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End the Francisco Rodriguez Cy Young Talk, Please

There’s no two ways about it — being a huge Angels fan, I have plenty of affection for Frankie Rodriguez. He was lights out in ’02 when the team won the World Series, and he’s been a stud in the pen ever since. You can’t possibly be an Angels fan and not love Frankie. Sure, he makes saves more adventurous than they need to be, but he still gets the job done more often than not; there’s much more to like about him than not to like. Anyway, that all being said, I’m getting sick of people suggesting that Frankie is a candidate for the Cy Young Award in the AL this year (ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian on Thursday night on SportsCenter for one). On what grounds? The fact that he happens to play for the team that’s won the most and that’s happened to generate the most save chances in the league? The fact that he might wind up breaking a record because of this? I agree, he’s having a special season in terms of the numbers, but I can’t agree that his season is worthy of Cy Young contention.

Frankie hasn’t pitched a fraction of the innings that studs like Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay — my top two candidates — have thrown. These guys are giving 7, 8, 9 innings an outing for their team — all quality innings, too. These guys have been unhittable for most of the season, being more effective than Frankie who only has to pitch one inning at a time. Not only have Lee and Halladay been spectacular making them more deserving than K-Rod, but Frankie isn’t even the top closer in the league. Joe Nathan (the best closer in baseball the last five years), Jonathan Papelbon, Joakim Soria, and Mariano Rivera have all been more effective this year pitching a similar amount of innings. The only difference between Frankie and those other four guys (aside from those guys being more effective) is that Frankie has more saves. That’s it. Doesn’t mean he’s been any better, just means his team has created more save situations. I’m not hating on Frankie here because he’s a reliable closer and has been one of the most reliable closers over the past few years, but he just has no business being mentioned in any Cy Young talk. As far as I’m concerned, it’s between Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, and pretty much nobody else. Plain and simple. Let’s just hope the writers don’t screw this up as they’re so frequently known to do.

Angels Screwing Frankie Rodriguez?

The big hubbab around Angels camp is that closer Frankie Rodriguez is headed to arbitration in what could be his final year with the Angels. This is a huge deal for me as an Angel fan, and applies to almost any baseball fan whose bullpen could use a closer. When asked if this could be his last season with the Angels, K-Rod said “Yeah, probably. If they wanted me here, they would have done something a long time ago.” We can’t make the Angels out to be the bad guys just yet — they offered him a lucrative three-year $34 million deal. Frankie turned it down because he saw what the dumbass Yankees gave Mariano Rivera — $45 mil over three years — and he wants that sort of kesef. Gilbert at Obscure Sports Quarterly says it’s not time to panic just yet. I agree, and would add a few more points to that.

For one, as a baseball fan it’s important to keep tabs on how much other teams are spending on players — that sets the market and impacts the ability of your team to keep its players. That’s why I was so upset the Angels spent $90 million on Torii Hunter. Amongst other things, I was upset that signing priced the market so high, and I knew it would make it tougher for the Angels to re-sign Frankie, John Lackey, and Kelvim Escobar. And that’s exactly what’s happened. The Angels had no problem dropping $90 mil on Hunter when $75 was probably sufficient. Now they’re balking over $10 million to Frankie? Great. Next, the gap between what the Angels are offering Frankie and what K-Rod wants is the second largest of all arbitration cases this spring. That’s bad news. That means the Angels will be finding faults and picking on one of the faces of their organization. Arbitration is a nasty, nasty aspect of the game and it kills me as an Angels fan to think their objective in the negotiations is to diminish his value.

It would not be the end of the world if Frankie weren’t retained at the end of the year, but I think the team would be a lot better off with him than without him. Still, as Gilbert said, a lot can change in a year (and I remember a certain closer giving up a certain home run to a certain Red Sox left fielder to end a certain playoff game). And if Francisco Cordero got $46 million over four years from the Reds, it makes me cringe to think what Frankie will be due on the market. I can’t stand arbitration. $90 million to Torii Hunter spent freely, and now the pockets are tightening over an extra $2.5 million to Frankie? That’s not a good sign and I’d like to see it change.