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Insider

Brewers strike first by acquiring K-Rod

7/13/2011

PHOENIX -- The Milwaukee Brewers as a whole were in the midst of celebrating Prince Fielder becoming the first Brewers player to hit a home run in an All-Star Game, and then winning the 2011 All-Star Game MVP.

During that celebration on the field after the National League's 5-1 win over the American League on Tuesday, which included both of Fielder's sons, shocking word quickly spread that the Brewers had acquired Francisco Rodriguez and cash considerations from the New York Mets in exchange for two players to be named later. By rule, the two players must be agreed upon within six months of the transaction. It has been reported that how K-Rod performs for the Brewers will affect which players the Mets eventually get in return. The Mets are picking up a significant amount of Rodriguez's salary in the transaction. More details about the deal are likely to soon follow.

On Monday, the Mets were informed that Rodriguez had hired agent Scott Boras to represent him. Sandy Alderson, the general manager of the Mets, went ahead and traded K-Rod within about 24 hours. Sounds like it was a coincidence rather than a reaction to that news.

Rodriguez, 29, is 2-2 with a 3.16 ERA in 42 appearances. He's also converted 23 of 26 save opportunities this season. He's pitched 42 2/3 innings, allowed 44 hits and has an inflated 1.40 WHIP. He joins a Brewers bullpen that has blown 14 saves and has compiled 20 losses. The one bright spot has been John Axford, who has a 2.83 ERA while converting 23 of 25 save opportunities.

The Brewers have one of the strongest and deepest starting rotations in the NL Central, led by Yovani Gallardo (10-5, 3.76 ERA), Shaun Marcum (7-3 , 3.39), Zack Greinke (7-3, 5.45), Randy Wolf (6-6, 3.65) and Chris Narveson (6-5, 4.75).

Now with both Axford and K-Rod in the back end of the bullpen, it will give the Brewers the same 1-2 punch teams such as the Tigers, Red Sox, Giants and Yankees have. It's clear that the new philosophy for general managers includes that contending teams have to focus on acquiring eighth-inning relievers if they want to win in the postseason.

The ramifications of this deal are twofold. First, it puts clear pressure on the Cardinals, Reds and Pirates to make deals to improve their clubs. So let’s officially put them on the clock. The Cardinals need to acquire a relief pitcher, such as Heath Bell, and a shortstop like a healthy Rafael Furcal so they could move Ryan Theriot back to 2B and add additional speed atop the lineup. The Reds need more offense in left field and another starting pitcher (they’ve been linked to Ubaldo Jimenez, but that hasn't been confirmed) to go along with Johnny Cueto and Bronson Arroyo at the top of their rotation, especially with Edinson Volquez floundering and Homer Bailey having a sore arm. There are also questions surrounding the command in the zone for both Travis Wood and Mike Leake.

Second, this deal also increases the trade value for the Padres with Bell, for the Royals with Joakim Soria, for the Cubs with Sean Marshall, for the A’s with Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes and for the Blue Jays with Jon Rauch and Jason Frasor. And why is that? Because there is one less inventory piece in the back-end bullpen availability barrel.

Who will be traded next? For the Mets, it likely will be Carlos Beltran. The Tigers and Giants are mentioned the most in terms of teams showing interest in the Mets' right fielder. For the Padres, it will be Bell, with the best fits being in St. Louis, Texas, Minnesota and Tampa Bay.

The 2011 All-Star extravaganza was a huge success. And before MVP Fielder was able to hold his $40,000 check, which will be donated to charity, he had a new teammate in K-Rod. The Brewers now have a solid back end of the bullpen and they're wondering if they might be able to trade for a shortstop such as the Orioles' J.J. Hardy or the Dodgers' Furcal (if he's healthy).

The Brewers are tied for first in the NL Central, and they just took the lead at the start of the trade deadline season as well. Let the pennant races resume with trades like this one!