Clemens not facing grave danger

Maels Rodriguez, the highly-touted Cuban defector, is finally going to throw for Major League Baseball scouts.

Updated: January 14, 2004, 9:10 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
It's been a long time coming, but it appears that Maels Rodriguez, the Cuban defector, is finally going to throw for scouts. Rodriguez allegedly throws 100 miles per hour but has been dogged by rumors that he blew out his arm and has lost his zip. His agent, Henry Vilar, has been promising a workout to dispel these rumors since Rodriguez escaped the clutches of the Castro regime back in late October. It is entirely possible that these tales of lost velocity are nothing more than rumors spread by Castro's minions as a way of retaliating against their charge for leaving the paradise that is Cuba under Fidel. Rodriguez has been cooling his heels in El Salvador ever since.

The fact that he has been in the Free World for over two months and has yet to put the goods on display might seem a little suspicious. If he still has the heat, why not show it as soon as possible before those few major league teams who have the kind of money Vilar has been talking about (multi-year, $8 million plus per season)? Even if he still has the cannon primed, who is left who is going to give him anything like that kind of money? John Hickey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer suggests a few teams that might be interested in him, including the Mariners, Rangers and Mets. Gone from the marketplace are big money clubs such as the Yankees and Red Sox. The Angels, a team with some jing to fling, have more starting pitchers than they know what to do with. One possibility not mentioned by Hickey could be the Orioles. There is a definite need for a starter in Baltimore to compliment the big bats they've brought to town and they are clearly a team with some heft to their wallet.

Let's say that Rodriguez can still bring it as advertised. Obviously, with a last name that common, he's going to need some sort of catchy nickname. My-Rod comes to mind (Maels is pronounced as "Miles"). "Maelstrom" might be good since it evokes power, except that it works regarding the spelling but not phonetically. (You can see why I was fired from my internship at the American Institute of Nickname Giving.)

Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at bottlebat@gmail.com.

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