The Francisco Rodriguez Saga and How Things Changed so Quickly
Oh, how things can change so quickly. The Mets signed Francisco Rodriguez to be their new closer, replacing Billy Wagner, at the start of the 2009 season to a 3-year, $37 million contract.
Fans and members of the media thought the Mets were finally landing a star reliever, after years of frustration at the closer position.
After John Franco, the Mets never really had a legitimate closer. It started with Armando Benitez in 1999, who went on to blow Game 1 of the 2000 Subway Series.
Then, in 2004, the Braden Looper era began, which lasted two seasons. In 2006, the Mets rode Billy Wagner to the NLCS, but his time in New York was cut short after Tommy John surgery at the end of 2008.
Finally, in 2009, the Mets signed Francisco Rodriguez. He had saved an all-time Major League-best 62 games in 2008 with the Angels, and was one of their 2002 World Series heros.
Things started off great in K-Rod's Mets career, saving 16 straight save opportunities to begin 2009.
It all started to unravel on a Friday night at Yankee Staudium. On June 12 of last season, everyone knows about the Luis Castillo dropped popup.
Up until that game, his ERA was 0.61 for the season. After that game, his ERA was 6.10 for the rest of the season.
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He started walking too many batters, while fooling around in ninth innings of games. He lost all of his control, even giving up a walk-off grand slam to Everth Cabrera of the Padres on August 7, 2009.
Whether it was coincidence or not, Rodriguez wasn't the same pitcher after the Castillo error.
In that same series in the Bronx, Rodriguez got into a heated exchange with then Yankees reliever Brian Bruney, displaying some temper problems. He got into a fight with then Mets executive Tony Bernazard.
This season, he returned and still had major control issues. He would always walk the tightrope, and sometimes actually blow games. He would blow games that no one could envision being blown, especially by a "star" closer.
He wasn't happy during the course of this season with his role in the bullpen. It all started during the 20-inning game on April 17.
The Mets, not knowing when they'd need his services, made him warm up over 10 times from the ninth through the 19th inning. After all of that, he blew the save in that game, leaving it to Mike Pelfrey in the 20th inning.
He would either want to save games of more than three outs or want to come in a tie game on the road, while Jerry Manuel wasn't sure what he wanted.
He even got into a fight with Mets bullpen coach Randy Niemann, getting into a reported shoving match with him. Earlier this season, he got into a verbal fight with the Nationals' Willie Harris.
Through all of his struggles concerning bullpen role and temper management, he still remained steady.
It was seemingly all coming together for him over the past three weeks. He had gone nine straight appearances without allowing a run.
The Mets were finally getting what they paid for from Rodriguez. Then, it all came crashing down in an unbelievable manner.
Last Wednesday, Rodriguez wasn't brought into a Mets game when it was thought he should've gone for a four-out save. The Mets went on to lose that game to the Colorado Rockies and he was angry afterwards in the clubhouse.
Members of the media who were yelled at by K-Rod, thought it was due to his frustration with Jerry Manuel for not bringing him in.
Then it was reported that he was arrested for assault on his father-in-law. The thought was that's who he took his anger out on. It turned out to be, the incident had nothing to do with the game of baseball.
He had already decked his girlfriend's father before snubbing media members. What would possibly be the problem immediately after the game? There has been plenty of speculation to what exactly went on.
Reports claim Rodriguez got into a nasty fight with his girlfriend, and it was when her father stepped in that K-Rod punched him. The most recent report is that his father-in-law made remarks about Rodriguez's mother, and that's what caused the assault.
No matter the situation, it happened in the family room of Citi Field, and Rodriguez was arrested and charged with third-degree assault.
The Mets suspended him without pay for two days, although they wanted more. The Players Union would've had to accept a longer suspension.
Therefore, the Mets brought him back on Saturday, and after allowing a leadoff double, he got out of trouble. For two days that is.
On Monday, it was reported that Rodriguez complained of thumb soreness in his Saturday appearance, and the Mets Medical Staff advised him to have season-ending right thumb surgery.
Now, the Mets will be without their closer for the rest of the season, thanks to an assault. The Mets will seek a contract void, and will announce on Tuesday what they plan to do.
The Mets can't trade him, as his value has decreased steadily with the assault and injury. They should, if they could, go through with the void.
For a team that will be rebuilding next season, what would be the point of him interfering with their 2011 plans. Plus, if he reaches his player option (55 games pitched in 2011 or 100 games pitched between 2010-2011), he can elect to return in 2012.
So it goes for the New York Mets. The sagas and distractions never seem to end. After what seemingly has been a bad first-year investment in Jason Bay, the Mets must deal with the story of Francisco Rodriguez. This is a really sad and ugly.
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