Tuesday, October 22, 2002
K-Rod is great, but he really shouldn't be here
By Rob Neyer
While waiting for Game 3 of this so-far wonderful World Series, here are a couple of popular questions being sent around cyberspace ...
What's the loophole that allows Francisco Rodriguez to be on the Angels'
postseason roster despite the fact that he was called up on Sept. 15?
One of the things I've been meaning to do for years, but didn't do yet again this year, is come up with a "postseason FAQ." My friend Pat Quinn even reminded me back in July, but I seem to have trouble focusing on October until October actually arrives. So here I am on October 22, scrambling to figure out how Francisco Rodriguez wound up on the Angels' postseason roster. Because he did get called up on Sept. 15, and because without him the Angels would quite likely not be in the position that they're in.
I do understand that Rodriguez's presence on the postseason roster has something to do with the Disabled List, but to find out the specifics I contacted Tim Mead, the Angels' Vice President of Communications. And though I'm sure Tim is insanely busy this week, he graciously responded with the following ...
Francisco replaced right-hander Steve Green, who initially was placed on the DL on March 11, while recovering from off-season Tommy John surgery. Steve was later transferred to the 60-day DL on April 5. The rules allow a club to replace an injured pitcher eligible for postseason with another pitcher, or a position player to do the same. Green's spot was simply replaced by Francisco, who was eligible because on August 31 he was on the 40-man roster.
So there you have it. And yes, that's a loophole you could fly a couple of Jumbo Jets through, wingtip to wingtip. And nothing against the Angels or Rodriguez, but I think it's a loophole that should be closed. It might be one thing if Rodriguez was taking the place of, say, Troy Percival or John Lackey. But the intent of the rule is presumably to allow a team to replace a key member of the roster, and Steve Green's major-league experience consists of exactly one game and six innings, on April 7, 2001.
Like you, I feel extremely lucky about being able to watch K-Rod show his stuff on baseball's biggest stage. But I'm not real thrilled with the "rule" that allows him to do it.
Rob, there are some things you missed regarding the Giants' DH situation.
Like you, I wondered why the Giants weren't using Damon Minor even in the earlier postseason series. Well, according to Mike Krukow, the reason is simply that Damon Minor was absolutely terrible in the later part of the season.
His post-All-Star OPS, for example, was .591 in 65 at-bats. And I have to admit that Minor, even aside from his stats, just looked terrible in the second half. In other words, I think his "slump" is not due to bad luck but due to something fundamental that opposing pitchers must've figured out about him.
The Giants may not have a lot of choices for DH's, but Minor isn't a good choice either. Why keep Dunston? Yeah, you're probably right that he is there for sentimental reasons, but unlike Minor he can play multiple positions.
First of all, Minor's slump is even more pronounced than that. He actually played well in July, with five home runs in only 47 at-bats. But then came August and September, when Minor totaled seven hits -- six singles, one double -- in 39 at-bats. Twenty-five of those at-bats came in August, 14 in September, so it's obvious that as Minor's slump continued, Dusty Baker simply stopped using him.
This leads to the question, did National League pitchers really "figure out" Minor?
I think that's fairly unlikely. Minor has been a good hitter at every level of professional baseball. He spent most of the 2000 and 2001 seasons with Triple-A Fresno, and slugged .537 and .544 while posting excellent OBP's. What do you think is more indicative? The better part of seven seasons, or 39 at-bats spaced over two months?
Seems to me that Damon Minor is still a fine hitter who happened to hit a little rough patch. Unless he's nursing an injury, which isn't something that anybody's mentioned. I do know this, though: slump or no slump, injury or no injury, the Giants find themselves without a productive left-handed bat on the bench. And that's on them.