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Brewers acquire closer Francisco Rodriguez from Mets

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Thursday, July 14th, 2011

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The Brewers made the first move in what could be a busy trading season before the July 31 deadline, acquiring closer Francisco Rodriguez from the New York Mets for two players to be named. Rodriguez has been one of the best closers in the game for the past few seasons, but after an ugly clubhouse incident last season with his father-in-law and an expensive contract, he was deemed expendable.

New York has actually surprised with a 46-45 record at the break, but the team is still dealing with a rash of injuries and is currently 7 1/2 games behind the Braves for the Wild Card spot in the National League. Rodriguez is 2-2 with a 3.16 ERA and 23 saves this season, and could be replaced by a combination of Jason Isringhausen, Bobby Parnell and Pedro Beato in the ninth inning.

New York’s late-inning leads likely won’t be as secure without Rodriguez in to close out games, which could affect Internet baseball betting. Milwaukee is 49-43 and tied atop the National League Central with the Cardinals.

The Brewers have John Axford as their closer, and he is 2-2 with a 2.83 ERA and 23 saves on the year. It remains to be seen which guy will be the closer, but either way, this move bolsters the team’s bullpen, as Milwaukee’s relief corps has been shaky at times this season in front of Axford.

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The Brewers have a cumulative ERA of 3.92 in relief, the 20th best mark in the majors. Rodriguez has a clause in his contract that will guarantee him a $17.5 million option next season if he finishes 55 games. He has done so 34 times this season, so it seems likely that Axford begins as the closer at this juncture, with Rodriguez possibly taking over down the line if Axford struggles. Rodriguez is a four-time All-Star and set the single-season saves record with in 2008 for the Angels.

The Brewers defense remains its biggest weakness, but the offense and the starting rotation were already solid, and this bolsters an area of need. Milwaukee is clearly making a push at the postseason, and the trade for Rodriguez will only boost those chances in internet baseball betting.

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