Thursday, June 19, 2008

Should we keep K-Rod?

Here's an article pointing out the obvious: Frankie is going to be very wealthy (wealthier, dude's raking in 10 million this year.)

I'd love to see K-Rod finish out his career in an Angel uniform, but with decisions like this you must leave your emotions at the door and make cold rational judgements on ballplayers. If Frankie leaves, it will not be the end of the world, any more than Troy Percival leaving spelled doom for the 2005 Angels. Shields can do the job. Jose Arredondo has a great arm and is probably the longterm solution at closer. Kelvim Escobar may come back but not have the durability to start, so he could be an option too.

Some indicators:

His walk rate is pretty high, 18 in 32 innings. I'm not concerned, half of those were in April when his ankles were giving him trouble. His control has been as expected since then.

Strikeout rate is down, just under 1 per inning. This is a concern because his strikeout rates have been other-worldly before, including 90 in only 67 innings last year. He's been merely good instead of immortal. Unfortunately, this is tied in with a loss of velocity. He's averaging 91.8 on the fastball, down from 93.6 last year and 94.8 in 2006. Shields has had better velocity this year, as has Arredondo. This makes me leery of giving out a big multiyear contract.

28 Saves. Don't get me wrong, I love it, and hope that he breaks Bobby Thigpen's record, but it doesn't mean he's pitching better than the other top closers. He just has been given more chances, 30 to be precise. No other closer has more than 26 chances (Sherrill), followed by 24 (Papelbon). K-Rod has 9 more saves than Mariano Rivera, who has been perfect (19-19).

It all depends on the dollars. I would not complain if the Angels gave him 4 years and 50 million, or whatever the going rate is for closers, but that money could be better spent getting an complete hitter added to the lineup (somebody like Milton Bradley).

If K-Rod leaves, where would he go? The big spenders are not going to be a factor. Boston has no need because of Papelbon, and Rivera has 2 more years with the Yankees. If the Yankees had let Mo walk, given the job to Joba for a year before moving him to the rotation, they would be perfectly set up to grab Rodriguez. Won't happen though, I don't think even the Yankees will pay 12, 13 or more millions to ask him to set up, or remove Mo from his role. Detroit sticks out as my guess, the same destination Troy Percival left for 4 years ago. For all the money they spend (more than the Red Sox this year) they probably want a closer better than Todd Jones.