Since his arrival in the big leagues in 2002, Francisco Rodriguez has established himself as one of the premier closers in the game today. Rodriguez is a hard thrower with a dynamite breaking pitch, which are all thrown together by a wacky complex motion that must be hard for a hitter to follow. When K-Rod enters the game, odds are, the game is over. Rodriguez currently has a 2.65 ERA with 49 saves-already. He is on pace to set the record for saves (59 saves), which would only increase his value further.
The Case for Rodriguez
-He gets the job done.
K-Rod has at least 40 saves in each of the past 4 seasons. With Rodriguez around, the Angels have been able to shorten the game to eight innings because Rodriguez has been such an automatic in the ninth.
-Rodriguez is dominant.
In each of the past 6 seasons, opposing hitter have hit .204 or less against K-Rod. Also, K-Rod strikes out 9.9 hitters for every 9 innings pitched, which means that he gets lots of swings and misses.
-Rodriguez is very durable.
Despite his funky motion that looks like Tommy John surgery waiting to happen, Rodriguez has only been to the DL once in his career (2005). For any team interested in K-Rod, his lack of injuries has to be a positive.
-K-Rod gets it done when it counts.
Rodriguez has been great in the playoffs, especially in 2002 when he helped lead the Angels to a World Championship. He owns a 2.76 ERA in the playoffs and is probably the most feared relief pitcher today outside Mariano Rivera when it comes to post season baseball.
Do you believe this? Rodriguez will be 30 years old in 2012. He is only 26 years old and will be entering the prime of his career right now. It seems like K-Rod has been around forever even though he still has so many more years left.
The Case Against Rodriguez
-His motion can give any GM a heart attack.
Even though K-Rod has essentially been injury free throughout his career, his motion is so bizarre that I would be surprised if he doesn't get hurt in the next few years. The torque Rodriguez gets on the ball looks unnatural and uncomfortable to the point that a GM needs to expect some sort of arm trouble down the road.
-K-Rod's declining K/WHIP rate.
Even though K-Rod is young, these two stats have to concern any GM. Rodriguez has only struck out 60 hitters this season and his WHIP 1.270, which would be a career high for K-Rod. Those numbers are still impressive, but the are not as dominant as the K-Rod of old.
-There is a lot of tread on those tires.
K-Rod has pitched a ton of innings already in his short career, especially with his stressful delivery. The Angels have already used K-Rod in 60 games this season, which is only 9 less than his previous career high. I love that the Angels' stud pitcher likes to pitch a lot, but the risk of injury cannot be taken lightly.
Simply put, there is no one in K-Rod's league in this year's free agent class. K-Rod is above and beyond any other closer out there and he will be paid like it. Sure Dan Wheeler and Brian Fuentes are nice pitchers, but K-Rod is head and shoulders above them.
4 years/$65 mil
K-Rod will set the new standard for contracts for a closer. His agents will look at these huge deals:
BJ Ryan: 5 years/$47 mil
Mariano Rivera: 3 years/$45 mil
Billy Wagner: 4 years/$43 mil
Joe Nathan: 4 years/$47 mil
After seeing these deals, his agents will say the following: K-Rod is younger than any of these pitchers and has accomplished more at his age than any of the other three. Rodriguez deserves to be paid like the best because quite simply, he is the best. K-Rod probably will not get 5 years because teams will be scared off because of the injuries to Wagner and Ryan as well as the potential injuries to K-Rod. However, $15 million for a closer seems ridiculous, but how many elite closers are there? Rivera, K-Rod, Papelbon, Joe Nathan, and maybe Joakim Soria. That's all there is folks. K-Rod is a rare breed and at his young age, he should have more wonderful moments ahead of him.
We will continue to look at the free agent class of 2009 with Pat Burrell.