Here at the SPORTSbyBROOKS Sporting Institute of Sportsbloggery, we are dedicated to give you the silly, the bizarre, and the best stories the world has to offer. We are also honored to bring you pictures of the girls you want to see. (Speaking of… hey Brooks? it appears that new SbB girl isn’t answering my last 36 telephone calls. She must’ve forgot. Could ya get on that? Much appreciated, boss.) But we also want to ensure that you don’t merely glaze over one of the oddest trades to hit the sports world in quite some time. (Note: “quite some time” in the Internet cycle does not exceed 90 days, with rare exceptions.)
While the world waits and pines for a Favre trade, a Manny trade, or the Trix Rabbit finally getting his cereal, what has happened was the Ivan Rodriguez-for-Kyle Farnsworth deal. And yes, it happened so fast, most Tigers and Yankees’ heads are still spinning. So let’s find out exactly what happened, and what the folks are saying about it.
First, the Tigers. When age caught up to Todd Jones and realized he can’t cheat death every 9th inning, and Fernando Rodney was using 30 pitches an inning to close out games, they knew they needed help. They had a slightly perturbed veteran catcher (”Split my time with the utilityman, will you?”) and New York wanted one of those. The best relief pitcher they could pry from the backstop-starved Yankees was Farnsworth. Rodriguez was probably not going to re-sign with Detroit next year, and even if this trade doesn’t bring the playoffs back to Detroit (it probably won’t), it’s not like they gave up that much to at least take a wild stab at it.
On the Yankees side, the acquisition of Xavier Nady seemed to allow the team to shelve Jorge Posada until 2009. Perhaps with Damaso Marte coming in, they were able to dislodge a bullpen guy for the sudden vacancy on their roster.
Yes, there were murmurs of Rodriguez getting traded, but it’s the Internet. There are murmurs about everyone. There’s probably a blog out there insisting that Hal Newhouser is on the trading block. But e-mails and phone calls between GMs can make things happen fast when beat reporters step outside for a smoke.
Now, let’s see what those (probably not) smoking reporters are typing:
• Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski apparently is writing in the DETROIT FREE PRESS under the alias of Michael Rosenberg. He argues the trade gives Detroit a better chance at making the playoffs, because the GM says so:
“First the Tigers traded Pudge Rodriguez. Then the notoriously close-lipped Dave Dombrowski summed up the trade as well as any columnist could:
“It gives us, probably, a better chance.”
That’s what this trade does for the Tigers. It gives them, probably, a better chance.”
Ooh, ooh! Let’s see what else Dombrowski can get Rosenberg to say. Try getting him to rub his head while saying “tarantula” five times fast.
• Kevin Davidoff of NEWSDAY doesn’t like the trade either, citing that Farnsworth was actually an important part of the Yankees bullpen:
“[Yankees GM Brian] Cashman found a manager and a pitching coach, Joe Girardi and Dave Eiland, who believed in Farnsworth. Who encouraged Farnsworth to believe in himself. Who turned the soft-spoken behemoth into a dominant setup man, making Joba Chamberlain’s switch to the starting rotation appear all the more brilliant. And now Farnsworth is gone. It’s a case of selling high, but also one of, ‘Selling? Why?’ “
He’s also not sold on Rodriguez’s offensive numbers, and while he acknowledges his defensive presence, Davidoff says “he has developed a reputation as a catcher who doesn’t block the plate.”
Plus he notes three past trades in which Dombrowski has dropped players in the Yankees’ backyard that didn’t work out: Mike Lowell for nobodies, and prospects for Jeff Weaver. This is why Davidoff doesn’t play “Monopoly” with Dombrowski on the weekends. He’s fairly certain that his Park Place-for-Marvin Gardens and a railroad to be named later proposal was a deceptive gambit to ruin Davidoff’s monopoly with the yellow properties.
Indeed, Rodriguez’s current numbers (.295/.338/.417) don’t show a great Value Over Replacement Molina, but he’ll be more of an importance behind the plate calling pitches rather than standing next to it swinging at them. And as for Farnsworth, well, this is his second stint in Detroit. The first time he memorably plowed Royals pitcher Jeremy Affeldt into the ground during a brawl. The second time, he might actually be known for a fastball actually being called for a strike. Yes, the fact that Farnsworth might suddenly be the best relief option in the bullpen is scary. But in the strictest sense, this does improve the team.
So it improved both teams. Which makes it the perfect — albeit bizarre, unexpected, and still puzzling — deadline trade.