Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Francisco Rodriguez

Brewers Trade K-Rod for Prospect — and I’m Not Happy About It

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Folks, when I read about the Milwaukee Brewers latest trade of closing pitcher Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez to the Detroit Tigers for single-A prospect Javier Betancourt — the first trade under new General Manager David Stearns’ tenure — I was not happy.


Well, one of the few bright spots I had as a Brewers fan, last year, was to watch K-Rod come out to save games. He was one of the few players to remain positive despite Milwaukee’s dismal season, and he had one of his best seasons, to boot.

As Tom Haudricourt wrote at (aka the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel):

“K-Rod” had a tremendous season for the Brewers in 2015, converting 38 of 40 save opportunities with a 2.21 earned run average in 60 appearances. But the club is in the midst of a significant rebuilding program, and Stearns decided it made more sense to acquire young talent rather than keep an aging closer.

And K-Rod is still only 33 years old, plus was signed at a low price for an elite athlete, too…less than $10 million, including a 2017 contract buyout.

What did the Brewers actually get? Haudricourt has that covered, too:

Betancourt, 20, is primarily a second baseman but has seen limited action at shortstop and third base. Rated the No. 11 prospect in Detroit’s system, he played in 2015 at high Class A Lakeland of the Florida State League, batting .263 with a .304 on-base percentage and .336 slugging percentage, with 17 doubles, five triples, three home runs and 48 RBI.

Betancourt had 29 walks and 44 strikeouts in 531 plate appearances. He played all 116 games in the field at second base, a position manned mostly by Scooter Gennett for the Brewers over the last two years.

In other words, Betancourt is a step under Double-A ball. He’s a prospect, and somewhat unproven; he is known, apparently, as a good and solid defender, but has no power potential whatsoever.

Granted, the Brewers are full of free-swingers right now. Only Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy, among the regulars, seem to know how to take a walk now and again.

That said, it’s extremely frustrating to me, as a long-time Brewers fan, that our new GM has traded one of the achingly few bright spots on the team for someone like Javier Betancourt. And, quite possibly, a player to be named later — though this trade, also according to Haudricourt, also has a player to be named later on Detroit’s side, too!

(How is it possible for Detroit to get another player, considering they’ve just garnered one of the best closers in the game in K-Rod? Your guess is as good as mine. But I digress.)

At any rate, I know the Brewers are in a major rebuilding mode. I accept that; I’ve seen it before.

What I don’t accept, as a fan, is the contention that anyone else could do as well as K-Rod on the 2016 roster. Nor that it’s not a salary-dump of some sort — despite Stearns’ assertion to the contrary. (Why Stearns would think any real fan who’s ever followed this team would believe that kind of baloney is beyond me. But again, I digress.)

Look, folks: What I want, as a fan, is for the Brewers to put an entertaining team on the field that at least tries to win every night. Having players who are happy to play in Milwaukee, despite the fact that they’re not likely to get one whiff of the playoffs for another three or four years, minimum, is a huge part of how the Brewers, as a team, can get there.

I fail to see how trading K-Rod away will promote team victories in 2016. Especially as the two most likely choices on the current roster to become closer — Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress — have zero closing experience. (Smith is a brilliant set-up man until July; after July, he’s competent or worse. And Jeffress, while I like him a lot, does not seem to be closing material, either.)

Maybe K-Rod will enjoy being in Detroit, because Detroit, on paper at least, is a better team than Milwaukee. (But as I’m also aware that K-Rod took less money last year to re-sign with Milwaukee because he liked it so much despite all the nonsense, I have to wonder about that assertion, too.)

Bottom line: The Brewers did not get nearly enough for K-Rod. And unless Javier Betancourt turns out to be the steal of the century, those folks in Detroit have to be laughing their butts off at the hicks in Milwaukee over this one.

A Slightly Delayed Milwaukee Brewers-Centered Blog…and Other Stuff

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Before I get to what’s been keeping me from blogging, first a few Milwaukee Brewers-centered updates.  The most obvious update has to do with Brewers LF Ryan Braun.  Braun came out with another statement, this one issued through the Brewers public relations department, saying that Braun cannot be more forthcoming than he already has due to the “ongoing investigation” by Major League Baseball.  And because no other MLB player has yet to step forward and admit to wrongdoing besides Braun, Braun’s suspension has remained front and center in the national news for nearly a week now.

What’s saddest about this saga, aside from Braun’s fall from grace, is how many sportswriters of national repute piled on Braun.  Christine Brennan, who writes brilliantly about ice skating, horse racing, and also is a noted baseball writer, was harsh in her condemnation of Braun — his lying, his taking of whatever PED (testosterone, allegedly, which as far as I know doesn’t help anyone hit a baseball any better, though it might be a “performance enhancer” in other ways outside of baseball), and how self-righteous Braun was in proclaiming his innocence back in 2011 and 2012.  But Jeff Passan went even further, calling Braun a “cockroach,” then admitting in a follow-up column that Braun, loathsome as Passan obviously finds Braun to be, still deserves to be paid under the contract previously negotiated between Braun, Braun’s agent, and the Brewers.

And those are just two of the many, many sportswriters who found it in their heart to cast oil on the waters, just so the story might burn a little hotter for a little longer, and thus sell more periodicals.

In other Brewers news, closer Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez was traded to the Orioles for minor-league third baseman Nick Delmonico.  This is largely considered a “win” for the Brewers front office because K-Rod wasn’t even signed to a minor-league deal by the Brewers until April was nearly over.

And, of course, the Brewers are still in last place in the National League Central.  Their next series will be against the Chicago Cubs, the team in second-to-last place.  However, as the Cubs are five and a half games ahead of the Brewers, I cannot rightfully call the next series “the battle for last place” right now.  (Maybe later?)

Oh, and by the way — the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (say that five times fast) have placed first baseman Albert Pujols on the disabled list with a partially torn plantar fascia.  Pujols is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

The reason I mentioned this?  Well, Pujols’ injury is the same one that Brewers first baseman/OF Corey Hart played with — and on — for two solid months during the Brewers 2012 stretch run for that coveted second Wild Card spot.  Had Hart not played, the Brewers wouldn’t have been in contention until the last week of the season.

Now, it’s impossible to know whether or not Corey Hart would’ve needed to have both knees repaired this year if Hart had done the prudent thing and gone on the DL last year when Hart’s injury was first incurred, as Pujols has just done.  But one thing I do know — playing on that injury was a gutty move that I truly hope will not shorten Hart’s career.  (In other words, here’s hoping that Hart will be able to make a full recovery from double knee surgery, whether it takes six more months of rehab, a full year more, or even longer.)

Anyway, after all of these Brewers-centered updates, you might be wondering why I said right up front in my blog title today that this blog had been “slightly delayed.”  It’s simple: I’m working on a story submission for a major anthology, I played another in the summer series of concerts with the Racine Concert Band (free every Sunday night at the Racine Zoo; do check us out if you’re in town), and I’m continuing to ponder various things, editing-wise.

All of this is why I only just got around to discussing the K-Rod trade, much less this whole bit about Pujols going on the DL with the same, exact injury that Corey Hart suffered last year (but played through), today.

Hope it was worth the wait.

Prince Fielder signs with Tigers; 9 years, $214 million

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Folks, there are reports all over the Internet that former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder has signed a deal with the Detroit Tigers; the deal is reported as being $214 million over the course of nine years, or an average $23.78 million per year.

See this story from Ken Rosenthal for further details:

Here’s a relevant quote:

On the long list of Scott Boras shockers, this one ranks near the top.

Boras’ top free-agent client, first baseman Prince Fielder, has agreed to a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Tigers, according to major-league sources.

Fielder’s deal with the Tigers does not include an opt-out provision, a source said.

Tigers general manager David Dombrowski recently told that Fielder, “doesn’t fit for us. He’s looking for a long-term deal and that just doesn’t fit.”

Either Dombrowski was shading the truth, or Tigers owner Mike Ilitch — who has worked well with Boras in the past — made a last-minute call to sign Fielder.

So, see, it’s not just me who’s shocked.  Rosenthal is obviously shocked, too.

The reason this deal surprised so many people, including me, is because of how long it took on the one hand (as we’re only about a month away from when pitchers and catchers must report to Spring Training) while on the other hand, the team that ended up landing Fielder — the Tigers — wasn’t even on the radar screen until now.  (This last bit is very reminiscent of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s pursuit of Albert Pujols; no one on the outside of the negotiations had any idea that the Angels were interested in Pujols, much less that they’d lay out big money for him.)

At any rate, the Tigers’ plans apparently include having Fielder play some first base and DH other days; they already have a first baseman in Miguel Cabrera (who hits from the right side, and is a power hitter), but Cabrera is no better defensively than Fielder and presumably wouldn’t mind DHing now and again.

Now, as a Brewers fan, I wasn’t surprised at all to see that Fielder is moving on.  It was obvious that he didn’t want to re-sign here; he had an opportunity to do that last year, and even at the end of this year, he had the opportunity to accept arbitration and come back for another year — Brewers set-up man Francisco Rodriguez (“K-Rod,” one of the best closers in the game), decided to do this even though the Brewers have a particularly good closer in John Axford — one who set team records last year and one who isn’t being paid very much.  (Axford should be getting a lot more than he is; at this point, he’s making just over the major league minimum and that really seems unfair.  But I digress.)

This situation has happened before, albeit with C.C. Sabathia.  Sabathia helped the Brewers get to the 2008 playoffs; the Brewers clinched the “wild card” spot on the final day of the season, and they wouldn’t have done so without Sabathia’s stellar performance (he went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 17 starts with the Brewers).  But Sabathia, as good as he was, was a half-season rental; Fielder was developed by the Brewers farm system and his entire career (six full seasons and part of a seventh) was spent in Milwaukee up until now.

Still, unlike Ryan Braun, who accepted a contract below market value in order to stay in Milwaukee because he apparently likes the stability of knowing he’ll be financially solvent (good thing, too, but other than Evan Longoria, there isn’t a single player in MLB who’s anywhere near as interested in his long-term financial future as Braun), Fielder obviously wanted to go wherever he’d get the most money.  And he does have ties to Detroit; his father played there, and Fielder took batting practice there as a pre-teen — part of the “Fielder legend” says that Fielder hit several HRs in batting practice when he was twelve, though I’m unsure that’s factually correct.  (Fielder has enormous power, and even as a child he probably had a great deal of it also.  But Fielder himself cast aspersions on some of these legends while he was in Milwaukee, saying, in effect, “Don’t believe everything you hear, but isn’t it a nice story?”)

I just hope that whatever Fielder is getting out of this deal is worth it to him, because it’s one thing to be a “Big Man On Campus” like he was for the Brewers; it’s another to become the highest-paid player on the team, as he will be for the Tigers.  The media in Detroit isn’t as friendly as the media in Milwaukee, and even if they were, Fielder’s contract will make him much more of a target than he’s ever been in Milwaukee.  This is something he’s not likely to understand until he’s lived with it for a while; I just hope the learning curve for him won’t be too steep along the way.

Granted, Fielder is a big man (in many senses, including his heart) and I’m sure he can handle it.  But it will be much more difficult for his family and friends to deal with the media on days where he goes 0 for 4 with a couple of Ks (even a guy who strikes out as little as Fielder does, proportionately, has a few days like this a year) than it’s ever been in Milwaukee.

All I can say now is, “Enjoy the contract, Prince.  Play well.  And don’t forget your fans in Milwaukee.”  Because assuredly, we will not forget about you anytime too soon.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 25, 2012 at 12:05 am