Thursday, September 15, 2011

Prince Fielder, Francisco Rodriguez Use Mouths to Create Unneeded Distractions

I'm not one of those who thinks that one poorly-conceived interview can ruin an entire season for a team in any sport. I also don't think that honesty equals a guy being a bad teammate. And I sure as hell don't think people go out of their way to create distractions for their teams, in any line of work.

But despite that, I have to say that Brewers Prince Fielder and Francisco Rodriguez must not know much about timing.

Tuesday, K-Rod, as he's known, gave an interview to CBS Sports columnist Scott Miller, and he told the writer that he's not happy with his role on the Brewers.

"I'm not fine," Rodriguez said Tuesday. "They told me I'd have the opportunity to close some games, and we've had 20-some save opportunities since then and I haven't even had one."

John Axford has earned 19 of his 42 saves since K-Rod's arrival. In 24 appearances, Rodriguez has worked only one ninth inning, in what was a 5-1 cruise over St. Louis on Aug. 10.

"I'm a little disappointed in that," said Rodriguez, who is 3-0 with a 2.31 ERA for the Brewers. "But that's something that's out of my hands."

Rodriguez will be a free agent this winter and figures he will return to closing in 2012.

Until then?

"Suck it up, pretty much," he said.

Rodriguez was given a chance to backpedal Wednesday, but he chose not to.

"I wasn't lying," he said. "There’s been plenty of save opportunities, and I’ve pitched once in the ninth inning and it wasn’t a save. I’m not happy. That’s the bottom line for me. They told me one thing; they haven’t done it. And I stand by what I said.

"I’m not lying. I’m not creating something out of nowhere. I’m just saying the facts, and that’s pretty much it."

Rodriguez then continued.

"That’s something I should not be discussing with any of you guys," he said. "That I should be discussing with the manager in his office.”

Rodriguez was asked if he has.

“No, I haven’t," he said. "(Ron Roenicke) hasn’t approached me, and I haven’t approached him, either. That’s something I should go over there and talk to him about.

"I have thought about it. But it has to be the right moment, the right place to do it.”

I want to call him a moron, but that seems harsh. Still, why would you go verbal vomit to a reporter about being upset with your role on a team before talking to the guy who can actually do something about it first?

Roenicke handled it well, but you have to think he's livid over one of his players taking a gripe to the media before allowing it the chance to be handled in-house. You and I both know Rodriguez will get big money from the Phillies or Cubs or Dodgers or someone else who needs bullpen help and wants to blow $7 million a season on a one-inning relief pitcher. That's fine. For now, he needs to shut up and pitch. And if he has a problem, he should probably talk to Ron Roenicke about it before he talks to Scott Miller (with all due respect to Scott Miller, mind you).

If that wasn't enough, Prince Fielder gave an interview to TBS, which will air this weekend. In it, he reminds everyone that he's a free agent and will likely leave Milwaukee after the season. To an extent, he defended himself after the game, when the cat had long since departed the bag.

Pressed about his pregame comments to TBS about his imminent departure as a free agent this offseason, Fielder was frank about how this didn’t really seem like a current events revelation to him: “You guys said it last year. It is what it is. It’s the same thing I’ve been saying.”

The reality here is that Fielder wasn't breaking news. This has been an off-and-on topic all season, but no one expects Fielder to return, especially in the Brewers' front office.

That's not to say they won't make an offer on the big first baseman, but you'd be insane to think he'll be back. The odds are at least as bad as they were when CC Sabathia went free agent in 2008.

For the Brewers, the task now is to refocus the group. Get the players' minds completely off roles and contracts and free agency, as well as the fact that the lead that was more than ten games just a week-plus ago is now less than six.

Roenicke has done a very good job in his first year as manager, so there's no reason to think he can't get the job taken care of here. He needs to get Rodriguez in his office and remind the pitcher that he isn't the only guy in that bullpen, and it's not like Axford deserves to lose save opportunities or something.

If Rodriguez doesn't like it, maybe he should talk to his agent about that no-trade list he never bothered to submit.

No matter what, the Brewers have unneeded distractions in their push for a division title. These are veteran players who should know better than to pull this kind of garbage, and now we'll see how it affects the team as they try to pull out of a pretty hellacious and poorly-timed slump.

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