Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Second half begins with a trade: Mets send K-Rod to Brewers

The body on the 82nd All-Star Game wasn't cold yet when Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated breathlessly announced a trade on Twitter:

Krod plus cah goes to milw for 2 players to be named later

Though it sounds like a kind of fish, "krod" means K-Rod (relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez) and "cah" is perhaps $5 million in cash ? which nobody realized the New York Mets still had after the Bernie Madoff experience.

"Milw" is the Milwaukee Brewers, who already have a closer with John Axford, who is 23 for 25 in save opportunities. So, Brewers GM Doug Melvin, do the Brewers also have a closer controversy? The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wants to know!

"John has done a good job for us and I still have confidence in him," said Melvin. "I'm not going to get into (a possible controversy). This is just a chance to get a quality arm that's not easy to get.

"It's a matter of having two great pitchers at the back of our bullpen."

Non-answer. Surely, someone who speaks for Rodriguez ? someone such as his new agent, Scott Boras ? has an opinion on K-Rod possibly being a setup man.

Oh, you betcha Boras has an opinion. He even gave it to Newsday:

"Francisco Rodriguez is a historic closer," Boras said. ... "He's not going anywhere to be a setup man."

So, THIS is why the Brewers don't have a closer controversy. Because K-Rod is the closer now.

"Closers don't make good setup men," said Boras, who represented Eric Gagne when the former Cy Young Award-winning closer bombed as a Red Sox setup man in 2007. "Does anyone want an unhappy setup man in their clubhouse?"

Funny ? was Boras of a similar mind this past offseason when pitching Rafael Soriano to the Yankees as a set-up man to Mariano Rivera? Not with all of the money on the table, he wasn't.

But, with the Brewers tied with the Cardinals atop the NL Central, it's a good bet Axford will be made to play along and be a team guy and let K-Rod get the saves, because:

That Mets contract featured a $17.5-million vesting option (against a $3.5-million buyout) for 2012 that will go into effect if K-Rod finishes 55 games in this 2011 season. He sits at the All-Star break with 34 games finished, putting him on a pace for 61, six more than he needs.

And whom do the Mets get for Rodriguez? They get to not be standing there, holding his vesting option as it matures, costing them Bernie Bucks. Besides, most of the value in the Brewers farm system went away in the Zack Greinke deal.

Brian Wilson, the Giants closer, spent most of his time at the All-Star Game recruiting outfielder Carlos Beltran to come to San Francisco. He could be the next Met to go.

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