Results tagged ‘ Francisco Rodriguez ’

Dispatches from Port St. Lucie, 3/13

Things are starting to get hectic for the Mets. Many of them will skip Friday’s game, taking an afternoon flight bound for the glitz of Las Vegas. Once they return, it will be coming up on crunch time.

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What we learned: Noah Syndergaard is still really, really good at pitching.

What we wrote:

Around the league:

“I have been preparing, expecting myself to be in that position.” –Daisuke Matsuzaka on his chances to win the fifth starter’s job

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo

Dispatches from Port St. Lucie, 3/12

What we learned: Despite the opposite strategy unfolding in Atlanta, the Mets are not about to fill a major hole by making a free agent splash late in spring.

What we wrote:

Around the league:

“I’m not interpreting it in terms of our situation. I don’t know that we have a situation here.” –GM Sandy Alderson on the Braves’ deal with Santana

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo

Looking at relievers? The Mets are, too.

Among the nuggets general manager Sandy Alderson dropped in a phone interview earlier this week was the fact that the Mets expect to sign a veteran reliever to a Major League deal — not a Minor League deal, as they plan to do to fill out their the rotation.

Luckily for us, the Brewers are in the same position, and MLB.com beat reporter Adam McCalvy has already come up with this comprehensive list of veteran relievers with closing experience — something important, though not necessarily essential to a Mets team still trying to figure out what Bobby Parnell can provide post-surgery.

Below is McCalvy’s list, along with his primers on each one. You may recognize many of the names, including David Aardsma, Luis Ayala, Frank Francisco, Brandon Lyon, Jon Rauch and Francisco Rodriguez:

David Aardsma (69 career saves): The 32-year-old Aardsma had a nice comeback with the Mets last season after rehabbing from July 2011 Tommy John surgery. He made 43 appearances with a 4.31 ERA. But he has not been a closer since he saved 38 games in 2009 and 31 games in 2010 for the Mariners.

Luis Ayala (19 saves): He logged nine of his saves for the Mets in 2008 and has only one save since then, but has been a steady big league reliever since bouncing between three teams in a dismal 2010. Over the past three seasons, Ayala has made 157 appearances for the Yankees, Orioles and Braves with a 2.58 ERA and a solid ground ball rate. He spent time on the disabled list last season because of an anxiety disorder and turns 36 next week, but is seeking a Major League contract.

Andrew Bailey (89 saves): Non-tendered by the Red Sox in December, Bailey is the first of the comeback candidates on this list. He made 30 appearances and logged eight saves before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery shortly after the All-Star break, the latest of a series of medical concerns that have dogged his career. Bailey probably will not be healthy by the start of the season.

Grant Balfour (72 saves): He is the best closer left on the market and the most familiar name on this list because Balfour briefly pitched for the Brewers in 2007. The price tag is a big problem. The 36-year-old, who has posted an ERA of 2.59 or better in four straight seasons, agreed to a two-year, $15 million contract with the Orioles before Christmas, but it reportedly fell apart when Baltimore had concerns about Balfour’s shoulder. He insists he is healthy.

Rafael Betancourt (74 saves): The right-hander, 39 in April, was to undergo Tommy John surgery in September in attempt to save his career. He probably will have to wait until his age 40 season in 2015 to give it a try.

Manny Corpas (34 saves): Corpas preceded Betancourt as Rockies closer, but has not logged a save since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2011. He pitched for the Cubs in 2012 before returning to the Rockies in 2013 for 31 appearances and a respectable 1.344 WHIP. The Rockies outrighted Corpas from the 40-man roster in October.

Octavio Dotel (109 saves): Missed most of the 2013 season with a right elbow injury. As of last check in September, Dotel was trying to avoid Tommy John surgery and planned to pitch in winter ball, but has not appeared in any box scores.

Kyle Farnsworth (54 saves): Farnsworth turns 38 on April 14 and his fastball velocity has come down a bit in the last three years, but he finished last season strong for the Pirates (one run on six hits and three walks with nine strikeouts in nine appearances) and would be available on a one-year deal. MLB Trade Rumors reported last week that six to eight clubs have some interest in Farnsworth, who saved 25 games with a 2.18 ERA for Tampa Bay in 2011.

Frank Francisco (73 saves): The former Rangers, Blue Jays and Mets closer missed most of 2013 recovering from an elbow injury. The season before, he made $5.5 million and had a 5.53 ERA.

Michael Gonzalez (56 saves): He signed with the Brewers for 2012, was well-liked by teammates and led the club with 75 appearances, but allowed a.274 average against left-handed hitters and a 1.035 opponents’ OPS after the All-Star break. The Brewers are not interested in bringing Gonzalez back.

Kevin Gregg (177 saves): Gregg signed a Minor League deal with the Cubs in April after the Dodgers released him, and eventually helped Chicago overcome Carlos Marmol’s struggles. He logged 33 saves with a 3.48 ERA in 62 games, including two saves and one blown save against the Brewers. The Brewers have been linked to Gregg before.

Joel Hanrahan (100 saves): Another rehabber. Hanrahan, traded from the Pirates to the Red Sox in December 2012, underwent Tommy John surgery in May and reportedly will throw for teams in Spring Training to try to find a job.

Brandon Lyon (79 saves): The 34-year-old right-hander has a pair of 20-save seasons on his ledger, but has been a setup man since 2010. He made 37 appearances for the Mets last season with a 4.98 ERA and was released in July. His average fastball velocity fell from 90.2 mph in 2012 to 87.8 mph in 2013, according to data from FanGraphs.com.

Ryan Madson (52 saves): A shutdown setup man turned quality closer for the Phillies, Madson has not pitched since 2011. He signed with the Reds for 2012, but needed Tommy John surgery in Spring Training, then signed with the Angels for 2013, but never made it to the mound.

Carlos Marmol (117 saves): He was all but run out of Wrigley Field, but Marmol is only 31 (of pitchers on this list, only Bailey and Corpas are younger) and could be a good fit for a Brewers team willing to take a flier. He was very close in Chicago with Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who is entering the final season of his contract with Milwaukee and is represented by the same agent, Paul Kinzer. He was still throwing a 93.7 mph average fastball in 2013, when Marmol made 52 appearances for the Cubs and Dodgers with a 4.41 ERA, including a 2.53 ERA in 21 regular season games with the Dodgers. Melvin and Kinzer met at the Winter Meetings to discuss Marmol.

Brett Myers (40 saves): A serious elbow injury limited Myers to four appearances with the Indians in 2013, but he is looking to pitch in 2014, according to reports.

Jon Rauch (62 saves): The Brewers explored signing the 6-foot-11 right-hander last winter, but he went to the Marlins and posted a 7.56 ERA in 15 games before being released in May.

Fernando Rodney (172 saves): Life is good when a 37-save, 3.38 ERA season qualifies as a “down year,” but such is life after Rodney’s remarkable 2012 campaign. The fact he is seeking a multiyear deal probably puts him out of the Brewers’ price range.

Francisco Rodriguez (304 saves): The Brewers have already acquired K-Rod twice; in a trade with the Mets the night of the 2011 All-Star Game, and via a Minor League free agent contract last April. Rodriguez made it back to Milwaukee and helped stabilize the bullpen, posting a 1.09 ERA in 25 games before Melvin dealt him to the Orioles for third base prospect Nicky Delmonico. Rodriguez, who turned 32 on Tuesday, is represented by Scott Boras. Another return is quite possible; Melvin said he’s talked to Boras about Rodriguez this winter.

Jose Valverde (286 saves): Thirty-six in March, it appears Valverde’s best days are behind him. He pitched to a 5.59 ERA in 20 appearances for the Tigers last season before the team released him in August.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

World Baseball Classic to expand to 28 teams

The World Baseball Classic announced its plan Wednesday morning to expand from 16 to 28 teams in 2013 through use of a qualifying round. The expansion will give more players an opportunity to play in the tournament, though fewer big leaguers may actually qualify for to the round of 16 — and it’s not yet clear exactly when in the fall of 2012 the preliminary games will be played. Among the teams that now have to qualify for the tournament are Canada and Panama, which could affect Mets players Jason Bay and Ruben Tejada if they choose to participate in the event.

Here’s a list of participating countries and those Major League Mets who participated in the 2009 event:

Automatic Qualifiers
1. Dominican Republic (Jose Reyes)
2. Mexico (Scott Hairston)
3. Puerto Rico (Carlos Beltran)
4. United States (David Wright)
5. Venezuela (Francisco Rodriguez)

Qualifying Round Invitees
1. Canada (Jason Bay)
2. Panama (Ruben Tejada)

*Note: Angel Pagan (Puerto Rico) and Johan Santana (Venezuela) did not participate due to injuries.

—-Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets’ bullpen a strength?

An MLB.com colleague recently asked me to rank the five NL East teams on offense, defense, starting rotation and bullpen heading into the season. Some of the choices were clear-cut: Phillies with the best rotation, for example (duh). Others, not so much.

When I submitted my NL East ballot, I had the Mets ranked highly in two categories: defense (in which I ranked them first), and bullpen. In my opinion, the Braves have the best relief corps in the division, despite the loss of Billy Wagner. After that, I grappled over whether to choose New York or Washington, in the end selecting the Mets because they possess a proven closer and the Nationals — right now, at least — do not.

After I sent in my picks, my colleague and I argued over that choice for quite some time. He pointed to the Marlins, who also revamped their bullpen this winter and look stronger than they did a year ago (in short, he accused me of drinking the blue-and-orange Kool-Aid). I pointed to the fact that the Mets ranked fifth in the league in bullpen ERA last year and arguably only got stronger this offseason, adding important arms such as D.J. Carrasco and Taylor Buchholz. Do I have concerns about the bullpen? Of course — most notably, I don’t trust Tim Byrdak to be the lockdown lefty specialist that Pedro Feliciano was in years past. But I feel strongly enough about the group as a whole to rank them ahead of the Nationals, Marlins and Phillies (in that order).

The point is, I felt somewhat vindicated today when I read this story on Fangraphs discussing the relative merits of New York’s bullpen. Does that mean the Mets will be great at closing out games this year? Maybe, maybe not — injuries and year-to-year variance always play a significant role in that. But consider that the Mets just left Jason Isringhausen and Manny Acosta – two very useful relievers — off their Opening Day roster. That, if anything, speaks to the strength of this new-look bullpen.

The Mets have problems heading into the season — that much is clear. I just don’t think the bullpen (or the defense, for that matter) is one of them.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

K-Rod, Mets settle grievance

Francisco Rodriguez settled his grievance with the Mets today, announcing that he will not fight the team’s decision to withhold roughly $3.1 million of his 2010 salary. In exchange, the Mets will no longer seek to convert the remainder of his contract into an non-guaranteed deal. Here are the statements from both sides:

Rodriguez: “As I have expressed in the past, I deeply
regret the incident that occurred on August 11, 2010.  I sincerely
apologize to Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz, Mets’ fans, my teammates,
and the entire Mets’ organization. I have worked hard since the incident
to make myself a better person and member of this organization.  
I have been participating in an anger management program since August,
and I will continue in the program for the foreseeable future.  I
feel that anger management counseling is undoubtedly making me a better
person and a better father, and will make me a better teammate and member
of this great organization.

“I am responsible for my injury that occurred
as a result of this incident, and prevented me from finishing the season
with the Mets. As a result, I have instructed the Major League Baseball
Players Association not to pursue the issue raised in the grievance regarding
payment of my salary during the time that I was injured.  Personally,
in this situation, I do not feel that it is right for me to take a salary
for the period of time in which I could not contribute as a player as a
result of my off-field actions.  In addition, I am directing each
of my $100,000 annual charitable contributions to New York metropolitan
area charities that further the purposes of the New York Mets Foundation.

“I appreciate the faith and support that
this organization has shown me throughout this matter.  I look forward
to being a part of the 2011 Mets and hopefully beyond.  I want to
put these issues behind me, and behind this organization and its fans.
 I have instructed my attorneys to work toward amicably resolving
the other legal matters resulting from this incident.  I want my focus
to be on my family, my team and being the best closer in baseball in 2011.”

Jeff Wilpon: “We are pleased that Frankie Rodriguez has accepted responsibility for his actions and their consequences.  We have been assured that he is taking steps to address the issues that led to the incident, and that those efforts will continue.  We have also been assured that he will work hard both on and off the field to regain the trust of the organization, Mets fans and the community.”

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

K-Rod, meet Francisco Rodriguez

Several Mets were watching Thursday’s Mexico-France World Cup soccer match when the Mexicans subbed midfielder Francisco Rodriguez into the game.

mex-rod.jpg“Hey, we’ve got one of those,” quipped a bemused Jeff Francoeur.

So, too, do the Angels. Again.

Giving Anaheim’s bullpen a recent jolt has been 27-year-old Francisco Rodriguez, a Mexican reliever who previously wallowed in the team’s farm system for four seasons. Only in April did Rodriguez make his Major League debut, and only late last month was he able to stick in the bigs.

But since then, the other Rodriguez has been close to perfect, striking out 15 batters, walking one and allowing just one run in 10 1/3 innings.

“There are a bunch of us,” the Mets’ Francisco Rodriguez said when informed of the Angels pitcher. “That’s good for him.”

The younger Rodriguez recently related to the Los Angeles Times a meeting he had with K-Rod several years ago, when both were in big league camp with the Angels. But when asked Friday, K-Rod had no recollection of meeting his reflection.

—–Follow along on Twitter @anthonydicomo.

K-Rod, coach get into altercation

Francisco Rodriguez and bullpen coach Randy Niemann had to be separated after an altercation Sunday stemming from the closer’s bullpen use, according to a report in the New York Times.

Rodriguez, reportedly upset over how he is being used, had to be separated from Niemann by other relievers, according to the report. Afterward, he told the Times that they “were just fooling around … just kidding each other.”

The altercation came three days after Mets manager Jerry Manuel had a heated exchange with starter John Maine in the dugout in Washington, and less than a year after Rodriguez and former Mets official Tony Bernazard got into a verbal altercation on a bus in Atlanta.

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