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Your Newest Brewer, Francisco Rodriguez: Quick Hits

I can not wait for his first strike out of a Cardinals hitter.
I can not wait for his first strike out of a Cardinals hitter.

So, if you haven't heard yet, Doug Melvin and the Brewers somehow managed to acquire Francisco Rodriguez--AKA K-Rod, AKA the record holder for most saves in a season--from the New York Mets.  In return, the Brewers will give up two players to be named later.  Right now, nobody save the Mets and Brewers have any idea who these players might be, though speculation is rampant that they will both be fairly inconsequential (which, to be honest, is about all Milwaukee has in their farm right now anyway).  If the speculation is true, though, none of the Brewers "big" prospects (re: potential grade B prospects) like Kyle Heckathorn, Tyler Thornburg, Mat Gamel, etc are at risk of leaving, which would be outstanding news.  It's late, let's do some bullet point quick trains of thought!

  • I was just checking in to BCB before calling it a night when I saw this news.  The only thing that can describe how I felt:  Shock.  Then, maybe confusion.  That was followed by being upset about K-Rod not being a shortstop.  That was followed by elation when I saw the terms of the deal and how awesome the Brewers bullpen could potentially be.
  • This news broke around midnight.  A lot of Brewers fans are going to be waking up to some great news tomorrow morning.
  • Rodriguez's numbers this year: 3.16 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 9.70 K/9, 3.38 BB/9, 0.63 HR/9 AND he's doing all that well giving up an opponent BABIP of .342.  Prior to this year, he had never allowed an opponent BABIP above .300 in a full season, so I think it's reasonable to expect him to continue putting up very, very good numbers.
  • Another stat this year for Rodriguez: 23 saves.  Now, there are a couple things to say about this.  The first, is how that relates to money.  As it stands, Rodriguez is slated to become a free agent at the end of this season.  However, if he reaches 55 games finished this year or 100 over 2010-2011, his 2012 $17.5MM option will automatically vest.  Rodriguez has finished 34 this year and finished 46 in 2010, which means he can't finish twenty more games or the Brewers will owe a significant amount of money.  The Brewers already received $5MM from the Mets in this deal, which will help pay off the rest of his paycheck this year and his $3.5MM buyout after 2011 (providing his option doesn't vest).  I see no way whatsoever that the Brewers plan to keep Rodriguez past 2011 (unless he takes a sever paycut) and they certainly won't pay him the amount that his option calls for. 
  • Which leads me into this bullet point: What does this mean for John Axford?  My take: Nothing.  John Axford is and will be the closer.  Again, the Brewers will not let Rodriguez's option vest, so he can't close games.  Milwaukee hasn't had any of their other bullpen options closing ahead of Axford.  So I see no reason to believe that John isn't the closer still.  The only way he might be taken out of that role is if he has a very large fall from grace.  With how great he has been this year, I don't see that happening, do you?  Rodriguez has publicly stated that he is willing to be a set-up man on a contending team.  I think that's exactly why the Brewers went out and got him.
  • Haha Cardinals
  • Does this make the Brewers bullpen completely dominant?  If used right, I think it might.  Axford has been nothing short of outstanding this year.  LaTroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito have both been dominant when healthy.  Adding Rodriguez to them gives the Brewers a top four that can absolutely shorten games if the Brewers have the lead going into the seventh/eighth innings.  Kameron Loe has struggled recently, but if used more sparingly can still be a good asset in the 'pen.  Zach Braddock can also be very good.  But that new top  Milwaukee could now have a different duo pitch every other day if they wanted and shut down their opponents for two innings.  That's a game changer.
  • Generally, I don't approve of making trades for a bullpen piece (Scott Linebrink soured me on that), but for a team that stands as good of a chance as the Brewers do at making the playoffs, this was an opportunity that they had to take.  Their bullpen was one of their weak spots, despite Hawkins/Saito/Axford.  Adding Rodriguez all of a sudden solidifies that and makes it one of their strengths.  That bullet point making fun of the Cardinals may have been meant in humor for the most part but there is no denying that St. Louis' bullpen is dreadful and has cost them many a game.  The Brewers bullpen led the league in losses.  The Brewers improved their bullpen, the Cards did not.  Unless the Cardinals go out and trade for Heath Bell, this is a huge win for Milwaukee.  It probably would be anyway as Milwaukee's bullpen would still be better, and St. Louis would likely have to trade a much more highly touted player than the Brewers did. 
  • I don't think this means the Brewers aren't looking for a shortstop.  They still will be.  If anything, I think this signals that Rafael Furcal might be a very definite possibility to end up a Brewer.  Like Rodriguez, he would likely be a salary dump by his current team (the Dodgers and Mets have both had their share of financial crises).  In the case of Furcal, the Dodgers also have no use for him anymore--they have Dee Brown starting at shortstop for the foreseeable future.  Acquiring Furcal would be a very, very similar deal to acquiring Rodriguez.  
  • I don't care about any past transgressions Rodriguez may have committed as long as he doesn't do anything stupid in the next half a season and does his job while helping the Brewers reach the playoffs.
  • I reserve the right to change my mind on whether I like this deal or not.  Right now, I like it a lot.  But when we find out who the prospects given up are, that could sway me into loving it or hating it.  I suspect that the Brewers aren't giving up any pieces of consequence.  If it turns out they are giving up someone like Wily Peralta or Mat Gamel or Kyle Heckathorn, I won't be nearly as happy.  Personally, I think that one of the PTBNL's might very well be Manny Parra and the teams have to wait for him to come off the DL before making his trade official.  I would be OK with that.
  • For now though, this is for you Doug Melvin: