Tag:Francisco Rodriguez
Posted on: May 31, 2011 5:22 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 5:34 pm

With K-Rod, not just a $17.5 million question

NEW YORK -- The assumption all along on Francisco Rodriguez has been that the $17.5 million vesting option in his contract would be the Mets' biggest obstacle in trying to trade him.

One rival scout who has watched K-Rod recently has bigger concerns.

"I wouldn't take him," the scout said. "He's not reliable. He's throwing 88 [mph]. He's what Roberto Hernandez was at the end of his career."

The raw numbers say Rodriguez has been nothing like Hernandez, who had a 6.64 ERA in 2007, his final big-league season. K-Rod's ERA this year with the Mets is 1.73, and he has converted 15 of 16 save opportunities.

But Rodriguez also has a career-high WHIP of 1.462, and according to fangraphs.com, his average fastball is a career-low 90.4 mph. The scout said he was totally unimpressed by Rodriguez's secondary pitches, as well.

And then there's the contract.

Rodriguez already has 20 games finished, which means he needs 35 more to trigger the huge 2012 option. While he has suggested he might waive the option if a team is willing to negotiate a (presumably big-money) extension, it's hard to see how that would be relevant.

There have also been suggestions that Rodriguez could be traded to a team that would use him as a set-up man, thus avoiding the option. But at $11.5 million, his contract wouldn't fit into many (or maybe any) team's budget if he's not a closer.

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 24, 2011 5:18 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2011 5:32 pm

Mets: Moneyball with (no?) money

When the Mets hired Sandy Alderson last fall, and when Alderson reassembled part of his old Oakland front office by bringing in J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta (all supposedly with huge salaries), there was a lot of talk about "Moneyball with money."

DePodesta even referenced it when he joined the Mets in November.

"We have a lot of work to do to get to that level, but the opportunity to be able to do that is really exciting, no question," he said that day, according to MLB.com.

Now, more and more, it looks like the idea was Moneyball . . . without money.

In the latest stop on his awkward media blitz, Mets owner Fred Wilpon admitted to Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci that the Mets will not spend most of the $64 million coming off the payroll after this year. Verducci suggested that the Mets will reduce the payroll by 30 percent, a cut of more than $40 million that would likely drop them into the bottom half of big-league payrolls.

Not only that, but as Wilpon talked to Verducci about the payroll, he said, "That's one of the reasons that I needed someone like Sandy Alderson."

The assumption all along has been that Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez won't be Mets next season, and that it was almost certain that Jose Reyes would leave as well, either as a free agent or through a midseason trade.

But the more Wilpon talks, the more it seems that he hired Alderson in hopes he would shop at the same bargain bins he was forced to frequent with the A's.

As one Mets person said Tuesday, "We're out beating the bushes [the minor leagues] for players. That's all we can afford."

Wilpon also told Verducci that he believes he'll be able to hold onto his team, assuming he doesn't lose all the money that Madoff trustee Irving Picard is trying to recover from him.

That means more Wilpon ownership, and maybe more Moneyball . . . without money.

Posted on: May 16, 2011 5:35 pm

Mets' Wright has stress fracture in back

NEW YORK -- With the Mets, injuries are never shocking.

Make that almost never.

Monday, third baseman David Wright went for what he thought was a routine MRI on his back. Monday afternoon, the Mets announced that Wright has a stress fracture in his back, and that he seems to have had it for nearly a month.

"I was shocked," Wright said.

"I was shocked and unhappy," manager Terry Collins said.

The Mets are saying that Wright will need 10 days of rest, and that doctors don't consider this a long-term injury. But this is the Mets, so we'll see, and we won't be shocked if it lasts longer.

At least now we know he won't be traded in the next two weeks, not that he was likely to be dealt anytime soon, anyway. There has been some speculation that the Mets would deal Wright, who is signed through 2012, but he was always less likely to be moved that shortstop Jose Reyes or outfielder Carlos Beltran, or even closer Francisco Rodriguez (whose $17.5 million vesting option makes a deal more complicated).

It's much less certain that they would trade Wright, who is, as Collins said, "without question, the face of the team."

Of course, if you're going to be the face of the Mets, you've got to get hurt, right?

Wright spoke confidently about returning in two weeks. The Mets didn't even put Wright on the disabled list immediately, waiting for a second opinion from a back specialist.

"I thought I could play through it," Wright said. "I still think if the risk wasn't there that I could play through it."

Wright said the injury dates back to April 19, when he dived to try to make a play on Carlos Lee in a home game against the Astros. He said that his back felt sore for about a week after that game, and that anti-inflammatory drugs hadn't really eased the pain.

"It turned from stiffness to pain to continued pain," he said. "But I didn't think it was anything serious."

Wright insisted that the injury isn't the reason for his uncharacteristic .226 batting average. He was hitting .239 when he got hurt, and has hit .215 in 22 games since then.

Posted on: April 28, 2011 4:26 pm

K-Rod's on pace for . . . a close call

In 2005, Francisco Rodriguez finished eight of the Angels' first 24 games. He finished the year with 58 games finished.

In 2008, Rodriguez finished 11 of the first 24 games. He finished the year with a career-high 69 games finished.

Each of the last six years, Rodriguez has finished between eight and 11 of his team's first 24 games. Five of those years -- every year that he didn't get hurt -- Rodriguez ended up with 56-plus games finished.

With the Mets on a six-game winning streak, K-Rod has finished four of the last five games. He has finished eight of the first 24 games.

There's no way he's going to get to 55, right?

That's the magic number, the $17.5 million number. If Rodriguez finishes 55 games this year, it triggers the $17.5 million vesting option for 2012.

The common wisdom is that there's no way the Mets can let him get to 55, although they'll want to be careful how they do it so that they avoid a grievance. They can't simply stop pitching him when he gets to 54.

But there's more to it than that.

The other part of the common wisdom has been that the Mets would love to trade K-Rod (and Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran), assuming that they're not in contention in July.

But what if K-Rod has 36 games finished by the All-Star break, as he did last year (after also finishing eight of the first 24 games)?

Would any contender trade for him as a closer, knowing that if he just does his job for the second half he'd trigger the $17.5 million option? Maybe someone trades for him as an eighth-inning guy, but at $11.5 million for this year, he'd be as overpaid for that role as Rafael Soriano is.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 16, 2010 7:26 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2010 7:29 pm

A second chance to take a K-Rod stand

Last week, the Mets were laughably soft on closer Francisco Rodriguez, after he was arrested and charged with punching his girlfriend's father -- in the family room at Citi Field.

The day after the incident, manager Jerry Manuel even said he would have no problem at all using Rodriguez.

This week?

Well, now that Rodriguez needs surgery on his right thumb, as a result of an injury apparently suffered in the altercation, the Mets are looking into voiding Rodriguez's contract, according to a report by Jon Heyman of SI.com.

The turnaround is no surprise for a team that always reacts to public criticism (and the Mets got plenty of public heat for their handling of the K-Rod mess last week). The much bigger questions are whether the Mets will do more than publicly "look into it," and whether they could even get away with such a move (the players' union would without doubt fight such an attempt).

Rodriguez has about $18 million remaining on his contract, which is guaranteed through next season and includes an option for 2012.

The simpler move for the Mets -- if they indeed plan to come down harder on Rodriguez -- would be an attempt to put him back on the restricted list for the rest of this season, which would cost Rodriguez (and save the team) approximately $3 million.

Teams normally can't suspend players who are injured on the field, or in accidents off the field. And arbitrators have ruled that even injuries resulting from frustration on the field (like Philadelphia's Ryan Madson breaking his toe kicking a chair earlier this year) are not subject to no-pay suspensions.

The Rodriguez situation could be different. It's still uncertain whether the Mets could get away with withholding his pay. Last week, after negotiations with the union and the commissioner's office, the Mets initially placed K-Rod on the restricted list (in effect, suspending him without pay) for just two days.

That suspension, the supportive words from K-Rod's teammates and the mild criticism from Mets management left the impression that the Mets had no interest -- or at least no strength of conviction -- to come down hard on their closer.

Now that the incident has led to a season-ending injury, the Mets get another chance to show what they really believe. And another chance to make Rodriguez's actions even more costly.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 12, 2010 12:07 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2010 12:16 pm

Only the Mets

Only the Mets, right?

Only the Mets could have a player arrested in the clubhouse, after a fight with his father-in-law -- in the team's family room, in front of his teammates' wives and children!

Only the Mets could have their manager tell reporters that he'd definitely use Francisco Rodriguez to close today's game against the Rockies -- if Rodriguez gets back from court in time -- after his morning arraignment! Of course, about an hour after Manuel said that, the Mets announced that Rodriguez has been placed on the restricted list for two days, meaning he can't pitch, they won't pay him and they have a couple more days to figure out what to do next.

No, it's not funny when a family dispute gets so heated that someone (Rodriguez's father-in-law, in this case) needs treatment at a hospital. But it sure is Mets-like.

Is there any team in baseball that has embarrassed itself more over the last four years?

I'm sure I'm missing something, but here's the list:

1. The collapse. On Sept. 12, 2007, the Mets held a seven-game lead over the Phillies with just 17 games to play. They went 5-12 the rest of the way, and the Phillies won the division by one game.

2. The concussion. After outfielder Ryan Church suffered his second concussion in three months, the Mets allowed him to fly with the team from Atlanta to Colorado. The Mets later admitted this was a bad idea.

3. The firing. After going back and forth on whether to dump manager Willie Randolph, the Mets had Randolph fly to California with the team in June 2008. Then, two hours after the first game of the trip, the Mets announced that they had fired Randolph -- at 3:12 a.m. New York time.

3. The collapse, part II. In September 2008, the Mets didn't lead by seven games, but they did lead the division by half a game on Sept. 19, and led the wild-card race by 2 1/2 games the next day. They lost six of their last nine games, lost the division to the Phillies and lost the wild card to the Brewers on the final day of the season -- in the final game ever at Shea Stadium. Oh, and the Mets scheduled their Shea Goodbye ceremony for after the final game, when there was nothing to celebrate.

4. The press conference. First there were the stories about assistant general manager Tony Bernazard allegedly taking his shirt off and challenging Mets minor leaguers to a fight. And there were stories about Bernazard allegedly fighting with Rodriguez on a team flight. Then, when the Mets fired Bernazard, they somehow made things worse and more embarrassing. On live television -- on Mets-owned SNY -- Minaya accused New York Daily News reporter Adam Rubin of campaigning for a job with the team. To make things even more complicated, and more embarrassing, Rubin worked part-time for SNY, and in fact it was an appearance on SNY before the press conference that reportedly set Minaya off.

5. The surgery. This January, the Mets picked a fight with their most talented player, complaining publicly about the timing of center fielder Carlos Beltran's knee surgery. The Mets claimed they didn't know Beltran was having surgery. Beltran's agent, Scott Boras, said he had told them.

6. The Maine problem. Convinced that starter John Maine had a physical problem that was causing him to lose velocity, Manuel and pitching coach Dan Warthen made the decision to remove Maine from a start in Washington after just five pitches. Warthen later told reporters that Maine is "a habitual liar in a lot of ways as far as his own health." Maine had an angry exchange with Warthen on the Mets' flight home that night. He never pitched in another game for the Mets, and recently had season-ending shoulder surgery.

7. The bullpen fight. During a game against the Yankees that same week, Rodriguez and bullpen coach Randy Niemann got in what The New York Times described as "a heated confrontation" in the bullpen, in view of fans. Niemann later took responsibility.

8. The arrest. According to Kevin Burkhardt of SNY, Rodriguez went directly to the family room after Wednesday night's 6-2 Mets loss to the Rockies. While there, he apparently got into an argument with his wife, and when his father-in-law stepped in, the confrontation got physical. Rodriguez's father-in-law was taken to a local hospital. Rodriguez was arrested.

There's more. Those are just the highlights. Or the lowlights.

Only the Mets.

Posted on: May 28, 2010 10:42 am
Edited on: May 28, 2010 1:30 pm

3 to watch: The What now? edition

A month ago today, we told you that the Mets were a mess to figure out.

Well, guess what? A month later, the Mets are a mess to figure out.

One week, they're changing three-fifths of the starting rotation, and everyone thinks they might change the manager, too. There's a mess with John Maine, a mess with Darryl Strawberry and a mess with Francisco Rodriguez.

Then the Mets win a series from the Yankees, and sweep a series from the Phillies -- on three straight shutouts . Anyone need reminding that the Yankees and Phillies are the defending league champions?

So now the Mets are rolling again, just two games behind the Phillies in the National League East. Now we see all the Mets' potential, with two ace-like starting pitchers atop the rotation (Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey), with grit that they haven't shown in years, with Jose Reyes looking like himself atop the lineup, with Carlos Beltran coming back sometime (although not soon), with a rebuilt rotation, and with a team that sure does seem to respond for Jerry Manuel.

And a team that still owns the worst road record in the entire National League. A team that plays in a ballpark where it sometimes seems impossible to hit a home run, and still features a key middle-of-the-order hitter (Jason Bay) who has homered only at home.

Oh, and a team that's about to open a road series against the team with the worst home record in baseball.

Sounds like a perfect place to begin this weekend's 3 to watch:

1. At this point, we'll have to assume that Manuel's job is safe for another . . . no, we're not going to say it, because with the Mets, there's always another crisis around the corner. But what about Ken Macha? A week ago, Brewers owner Mark Attanasio told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel , "I can tell you unequivocally, we are not making a manager change on Monday." That was last Monday he was talking about, and the Brewers unequivocally did not change managers that day. Macha was still the manager when the Brewers finally won a home series (against the awful Astros), and we're going to have to assume he'll be there when Santana faces Yovani Gallardo in Mets at Brewers, Friday night (8:10 EDT) at Miller Park .

2. There's still a lot of doubt that Roy Oswalt will actually get traded, given the limited list of teams he's said to be interested in going to, and Astros owner Drayton McLane's limited (or non-existent) history of trading away his favorite players. But one popular destination, at least when baseball people talk about Oswalt, is the Angels, who have been searching for an ace for more than a year now. The Astros aren't on the Angels' interleague schedule, so they won't get to see Oswalt in person. They will, however, get a close look at another even more likely-to-be-available ace, Cliff Lee, in Mariners at Angels, Friday night (10:05 EDT) at Angel Stadium . Lee starts Friday, Felix Hernandez starts Sunday, and Chone Figgins will be back in Anaheim for the first time in a Mariner uniform.

3. Josh Johnson hasn't allowed a run in more than two weeks. The Phillies haven't scored a run off a starting pitcher in a week. Josh Johnson is the scheduled starter, against Roy Halladay, in Phillies at Marlins, Saturday night (7:10 EDT) at Sun Life Stadium . Sounds like maybe the Phillies ought to think about scoring a run Friday night against Chris Volstad.

Posted on: June 25, 2009 4:50 pm

K-Rod hits 96, looks forward to Yanks

NEW YORK -- Yes, that was a 96 mph fastball from Francisco Rodriguez today.

Two of them, actually, both on the stadium radar gun and on the readings used by MLB.com gameday.

"I don't remember the last time I did that," K-Rod said.

Truth be told, Rodriguez's velocity has been up considerably this year. He hasn't regularly hit 96, but 94s and even 95s have become common again. They weren't last year, when scouts who watched Rodriguez noted his drop in velocity and wondered whether he was worth the risk of a long-term contract -- despite his record-setting save total.

"I feel healthier and stronger," said Rodriguez, who battled ankle trouble last season. "Last year was weird. I was having success. At the same time, I wasn't 100 percent. This year, I feel stronger. I feel healthier."

Rodriguez is 19 for 21 in saves for the Mets, including one today in the Mets' 3-2 win over the Cardinals. Today's was a little rockier than normal, with two-out walks to Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick and then a long Yadier Molina fly ball for the final out.

"Anybody have a heart attack out there?" Rodriguez asked jokingly. "If so, send me the bills."

Next up for K-Rod and the Mets: The second Subway Series. In the first one, K-Rod was on the mound for Luis Castillo's dropped popup (resulting in his first blown save), and also had his war of words with Yankees reliever Brian Bruney.

Rodriguez had no interest in reigniting the Bruney battle ("That's in the past"), but he did say he's looking forward to the series.

"Obviously, the adrenaline is going to be 300 percent higher," he said.

What's 300 percent higher than 96 mph?
Category: MLB
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