It Would Be Difficult To Root For Francisco Rodriguez
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Francisco Rodriguez is only 33 years old. Amazing how a player that came up in 2002 is barely going into his age 33 season. Commonly known as KRod, Rodriguez has been a good reliever for a long time, mostly known for saving 69 games in 2008 with a 2.24 ERA in 68.1 innings as a 26 year old while with Angels. After finishing 3rd in Cy Young voting, KRod went on to sign with the Mets on a 3 year 37 million dollar deal. This free agent deal might have been the turning point in his career however, Rodriguez went through some inconsistencies, seeing his ERA+ and FIP both rise ever since he left Anaheim.
He’s never really regained the form he had as an Angel, which was fine because he was a solid relief option last season, while closing games for the Brewers (his 2nd stint with the team), he posted a 125 ERA+ last season along with a 4.06 K/BB ratio. He wasn’t bad, and at this point, with the perpetually declining Rafael Soriano and the perpetually inconsistent Joba Chamberlain representing the best free agent options, lots of teams have interest in this free agent reliever.
So here is my plea for the team to run away. Run far away from this potential problem who will marginally improve the team at best, and at worst, be a dilemma on par with any problem the NFL saw last season.
KRod is objectively, a good pitcher. KRod is also, objectively a person who has done a lot of wrong in his life. The incident at the Mets clubhouse was a hot topic in 2010 where Rodriguez gruesomely assaulted his father in law.
"The star pitcher did not enter a plea. Earlier in the day, police said Rodriguez grabbed Carlos Pena from a Citi Field family lounge, struck him in the face and banged his head against the wall.The 28-year-old closer went into the family lounge, hauled Pena into an adjoining tunnel and “repeatedly hit him in the face and hit his head against a wall” before taking off, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said."
This obviously reflects poorly on Rodriguez, who was suspended for 2 days by the Mets for his actions. This of course wasn’t the end of Rodriguez’s legal problems. KRod was arrested 2 and a half years ago for allegedly assaulting his then-girlfriend (also the mother of his Children) in similarly gruesome fashion.
"She told police her nose began to bleed after getting hit due to a history of physical abuse. The woman told police she grabbed a sweatshirt and tried to stop the bleeding, but then Rodriguez grabbed her by the hair and threw her. Once on the floor, she said Rodriguez then began kicking her and injured her left upper shoulder blade, bruised her left upper thigh and injured her left hand near her wrist, the criminal complaint said.After the beating, she said Rodriguez dragged her to his car, the complaint said."
This case was never pursued to the extent it should have, mostly because the eyewitnesses were not present in the country it was being prosecuted at, but the “burden of proof” to proceed with a trial was obviously met. I have thought about the possibility for KRod in Dodger blue for quite some time, ever since Devan Fink posted this tweet
My beliefs on KRod are similar to BrewCrewBall.com’s Noah Jarosh, he’s a good pitcher, but one whom I do not want to root for to succeed because of his inarguably awful past. Luckily for me, I have not been in the position to do so before, and I would like that to continue.
The other dynamic lies in his actual ability. KRod has posted FIP- figures above 90 the past 3 seasons, and while his K% and BB% went in the right direction this past season, his home run rates skyrocketed, maybe as a result of throwing too many balls in the strike zone, or maybe it’s just BABIP/ luck that will come down to earth. Rodriguez’s velocity trend does not inspire much confidence. He threw his sinker at 91 MPH, his four seamer at 92 miles per hour, and his changeup at 84 miles per hour. These numbers are troubling because as he advances into his mid to late 30’s, his velocity will continue to decline, and a pitcher who who’s given up 21 home runs the past 2 seasons can ill afford to lose anything off of his fastball or changeup going into his age 33 season.
So really, the question isn’t Rodriguez and a replacement level talent, it’s Rodriguez and someone like Yimi Garcia, who has some insane high spin fastball rates and a history of posting very solid K% and BB% percentages in the minors.
Granted, one is an unproven prospect who has posted shiny numbers in the minor leagues, the other is a proven veteran who is 33 years old and has a track record of success in both a closing and setup role. However, can we really predict the performance of a 33 year old former closer? Or any relief pitcher for that matter? The Dodgers spent years under Ned Colletti wallowing in that market, only to find out that relievers are a volatile bunch and can burn a team quite easily, just as much as a prospect can.
So take your pick, an in-house option (maybe it’s Yimi, maybe it’s Pedro Baez, maybe it’s Carlos Frias) who is young, has upside, and isn’t a trainwreck in his personal life. Hell you could trade for Edward Mujica, watch him walk nobody and pitch the late innings while generating ground balls at good rates, or some other relatively decent late inning option on the market.
OR you could have a proven former closer pitching the 8th inning -stop me if you’ve heard this one before- who is 33 and is entering a stage in his career that is very risky and volatile, evidenced by the amount of home runs he’s given up in the past 2 seasons -that joke isn’t funny anymore-.
This former closer also has a history of assaulting people, and beating women, so he doesn’t even get that benefit of the doubt. I believe there should be a several options before KRod is considered, if Friedman believes he will fit into the clubhouse and thrive in this environment, then i’m inclined to think it will work right now, but it doesn’t mean that I will be excited if he’s setting up games for Kenley Jansen this upcoming season.