We’ve all known for over a year now that the Mets weren’t going to want to be on the hook for Francisco Rodriguez’s $17.5 million option for 2012. They would have given him away to be out from under it. As is, they had to pay the Brewers almost $6 million just to get a couple of middling prospects in return for K-Rod.
And as soon as the Brewers picked him up, we knew they had no intention of allowing Rodriguez to get the 21 games finished he’d need during the second half to guarantee that option. No one wants to spend $17.5 million on a closer.
That said, this isn’t armageddon. If the Brewers lose John Axford to injury, they need to go ahead and let Rodriguez close. It’s not a decision that would cost them $17.5 million.
As part of the trade, the Mets picked up the nearly $6 million of the $8.4 million owed to Rodriguez. $4.9 million of the $8.4 million of that is the remainder of his $11.5 million salary for 2011. The rest is a $3.5 million buyout attached to Rodriguez’s $17.5 million option.
So, really, that makes the option worth $14 million, since the $3.5 million is spoken for anyway. And there’s going to be at least one team out there willing to take on Rodriguez as a $9 million-$10 million closer this winter. The only way that wouldn’t be the case is if Rodriguez gets hurt and finishes the season on the DL, and there is a clause in his contract that voids the ability of the option to vest in the event of an injury.
The way I see it, pretty much the worst-case scenario here is that the Brewers have to eat $5 million in the event of the option becoming guaranteed. That’s not nothing, but it’s not going to kill a team with a payroll in the $90 million range. Most likely, the Brewers won’t have to deal with it anyway.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.