Friday, August 01, 2008

Frankie Rodriguez, and Questions for Anonymous and MSS

My last two posts have prompted comments regarding the potential (probable?) departure of Frankie Rodriguez following this season. MSS thinks his leaving will be good for the Angels, as he is apparently no longer the "great reliever he once was". Meanwhile Anonymous thinks we won't miss his antics after all of those saves "he almost blows".

So for MSS, is a 26 year old closer with almost 200 career saves who, by the way, just learned a new pitch no longer dominant, even while still saving well over 90% of his chances? He just dropped his ERA to 2.42, saving a 1-0 game, while retiring the games best player, and one of the AL's best hitters in the process. He made A-Rod look stupid on a 3-2 change up, a pitch he didn't even know how to throw before this season. Does anyone doubt that in a year or two, he'll probably also add a splitter to he repertoire? He is not only still dominating, he's learning while doing it. Oh, and for good measure, one of the guys you'd probably list as dominant, Mariano Rivera, he couldn't get it done tonight. Big L next to his name in the box score.

And Anonymous, does this count as one of the saves he "almost" blew? I mean, he did throw three balls to A-Rod before making him look stupid in the process. And those two fly balls he gave up were only about 70 feet from going out. Yes occasionally Frankie makes things more interesting than we'd like. What closer doesn't? Troy Percival, God love him (heck, I sponsor his B-R page) wasn't always without drama. Bryan Harvey seemed like he always walked the bases loaded before striking out the side. But I think there's a tendency to remember the drama, and unfortunately the failures, more than the successes.

You can count on one hand the guys who have been dominant over Frankie's tenure in his role. Rivera, maybe Wagner, Nathan, and who else? Frankie has been part of that group for four years now, and he's much younger than all of them. Though his save totals have been high, his work rate hasn't been outrageous. You have to ask yourself, why are there so few guys on that list? It's because it's not easy to perform at that level year in year out. That's why guys like Derek Turnbow and Joe Borowski can look great one year, and get cut the next. There are very few closers with long track records of sustained success. And of those three mentioned above, Wagner's got an ERA over 8.00 in the post-season.

So you can cheer the departure of Frankie all you want, but it will, without a doubt, weaken the Angels. They will be worse without him.

I've said this so many times I may as well get it tattooed on my forehead, but here it is again, in boldface. The comparison is not between what Frankie is and what Frankie could be, or was for one great season, or what you wish he would be. The comparison is between what Frankie is and what currently exists in the game. Regardless of the fact that he no longer mows through three innings in 25 pitches with six strikeouts, like he did in 2002, he's still at the top of an elite group of players who, night in and night out, answer the bell in the last inning and deliver their team to victory. If you can't see that, then I guess I can't help you. But facts are facts, and the fact is Frankie is one of a select few that turns the vast majority of games he enters into eight inning affairs. And yes, that's a very, very valuable commodity. The Angels will regret the day he signs with someone else.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Couple Days Removed

Now that the initial shock has subsided, I'm warming to this trade a little bit. I still don't think it's really in the long term interests of the club. I still think that the Angels are not likely to sign Teixeira. I still think that their pursuit of Teixeira will cost them Frankie as well.

But the positives, as have mentioned mentioned numerous places, include the likelihood of picking up four picks before the second round, and they free up plenty of money to sign those guys. In addition, if Kendry Morales' recent display indicate a real improvement, then he may not be a huge downgrade over Kotchman. To top it off, Kotchman's comments about no ties to the franchise, and the sentiment that he was not pleased with Scioscia's decision to sit him against some lefties makes it a bit easier to wave goodbye.

This team, as currently constructed, is proving that they are the best team in baseball, and as I mentioned the other day, I do believe that this makes the Angels better right now, no question. It's (hopefully) going to be a long two months while we all wait for the post-season to get underway, but if everyone remains healthy, then the Angels should be the odds on favorite for the World Series. I can live with that.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

First Reaction: Don't Like It

I've written about this a bunch on other sites today, but the short version is, I'm not a fan of the Teixeira trade. I will grant that it make the Angels better today than they were yesterday.

Unfortunately, I think it makes them worse in the future. I do not think they will be able to re-sign Tex, and I think that their focus on him will also lead to the loss of Frankie. The Angels will be weaker in the bullpen and at first base next year. They've essentially dealt a productive young player for a two month rental, and in the process signaled that anything short of a World Series Championship this year is a failure.

Tex does not want to stay on the West Coast, and you can forget about the exclusive negotiating window. Tex is a Boras client, and he WILL test the market. The Angels won't outbid all of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Orioles. And if his status hangs for a while, which it likely will with at least four teams involved, Frankie will probably be gone before it's resolved.

The Angels have either misplaced faith in their ability to bring Tex back, or they think Morales will be ready. The counter argument is that this frees up a lot of money to be active on the market AND it gets them probably four draft picks. The picks I like, but the Angels have not shown the ability to be consistently smart on the free agent market. Just ask Steve Finley, Shea Hillenbrand, and Gary Matthews. Not to mention the full court press they put on Paul Konerko.

So short run, it means they have a better chance to win. It also means they have to win, or the deal blows up in their faces. The team will be worse come November and going forward. Now they MUST sign Juan Rivera, and they may need to buy him a first baseman's glove.

I do not like this deal.