Fernando Rodney signed a two year $11 million deal with the Angels today. After saving 37 games in 38 opportunities for the Tigers in 2009, he will have a different role in California. He'll be the set up man for left-handed closer Brian Fuentes.
I always thought Rodney was under appreciated by Tigers fans. He was never a great pitcher but he was good when healthy. He played an important role during the pennant winning 2006 season helping Joel Zumaya set up closer Todd Jones. Rodney compiled a 3.52 ERA in 63 games that year.
In 2009, Fernando had 4.40 ERA in 73 games but that was inflated by a few really bad outings in non-save situations. When the save was on the line last year, he came through 97% of the time. He also finished 8th among American League relievers in Win Probability Added, a statistic which gives pitchers more credit for higher pressure innings. The Tigers would not have made it to game 163 without the work of Rodney.
Like him or dislike him, Rodney had style. We'll remember the short (for a pitcher) stocky righty strutting around the mound wearing his hat crooked like a tough guy. Some complained about the cap and I don't usually like that sort of thing but it somehow fit Rodney. It went well with his sinister goatee and the seemingly uninterested expression on his face, win or lose. Beneath the cool exterior though, you sensed from the beads of sweat rolling off his face that he was a competitor, who did care.
The Tigers have now lost Rodney, Brandon Lyon, Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, Edwin Jackson, and Marcus Thames since the end of the season. Fans are looking forward to the new young players - Max Scherzer, Scott Sizemore, Alex Avila, Austin Jackson, Daniel Schlereth, to name a few. And there is every reason for us to be excited by such a promising group. Still the departing veterans will be missed and may not be replaced as easily as some think.