Getting the Rod
One issue that has received plenty of ink this off-season has been the pitching. The need for better starting pitching, for role assignments in the middle innings, and for solid command out of the ageless back-end of the bullpen. The field is pretty wide open, yet some arms have been all but ignored. One of thos arms belongs to Ricardo Rodriguez, the righthander aquired ffrom the Texas Rangers in the Vicente Padilla trade just before the arbitration deadline.
We raised the point of Rodriguez's relative anonymity Friday night at the beer roundtable, but really there wasn't much to say. He's a soon to be 28-year-old who's arm has been shattered the past two season by batted balls. As it happened, Marcus Hayes was tuned into our train of thought and filed a story that night on Ric-Rod which appeared in the Daily News the following morning. There's little of consequence in the story, other than the intimation that Rod's problems -- besides the injuries -- have been a poor throwing motion, caused in part by unfulfilled rehab. At least Rod can point to the arm injuries; what's Gavin Floyd's excuse?
Rodriguez also has a little '05 Floyd in him as a starter who will be presumably tried in a bullpen slot. We all know how that worked for the former first-round pick. Rodriguez actually pitched in relief in 72 of his 166 minor league games, but only in three of his 39 major league outings thusfar. Finally, and perhaps the most significant revelation in this non-saga, The Inqy reports that the righty has no options left on his contract, a document which does not appear to be of significant dollars anyway.
Bottom line, we're looking at a twice season-ending injured pitcher with delivery motion problems vying for a spot he has very little major league experience in. He is neither an overpowering thrower (100 Ks in over 200 IP) , nor does he show much in the way of hitter command (career 1.45 WHIP). If the Phils carry 12 pitchers, he has an outside shot, mostly because some of the other competition have options remaining. However, at 11, a bullpen of Gordon, Rhodes, Fultz, Cormier, and probably Julio Santana with competition from the likes of Tejeda, Rule 5er Chris Booker, Geoff Geary, and darkhorses Aquilino Lopez and Yoel Hernandez leaves little room for Rodriguez to nake the 25 man roster. Likewise, for the organization to cut a more expensive innings eater like Franklin out of the rotation, Ric-Rod would have to leave no doubt as to his capabilities and production this year. Seems a bit far-fetched given his history.
Inexpensive as he may be, if Rodriguez does not overly impress in spring training, look for him to be cut or dealt.