11/14/08 3:20 PM EST
Agent: K-Rod still can bring heat
Closer cut velocity on fastball to get better feel for changeup
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
The Mets, needing to replace Billy Wagner, are the headliners in a field of suitors diminished by market sizes and needs, Kinzer submitted."With Frankie, it takes a pretty big-market team," Kinzer said. "That, and the fact that most of the big-market teams have closers, limits it somewhat. "He loves pitching on the big stage. New York wouldn't faze him. He's always enjoyed pitching there with the Angels." Rodriguez claimed his first Major League win at Yankee Stadium in the 2002 American League Division Series, breaking out in a spectacular way for an Angels club that went on to win it all with K-Rod getting five of the 11 postseason wins as Troy Percival's setup man. Rodriguez was successful in 62 of 69 save situations in 2008, eclipsing Bobby Thigpen's 18-year-old record by five saves. Rodriguez -- who has visited the 15-day disabled list once, in 2005, with a right forearm strain -- made 76 appearances, a career best, tying Minnesota's Matt Guerrier for the American League lead. "He's been one of the healthiest pitchers in the game his entire career," Kinzer said. "He has 208 saves at 26 -- nobody in history has been close to that at his age. I can't understand why some of these TV analysts are running him down, claiming that his velocity is way down. It's simply not accurate." Rodriguez did have health issues early in the 2008 season -- with his ankles. Altering his delivery slightly to ease his landing, he gradually put that issue to rest. After yielding five earned runs in 11 2/3 innings in April, Rodriguez surrendered just 12 earned runs in his final 56 2/3 innings for a 1.91 ERA from May through September. His 2.24 ERA for the year compared favorably with his 2.35 career ERA in 408 appearances. "What people don't realize about Frankie is that he's such a student of the game and puts in so much preparation time," Kinzer said. "I remember coming to see him in Pittsburgh one time, and he said he was busy in his [hotel] room going over hitters he'd never faced on DVD. "This is a man who takes his profession very seriously." Kinzer, who also represents Dodgers free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal, knows it's too early to make any verdicts about Rodriguez -- or Furcal, for that matter. "There's a lot of interest in Furcal," Kinzer said. "I've already had 10 to 12 calls on him. They were calling as soon as the deadline [for exclusive negotiating rights by teams with their own free agents] passed [at 12:01 a.m. ET on Friday]. "I've learned you have to be patient with these things. The last time Furcal was a free agent, we thought it had come down to the Cubs and Braves. Then the Dodgers hired Ned Colletti [as general manager], and they came in at the last minute. It all came together quick. "You have to be flexible. You never know how things are going to go. You do get surprises. You have to be patient and let the market develop." If it means encouraging a GM or two to take a look at some video of a certain closer, why not?
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.