 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 12:03 am
You bet the rumors swirling around his Tampa Bay batting helmet have gotten B.J. Upton's attention.
"Thanks for all the support on twitter - I appreciate it," he tweeted from his @BJUPTON2 account Tuesday -- presumably as Atlanta, or Cincinnati, or San Francisco phoned Rays general manager Andrew Friedman yet again.
"Now I know how my brother felt this offseason," came another tweet from Upton. "Anyone hear any good trade rumors this week? Still here!"
Matter of fact, the buzz grew louder Tuesday surrounding Upton. Several industry sources believe that the Rays, at 9 1/2 games out in the AL East, will dump Upton by Sunday's non-waiver trading deadline the same way they dumped Matt Garza and bade farewell to free agents Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Grant Balfour last winter.
Money -- the lack of it, thanks in no small part to horrible attendance in Tropicana Field -- remains a significant problem for the Rays. And it's not getting any better.
Several clubs are looking for the kind of spark that Upton (.229, 15 homers, 53 RBIs, 23 steals, terrific defense) can provide. He would fit perfectly in San Francisco, especially if the Giants fall short in their quest to obtain the Mets' Carlos Beltran. The Giants, according to sources, have interest. So, too, do the Nationals, Reds, Pirates, Braves, Cardinals and, possibly, the Phillies writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
And B.J. is right -- brother Justin, Arizona's right-fielder -- went through a similar stretch last winter.
"I've talked to him, and we laugh about it," Justin told me Tuesday afternoon. "When it comes down to it, like last winter with me, it's out of your control. You just have to do your thing, see what happens and let it be."
Difference is, Arizona is committed to Justin Upton, 23. Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers made that clear last winter when he traded third baseman Mark Reynolds to Baltimore.
The Rays? Not so much with B.J., 26 -- much to Upton's chagrin.
"Obviously, he's played his whole career there and he lives there," says Justin, who said the brothers probably talk four or five times a week. "He wants to stay. It's always tough in a situation like that."
Ubaldo Jimenez to Yankees?
The Yankees appear to be in the best shape to acquire Ubaldo Jimenez if the Rockies decide to deal him, as colleague Danny Knobler writes. Here are takes from two scouts who have watched Jimenez pitch in recent days:
Scout one: "Quite frankly, he's not the same guy as he was last year. Before, when he needed to go get it, he'd hit 100 m.p.h. When I saw him in Denver, he'd reach back to muscle up and it was 95. [Atlanta's] Scott Proctor threw harder. If Ubaldo at sea level is 91, 92, 93, he's not the same guy."
Scout two: "I can't imagine Jimenez going anywhere. If he's on a real frickin' contender, he's a No. 3 right now. Something's missing."
Short hops, quick pops and backhand stops:
--Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says he thinks Friday and Saturday will be the key days when the trade market loosens up and the action begins. "There are a lot of clubs out there with scouts looking at minor league clubs right now," Towers says.
-- While you might think they're looking to replace injured shortstop Stephen Drew, Towers says he is looking for pitching, pitching and pitching. Starting and/or relief.
-- The Giants, Rangers and Phillies have scouts in Cincinnati this week watching Mets' outfielder Carlos Beltran as New York GM Sandy Alderson enters the crucial final days before making one of the more significant decisions in recent Mets history. "Beltran looks real good right now," another scout who has been watching in Cincinnati this week says. "He's looking healthy."
-- One club that has spoken with Washington say closer Drew Storen can be obtained in the right deal.
-- Rival clubs say the Angels are diving into the trade market after owner Arte Moreno, hesitant at first, now has approved additional payroll for midseason help. While the Angels are looking for a third baseman, they would send shortstop Erick Aybar to the Mets for Jose Reyes straight up and take the rest of Reyes' $9 million 2011 salary if New York would bite (the Mets won't, they're keeping Reyes). "I'd do that if I'm the Mets," one NL executive says. "They're not going to be able to re-sign him. How can you give Reyes 10 years at $20 million [each] when he's hurt all the time?
-- Minnesota doggedly has insisted it can win a weak AL Central for the past month, and Tuesday night's comeback win in Texas was a big one. If the Twins do decide to become sellers, don't be surprised if they make outfielder Delmon Young available.
-- Well, in a weak market for starting pitchers, look who's coming off of the disabled list to start Friday for Seattle: Erik Bedard. He'll start against Tampa Bay unless something happens between now and Friday, and you can bet the scouts will swarm Safeco Field. Bedard has not thrown more than 100 innings in a season since 2007. He's at 90 now, so look out.
-- Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey continues to draw interest and Minnesota is expected to deal him.
-- The Marlins are looking to add, not subtract, and do not intend to deal closer Leo Nunez unless blown away with an offer. Florida is moving into a new stadium next season and has not gained near the momentum they had hoped this summer.
-- About that odd timing of Milwaukee acquiring closer Francisco Rodriguez and announcing it just after the All-Star Game ended? Rodriguez's former agent Paul Kinzer had failed to submit proper paperwork for K-Rod's 10-team no-trade list -- Milwaukee was on it -- and with K-Rod having hired Scott Boras recently, Mets GM Sandy Alderson was afraid Boras would correct the oversight. That's why, once the Mets and Brewers agreed to the deal, Alderson wanted it finalized as soon as possible, afraid that if they waited even one more day, Boras would get the list in and K-Rod would have power to scotch the deal.
-- Wonder what's taking so long for the trades to happen this week? Wonder why you read some rumors that turn out to be badly off the trail? Some insight from legendary executive Pat Gillick's Hall of Fame speech on Sunday: "As a young scout I, remember hiding up in trees with binoculars so no other scout would know I was interested in a prospect. I remember the assumed names or clever tactics we all used to get an edge and throw others off the scent."
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks, B.J. Upton, Carlos Beltran, Drew Storen, Erik Bedard, Florida Marlins, Francisco Rodriguez, Justin Upton, Kevin Slowey, Kevin Towers, Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, Pat Gillick, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals
Posted on: August 13, 2010 1:56 pm
Edited on: August 13, 2010 8:57 pm
The reconstruction of the Arizona Diamondbacks has a long way to go, but the club this month has begun to settle in enough that it's worth asking:
Have the D-backs shown enough under interim general manager Jerry DiPoto and interim field manager Kirk Gibson that those "interim" tags will be removed?
Quick answer: Probably still too early, but let's just say the jobs that both men are doing is not going unnoticed by key head honchos.
"They've done a tremendous job," Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall says. "They both have. I think Kirk Gibson has really changed the makeup and the environment around the team. They've really responded to him.
"I'm pulling publicly for both of these guys."
One thing Hall has certainly noticed: Entering the club's series opener in Washington on Friday night, the Diamondbacks had either won or tied their past four consecutive series. They won three of four games in Milwaukee this week, took two of three from first-place San Diego, split a four-game set with the Nationals and won two of three against the Mets dating back to July 30.
Since the trading deadline, right-hander Daniel Hudson, acquired from the White Sox in the Edwin Jackson trade, is 2-0 and has allowed just three earned runs in 14 2/3 innings. Hudson was one of six pitchers obtained in trades by DiPoto -- including three from the Angels for Dan Haren -- since July 25.
"There will be some candidates we'll talk to, with Jerry obviously being at the top of the list," Hall says. "After that, we'll look at managers."
Understandably, Hall wants a permanent general manager in place before the field manager so the GM can choose someone he's comfortable with.
As for Hall?
"If at the end of the day I end up with Jerry DiPoto as general manager and Kirk Gibson as manager, I'd be happy," he says based on how things are going now. "I'm thrilled with the work I've seen so far from both of them."
Likes: Wow, Jose Guillen and Pat Burrell now swinging it for the Giants. With them and the outspoken Aubrey Huff, the San Francisco clubhouse will not be dull. ... This weekend's Giants-Padres series will be great fun. The Padres won the first seven games against Bruce Bochy's club this year, but this is a different Giants' team now. ... Fine, fine acting performance by Derek Jeter in The Other Guys. He's got one line and he delivers it with the gravitas of ... well, OK. So I exaggerate. But the movie's funny, the plot entertaining, Will Ferrell is back on his 'A' game and in the aftermath of the Jeter shooting, the cops even get a line in ripping A-Rod. Good stuff. ... Tyler Kepner's excellent piece in the New York Times on Ryne Sandberg managing at Triple-A Iowa while hoping for a chance to do it with the Cubs. ... How entertaining was it when the Kings of Leon had to abort their concert in St. Louis a few weeks back because pigeons kept crapping on them? ... Puget Sound and Ferndale, Wash. ... A weekend at home with baseball on XM radio and on television with the MLB Extra Innings package.
Dislikes: When Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez unleashes his inner punk, it is not a pretty picture.
"It was 1989 my thoughts were short my hair was long
-- Kid Rock, All Summer Long
Posted on: December 1, 2008 7:04 pm
The Los Angeles Angels will make their split with longtime outfielder Garret Anderson official Monday by declining to offer him arbitration, CBSSports.com has learned. The Angels will offer arbitration to their four other eligible players, including the two high-profile free agents whom they continue to chase: First baseman Mark Teixeira and closer Francisco Rodriguez.
The Angels also will offer arbitration to two pitchers, starter Jon Garland and swingman Darren Oliver.
Teixeira, Rodriguez and Oliver all are Type A free agents, meaning that the Angels will receive two compensatory draft picks if any of those players sign elsewhere. Garland and Anderson are Type B free agents, meaning that the Angels will receive one.
Posted on: December 1, 2008 4:13 pm
Don't hold your breath waiting for free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal to break the current lull in player movement this week.
Agent Paul Kinzer told CBSSports.com on Monday that he is scheduled to fly to the Dominican Republic on Tuesday and won't return until the winter meetings, which are scheduled to begin Dec. 8 in Las Vegas.
"We're still in discussion with a few teams," Kinzer said. "But it doesn't look like anything will be finalized until the winter meetings."
The Athletics are widely believed to be the leader in pursuing Furcal. The shortstop and his agent visited the Bay Area last week and toured the Oakland Coliseum, among other things. Kinzer said last week that Furcal has a four-year offer on the table but declined to name the team. It is believed that Oakland may have a three-year offer to Furcal with a vesting option for a fourth year.
The Giants, Atlanta and the Chicago Cubs also are believed to have expressed interest, although the Braves' seriousness likely is tied directly to whether they trade shortstop Yunel Escobar. He was one of the pieces of a framework of a deal when the Braves were discussing pitcher Jake Peavy with San Diego.
Furcal is coming off of a three-year, $39 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, whose initial interest in re-signing him appears to have cooled significantly.
If Oakland does sign Furcal, the domino effect there likely would be a spinoff trade involving incumbent Athletics' shortstop Bobby Crosby. Baltimore, the Dodgers, Cincinnati and the Giants are among the clubs that need shortstops this winter and, as such, would represent potential new homes for Crosby.
Kinzer also represents free agent closer Francisco Rodriguez and has said that serious discussions between the closer and other clubs likely will not commence until the winter meetings.
The Los Angeles Angels are expected to offer Rodriguez arbitration by tonight's midnight EST deadline. Players offered arbitration have until Dec. 7 to decide whether to accept. Rodriguez is expected to be pursued heavily by the New York Mets as well.
Posted on: November 12, 2008 7:07 pm
The Los Angeles Angels have several options in front of them when the free agent market opens on Friday, starting with Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and Francisco Rodriguez -- likely in that order, according to sources with knowledge of the club's thinking.
K-Rod, their record-setting closer, has been conspicuous in that he's seemed almost an afterthought in the club's immediate plans. The Angels, according to sources, have a three-year offer in to him -- believed to be worth in the neighborhood of $42 million -- though they are not expecting him to accept it before Friday, when the free agent market opens.
They're confident that their offer will be competitive with that of the New York Mets, who are expected to aggressively pursue K-Rod. They're also reasonably certain that the market will be slim -- St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit and Tampa Bay are also scrounging for a closer, but nobody from that group appears poised to match the Mets' and Angels' offers.
Essentially, unless the Mets blow the Angels away financially, what it may come down to is something this simple: Does Rodriguez prefer pitching in New York or Anaheim? Given a large ego that needs feeding, despite his tenure with the Angels, New York still is expected to be awfully tempting for him.
The Teixeira situation will be fascinating theater because the Angels, under owner Arte Moreno, work quickly, while Scott Boras, Teixeira's agent, is methodical and does not conclude deals until he's spent time shopping his clients around.
One source with knowledge of the Angels' thinking said Wednesday that he expects the club to come in with a substantial offer for Teixeira on Friday -- and tell Boras that he and his client have a few days to make the decision or the Angels are moving on.
As for Sabathia, the Angels are not expected to exceed six years in their offer -- though if the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and other high-spenders become involved, the bidding for him could get crazy.
One fallback in the event the Angels do not get Sabathia still could be San Diego's Jake Peavy, if the Padres haven't pulled the trigger on a trade. Yes, Peavy prefers to stay in the National League and yes, he has a no-trade clause and would have to approve a deal to the Angels. That last part probably wouldn't be a problem, as Peavy's agent, Barry Axelrod, says the right-hander intends to make his year-round home in San Diego no matter where he lands.
The Angels did speak with the Padres a couple of weeks ago about Peavy, sources say, and believe they can offer a package of players that would match the talent San Diego could get elsewhere.
The Angels could fill San Diego's desire for a starting pitcher by including Jered Weaver. That still would leave Los Angeles with a rotation whose front four would be John Lackey, Peavy, Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders.
Weaver, Aybar or Izturis and, say, a minor-league prospect would give San Diego players who could help them win now, rather than prospects who need time to develop. However, players who with major-league experience would be more expensive, and the Padres right now appear more interested in saving money while owner John Moores goes through a messy divorce than they do in winning.
The problem, though, is the Angels' and Padres' timetables are at odds this winter. While the Angels preferred to wait and see how the Teixeira and Sabathia talks go before fully diving into the Peavy talks, the Padres' preference is to make the best deal they can for Peavy soon -- preferably, before the free agent market opens for business on Friday.
However it plays out over the next few weeks, the Angels are starting from a pretty good place because they've got both money and a solid pool of young talent.