Hothead fireballer K-Rod once beat his girlfriend so badly she had to be hospitalized, a Queens prosecutor said Wednesday.
The chilling assault was revealed in court as Assistant District Attorney Scott Kessler painted Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez as a manipulative bully who flouts the law.
Ugh. Just, ugh.
Though there were rumblings of similar violence earlier in Rodriguez’s recent saga — I believe from an Adam Rubin report I cannot find now — I’ll take this news with at least a tiny grain of salt because it comes straight from the prosecutor in the case, with no word at all from K-Rod’s side.
This site has never been the place for sweeping value judgments and that’s not about to change now, but the thought of domestic violence turns my stomach.
That said — and this is not to excuse the behavior, at all — I’m reminded of a story Peter Botte wrote on Mother’s Day a couple years ago about how Rodriguez hasn’t talked to his parents in 15 years and was separated from half his siblings in infancy. I don’t know Francisco Rodriguez even a little, but there’s a whole lot of evidence suggesting he’s a deeply messed-up dude.
Again, he’s got the resources to get help and by no means should be taking out his issues on his girlfriend and the mother of his children. But it’s too easy to dismiss someone as “evil,” and I think pure evil is something that only exists in action movies. I’d guess that in reality, when you peel back enough layers, you generally just find a whole lot of sadness and desperation.
So there’s that. Shifting tones, the news inarguably lessens the already slim-seeming chances that K-Rod will be closing games for the Mets in 2011. He might be in jail, for one thing. But even if he isn’t, it sure seems like the team won’t want the P.R. hit of breaking camp with the ninth inning assigned to a wife-beater who raises hell in the family room.
How they go about getting rid of him remains to be seen. Same goes for how they replace him.
While de facto closer Hisanori Takahashi has said he kind of likes it here, he has an out clause in his contract and maintains that he would prefer to start.
Takahashi’s peripherals in his starts suggest he might be a bit better than his 5.01 ERA, but he’s a short 35-year-old with the stigma — regardless of if it is more true for him than other pitchers — that his stuff is more effective in relief.
Should he not find an opportunity to compete for some team’s rotation, he seems like a decent and likely reasonably priced option to close out games. Though his arsenal doesn’t profile like that of a traditional closer, Takahashi has struck out 53 batters in 51 innings and pitched to a 2.29 ERA in relief in 2010.
Many Mets fans decried Jerry Manuel’s unwillingness to use the recently shut-down Bobby Parnell as closer. Parnell, after all, throws fastballs about a billion miles an hour. And to his credit, he did it much more effectively this season than last, posting a higher strikeout rate and a lower walk rate and yielding only one home run in his big-league stint.
Just throwing really hard does not a great closer make, but Parnell’s marked improvement in 2010 bodes well for his future and he appears a viable candidate to close out games in 2011.
But that’s probably it for reasonable internal options. Former Nats closer Chad Cordero pitched decently over 16 innings at Buffalo and a guy named Manuel Alvarez dominated High-A and Double-A hitters over 72 2/3 innings, but both seem like mega-longshots.
The worst move, I think, would be to go out and spend a ton in terms of money or prospects on a name-brand closer. If the Mets are going to have limited resources to throw around this offseason, it would seem a big mistake to allocate any big portion of them toward a widely overvalued position best filled from within.