MVBrewers is a player-by-player look at the most valuable members of the 2012 Brewers, as voted on by you. Here's our top ten:
The series now continues with Honorable Mentions, to cover some of the Brewers we've missed. This is the ninth and final installment in that segment. You can see all the player profiles in the Most Valuable Brewers 2012 section.
Doug Melvin's under-the-radar trade for K-Rod on All-Star eve in 2011 stunned the baseball world and added a critical piece to the Brewers' bullpen. For the remainder of 2011, K-Rod lived up to his namesake, striking out 10.2 per 9 and amassing a sparkling 1.89 ERA over 29 innings.
With K-Rod slated to be a free agent last offseason, there was considerable hand-wringing among Brewers fans whether an arbitration offer should be made. The Brewers decided to go for it (the right choice, in this author's opinion) on the belief that Rodriguez would look for a long-term deal. When that didn't materialize, K-Rod accepted the Brewers' offer and agreed to a salary (just $8 million) that would allow him to be traded to a team in need of a closer at midseason.
That trade wouldn't happen. Not because teams didn't need relief pitchers, but because they didn't want anything to do with K-Rod.
The tale of the 2012 Brewers has already been written; a lights-out bullpen the previous year that lost its way and cost the franchise a playoff berth. K-Rod is certainly part of that narrative. His sub-2.00 ERA in 2011 ballooned to 4.38. He increased his walk rate and his strikeout rate fell. Rodriguez, along with teammate John Axford, earned the dubious honor of having one of the ten worst loss records for a reliever in the MLB. Along with a domestic violence arrest in September, it was a season to forget for the former All-Star.
You might ask why, then, K-Rod gets an honorable mention? Late in the season when the Brewers were making a run at the wild card, Rodriguez actually pitched fairly well. Over the final two months, K-Rod appeared in 27 games, holding opponents to a .152 batting average. He issued only 5 walks and struck out 26, earning 13 holds and enabling the Crew to stay alive.
Interestingly, the offseason hasn't been all bad for K-Rod, either. In October, he settled a malpractice and fraud lawsuit with his former agents for over $2 million. K-Rod was supposed to have a no-trade list that included Milwaukee, who at the time of K-Rod's deal with the Mets featured future Hall-of-Fame closer Trevor Hoffman. Yet the no-trade list was never filed, and Rodriguez was relegated to a set-up role which he clearly detested after coming to the Brewers. His attorney made the following statement to USA Today:
"There's long-term damage to his career. He wasn't even in position to be marketed as a closer last winter. They really [messed] with his career in a monumental way. ... We are going to purse all of our legal options in the immediate future to the fullest extent possible. As you can see in this lawsuit, there were multiple incidents of concealment."
On July 17, K-Rod earned his second save of the season against the Brewers division foes, the Cardinals. The scoreless frame dropped his ERA to its lowest point of the season after April, 3.59.
K-Rod elected free agency in October. The Brewers are not expected to pursue a new deal with him.