Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The K-Rod Signing: A Skeptic's View

Lest we forget, amid the hoopla over the Mets’ signing Francisco Rodriguez:

It was only three years ago that Mets fans hailed the signing of another fireballer, the top-rated closer on the market at the time. But when Billy Wagner came to town, we saw a pitcher who had fallen in love with his breaking stuff, who seemed to have forgotten the heat that brought him his reputation, who seemed more focused on nibbling at the corners to get batters out and who seemed to put base runners on with frustrating frequency as a result. The blown saves that became the hallmark of the Billy Wagner era were due to the fascination with his off-speed pitches and his mystifying forsaking of his blow-them-away fastball.

Lest we forget, amid the hoopla over the Mets’ signing Francisco Rodriguez :

It was only nine years ago that the Mets had a fireballing, blow-them-away closer, Randall K. Myers (as Rusty Staub called him) – only to trade him for a junkballer who managed to fool batters for a few years until they realized that John Franco wasn’t going to throw strikes and that if they laid off, Franco would walk the bases loaded until he had to groove one. Ignore the saves numbers. The John Franco era provided more frustration than satisfaction.

Lest we forget, amid the hoopla over the Mets’ signing Francisco Rodriguez:

The book on K-Rod says that he has fallen in love with his breaking pitches, that he has lost mileage off his blow-them-away fastball (does anybody believe that’s a conscious effort?), that he walks batters at the rate of one every two innings and that he gets himself into trouble before getting out of it.

Instead of bringing a new era to the Mets bullpen, a case could be made that the Rodriguez signing incorporates much of the worst of the last decade.

Yes, many Mets fans are celebrating today because the team has gotten who appears to be the best closer on the market to fill a gaping hole in the roster. And they may turn out to be right: K-rod may be a key to returning the team to the postseason.

But I would sound a cautionary note after looking at Mets history and K-Rod’s numbers:

Be careful what you wish for.

A.J. Carter, co-host

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