By Kim Staudinger
If the Atlanta Braves think they would get rid of all their problems by trading John Rocker, then they need to re-evaluate their thinking.
Yes, since the trade last week the Braves have not lost a game and are in first place in the NL East, but can you really say this is because of not having the out-spoken Rocker?
What am I doing supporting a jerk that hates all members of the media, the profession I am striving to succeed in? All I can say to that is that numbers speak, and Rocker's numbers speak very loudly.
Besides, the troublesome comments Rocker made to Sports Illustrated are nearly two years old. Get over it. People make mistakes, and unfortunately for Rocker he picked the wrong place and the wrong time to express his feelings for New York.
John Schuerholz, the Braves' general manager, claims Rocker's trade had nothing to do with his actions two years ago. But, why then, do you trade one of the most dominate left-handed closers in the game? And, what are you doing looking to trade for a left-handed reliever now?
Take a look at Rocker's numbers: his career ERA is 2.60, he has 263 strikeouts in 197 innings (1.35 strikeouts per inning), and he has 85 career saves.
Steve Karsay was acquired by Atlanta in the Rocker trade, and let's take a look at his statistics: his career ERA is 4.03, he has 332 strikeouts in 436 innings (.76 strikeouts per inning), and he has just 22 career saves.
Karsay is also a free-agent at the end of this year. The Braves may have gotten a quality reliever in Karsay, but what will they do if he decides to test the free-agent market at the end of the year? The Braves will once again be without a closer. Is that a chance worth taking?
I have been kind of hard on Karsay, and I will say that I was somewhat relieved to hear the Braves acquired him, instead of who I feared they had traded for.
Karsay has mostly been a set-up man in the past, not a closer, which does explain some of his numbers. Still, I hope that he is able to make the transition from set-up man to closer. I also hope that his history of elbow trouble chooses not to re-appear.
The Braves also got reliever Steve Reed in the deal, and we won't even start with my thoughts on Reed.
I am taking a trip to Atlanta the middle of July and was looking forward to seeing what the whole John Rocker fuss was all about. How many people do you know storm onto a field like Rocker does and bring the energy and enthusiasm that he did?
So, the Braves don't want someone that energizes the crowd and sits down opponents with a mid- to high-90's fastball?
Rocker may be cocky, but if you can walk the walk, then why not talk the talk? Rocker was second in the National League in saves before his trade, and before his blown save against the Red Sox last week, he had saved 15 games in a row.
One more bit of interesting information: Rocker has a career ERA of 0.00 against the Yankees. Yep, zero.
The trade now is a moot point, so I won't dwell on it. But, I will laugh if the Indians win the American League, beating the Yankees, and then face the Braves in the Series. John Rocker would have his chance to make John Schuerholz regret this move.
I respect everything that Schuerholz has done for the Braves, but John, although getting rid of Rocker may appear to solve some problems for you now, wait until you have to face him in October.