Just Say No to Fernando Rodney

Remember when you were a kid, you would do stupid stuff and your parents would stop you in your tracks? They’d tell you what you were doing is wrong, and that they’re stopping you for your own good. Maybe, like me, you stuck marbles up your nose. Or maybe you’d touch exposed wires in a plugged-in lamp that you knocked over with a football. Guilty. Spent your allowance on ice cream shaped like the face of Super Mario? Been there.

Even as adults, we have people in our lives that stop us from making fools of ourselves. You may remember such slogans as “friends don’t let friends drive drunk” and “dude, she’s like 350 pounds.” Point is, none of us is perfect and it’s nice to have back-up in our moments of poor decision-making whether it’s your parents, friends, or complete strangers.

Why do I bring all that up?

We have a situation on our hands, and we need to run interference.

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro is eyeing the fat girl across the bar. Her name is Fernando Rodney, a right-handed relief pitcher formerly of the Detroit Tigers. Rube just got his Christmas bonus ($6 million from Toronto in the Roy Halladay trade) and he’s on the verge of blowing it all on her in a presumably drunken stupor. For the past month and a half, he’s been demonstrably pointing at the $140 million violently circled many times over at the bottom of the Phillies’ ledger. Now, Rube is considering spending $12 million over two years on Rodney, according to Buster Olney.

Rube has been a sly cat since he took over for Pat Gillick. We wanted Pat Burrell back; he gave us Raul Ibanez. We wanted to sell the farm for Roy Halladay at the trading deadline last year; he gave us Cliff Lee at the cost of next-to-nothing. Then he did give us Halladay, essentially in exchange for Lee. Clearly, he sees something that we the fans clearly do not — and he should, he’s the GM.

However, Rube may have had a little too much Hot Stove nog to drink. Maybe he’s still high off of the Halladay trade. Whatever the case, he needs to be stopped. Cut him off, take his keys, call him a cab. Imagine him waking up the next morning to the face on the right. Imagine the shame!

Instead, Rube can sleep it off, wake up tomorrow and do the right thing: insert Scott Mathieson and Antonio Bastardo into the bullpen. They’ll cost about $400,000 apiece, or together about one-sixth the cost of Rodney.

Rodney isn’t a particularly bad relief pitcher, but he’s not a good one either; he’s average. FanGraphs has his career FIP at 4.15. He has the ability to strike hitters out (8.6 per 9), but he also walks far too many (4.6 per 9) to be given high-leverage innings. Looking at only his 2005-09 seasons, he set a career low in K/9 last year and his second-highest BB/9. He had flukish batted ball splits (11% line drives, 58% ground balls) that are destined to regress.

Perhaps most telling is that the American League finally caught up to Rodney’s wild ways. For the first time in his career, opposing hitters swung at fewer than 60% of his pitches in the strike zone yet made contact 84.2% of the time when they did swing. It could certainly be true that the National League could take some time to catch on to this, but it’s unlikely given the ubiquity of scouting reports, statistical analysis, and tape review (and word of mouth).

Rodney should be a pitcher teams shouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole at his current asking price of $12 million over two years.

Fans don’t let their team’s GM sign Fernando Rodney.

Behold, my incredible Photoshop skills:

You know what to do, Internet.

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8 comments

  1. hk

    December 23, 2009 06:43 AM

    Amen! While I agree that Bastardo and/or Mathieson can probably produce what Rodney will at 1/15 of the price, there will inevitably be middle relievers with career stats similar to Rodney available later in free agency. Last year’s Joe Beimel will be this year’s Kiko Calero or someone similar, who’ll take $2M for one year when the market dries up. Also, if they will just be patient, they can probably re-sign Chan Ho (when he learns there’s no market for him as a starter) for a fraction of what they’re reportedly offering Rodney.

  2. GrandSlamSingle

    December 23, 2009 11:21 AM

    Loved the article!

    The downside of not signing Rodney is that they will more than likely end up signing MacDougal. *sigh*

  3. PhillyFriar

    December 23, 2009 12:09 PM

    Good news from Stark

    Insider protected, but the relevant quotes: “[W]ith Rodney apparently headed for the Angels, the Phillies now will turn their attention to other bullpen options.”

    Then mentions MacDougal, Danys Baez and Chad Cordero. But the real good news quote might be at the end…

    “[I]ndications are that they’re likely to wait until after the first of the year, to see if they can add multiple bullpen arms for the same money that some of their previous targets — such as Brandon Lyon and Chan Ho Park — have been asking.”

    Please, Ruben Amaro: use the money you would’ve given Rodney or Lyon, and sign Brendan Donnelly, Joaquin Benoit, Russ Springer, and Ron Mahay. Do it!

  4. hk

    December 23, 2009 05:02 PM

    At one point, the rumor was that Cleveland was looking to deal Kerry Wood to save some more salary. If Cleveland would pick up $7M of his $11M salary, Wood might be the best available reliever. Or, maybe the Phils could trade Jamie Moyer and his $7M salary for Wood.

  5. hk

    December 23, 2009 05:18 PM

    Now, the Phils are being linked to names like Danys Baez and Mike McDougal. After Lyon and Rodney before them, it makes me think that Ruben is only looking for relievers who have saved games in the past, K/9, K/BB and FIP be damned.

  6. hk

    December 23, 2009 06:58 PM

    Baez is okay for ~$3M and only if it’s one year or one plus an option. His K/9 has dropped every year since 2003, bottoming out at 5.02 this year. Maybe (hopefully if it is Baez) escaping the AL East will help.

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