That’s is it?  Fernando Rodney is your solution to fixing the bullpen?!?!  If anyone should know that save totals don’t necessarily translate to actual effectiveness and value it is Tony Reagins and the Angels, yet they go out and make a knuckleheaded move like signing Rodney.  This move fails on just so many levels, I hardly even know where to begin.

Fernando Rodney

Ugh, if you are going to suck, at least have the decency to put your hat on straight.

There is no doubt that the Angels needed to bolster their bullpen, heck, I’ve been screaming about it for weeks, but forking over $11 million to Fernando Rodney is not the answer.  Undoubtedly, the Angel front office is going to try and sell us on the merits of Rodney by pointing to his 37 saves in 38 opportunities last season.  That would be totally great if the rest of his numbers actually supported that save success rate.  Rodney finished 2009 with an unimpressive 4.40 ERA and ugly 1.47 WHIP, not to mention five losses, all of which underscores how his success as a closer was more a result of good luck than anything else.  The truly sad part is that 2009 was actually a big step forward for Rodney who had a 4.91 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in 2008.  Remind me again how he is supposed to be worth $5.5 million per year?

The ironic thing is that Rodney is basically taking the roster spot of Jose Arredondo, but he actually is almost an exact replacement for Arredondo.  Much like Jose, Rodney has a power arm with electric stuff.  Also like Arredondo, Rodney has a hard time getting all that great stuff over the plate, walking 170 batters in 330 career innings.  But since Rodney is making big money, he is almost certain to be used as the team’s primary set-up man and even occasionally as closer rather than as a middle inning guy like his track record suggests he should be.  Great idea, let’s split the two most high leverage innings of the game between Brian Fuentes and Fernando Rodney, two guys who are supposed to be good but actually really, really suck.  It clearly makes much more sense to put all the pressure on them rather than the up and coming Kevin Jepsen or the (hopefully) healthy and reliable workhorse Scot Shields.  A very strong case can even be made that Rodney is no better than Jason Bulger (3.56 ERA, 1.19 WHIP).  But because he has the fat contract, Rodney will get to pitch in crucial situations despite being the fourth or even fifth most effective pitcher out of the pen.

There is a glimmer of hope that Rodney might actually turn out to be more useful than his recent track record would suggest.  As I mentioned before, Rodney throws straight gas and has a killer change-up to complement that big fastball, but a lack of control has always plagued him and led to a career of frustrating inconsistency.  But if there is anything that a good pitching coach can fix, it is command issues.  I don’t know that Mike Butcher is up to the challenge, but Rodney has been in Detroit his whole career and it isn’t unreasonable to think their coaching staff just never picked up on the adjustments that he needs to harness his talent.

Brian Fuentes

Compared to Rodney, Brian Fuentes actually doesn’t seem so awful anymore.

But it isn’t even Rodney himself that upsets me, what sticks in my craw is the ripple effect that adding Rodney at such a high salary has on everything else the Angels will do this off-season… which is basically nothing.  After re-signing Bobby Abreu, the Angels had about $12 million worth of payroll budget left.  Between signing Hideki Matsui and now Rodney, that $12 million is gone.  So, for those of you scoring at home, the Angels have lost Chone Figgins, John Lackey, Darren Oliver (by the way, are we really expected to believe Rodney is worth $2 million more than Oliver?) and Vladimir Guerrero and have added just Matsui and Rodney.  In what world are these moves supposed to put the Halos over the championship hump?

Just the other day I wondered what Tony Reagins’ plan for the off-season was and if this is it, then Angel fans better start bracing themselves for another season full of promise that ultimately ends in disappointment.