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Monday, July 30, 2012
Brewers blame problems on bullpen coach

By David Schoenfield

The dumbest move of the offseason was when the Milwaukee Brewers offered arbitration to relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez. The Brewers simply misread the market; they had expected Rodriguez to sign elsewhere, regaining the closer role he held with the Mets before his trade to Milwaukee. Instead, with the market for closers was essentially non-existent (Ryan Madson signed a one-year contract with the Reds, for example), Rodriguez accepted the Brewers' arbitration offer and the sides eventually agreed on a one-year, $8 million contract.

The Brewers were stuck with a pitcher they didn't want, a guy who had lived a bit of high-wire in 2011 anyway, surviving more on his deceptive, arms-and-legs, falling-down delivery and changing speeds than on the high-powered stuff he once possessed.

So not only did the Brewers spend $8 million on a relief pitcher with a dubious future instead of elsewhere to help the club, Rodriguez proceeded to stink it up. Among relief pitchers with at least 35 innings, Rodriguez has the fifth-highest on-base percentage allowed. The latest blow-up came Sunday afternoon when K-Rod and fellow arsonist John Axford combined to allow six runs as the Nationals beat the Brewers 11-10 in 11 innings.

Of course, the Brewers solved their bullpen problems today by firing bullpen coach Stan Kyles.

Look, there's always more to story than we know, but on the surface this certainly appears to be the Brewers looking for a scapegoat. Rodriguez has six losses and a 5.36 ERA; Axford has six losses, a 5.11 ERA and seven blown saves. Jose Veras has been terrible. The team resorted to pick up Livan Hernandez. As Jack Moore of Disciples of Uecker pointed out, the Brewers have outscored their opponents by 30 runs in innings 1-6, but have been outscored by 48 runs in innings 7 and later.

"We feel very good about having him and Axford, and having them the whole year," general manager Doug Melvin said back when Rodriguez agreed to terms.

It's been a lost season for the Brewers, the white flag officially waived with the Zack Greinke trade. But the losing began back with an ill-fated decision that never should have been made.