Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Francisco Rodriguez will not save you

By all means, Francisco Rodriguez probably earned his three-year, $37 million contract, both on the merit of his body of work and the numbers he posted last season -- despite the fact that, if you ignore the record-breaking 62 saves, 2008 was statistically one of the worst seasons in his career. But he won't be the Mets' savior. In fact, he won't be anything if his maximum-effort style finally reaches its breaking point -- his velocity dropped measurably last season, forcing him to rely more heavily on a curveball that we can't help but think puts incredible stress on his elbow. That aside, the Mets' bullpen still hardly inspires confidence, and the team may need to fill two rotation spots if Pedro Martinez and Oliver Perez leave. It's also highly advisable that they don't start next year with Luis Castillo as their starting second baseman.

Meanwhile, in Kansas City, here's what Dayton Moore has to say about the bullpen:

"Not counting anybody out, but I like the possibility of us replacing Nunez and Ramirez with the guys we have -- a better [Yasuhiko] Yabuta in his second year, an improved Robinson Tejeda to add on to what he did, the re-emergence of a [Joel] Peralta, the help of a [Brandon] Duckworth. I like some of what we got."

In other words: what, me worry?

There's an age-old truism about responsibility -- and all that stress -- accompanying power. "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown," wrote Shakespeare. (Limp Bizkit later sang, "Heavy is the head that wears the crown" in a song that looks, judging by the lyrics, stroke-inducingly awful, which makes me shake my head and marvel: The Bard and the guy who took his stage name from his dog Biscuit are of the same species?) What we're getting at is this: if and when the Royals do take that next step and begin knocking at postseason's doors, are we ready to assume a leaner, more critical attitude toward everything? News about Rafael Furcal including the Royals in his final four would resonate like the bells of heaven. Just thinking of names like Brandon Lyon and Kyle Fransworth might make us miss meals. Jeff Francoeur? Forgettaboutit. The world and everything in it might positively look different, colored by expectation. What will become of our rosy suburb then, the quiet swingsets vandalized, the roads agape with potholes and logging the complaints of blaring horns, the schools hijacked by destitution and decay? It would be a haven for Rob Blagojevich, a thoroughfare for human mules, a paved killing field awaiting Earth's last grand battle. And all this with no guarantee that a playoff berth is in the offing.

Baseball: sometimes, it makes you shake your head.

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