Mets and Brewers both win in Francisco Rodriguez deal

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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.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.