Wandy Rodriguez, no doubt, is in Houston Astros spring training with something to prove.
According to the above linked article, Rodriguez is content about what happened in arbitration and is "...here to work hard and have another good year."
Call me an overthinking, read-between-the-lines guy, but it sounds to me like Rodriguez' plan is to go out, have a great year, and prove he's worth even more than the $7 million he was asking for.
Yes, yes, Rodriguez was 14-12 last year and had a 3.02 ERA. Persnickety, penny-pinching Astros fans note he lost 12 games last year and that his career win-loss record is barely above .500 with an ERA around 4.00.
Last year's record doesn't mention all the games where he pitched well but had no run support. After all, last year it seemed like opposing pitchers' best chance to pitch their way out of a slump was to beg their manager to let them start a game against the Astros.
Rodriguez' numbers certainly don't reflect the many no-decisions he had due to lack of run support.
So, I imagine this will happen: Rodriguez will go around 20-8 this season with a 2.85 ERA. He'll give up home runs, for sure, but he'll turn into the left-handed starter Houston has desperately needed ever since Andy Pettitte chose to return to New York to pitch for the Steinbrenners.
I understand Wandy will be a free agent in 2011, and Houston will step forward to try to re-sign him.
So will other teams, no doubt.
Once again, Houston will likely lose another great player because they were outbid for his services.
"Yes, but, well, I just don't like it!" Persnickety Penny-Pinching Astros fan is bound to say.
Rodriguez has certainly matured the past few seasons and shows excellent signs of having great seasons ahead. Mike Scott, for example, was 28 when he arrived in Houston and 30 when he had his breakout season. Prior to that, he'd spent four lackluster years with the New York Mets.
Ed Wade and Drayton McLane probably will wait to see how Rodriguez does this season. If he has a lousy year, they'll probably have him take a pay cut or let him go and hope he doesn't have a Brad Lidge renaissance somewhere else. If he has a great year, they'll try to re-sign him.
My concern is by then, it'll be too late.
Richard Zowie's a Houston Astros fan and Bleacher Report blogger. He can't wait until the Astros wear their throwback shooting star uniforms this year and hopes to see them wear those unis permanently as soon as possible. Post comments here or e-mail email@example.com .