Francisco Rodriguez

Mets and Brewers both win in Francisco Rodriguez deal


As Matthew noted a little earlier, the Mets have traded Francisco Rodriguez and cash considerations to the Brewers for two players to be named later.

Who the Mets eventually get in return here is really secondary to what the trade accomplishes for the club. This is all about shedding his $17.5 million option for 2012, which vests if he reaches 55 games finished this season. He was already at 34 at the All-Star break, which would have put him on pace to get there with ease during the second half of the season. Of course, no reasonable baseball observer expected Mets general manager Sandy Alderson to let him get there. He likely would have tried to avoid the option, even if the Wilpons weren’t in a bind financially.

Rodriguez’s alliance with new agent Scott Boras this week was a strong indication that the wheels were already in motion behind the scenes. While Boras tried to scare off potential suitors yesterday by asking, “Does anyone want an unhappy setup man in their clubhouse?” it’s actually in K-Rod’s best interest to behave and pitch well in a set-up role, since he’ll almost certainly be a free agent this winter. Unless John Axford blows his arm out (which is always possible, I suppose), there’s no way the Brewers will let him finish 21 games.

The Brewers signed 41-year-old Takashi Saito over the winter to serve as a set-up man for Axford, but injuries have limited him to just five appearances this season. Meanwhile, Rodriguez is 12 years younger and much more durable. While he doesn’t throw as hard as he once did, K-Rod has a quality 3.16 ERA and 46/16 K/BB ratio over 42 2/3 innings this season. Last year’s assault charge aside, he’s still a very capable relief pitcher.

Brewers fans should be excited about this trade, as it’s yet another indication that GM Doug Melvin is doing everything he can to put the team in a position to win right now. And he should, since All-Star Game MVP Prince Fielder will be a free agent following the season.

The Mets are in some uncertain times as far as finances go, so it’s hard to say what sort of payroll they’ll be operating with next season. But what we do know is that Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo will all officially be off the books. That’s approximately $50 million between four players. I’m not saying that the Mets will definitely keep Jose Reyes, but this trade at least puts them in better financial position to negotiate.

Astros stave off AL West elimination, beat the Diamondbacks

Colby Rasmus, Gary Pettis
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Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.

Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.

The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.

The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.

If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.

If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.

Video: Kelby Tomlinson slides in for an inside-the-park home run

Kelby Tomlinson
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Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.

Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.

It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.